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Creative Ideas for Shade in the Backyard

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With summer right around the corner, we will definitely be spending more time outdoors. Your backyard is fair game for get-togethers, barbecues, pool parties and relaxing with your family. However, nothing ruins the outdoors quite like too much sun, so having shade in the backyard is a must.

If you don’t already have shade in your backyard, it’s easy to shield areas from the sun. Creating shade in your backyard can completely change the look and feel of your yard, and make it a better place to entertain guests and spend your time. Consider these creative ways to add shade in the backyard.

Fabric and Tarps

By draping fabric or tarps you can create a restful, aesthetically pleasing space. Depending on what type of structures you have in place already in your backyard, you will have to get creative with how you drape the fabric. If you have a pergola or slatted ceiling, for example, it could be as simple as laying a tarp across the structure. If you have a deck, you can anchor the fabric to the deck railings to create a canopy. Make sure you choose a fade resistant and water resistant fabric or tarp specifically made for the outdoors.

Umbrellas

Perhaps the easiest way to create shade, a patio umbrella can make a great addition to your yard. They are available at most hardware and home decor stores, and you can match them to patio furniture to help keep dining outdoors cooler and more enjoyable. Drinks and appetizers in your backyard never sounded better!

Umbrellas are also mobile, meaning that they can move with you wherever you go. Whether you’re hanging out by the pool or tending to your backyard garden, an umbrella has you covered.

Pergola

A pergola is another great way to help create shade in the backyyard. It can help filter out sunlight and provide an architectural point of interest in your yard. There a ton of options depending on your style and budget and are available at most home décor stores. There are even DIY tutorials so that you can make your own.

Since a pergola doesn’t provide a completely shaded area, you can always use a tarp or fabric draped across the top to completely cover your space, as mentioned above. A pergola gives you more freedom when it comes to creating shade, allowing partial sun to warm you up on cooler days and the option to create total shade to cool you down on warmer days.

Natural Shade

This vine has a mythical look that can make a beautiful addition to your backyard. You can train the vine to grow and cover a free standing structure or a pergola to create an oasis of shade. Wisteria is a high climbing vine that droops in clusters of lilac flowers. It blooms in the spring, but the vines and leaves can provide shade year-round. It needs to be planted in fertile soil with full access to sunlight and can be trained to grow along a structure. Because wisteria can grow quickly, it is best to plant it in an area without other plants as it may overtake their area.

Trees are another great source of shade for your backyard. They are naturally cooling, and can provide a nice focal point if your yard is bare. You should choose a fast-growing tree that is suited for your area. Since trees can last a long time, you want to make sure you choose the right kind for your climate and one that fits your style. Rather than just going to a nursery to pick out a tree on the spot, take some time and research different kinds of trees that will do well in your yard.

Lawnscape has been serving Southern California since 1979. We service turf and ground cover areas, caring for both professionals and homeowners alike. Our fertilization, weed, insect and disease control services will ensure that the grass will always be greener on your lawn.

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7 Must-Have Gardening Tools

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must have gardening tools to have a beautiful backyard

As the weather warms up, spending time in your garden will become a more frequent habit. Planting seeds, watering the flowers, observing the buzzing bees and hummingbirds and watching your plants grow tall and strong are all things to look forward too. To make gardening easier, more effective and even more enjoyable, consider some of the best gardening tools available:

1. Hand Rank

One of the handiest and best gardening tools you can have, a hand rake has many uses. It can be used to loosen up the soil, bringing much needed air and moisture to lower layers of the soil. To make sure that your hand rake lasts for a long time, consider buying one that is made of stainless steel or aluminum.

2. Trowel

This handy tool is a shovel with a pointy end and is perfect for breaking up the dirt and digging up holes. Look for a trowel that will last long and has a comfortable handle. Since you’ll be using this to dig, a comfy handle is important.

3. Shears

A lot of cutting and pruning is needed to make plants grow. A sturdy set of shears will make the process so much easier. You can use them for pruning overgrown plants, deadheading (removing dead flowers), edging bushes and shrubs and so much more. Ideally, you should have several pairs of shears in different sizes. You should have bigger ones for cutting the big plants and smaller ones for cutting the delicate plants. When you’re at the store, ask if you can try out a few pairs to see how well they cut and how they feel on your hands. Choosing the perfect pair can make pruning and cutting a more enjoyable process.

4. Gloves

Protecting your hands is really important when tending to your garden. A durable, well-made pair of gloves can be among your best gardening tools, protecting your hands from all kinds of things – dirt, fertilizers, thorns, thistles and more. And if you are allergic to certain plants or fertilizers, these can save your hands from getting irritated and keep them confortable while handling these things.

5. Shovel

Different than a trowel, a shovel is also a necessary tool for your garden. Shovels are good for digging and lifting heavier things, like gravel and hard, packed dirt. And like a trowel, you want to look for a comfortable one that will last you awhile.

6. Plant Sensor

An EasyBloom Plant Sensor is a perfect tool for novice gardeners and experienced gardeners alike. It is basically a stake that you stick in the ground of your garden. You leave this tool in the ground for a few days so that it can collect data. It then looks at how much sun your plants are getting and how much water your plants are receiving. After those few days, take the stake out of the ground and find the USB drive part of the tool. Stick that in your computer to see the data and even get recommendation about how to improve your garden.

7. Gardening Apron

This tool may seem like a non-necessity but trust us when we say that it actually is needed. When gardening, you have a lot of tools and equipment that you need to carry around. In any gardening session, you will probably use many tools. Instead of trying to juggle them all at once or setting the tools on the ground for you to trip on, you could put them in your handy apron. Look for a sturdy, well-made apron with big pockets. Any gardening store or home improvement store should have good options. You can even make your own if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

Lawnscape has been serving Southern California since 1979. They service turf and ground cover areas, caring for both professionals and homeowners alike. Their fertilization, weed, insect and disease control services will ensure that the grass will always be greener on your lawn

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Top Plants That Thrive in Clay

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It’s no secret that planting in clay soil can be difficult – the clay becomes solid when dry and slippery when wet. When you are working with clay soil, you have two options: 1) Try to change the composition of the soil or 2) find plants that can thrive in this type of soil. Changing the soil composition is a long process that requires a lot of consistent hard work. Finding the top plants that thrive in clay, on the other hand, is easy.
There are actually many plants and flowers that do surprisingly well in clay. Try growing a garden with these adaptable plants:

Asters are daisy-like flowers that do amazingly well when planted in clay. They are very adaptable, usually bloom in autumn and grow 2-5 feet tall. Plus they come in a variety of colors, lavender, pink, white and more. Fun fact: they get their name from the Latin word for “stars.”

Goldenrod plants, in the Crown of Rays variety, are less than 2 feet tall, bloom in the late summer and have spiky yellow flowers. Other types of Goldenrods grow well in clay, but can grow up to 5 feet tall.

Russian Sage thrives in dry, hot conditions. In fact, this flowering plant does so well that some consider it to be an invasive species. Its lavender flowers and silver gray leaves make it a visually stunning addition to your garden.

Daylily flowers can grow in all types of conditions, making them great to plant in clay soil. They bloom several times throughout summer and come in a number of colors.

Little Bluestem is a North American prairie grass that can withstand long periods of drought with roots that burrow deep within the soil. It usually has blue/green foliage that turns crimson in autumn.

Fountain Grass is very low maintenance ornamental grass. The “Hameln” variety is shorter than other kinds, growing to about 2-2½ feet tall.

Ironweed is a tough perennial flower that can withstand drought and the summer heat. Its flowers are a pinkish purple color and even attract butterflies.

Canna can bring a tropical, dramatic vibe to your garden with its lush, colorful flowers and green foliage. It grows between 2 to 6 feet tall and can grow in poorly drained soils, like clay.

Black Eye Susan flowers can add a sunny, bright feeling to your garden. The most commonly grown variety is “Goldstrum” and is a bright, gold color.

Perennial Geraniums bloom in spring and can grow in full sun to part shade. They will continue to bloom throughout the summer, bringing lots of color and life to your garden.

Coral Bells, named for their small bell-shaped flowers, come in a variety of colors from silver to peach to deep purple. To see bright pink flowers set against silvery foliage, try the “Paris” coral bells.

Blazing Star is an interesting-looking plant: the small, densely clustered flower heads are feathery and colorful on long slender stems. Because they tend to look like feathers, the plant is sometimes called gayfeather.

Bee Balm can attract hummingbirds to your garden, and it is resistant to deer and rabbits. Its colorful flowers are red, pink, lavender and purple.

Sea Holly can add texture to your garden with its clusters of blue flowers and jagged leaves. This plant is also resistant to deer and rabbits.

Purple Coneflower attracts birds and butterflies to your garden with its colorful flowers. It needs a lot of sun to grow and comes in colors like red, burgundy and pink.

Coreopsis is a flowering plant perfect for covering the ground. It loves the sun and blooms in the summer.

As evidenced above by all these types of plants, clay soil is not death sentence to your garden. Plant a few of these top plants that thrive in clay and watch them grow into a medley of colorful plants!
Lawnscape has been serving Southern California since 1979. They service turf and ground cover areas, caring for both professionals and homeowners alike. Their fertilization, weed, insect and disease control services will ensure that the grass will always be greener on your lawn.

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Best Landscaping Ideas for a Small Yard

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There are all sorts of conflicting information about how you can make your small lawn look bigger. However, one thing is for sure: what’s most important is that you can enjoy your yard as much as possible. Fortunately, you can make your lawn a hospitable retreat while at the same time creating the illusion of a larger space by creating a destination and focal point in your landscaping. Not sure where to start? Here is some of the best landscaping for small backyards to inspire you.

Channel the Coast

Even if you don’t have an expansive seaside estate, you can incorporate elements of the sea into your landscaping. Tall sea grasses such as sedge not only have a coastal feel, when they blow in the wind they create an almost wave-like texture. Boardwalk paths and a fire pit reminiscent of oceanside bonfires add to the beachy feel. Add in some low maintenance, low water plants, like succulents and palm varieties, around your grass to provide variation in color and texture, and one or more water or sand features to round out your coastal getaway. This is just one of many ways landscaping for small backyards can act as a way to transport you to a different location.

Oasis for Edibles

Landscaping for small backyards can act as an outdoor dining room while also providing a space to foster edible plants. Place an outdoor dining set in your yard, but keep proportion in mind. You don’t want a table that is so large that it will overwhelm the space. Whether it’s a full dining table or a breakfast table, make sure your table is the right size for your yard. Built in or extendable tables are a great way to get extra space with minimal use of space. You can also install a fold-down, murphy bar or build a bar out of cinder blocks for a space efficient drink serving station. For variety in vegetation, herbs planted in tiered planters and vertical wall gardens can maximize space without giving up precious turf space, and draw the eye up, creating the illusion of a larger lawn. Tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, and figs are larger, but still space efficient edible options, which thrive in the Los Angeles climate.

Relaxing Retreat

Landscaping for small backyards can transform any space into a relaxing oasis. Outdoor beds, hammocks, loungers, and other seating and reclining options can provide a place to stretch out, while canopies or trees can create shade overhead. Outdoor grade throw pillows and blankets can provide an extra dimension of coziness. Don’t forget citronella candles and lamps to get bugs at bay and give off light for night time relaxation. Electrical string lights can top of your lighting needs while also adding to the cozy mood. Finally, border your lawn with tall vegetation, vertical planters, or decorative fencing to block out any unsightly views and close in the soothing and comfortable ambiance that you’ve created.

Warm Welcome

Take advantage of small front lawns by using them to create a beautiful and welcoming first impression for your home. Make sure views of the front door aren’t obstructed to draw the eye towards the entrance to your home, but use boldly colored or textured plants to line your driveway and pathways and to frame your front door. Put accents along the front fence or just along the front property line to enhance the appearance of depth and emphasize the full width of your lot. However, avoid large accent vegetation away from the edges of the lawn, which can create visual divisions and disruptions, to ensure that your yard maintains a feeling of openness.

Hire a Professional Lawn Care Service

It may seem like a smaller lawn is easier to take care of, but the reality is it just comes with its own set of problems. For example, damage from disease, drought, and more are far more likely to kill your entire turf, making it harder for you to recover your lawn than if you had a similarly sized damaged patch in a larger lawn. It is for these reasons why landscaping for small backyards isn’t always a breeze. Fortunately, a professional lawn care service like Lawnscape Systems, Inc. can help you keep your lawn healthy and gorgeous no matter how large it is, so that you and your family can get as much enjoyment out of it as possible. Whether you want to use one of our two lawn care plans to wash your hands of most or all of your lawn care, or just want our lawn care specialist to provide a few of our other additional services, Lawnscape can help. Contact Lawnscape Systems today to make sure that your lawn is taken care of.

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Watering Your Lawn on Hot Days

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Summer is arriving quickly and with it will come the high temperatures that can be so damaging for our beautiful landscaping. The damage from summer heat can feel especially frustrating if you’ve been taking extra care with your lawn all spring and have just now finally managed to recover your lawn from the chilly winter weather. Fortunately, the deadly problems associated with high temperatures, like discoloration, brown spots, fungus, disease, and pests can be avoided with proper lawn care. Let’s take a look at how to go about watering your lawn on hot days.

Mow Your Lawn the Right Way

You may want to cut your turf short so that you don’t have to push the mower around under the hot summer sun as often, but mowing too short and too much at once can cause serious damage to your lawn (as can a dull mower blade), making it sensitive to browning and disease. A good general rule to follow is to never cut more than a third of the length of your turf grass at once, so if your lawn looks best at two inches, mow when your turf is about three inches long.

It can also be tempting to try to get up early and mow before the heat of the day kicks in, but your lawn will thank you if you sleep in. When your lawn is still wet from morning dew it is more likely to suffer from uneven cuts and the resulting damage, and watering damp grass can also make it easier for disease to spread around your lawn. Instead, mow in the evening once it’s getting dark to give moisture a chance to reach the roots before cutting and to allow your lawn several hours in the cool darkness to heal from the mowing before facing hot, sunny weather again.

Water Your Turf Carefully

Speaking of drought, correct watering practices are just as important as correct mowing. An irrigation system is ideal for providing turf with the necessary inch or so of water per week, but you can still keep your lawn healthy and hydrated without one. What’s more important is watering at the right time of day. Some people say that watering during the hottest part of the day can be damaging to your lawn. While this isn’t true, watering your lawn on a hot day during the afternoon is less effective because much of the water will evaporate before it can reach the roots of your turf grass. Instead water in the morning, between 3 am and 9 am, to allow moisture to absorb into the soil before temperatures rise.

Another common watering misconception is that you should water a little bit every day, but this type of watering pattern doesn’t allow enough moisture to reach turf’s roots. Instead, water deeply, for about half an hour, three or four times a week to ensure that the moisture can really absorb into the soil and roots. Be careful not to over water, however, as this can encourage the development of diseases and pests.

Be Gentle on Your Turf

Just like you need to avoid damaging your lawn when you mow, you also need to be careful about damaging your turf through cultivation practices or the application of lawn care products. Fertilizing may seem like a great way to provide your turf with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy in the oppressive heat, but in reality, fertilizing only encourages growth, causing plants to expend extra energy and causing further stress to your grass. Similarly, hold off on aggressive cultivation strategies like aerification and dethatching that can damage your lawn when it’s at a reduced ability to heal until the fall or spring when your lawn is at its healthiest.

Stay on Top of Lawn Care All Year

Prevention is always better than response, so don’t slack on lawn care while the weather is cooler. Keeping your lawn healthy throughout the year ensures that your lawn is in healthier condition when summer starts, making it much more hardy and able to survive scalding temperatures. Luckily for you, we have plenty of resources to provide you with the information to keep your lawn in top shape all year long. Don’t forget to browse our Seasonal Tips page for updated information as each new season arrives.

Hire a Professional Lawn Care Service

If you are struggling with watering your lawn on hot days and keeping your lawn healthy during the Summer months Lawnscape Systems, Inc. can help. Lawnscape Systems a leader in Southern California lawn care, offering a variety of lawn care programs and services with something for every lawn caregiver. Contact Lawnscape Systems today to keep your lawn in the best health possible all year long.

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How and Why Rabbits Damage Your Lawn

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Many people love rabbits and even keep them as pets. It’s easy to see why. The shy little guys are adorable, especially when they have babies, and, as a symbol of spring, they seem quite appropriate and thematic this time of year. Right up until they make themselves at home and your lawn and start damaging it. Despite their petite size and cute, cuddly appearance, these little herbivores can quickly and easily wreak havoc on a lawn and garden, and their ability to reproduce so quickly makes this damage grow exponentially the longer it goes own. A cute rabbit family can quickly become a quick rabbit problem.

Damage Caused by Wild Rabbits

Their ravenous appetites make rabbits disastrous for many types of vegetation, particularly close to the ground and in areas close to uncultivated lands, like those found near greenbelts, parks, and residential areas. These uncultivated areas provide places for rabbits to rest and hide near food sources like your lawn and garden.

Rabbits aren’t picky eaters and will consume and destroy a wide variety of vegetation, but do have some favorites, including but not limited to:

● Vegetable plants, like beans, beets, broccoli, carrot, lettuce, and peas
● Fruits and nuts, such as almonds, apples, blackberries, cherries, citrus fruits, pistachios plums, raspberries, and strawberries
● Herbs like cilantro and parsley
● Ornamental plants including a wide variety of flowers, shrubs, trees, and turf types

In addition, rabbits can be destructive by gnawing through plastic irrigation lines, particularly the small diameter varieties. They may also gnaw on young trees’ thin bark, but the thick, rough bark of older trees is too difficult for them to sink their teeth into. This gnawing can girdle the tree (completely remove the bark from a ring around the tree). If this occurs around the trunk, this terminally damages the plant, but in the case of branches or shoots, the damaged limb can simply be removed.

A rabbit problem can be reason for concerns because of other issues as well. Rabbits sometimes carry a disease called tularemia, or rabbit fever, but this disease is relatively rare in humans. It can be contracted by handling an infected rabbit with bare hands or consuming under cooked rabbit meat. As rabbits can also carry rabies, it’s generally recommended to avoid handling wild rabbits.

Dealing with a Rabbit Problem

Thankfully rabbits, though annoying and damaging, are also totally manageable.

First, make your lawn and garden less appealing by removing attractions for rabbits. Trim low hanging branches that can provide shelter to rabbits from trees, shrubs, and bushes. Keep rabbits out of sheds and out from underneath decks or porches by blocking holes and openings, or out of your yard in general by putting up fencing. You may also want to block rabbits from coming near water features. Make sure fencing is at least three feet high and six inches deep into the ground to avoid having rabbits hope over or tunnel under.

Either remove plants that attract rabbits, or take steps to protect them. You can replace plants that rabbits love with plants that they don’t. Big periwinkle and bougainvillea are great ground cover plants, while birch and alder trees can provide shade that rabbits won’t enjoy. You don’t have to sacrifice color with shrub options like rhododendron and camellia, which can be particularly effective with both perennial and annual plants like goat weed, impatiens, verbena, Echinacea, honeysuckle, and Mexican marigolds.

If you’d rather keep your existing landscaping, you can put up barriers around plants that seem to be particular favorites, and hardware cloth wrapped around the base of a tree can protect the bark. Fertilizer containing blood or bone meal repels herbivores like rabbits and for improved effectiveness you can also add in other repellents like cayenne pepper, human or pet hair, kitty litter, coffee grounds, and manure. Cats and dogs can scare rabbits away, but a decoy predator can also be effective. A variety of effective electronic repellents can be purchased. While these will drive away your rabbit problem and many other pest species, they can also repel wanted wildlife, like songbirds, and can bother pets. Traps for catch and release are also available, but because of animal release laws and the possible dangers associated with handling a wild animal, even an adorable rabbit, using these traps is not recommended.

Pest Prevention and Lawn Recovery

If you are struggle with a rabbit problem, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Since we started in 1979, Lawnscape Systems, Inc. has been one of southern California’s leaders in lawn care. Whether you’re interested in one of our two lawn care programs or any of the many additional lawn care services that we offer, including pest management and comprehensive lawn restoration and recovery, Lawnscape can help any lawn and lawn caregiver. No matter how much work you want to put into your lawn, Lawnscape can ensure you get the most out. And because we only use the highest quality EPA certified products, you can feel safe knowing that any products we apply are safe for the environment and for your family. Contact Lawnscape Systems today!

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How to Maintain Seasonal Lawn Care

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It can be easy to fall into a routine when it comes to your lawn care. However, your lawn changes throughout the year, so the way you care for it must change to match. This not only keeps your lawn healthy, but also beautiful and in top condition for your enjoyment all year long. Let’s find out how you can get started with seasonal lawn care.

Spring

The best way to start your spring lawn maintenance is with a soil test. A thorough soil test should check for soil pH (neutral soil, with a pH of about 6.5, is best for growing turf grass) and phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium salt (potash) levels. If levels are good, you don’t need to waste time and money applying lime and if not you won’t waste on soil amendments that will be ineffective until the pH is balanced. If you have good soil, all you need to do is apply nitrogen fertilizer. Remember to sweep or blow excess product onto grass from walks and driveways to prevent these chemicals from ending up in water sources.

Next, help your lawn recover from its dormant winter state by mowing, edging, and dethatching. Till or aerate your soil to improve drainage. Finally, get ahead of potential weed problems. Soil amendments are a great start, but you can also apply products like weed and feed fertilizers and pre-emergent herbicides. You should also use effective weeding strategies on weeds as soon as weeds crop up to avoid growing weed problems and lawn damage.

Summer

Summer heat can be drying and damaging to lawns everywhere, but especially so in Southern California, but the way you water can massively impact the effectiveness of your efforts. Water early in the morning, before 9 am or late in the evening after temperatures have dropped to allow more water to be absorbed into the soil instead of evaporating. It’s also more effective to water for half an hour every other day than to water daily for a few minutes, as this allows the water to reach the lawn’s roots.

Take the opportunity to stay out of the heat by letting your grass grow longer between mows. Longer grass shades and protects the soil, keeping it hydrated and promoting the retention of nutrients.

However, a healthy lawn can attract pests and encourage the growth of fungus and diseases, especially if the lawn has excess moisture, so keep a careful eye out for these problems so that you can quickly nip these problems in the bud. For severe pest problems, professional intervention may be the best option.

Fall

Fall is the ideal time to help your lawn recover from summer damage and begin protecting your lawn before winter arrives. Reseed any damaged spots and, if you have heat resistant turf, consider over-seeding your lawn to help increase survival during winter. Aerate before seeding to help new turf put down roots and improve resistance to winter damage. Fertilizing after aerating add extra nutrients to your soil and allow these nutrients to further penetrate the soil, helping your turf to survive the winter. Start to cut grass shorter than usual. Short grass will survive the winter better, but cutting too short too quickly can be harmful to plants, so do this gradually.

Weeds can be easy to miss during the fall as they grow slower, they can be hidden by fallen leaves, and lawn caregivers become less careful. Be sure to keep up your weed prevention routine to avoid weakening your lawn before cold weather begins.

Winter

Southern California winters may be pretty mild, but our turf still becomes dormant during the cold, so it’s still necessary to practice seasonal lawn care to ensure a healthy and beautiful lawn. Applying a layer of mulch can protect the nutrients in the soil during the cooler months. Winter slows the growth of grass, so be careful not to over mow.

You may also want to take advantage of the almost inevitable browning of your lawn with weed control. Weeds are hardier than standard turf grasses, so while your lawn becomes discolored, they tend to stand out in the same bright green they always are. Be careful to use a targeted herbicide or an herbicide shield. Even though your grass is dormant, it can still be damaged by herbicides.

Professional Lawn Care Services

If you’re not sure where to start your seasonal lawn care, a professional lawn care service like Lawnscape might be the right choice for you. Since we started in 1979, Lawnscape Systems, Inc. has been one of southern California’s leaders in lawn care. Lawnscape offers something for virtually every homeowner, and because we only use high quality and EPA certified products, you never have to worry about what products are being applied to your lawn and garden. No matter what you want from a lawn care professional, don’t wait to act. Contact Lawnscape Systems right away to keep your lawn in top shape year-round.

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Top 5 Spring Gardening Ideas

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Spring is the perfect opportunity to put some time into your garden. Being surrounded by the season’s new life is inspiring, it feels great to spend some time outside in the comfortable temperatures, and the weather conditions are perfect for both cultivating new plants and just helping existing plants to reach their full potential. Just like you, Lawnscape Systems loves the change of seasons, so we’ve put together a few of the best Spring gardening ideas to help you take advantage of the season and improve your lawn and garden.

1. Introduce New Colors and Textures

If you feel like your landscaping has grown a bit monotonous, Spring provides an excellent opportunity to shake up your flora. For hardy, low maintenance color, try wildflowers like trillium, trout lily, and wild columbine. Remember that you can also bring in reds and blues with grasses and bushes. Mix bold and delicate leaves to create interest. Vines can make a statement on their own or provide a backdrop for other plants. When planted in mass the right grasses, like meadowy sedge or plains-native bluegrass, can create the feeling of water as they ripple in a breeze, providing a unique feel to even dry gardens.

2. Try a Container Garden

Adding new vegetation doesn’t require uprooting your lawn or existing garden. Containers provide an excellent option that allows you to add plants without having to necessarily commit to a single location or damage your landscaping. And designing your own container garden is easier than it looks! Seed mixes specifically for planting in containers can be bought at virtually any garden store for a no effort solution. Mix pansies of a variety of colors to add color but maintain a consistent shape. For a tasty and interestingly textured container garden, try planting a variety of salad greens. For newcomers, the key to designing an attractive container garden is to try to contrast texture or color, but not both.

3. Place Plants Strategically

Whether placing in the ground or in a container, be sure to place your plants for the best possible effect. You can place your plants along your driveway and near your front door to greet guests, or along your front fence to make your home stand out from others on the street. Use plants to frame archways, water features, and other focal points in your landscaping for dramatic effect. Use tall plants, stacked and hanging planters, and climbing plants to provide privacy or hide unsightly outdoor structures.

4. Add Height to Your Landscaping

Think above ground level. For the best effect, you don’t want all of your interesting plants to be low to the ground. Blooming shrubs, like Chinese snowball, can add a bit of height to your landscaping, while flowering trees, like flowering cherry trees or purple-leaf plum trees, can take your landscaping to even greater heights. Bushes and shrubs are low maintenance, but can take some work to install. If you want something a little easier to put in, try elevated planters and hanging baskets instead.

5. Take Advantage of the Season with Lawn Maintenance

Even if you don’t want to make any major changes to your landscaping, spring is the perfect time to take a few steps to keep your lawn beautiful all year long. First take care of any lawn cleanup, including weeding, and tend to existing flowers, shrubs, and trees as needed. Perform a soil test and apply fertilizer and lime as needed. Till or aerate your soil and fluff up and apply knew mulch to improve drainage and soil nutrition. Rake to remove excess thatch.

For even less work and the best Spring gardening ideas, simply hire a professional lawn care service to take care of maintenance for you, letting you take advantage of the spring weather without having to put in the work yourself. Lawnscape Systems, Inc. offers two comprehensive lawn care programs and a wide variety of additional lawn care services, so whether you want a little assistance in keeping your lawn healthy and beautiful just this once or want to eliminate lawn care chores from your life entirely, Lawnscape has an option for you. Lawnscape has been a leader in lawn care since our creation in 1979, so you know you can trust our experienced lawn care professionals (just ask our happy customers) and we only use EPA certified products, so you don’t have to worry about what’s being applied to your property.

Spring is the ideal time to turn your lawn into the oasis you deserve, so don’t wait. Contact Lawnscape Systems today for the top Spring gardening ideas.

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50 Shades of Green

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One of the most frustrating aspects of lawn maintenance is making sure your grass stays the same length, color, and thickness throughout. Maintaining a balanced, consistent looking lawn can be a challenge, especially if you can’t tell what’s causing the discoloration or inconsistency. Fortunately, most inconsistently grown or patchy grass can be easily remedied with a little knowledge and some easy DIY steps.

Deeper Green Spots

If you have patchy grass that is deep green, and much more vibrant than the surrounding turf, your first instinct may be to ignore it, or try and figure out why the rest of your grass appears to be lagging behind. This instinct can sometimes be correct; it’s possible you just have some exceptionally healthy grass in one or two areas due to soil or watering inconsistencies that aren’t much to worry about. On the other hand, a patch of deeper green grass can be a sign that there are some issues going on that may take some time and effort to deal with.

Most commonly, you may see some deeper green patchy grass in areas that get more shade during the day. If you have one section of your lawn that’s getting less sun, it’s possible that area of turfgrass is simply getting more water to its roots than other areas of your lawn. If this is the case, you may want to test your watering system, and make sure you’re getting enough water, around 1 to 1.5 inches, to your grass. If your lawn is getting at least this much water, you may want to think about watering more in areas that get excessive sun, as you may be dealing with drought conditions that are disrupting your lawn’s growth patterns. If you’re not sure if water is the problem, you may want to have your soil tested to make sure nothing else is going on like a lack of nutrients in certain areas of soil.

Dealing with Fairy Rings in Your Grass

If your grass is darker in a large ring-shaped patch, you may have what is known as a fairy ring. Fairy rings are caused by fungal growths that increase the nitrogen content of the soil as they grow and decompose. This can cause darker rings of turfgrass to form, often with thin or brown grass growing just outside the ring. Fortunately, there are antifungals and other treatments that can get rid of the fungus, which will stop the nitrogen buildup in the soil that creates the imbalance.

Brown Grass

If your grass is brown all over, or in large areas, chances are your grass is lacking in one of the key things it needs to grow and remain healthy. The most prevalent of these is water. Without adequate water getting to your lawn’s roots, it can’t grow or repair sun or insect damage, which makes it incredibly important to water your lawn properly.

The second most common cause of widespread brown, patchy grass is improper mowing. If you’re mowing your lawn with dull blades, you’re tearing grass instead of cutting it, which damages or ever destroys the grass blade and makes it very difficult for the grass to grow.

Finally, there are a number of diseases that can cause your lawn to be discolored, but many of these require a professional diagnosis.

Small Brown or Yellow Areas

If you have small brown or yellowish areas in your grass, chances are you have some form of contaminant or impurity that is causing some discoloration. The most common problem is gasoline, solvents, or other harsh chemicals that have been spilled on the grass, in which case the best course of action is to flush the area heavily with large amounts of water, and then re-fertilize and reseed the area, making sure to remove any possible sources of contamination such as leaking containers or spills.

If you have small areas of brown or yellow grass ringed by deeper green grass, chances are there’s an animal or animals urinating on your lawn. Your best bet here is to talk to your neighbors about keeping their dogs out of your yard, and barring that work towards keeping other critters and creatures off your lawn.

Professional Help

If you’ve tried the above, or you’re just struggling to find the time or energy to get your lawn to a nice, even shade of green, it may be time to consider calling in the cavalry. Lawnscape Systems offers a wide variety of lawn services to get your lawn back to its healthiest, greenest state. Contact us today to set up a consultation to find out more about what Lawnscape can do to help improve your lawn.

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Watering Your Lawn: How Much is Too Much?

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Watering your lawn is a delicate balance. Too little and the grass turns brown and dies, too much and you drown the grass and leach nutrients out of the soil. Striking that balance can be difficult, and failing to do so can leave you with a less than stellar lawn. One of the most common pitfalls isn’t underwatering however, its overwatering. Over-watering also has more severe consequences in the short term, and causes problems that are more difficult to correct.

Overwatering Kills Plant Roots

Oversaturating soil has many negative effects for plants rooted in that soil, particularly shallow-rooted plants such as turf grasses. The soil under your grass is largely porous, and those pores are typically filled with air. Excessive water pushes out this air and can lead to suffocation of grass roots, which weakens the plant and cuts off its nutrient-gathering ability. This leads to dead spots, brown grass, and sparse or patchy lawns.

Overwatering Wastes Money and Resources

Watering your lawn too much also wastes money and drives up your water bill, while simultaneously wasting valuable natural resources. Ground-water, particularly in areas that are prone to drought, is a limited resource that needs to be jealously shepherded in order to maintain sufficient water supplies for more vital operations. This is especially true in places like Southern California that tend to deal with summertime droughts and a lack of groundwater availability. Wasting this groundwater can exacerbate drought conditions and contributes to water shortages.

Too much water also pulls important nutrients out of the soil and washes them away. This can lead to dry soil that can’t support plant life, which makes for something of a perfect storm of erosion potential that can end with your topsoil getting washed away.

Overwatering Leads to Nitrate Pollution and Over Fertilization

An often-overlooked consequence of too much water in a yard is the risk of nitrate pollution. Nitrates, essential nutrients for plant development, are heavily present in fertilizer. This is excellent for getting your grass to grow, but it can also lead to nitrate pollution of groundwater resources, particularly nearby lakes and rivers. It’s important to carefully control the amount of water a heavily-fertilized lawn gets to avoid this nitrate pollution of local groundwater. The same goes for lawns that have been heavily sprayed with weed killers or other pesticides and herbicides.

You will also be spending much more on fertilizer if you’re overwatering your lawn, and may find that you’re not getting the results you expected. This is in large part because overwatering will carry all of those valuable nutrients away. This leads to more fertilizing, which leads to more groundwater pollution, and starts a vicious cycle that ends with tainted groundwater and a lawn that’s just as dead as when you started.

Maintaining the Right Amount of Water

All of this raises the question of how exactly a homeowner should gauge the right amount of water for their lawn. Well, as a general rule, your lawn needs about 1.5 inches of water every week to stay healthy. To gauge this, simply run your irrigation system and measure the output of the system by placing a few straight-sided containers out to see how much water each area of your lawn is getting.

If you want to get more precise, real-time measurements, which can be particularly useful if you have problems getting your lawn healthy, you can invest in a series of soil sensors that will automatically update you on the state of the moisture levels in the soil. This lets you achieve the ideal amount of water for your lawn, without over or underwatering.

Getting Professional Help with Your Lawn

Lawnscape Systems, Inc. has been the premier choice for lawn care in Southern LA since 1979. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of lawn care and maintenance, contact Lawnscape today to see how we can help keep your landscaping healthy and beautiful. We can help ensure your lawn stays healthy and green year-round, without any worries of over or under watering.

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