Today is my kid’s last day of school? How??? Also, Help! haha. Summer is officially here! You’ve probably noticed that lawns don’t love the summer. They turn brown, some almost white, as they try to hang on during the oppressive heat. West Coast lawns are planted with cool season grasses meaning…they prefer cooler temperatures. Under 22 degrees. This is why lawns look their best in May and September. In August, they don’t care how they look, they are just trying to survive. Which is why you need to treat your lawns with care this summer. And always. Btw, if you ignored your lawns this spring (didn’t fertilize, water or maintain them properly) your lawn is about to have its grass kicked 😉  Regardless of its current state, there are some important things everyone needs to do to keep their lawns growing healthy throughout the summer.

1. Mowing. Only mow in the early morning or early evening. Mowing in the heat of the day is a recipe for shock and awwww what, why is my green lawn suddenly brown?? Mowing your lawn with dull blades will create this same shock to your lawn. Have the boys at Highway Rentals or your local place sharpen them for you. Mowing your lawn short at any time is a recipe for shock, awwww and what??? where did those weeds come from?? If we currently mow for you, we take these things into consideration and we have got you covered. By the way, we can mow for you 🙂 We’d love to mow for you! Especially this summer when you go away. Email us! 

 

2. Weed control. Weeds come every year at this time so you shouldn’t be surprised. Like a cold, they are a natural result of an imbalance or deficiency in your lawn and are there for a reason. I actually wrote an award winning (my words) article on weeds recently. Btw, all of my articles can be found under the blog section of our website.  Anyways, you probably don’t care why you have weeds, you care how not to have them. Well, I have a solution! Don’t live on the West Coast! 🙂 Also, I’ve been testing a new Eco weed killer in my own backyard and I’m pleased to announce that it actually works. It is harmless to you, your pets and your grass too or I wouldn’t recommend it! You may have already seen it, its called Weed B Gone. You may have already tried it too and were disappointed. It’s because you didn’t use it properly, silly. 🙂  Based on my trials, here’s how Weed B Gone must be used in order to actually be effective. Btw, my backyard was FULL of moss, buttercup and dandelions 2 months ago. We just bought our house ok, no judging…haha. This spring, I used the exact same methods as I use on client’s lawns PLUS Weed B Gone and now… my backyard looks like a park. It really does. We walk barefoot all the time on our velvety carpet.
Note:  Weed Be Gone ONLY works an a healthy, growing lawn. If your lawn is half dead and weed ridden, don’t bother. You need a lawn replacement. That said, if your lawn is healthy yet has weeds, Weed B Gone is a good solution. Follow these steps and you should experience some good success.
Step 1 – Spray your weeds on a non rainy day, the day before you mow. You want your weeds as big as possible! Spraying right after you mow is pointless.
Step 2 – Make sure the product sticks to the weeds. It is 0% effective in the soil. Aim and shoot carefully.
Step 3 – Do this 2-3 weeks in a row.
At Lush, we don’t spray weeds for many reasons but are always happy to recommend good, eco-friendly solutions!

 

3. Watering. Water restrictions aside, every summer customers exclaim proudly, “I don’t water my lawn.” ‘Yeah I know’, is my reply, as I glance at their lawn -haha. For some, their decision is a cash savings, for others, it’s an eco decision. Regardless of why you don’t water your lawn, you need to water your lawn. Grass is a plant. Do you take the summer off from watering your garden? I highly doubt it. If you’re against watering grass, replace the grass with gravel. Or plants. Why continue to grow something you don’t care for? A lawn needs to be watered 1-2 x weekly for 40 min each time to continue to grow healthy in the summer. People also say, “Nah, it’s fine, my lawn will come back in the fall.” It sure will! Along with weeds, crab grass and fungal diseases which you then will end up spraying with toxic chemicals -very un-eco. Not watering may seem eco but the results are not. Best to water. And definitely best to follow your local watering restrictions lest your nosy neighbour decides to rat you out.

 

4. Summer Fertilizing. Nope.

 

5. Summer Aerating. Are you serious.

 

6. Summer Seeding. Why.
A healthy lawn can have numerous ecological, environment, financial, emotional and psychological benefits. These summer tips will help protect your investment.
If you want your own piece of velvet to walk on, email us! We can make it happen 🙂
Have a great summer everyone!

 

Every June without fail, our email and phones will light up with frantic messages from customers wondering what to do about their annual weed invasion. The first thing we do is calmly remind them that this happens every year, annually in fact, and to not worry too much about it. The second thing we do is remind them that weeds are actually beneficial in many ways not the least of which is their pure motives. They really are just trying to help. Weeds are opportunist plants that detect deficiencies in your soil and then work to correct those deficiencies. Sure they get a kick back but not before giving you important information first (assuming you haven’t already  shot or beheaded the messenger)… I know, your skeptical. You see a weed and your itchy trigger finger starts twitching. But hear me out first….
 

Let’s say your lawn has a dandelion. Its name is Richard btw. Conventional wisdom says you should behead Richard and Round-Up all his friends for a mass execution. Kinda harsh but in your defence, Richard is a known trespasser so… But what if Richard was there for a reason? Wouldn’t it be kinda rude and even irresponsible to shoot him before first hearing him out? I would think so. The good news is many people have started to listen to Richard and have started to get the message.. “Your soil is currently low in calcium and quite compacted. I recommend a future application of lime, core aeration and some topdressing would be great too. Feel free to pull me out and put grass seed back in my place. Just make sure to get all of me or I’ll be back!” I know, who knew dandelions were so eloquent? Not only is Richard eloquent he’s hellla popular. (thanks to my teenage daughter for inspiring that hip sentence) Richard has this one cutie named Buttercup who is super well connected. If you listen closely, Buttercup will tell you (in a sultry voice for some reason), “I love shady, poorly drained, compacted soil.” Buttercup isn’t as sweet as Richard but you should definitely hear her out and make the corrections. Same goes with Clover. Don’t let her daintiness fool you. She may be small but she comes in huge numbers and can overtake your lawn by the time you get back from vacation. By the way, she would tell you that your lawn needs to be top-dressed with a compost rich soil and fertilized with a natural fertilizer. Note: Harry the horsetail is tough as nails and has been around for thousands of years thus he will be impervious to any of your clever methods of eradication. Basically he’s here to stay so we suggest you get to know him. Sure, you can pull him out. But like those bad guys from the Matrix, he’ll pop up again.
 

Ok…now that I’ve named some of your weeds, I bet you’re feeling a bit bad. haha. Don’t beat yourself up too much, we’ve all killed Richard and friends at some point but the takeaway from this is simple.. weeds are not meant to be feared! They are meant to be named..:) and noticed, listened to and sure, once you’ve received the message, they are more than happy to be sacrificed in the name of healthy soil, but listen to them first! Healthy soil has always been their end game. And if you want a lush lawn, it must be yours! Stay away from toxic weed killers (use Weed B Gone if you just have to spray, its eco approved and we have found in our trials it works very well under strict conditions) Ultimately though, your weed problem has ALWAYS been a soil problem. So listen and act accordingly. If you’d rather not, reach out to us! We’d love to work with you. Just don’t ask us to spray.
 

What….Was…That?!?!!? Ok sure, we can handle some “quaint” snow on say…Dec 24th/25th or even the exact moment we fall in love but beyond that, us Islanders have a pretty low snow tolerance…which is why this past week was snow good. 😉  Yes the snow started off kinda pretty and, ok, even I found myself ooooing and awing, but multiple traffic accidents, school cancellations, tree deaths and ruined hairstyles later, it was just too much. Like many of you, I spent the week clearing driveways, walkways and entire parking lots by hand which is why I got a kick out of the above picture.  As I write this, I’m sitting in my cozy coffee shop  and it looks like we’ve finally beaten this thing which is why I can finally reflect on the week that was Snowmageddon. But what’s all of this mean for your lawn? Well…it’s not great.

First off, it’s important to realize that all grass on Vancouver Island is cool season grass so from a temperature point of view, your lawns can handle the snow. (This is why your lawn stays green in the winter and turns brown in the summer.) The larger concern is the amount of snow we received at once and the implications of how fast it will inevitably melt.  Here’s the fall out you need to be prepared for…(every lawn is unique and some are healthier then others so you may not experience all of these things but if you do, at least now you’ll be prepared!)

 

1. Soil Compaction:  Most of you have several feet of snow currently piled on your lawn. As you know from shovelling, the snow is not light. The weight is compacting your soil and will result in trapped nutrients/air/water. When your lawn wakes up this spring, it may not be able to access what it needs to grow and it will show its dissatisfaction with a thin, pale complexion. Weeds will appear and quickly take advantage of this vulnerable situation. A spring aeration and natural fertilizer application will be essential in releasing and activating these trapped nutrients.

 

2. Water Logging:  As I write this, the snow is melting as quickly as it came resulting in massive     amounts of water washing over and through your lawn (taking nutrients and organic matter with it). If your lawn didn’t already have poor drainage, it does now. It can’t possibly hold all that water. Be prepared for your lawn to be very slimy or even disappear in places. Depending on the quality of your soil and the health of your lawn, it may eventually recover as it dries out later in the spring but more likely than not you are going to need topdressing and reseeding this spring along with the aeration. If your lawn takes unreasonably long to drain this is a cue that you have an underlying drainage problem that must be fixed before you even attempt to get your lawn lush again. I realize this is starting to sound like a sales pitch and that is not my intent.  I’m just wanting you to be prepared and have a plan. I’ll definitely be doing the same to my own lawns.

 

3. Salt Damage:  Many Municipalities (and homeowners) still salt their roadways, walkways and driveways even though there are great lawn friendly alternatives, including sand and eco-traction. The problem with salt is it inevitably ends up all over your lawn and garden burning everything in sight, similar to over-fertilizing. Those brown/dead patches will be the tell tale sign that you didn’t go easy on the salt this winter. Depending on the damage, you may have to power-rake out the dead sections as well as aerate, top-dress and seed. In other words, you may need a mini lawn renovation. If you are one of the lucky ones already signed up for one of our popular Lawn Care Programs, you will be receiving all of these things as part of your program! Lucky you 🙂

 

4. Fungal disease (snow mold):  Watch out for a weird abnormal colour appearing on your lawn next month. Pink and grey are the most common colours indicating your lawn has a fungal infection. The disease is seldom fatal although always un-nerving to the unprepared. The solution is the same as above…raking out the affected sections and topdressing/reseeding.

Beyond these four things, many of you may also be dealing with broken trees, damaged shrubs and a huge amount of debris on your lawn as a result of the snow storm. Best to remove the debris asap as well as call in an expert to take a look at your plants.

While we can’t always predict the weather, we can reasonably predict the result of it on our lawns. With greater knowledge, we can be more prepared and less anxious this season. See you on the lawns!

 

 

Posted by: In: Lawn Care 22 Mar 2016 0 comments

 

Bandaid1

 

We easily do dozens of lawn consults a week. Sometimes dozens a day. The calls/emails/lawns are always the same. “The moss has never been this bad”  “My lawn always looked decent until last summer’s drought” “My lawn was just put in last year and now look at this mess, it’s embarrassing”. Can you help??? Of course we can. But we start with a story.

Once upon a time somebody took a short cut.  The End.

That somebody is often a professional using economical methods.  Here’s the thing. Although lawn care is a science, it’s not rocket science.  It comes down to one thing.  Soil.  And the soil under your lawn is either good or bad. No amount of moss killer (band-aid), weed killer (toxic band-aid), fertilizer (band-aid) or eco chemical (what is that even) will change that.  The fact is, if your lawns receive adequate light (5+hrs daily) and have good drainage (no pooling) yet they are still full of moss and weeds its because you have terrible soil. The solution to your problem is literally staring you right in the face. Everybody now….”fix the soil.”

This is usually the moment in the consultation when the customer says, “we use to have a guy who’d come around and spray stuff….but it’s obviously not working.”  Ya think? If only we could just spray all life’s problems away.  Of course I don’t say that, I empathize with you, the customer, because how are you supposed to know?  It’s the professional’s job to educate you.  Not sell you a bandaid.

We’ve been educating our customers for 7 years – often losing out on jobs because we only sell a fix.  In fact, we often deter customer’s from doing business with us because we’re not prepared to make a buck off a bandaid. A lot of people want bandaids and a lot of companies are happy to sell them. We are not that company.  We’ve made a good living off fixing lawns. If this interests you, we’d love to talk.

 

Seeding

kentucky blue grass lawnSunny seed mix, Shade mix, Front lawn mix, Backyard Mix, Eco lawn mix, Drought resistant mix, blah blah blah. This is marketing at it’s worst. How is it possible for the seed companies to know how much sun, shade or even water your particular lawn gets? They’re guessing, of course, so why invest in a stranger’s best guess when you can intentionally buy the seeds that are right for you?

Generally there are 3 main types of seed varieties used in most mixes. Kentucky Bluegrass is found in Sunny or Front yard mixes and is a fan favorite for its thick blade of grass and beautiful bluish tinge. Perennial Rye is the best all around seed and is found in most if not all mixes as it has a medium blade with a nice uniform green that holds up well under most conditions (see above). Fescues are found in shade or backyard mixes as their extremely thin blades thrive in the shade, or so they say.

For the wet and sun deprived Vancouver Island, we recommend a mix predominantly Perennial Rye with a few Kentucky Blue mixed in for fun. This type of mix is traditionally called an Over-seeding mix or sometimes the bag will say the seed content on it. Perennial Rye is the best all around seed for our conditions and lifestyle. It’s the seed most common in parks and sports fields as it wears well (unlike Fescues) and doesn’t gorge itself or need as much as light as Kentucky Blue.

If you don’t have the patience or irrigation to seed your lawn, you can also hire a company to Hydro Seed your lawn. Utilizing the same seed varieties but covering them in a mixture of wet mulch for increased germination, the seeds will literally be sprayed on your lawn appearing as a green sludge. Before you know, that sludge will be a lawn. Finally, if you need a lawn right now, you can’t go wrong with sod. Sod is mature grass ready right now. All it needs is some good soil and a professional’s touch. As far as pricing goes, Sod is the most expensive, followed by Hydro-seeding and seeding.

Best time to plant any kind of grass is May and September but remember, all seed needs to remain perpetually moist until germination – that includes sod so it can establish.

Aerating

Aerating Lawns on Vancouver IslandAll soil needs air, water and nutrients for its plants to thrive. In the case of a lawn, when its soil is compacted, these resources become trapped and its grass roots are unable to access them. The result is always the same; crabgrass, weeds and moss take advantage of the lawn’s weakened state and gradually establish themselves. Aerating is the process of releasing the compaction so these vital resources are made available and the lawn can continue to grow lush and healthy. Aerating should ALWAYS follow power raking. There’s no point in trying to aerate through moss.

Not all aerating is created equal. Those spikes on the bottom of your shoes, for instance, add to your compaction problem rather than solve it. If you are going to aerate you must rent a Core Aerator from your neighbourhood rental shop. A typical Aerator weighs in excess of 400lbs and makes operating your lawn mower seem like that plastic toy you bought your grandson. Plus you have to transport it…and anchor it to your trailer….yes, you need a trailer. In the end, its much easier to hire someone and only marginally more expensive.

Once the entire lawn has been aerated, (hopefully you marked your sprinkler heads first) there will be thousands of holes with corresponding soil plugs. Just leave the plugs to decompose. Your lawn is now literally open to the possibilities of new growth. Best time to aerate is early spring and fall. If you’re aerating as part of a lawn renovation, you have just finished the tough phase 1! Congratulations! Phase 2 involves the much more fulfilling topdressing, seeding and fertilizing!

Power-raking

Thatching Vancouver IslandIf your lawn is currently covered in moss and it meets the two conditions for renovation (adequate sun, good drainage), it all starts with a vicious power raking (some call it de-thatching). We say vicious because most homeowners and even landscapers fail in this regard. The point of power raking is to remove all the moss (not some, or quite a bit). If patches of moss remain on your lawn, grass will not be able to establish in those spots so you’re best off to go vicious. Warning: Your lawn will look like a sandbox when you’re done 🙂 This is normal, it will have to get worse before it gets better.

Power-rakers/De-thatchers can be rented from your local rental store or Home Depot/Rona. They weigh a few hundred pounds and you’ll definitely need a trailer to transport them. Once you have managed to get them home, they are fairly easy to operate. Similar to a lawn mower, you walk behind them and they self propel forward ripping out large amounts of moss (and grass) as they go. Remember, this is all normal you need to get it all. Once you’ve gone over the lawn once, you’ll need to begin the process of manually raking it up and transporting it to a local farmer who may kiss you on the mouth for this great gift of compostable materials. If there is still moss visible in the lawn, you’ll need to go over it again and continue until all the moss is removed. Believe me, this is a weekend you’ll likely wish you had back so this is a service that is probably worth hiring a (Lush) professional 🙂

Once all the moss is removed, you’ll be shocked at the amount that came up plus your lawn will look terrible. Before you collapse into the fetal position, remind yourself that John said this is normal. Don’t stay down for too long though, aerating is next.