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!

Sod Vs. Seed: Which Is Your Best Option?

A pristine lawn can be the finishing touch to a landscape and add significant value to a home in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. According to a joint study by the University of Alabama and the University of Texas at Arlington, homes with high curb appeal sell for an average of 7 percent more than similar houses without inviting exteriors.

When it comes to establishing a lawn, homeowners have two key options: starting from seed or installing sod. Each comes with its share of advantages and disadvantages. Which option makes the most sense for a given lawn will boil down to various factors, including homeowners’ budgets.

Seed

Seed is the first thing homeowners may think of when planning a lawn. Seed is an inexpensive, easily installed option. Plus, garden centers sell a variety of seeds specific to particular regions and climates. The home improvement resource Fixr says seed will cost an average of 24 cents per square foot installed compared to $1.29 for sod. That affordability compels many homeowners to turn to seed. However, seed can take up to two years to produce a lush lawn and it requires high maintenance in the initial months to establish the grass.

Seed also requires greater soil preparation, including tilling to loosen soil and keeping the lawn well watered until the grass is hardy. Weeds also may mix in with seed more readily, meaning weed prevention becomes an additional task.

Sod

One of the advantages to sod is that it can produce an instant lawn. When time is of the essence, sod will produce a complete lawn nearly as soon as the sod is laid. Sod can be used to mitigate soil erosion, as it works faster than seed, which needs to establish a root system to keep soil in check. Also, sod does not require as much soil preparation as seed.

The potential disadvantages to sod are its cost and the time it takes to install it, particularly on a large property. In addition, sod will require careful maintenance for at least the first two weeks until the sod takes stronger roots. It can be an expensive mistake if sod doesn’t thrive and new pieces need to be installed. The Family Handyman says sod tends to be sun-loving and may not work in shadier areas of a property.

Sod and seed are the two main options for lush lawns. Each has its perks, and homeowners can speak with a local lawn specialist to determine which option is best for their lawn. Need landscaping advice in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA? Contact the expert team at Locust Ridge Landscape LLC today!

How to Address Moss in the Lawn

Lawn care can be a labor of love. Maintaining a pristine lawn is no small task, but it’s one that many Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA homeowners proudly take on, knowing that all the hard work and time spent outside on sunny summer afternoons is well worth the sweat equity.

After putting in so much effort to create a lush, green lawn, it’s understandable if homeowners react with disbelief when something threatens the health of their turf. Moss is one such threat. Recognizing the threat moss poses is the first step to corralling it before it overtakes a lawn.

Explaining Moss

Moss can be especially menacing because its green appearance allows it to blend in with grass rather easily. As moss spreads, it becomes more noticeable. According to the turf care experts at Scotts’, moss is a plant with shallow roots that spreads by spores and root-like structures called rhizoids. Moss is opportunistic, and it will grow where turfgrass is thin and weak. However, moss does not kill the grass. Rather, the conditions that promote the growth of moss can kill the grass. Such conditions may include compacted soil or excessive thatch, acidic or infertile soil, excessive shade, and insufficient or excessive watering.

How Can Moss Be Controlled

Penn State Extension notes that the first step to controlling moss is to test the soil. Soil test kits are inexpensive and available at most home renovation stores. Test results will reveal if the soil is lacking nutrients or if lime needs to be applied and when to apply it. Such a report also will indicate when to fertilize the lawn, which can help restore the turfgrass so it’s more capable of competing with the moss.

If the underlying cause of moss is shade and/or moisture in the yard, Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA homeowners can speak with the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC to discuss their options. Replacing existing turf with one that is well-suited to shade and/or moisture may prevent mold from overtaking the lawn in the future. Penn State Extension notes that some turfgrasses may be best-adapted to shaded, well-drained soils, while others may be more likely to thrive in shaded, moist soils. Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can help homeowners find a turf that will not only thrive in the conditions in their yards, but also in their local climates.

Moss can quickly take advantage of conditions that make it difficult for turfgrass to grow. Homeowners who recognize that moss is overtaking their lawn can address it in various ways. Contact Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today for expert lawn care and landscaping services in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA.

Techniques to Revitalize a Lawn After a Long Winter

Pristine, snow-covered landscapes can be wonders to behold. While that blanket of white is idyllic, a lawn’s delicate blades may be paying a hefty price beneath the cold, heavy piles of snow.

Snow plows push salt and sand up on the grass while subterranean animals like mice and moles dig burrows beneath piles of snow as they try to find food and stay warm. Such conditions are not favorable for thriving landscapes in Chambersburg, PA. When the spring thaw arrives, lawns may be in dire need of some TLC. The following techniques can mitigate winter-related lawn damage.

Clear out debris

Remove any scattered leaves, branches and other debris that has been strewn across the property due to storms or snow-laden trees. This will give you a clean canvas to work on.

Dry out snow mold

The Family Handyman says snow mold is a cold-season fungus that causes gray-colored circles or patches on the lawn where there has been snow. To alleviate snow mold, rake the lawn to loosen matted grass and facilitate the drying-out process.

De-thatch the lawn

Heavy snow can compress the grass and cause some of it to die off. De-thatching helps to remove dead grass blades and separate any matting. This enables water, nutrients and air to reach the lawn’s roots more effectively. Thinning out old organic matter also helps encourage new growth.

Aerate the soil

Coupled with dethatching, aeration involves loosening the soil or poking holes to allow nutrients to move freely to the roots.

Kill weeds before they spread

Weeds may be the first to start growing when the weather begins to warm. Address them promptly by manually pulling them or applying an herbicide.

Overseed the lawn

Chances are there are some bare spots that have formed over the winter. Overseeding can help to fill in the lawn. Make sure that frosts are largely a thing of the past and soil temperature is around 50 F to 60 F before seeding. Water daily until grass fills in.

Apply nutrients

Fertilizer and compost can restore nutrients to the lawn that may have been used up over winter. A soil test at a nearby horticultural center can tell you which nutrients are needed, according to the Chemistry Cachet, a guide to using chemistry secrets for healthy living, beauty, cleaning, and gardening.

Your lawn can be restored to its pre-winter glory with the help of the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape LLC. We can help revitalize your lawn and landscape in Chambersburg, PA and the surrounding Franklin County, PA area. Contact us today!

Stay Safe When Landscaping

Landscaping is typically viewed as a chore by homeowners, many of who enjoy doing some work on their lawns and gardens in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. But only few homeowners may recognize the potential dangers of lawn maintenance.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 230,000 people per year are treated for various injuries resulting from lawn and garden tools. Common injuries include loss of fingers, lacerations, broken and dislocated bones, eye injuries, and burns. Many of these injuries are entirely preventable if homeowners prioritize safety when tending to their lawns and gardens.

Understand the equipment

Homeowners should not assume they know how to use all of the tools necessary to maintain lush lawns and bountiful gardens. Familiarize yourself with the proper operation of manual and motorized equipment by reading the owner’s manual thoroughly, making special note of recommended safety guidelines. Take some time to locate the power buttons and other parts by comparing them to illustrations in the guide. Once you feel comfortable handling the equipment, then you can begin to use it.

Wear appropriate protective gear

Failure to wear protective gear can lead to injury. Personal protective equipment includes gloves, eye protection, ear protection, boots, and a hard hat if necessary. When working during visibility conditions or at night, wear a reflective vest. Other protective items include a hat to shade your eyes from the sun’s rays. Sunscreen will protect the skin from UVA and UVB radiation. Long pants and sleeves can guard against flying debris.

Watch your surroundings

Thousands of injuries occur to children and pets who get hurt around mowers. It’s best if children and pets remain indoors when homeowners are mowing or using other power equipment that may kick up debris. Children under the age of 12 may not have the strength or ability to operate lawn tools. Also, never make a game of riding a child on a riding mower. Nobody under the age of 16 should operate riding lawn mowers.

Get approval before digging

It’s difficult to know what is beneath the ground without having a property surveyed and marked. Digging without approval can result in damage to gas lines or water/sewer pipes. Always check with the utility company before digging trenches or holes.

Unplug or turn off all equipment

When not in use, keep lawn equipment off. Do not try to repair or fix a snag or obstruction in equipment while it is on. Don’t modify the equipment in any way, such as removing protective guards.

Exercise caution with chemicals

Follow manufacturers’ safety instructions when using pesticides or fertilizers. Avoid application on windy days or right before a rainstorm, as this can spread the product and damage the ecosystem. Keep people and pets away from treated areas. Maintaining the yard is both a necessity and a hobby.

Homeowners who prioritize safety can greatly reduce their risk of injury by contacting the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape LLC. We can take care of all of your landscaping needs in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. Contact us today!

How to Protect Your Yard from Deer

With more than 60 different species of deer worldwide, there’s a good chance individuals will have some sort of interaction with these majestic animals at one point during their lifetimes.

Deer, which live on all continents except Antarctica, can survive in everything from mountainous areas to wet rainforests to suburban neighborhoods. These herbivores are voracious eaters that will search far and wide for their meals. Home landscapes tend to be easy pickings for foraging deer.

Many people are excited to see deer in their neighborhoods and yards in Shippensburg, PA because they can be such graceful creatures to behold. However, once deer start to munch on ornamental trees, annuals and flowering shrubs, the novelty of these animals may wear off. Furthermore, deer also can be covered in ticks that spread illnesses like Lyme disease. Here are some tips to keep deer at bay.

Avoid tasty morsels

Deer like English ivy, lettuces, impatiens, pansies, and hostas. Fruit trees also are targets. Choose other plants to grow, and wait until after early spring, when deer aren’t as concerned with regaining weight lost during the winter, to get them in the ground.

Use fishing line to deter deer

Put a few stakes in the ground and then run fishing line at a height of about three feet. Deer can sense movement but do not have keen vision. As the deer approach your garden, they’ll brush against the “invisible” fishing line and then get spooked off.

Plant plants that produce strong aromas

The experts at Good Housekeeping suggest planting lavender and marigolds, which emit strong aromas. Deer will be reluctant to walk through because the smell can interfere with their ability to find food and assess their environment via their sense of smell.

Stock up on soap

The tallow in soap helps keep deer away, according to the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science. Scented soaps like Irish Spring may be especially good at warding off deer.

Plant in levels

Raised beds and sunken gardens can discourage deer from coming into the yard because they aren’t avid climbers, offers the home and garden resource This Old House.

Employ harmless scare tactics

Deer are skittish, and any unfamiliar movement or sound may scare them away. Cans hung from strings, sundials and lights can keep them at bay.

Deer will seek out an easy meal, but homeowners can take steps to safeguard their trees, flowers and shrubs. If you need landscaping work done in Shippensburg, PA, contact our expert team at Locust Ridge Landscape. We can help you achieve all of your landscaping goals, so contact us today to schedule an appointment or receive a free quote.

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.

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.

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.