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How to Keep Your Lawn Looking Green

Homeowners’ fascination with a lush, green lawn is something that has developed over time and is still “growing” strong. According to a 2019 survey conducted on behalf of the National Association of Landscape Professionals, 81 percent of all Americans had lawns and 79 percent said a lawn is an important feature when buying or renting a property.

Even though lush lawns are still coveted, due to drought, the financial climate and even invading insect populations, many people are taking inventory of their landscapes and deciding if a lawn is a priority, even going so far as to reinvent their spaces with lawn alternatives. Still, there are ways to keep properties green no matter which route is taken. Here’s a look at some environmentally friendly ways to address a landscape.

Irrigate from below

There are many ways to water landscapes, but homeowners may want to take their cues from the commercial farming industry. Drip irrigation systems utilize a network of valves, pipes and tubing close to the roots of plants or under the soil. Such systems are more efficient than surface irrigation options, helping to save water and nutrients in the soil.

Water early

Scotts Lawn Care suggests watering a lawn in the morning before 10 a.m. when it is cooler and winds tend to be calmer. This ensures water can be absorbed into the soil and grass roots before evaporation occurs. Watering midday may cause the water droplets on the lawn blades to heat up and actually scorch the lawn.

Plant a new grass type

Homeowners can experiment with eco-friendly grass seed blends that mix native grasses and may not require as much water nor ideal growing conditions.

Utilize green alternatives

Rather than focusing solely on grass, some homeowners are turning to alternatives like clover and even moss, particularly if their landscapes do not have the most pristine growing conditions. This may reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and herbicides. The result is still a green, inviting yard.

Watch the lawn height

Mowing too frequently or at too low a height may compromise the lawn’s ability to thrive. Grass cut to the proper height develops a deep root system to better locate water and nutrients in the soil. That means homeowners may not have to water as much or as frequently. Taller lawns also shade the soil and the roots, reducing some evaporation.

Compost

Leave the clippings on the lawn to break down and further feed nutrients to the lawn, helping it look greener and thrive. Furthermore, rely on supplementation with compost to reinforce the nutrient profile in the soil. The National Resources Defense Council says composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer. It doesn’t take much to nurture compost in a yard.

Green landscapes are possible with a few tips that help conserve water and maximize natural resources. If you landscape needs a professional touch, contact the landscaping pros at Locust Ridge Landscape for all of your lawn care needs in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA.

How to Prepare Soil for Spring Planting

Spring is a season of rejuvenation, and perhaps nowhere is that rebirth more noticeable than in the yard. Each spring, grass begins to grow again as inviting landscapes beckon people outdoors.

Extra sunlight and rising temperatures make spring a great time to plant flowers, grasses and trees. To ensure successful planting, homeowners must take steps to prepare the soil. Healthy soil can provide the ideal conditions for roots to take hold, helping plants establish themselves before potentially harsh summer conditions arrive. Preparing soil might seem like an extensive job, but a simple approach may be all that’s necessary to create conditions that promote plant growth this spring.

Clean up the previous months’ mess

Whether homeowners live in regions marked by year-round warmth or places where winter typically features heavy snowfall, it’s a good idea to clean up an area prior to spring planting. Fallen leaves, rocks, grass clippings, and other debris can contribute to compacted soil that makes it hard for plants to establish strong, healthy root systems. Clear away any debris prior to planting before taking the next step in your soil preparation routine.

Loosen the soil

Once debris has been cleared away, loosen the soil. Depending on the size of the area where you’ll be planting, you may need to invest in tools like a shovel, spade, spading fork, and/or a lawn edger. If you’re planting in a small area, such as a deck planter box that still has soil from last year’s planting inside it, you can either clean the box and replace the soil entirely or dig around with a handheld trowel, cultivator and/or weeder. It’s important to loosen all of the soil around where you will ultimately plant prior to planting to ensure water can reach the roots and help them establish themselves once planting is completed.

Test and, if necessary, amend the soil

A simple pH test can help determine the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. This is an important step as soil that is too acidic or alkaline can decrease the availability of nutrients the plants will need to thrive. In addition to conducting a pH test, which can be purchased at little cost at a local home improvement store, homeowners can contact their local Cooperative Extension Service to test their soil quality. These tests will reveal soil pH, but also can shed light on the texture of the soil and other components. Once the test is conducted, the local Coop Extension Service may recommend amendments to improve the nutritional quality of the soil so new plants can thrive.

Soil conditions go a long way toward determining if new plants will thrive. Preparing the soil prior to spring planting can ensure a successful season.

Protect Landscapes from Wildlife and More Over the Winter

Landscapes are vulnerable to the elements during the cold weather months in Chambersburg and Shippensburg, PA. Everything from de-icing products to hungry animals to the weight of snow can affect trees, shrubs and other plants.

Just because certain greenery will go dormant during the winter doesn’t mean landscape maintenance ends when the mercury dips. Homeowners can take certain actions to winterproof their properties and safeguard landscapes so they recover more readily when spring arrives.

Utilize barriers and deterrents

When resources are scarce, animals will be on the hunt for anything that’s edible, and that includes whatever greenery is growing on a landscape. Physical barriers in garden beds and around trees can help prevent damage caused by moles, voles and deer. Line the bottom and sides of garden beds with garden cloth to prevent ground-burrowing animals from getting in from beneath, suggests the gardening resource I Must Garden.

Wrapping shrubs in burlap or covering them in temporary netting can deter deer, who will seek accessible food sources over the winter. Erect fencing around new trees to keep deer away from the bark and lower branches.

Make the yard less attractive to deer and burrowers by opting for fat-based suet cakes to feed birds rather than loose seeds and berries in feeders, which herbivores will enjoy. Also, don’t overwater or mulch landscapes too early. The loose soil and warmth of the mulch may entice moles and voles and other rodents to stick around in those areas and feed on plants.

Use a safer melting product

Investigate options in snowmelt products, as traditional rock salt can injure buds and branches and kill lawns. In addition, avoid piling salted snow in one area of the landscape, as it will concentrate the salt in that spot. Spread out snow piles to help minimize the damage to delicate plants.

Secure saplings and juvenile plants

Harsh winds and battering snow can damage young plants. Use stakes and lattices to secure them so they’ll be better able to withstand the weather.

Promptly remove snow from branches to help trees and shrubs; otherwise, the weight of ice and snow can break off branches and cause irreparable damage.

Erect a snow barrier

Prior observation tends to educate homeowners about which areas of the landscape are most vulnerable to snow drifts and blustery winds. During the winter, winds often blow in from a northeasterly direction, but each homeowner can make his or her own assessment. Put up a tarp between two stakes to serve as a “snow fence” that protects vulnerable areas of the landscape from blowing snow.

Keep plants cozy

Wrap plants in burlap, garden blankets and plant domes to insulate them from cold weather and some animals. Move container plants into a garage or shielded area for the winter.

Winter can place landscapes in peril. A few strategies can provide protection. If you need help preparing your landscape for winter, contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape LLC today!

Prepare Your Garden for Winter’s Onslaught

Individuals who live near the Shippensburg & Chambersburg, PA area know that winter will rear its chilly head this year. Cold temperatures and snowy conditions may be excellent for skiing and sledding, but gardeners recognize these conditions are not ideal for their plants.

The inevitable slowing of activity in the garden during fall marks a time to shift attention from constant plant care to preparing the landscape for next season. It may be tempting to simply let Mother Nature take over, but a little pre-winter TLC can ensure gardens make it through winter unscathed.

Remove spent plants

Decomposing organic material is the basis for compost and other fertilizers. However, vegetable plants that are left to sit can lead to decay in the garden. Decaying plants can serve as hosts for pest populations and diseases. Rotting vegetables also can drop unwanted seeds into the soil, which eventually can strip nutrients that normally would go to next year’s crops.

Ornamental plants and perennials can be cut back in fall. Cut down stalks and remove leaves.

Plant a cover crop

The gardening resource This Is My Garden recommends planting a cover crop to set the stage for a successful spring. A cover crop protects the soil and can return nutrients to it. When the soil is bare during winter, weed seeds can easily blow in and lie in wait , ultimately becoming a problem during the ensuing year. Cover crops can include clover or field peas, which will increase the levels of available nitrogen.

Amend the soil

Fall is a perfect time to add soil amendments, such as manure and compost. These fertilizers will add nutrients and break down gradually, enriching the soil over the winter.

Replenish mulch

Gardeners may have added mulch around shrubs and other areas of the landscape early in the season because it is attractive. But mulch also does much to reduce water loss and protect the soil from erosion. It may inhibit weed growth as well. Replacing mulch when the mercury drops can insulate the soil, which helps to regulate soil temperature. A thick layer of mulch around root vegetables left in the garden can offer protection against hard frosts.

Divide bulbs

Divide plant bulbs and plant them where you want flowers like daffodils and tulips to grow in the spring.

Prune dormant plants

Wait until plants are dormant to prune them and adjust their shape. Most shrubs and trees should be pruned in late winter, right before new growth.

Move potted plants

Bring delicate plants into a sheltered area, such as a greenhouse or indoor garage, so they can continue to thrive during the winter.

Fall and winter still provide opportunities to spend time in the garden. At this point in the year, gardeners can prepare landscapes for the next season. If you need a little help this year with your garden or landscape, contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape LLC today.

Telling Signs 3 Common Insects Are Infesting a Lawn

Well-maintained laws are a byproduct of hard work. That hard work is a point of pride for homeowners who spend countless hours throughout spring, summer and fall tending to their lawns.

All that hard work can be compromised when uninvited guests, namely insects, show up in a lawn. Insect infestations can turn a normally pristine and lush green lawn into a brown and sickly eyesore. Identifying which type of insect is damaging a lawn is the first step toward returning that lawn to its green glory. These are three common lawn insects and signs that they’re infesting a lawn.

1. Grubs

Grubs like to feast on the roots of grass right below the surface. Michigan State University Extension Turf & Landscape reports that grub damage can appear from March to early May or from mid-September to early November. The lawn and garden experts at GardenTech note that wilted grass blades are often the first indicator of a grub infestation, which is followed by patches of brown turf and eventually death. Crows, skunks and moles eat grubs, so the sight of them in a lawn could indicate an infestation.

2. Chinch bugs

The experts at BobVila.com report that chinch bugs are not necessarily problematic when their populations are limited to around 10 to 15 bugs per square foot of lawn. In such instances, chinch bug populations are generally controlled by ants and ladybugs. However, extreme heat and drought, problems that have plagued various regions in North America in recent years, reduce the populations of bugs that feed on chinch bugs, thus increasing the population of these unwanted guests that feed on grass. GardenTech indicates that damage from chinch bugs is most visible between June and September. That damage begins with grass taking on a purple tinge before it turns yellow and then brown after wilting.

3. Cutworms

The lawn care experts at Scotts note that cutworms are moth larvae that hide in the thatch layer of a lawn during the day before emerging at night to feed on grass blades. Patches of brown grass between one and two inches in width is a sign of cutworm infestation. Homeowners who notice a growing number of birds pecking away in their lawns may have a cutworm infestation, which can be confirmed by peeling up a section of damaged grass and looking for cutworms, which are brown, gray or black and tend to be around two inches long.

The good news is that grub, chinch bug and cutworm populations can be controlled. Local turf specialists can recommend strategies to curtail such populations and help homeowners restore their lawns to full health.

Do you need help rejuvenating your lawn and landscape in the Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA area? Contact the landscaping experts at Locust Ridge Landscape LLC today to revitalize your lawn!

How to Corral a Crabgrass Infestation

A well-manicured lawn adds undeniable curb appeal to a property. Chambersburg and Shippensburg, PA homeowners who take pride in their lawns should know that they can take that pride all the way to the bank, as investing in a pristine lawn can provide a significant return at resale.

A 2019 report from the real estate experts at HomeLight found that a $268 investment in lawn care service can add $1,211 at resale. That’s a 352 percent return on investment.

Homeowners can capitalize on a pristine lawn even further by tending to their own lawns. Crabgrass is one lawn problem that can compromise the look of an otherwise lush lawn. Thankfully, crabgrass can be controlled without much effort.

Identifying Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a weed that grows in areas of a lawn that are bare or where the grass is thin. Crabgrass gets its name from its appearance, as it grows from the center outward and mimics the look of crab legs emerging from the center shell.

The Growth of Crabgrass

The University of Minnesota Extension notes that crabgrass is an annual plant. That means a crabgrass infestation that’s problematic once the mercury rises in the summer will die out in late fall or early winter. But crabgrass germinates in the spring, so homeowners will want to take steps to prevent it long before it becomes an eyesore in summer.

How to Corral Crabgrass

The UME notes that application of a pre-emergent herbicide before crabgrass seeds can germinate is an effective way to eliminate it. The timing of that application can be tricky, as jumping the gun and applying the herbicide too early can prove fruitless. The same goes for applying herbicides too late. Crabgrass will likely still grow if the herbicide is applied too early or too late. UME recommends applying a pre-emergent herbicide when soil temperatures approach 55 F.

Home Depot notes that a chemical treatment may be applied after crabgrass has already grown in, but this option requires careful application to avoid killing surrounding healthy grass.

Crabgrass can be pulled out by hand, but such an approach can be physically daunting. That’s especially so because crabgrass thrives when the weather is hot and dry. So homeowners who intend to pull crabgrass by hand can decrease their risk of dehydration or heat-related illness by drinking plenty of water and pulling the grass during early morning or evening hours when the sun is lower and temperatures are more mild.

Crabgrass can compromise the look of an otherwise healthy lawn. But various strategies can eliminate crabgrass and restore a lawn without much effort on the part of homeowners.

How to Prepare Landscapes for New Plants

New plants can add much to a landscape in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. Whether they’re replacing plants that are no longer thriving or being added to supplement an existing landscape, new plants are an affordable way to give a home’s exterior a whole new look.

Much consideration is given to which plants to add to a landscape. That’s understandable, as homeowners want to choose plants that will thrive and won’t compromise the health of surrounding plants and trees. Before planting or even choosing plants, it’s important to plan for new additions to a landscape. Preparing the landscape can inform homeowners about which plants to purchase and can ensure they thrive after planting.

Document sunlight exposure

Plants have different needs, and one of the biggest differences between species is the amount of sunlight they need to thrive. According to Penn State Extension, plants characterized as “full sun” require six or more hours of sunlight per day, while those considered “partial sun” need between four and six hours of sunlight per day. Plants designated as “partial shade” need two to four hours of sun per day, while “shade” plants need less than two hours of sunlight a day.

Documenting sunlight exposure in advance gives homeowners an idea of which plants should be planted and where they should be planted. Jot down these observations in a journal over several weeks and then choose plants that will thrive in each area.

Test the soil

A soil pH test is a simple and quick way to determine the acidity of soil. Soil pH levels will indicate how likely a plant is to thrive in a given spot. High levels won’t necessarily mean an area should be avoided, as some plants thrive in acidic soils. Additional soil tests can determine other characteristics, such as the nutrient levels of soil and the amount of organic matter it contains. Each of these variables can help homeowners make the right choices as they introduce new plants to their properties.

Consider local wildlife

If local wildlife makes its presence known on a property, homeowners may want to take proactive steps prior to planting anything new. A new fence might prevent animals like deer from getting in, but that likely won’t do much to repel smaller animals like squirrels, rabbits or foxes. If wildlife is a concern, homeowners can seek advice at their local garden center about which plants certain animals are likely to ignore. Homeowners who want to attract wildlife can do the same in reverse, choosing plants wildlife will be drawn to. Homeowners who want to deter wildlife should erect fencing or other barriers prior to planting.

Clear space if necessary

Plants grow up and out, and cramped quarters can make it hard for new plants to thrive. Some may thrive but only at the expense of other plants. If necessary, clear space prior to planting to ensure plants have ample space to grow.

Some pre-planting landscape preparation can ensure new plants thrive.

How to Pick the Right Trees for Your Property

Trees benefit a landscape by serving both aesthetic and utilitarian functions. A home surrounded by healthy green trees can be a sight to behold, and those same trees can benefit surrounding plants and wildlife at the same time.

As appealing as trees are, not all trees and landscapes make for the perfect match. The Arbor Day Foundation notes the importance of planning when designing a landscape. Planning ensures the trees homeowners in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA ultimately choose for their properties will grow well in the soil and moisture present in their yards.

Careful consideration of a handful of variables can help homeowners determine which trees will make the best fit for their properties.

Height

Homeowners must consider the projected height of a tree before planting it. Avoid trees that will bump into anything when fully grown, as that can adversely affect surrounding greenery and pose a safety hazard. The ADFÕs tree sizing guide can be accessed at https://www.arborday.org/trees/rightTreeAndPlace/size.cfm and serves as an invaluable resource for homeowners who want to plant new trees around their properties.

Canopy Spread

Trees grow out as well as up, so it’s important to consider their potential width at maturity as well. The ADF sizing guide can help homeowners get an idea of how wide a tree is likely to be at maturity. Trees that spread out quite a bit don’t necessarily need to be avoided, but it’s important that they’re planted far enough apart so they don’t adversely affect surrounding plants. In addition, wide trees that are planted too close together can make the landscape appear crowded, taking something away from its aesthetic appeal.

Growth Rate

Growth rate is an important variable because it can affect how quickly homeowners will see changes in their landscapes. Homeowners who want to plant for privacy can consider trees with quick growth rates or purchase more mature trees that are already near full growth. Those who are not in need of instant transformation can try trees with slower growth rates, which the ADF notes typically live longer than fast-growing species.

Requirements

Different trees require different amounts of sun and moisture and different soil components to thrive. Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA homeowners can have their soil tested to determine which trees will thrive in it. Local garden centers can be a great resource for homeowners who want insight as to which trees will thrive in their local climates.

Trees serve many functions on a property. Choosing the right trees for a landscape requires careful consideration of a host of variables.

Need help choosing the right trees for your landscape? Contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape today!

Budget-Friendly Ways to Upgrade a Landscape

An inviting, well-tended landscape can add significant curb appeal to a home in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. Such a landscape also can serve as a point of pride and welcome homeowners each evening as they arrive home from work.

Landscaping projects run the gamut from simple changes that can be accomplished on a weekend afternoon to more significant and costly undertakings that require the work of a professional. Budget-conscious homeowners may be looking for simpler projects, and the following are some less costly ways to upgrade a landscape.

Add a Pop of Color With Planters

Awe-inspiring colors can make a landscape stand out from surrounding properties. Flowers, bushes and plants may be the first thing homeowners consider when trying to add color to their lawns, but planters can provide a more immediate way to give exterior grounds some color. Bold planters won’t lose their color in a matter of weeks like many flowers do, and homeowners can switch planters so the colors align with the season. For example, some pastel planters can evoke the spirit of spring, while orange planters can be filled with mums to give a landscape an autumnal feel.

Plant Perennials Around the Property

Well-maintained perennials grow back each year, making them ideal for homeowners who don’t have the time or desire to map out new gardening arrangements each spring. Planting perennials also is a great way to add color around the property without breaking the bank.

Upgrade Walkways

Though it’s more expensive than adding planters and planting perennials, upgrading old and cracked walkways is a great way to give a property a whole new look. According to the renovation experts at HomeAdvisor, homeowners typically pay between $6 and $12 per square foot for new concrete walkway installation. Homeowners working on a budget can target spots where walkways have already cracked and fix those areas first before continuing the project piecemeal until all the old walkways have been replaced.

Plant to Create Privacy

Homeowners spent more time at home than ever before during the pandemic, and some might have grown tired of seeing what their neighbors are up to. Fencing might be the first solution homeowners consider when looking to make their landscapes more private. But new fencing installation can be expensive, costing homeowners between $1,667 and $4,075 on average, according to BobVila.com. A more costly and natural solution is to plant trees around the perimeter. Speak with a local landscaping professional, who can survey the property to see which trees might thrive and provide the privacy homeowners want.

Creating an inviting landscape doesn’t have to break the bank. Various small and relatively inexpensive projects can change the look and feel of a home’s exterior.

What to Know Before Planting Around Your Property

When planning a landscape in Shippensburg, PA, it’s tempting to pick the most colorful, vibrant plants. An eye-popping property filled with yellows, purples, pinks, and other bold colors is sure to catch anyone’s eye. However, the right plant for a property is not always the most colorful.

Gardening novices can easily be overwhelmed on a trip to their local garden center, where employees may ask a host of questions that have little to do with homeowners’ preferences and everything to do with the growing conditions around their properties. Those questions may seem a little intense, but they’re well-intentioned. Successful gardening is more about soil conditions and access to sunlight than it is about the plants themselves. An awe-inspiring hydrangea bush will only impress if it’s planted in a location where it can thrive.

The Landscape, Nursery and Urban Forestry program at UMass Amherst Extension advises homeowners to learn about the following site conditions, and ultimately share that knowledge with local garden center representatives, before they pick and plant anything around their properties.

• Hardiness zone: The Plant Hardiness Zone Map from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is designed to help gardeners determine which plants are most likely to thrive where they live. The map can be found on the USDA website at www.usda.gov.

• Light availability, intensity, and duration, from full sun to deep shade: Prior to planting, homeowners can document this information in a notebook or on their smartphones. Do so for a long enough period of time that you can get an accurate of idea of the conditions in which plants will have to grow, and then take that information with you to the garden center where you will buy your plants. Employees can then use this info to help you find the right fit given the light conditions.

• Water availability, both quantity and quality, as well as ease of access

• Exposure to wind and temperature extremes

• Exposure to weather events, snow loads, erosion, and flooding: Garden center employees can likely recommend plants based on traditional weather patterns in a given area.

• Soil type, drainage and compaction: Shippensburg, PA homeowners can take note of any areas of their property where water pools or the ground feels especially soggy after rainfall. Share this information with garden center employees prior to picking plants for such areas. If soil appears compacted, aeration prior to planting may be necessary.

• Competition from existing vegetation, keeping in mind the roots underground that you can’t see

• Above ground wires or obstructions: Trees will grow up, and the presence of power lines or other obstructions may threaten the trees or prove dangerous if trees eventually grow into or hang over power lines.

Knowledge of various conditions prior to planting can save homeowners the cost of replacing plants and the hassle of dealing with plants that don’t take.

Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can assist with your next planting project. Contact our landscaping professionals in Shippensburg, PA today!