How to Recognize When You Can Stop Mowing

Each weekend in spring, summer and fall, millions of homeowners fire up their mowers and cut the grass in their yards. A few hours spent mowing the lawn can be a great time to get some sun and some exercise in the great outdoors.

As fall gradually transitions to winter, homeowners may wonder when to stop mowing their lawns. Each lawn is different, and when to stop mowing may depend on a host of factors, including local climate and the type of turf. In addition to climate and turf, homeowners can keep an eye on these conditions to determine when the time is right to put their mowers away for the winter:

Frost

Warm-season grasses typically go dormant after a couple of significant frosts. Homeowners can jot down each frost during fall. Frosts are most noticeable in the early morning hours, so be sure to check lawn conditions each morning as the weather begins to grow cold. Frost may be noticeable without even going outside, but homeowners may need to go outside to check on chilly mornings or on days when the previous night was especially cold. If you must go outside, stay off the grass to protect it. Two or three frosts might be enough to make warm-season grasses go dormant for the winter. Cool-season grasses may keep growing and require moving even after a few frosts, so it’s imperative that homeowners determine which type of grass is in their yards.

Soil temperature

If it’s hard to determine if frosts have occurred, homeowners can try checking the temperature of their soil to decide if they need to keep mowing. The lawn care experts at Pennington recommend homeowners continue mowing warm-season grasses so long as they keep growing. Lawns may not grow as quickly in fall as they do in spring or summer, and growth may not be as visible to the naked eye during this time of year as it is in other times. Homeowners can routinely check soil temperature to determine if their grasses have stopped growing. Warm-season grasses tend to stop growing once the soil temperature is consistently at 55 F or below, while cool-season grasses tend to stop when temperatures are 45 F or lower.

Falling leaves have long been a barometer used by homeowners to determine if they need to keep mowing their lawns. That’s not necessarily a reliable metric, as grass can still keep growing even if leaves have been falling for weeks. In addition, using a mulching mower when leaves begin falling is a great way to provide the lawn with nutrients it can use throughout the winter. Some trees shed their leaves more quickly than others, but it’s a good rule of thumb that lawns will need to keep being mowed if trees are still retaining more than half their leaves.

A host of factors can help homeowners determine when it’s safe to put their mowers away for the winter.

Do you need help mowing your lawn in Greencastle, PA and surrounding Franklin County, PA areas? Contact the professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today! We are equipped to handle all of your landscaping needs.

What to Do About an Over Fertilized Lawn

Lush lawns are not achieved without a lot of hard work. That hard work often involves some trial and error, and one of the simplest errors a person can make is over fertilizing a lawn.

Over fertilization is an easy mistake to make, but it’s a mistake that can have long-lasting consequences. According to the lawn care experts at Scotts’, over fertilizing a lawn can damage grass. Over fertilized lawns are subject to excessive leaf growth, which may require more maintenance, like extra mowing, in the interim. Over time, an over fertilized lawn can develop a sponge-like feel and may be increasingly vulnerable to fungal disease.

Of course, homeowners can only address an over fertilized lawn after they learn to spot signs that the lawn has been fed too much fertilizer. Brown and patchy grass is one of the telltale signs that a lawn has been over fertilized. This can occur because too much nitrogen has made its way onto the lawn. Scotts’ notes that nitrogen greens up grass and helps it grow, but too much nitrogen can scorch the lawn, making it brown and patchy.

Minimal growth after fertilization is another indicator of over fertilization. Some lawns that have been over fertilized may not grow at all afterward.

Blackened or limp grass and crusting of fertilizer on the top of the soil are other symptoms of over fertilization.

When fertilizing a lawn, it’s important that homeowners recognize that many products are now slow-release fertilizers. Packaging will indicate if your fertilizer fits this mold, and if it does, don’t be surprised if results are not immediate. Slow-release fertilizers can help with lawns where the soil does not drain especially well. Give these fertilizers time to do their job and resist the temptation to apply more fertilizer.

If a lawn has indeed been over fertilized, homeowners can remove any fertilizer they see on top on the soil. Once the fertilizer has been removed, water the lawn heavily, which can wash any remaining residue away. Watering daily in the ensuing days can remove any lingering fertilizer and reduce the likelihood that a lawn will develop issues with fungus.

Fertilizing a lawn involves carefully adhering to manufacturer instructions. If a lawn is over fertilized, removing fertilizer on the soil and heavily watering the lawn can help restore it to health and reduce the risk for disease.

Do you need help dealing with your over fertilized lawn in Carlisle, PA and surrounding Franklin County, PA areas? Contact the professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today! We are equipped to handle all of your landscaping needs.

A Lesson in Building a Backyard Retaining Wall

Flat, even landscapes are often coveted in backyards. However, flat backyards are not always so easy to find. Fortunately, varied terrain does not mean that certain landscaping plans are entirely off limits, especially for homeowners willing to build retaining walls.

Retaining walls help turn steep slopes in a yard into terraced focal points. They also can reduce soil erosion in hilly areas and can be used for aesthetic purposes, like raised planters, or to create more usable space within the yard. When an inground pool or pond is cut into a backyard hill, a retaining wall helps keep the remaining portion of that hill from collapsing into the cut-away area.

When contemplating retaining wall projects, a lesson in physics and engineering may be needed. A sturdy and long-lasting retaining wall needs to be built in a way that will take into consideration the force of the soil and the point at which the soil will begin to slide away, advises the experts at The Family Handyman. If these calculations seem beyond the scope of your ability, installation of a retaining wall is a job best left to a professional. If you are ready to forge ahead, these tips can get you started. However, it’s important to note the potential benefits of working with others who have already built a retaining wall.

  • Safety first: Call to have underground utilities plotted and marked before beginning any excavation.
  • Map out your trench and begin to dig. The trench should have a level, compacted base as it will be the foundation for which the retaining wall materials, be they blocks, bricks or wood, sit in. A crushed stone base will help anchor the courses and serve to promote drainage. The Family Handyman says to bury the first course of the retaining wall one-tenth the height of the wall to prevent soil behind it from pushing the bottom out.
  • Check for level. When placing blocks or timbers, make sure they are even with the first and periodically check for level as you go, advises the home improvement retailer Lowes®.
  • Stagger and set back. The next row of blocks or material should be positioned so that the joints are staggered for blocks, bricks or wood. A masonry blade will be needed to cut the harder materials; a circular saw will cut timber. Also, work against gravity by setting the second course slightly back from the first to help push back against the soil that is trying so hard to push forward. Repeat the process as each level is placed. Many retaining wall products are made with a lip to create this set back.
  • Go with the grade. For especially steep slopes, a gradual step-up design may be more secure and more appealing than a very tall retaining wall. Each level of a stepped design should be done like the first.
  • Backfill with stone for drainage. Using a layer of stone behind the retaining wall can help successfully direct water away so it will not increase the weight of the soil behind the wall and push against the retaining wall, advises The Home Depot.

Retaining walls serve different purposes in a yard. Building such a wall requires planning and careful execution to ensure the job is done correctly.

If constructing a retaining wall is too large of a project to handle, or you simply do not have the time, contact the professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today!

We are skilled and experienced in constructing retaining walls as well as a number of other hardscaping projects in Chambersburg and Shippensburg, PA as well as other surrounding areas in Franklin County including Greencastle, Fayetteville, and Carlisle, PA.

Mulching Mistakes to Avoid

Landscape features vary significantly from house to house in Greencastle, PA. Some homeowners may prefer water features on their properties, while others focus on flowers that would be the envy of a botanical garden. Regardless of those preferences, lawn and garden enthusiasts who want to make their properties as idyllic as possible may eventually look to mulch to help them accomplish that goal.

Mulch helps soil retain moisture, which promotes strong, healthy flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs. And because soil beneath mulch retains more moisture than soil that’s not protected by mulch, homeowners won’t have to spend as much time watering mulched landscapes. That saves time and conserves water, which can be a big benefit in areas prone to drought and/or especially hot summers. Mulch also helps to suppress weed growth, which can ensure all that hard work needed to create an eye-catching garden won’t be compromised by the presence of unsightly, thirsty weeds.

Mulching seems like a simple task, and it can be. But that does not mean homeowners cannot make mistakes when mulching. The following are some common mulching mistakes to avoid as lawn and garden season hits full swing.

Not enough mulch

Mulch is ineffective when spread too thin. The Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech and Virginia State University recommends applying mulch no less than two inches in depth. Anything less than that will prove ineffective at preventing weed growth and helping the soil retain moisture, and that means you will need to water more often.

Poorly located mulch

Mulch should not be placed too close to plant stems or tree trunks. When it is, tissue is so wet that it makes for a perfect environment for disease and insect infestation.

Failing to mulch to the drip line

The drip line of a tree refers to the outermost circumference of the tree’s canopy from which water drips onto the ground. The VCE recommends mulching to the drip line of a plant or tree, which ensures the plant or tree will get the most out of the mulch. Mulching to the drip line also minimizes competition from the grass, leading to stronger plants and trees.

Failing to weed before mulching

Weeds should be removed prior to mulching. If they’re not, the mulch can provide the same growing environment for weeds that you’re trying to create for your plants and trees.

Mulching benefits a landscape in myriad ways, especially when homeowners avoid some common mulching mistakes. Need help? Contact the landscaping pros at Locust Ridge Landscape to tackle your next mulching project in Greencastle, PA.

Improve Soil Quality for a Better Lawn

A lush, green lawn can vastly improve a home’s curb appeal. Thick, healthy grass indicates that homeowners care enough about their properties to invest the time, effort and money to make them beautiful.

According to the landscaping tool company Troy-Bilt, soil fertility is the foundation of healthy lawns. In fact, the quality of the soil is essential whether one is growing acres of grass, potted plants or vegetable garden beds. No matter which type of soil a homeowner is working with, there are various ways to make it better.

Remove thatch

Thatch is a tightly knotted layer of leaves, grass roots, stems, and other debris that accumulates between the grass blades and the soil. Too much thatch can hinder the movement of water, air and nutrients into the soil. According to organic fertilizer company Organo-Lawn, thatch often occurs if the production of dead organic material in the lawn exceeds the ability of the microorganisms in the soil to break down that organic matter. A half-inch of thatch is normal. If thatch gets too thick, it will need to be removed. The home improvement resource DIY Network says dethatching can take place in the summer, fall and winter using a thatching rake.

Aerate

A lawn aerator will create holes in the soil. This can improve drainage and encourage worms and helpful microorganisms that require oxygen to thrive in the soil. The Briggs & Stratton Company says the best time to aerate a lawn is during the growing season when the grass can heal and fill in any holes, such as spring and fall. Aeration can help develop deeper grass roots for a healthier lawn.

Test and amend soil

A great lawn has loamy soil, which has a key ratio of clay, silt and sand. Silt is a granular material of a size between sand and clay that originates from quartz and feldspar. It is the most fertile of the three types of soil components. Sand does not retain water, but it helps to create spaces in the soil that permit air to circulate. Clay particles are small and bind together tightly, but clay is naturally nutrient-rich. The home improvement site BobVila.com says loamy soil should have equal parts sand and silt and half as much clay.

If the lawn is not yet established, loamy soil can be created and then the grass seeds planted. For established soil, after removing thatch and aerating, top-dressing the lawn can help. This involves adding a thin layer of soil over the lawn. It can improve the soil without killing the existing turf. Ideally, it should be done in early fall or spring, as this gives the grass time to grow through three to four more mowings before severe heat or cold sets in.

Healthy soil is vital to a lush lawn. It takes a little work, but improving soil can create vibrant, healthy, green grass.

If you need help improving your lawn’s soil quality and improving your overall landscape, contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today! We offer the best landscaping and lawn care services in Greencastle, PA and surrounding Franklin County, PA areas.

The Differences Between Organic and Inorganic Mulches

The benefits of mulch are widely known among lawn and garden enthusiasts. By insulating soil from extreme temperatures, helping soil to retain moisture and preventing weed growth, mulch can help plants, trees and gardens thrive, even during periods when Mother Nature can make that very difficult.

Novice gardeners may find themselves a little confused when visiting a lawn and garden center to purchase mulch. That’s because there are various types of mulches. One of the ways to simplify that is to break mulches down into two main classes: organic and inorganic. Learning to distinguish between these two classes can help homeowners in Chambersburg and Shippensburg, PA choose the best mulch for their properties.

Organic Mulch

Organic mulches are made up of materials that decompose over time. The experts at BobVila.com note that, because they decompose over time, organic mulches must be replenished on a regular bais. Hardwood and softwood chips are among the most popular and recognizable organic mulches. Evergreen needles, leaves, grass clippings, and compost mixes also fall under the organic mulch umbrella. Many gardening enthusiasts prefer organic mulches because they help soil retain moisture, improve soil fertility and help to deter weed growth.

Inorganic Mulches

Inorganic mulches are permanent because they do not decompose over time. Gravel, brick chips and crushed stone are examples of inorganic mulches. Homeowners who do not intend to plant after laying mulch may lean toward inorganic mulches, as they won’t require much work, if any, after being laid. However, the Chicago Botanic Garden notes that inorganic mulches do not improve soil quality. In fact, because inorganic mulches like rocks and stones absorb heat, they can be detrimental to plants in areas where weather tends to be very dry and hot.

The right mulch for a given property depends on a host of factors. Understanding the differences between organic and inorganic mulches is a great first step toward finding the right mulch for your landscape.

Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can help determine the most suitable mulch for your landscape in Chambersburg and Shippensburg, PA. Contact us today!

Helpful Tips for Organic Lawn Treatment

Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC now offers organic lawn treatment in the Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA area and surrounding Fayetteville, Carlisle, and Greencastle areas. Our lawn treatment services will help maintain a healthy and vibrant lawn while having little to zero impact on the environment. To learn more about the various services we offer, contact us today! The following are just a few tips for successful organic lawn treatment.

Grow the Right Grass

Growing the proper grass that’s well adapted to your region will lead to a successful lawn. Before planting new grass seed, put down grass sod or over-seed an existing lawn. Your choice of grass seed will later determine your fertilizing needs.

Perform a Soil Test

Soil testing kits are available for the do-it-yourselfer or through commercial testing services. Make sure to amend the soil as indicated by the test. After the initial test you should be set for a few years before requiring additional testing unless conditions have changed. If your soil is lacking organic matter, you should add 1 or 2 inches of rich compost to the top of your lawn prior to seeding.

Aeration

Your soil can become compacted over time so proper aeration will improve your soil to reduce compacting and make room for additional grass roots. Make sure to aerate when your soil is damp so that the corer can reach deep into your lawn and make several passes over your lawn.

Water Responsibly

Signs that your grass requires moisture can vary by grass type. Curling of the blades or dulling of color can indicate it’s time to water your lawn. You may also drive a long spike into your soil to determine if it’s time to water. If the spike slides easily and deeply into your soil, you are all set. However, if it is unable to penetrate beyond an inch or two, your lawn likely requires watering. Deep watering helps establish a strong root system and lush lawn that naturally defends against weeds.

Natural Fertilizer

The easiest way to go organic is taking advantage of the natural fertilizer at your disposal, and this includes mulching your grass clippings. It’s much better to allow mulch grass clippings to decompose into your soil instead of bagging it up for removal. This will return a generous amount of nitrogen to your soil over the course of a mowing season.

Proper Mowing

You should never remove more than a third of the length of your grass. Proper lawn mowing will facilitate deep-rooted grass that won’t require chemical fertilizer. Set your lawn mower at a high setting and maintain a sharp mower blade to your grass blades are cut and not torn.

Ways to Expand Outdoor Living Spaces

Homeowners looking to add more space to their homes in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA do not necessarily need to make major renovations. They simply have to see the possibilities in outdoor living spaces.

Outdoor living spaces are coveted niches in a home. The American Home Furnishings Alliance says more than 70 percent of American households have outdoor living spaces, and nearly 70 percent of people use these spaces at least once per week in-season. Furthermore, homeowners are increasingly interested in enhancing these spaces to make them more usable and comfortable.

A recent survey from the online home design and remodeling resource Houzz found that more than 4,500 users were planning a landscape update. In addition, 56 percent of homeowners surveyed were making updates to improve their yards for entertaining. The following are just a few ways to expand your outdoor living space.

Patios

Patios can increase the value of your home and extend your living space to help make your home seem larger. Having a patio installed at your home in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA can also help you entertain friends and family more with added space for picnics and barbecues. You can dress up your patio with outdoor furniture and decor to create the ideal space for guests. Patios are also low maintenance and farely easy to keep clean. Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC uses only the highest quality materials for patio installations so you can rest easy that your new patio will withstand the elements and last for years to come.

Pergolas

Pergolas are an excellent way to improve your outdoor living experience in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. Pergolas not only add visual appeal to your deck or patio, but add a private area for dining and relaxation. Pergolas can also offer additional garden space and shade during the spring and summer months. Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can install the perfect pergola for your home and outdoor living space. We will work with you to determine the best style to suit your space and make the most of your new pergola.

Fire Pits

Adding a fire pit to your yard or patio is an ideal way to extend your outdoor season by providing an excellent heat source and space to gather with family and friends. A fire pit can add a wonderful ambience to your back yard and enhance the beauty and functionality of your outdoor living space. Not only is a fire pit an excellent source of heat and light, but can also be used for cooking and entertaining.

There are many ways to build or expand your outdoor living space in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. Contact Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC for a free consultation to discuss your ideas and make your project a reality.

3 Pre-Winter Lawn Care Pointers

Winter weather can be harsh, especially on lawns. Homeowners in Carlisle, PA who spend much of spring and summer tending to their lawns may fear the impact that winter will have on their once-lush landscapes, making the fall a great time to fortify lawns against any harsh conditions to come.

Homeowners must take grass type into consideration before taking steps to prepare their lawns for the winter. Some grasses are best fertilized in late-summer, while others should be fertilized in autumn. Cool-season grasses, including fescue and bluegrass, are best fertilized sometime between the months of September and November. Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda or zoysia, should be fertilized between July and September. Once homeowners have gained a greater understanding of their lawns, they can begin exploring the various ways to prepare their lawns for whatever winter has in store.

Explore winterizing fertilizers

Homeowners who want to make their grasses more winter hardy can consult landscaping professionals to determine if winterizing fertilizers will work for their lawns. These specially formulated fertilizers, many of which are made exclusively for cool-season grasses, contain higher levels of potassium and lower levels of nitrogen than early-season fertilizers. Potassium helps strengthen and harden plants, and cool-season grasses may need extra potassium as winter settles in. Homeowners who are not sure if they should apply winterizing fertilizer can conduct soil tests to determine the potassium levels in their soil. If the test indicates the soil has sufficient potassium, then applying a winterizing fertilizer is likely unnecessary. In addition, homeowners who have fed their lawn a balance of nutrients throughout spring and summer likely will not need to apply winterizing fertilizer.

Get rid of fallen leaves

While fallen leaves may be integral components of idyllic autumn landscapes, leaves left on the lawn throughout the winter may lead to disease in the grass. Leaves trap moisture and block sunlight and air from reaching grass, and that can encourage the development of disease. In addition, leaves can harbor insects that also may contribute to disease. While it might seem like common sense to delay leaf removal until the end of autumn when all the leaves have fallen, that, too, can prove harmful to lawns. Leaves left laying on lawns for long periods of time can contribute to the same types of damage as leaves left on the lawn throughout winter, so do your best to remove leaves as they fall.

Take steps to fight snow mold

Homeowners who live in regions where snow falls into spring or where spring tends to be cold and damp may want to take steps to prevent snow mold. Gray snow mold typically looks fuzzy and gray, and lawns infested with snow mold may develop unsightly gray or brown spots indicative of dead grass. Pink snow mold may be even worse than gray snow mold because pink mold attacks the roots as well as the leaves. To prevent snow mold, continue mowing into the fall, even as lawns grow dormant, clearing the lawn of grass clippings and leaves after each mow. Thick lawns may provide a breeding ground for snow mold, so homeowners whose lawns have a history of developing snow mold may benefit from mowing their lawns into the fall.

Winter is rarely easy on lawns, but homeowners in Carlisle, PA can take several steps to prepare their lawns for potentially harsh winter weather. Need professional help? Contact Locust Ridge Landscape LLC today for all of your landscaping and lawn care needs in Carlisle, PA and surrounding areas.

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Spring and summer may be the seasons most often associated with landscaping and lawn care, but tending to lawns and gardens is a year-round job. If lawn and garden responsibilities dip considerably in winter, then fall is the last significant chance before the new year that Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA homeowners will have to address the landscaping around their homes.

Fall lawn care differs from spring and summer lawn care, even if the warm temperatures of summer linger into autumn. Homeowners who want their lawns to thrive year-round can take advantage of the welcoming weather of fall to address any existing or potential issues.

Keep mowing, but adjust how you mow

It’s important that homeowners continue to mow their lawns so long as grass is growing. But as fall transitions into winter, lower the blades so the grass is cut shorter while remaining mindful that no blade of grass should ever be trimmed by more than one-third. Lowering the blades will allow more sunlight to reach the grass in the months ahead.

Remove leaves as they fall

Much like apple-picking and foliage, raking leaves is synonymous with fall. Some Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA homeowners may wait to pick up a rake until all of the trees on their properties are bare. However, allowing fallen leaves to sit on the ground for extended periods of time can have an adverse effect on grass. Leaves left to sit on the lawn may ultimately suffocate the grass by forming an impenetrable wall that deprives the lawn of sunlight and oxygen. The result is dead grass and possibly even fungal disease. Leaves may not need to be raked every day, but homeowners should periodically rake and remove leaves from their grass, even if there are plenty left to fall still hanging on the trees.

Repair bald spots

Summer exacts a toll on lawns in various ways, and even homeowners with green thumbs may end up with a lawn filled with bald spots come September. Autumn is a great time to repair these bald spots. Lawn repair mixes like Scotts PatchMaster contain mulch, seed and fertilizer to repair bald spots, which can begin to recover in as little as seven days. Before applying such products, remove dead grass and loosen the top few inches of soil. Follow any additional manufacturer instructions as well.

Aerate the turf

Aerating reduces soil compacting, facilitating the delivery of fertilizer and water to a lawn’s roots. While many homeowners, and particularly those who take pride in tending to their own lawns, can successfully aerate their own turf, it’s best to first have soil tested so you know which amendments to add after the ground has been aerated. Gardening centers and home improvement stores sell soil testing kits that measure the pH of soil, but homeowners who want to test for nutrients or heavy metals in their soil may need to send their samples to a lab for further testing.

Fall lawn care provides a great reason to spend some time in the yard before the arrival of winter.

The landscaping professionals in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA can help you maintain your lawn this fall and keep your landscape looking pristine and healthy. Contact Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today for a free quote!