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!

Adding Plants to Water Features

Water features can make for relaxing and eye-catching additions to outdoor spaces in Shippensburg and Chambersburg, PA. According to the online gardening resource Garden Know-How, a water feature is any landscape enhancement that uses water and other material to bring tranquility and beauty to a space.

Thanks to their soothing sounds and aesthetic appeal, water features like ponds and fountains are often included in healing gardens. But they can be used in any and all landscapes.

Shippensburg & Chambersburg, PA homeowners can explore various water features, such as waterfalls, koi ponds and even rain bells, which offer soothing chime sounds when it rains. One consideration when installing a water feature is whether or not to incorporate live plants. Certain plants are better suited for water features than others.

Surrounding plants

It is possible to create a miniature ecosystem in a yard by surrounding a water feature with certain plants. Gardening Know-How advises using canna lily or taro at the edge of a pond. These plants thrive with roots in mud and their tops in shallow water. Broadleaf arrowhead is another option, as it can do well in a pond’s shallow edges. It’s a perennial so it will come back and requires little maintenance.

Floating plants

Many plants can live on the surface of the water and provide hiding spots for wildlife in a natural water feature setting. Lotus, also called water lily, is a popular and fragrant option. Water hyacinth produces vibrant lavender flowers that pop on stems that can reach three feet in height. This stunning species can be invasive, but it can be managed by planting within a hoop or submerged woven basket, indicates Happy DIY Home. Other free-floating plants to consider are duckweed, fairy moss and butterfly fern. Floating plants look beautiful and they can help filter water and control algae growth.

Submerged plants

Submerged plants are a necessity in water features that have fish. Submerged plants are grown in weighted pots placed on the bottom of the pond. They provide shelter for fish and help oxygenate the water. Hornwort, anacharis, water milfoil, and dwarf sagittaria are some examples of submerged plants.

Water features attract wildlife, including potentially pesky insects. Planting pitcher plants in submerged pots can help reduce the presence of unwanted insects in a water feature.

Some water-loving plants are invasive, so it is always best to check with a local agricultural extension or the Department of Environmental Protection to see if certain floating or submerged plants are restricted where you live. For those who want to contain plants, placing pots of cascading greenery and flowers near to fountains, pools and ponds is another way to add appeal without having to dig in the ground.

If you have questions or require landscaping services in Shippensburg & Chambersburg, PA plus the surrounding Franklin County, PA area, contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today!

How to Add Shade to a Deck or Patio

Shippensburg homeowners eagerly await the arrival of the warm weather so they can cast off the remnants of cabin fever and bask in the sunshine. However, as summer nears its dog days, the same sun homeowners once coveted can contribute to uncomfortable conditions in outdoor entertaining spaces.

Meteorologists at WHAS11 in Kentucky took to their neighborhoods in July 2020 to test just how hot surfaces can get in the sun during peak daytime temperatures. Concrete sitting in the sun almost all day reached a temperature of 134.7 F, while the same concrete in the shade clocked in at just under 80 F. When air temperatures are around 90 F, unshaded concrete and asphalt can be 125 F and 140 F, respectively. While wood decking may not be as hot as asphalt and concrete, it still can get steamy underfoot.

Shippensburg homeowners who want to be able to enjoy their outdoor spaces in an array of temperatures can think about investing in shade solutions. Sun-blocking ideas like awnings, shade trees and large umbrellas can help people enjoy their yards all day long.

Canopy: A patio canopy is typically a freestanding unit that can be installed over a patio or a deck. Some people prefer to bolt it down so it will not be knocked over in windy conditions. The fabric on the canopy can be removed during the off-season, helping to improve its longevity.

Awning: Awnings may be stationary or retractable. Many are installed directly onto a home and can cast shade on specific areas of outdoor entertaining spaces.

Shade sail: Similar to an awning but a bit less structurally rigid, shade sails are large pieces of triangular fabric installed over areas of a patio, pool or landscape, according to The Family Handyman. Shade sails are light and airy and can be customized.

Trees: A natural way to increase shade in a yard is to plant more shade trees. If sun glare is an issue all year long, and it’s not just the heat of the sun that is troublesome, think about planting evergreen trees. Deciduous cousins will drop their leaves in fall and only be effective during the warm weather.

Patio umbrellas: Many umbrellas start at around $25. Umbrellas can be paired with patio tables, while stationary cantilever umbrellas sit out of the way on their own heavy-duty stands. A cantilever umbrella tends to provide more shade than patio table umbrellas.

Curtains: Homeowners can block sunlight outdoors the way they do inside, offers MSN. Hang curtains from the sides of canopies or between posts on a deck to provide shade and cozy spaces.

Shade is in high demand when the sun is hot. Options abound for making outdoor areas more comfortable in Shippensburg.

Signs of Drought Stress and What to Do About It

A pristine lawn is a source of pride for homeowners in Shippensburg, PA. Even the most well-maintained lawns must confront a host of challenges in a given year, and perhaps no challenge is more daunting than drought.

Homeowners may feel helpless when drought strikes and begins to transform their lawns from green sources of pride to off-color eyesores. However, learning to identify signs of drought stress and what to do about it can help Shippensburg, PA homeowners get their lawns through dry periods.

Signs of drought stress

The lawn care experts at TruGreen note that there are four common characteristics of drought stress. Perhaps the most noticeable is changes in color, but it’s important that homeowners recognize there’s a difference between a change in hue and a change in color. When a lawn changes its hue, typically turning from bright green to a dull gray or blue green color, it is in what TruGreen identifies as the first stage of drought stress. Regular watering, if it’s allowed (local drought restrictions may dictate how much water can be applied to the lawn), can help the grass regain its moisture and the lawn may recover within a couple of days. When lawns change from green to brown, this is indicative that the lawn is in a dormancy stage. At this point, the lawn is entering survival mode. Watering to save the lawn will need to be more extensive. Deep and repeated watering for two to three weeks may help restore the lawn, but some parts ultimately may not recover. And deep watering may not be allowed until drought restrictions are lifted, increasing the likelihood that a significant portion of the lawn turns brown.

Footprints in the lawn are another sign of drought stress TruGreen indicates that this is a result of lawns that are too tired to spring back up after they have been walked on.

Wilting also indicates drought stress is affecting the lawn. Wilting occurs when grass blades roll or fold because they don’t have sufficient water content.

What to do about drought stress

In addition to the watering techniques noted above, Shippensburg, PA homeowners can try other strategies to help their lawns make it through a drought. TruGreen advises against mowing drought-stressed grass and keeping off the lawn as much as possible.

Removing tall weeds is another strategy homeowners can try. Doing so ensures the grass, and not the weeds, gets what little water is available during a drought.

Homeowners also should resist the temptation to mow too close, especially when signs of drought stress are just beginning to appear. TruGreen notes that mowing too close creates a shallow root system that makes lawns more vulnerable to drought.

It can be hard to watch a pristine lawn suffer from drought stress. But several strategies can increase the likelihood that lawns survive such conditions. More information about combatting drought can be found at www.trugreen.com.

Shippensburg, PA homeowners looking for expert help in mitigating drought stress in their lawns should contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today. We can help restore your landscape and improve the overall health of your lawn. Contact us today!