The Case For Humic Acid

humic acid

what is humic acid?

humic acid is the organic result of the degradation of organic matter.  it’s not a single acid, but rather a complex group of multiple acids that form a humic colloid.

so what does that mean?

a humic colloid is going to be an emulsion or gel that consists of large particles all the way to microscopic particles. relating this to humic acid, the colloids will consist of a humic sludge like material (the large particles) that contains microscopic particles (fulvic and ulmic acids).

these ‘acids’ can play an interesting role in the development of soils, and in particular, turfgrass.

how does humic acid help?

to understand how humic acid helps we first have to understand what does humic acid consist of beyond the realm of particle sizes.  humic substances vary in composition depending on where the originating product is sourced.  but it’s common to see 50+% carbon chains, 40+% oxygen, plus a little hydrogen to top it off.  being a direct source of carbon chains, it has the ability to chelate.  chelating is the effect of taking an otherwise insoluble unusable form of  an element and making it – well – usable.  on top of that, being a carbon source, it also has the ability to capture and hold on to macronutrients, extending their release and root uptake efficiency.

the case for humic acids

humic acid alone is not a game changer for turfgrass professionals.  as a standalone product, yes, you are providing benefit to the soil. but there is no immediate visual impact that would justify its continued use.  so why use it?  when combined with elemental micronutrients, humic acid plays a role as a chelating agent.  this will aid in absorption through foliar and root uptake. also, applied in conjunction with macronutrients, it will extend the release and minimize the amount of loss through volitalization, leaching, and run off, due to its ability to tie the nutrients up in the carbon chains.

when choosing to use a humic acid, it’s important to consider your source, consider your fertility loads, and a performance need to be met.  it’s the not the secret sauce, but it is an excellent tool we have in our arsenal.

Summer Lawn Care and Water Saving Guidelines

summer lawn care and watering guide

Summer Lawn Care and Water Saving Guidelines

Summer is a great time to enjoy your outdoor area.  Heat, wildlife, sunshine – your body is flooded with vitamin D and serotonin.  Your plants are feeling equally as good, too.  That being said, they’re also facing a great potential to not feel so good.  So while you’re in the back yard soaking up rays, take a look at your garden or landscape plants and see what they’re telling you.  More than likely, they’re thinking about water – are they saying they need more? Less? or is everything just right…

Using the right tools

Garden hoses, nozzles and sprinklers can be a good start when irrigating larger areas. Try not to water during the hottest part of the day as a great deal of it can be lost to evaporation and runoff. Starting in the early morning will give plants ample time to take in water and allow the surface to dry before the heat of the day. This will help keep plants hydrated, yet minimize conducive conditions for the development for disease.

 Never over water the garden or landscape areas

It’s not written in stone, but it’s a fairly strong rule of thumb that lawns require one inch of moisture per week, while landscape plants require two inches per week.  Again, those numbers are starting points. Soil conditions, sun exposure, and plant or turf variety can all influence weekly irrigation requirements. It’s best to take the time to research your plants and understand their water requirements. Even if you have irrigation, don’t be scared to pull out the garden hose and give “hot spots” an extra drink to help its survival effort. That being said, if you see wilting in your plants, it’s not always a sign of drought stress. It can often signal root rot. Using your finger to push into the soil at the base of the plant, you should feel some moisture, but not standing moisture. Taking the time to learn and understand the water requirements of your garden or landscape can save you time, money, and the heart ache of a dying plant.

Avoid wasting water

I cringe when I catch people soaking down the leaves of a plant.  Plants are not going to utilize water from the leaf surface.  Focusing your watering efforts on the root system will ensure the part of the plant that needs water most – the roots – have an available supply to use. Trees and shrubs are going to utilize more water than turfgrass, but what we don’t want to do is leave the root systems “drowning.”  Pay attention to water water collects or pools as this can often lead to plant health issues later down the line.

Keep your mulch fresh

Mulch is an important component in moisture management. Understanding how much you need is even more important.  A fresh 1-2″ layer in the spring and fall can help minimize the amount of water lost to evaporation.  Be careful mulching around trees – use an extremely minimal amount.  Aggressive tree roots can grow into the mulch and then will rely on it for survival.  Remember, as mulch breaks down, it releases vital nutrients plants will use to survive and thrive – so keep it re-energized with a fresh layer every year!

Epsom Salt… To Save Your Lawn?

epsom salt to save your lawn

Epsom Salt… To Save Your Lawn?!

Epsom salt has been a go to home remedy for years. Known as a natural exfoliant, a remedy to

dry skin, sore muscles, small wounds, or used to create an inhome home spa experience,

epsom salts are widely used. What many people don’t know is that epsom salt can give almost

miraculous results to any lawn or landscape!

What is Epsom Salt? And Why Does It Work?

Epsom salt is simply magnesium sulfate. Broken down, that’s magnesium and sulfur. Now the

question is, how does magnesium and sulfur affect turfgrass and landscape plants? As it turns

out, magnesium plays a vital role in photosynthesis and the production of chlorophyll. A plant

that has an adequate amount of magnesium will allow for more efficient photosynthesis and

thus an abundance of chlorophyll. Having plenty of chlorophyll in the plant tissue is what gives

it that dark green color. As a result, having an appropriate amount of magnesium equates to a

healthier, greener plant!

When Do I Use It?

Epsom salt is best to use after periods of stress. This can be after a long hard winter when the

grass or plant is trying to wake up and stretch its wings, OR it can be used after a long hard

summer when plants are trying to recover and store carbohydrates for the winter. Though it can

be used anytime of the year, these two points will provide the most dramatic response in the

plant.

How Do I Use It?

Epsom salt can be applied in granular form. Granular epsom salts should be applied at 3-5

lbs/1000sqft of turfgrass. For landscape plants, it can be applied as a few handfuls. If you have

the appropriate equipment, epsom salts can be dissolved in water and applied at the same rate.

Either way, the results will be equal.

How Often Can I Use It?

Though epsom salts produce big effects quickly, it can be overused. It’s safe to use it only once

or twice per year as part of a regular lawn care maintenance program. Epsom salt also contains

sulfur. Grant it, sulfur ALSO plays a vital role in the health of plants (disease resistance), it can

make the soil acidic when overused. However, limiting your applications to once or twice per

year will not have enough of an impact to alter your soil pH.

Who knew? Epsom salt, great around the home, lawn AND garden!

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Benefits of Hiring A Lawn Care Company

Benefits of Hiring a Lawn Care Company

lawn care company

 

Benefits of Hiring a Lawn Care Company

What happens when you don’t have the resources to have a great lawn on hand? Naturally you will still want to have an immaculate and amazing lawn. What you may not have is the time to put physical effort into it, so you will need to look for professional help to make landscaping and gardening a job handled quite easily. Although you can still do a decent amount of work on your own, you should still look for professional services for the following reasons:

  • Saving time

Perhaps the best reason to hire a lawn care company is the fact that you will save a lot of time in the process. First of all you will need to spend a few hours planning to go on researching what to find for your lawn needs. It would not take long for you to find potential companies that give you a chance to make things work for your lawn. You can invest time of your own to a couple of stores so you can find equipment, fertilizer and seed as well as other solutions, but you will have to also take commitment to maintaining and mowing your lawn, which of course takes time. Calculate the time it takes to call up a lawn company and to have them take care of the project and to how long it will take you to get this done. Whatever the case there will be a contrast in the end, so make use of your options.

  • Expertise

Even if you don’t want to do a lot of time on your lawn, there is simply no insurance that you won’t mess this up. Sometimes you can do the job yourself, but you will rarely do it with the same expertise and capability that a professional company would have. People work with experts for a good reason, since they have the experience to make all of this work quite well. Hiring a lawn company will be a great way to figure out better results, specifically getting better results than working alone.

  • Costs

Lawn care companies often subsidize their overhead with the volume of the work they do. In other words because you won’t have to take care of many lawns, it will be inconvenient and overly expensive for you to purchase most of the equipment necessary and used by lawn care companies. Lawn care and landscaping contractors can procure equipment loans, as well as paying off incrementally through contracting work. For you to be able to equal that quality of lawn care you would need to purchase a rake, split readers, leaf tarps and leaf vacuum, a ride or push mower, power aerator and so much more. In most cases you will actually be saving a lot more money using a lawn care company. When the day is done the final costs for gardening and landscaping will be much smaller than you think, so look for opportunities when you need lawn care.

6 Landscape Design Mistakes

6 Landscape Design Mistakes

 

that can Ruin Your Home

 

landscape design mistakes

 

Clumsy and neglected landscaping can not only damage your home’s curb appeal, but it can easily cut

the value of the property and it will make it a lot harder to sell if you’re not careful. Real estate

appraisers will often warn that bad landscaping is one of the most serious buyer turnoffs that may really

make your property languish on the market and to hurt its prices. Make sure that never happens to you

by checking out the following common mistakes you can make when working on your home:

 

Planting with no plans

 

When it comes to landscaping, some choices may last you for a long time while others may only last a

season. Taking the time to plan out and plot the yard will give you the best potential approach to make

curb appeal work with great aesthetics in mind. If you are not quite certain how to approach your design

needs, then you should consider making use of a landscape architect for a more accurate set of results.

They will give you a hand in figuring out the yard and to provide plant lists you can work with for

landscaping purposes yourself.

 

Keeping things too close to each other

 

Planting in clusters may look a lot better than installing single plants, all throughout the yard. You should

make sure you have your groups of shrubs, perennials and trees that have plenty of room to spread

around the area without looking overgrown or choked. Overcrowded landscaping will compete with

itself for water and food, putting all your clustered plants at risk, especially during times of drought.

Check out how high and wide your mature plants have to be and then work on combining that

information into spacing suggestions on the planting labels. At first the garden beds of your young plants

will look too airy, but within a couple of years you will see the beds filling in.

 

Zoning out

 

You should never be seduced by catalog plants that look great on paper, but are not suited to the

hardiness zone where you are. You will wind up with plants that may die prematurely and will demand

winter covers, daily watering and more efforts to keep your plants alive and healthy.

 

More of the same mistakes

 

You would do well to resist the design temptation to completely change your yard and to fill it up with

your favorite shrub or plant. This will only make for a boring monochromatic look, making your yard look

good only at a part of the year while looking pretty drab the rest of the year. Mixing things up and

striving for a four season color will be a much better solution. A good example of that would be to

combine your spring blooming plants with some summer blooming roses and autumn ones as well, such

as burning bushes (Euonymus alatus). For some winter color you can add hardier shrubs such as red osier

 

Refusing to bury dead plants

 

Nothing will make your curb appeal plummet like rows upon rows of dying or dead perennials. You can

quickly remove your dying plants from the front and side yards to make use of them in a different way,

such as composting or something similar. Landscaping can sometimes succumb to infestation or disease,

so you would do well to inter the dead plants in plastic bags and then add to the trash.

 

Weeds going out of control

 

Weeds will not only wreck the looks and health of your landscaping, but they will really compete with

the vegetation for water and food. They can also shorten the life of your stone, brick and more, creating

cracks in mortar as well. The best way to stop the weeds from spreading would be to spread a pre-

emergent a couple of weeks before the weeds germinate. This will usually stop them from growing, so

make use of the chance to do so.

Practical Landscaping Tips and Ideas

Practical Landscaping Tips and Ideas

 

landscaping tips

When it comes to the art of landscaping, the useful way would be to combine your aesthetics with the practical side of the job. The examples ahead will explain ways you can pull this off without breaking the bank but by making your landscape great-looking and easy to maintain:

  • Using flowers in your entryway

Flowers will always add to the good looks of a place, making it seem more welcoming and interesting. Petunias, lilies, roses and whatever else strikes your fancy will get the job done right. Perennials will be a wonderful addition to any home if you want to make use of all of it. Making use of your small and low fences at the front of your yard, as well as other areas will really help make the curb appeal tie up together quite nicely.

  • Plant some rambling vines

Clematis can be one of the more interesting solutions with vines you can use out there. It comes in red, blue, pink, purple and even white blossoms. You can grow them in a container, as well as on a trellis or another solution that allows it. You can work on this by growing them inside loose, well drained and fertile soil, providing enough organic material to make it happen. It will need to cool off its roots so you can plant them where it will see enough sunlight, but at the same time the roots will be shaded for this very reason. Fertilizing can be done during the spring each summer or spring with some organic fertilizer that is meant for roses and tomatoes. Pruning them will depend on the type of growth and bloom, as well as the old growth and new growth. You can find clematis around most garden or landscaping centers, as well having it mail ordered if you can’t find any around your area.

  • Decorating your driveway

Sculpting your landscape will help make the choice of using materials and plants that are strong a good one, but you have to also cover some unattractive spots around your driveway. You can begin this by starting with a raised island of the lawn in the center of your driveway. Add a low boxwood hedge or something similar and you will have a much easier time making do with annuals, perennials, roses and the like. You can do this for a nice blend of textures, colors, lights and so much more to make your gardening and landscaping worth it.

  • Planting lilies

Crinums are one great plant you can use when you are facing drought, as they are extremely hardy and have no need for fertilizer, thriving in hot and humid summers with a nice pleasant scent. Crinums prefer at least five hours of sunlight, so this would be a good solution for coastal and tropical climates, with some varieties capable of surviving even in the northern areas, allowing for a more flexible solution you can really work with during your gardening sessions.

Got weeds? Let’s Kill ’em!

Wild violet weeds

Cooler Weather Slows Weeds

So we’re certainly into cooler weather, and thank goodness the grass has slowed down growing. That being said – not everything has stopped growing.

Once the soil temps dropped below 70, the weeds of summer slowly began to die. The frost finished them off. The beautiful thing about nature – as the summer weeds died, the winter weeds germinated. Winter weeds love, even thrive in the cold. They’ve adapted over the years to thrive in even the coldest of winters. So as we continue to get adequate rainfall and plenty of sunshine, the weeds are ready to go… GROW!

You Mean, I’ve Still Got Weeds…?

So what do we do about killing the weeds?

Pick a decently warm day, preferably above 50 degrees. This will make sure the plants are breathing and photosynthesizing. And go ahead and plan to make your application of broadleaf weed control to kill weeds. Conrolling weeds should be simple with an herbicide, but which one do you pick?

Step 1. Identify weed.

Knowing which weeds you have in the lawn is the most important part of killing weeds.  Without it, how could you choose the right product?  How would you know you’re treating it at the right time of year?  How do you make sure you’re using the right rate to kill it and not make it stronger? Let google be your friend. Still can’t find it? Ask me!

Step 2. Choose the right product.

If you have a little henbit and chickweed, a simple 3-way phenoxy herbicide will suffice. These materials contain a plant hormone that force the plant to grow into its death. They usually take ~2-4 weeks to give a thorough kill in the cold. If you have a lawn full of wild violets, now is the time to use a more specific product. I like to use one that contains triclopyr & pyraflufen. The pyraflufen will provide a very quick burn down of the weed. The triclopyr will offer long term, systemic control of the weed – thus giving quick and lasting results. It’s important to make sure the product you use will actually kill weeds – not allow them to build a defense.

Step 3. Read The LABEL!

For applicators and homeowners, there are laws that govern herbicide applications. The labels attached these products are not suggestions, they’re the law. If we’re to preserve our environment, we are to follow the laws stated in the label to the best of our ability – even when it’s to kill weeds.

Step 4. Make an accurate application.

Spraying weeds can be as difficult as you want it to be. To guarantee results, an accurate application must be made. That means having the proper equipment. Even though you may have a 100$ backpack sprayer, pumping it too many times or choosing the wrong nozzle can cause a burst effect that leaves a dead spot in the lawn… 🙁 When in doubt, don’t hestiate to call me. I love to kill weeds!

How do you plan on tackling your winter weeds?

Comment on social media and let me know!

Easiest Way To Adjust Soil pH

Adjust Soil pH can have a dramatic effect on growing conditions and plant health

Easiest Way To Adjust Soil pH

Soil pH is a hot topic.  Here in the southeast, most soils are acidic in nature.  The soil tests I’ve pulled this year have averaged from 5.8-6.5, which is on the slightly acidic side.  But how do you know if you have acidic soil?

  1. Excessive Weeds. This isn’t a sure fire way to tell if you have acidic soil, but it is a POTENTIAL indicator.  Some weed varieties tend to favor acidic soil.  If weeds seem to be out competing your turf, this could be why.
  2. Excessive Moss.  Moss tends to thrive in shady, wet conditions, so again this isn’t a sure fire way to prove acidic soil, but it can be an indicator.
  3. Non-responsive Turf. If turf shows no response to applications of fertilizer, then we are likely facing a pH issue.  I know if I’m treating a lawn and I get less than expect results from fertilizer, the first thing I’m going to do is pull a soil test.
  4. Soil Sample. Soil samples should be pulled on all properties at some point.

So you pulled a soil test, and your pH is 5.5.  Fescue tends to prefer a pH in the 6ish zone, so I’d recommend working on a way to adjust soil pH.  But how? There are a couple of ways to get the job done, but it comes down to how quickly you need the adjustment to take place, and how long would you like the adjustment to last.

Dolomitic Lime is a great long term solution – with emphasis on the long term.  Dolomitic lime will take months to adjust soil pH.  Dolomitic lime is an easy way to get the job done. Because it’s pelletized you can simply throw it in your spreader, adjust to your desired setting, and spread away.  Rarely do I ONLY apply dolomitic lime when facing a serious pH issue because there are other fast acting products.

Calcium Nitrate is my favorite go to product for immediate pH action.  Calcium nitrate is usually labelled a 6-0-0 micronutrient fertilizer.  It has 6% nitrogen in the formulation so it will give you a small boost of color.  Best of all, it very quickly and significantly can adjust soil pH.

Is acidic soil affecting your lawn? Pull a soil sample and consider an application of dolomitic lime and calcium nitrate to correct your issue.

What Do You Do After Aerating And Overseeding

I think it’s safe to say most people in Knoxville, TN know that fall is for aerating, overseeding, and feeding. But not everyone knows what to do after that. I hope to clear that up today: What DO you do after aerating and overseeding?

1. MONITOR GERMINATION

This is an example of too much seed.

Clearly this is too much seed. This will keep the fescue plants from reaching maturity. The result is a weak, poorly performing turfgrass.

This is the proper rate of seed

This is the proper rate of seed. This allows ample room for plants to mature and “harden.”

Germination is the name of the game. How do you get germination? Seed to soil contact. A two pass aeration will allow plenty of seed to soil contact for seed germination. Do you have areas that aren’t germinating well? Use a hand cultivator to scuff up the area and apply a little more seed.

2. FEED APPROPRIATELY

I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a fan of organic fertilizers. When it comes to caring for new seed, I am the biggest fan of organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers pose almost zero risk (assuming there is no spillage) to new seed. They last longer and provide even greater benefits in building quality soil.

Not only do I fertilize at the time of overseeding, four weeks later, I feed a second time. Any extra tillering we can get to take place before the winter sets in the better off we’ll be once summer rolls around.

3. WATER WOES

Watering is definitely the mostsprinkler_via_hose important part of new seed after care.
Even after the seed germinates, it will still be actively seeking water. And without a big giant root structure, it can’t look very far for water. I recommend watering at minimum every other day. This will help the soil surface dry a little to send the roots seeking, but still providing it enough to be able to find it.

Most issues I run into 3-6 weeks after seeding involve watering.

4. CONTROL WEEDS

So it’s six weeks after you’ve seeded. You’ve done your watering right, you’ve done your feeding right, and you have these weeds coming up every where! Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about preventing the weeds from coming up. When you disturb the soil surface, weeds come with it. So now there here – can I spray it? Will I kill my new seed?

If you’ve been able to mow your new seed twice, yes, you’re safe to spray it. Spraying is not something I would typically recommend to a homeowner. Trust a certified, licensed, & chartered company to take of that for you.

5. WINTERIZE

Whoever coined the term “winterizer” is a very rich individual. It’s become a household saying. What exactly does it mean? If you look in the above picture I highlighted the number 14. The 22 refers to the % Nitrogen in the bag. The 0, % Phosphorous in the bag. And the 14, % potassium in the bag. A winterizer fertilizer ideally has a high amount of potassium in the mix. Potassium is the second most utilized macro-nutrient by turfgrasses. Potassium strengthens the plant and root system to help it fight disease, traffic, and environmental stress.

As you can see, fall and winter months are a busy time for turfgrass professionals. There’s a lot that needs to take place to give the plant its best foot forward when facing next summer. These are the five easiest tips for what to do after you aerate and overseed that will guarantee a beautiful lawn.

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Aeration and Overseeding in the Fall

Aeration and overseeding your lawn is the perfect way to quickly turn your lawn from neighborhood zero to hero.

Why Do We Aerate Lawns?

  • Aeration reduces soil compaction.
     Our soils are of lackluster quality.  Dense clay does not allow for water percolation easily.  Aeration pulls cores of soil out of the ground to allow for deeper water percolation.  This also allows for air to reach the root zone resulting in denser root clusters for each individual plant.

 

  • Aeration enhances seed germination.
    Because the seed lands in a deeper protected pocket where moisture can remain longer, seeds tend to germinate better in aeration plugs.

 

  •  Overseeding helps maintain turf density
    Environmental stress can lead to a decline in turf population and performance.  Areas that have succumbed to environmental stress need to be repaired.  Overseeding allows new turf to to fill in damaged areas resulting in dense and lush turf better suited to fight weeds.

 

  • Thick lawns fight weeds
    Not only is a dense lawn aesthetically pleasing, it actually serves a purpose from a turf management perspective.  Dense lawns create a stronger base to fight the germination of weed seeds.  This in turn allows for fewer herbicides to be used which in turn is more beneficial to our environment.

 

  • Aerating and overseeding quickly improves lawns appearance. 
    When most people think quick lawn, they think sod.  The beautiful thing about having a cool season turf is that sod isn’t always needed.  It certainly serves its purpose, but a lawn can be quickly and relatively inexpensively established from seed.  It provides a quick solution to what appears to be a lackluster lawn.

 

  • Aeration reduces thatch. 
    Thatch is made up of grass clippings and roots that do not break down very quickly.  It tends to mat which is a perfect breeding grown for a host of negative pathogens.  It often results in disease flare ups.

The Outdoor Designs Way

We aerate multiple directions to insure we’re providing adequate coverage.  The more plugs we can pull out of the ground, the more beneficial the impact to the soil.  After aerating, we then overseed.  We contact seed growers in the fall to have our custom blends put together for us.  We target turf type tall fescues that score highly in the NTEP trials in overall apperance and brown patch resistance.  At the time of overseeding, we also use our proprietary Organically Enhanced fertilizers to bring out the best in your lawn.

Contact us today to find out how to save 15% on your aeration and overseeding!  Oh, and refer and friend and earn an EXTRA 50$ off!

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