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Common Garden Mushrooms

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Mushrooms present a unique situation for those who care for lawns and gardens. On one hand, edible mushrooms can be a delicious addition for those who nurture edible gardens. On the other hand, many common garden mushrooms are poisonous and therefore mean danger for those with children and pets. They can also fall somewhere in the middle by spreading disease in turfgrass, trees, and other vegetation or by not being outwardly harmful, but simply growing in lawns and gardens where they aren’t wanted.

Fairy Ring Mushroom

Marasmius oreades, or fairy ring mushroom, is known for its distinctive growth pattern, referred to as fairy rings. Despite the name, however, fairy ring mushrooms are not the only mushrooms that grow in rings. Fairy ring mushrooms are light brown or off white in color, have a mild odor, and have caps ranging in size from just over half an inch to one and a half inches in diameter. These caps start out broad, like an umbrella, but as the mushroom matures, they begin to take on a bell shape. These mushrooms are edible, but there are several toxic look-alikes, so consumption of a found fairy ring mushroom is not recommended for people without mushroom expertise.

Meadow Mushroom

Meadow mushrooms, also called champignon, go by the scientific name agaricus campestris. Like fairy ring mushrooms, meadow mushrooms grow in rings. They have round, convex caps that can be anywhere from two to four inches in diameter. They are white or ashy grey, but bruise easily, and have a strong resemblance to the mushrooms you might find at the grocery store. Meadow mushrooms are most common in late summer and early fall.

California Agaricus

The agaricus californicus is in the same family as the meadow mushroom, but while the meadow mushroom is edible, the California agaricus is mildly toxic to most people, so, again, it isn’t recommended that those without expertise attempt to identify and handle found mushrooms. It is of a similar size and color to the meadow mushroom, but may have a yellowish tint, especially where bruised, and may have a slight phenol odor. Unlike fairy ring mushrooms and meadow mushrooms, California agaricus grows in patches, clusters, or arcs, rather than rings.

Mushroom Management

Homeowners may be tempted to pull out an herbicide when they first notice unwanted mushrooms, just like they do when they notice weeds, but common garden mushrooms are fungi, not plants, so herbicides can do more harm than good. If you notice a mushroom in your yard, your best option is to break it apart or mow over it. If you have pets or children that may be tempted to sample the fungus, you should pick up the pieces and dispose of them. Your best option, however, is to engage in prevention to avoid unwanted mushrooms altogether.

There are three main causes of mushroom problems:

• Buried organic matter
• Excess moisture
• Low light

Fungi grow by breaking down organic matter in the soil. In your lawn, this could be buried timber, a tree stump, or leftover root systems. Generally, the easiest method of dealing with this is to simply do nothing. The mushrooms will stop growing once they’ve completely broken down the matter, but digging up the buried organic matter heavily disturbs your lawn. If you want to speed the process, you can apply nitrogen fertilizer at a rate of one half to three quarter pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn. While we don’t get a lot of rain here in California, mushrooms can develop if homeowners overwater or if water isn’t allowed to properly escape or absorb into the soil. Aerate your lawn to ensure proper drainage and absorption, and try watering infrequently but deeply. Finally, if you have mushrooms growing in shady parts of your lawn, try trimming back tree limbs or bushes to let the sunshine in.

If after trying all these strategies you still struggle with mushroom problems, give the professionals a call. Lawnscape Systems is a leader in lawn care in Southern California. Whatever your problem, Lawnscape has a solution to solve it, and we only use the highest quality EPA certified products, so you never have to worry about the safety of what’s being used on your lawn. If you have stubborn problems with common garden mushrooms, weeds, or any other lawn care nuisance, get the help you need. Contact Lawnscape Systems today!

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6 Reasons You Should Be Removing Weeds as Soon as You Seem Them

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At minimum, lawns and gardens should be weeded at least once a week, but for the best results weeding should be done far more often. Ideally, you should be removing weeds as soon as they’re spotted, but this isn’t always practical. Many homeowners choose to inspect their lawns and gardens every other day, dealing with weeds as they go, allowing for the prompt removal of weeds, and allowing them to see weeds they may miss as they go about their regular activities. This may seem excessive, but there are many reasons to be removing weeds as quickly as possible. Here are just a few.

1. Keep Your Landscaping Beautiful

The first reason is simple. Homeowners put a lot of work into keeping their landscaping healthy and beautiful, so why should weeds be allowed to ruin the aesthetic effects of all that work any longer than absolutely necessary? The sooner you jump on removing weeds, the sooner your landscaping goes back to the look that you’ve worked so hard to create.

2. Prevent Competition

While your lawn can be home to all kinds of fun competitions, like a pickup game of football or soccer, you don’t want it to be hosting a competition between weeds and the plants you want flourishing every day. Your lawn has a limited amount of the resources that plants need to stay alive, and weeds will take up portions of these limited supplies that you’d rather be used by the plants you’ve chosen. Weeds can rob your preferred plants of water supplies, vital nutrients, and soil space.

3. Minimize Your Effort

This is often the reason that appeals to people the most. Weeding can be a huge pain, both literally and figuratively. However, doing a little bit of weeding in your lawn and garden regularly is far easier and more painless than doing a long session of weeding one day during the weekend, especially when you’d rather be spending those long hours doing something far more pleasant and enjoyable. Doing a little bit of weeding more often is particularly helpful for people prone to back problems or those with limited mobility.

4. Catch Weeds While They’re Weakest

Speaking of easier, young weeds are easier to pull or otherwise eliminate than mature weeds. Therefore, the earlier you can deal with a weed, the less chance it has to mature and the more easily and effectively it will be for you to eliminate it.

5. Prevent the Spread of Weeds

Dealing with weeds before they reach maturity also ensures that you don’t have to deal with those weeds’ offspring in addition to the original weeds. If a young weed is allowed to mature, it will begin to produce seeds, which then spread and grow more weeds. A dandelion changing from a yellow flower to the white tufty ball of seeds that children love to blow on so much is a well-known example of this process. If you discover that you have a mature weed, but aren’t able to immediately remove it, you can clip it down, ensuring that all flowers are removed, in order to stop seeds from spreading.

6. Minimize Pests

Weeds can cause other unwanted guests to infiltrate your yard as well. Weeds can provide food and hiding places for a wide variety of pests, such as insects, mice, rats, moles, and more. These pests can, in turn, munch on the plants you do want to keep, tunnel in your soil, and otherwise cause havoc for your lawn and garden. If you’re particularly unlucky, they may even make their way indoors, where they can make messes, destroy property, and spread disease.

Weed Removal Strategies

Regardless of when or why you want to get rid of weeds, you have plenty of options and methods to get them taken care of. You can check out our weed removal guide for a variety of do-it-yourself strategies and tips for eliminating weeds. However, if you have a particularly stubborn weed problem or simply want to wash your hands of the whole weed removal process, a professional lawn care service may be the best option for you.

Lawnscape Systems, Inc. is a leading lawn care service that has been based out of Los Angeles since 1979. Lawnscape offers a variety of services, including two lawn care programs and many additional services that can be performed on their own or in conjunction with other programs. We only use EPA certified products, prioritizing the safety of your family and the environment. Whether you struggle with weeds or some other aspect of lawn care and maintenance, contact Lawnscape today to see how they can help you keep your landscaping healthy and beautiful.

Which Grass Varieties Grow Best in LA?

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The type of grass that you choose makes all the difference in the health and appearance of your lawn. Certain types of turfs simply grow better in certain areas. If you live in Los Angeles or the surrounding areas, you know what features a type of grass needs to survive in our climate: it needs to be drought resistant and at home in our high temperatures. Here are a few grasses that meet these conditions that you may want to consider for your lawn.

Buffalo Grass

Buffalo grass (buchloe dactyloides) is a soft, green gas native to the Great Plains from as far north as Montana and as far south as Mexico. Buffalo grass is known for its hearty nature and is resistant to drought and extreme temperatures. It also spreads its seed quite well on its own, making reseeding infrequent or even unnecessary. Buffalo grass is, however, susceptible to damage from excessive traffic over it, but stands up very well to the lawn traffic of most homes. Buffalo grass is not a great choice for shady areas. This grass requires very little maintenance and minimal product application to thrive. Buffalo grass does not reach very tall heights, so it can even be left un-mowed for the homeowner who prefers the least possible maintenance.

Sand Dune Sedge

You may have seen sand dune sedge (carex pansa) at the beach, but this grass can also thrive at your home. These grass varieties are very shade and drought tolerant, and thrives in a variety of soil types. However, sand dune sedge has a tendency to grow in clumps, so it may not provide your lawn with that smooth, even appearance favored by many homeowners. It is, however, an excellent decorative grass for a variety of landscaping needs, and it’s hearty, low maintenance nature may prompt some homeowners to choose sand dune sedge regardless of its slightly unusual growth patterns. Sand dune sedge is a flowering grass. Some homeowners prefer to keep it shorter for this reason, while others enjoy the appearance of longer, flowery grass.

Native California Bentgrass

Native bentgrass (agrostis pallens) is probably the most popular of the turf grass varieties native to California. Native California bentgrass has a pleasing bright green color and can be left long to provide a natural, casual appearance, but can also easily withstand being kept at short heights. This grass can withstand both sunny and partially shaded environments and is usually unaffected by drought. Native bentgrass tends to have a very uniform growth pattern, making it optimal for achieving the look of a traditional lawn, and recovers quickly and easily from damage.

Yarrow

While not technically a grass, yarrow (achillea millefolium) can be used as an alternative to a traditional turf grass. This perennial flowering plant can grow several feet tall (though low growing species are available), so it needs to be mowed regularly, but it maintains the appearance of a turf grass when it’s kept short. Yarrow is drought resistant, and, in fact, grows far better in moderate to dry soil. Yarrow also thrives in all types of soil, from sandy to loamy. Yarrow is low maintenance and requires very little treatment or chemical application. Yarrow also very rarely contracts disease.

Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass (cynodon dactylon) is one of the hardiest and most traffic resistant turf grasses available, and for this reason it’s a favorite for parks, golf courses, multipurpose fields, and sports complexes. Bermudagrass is drought resistant, thrives in heat, and grows in almost all soil types, but does not have excellent shade tolerance. Bermudagrass doesn’t require much maintenance just to survive, but with careful management it has the capacity to produce one of the most beautiful lawns you’ve ever seen. Bermudagrass is available in the common form, but also in a variety of hybrids that can make this already robust grass even more optimal for the growing conditions in your yard.

Lawnscape Systems, Inc.

If you’re looking to start your lawn anew with a brand-new grass type, you are about to embark on a difficult and potentially stressful process, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Whether you’re starting a new lawn or just want to ensure that you’re already existing lawn is in top shape, Lawnscape Systems, Inc. is here to help. Lawnscape is a top of the line professional lawn care and landscaping company that can help you achieve the lawn of your dreams. Whether you choose one of our lawn care packages or an individual treatment or a bit of both, we strive to provide you with the friendly and high quality service that you deserve. Contact Lawnscape today to get the beautiful and healthy lawn you’ve always wanted.

How to Turn Your Lawn into a Haunted Halloween Attraction

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Decorating a yard for Halloween is a lot of fun, but you could do something even better: a haunted attraction. These popular scare mazes aren’t as hard to make as you would think! Turning your lawn into the perfect Halloween trick or treating spot can be done cheaply or you can go all out. It’s all up to you! Here are a few essential steps to transforming your lawn for the scariest of all holidays.

Decorate Your Lawn and Maze

Whether you plan on buying expensive animatronic latex monsters from your local Halloween super store or doing DIY spiders and other kid-friendly creepy crawlies, you will need decorations. Try going for a theme inspired by the latest horror films, TV shows, and novels. A cohesive aesthetic will make your haunted attraction more alluring than a hodge-podge of random assorted decorations.

When decorating your yard, consider the type of trick or treaters you are expecting. Young children won’t respond well to gore or too realistic monsters, but if you have an older crowd of teenagers and young adults, you can go all out! Having the right atmosphere is essential or else young children might just skip over your place.

Try to avoid decorations that might damage your grass such as things that require large spikes to be placed in the ground or particularly heavy objects. Anything large should be kept off the lawn as it will block sunlight and could kill your grass. If you want to use larger decorations, try waiting to put those particularly pieces out until the days leading up to Halloween or even just on that particular day. A dying lawn is scary only for its owner!

Set Up Some Walls

One of the most deceptively challenging parts of creating a haunted attraction in your yard is making the walls. There are some simple solutions, though. Cardboard boxes are a safe, cheap, and available option. Just stack them and cover them with black tarps or fabric. Painting them is an option, too; making them a part of the decorations themselves. Make tight turns and hide-aways for people to sneak into and scare your maze runners. Stage different scenes by leaving larger sections of open space, giving you the opportunity to create a cool tableau of horror.

Before you start setting up your walls, it’s a good idea to plan the layout so that you know you have enough space and material to do what you want. Measure things out with a tape measure and make sure to leave enough walking room for everyone.

Cultivate an Atmosphere

A popular way to make your haunted attraction all the creepier is to use fog machines and strobe lights. This will create a haunting ambience for your ghouls. Music can also add to the effect, but don’t leave it on too late or your neighbors won’t be too happy. Make sure there is enough lighting for people to see their way through the maze or you might have a few toppled walls during your night. Some decorations will have lighting effects that won’t ruin the aesthetic of your maze while still providing much needed light. Remember, a lot of people will be wearing masks, which makes it difficult to see, reducing their field of vision.

Keep things safe! Don’t leave anything that could trip a maze-goer or catch on them, making them trip and most likely knocking parts of your maze over.

Rewards

Of course, Halloween isn’t complete without candy. Provide your maze-goers with a nice reward at the end. The final candy grab is also a great way to stage the last scare – someone acting as a dummy holding the bowl can get in one last fright. Just remember to only frighten those with the nerve to take it.

Keep your Lawn Healthy

All these people walking on your lawn might make you nervous that it will be damaged by the foot traffic. If your lawn is healthy and well-maintained, that shouldn’t be a problem. Just don’t water the day of and it should be fine. If your lawn isn’t as nice as you would like or it’s simply unhealthy, using a professional can assure that it will survive your haunted attraction. Contact Lawnscape today for all of your lawn maintenance needs!