Easy Ways to Clean Up Leaves

Autumn is marked by colorful foliage and plummeting temperatures. Once those leaves reach peak color, they fall from the branches and collect on lawns, necessitating cleanup projects. For homeowners in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA with big yards, such a project can be tiring and time-consuming. However, there are ways to make leaf cleanup easier.

One of the easiest ways to clean up leaves is to reach for a lawn mower rather than a rake. The mower will cut leaves down to smaller sizes, creating an effective mulch that can add nutrients back into the lawn. Davey, a lawn and landscape solutions service, says that mowed leaves also can be collected in a mower bag and added to garden beds or compost piles.

For those who prefer manual raking, select a rake with tines that will not skewer the leaves in the process. Big rakes also can make faster work of gathering leaves into piles.

The home improvement resource The Family Handyman advocates for the use of a lawn sweeper. This is a manual device that has a rotating sweeping brush that gathers up lawn debris and leaves into an attached hopper bag. Like mowed leaves, the bag can be emptied into a compost pile or distributed where needed.

Raking leaves onto a large tarp is another option. Once it’s full, the tarp can be taken to the curb where many towns will collect the leaves seasonally. Otherwise, the tarp can be used as a funnel to put leaves into a gardening bag or another appropriate receptacle. Leaf blowers remain a fast option for cleaning up yards, but they require electricity or gas and can be noisy. Still, they are a popular choice for large landscapes or when quick work needs to be made of leaf clean-up.

Leaves will fall in autumn, but luckily homeowners have various methods at their disposal to tame the mess.

If your fall clean up project is too large or you simply do not have the time, contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC. We provide exceptional landscaping services in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA plus surrounding areas in Franklin County, PA. Our fall clean up and leaf blowing services are affordable and will transform your lawn and landscape to its pristine state. Contact us today for a free quote!

How Mulched Leaves Help Your Lawn

Various chores are synonymous with certain times of year. For example, cleaning a pool is a summertime task. In addition, rare is the instance that Mother Nature forces anyone to break out the snow shovels outside of winter. Raking leaves has long been a task for fall afternoons, but homeowners may be surprised to learn that they might be better off putting their rakes in permanent mothballs.

In the 1990s, turfgrass specialists at Michigan State University began exploring the potential benefits of leaving mulched leaves on a lawn instead of raking them and leaving them for curbside pickup. While the researchers noticed an obvious leaf residue on the lawn after mulching, they noted that it only sticks around for a few days. Eventually, the tiny pieces sifted down into the lawn, ultimately serving to control future weed growth while also providing the lawn with essential nutrients. Over time, researchers noted that homeowners who mulched rather than raked their leaves needed less fertilizer to give their lawns a green look in spring, saving homeowners the effort and cost associated with fertilizing.

Researchers also noted that decomposing pieces of leaves cover up bare spots between turf plants, which have traditionally proven to be excellent spots for weed seeds to germinate. In fact, MSU notes that homeowners can expect a nearly 100 percent decrease in dandelions and crabgrass after mulching leaves for just three years.

Depending on the type of mower being used, up to six inches of leaves can be mulched at a time. Push mowers can handle smaller amounts, though can still be as effective as ride-on mowers.

Fall may be synonymous with raking leaves. However, homeowners who want to give their lawns a healthy boost should consider putting their rakes away and mulching their leaves this fall.

If you need help this upcoming fall with lawn clean up, contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC. We offer landscaping to Chambersburg and Shippensburg, PA customers as well as Fayetteville and Carlisle residents. Contact us today for a free estimate!

How and When to Fertilize Your Lawn

Various components go into creating beautiful, lush lawns. Lawn maintenance involves ensuring lawns have all of the nutrients they need to thrive. Fertilizer is essential when feeding lawns, but fertilizing a lawn involves more than spreading fertilizer around the yard and hoping for the best. Fertilizing is a process that should be done carefully and timed correctly for optimal results.

No two lawns are alike and each lawn has different needs. The type of grass and whether a lawn is mostly in the sun or shade may dictate fertilizer requirements. While many lawns are comprised of several different grasses, a general rule of thumb is that the lawn will need to be fertilized in the spring at the very least. After that, fertilization schedules should be customized according to grass type, climate and other factors.

Spring is a prime time to fertilize because the lawn is reviving after a long season of cold weather and dormancy. Come spring, lawns need to be fed to turn green and grow. Soil supplies some of the nutrients grass needs, but many soils lack elements that lawns need to survive the growing season. Lawn and garden experts at Lowes say a healthy and actively growing lawn uses a great deal of energy, and fertilizer will provide the boost it requires. Fertilizer helps promote new root and leaf growth, aid in recovery from damage, reduce weeds, and replace nutrients lost to water runoff.

Fertilizing the right way

Follow these steps to feed the lawn and help it thrive.

  • Identify the type of grass in your lawn and consult with a garden center to find the right type of fertilizer for your grass. Many grasses are categorized by season and may be referred to as cool season, transitional or warm season grasses.
  • Test the soil to check for pH. You want the soil to be as close to neutral as possible so it can readily process the nutrients in the fertilizer.
  • Broadcast or rotary spreaders will evenly distribute fertilizer and will not cause striping on the lawn like drop spreaders might. Resist the urge to fertilize by hand, as you may lay an uneven amount of product, producing burns and brown spots.
  • Fertilizers come in slow-release, fast-release, and weed and feed formulations. Which fertilizer you use will depend on the type of grass you have and how much time you have to devote to lawn maintenance. Slow-release fertilizers may be preferable because they do not need to be reapplied often.
  • Use caution and set the spreader to distribute less product if you are unsure how much to apply. Excessive fertilizer can damage a lawn.
  • Water the lawn well after application, and always follow the fertilizer manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep people and pets off of the lawn for a day or two after application.
  • Scotts recommends that lawns with warm-season grass be fed over the summer as they grow steadily from spring to fall.
  • Another application of fertilizer in the fall will supply lawns with nutrients to continue to grow and then survive winter.

Build a strong lawn by feeding it effectively. Dense, healthy lawns can strangle weeds and lead to beautiful landscapes.

The landscaping professionals can help transform your lawn and offer advice to keep your lawn looking green and healthy. We service customers in Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Fayetteville, and Carlisle, PA. Contact us today for a free quote!

How to Store Firewood the Right Way

A fireplace is a cozy and warm spot around which a family can gather. The home and real estate resource HomeGuides.com indicates that 60 percent of new homes have a fireplace, which is up from 36 percent in the 1970s.

Naturally, fueling a fireplace for the season may require homeowners with wood-burning units to keep an ample supply of wood at the ready. How that wood is stored is important, as properly stored firewood can prevent waste and other issues around the house.

Firewood that is freshly cut has a water content of 60 percent or more. Yet, for best burning ability, wood should be near 20 percent in water content. Green wood is hard to ignite and will not burn nearly as well or efficiently as seasoned wood. Another concern associated with green wood is that it can contribute more to creosote accumulation in the flue of a fireplace. Creosote is a combustible material that may lead to fires if left unchecked.

According to BioAdvanced, a science-based lawn, garden and home improvement innovator, seasoning wood typically takes six months to a year. Homeowners may also opt to purchase seasoned wood that already has sat and dried.

Homeowners who have an abundance of firewood have to store it somewhere. Log Splitters Direct suggests choosing a dry, breezy area of the property that is about 20 feet from the nearest door to the house. This helps avoid hitchhiker pests from coming inside with the wood, such as termites, ants, spiders, and mice. Do not stack the wood flush against a structure. It should be at least a few inches away to allow airflow behind the stack.

Stick to organized rows of firewood no more than four feet high. Log racks and pallets and posts will keep the wood up and off of the ground where moisture and rotting can develop. Placing the logs in an unorganized pile will impede air flow and cause the wood to rot rather than continue to dry and season even more.

Homeowners also should use a cover to protect seasoned firewood from the elements. Position a tarp or plastic sheeting so it blankets the top of the stack and extends a few inches down the sides. Keep the sides mostly exposed to air. Others prefer to stack it in a barn or shed or under an overhang.

Green wood is less expensive than seasoned wood. Those who prefer this method should do so in the early spring and let it season over the next several months.

Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC offers firewood sales in Chambersburg, PA and Shippensburg, PA plus the Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C. areas. We sell bundled firewood, kiln dried starter firewood, kindling, fire starters, and campfire wood that is reasonably priced with volume discounts and free delivery. Contact us today for a quote!

Why Hiring a Landscaper May Be For You

The majority of homeowners in Chambersburg, PA want their properties to appear as appealing as possible. While many homeowners want to be proud of their properties and come home to a welcoming home each night, the benefits to maintaining landscaping go beyond the notion that well-cared for lawns make for more comforting retreats.

Because numerous variables, including landscaping, influence property values, it’s difficult to assess just how much the property values of homes with impressive landscapes are influenced by those very landscapes. Indeed, studies have produced varying results regarding the effect of well-landscaped homes on property values. But what many studies have shown and what many realtors indicate is that impressive landscaping adds a significant amount to property values, with estimates suggesting landscaping increases home values by anywhere from 5 to 20 percent.

Such estimates are good news for homeowners, and they also highlight the stakes involved when making landscaping decisions. Homeowners with green thumbs may embrace the challenge of revitalizing their lawns and gardens, but many, especially those pressed for time, can benefit greatly from working with a professional landscaping company.

Why hire a professional landscaper in Chambersburg, PA?

Maintaining a property requires more than just mowing the lawn every couple of weeks. Even homeowners committed to making their properties as pristine as possible can run into problems when adverse weather conditions pose a threat to lawns and gardens. The following are just a handful of reasons why homeowners may find working with Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC is the best thing for their properties and their bank accounts.

The professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC understand the local climate. Our experienced landscapers understand the local climate and the challenges it presents to your lawn. Experience can prove invaluable as lawns battle adverse conditions that threaten its survival. While homeowners going it alone may struggle through a trial and error period as they try to address problems threatening their lawns, our experienced professionals are more likely to identify the problem immediately, providing a ready solution that can prevent potentially costly repairs down the road.

We can provide inspiration. In addition to maintaining properties, our professional landscaping team in Chambersburg, PA have vast experience improving properties through landscape design. Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC may have a host of ideas for your property that you would never think of. Homeowners with little to no lawn and garden experience may not realize all the things they can do with their properties, and those who go it alone may end up with unappealing landscapes that do not attract buyers’ attention when the home hits the market. We have a wealth of ideas and, perhaps more importantly, we understand which ideas will and won’t work on a given property.

We can remove some of the stress of managing landscaping projects. Homeowners know that home improvement projects, whether they are addressing home interiors or exteriors, can be stressful. Professional landscapers typically have a network of professionals, including contractors, who they have worked with in the past. Such connections can ensure more complex projects that require both landscapers and construction contractors go as smoothly as possible. In addition, homeowners who receive contractor recommendations from their experienced landscapers tend to rest easier knowing the people working on their properties have already developed a rapport and established a successful track record working together.

Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC may be just what homeowners in Chambersburg, PA need to turn their properties into appealing oases no buyer can resist. Contact us today for a free quote!

How Color Can Affect Your Garden

Flower gardens can add color and awe-inspiring appeal to a property. The National Gardening Association notes that gardeners can find nearly every color of the spectrum in flowering perennials. So whether you prefer soft pink, are partial to bright red or want to relax in a garden and gaze at something deep blue, chances are you’ll find a perennial to tickle your fancy.

The NGA offers the following breakdown of colors to help gardeners learn how their gardens can set the mood they’re looking for.

Bright Colors

A garden full of bright colors like red, orange, magenta, and yellow can provide a landscape with vigor and energy. The NGA notes that brightly colored flowers can withstand especially bright sunshine, meaning gardeners can marvel at their appearance even when the sun might be adversely affecting other plants and flowers.

Pastel Colors

Pastels, which include soft pink, powder blue, lavender, and peach, create a tranquil feeling in a garden. This makes pastel perfect for those who want their gardens to be a relaxing, peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The NGA notes that pastels may looked washed out in the midday sun, so they might be best enjoyed early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are those that are opposite one another on the color wheel. Orange and blue are examples of complementary colors. According to the NGA, complementary colors can add creative energy and vitality to a garden.

Harmonious Colors

These colors are those that are next to each other on the color wheel, such as orange and red. The NGA recommends harmonious colors for gardeners looking to create a unifying feel in their gardens without resorting to a monochromatic color scheme. Harmonious colors give off a gentle feeling that can make for a relaxing garden atmosphere.

Monochromatic Colors

Monochromatic gardens can be awe-inspiring even though they stick to a single color and don’t provide an array of awe-inspiring colors. The NGA notes that gardeners with monochromatic gardens make them interesting by using plants of various sizes and shapes.

When planting a garden, gardeners can choose whichever color scheme they prefer. To learn more about the effects of color on a garden, visit the National Gardening Association website at www.garden.org.

The landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can help you build a beautiful flower garden from scratch or build upon an existing garden. Contact us today for a free quote!

Potential Culprits Behind Thinning Grass

Thick grass is often a hallmark of a healthy lawn. If grass begins to thin, homeowners may feel as though all the time and effort they spent tending to their lawns was for naught. Thinning grass can be caused by any number of things. And while it might take a little effort to address, thinning grass can be treated if homeowners correctly identify that cause of the problem.

Leaf Spot

The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst notes that leaf spot diseases affect both cool- and warm-season turfgrasses. Various fungi can cause leaf spot. Symptoms and the timing of the appearance of leaf spot will vary depending on which fungi is causing the problem. For example, bipolaris sorokiniana, which affects grasses in warm, wet summer months, produces small spots that are dark purple to black. Dreschslera poae is another fungi that causes leaf spot, and it also produces dark purple to black spots. However, it tends to appear in the spring when the weather is cool and moist. Understanding the different fungi and when they typically strike can help homeowners identify what is causing their grass to thin. In such situations, professional landscapers can be invaluable resources as well.

Stripe Smut

The University of Maryland Extension notes that stripe smut primarily poses a threat to Kentucky bluegrass that is older than three years. Pale green streaks that run parallel to the veins in the leaves and leaf sheaths are symptomatic of stripe smut, which tends to be noticed in spring and fall, when weather is cool. As the disease progresses, stripes turn black or a silvery gray, causing the leaf blade to shred and curl. After the blades have shred, they turn brown and die. The grass thins because stripe smut makes it vulnerable to problems like drought.

Ascochyta Leaf Blight

Lawns suffering from ascochyta leaf blight will become straw-colored. According to the lawn care and pesticide experts at Ortho¨, when a lawn is affected by ascochyta leaf blight, its healthy grass blades will be mixed in with diseased grass blades. Most prevalent in the spring, this disease can affect grass at any time during the growing season. ThatÕs because the ascochyta fungi invade leaf blades through wounds, such as those that can result from mowing. Ortho¨ notes that dull lawn mowers can contribute to the disease, which might disappear on its own and can even return after it’s seemingly been cured.

Various issues can cause grass blades to thin. Working with a landscape professional is a great way to combat such issues before they compromise the look of a lawn.

Need assistance reviving your lawn and landscape? Contact the professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today! We offer exceptional lawn care and landscaping services in the Chambersburg, Shippensburg, and Fayetteville, PA areas in Franklin County.

How to Control Crabgrass Before It Appears

Homeowners who enjoy tending to their lawns know that grass is vulnerable to a host of problems, many of which appear at a time of year when lawn enthusiasts want to showcase the fruits of their lawn-and-garden labors.

Crabgrass is a common problem that appears in summer. According to Lowes, crabgrass plants produce thousands of seeds between midsummer and early fall. While the first frosts of late-fall or early winter kill the crabgrass plants, the seeds produced by the plants remain dormant throughout winter and then begin to grow as the ground temperature warms up with the spring and summer thaw. As a result, controlling germination, which is the development of a plant from a seed or spore after a period of dormancy, is the key to preventing crabgrass from becoming an unsightly blemish that can harm your lawn in summer.

A proactive approach to crabgrass can save homeowners the headaches of dealing with this unwanted guest taking over their grass. The following tips, courtesy of Lowes, can help homeowners reduce the likelihood of their lawns being overcome by crabgrass as summer hits full swing.

• Recognize that routine lawn maintenance may not be enough. Even lawns that receive sufficient TLC can fall victim to crabgrass. A proactive, crabgrass-specific approach to lawn maintenance is the most effective way to control the problem before it pops up.

• Apply a pre-emergent herbicide. Pre-emergent herbicides kill crabgrass seedlings as they germinate. While these herbicides are highly effective, they must be applied at precisely the right time. The right time to apply them depends on weather patterns. For example, Lowes notes that homeowners who live in regions that might have experienced warmer than usual winters will probably need to apply the herbicides earlier than usual. While the manufacturer instructions should always be followed when applying herbicides, it’s essential that homeowners take weather patterns into consideration as well.

• Wait until the ground temperature rises above 60 F. Applying herbicides when the ground temperature is below 60 F might render the products ineffective. Gauging soil temperature can be tricky, but Lowes advises monitoring shrubs and trees on the property. Once shrubs begin to bloom and trees bud, herbicide can be applied.

• Wait when treating newly seeded lawns. Pre-emergent herbicides might kill new grass seedlings, so homeowners with newly seeded lawns should wait until they have mowed their lawns three times before applying a herbicide.

• Emphasize uniform application. If a herbicide is not applied uniformly across the lawn, crabgrass can establish itself and ultimately spread to the rest of the lawn.

• Do not thatch or aerate after applying a herbicide. Thatching or aerating a lawn after applying a herbicide might break the product’s chemical barrier, thereby rendering it ineffective.

Crabgrass can quickly spread on an untreated lawn. The lawn care experts at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can help you take a proactive approach that prevents its growth and can keep lawns looking great through summer. We service both commercial and residential customers in Chambersburg, Shippensburg, and Fayetteville, PA. Contact us today!

Preparing Garden Beds for Spring and Beyond

Gardening enthusiasts may have been thinking about their landscape plans throughout the winter, eager to once again get their hands dirty with soil. Whether a home gardener is making preparations for edible crops or beautiful flowers, he or she must take time to make the soil amenable to planting. To establish hearty, durable plants, gardeners can focus on three main areas: addressing soil composition, cultivating and adding nutrients.

Soil Composition

Many gardeners prefer growing a variety of plants in their gardens. Such an approach requires taking inventory of the type of soil in one’s garden and making the necessary modifications so that the types of vegetables, herbs, shrubs, or flowers that will be planted can grow in strongly. In fact, according to the plant company Proven Winners, the most important step to developing good roots is preparing the soil.

Take a sample of the soil and examine it to see what is present. If the soil is too full of clay, too sandy, too dense, or too loose, that can lead to problems where plants cannot grow in strong. Work with a garden center to add the right soil amendments to make a rich soil. This may include organic compost or manure, which will also add nutrients to the soil.

Cultivation

Cultivating the soil can involve different steps. Removal of weeds, errant rocks, roots, and other items will help prepare the soil. Mother Earth News suggests working on garden soil when the soil is damp but never wet; otherwise, garden soil can become messy and clumpy. Use a digging fork or shovel to lightly turn the soil when it’s mostly dry. Gentle tillings also can open up the soil to incorporate the nutritional amendments and relieve compaction that likely occurred from freezing temps and snow pressure. Tilling also helps with drainage and oxygen delivery to roots. The DIY Network suggests turning over soil at a depth of 12 inches to work the soil – about the length of a shovel spade. However, the resource Earth Easy says that existing garden beds have a complex soil ecosystem and simply top-dressing with compost or manure can be enough preparation for planting. Gardeners can experiment with the methods that work best for their gardens.

Nutrition

Testing the pH and the levels of certain nutrients in the soil, namely nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, will give gardeners an idea of other soil additions that may be needed. Soils with a pH below 6.2 often can benefit from the addition of lime several weeks before planting. Soil tests will determine just how much fertilizer to add to the soil. Complete fertilizers will have equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Individual fertilizers can amend the soil with only these nutritional elements that are needed.

Top-dressing empty beds with a layer of mulch or compost can prevent weed growth and preserve moisture until it is time to plant. If existing shrubs or plants are in garden beds, use more care so as not to disturb roots or dig too deeply. Preparing garden beds takes some effort initially, but can be well worth the work when plants flourish throughout the growing season.

Need assistance with your upcoming spring landscaping this year? Contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today! We proudly serve residential and commercial customers in Chambersburg, Shippensburg, and Fayetteville, PA plus surrounding areas.

Landscaping Needs Vary By Season

Judging a home by its appearance is often par for the home-buying course. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 49 percent of buying decisions are made from the street.

An appealing home exterior suggests the homeowner takes pride in his or her home and wants to make every effort to maintain that home. Curb appeal involves various components a home’s exterior, but beautiful landscaping can make a home stand out. While maintaining a lawn is something many homeowners may think is exclusive to spring and summer, lawn maintenance is really a year-round endeavor. The following steps can help anyone maintain curb appeal no matter the season.

Spring

Spring is a season of renewal when plants and trees will begin to look fresh and green once more. Spring maintenance includes applying fertilizer to lawns, replenishing mulch in planting beds, creating more pronounced edges around the lawn and garden beds, and testing soil. Some homeowners like to apply a weed-prevention product in the spring as well. Spring is a good time to plant annuals that will add a pop of color to the landscape. For those concerned about permanent planting, container gardening allows homeowners to move around planters in a configuration that works best for them.

Summer

Summer landscaping is all about maintaining what was established in the spring. Regular mowing, weeding and trimming can keep a landscape manicured. Other than drought, weeds are perhaps the biggest lawn and garden nuisance to a landscape in the summertime. Black medic, carpetweed, knotweed, mallow and prostate spurge are some of the weeds that will crop up during the summer. Seeds begin to germinate as soil warms up. According to the University of Maryland Extension, control with a broadleaf postemergent herbicide applied when the weed is actively growing will help prevent weeds from suffocating lawns.

Autumn

Autumn is often a forgotten season when it comes to maintaining a landscape. However, fall is a key time to keep landscapes in order. According to the landscaping resource LoveYourLandscape.com, fall is the ideal time to tend to a lawn that just endured summer heat. Seeding and fertilizing can ensure a stronger lawn come next spring. Perennials should be pruned and cut back. Raking leaves will help keep the property looking presentable.

Winter

One of the ways to maintain an attractive landscape throughout winter is to install plants that can survive the colder temperatures. Winterberry is a cousin of holly, but loses its leaves in the fall. The bright red berries can be a stark contrast to the white of winter snowfall. Camellia is an evergreen that blooms from fall to early spring and looks like pink roses. Heather is a popular plant in the United Kingdom, but is growing in popularity on this side of the Atlantic as well. The Home Depot says this plant blooms all year and offers beautiful flowers in summer and fall. In winter, the thick foliage makes for an appealing contrast to the more delicate blooms of other winter plants.

Maintaining a landscape through the seasons makes a home attractive all year long.

No matter the season, Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC offers landscaping services in Chambersburg, Shippensburg, and Fayetteville, PA year round. Contact us today!