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Pine Straw Mulch Advantages

As the name implies, pine straw comes from pine trees, which shed their needles throughout the year. Once the needles drop to the ground, they are hand-raked, cleaned and baled without the need to cut down or harm the trees. This makes pine straw a very environmentally friendly choice for a landscaping and mulching material.

When applied correctly, pine straw prevents evaporation of water from the soil, reduces the growth of weeds, and helps to prevent soil compaction and erosion. Pine straw also protects plants from freezing conditions, helping keep the soil around the plants at a stable temperature. This is important for newer plants and those with shallow root systems. Plus, pine straw will improve the soil structure as it decays.

Types of pine straw can vary by region, and coverage will depend on the type, bale size, and application depth.

Some key advantages of pine straw mulch during their first year application:

  • Never leaves dirty residue or unpleasant odor.
  • Retains all natural, auburn color throughout the season and brightens up after a rainfall.
  • Less erosion from slopes and banks during rainfall.
  • Minimizes occurrence of molds, fungus, insects and rodents.
  • Retains essential moisture without becoming soggy or muddy.

An independent study at Texas A&M University by the Educational programs of Texas Cooperative Extension found a variety of pine straw mulch physical properties give it advantages over other organic mulches:

  • Stability – Pine needles interlock and hold together during hard rains, heavy winds, and even on landscapes with considerable slope.
  • Porosity – Pine straw remains loose and friable and does not form a top crust like grass clippings, leaves, and some wood mulches.
  • Weed Control – Pine straw mulch greatly reduces weed control efforts as wood mulches have a higher tendency to import weed seed in an ideal seedbed for germination.
  • Visual Appeal – The fine texture and uniform color of pine straw is simply more aesthetically pleasing to some users. Added annually, it gives landscapes a fresh clean and renewed appearance.
  • Longevity- Pine straw breaks down more slowly than wood mulch, so it needs to be re-applied less often or in less thickness after initial application.
  • Lightweight – Pine straw is easily handled because of its lightweight.




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Too Much Rain?

How Too Much Rain Affects Your Lawn – Partial Content by Reddi Lawn

Living in the south we are accustom to large amounts of rain periodically. While we enjoy the spring shower after periods of drought, there can be too much of a good thing. For many homeowners, soggy lawns could turn into big problems.

Lawn Problems Caused by Excessive Rain and Over Watering

  • Surface damage – Walking and moving objects like trash cans across a saturated lawn will not only compact soils, but it can leave permanent marks or tracks in your yard.
  • Drown grass roots – Grass needs oxygen to grow, and excessive water will fill the air gaps in the soil, effectively drowning the plants.
  • Disease caused by fungus – Too much water can cause grass roots to rot and can lead to disease which starts off as yellow patches in your yard; once fungus sets in, little can be done except reseeding the dead patches in the fall.
  • More weeds – Consistently over watering your lawn can cause a lot of hard-to-kill weeds to grow
  • Loss of nutrients – If your lawn gets too much water, vital nutrients are washed away before they can be absorbed through the root system.
  • Excessive fertilizer needs – Because your grass isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, you’ll have to use additional fertilizer to try and compensate.
  • Waste money and water – Your lawn can absorb a limited amount of water at a time, so over watering or watering your lawn when it’s raining causes you to pay for and use water the grass doesn’t need; and, as mentioned above, you’ll be spending more money on costly fertilizer treatments

Prevent Over Watering Problems

Of course, you can’t control the rain, but you can take steps to help your lawn get through periods of both rain and drought.

Make sure your yard has proper drainage
After a rain storm, check your yard for puddles or standing water. If there are low spots in your yard, bringing in some fill dirt and reseeding the area can help. Also, make sure your rain gutters are clean and that the downspouts have extenders on them to direct water away from your home’s foundation. You can even install extenders that can be buried to form a french drain system that disperses the water underground instead of on your lawn’s surface.

Know when and how much to water your lawn
Basically, your yard should be watered deeply but infrequently. Most lawns only need about an inch of water per week, and watering every day usually isn’t necessary. Letting the soil dry out between watering will encourage deep root growth and thick grass coverage, which means your lawn will withstand drought conditions better. You’ll need to adjust your watering plan throughout the season as your lawn’s water needs change.

If you have a sprinkler system, consider installing a rain sensor
Southern storms can pop up with little warning, but adding a rain sensor to your irrigation system controls will prevent the sprinklers from running when it’s raining. In addition to keeping your lawn healthy, you’ll save money and conserve water.

Need help setting up a watering plan or dealing with the effects of too much rain on your lawn? Give us a call today at 334-685-1588.

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Early Spring Cleaning

Early Spring Cleaning –

To keep your yard healthy and weed-free, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind in the weeks around March 1st. Most lawns will need a little cleaning after the winter. Take time to remove any leaves and branches that are still lying around. This will allow the grass to breathe.

Use pre-emergent weed control in early spring – preferably around March 1st in Alabama, before seeds begin germinating. We have the right equipment to help with this. Re-seed and water damaged turf if you don’t plan to apply pre-emergent weed control (the weed control will kill any non-germinated seeds, including new turf you may have seeded)

You may want to have your lawn aerated around or before March 1st. Apply a light amount of fertilizer in early spring, then apply heavier amounts in the later spring months.

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December Maintenance

December Lawn Maintenance – Partial Content by

Lime―If the soil is acidic, your landscape probably could benefit from an application of lime. Broadcast using a fertilizer spreader, or apply by hand. Always wear gloves and distribute evenly. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, Do It Right Lawn is fully qualified to do the application for you. Because lime takes a long time to react with the soil, winter applications help the spring garden. Apply at the rate of 15 to 20 pounds per 100 square feet. If you are unsure of how much lime your soil needs, have a soil test performed. We can help with that as well.

Irrigation―If your automatic watering system stays on all year, it’s time to adjust the amount of watering during each cycle. Many dormant plants require lower amounts of water in colder months. A good rule of thumb is to reduce irrigation time by half when night temperatures remain in the 40s or below. Turn the system off in rainy periods to reduce costs and prevent over watering.

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Fall Leaves: Don’t Ignore Them

When to Act

As beautiful as fall can be when trees dress summer greenery in brightly tinted hues, those colorful leaves eventually tumble from treetops to litter your lawn. On the ground, leaves signal that it’s time to work. Follow these tips to make this year’s leaf gathering easier.

While a few leaves won’t harm your lawn, you need to remove them when they begin to pile up. Fallen leaves can smother turf, blocking sunlight from reaching grass blades and limiting air circulation, which can lead to turf diseases. The weight of leaves can actually prevent grass from growing properly. A leaf layer also keeps soil moist, which can cause turf roots to rot if the soil stays wet long enough. In short, ignoring leaves on your lawn isn’t an option – it could kill your grass.

In general, it’s time to deal with leaves when you can’t see the top half of the grass blades or when they cover more than a third of your overall lawn. If a deep cold snap triggers leaf drop that happens quickly over a few days, you can wait until the lawn is nearly covered with a single leaf layer. Just don’t allow grass to remain obscured with fallen leaves for more than a few days.

Whether you opt to rake or mow over leaves, it’s always better to act before rain arrives and transforms dry leaves into a soaked, clumping mat. Wet leaves won’t chop well with a mower, and they tend to clog rakes and leaf vacuums.

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September Lawn Preparation

September Lawn Preparation

Fall planting ― Begin planting trees and shrubs this month. Planting in autumn allows them time to grow roots and transition into the garden.

Water ― As temperatures begin to cool, plants need less water. Adjust your watering schedule for lawns, borders, and containers. Pay close attention to containers as they tend to become waterlogged.

Grass Maintenance – The best time to patch bare or thin spots is when the hot, dry days of summer have given way to cooler temps.

Follow these simple steps:

  • -Remove any dead grass.
    – Break up the soil with a garden trowel.
    – Add an inch of compost and work it into the soil.
    – Add grass seed that’s designed for shade or full sun, depending. Spread the seed evenly across the bare patch.
    – Use a hard-tooth rake to work the seed into the soil to a depth of about half an inch.
    – Sprinkle grass clippings over the patch to help prevent the soil from drying out.
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    Hydration is Key

    Watch Your Water – Partial Content by

    When Mother Nature doesn’t supply enough rainfall, supplemental watering is integral to maintaining a healthy lawn. Remember too much water can be wasteful and even detrimental to the lawn’s lifespan, too little water can lead to turf that’s more susceptible to disease, insect, and weed infestations. A well-maintained lawn needs one inch of water per week to stay green and growing.

    Instead of setting your automatic sprinkler system to come up every day to water each zone for 10 minutes, set the system to run only every three to four days for a longer time per zone — a practice which prevents roots from growing closer to the surface. You can use hoses and a pulsating portable sprinkler, leaving it in one position for 30 to 60 minutes before moving it to another location.

    Early morning watering is best. Watering in the evening can increase the likelihood of disease development because the lawn will remain cool, dark, and moist for an extended period of time. If you are unable to water due to watering restrictions, your lawn will go dormant- the turf’s natural defense mechanism in which it will shut down all non-essential parts, like top growth, to keep the crown alive. Turf is a remarkable plant and most varieties can survive for four weeks or more without irrigation of any type. If the drought is severe enough, some lawn renovation may be necessary once it starts to rain or you are able to water again.

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    Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

    Tips for Effective Weed Control – Partial Content By: Barbara Pleasant
    Don’t give weeds the chance to see the light. Whether you choose wood chips, bark nuggets, straw, or even pine needles, keep the mulch coming to smother out weeds.

    Mulch benefits plants by keeping the soil cool and moist and depriving weeds of light. Organic mulches, in particular, can actually host crickets and carabid beetles, which seek out and devour thousands of weed seeds.

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    Control Broadleaf Weeds

    A well maintained lawn is an integral part of an attractive home landscape. Unfortunately, dandelion, plantain, and other perennial broadleaf weeds can become problems. When broadleaf weeds invade lawns, mechanical and chemical measures can be undertaken to remove or destroy the weeds.

    In small areas, some weeds can be controlled by pulling and digging. This method is best accomplished after a good rain or deep watering. Unfortunately, pulling and digging is often ineffective on deep-rooted weeds.

    In many situations, herbicides are the only practical method of weed control. Effective broadleaf herbicides include 2,4-D, MCPP, MCPA, dicamba, and triclopyr. The most effective broadleaf herbicide products contain a mixture of 2 or 3 of these herbicides as no single compound will control all broadleaf weeds.

    Fall (mid-September through October) is the best time to control perennial broadleaf weeds in the lawn with broadleaf herbicides. In fall, perennial broadleaf weeds are transporting food (carbohydrates) from their foliage to their roots in preparation for winter. Broadleaf herbicides applied in fall will be absorbed by the broadleaf weed’s foliage and transported to the roots along with the carbohydrates, resulting in the destruction of the broadleaf weeds.

    Broadleaf herbicides are important tools in controlling weeds in the lawn. However, good cultural practices are also important. Proper mowing, fertilization, and other sound management practices should produce a thick, healthy lawn. A dense stand of grass provides few opportunities for unwanted weeds. Good cultural practices, along with an occasional application of a broadleaf herbicide, should effectively control most broadleaf weeds in the lawn.

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    Winterizing your lawn – Part 2

    Aerating in the Fall The summer is both a time of growth and harm for turf.  With people outside, enjoying their yards, playing sports and gardening, grass takes a beating.  Compaction is one of the worst problems inflicted on lawns with lots of foot traffic.  Compaction compresses the spaces in the soil where oxygen can be available to the roots.  Without oxygen, the plants cannot complete their metabolic processes  (breaking down the sugars they have stored from photosynthesis) and will die. Aerating helps overcome compaction.  A punch-core aerator is best.  That is the type of aerator used at golf courses, and leaves the little soil cores all over the soil.  That opens up spaces within the soil that can be top-dressed with compost or sand (depending upon your soil type), which will improve soil fertility, and aeration.

    Overseeding and Topdressing the Lawn The early fall is a good time to overseed a lawn that might need renovation.  Warm season weeds will be dying off, opening up space for grass and reducing competition.  Grass that can establish itself in the fall will come back in the spring, more vigorous.  Before overseeding, aerate and top-dress with compost or sand.  This is an easy way to ensure a more lush lawn in the spring.

    De-thatching for the Winter A thin layer of thatch is actually beneficial to lawns.  A layer beyond ½ inch thick is not beneficial, and can promote disease and fungal problems by limiting airflow between the soil and the top of grass.  Thatch is not composed of grass clippings, as many people suggest, but is rather dead stems that build up between the soil and the growing grass leaves.  Aerating is the best way to control thatch issues in a lawn. Each of these tasks will help you winterize your lawn for healthy growth in the spring.

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