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3 tips for spring and summer lawn care

  • 3 tips for spring and summer lawn care

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | May 24, 2016

    White picket fence around a yard with a hedgeAs the weather warms, everyone wants to get outside and enjoy the yard. Our outdoor spaces are an extension of our homes - a place to play, eat, and entertain friends. But warm weather brings its own challenges to lawn and property care. Here are some late spring and summer lawn care tips to keep your outdoor space the place everyone wants to be.

  • How to whack weeds

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | May 24, 2016

    Gardener weeding cropsWeeds can be a constant problem during summer, when growing conditions are ideal. Here are some ways you can stay on the winning side of the battle.

    1. Mulch

    A three to four inch layer of mulch applied in early spring can go a long way to discouraging weeds. Depending on your property size, mulching can be a significant job. But the time and effort spent will be well worth it. Go a step further and lay down a weed barrier and you'll reduce later maintenance even further. Natural weed barriers made of recycled paper materials (even your leftover newspapers) will biodegrade and give you flexibility to continue planting throughout the season.

    2. Root them out

    Whether you're battling annual weeds like clover, or perennial weeds like dandelions, if you plan to pull or dig them out, go all the way. To the roots, that is. Any remaining roots can regrow, either this season or next. So invest in a weeding knife or claw, and don't be afraid to use it. Weeds will pull more easily if the soil around them is moist, so travel the yard with a watering can in tow.

    3. Spray

    If digging is too laborious, you can spray weeds, and just wait for them to die. It may take several days to a couple of weeks for them to disappear, and more mature weeds might require a second application. But it is an option, and it does work. Just be sure to read your chosen herbicide instructions carefully and completely to avoid damaging other parts of your landscaping.

  • Banish the bugs from your yard

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | May 24, 2016

    Spraying for bugs in a gardenNothing ruins an outdoor party faster than a swarm of mosquitoes. And with concern over ticks and Lyme disease increasing throughout the country, insect management is more important than ever. Follow these tips to reduce the population in your yard.

    1. Reduce habitat

    Discourage insects from taking up residence by eliminating where they live and breed. Clear away brush on your property. Shaded, tall grasses and thick foliage are perfect dwelling places for 6-legged, winged critters. Get rid of standing water where mosquitoes like to breed. Monitor drainage ditches and low spots in the yard. If water stands for more than a week, do something about it. You should even change the water in your bird bath every few days to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground.

    2. Encourage birds, bats, & beneficial insects

    While reducing insect-friendly habitat around your property, make it attractive to creatures whose daily diet includes insects. A single bat can eat more than 1000 insects an hour. Purple martins and barn swallows feast solely on insects, and dragonflies eat mosquitoes as well as mosquito larvae when they are in their aquatic larval stage. Frogs and toads will also eat their fair share of insects. So, consider adding a bat house, toad shelter, or bird bath to your property, and install plants that attract beneficial bugs. Your yard's entire ecosystem will improve.

    3. Sprays

    Sometimes, despite all efforts, bugs may overrun you. You can hire a company to spray throughout the summer. Or if you're planning an event, you can purchase and apply a backyard spray yourself, which will last about 24 hours.

  • Know when and how to water your lawn

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | May 24, 2016

    garden hose on lawnA lush lawn is so inviting. Believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong way to water grass to keep it in prime condition.

    1. Less is more

    For most areas of the country, a lawn only needs an inch of water a week to stay green and healthy. So, be careful not to overwater. Test the amount of water your grass gets in a single watering by setting empty tuna fish cans out and measuring the water depth once you're finished.

    2. Water deeply, less often

    It's better to water your lawn deeply once a week, than to water lightly every day. Frequent watering encourages shallow roots. Let the grass dry out, and then give it a good soaking to a promote deeper, stronger root structure.

    3. Water in the morning

    It's best to water in the early morning hours. There's less sun and wind, which reduces evaporation. And the grass has an entire day to dry out. Watering in evening hours leaves grass wet as dark approaches, and increases the chance mildew and disease can take hold.

    Take these tips, and get out and enjoy your outdoor spaces this summer. With a little planning, and an eye toward regular maintenance, you can make your yard everyone's favorite place to gather.