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Identifying Common Lawn Weeds

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When planting your garden in your backyard, the last thing you want is to see a bunch of weeds crop up. These unsightly and invasive plants can ruin the beautiful flowers you worked so hard to grow. In the guide below, we’ll list and describe some common lawn weeds you might see, what they reveal about your lawn’s health and how you can control them.

Dandelion

Chances are, you have probably seen this type of weed before. It is a familiar face in the spring and fall, and has a long thin stem with a yellow flower. Because the weed grows long taproots, the best way to get rid of them is to dig by hand, ensuring that you get at least 2 inches of taproot. Your best defense against this weed is a thick, healthy lawn to prevent the dandelions’ wind-born seeds from taking root. You can also spot-spray dandelions with an herbicide that doesn’t kill grass to ensure that they stop growing.

Crabgrass

Just about as popular as dandelions, crabgrass can also show up frequently on your lawn. It gets its name from the way its leaves form a tight, crab-like circle. This weed will crop up annually, and in weak or bare areas of your lawn. Both over-watering or under-watering will encourage its growth; and the same goes for constantly mowing the grass too short. Prevention is the key to getting rid of it. Treat this type of weed in the spring with a pre-emergence herbicide, and you can keep the seeds from sprouting.

Ground Ivy

This type of weed, also called creepy Charlie, likes shady and wet areas of the grass – however, it can still grow in sunny areas. This perennial plant is tough to beat because of its aggressive nature, but there are certain herbicides that are effective. Be sure to read the instructions carefully on the package of your chosen herbicide. And once the ground ivy is killed and removed, make sure to establish grass in that spot quickly to prevent it from returning.

White/Dutch Clover

This weed used to be a common ingredient in lawn seed blends. However, this perennial weed is now seen as the “bad guy” in most lawns. If your soil is poor and low in nitrogen, then you will most likely see this plant. An effective way o get rid of Dutch clovers is to bring up the soil fertility. You can also apply broadleaf herbicide to get rid of it, but you’ll usually need to make several seasonal applications to fully get rid of it.

Chickweed

If your lawn is thin and experiences poor drainage, then you’ll most likely see chickweed. It prefers shady, moist soil with higher fertility. The best way to eradicate this weed is to pull each plant. You can also use an herbicide to prevent the seeds from germinating in spring and fall. Another trick to kill this weed is to step on the stems and slightly crush them. Then sprinkle lawn fertilizer on the broken plants; the nitrogen will kill the chickweed.

Annual Bluegrass

Like the name suggests, this type of weed is an annual weed. When the soil drains poorly and the lawn is scalped, you will most likely see these weeds. A pre-emergent herbicide application before the summer can prevent seed germination. In the future, consider aerating and adding compost to your soil to improve the drainage.

To help get your lawn in the best shape and get rid of common lawn weeds, Lawnscape provides the expertise you need for a yard you can be proud of. We have been serving Southern California for over 30 years, caring for both professionals and homeowners alike.

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The Most Common Lawn Diseases

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The best way to go about lawn disease control is by properly maintaining your lawn to encourage health and hardiness. However, though they may not look like it, lawns are complex ecosystems, with each square foot of lawn containing 500 to 1000 individual plants, each one requiring a healthy mowing regime, soil that drains well, and just the right amount of sun, water, and nutrients. If any of these requirements isn’t met and the pathogen is present, your lawn may be susceptible to lawn disease. Of course, some diseases are more common than others. Read on to find out which common lawn diseases your lawn may be at risk for.

Anthracnose

This lawn disease is characterized by reddish-brown spots on the blades of grass, affected areas of the lawn ranging in size from as small as 2 inches to as large as 10 feet. Anthracnose is most common in humid weather ranging from 75 to 95 degrees, especially after heavy rain.

Brown Patch

Brown patch lawn disease is one of the most common lawn diseases for all types of grass, but is particularly prone to affect fescue lawns. Brown patch can also be highly damaging, as it can kill large circular swaths of lawn in just a few hours. The disease is most common when temperatures exceed 70 degrees and humidity is high.

Copper Spot

Copper spot is another common lawn disease, characterized by the development of small red spots that become darker and larger as the disease progresses. Fortunately, grass is only affected in small, circular patches one to three inches wide, but grass that is affected typically dies quickly. This disease is most common when temperatures are in the seventies and when humidity is high.

Dollar Spot

Often confused with copper spot, dollar spot is also characterized by the formation of splotches on grass in circular patches, but dollar spot lawn disease affects much larger areas. Dollar spot typically affects patches of grass ranging from four to twelve inches in diameter. Dollar spot lawn disease can also occur in a wider variety of temperatures, from 60 to 85 degrees, and may result from under-fertilization.

Red Thread

Red thread causes grass to become tan or bleached in color and to shrivel from the tips, and may lead to small patches of dead grass. In wet conditions, in particular, you may notice what looks like small pink thread in the grass. Like dollar spot, red thread can result from under-fertilization. It is most common in mild and damp weather.

Rust

Rust lawn disease is characterized by orange, dusty looking spores covering the blades of grass, giving a rusty look to affected areas. Unlike other common diseases, rust doesn’t generally harm grass, but it is an unsightly irritation for people trying to maintain a beautiful lawn. Rust generally occurs in temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees, and unlike other lawn diseases, is most common in dry weather.

Summer Patch

Summer patch, also called frog disease, can be identified by light green patches up to two feet in diameter, which later turn reddish brown. Some of these patches may have a circle of green grass remaining in the middle. This disease is common in warm, humid weather, as well as in drought-stressed lawns.

Lawn Disease Control

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to unintentionally increase their lawn’s risk of lawn disease by over fertilizing or allowing excessive thatch buildup. Avoid this by staying away from fertilizers that use fast release nitrogen, which can increase disease activity and by keeping thatch to less than half an inch to allow light and air to reach the soil and to facilitate draining.

In addition, homeowners should aerate while the weather is cool and most disease pathogens are inactive. Try to avoid mowing when the weather is hot and humid in order to limit the spread of pathogens and minimize the stress put on your grass. You may also want to prune or remove trees and shrubs to maximize penetration of the soil by light, air, and water. If disease continues to be a problem, you may want to try a fungicide. If all else fails, hire a professional lawn care service, like Lawnscape Systems, Inc.

Lawnscape Systems is a premier lawn care provider that has been servicing customers in the Los Angeles area for almost four decades. Whether you are seeking comprehensive lawn care programs or simply want a little help for the odd lawn care job here and there, our lawn care specialists are happy to help you achieve the lawn of your dreams. Contact Lawnscape today to get the healthy, gorgeous lawn you’ve always wanted.

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The Turf War You Didn’t Know You Had Right in Your Backyard

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Any of us who deal with lawn maintenance know that it’s all about balance. You need just the right amount of moisture, just the right amount of sun, just the right fertilizer-to-soil mixture, just the right nutrient mix…the list goes on and on. What many people don’t realize is that there is another precarious balancing act going on in most yards as well. A bitter struggle over limited resources and territory.

We’re talking of course, about the literal turf war going on between your grass and your trees, shrubs, and bushes. Trees and other woody-stalked plants are indeed beautiful and certainly a worthwhile addition to any landscape, but they do come with some conditions and require a bit more care to make sure you aren’t damaging your turf grass in the process. Let’s take a look at some of the best backyard gardening ideas that will promote garden nutrition.

The Battleground

When analyzing any conflict, it’s easiest to start with the where, before we get to the why. Where are our combatants fighting? When it comes to trees and grass, any area around the trees, particularly in the shady area or within the drip line where you also have grass growing. This can also be the grassy area around a newly planted or transplanted tree. As a general rule, it’s best to maintain a mulch layer around trees, rather than turfgrass. The amount of space you’ll want to leave open for mulch varies based on the size and water requirements of your tree, but as a general rule, keeping the area encompassed by the drip line free of grass and other water-draining plants is ideal.

The Resources

There are three major components of garden nutrition that turfgrasses and other plants, particularly trees, are going to fight over:

• Sunlight
• Water
• Soil nutrients

To a lesser extent, you can include space in there, but the fight over space usually boils down to a problem with one of the other three main resources. Let’s tackle them in order.

Sunlight

First and foremost, we have sunlight. All plants need sunlight to go through the process of photosynthesis and grow. This is an area where the trees have a marked advantage, particularly large, leafy shade trees. Tree branches and leaves can easily block sunlight from making it to your grass, which can result in stunted grass that refuses to grow, or becomes patchy and sparse. As a general rule, you want to make sure your grass gets at least 50 percent sunlight during the day, about four to six hours’ worth, but you’ll want to check your specific grass strain’s requirements, and adjust accordingly for new turf or sod.

Conversely, shade can be a huge help to grasses that would otherwise perform poorly in the sweltering summer sun. This is a major issue in Southern California, and you’ll sometimes see grass growing much thicker around the base of a tree. If you want to try this in your own yard, make sure you pick a non-competitive grass that does well with less direct sun.

Water

Water is another area where trees and grass can clash, and this time the winner isn’t so easy to declare. Grass and trees are going to be competing for water anywhere the grass is growing over the tree’s root system. Again, it’s usually better to avoid the competition for soil moisture, especially in areas like ours that see frequent droughts, and just have mulch around your trees. But if you want grass to cover an area, make sure you’re getting enough water to your trees and grass in areas where there might be some conflict.

Nutrients

Finally, we come to the nutrients in the soil. This can be a complicated one, as often trees and turfgrass need different nutrients in different amounts. You will also be losing a lot more nutrients in areas around trees than you will in the rest of your yard, which can make it exceptionally difficult for grass to lay down strong roots and grow to be lush and green. For this reason, it’s important that you get the soil mixture and the fertilizer balance just right in these areas to ensure that your grass and your trees can live in harmony, without stealing each other’s much-needed nutrients.

Getting Professional Lawn Care Help

If you don’t have the time or energy to balance all these things on your own, don’t worry! Lawnscape Systems can help. For 37 years, we have provided residents of Southern California with beautiful landscape solutions and backyard gardening ideas that keep plants healthy and owners happy. If you’d like to talk about what we can do to help put an end to the turf war happening in your yard, or just go over some of our other lawn care services, contact us today.

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5 Ways You Could be Killing Your Lawn

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You try your best to keep your lawn healthy and beautiful, but the strategies you’re using to care for your lawn may actually be resulting in its demise. Then, as you apply these products and techniques with greater frequency in an attempt to save your lawn, you could end up only further degrading your lawn’s health. Read on to find out if you’re doing something that’s actually killing your lawn.

1. Over-Watering

Obviously not watering enough isn’t good for your lawn, but over-watering your lawn can be just as bad, especially if your soil doesn’t allow for proper drainage. Overly wet soil can damage the necessary ecosystem under the soil, degrading its nutrient content. It also fosters the development of diseases, such as brown patch lawn disease, which can kill huge sections of your lawn in just a few hours.

Finally, undrained water can prevent turf from absorbing the oxygen and carbon dioxide it needs to survive. You can resolve this by aerating to improve the soil’s water absorption and by not watering if water is gathering on the surface of the soil.

2. Pest Control Strategies

Pests can be devastating for the health and appearance of a lawn, but pesticides are no picnic for your turf either. Pesticides are rarely discriminatory in what they kill, so they may be harming your grass either directly or indirectly.

Pesticides can poison or chemically burn your turf, but they can also poison soil dwelling species like earthworms, bacteria, and fungi that are essential for soil health; as well as pollinators, like butterflies and bees. If these species are removed, the nutrient content of the soil depletes, soil can become compacted, and plants are not pollinated, leading to disastrous results for your lawn.

If possible, avoid pesticides altogether and instead favor non-chemical means of pest control. However, if you must use pesticides, choose a variety made to target the particular type of pest you’re trying to deal with, instead of a general purpose pesticide, as these are more discriminatory and less likely to damage non-target species. Use as little pesticide as possible and only in the areas where it is absolutely necessary.

3. Weed Control Strategies

Like pesticides, herbicides are not great for your lawn, and for the same reason. Herbicides are rarely discriminatory, so while you may be trying to get rid of dandelions or crabgrass, your preferred turf may be paying the price, as well. Even if you aren’t spraying or treating your grass directly, herbicide used nearby can be blown or washed onto non-target plants.

However, removing weeds is also essential for the health of your lawn, as weeds can crowd out wanted plants and create competition for the soil’s vital nutrients. Try to avoid using herbicides altogether and, instead, use alternative methods to deal with weeds. If you must use herbicides, purchase or make a shield to protect desired plants that may inadvertently be sprayed and try to avoid applying herbicides in breezy conditions or before rain. Avoid watering for a day or two after applying herbicides.

4. The Products You’re Using Around Your Lawn

It’s not just the products that you use on your lawn that can damage your turf. Many of the products that we use outside for home and automobile maintenance, such as gasoline, bleach and other household cleaners, automotive fluids, and even insect repellent can damage or kill your grass. Even if these products are exclusively used on patios, walkways, or driveways, they can easily find their way into your lawn if they don’t have another place to drain into.

To avoid contamination, never place these types of harsh chemicals on or near your turf, and make sure that anywhere you use these chemicals has a satisfactory method of drainage. This can be as simple as placing decorative stones for several inches around patios, walkways, and driveway, but you could also consider installing a drain and pipe to carry the runoff to a more desirable location.

5. Incorrect Mowing Techniques

Mowing is one of the most basic aspects of lawncare, but is also one of the hardest on turf, and many lawn owners aren’t doing it correctly. A dull lawn mower blade tears the grass rather than making a clean cut, which can damage or even kill turf plants. A too low mower blade can scalp your lawn, cutting turf too short and making it difficult for grass to recover. This is especially common for lawns that are uneven. Keep your mower blade sharp and set it at a height that removes no more than a third of the length from you grass. For lumps or unevenness, it may be necessary to dig up the sod and smooth the soil, and then replace the sod.

Fixing a Dead Lawn

Whether you need to restore a dead lawn or simply wish to wash your hands of the whole lawn care routine, a professional lawn care company may be the answer for you. The professionals at Lawnscape can help repair a dead or dying lawn, as well as safely care for any lawn, and can even provide maintenance or repair treatments for people who prefer to otherwise handle their lawn care themselves.

Whether your lawn is brown and dying, or seems to be the healthiest and most beautiful on the block, contact Lawnscape today to ensure that your lawn really is getting the care it truly needs.

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Brown Spots on Your Lawn: Should You be Concerned?

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Brown spots are incredibly frustrating for lawn owners. They are unsightly and the cause of the spots is often not clear. They can also be an indicator of a major underlying problem with the health of your lawn. However, they don’t always mean that your lawn’s health is at risk, so it’s necessary to identify the cause of the spots. The three primary causes are improper lawn care, disease, and growing conditions.

Brown Spots Caused by Improper Care

Many lawn owners are harming their lawns without realizing it, but fortunately the damage caused in these situations is usually easily fixed.

Mowing is already traumatic for turf grass, and improper mowing techniques only make it worse. Rather than cleanly cutting through turf grass, a dull mower blade tears the grass, causing damage and even death. Homeowners often scalp their lawn while mowing as well. Scalping occurs when the lawnmower blade is set too low or there are lumps in the lawn, causing grass to be cut too short and damage to occur.

Prevent damage from mowing by keep a sharp blade at a healthy height (remove no more than a third of the length of the grass at a time) and smoothing out lumps by digging up sod, removing excess soil, then replacing the sod.

Brown spots can also, ironically, be the result of the products you use to take care of your lawn. Indiscriminately applied herbicides can kill grass and other plants in addition to weeds, while pesticides can damage the ecosystem in the soil that is so vital to lawn health by killing important species like earthworms. Over fertilization or improperly or unevenly applied fertilizer can burn turf grass.

These products, in addition to many other products commonly used outside such as gasoline, bleach and other cleaners, and even insect repellent can cause brown spots if spilled in the lawn. Avoid damage from these products by only pouring chemicals over the driveway rather than the lawn, stopping usage of products suspected to be damaging, and using all lawn care products in moderation. Use non-chemical pest and weed solutions whenever possible, and if you must use an herbicide, use a shield to protect non-target plants. Never spray any product in windy conditions for the safety of both you and your grass.

Brown Spots Caused by Disease

One of the most common causes of brown spots in grass is disease, like brown patch lawn disease. Brown patch lawn disease is one of the most common types of turf disease, as well as one of the most damaging because it is fast-acting, able to affect large sections of grass in just a few hours, and targets all varieties of turf grasses. The fungus that causes this disease is active when the temperature is above about 70 degrees, especially when humidity is high, so in Southern California brown patch lawn disease can be a problem year round.

Brown patch lawn disease is not the only disease that affects lawns, but most turf grass diseases can be prevented with the same basic steps. Avoid fertilizers that use fast release nitrogen, as this can increase disease activity. Aerate your lawn while the weather is cool. Cut back on mowing during hot and humid whether to minimize the stress on your turf grass and limit the movement of disease. Maximize light and air penetration by removing or pruning trees and shrubs.

Thatch is essential to the health of your lawn, but more than a half inch prevents light and air from reaching the soil, absorbs water, and encourages the growth of disease. If all else fails, a fungicide may be necessary to control the disease.

Brown Spots Caused by Growing Conditions

Chronic brown spots are likely a result of poor growing conditions. Poor soil can be a problem throughout your lawn or only in patches, and is usually due to poor nutrient content or compacted soil.

Aeration can loosen the soil and allow organic matter to penetrate it, improving the nutrient content. Top dressing can provide further nutrients. You can also look at the plugs while aerating to observe how your soil varies across your lawn, vital information for further soil modification. Aeration can also improve water absorption, lessening the effect of erosion, but more significant erosion may require terraces or planted ground cover.

Improved water absorption is vital during drought conditions, but lawn owners should still keep an eye on dry spots to ensure that the lawn is being watered evenly.

Solve Brown Spots with the Help of a Professional

Don’t worry if you can’t seem to resolve your brown spots or even identify the source. A professional lawn care service provider like Lawnscape has the expertise and experience to help you not only resolve your current issues, but also prevent future brown spots and generally improve the health of your lawn. Contact Lawnscape today to schedule your appointment.

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Pets and Your Lawn: Making Them Live in Harmony

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Pets and your lawn: they enjoy it just like you do. Grassy yards provide our furry friends with an open area to run and play, while gardens provide a surplus of places in which to hide. However, while these games are fun for both us and our pets, not to mention adorable, they also provide our pets with ample opportunity to be destructive. This can lead homeowners to feel like trying to keeps pets happy and healthy is at odds with trying to maintain beautiful and healthy lawns.

Fortunately, this does not have to be the case. With a few easy and inexpensive fixes, our lawns and gardens can be a fun playground for our pets and ourselves, but without the destruction. To find out how, let’s examine some damaging behaviors and how to resolve them so your pets and your lawn live in harmony.

Pets and Your Lawn: Using the Bathroom

Dealing with pet waste can be one of the most frustrating problems for pet owners who want to maintain beautiful and healthy yards. We don’t want our pets to go inside, but we don’t want them using our grass or garden as a bathroom either.

While urban legend states that lawn damage from pet urine is caused by the high level of acidity in the urine, the actual cause is the high nitrate content. Nitrates are an important ingredient in fertilizer; so in small doses, pet urine acts like fertilizer, causing the affected areas to appear greener and be heartier than the rest of the lawn. While this ruins the visual effect most lawn owners are going for, at least it’s improving the health of the grass plants. On the other hand, in higher doses, animal urine can lead to the brown, dead spots we typically associate with pets and lawns.

Feces doesn’t create the problems for plants that urine does, but it is an eyesore, leaves a foul odor, and can get on shoes, lawn equipment, and other things in the lawn and garden if you aren’t careful.

There are several things that can be done to handle pet waste. First, homeowners can create a mulched or pine straw covered area and train their pet to use the bathroom in this area, preventing damage in the first place. Use pet waste bags to remove feces immediately and discard them in compost or a garbage can located outside. Fence in gardening plots or flower beds to keep pets out.

Pets and Your Lawn: Digging

Digging can occur for a number of reasons, including hiding waste, entertainment, seeking attention, and more. Regardless of the reason, the holes left behind and the damage to plants can be a nightmare.

To prevent digging, try to figure out why your pet is digging in the first place. If they’re trying to hide waste, this can be another situation in which picking up feces immediately and training your pet to go in a plant free area can help. This way they feel less of a need to dig because you’re removing the waste, and when they do dig the damage is minimized.

If your pet is seeking entertainment, you simply need to find an alternative for them. Take your dog on longer or more frequent walks, make sure they have plenty of toys inside and out, spend time playing with them, or teach them a few new tricks. Try to prioritize forms of entertainment that involve you spending time with your pet, as this can also prevent digging as an attention seeking behavior.

Pets and Your Lawn: Keeping Them Safe

Don’t forget that just like your pets can damage your lawn and garden, your lawn and garden are not completely safe for your pets. To keep your pets safe, try to leave them unsupervised outside as little as possible. Check the effects that any plants in your lawn and garden can have on your pets, and either remove or fence in any plants that have potentially negative effects.

Double check any fences or other structures to make sure that they are structurally sound and free of sharp points or edges that can hurt animals. Finally, try to avoid the use of herbicides and pesticides, only use herbicides and pesticides that are safe for pets, or keep pets indoors when herbicides or pesticides have been used outside.

Lawn Rehabilitation for Lawnscape Systems

An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, but sometimes prevention isn’t possible, especially when it comes to pets. If you have lawn damage from pets, contact Lawnscape today to get your yard and garden returned to the playground and paradises they once were for both you and your pets.

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Setting Up Your Lawn for the Festive Season

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As we pull out the decorations and make preparations to have family and friends over for the festive season, it’s important we also remember to make preparations for our lawn. Whether you’re decorating or just getting your yard ready for those cold winter months, here are some things you should keep in mind.

Aerating and Seeding with Cold Weather Grass

Aerating your lawn sounds daunting, but it’s actually very easy whether you have a small lawn that you can walk over with some aerating sandals, or you need a riding mower attachment for a larger space. Aerating has a host of benefits for your lawn, and is especially important when going into the winter months. Aerating gives your lawn:

  • Increased water uptake
  • Better drought tolerance (especially important in Southern California)
  • Better fertilizer utilization
  • Less water runoff
  • Reduced soil compaction
  • Better air exchange

Following aeration with seeding with a cold or cool weather grass can help keep your lawn looking fresh and green year round. Not all of us can win the Christmas light battle with our neighbors (who can afford that electric bill?), but we can at least have a pretty green lawn while everyone else’s is turning brown and dormant for the season.

Mulch and Fertilize to Keep Your Plants Alive

Harsh winter weather can wreak havoc on your lawn and landscaping. The cold, dry air can wipe out an unprotected lawn and destroy landscaping features. To keep your grass and your plants safe, there are a few steps you need to take.

First, before the weather is too harsh, it’s time to fertilize. The best way to do this is to select the appropriate fertilizer for your lawn; if you’re going to do it yourself, buy, rent, or borrow a fertilizer spreader. Then simply follow the directions on the fertilizer package, paying special attention to the prescribed amount. Over-fertilizing can burn your lawn and actually be worse than not fertilizing at all.

After you’ve fertilized, it’s time to look at adding a protective layer of mulch to your yard. Mulch keeps the worst of the chill off of your lawn and away from the roots of trees and other plants. Just make sure you keep a gap between the mulch and any woody-stemmed plants to avoid rot.

Deal with Fallen Leaves

This time of year has many of us dealing with fallen leaves covering our yards. Whichever side of the “blower vs. rake” debate you fall on, no one likes dealing with a yard full of leaves. And unfortunately, you can’t just leave the leaves there during the winter (and not just because your neighbors will hate you). Leaving a thick layer of dead leaves over your grass can leave you with a yard full of compost and dead grass.

The best way to deal with fallen leaves is actually the easiest: mulch them. You should be mulching your yard to protect it and keep nutrient levels up, and dead leaves make for excellent mulch. Get some utility out of those former annoyances and turn them into beneficial mulch that will keep your lawn healthy throughout the winter months.

Decorating Ideas

Now comes the fun part. Let’s talk decorating ideas. Whether you’re going all out for Christmas or you just want to add some festive touches to your yard (fake snow, anyone?), there’s a decorating blog out there for you. If you enjoy decorating for Halloween, and want to go for a winter wonderland yard this year, there are a few things you can do to really make your lawn stand out.

First, lights are the backbone of any good festive display. They draw attention, they illuminate your other decorations, and they spread holiday cheer (whether your neighbors want it or not). The key to a good light arrangement is to not go overboard as this can be unsafe from an electrical standpoint, and generally causes more trouble than it’s worth. So don’t go the Chevy Chase route and, instead, pick a few decorative center-pieces and then build your light display around that.

Getting Your Festive Lawn in Shape with Lawnscape

If you find yourself struggling to get your lawn ready for the festive season, give Lawnscape a call. Our experts are ready to help you get your yard ready for whatever the holidays can throw at it, and you can be confident that you’ll have beautiful grass to go along with your decorations.

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How Much Time Should You Devote to Lawn Maintenance?

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The average American devotes roughly 70 hours to lawn and garden maintenance each year. However, this average includes apartment dwellers and others that don’t have a lawn, so in reality most lawn owners spend far more than 70 hours per year on their landscaping. This time commitment, though, is not necessary to maintain a healthy and beautiful lawn and garden. Find out how you can have the lawn you want without detracting from personal pleasures.

Do a Little Bit Every Day

Instead of taking care of all of your lawn maintenance on the weekends, devote half an hour to an hour each day to lawn maintenance. Do a little work at a time instead of a lot of work at once. That way, exhaustion is less likely to occur, and motivation lasts longer, too. Creating a regular routine can optimize your efficiency even more by giving you a plan.

Use Your Calendar

Spacing out your lawn maintenance is the only way proper time management can help save you time on lawn maintenance. Certain tasks are most effective if performed at specific times throughout the year. For example, spring and fall are the best time to fertilize and aerate your lawn to foster growth. In the summer, take steps to eliminate and prevent pests, and take care to spend extra time on watering. In the winter your lawn is dormant, so you can take a step back from lawn maintenance and relax.

Use the Correct Strategies

A soil test conducted by a professional service can help you determine the needs of your lawn. This helps you to prioritize the tasks the make the most difference in the health and appearance of your lawn, and prevents you from wasting time on chores that your lawn doesn’t need. Soil tests are cost effective, and improve lawncare efficiency.

Be Low Maintenance

Choose features and vegetation that requires minimal upkeep. Turfgrass is a versatile and resilient grass that thrives in most environments. Because it’s so resilient, this grass requires mowing more often than other types of grasses. However, in exchange you get a lawn that looks great but requires less weeding and watering.

Hire a Professional

Alternatively, you can devote little to none of your own time on lawn maintenance by hiring a professional lawn care service provider like Lawnscape Systems. Professional lawn care systems save you time on lawn maintenance by taking care of your lawn for you, and by offering treatments that make your lawn easier to take care of.

Lawnscape Systems, Inc.

Lawnscape Systems, Inc. started in Los Angeles in the spring of 1979, and now services much of southern California, including Ventura County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Diego County. We prioritize environmental responsibility and your family’s safety, so we use only EPA-certified products. We strive to provide all of our customers with the best possible customer and lawncare service.

At Lawnscape, we offer two lawn care programs, our comprehensive Supreme program and our basic but thorough Weed and Feed program. Each program is customized based on location and lawncare needs. You can also choose from a host of additional services. If you don’t have the ability or inclination to spend time on lawn maintenance, contact Lawnscape Systems to get your lawn taken care of by one of California’s best.

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How to Tell if You Have a Healthy or Unhealthy Lawn

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Most lawn owners are happy if their lawn is green and cut, but sometimes looks may be deceiving. One day your lawn is pristine and lush and the next week it’s splotched with brown patches of unsightly dead grass. Being able to check your lawn for oncoming issues is one of the best ways to keep your lawn healthy year round. Here are some things to look for when assessing if you have a healthy or unhealthy lawn.

Color

While this is the most obvious indicator of health, it is still something that needs to be watched for. Color changes throughout the seasons, so if your grass is a little lackluster in the winter that could be totally normal for the species. Some variation in color is inevitable because it’s impossible to perfectly plant a lawn to be completely even. Plus variances in water, shade, and other micro-factors can amount to variations in the green of your lawn. A healthy lawn might be green, but it’s not the only factor.

Thickness

A more subtle indicator than color, thickness can be a great indicator of how well your lawn is doing. Just like color, thickness does vary through the seasons and won’t be perfectly consistent because of the nature of grass. To tell if your grass is thinning, take a closer look at it, if you can see through to the dirt then that may be a sign of an unhealthy lawn, even if it is green.

Thatch

Thatch is another informative aspect of your lawn. A healthy lawn will have just the right amount of thatch, which is the layer of decaying material between the grass and dirt, not too little and not too much. Thatch is naturally created as you mow and the grass grows new leaves and sheds old ones. To tell if your thatch is the right density you should watch when you water.

When watering, if the liquid sits on the thatch and isn’t draining into the dirt then you’re thatch is probably too thick. Thick thatch can be caused by overwatering and other incorrect maintenance practices, as well as diseases and pests. When your thatch is too thick, it prevents not only water from reaching the roots, but also the air it needs to grow, eventually killing your grass. Aeration is one effective way to deal with this problem.

Texture

A non-visual way of determining the health of your lawn is the way it feels. Healthy lawns will retain their shape after being stepped on, won’t break or crack, and feel flexible. Unhealthy lawns will have rigid blades that will break apart when stepped on or handled and will retain footprints after being walked on. Feel your grass with your hand to see how it responds; any change towards brittleness can indicate a need for more water, and if you are watering regularly it may be a sign of an infection or infestation.

Fungus

Notice a ring of dead grass on your lawn? Or maybe mushrooms sprouting up from time to time? These can be signs that your lawn has an invasive species of fungus growing beneath. Mushrooms and stalks are only the reproductive parts of the fungus, with the main “body” of the organism being invisible to the naked eye; so if you’re seeing the fungus it’s already taken hold. Fungus species that are undesirable are often a result of overwatering or weak grass that is being outcompeted.

Insects and Worms

When your lawn is sporadically becoming patched with no discernible pattern, then you may have an invasive species of insect or worm. Typically, these organisms thrive in lawns with thatch layers that are too dense. Once they’ve taken root, it’s hard to remove these pests without professional help, so it’s best to practice proper maintenance to avoid these problems in the first place.

Keeping your Lawn Healthy

The only way to ensure your lawn’s health is to maintain it with expert precision. Aeration, fertilization, and watering should be closely monitored to ensure your lawn is getting enough, but not too much of what it needs. Consult Lawnscape to ensure that your lawn is the healthiest it can be. Contact Lawnscape today!

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Common Lawn Diseases and How to Prevent Them

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lawn-diseases

Lawncare isn’t always an easy job. It takes a lot of dedication to keep your turf in peak condition. Sometimes, no matter how well you’re maintaining your grass, the unexpected happens: lawn diseases. In order to properly manage these lawn diseases, it’s important to understand why they occur.

Diseases are usually caused by 3 factors:

  1. A Susceptible Plant. It’s very rare that things, living or non-living, are invincible to everything. Eventually something will happen, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the road.
  2. Favorable Environments. Sometimes it’s just bad luck that you end up with extremely dry weather, or relentless rain. The environment that your turf is growing in affects how likely it is that diseases will appear. You can help by proper maintenance and understanding what’s healthy for your lawn. There are many different classifications of grass and some diseases are more effective against certain types. Knowing what your lawn is made of will help you look out for specific dangers.
  3. Pathogens. Although not the most common cause of lawn disease, they’re still something to keep an eye on.

 

Non-Living Diseases

Non-living lawn diseases are recognizable by the well-defined edges of impacted areas. Factors that can bring disease include compacted soil and thatched soil. Compacted soil occurs when there’s a high amount of traffic on the turf and the soil is squished, making it more difficult for your grass to intake the nutrients needed for proper growth. Thatched soil is an intertwined layer of dead and living organic matter lying in between the turf and the soil. This happens when the grass produces debris faster than that debris can be broken down.

Most often, non-living lawn disease is caused by chemicals. The most common examples are:

  • Dog urine
  • Gasoline spills
  • Salt damage due to ice melting chemicals
  • Misuse of common lawn chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides; which should only be used as last resorts, anyway
  • Fertilizer burn from excessive fertilization. The excess of nitrogen salts can dry up all of the moisture in the plant and create a state of hypertonicity where it’s more difficult for water to pass through.

 

Living Diseases

Often when we think of disease, we think of viruses and bacteria. For your lawn, this isn’t often the case. Bacteria-caused lawn diseases are extremely rare; the one that occurs most often is the St. Augustine Decline, named so because it only affects St. Augustine grass.

Another potential disease is caused by nematodes: microscopic worms that live in the soil and feed on plant roots. Often times they are harmless, however if the population is high enough this can cause your lawn to wilt, stunt the growth, or cause the grass to be off-color.

However, all of the most common lawn diseases are due to parasitic fungi, most often in warm weather. Fungi are always available in the soil waiting for the right conditions to attack. This is usually when the turf is facing stress, such as excessive heat or cold, or improper care.

Some of the Most Common Lawn Diseases

Affecting All Grass

Slime Mold is one of the least harmful diseases; it causes patches of white, gray, or black deposit on turf, which appears powdery in its early stages. As the disease progresses, the deposits form small balls, affecting the turf’s growth; however it’s easily removed by a rake or hose.

Fairy Ring causes a dark green circle or semicircle of grass, ranging from a few inches to up to 200 feet, with the surrounding turf appearing to be dying. Mushrooms may appear in the area. This disease can cause serious damage, creating a thick fungal mat that prevents water from reaching the roots, and absorbs all of the nutrients from the soil. It is one of the hardest diseases to control, with no natural treatment.

Dollar Spot, on the other hand, doesn’t cause permanent damage. It’s recognizable by small spots of tan or brown grass all over the lawn.

Similar to Dollar Spot are Brown Patch and Yellow Patch, also causing no permanent damage.  Brown Patch is a circular area of sunken in dead grass, with the outer perimeter appearing a smoky color; Yellow Patch is smaller yellow patches with less of the smoky perimeter. These diseases are more specific than the other three, affecting:

  • Bent grass and creeping bent grass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Fescues
  • Perennial ryegrass

 

Causing Slime

Pink Snow Mold is a white or pink slimy growth that occurs when there’s too much moisture. This most commonly affects:

  • Bent grass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Kentucky bluegrass

 

Also related is Gray Snow Mold, which instead of white or pink in appearance, is white or gray. This disease usually forms under layers of snow, and forms irregular patches on your lawn. This strain differs from Pink Snow Mold because it also affects all bluegrasses, fescues, and ryegrass. Of course, this disease is rare in LA.

Pythium Blight is also known as Grease Spot, causes brown slimy areas where white patches may form. It spreads quickly and can kill turf if left untreated. This disease affects:

  • Bent grass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Fescues
  • Perennial ryegrass

 

Causing Spots

Otherwise known as “Melting Out,” Leaf Spot can make the grass look tan, gray or brown; with red, purple, or tan lesions appearing on the blades. This disease can severely thin or kill grass, affecting Kentucky bluegrass and Bermuda grass.

Anthracnose is a pathogen-caused disease where tan, brown, or reddish brown patches show up, which may be as small as inches and as big as yards. Spots could also appear on the blades. It survives on plant debris and easily spreads, most commonly through water. This disease thrives in warm weather, and can kill turf. This affects annual bluegrass and bent grass.

Powdery Mildew is usually found in shady areas, and is named so because the infection looks like white dust. It turns the infected grass tan to brown and can cause permanent damage. This affects:

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Fine fescue
  • Perennial ryegrass

 

Rust causes orange spots on the blades of grass. It’s a fungal infection where the spores can easily attach to clothes and tools, although it’s not usually harmful. It can affect:

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Tall fescue
  • Augustine grass
  • Zoysia grass

 

Red Thread, also known as Pink Patch, brings red or faded patches, with red or pink threads spreading from blade to blade. This disease does not cause permanent damage, and affects:

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Fescues
  • Perennial ryegrass

 

How to Prevent These Lawn Diseases

Proper lawn care is important to maintaining a healthy turf and overall lawn. Since most of these diseases are fungus based, so one way you can help is by watering less often and more deeply as fungus tends to spread through water. About 20 minutes per day should be fine. Mowing regularly with sharp blades can also prevent the spread of fungus as dull blades can shred grass, making it easier for spores to enter and infect your turf. Regular fertilization and aeration will also help ensure that your lawn is healthy and beautiful.

What to Do if Your Lawn is Infected

It’s important to determine what the problem is before you make any assumptions. Sometimes this involves getting down on your hands and knees and looking at the blades of grass for discoloration and lesions. Fungus spores may be present with the early morning dew. The faster you can identify the problem and decide how to manage it, the less damage can be caused to your turf.

If you suspect that your lawn may be infected, don’t hesitate to call our dedicated team of professionals for more information.

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