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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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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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Common Garden Mushrooms

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GardenMushrooms(tfl-02)

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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Best Lawn Care Tips

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Working with wheelbarrow  in the garden

With spring rapidly approaching, many homeowners have begun to think about spring cleaning. While maintenance jobs and a deep clean of the inside of your home are common as the days get warmer, few people think to take advantage of the warming weather to thoroughly clean and maintain their lawns and gardens as well. However, taking the time to clean and maintain your lawn during the spring and fall, when the weather is more mild and comfortable, saves time and energy during the summer and winter, when being outside can be miserable. So how can you clean up your lawn?

Remove Debris

First things first: clear any debris in your lawn or garden. Use a leaf blower to clear roofs and gutters, then mulch leaves using a lawn mower or rake them onto a tarp for easy removal. Wind, rain, and other weather events can tear up your trees. Pick up any sticks or fallen branches that the weather has left behind. You can move them to somewhere they won’t be a problem, chop them up for firewood, or use a wood chipper to turn it to mulch for your lawn or composting. Then pick up any other debris, such as animal waste, pinecones or straw, rocks, sticks, and toys, tools, and other household goods.

Smart Weed Elimination

Ideally you should deal with weeds as soon as you see them, but that’s not always practical. If you’re like many homeowners and have let weeds build up, now is the time to deal with them. It can be tempting to deal with weeds by using a generous amount of herbicide, but you won’t be doing your landscaping any favors by overdoing it. Pull weeds or use other elimination methods before using herbicide. If you must use herbicide, use as little as you can and be sure to protect non-target plants with a spray collar. Never spray on a windy day.

Trim and Reshape Plants

Before you start, make sure all your tools are sharp. Trim any ornamental grasses. Prune back any bushes or shrubs. Reshape them, but also don’t forget to remove flower buds as needed to make sure they don’t bloom early. Carry a five-gallon bucket to deposit your clippings and trimmings so they don’t get left on the ground, making more of a mess. Cut back or remove branches from trees as needed. This is a great time to mow your lawn, but it’s also a great time to maintain your mower. Sharpen and clean your mower blades, and check to ensure that your mower belts are free of cracks and wear.

Consider Composting

While cleaning and maintaining your lawn, you’ll accumulate a lot of plant waste, like leaves and plant trimmings. A great way to remove this waste while getting extra benefit for your lawn is to compost it. Use a wood chipper or your lawn mower to break the plant waste down to small pieces, then place it into a compost bin where they can heat up and break down. Later, you can use this compost to fertilize your decorative plants.

Engage in Prevention

Spring and fall are also perfect times to prevent weeds and animal pests. This will make cleaning and maintaining your lawn in the future much easier. Mulch and landscape fabric can be used for gardens. Animal pest prevention depends on your specific problems, but common pest prevention strategies include pest proof fencing and planting pest proof plants.

Professional Lawn Care Services

Cleaning and maintaining a lawn can be incredibly rewarding. It’s a great feeling to see the improvements to your lawn and know that you are responsible for them. For many people, it can also therapeutic and relaxing. However, it also takes time and effort we don’t all have. In these situations, a professional lawn care service may be the solution.

Since we started in 1979, Lawnscape Systems, Inc. has been one of southern California’s leaders in lawn care. Between our two landscape programs and wide variety of additional lawn services, Lawnscape offers something for virtually every homeowner, whether you want to wash your hands of lawn maintenance and care entirely or just want a little bit of help, 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. Contact Lawnscape Systems right away to get your lawn in the best shape ever.

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