The Ultimate Guide To Lawn Care: How To Landscape Like A Pro
Whether you’re a current homeowner who wants to keep their lawn well maintained or a new homeowner who finds themselves stuck with an awful-looking turf, taking care of your lawn might look like a full-time job. However, taking care of your lawn doesn’t have to be a dreaded task.
This article we’ll teach you useful tips and offer great advice on how you can always keep your lawn looking presentable.
We’ll start by covering the basics of lawn maintenance and cover sod installation, irrigation installation and French drain installation and work our way from there. Hopefully, by the time you’re through with our guide not only will you be ready to start working on your lawn, we hope it’ll turn out to be everything you hope for.
The first thing you’ll need to do when planning out how you want your lawn to look is the irrigation system. If you want your lawn to look lush and green then this is something you can’t afford to ignore. The yellowing and parched grass is an eyesore so you need to ensure that your irrigation is well planned out before laying your sod.
There are different kinds of irrigation systems and the type you end up choosing will be based on a number of factors.
The best kind of irrigation system for your lawn is one that lies close to the ground. Other kinds of irrigation systems; those that either spray a mist or sprinkle tend to lose water due to evaporation.
Another factor that will determine the kind of irrigation installation you’ll need is the type of plants and flowers you plan to feature on your lawn on how frequently they will need to be watered.
When planning out how your lawn will look you’ll need to hydrozone. This means that you should group together plants with similar watering needs.
There are a number of irrigation systems that are focused on being efficient. Here’s a list of some of them:
Drip Irrigation Systems – In the recent past, drip irrigation systems have grown popular with irrigators and landscapers due to the fact that they’re water efficient. Drip irrigation systems are especially good for non-turf areas.
Unlike with sprinkler systems, drip irrigation conserves water by slowly applying drops of water and allowing them to soak into the ground. Apart from easy installation, drip irrigation systems are easy to move around. If you’d like to change the location or reduce the amount of ground covered, you don’t need any specialist help installing the system.
Soaker Hoses – These hoses feature a porous membrane that runs their whole length and which makes it possible for them to ooze water. If you want to deep water your sod installation, you can bury them along the watering lines or if you need them to deep water plants you can bury them along the roots.
They are relatively easy to install and can be easily connected to timers to ensure that you only water your plants when it’s needed.
Rotor Systems – Rotor systems are available in two main styles, that is, impact or stream. If you want to spray a large area, then a rotor system is the irrigation system you should go for. They are better than spray systems because they’re able to spray water uniformly. Also, they allow water drops to seep into the ground by changing their area of focus.
Spray Systems – This is the traditional type of sprinkler and uses spray heads at various levels; pop-ups, ground level while some are on extended exterior pipes. The spray heads come in various shapes and have different functions.
Some spray heads spray in a full-circle pattern or a half circle. Still, others will spray various fractions of a circle. Spray systems are usually used on small areas such as flowerbeds, shrubs, and turf. We don’t recommend that you use spray systems on the ground that isn’t flat as they’re designed to be most effective on flat surfaces. If you’d like help installing your irrigation spray system visit our .
When using spray systems, you have to take care that you don’t waste water. Most homeowners tend to leave them running for long periods of time. Most homeowners tend to forget and leave them on for too long. We can help you to reduce water wastage.
Irrigating Your Sod
Before laying your sod, you should ensure that you moisten the ground. Take care not to overwater the ground prior to installation. You’re merely hydrating the ground to keep it moist but not to muddy it.
After you’ve installed the sod you’ll need to do just a bit of watering to hydrate both the sod and the ground. Then leave it for the natural process to take place. Make sure that you keep the lawn hydrated at all times by sprinkling it lightly.
During the hottest months of the year, the lawn should be irrigated thrice a day at 8 and 11 in the morning and at 2 in the afternoon. If you feel that three times a day is not enough, you can go ahead and add a fourth irrigation schedule.
Here’s a watering schedule we recommend you follow:
On the first day after getting the sod installed, you’ll need to water it. We recommend that you spend anywhere between 45-60 minutes watering your lawn. The amount of time you spend irrigating will depend on how hot it is outside. The type of sprinkler you have will also determine how much time you spend irrigating.
If you’re using a rotor irrigation scheme it will take about 60 minutes to water your lawn and 45 minutes if you’re using a pop-up.
The next two irrigations you do that day will not be long as the first one and we’ll only require 15 – 20 of your minutes. You need to remember that we’re not trying to get the ground soggy but hydrated.
In case you’re installing sod on an expansive area, you’ll need to start irrigating your lawn in large sections. This way your first few rolls will not have dried out by the time you complete installing all the pallets of sod.
After 14 days you should stop irrigating for the next 2 days to let the soil dry a bit and allow you to walk on your lush green carpet.
At this point, you can start irrigating your lawn along a more regular schedule. Irrigation should last for about 15 – 20 minutes and should be done just once a day.
From the fourth week after your sod installation going forward you should water your lawn every other day. The frequency of your watering may be determined by the weather.
To keep your sod looking healthy, you’ll need to apply some fertilizer.
You’ll have to wait until the sod has established roots and this takes about 6 – 8 weeks after sod installation has taken place.
During the first application, you should avoid fertilizer that has nitrogen. Instead, use a slow-release fertilizer. This way you’ll minimize the chance for your sod to overfeed.
To get sod even more firmly established, you should consider using granular turf fertilizer. We recommend applying the fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound of actual nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet. You can achieve this by using a broadcast spreader. Carefully follow the instructions on the label and make sure to irrigate your sod after you’ve applied the fertilizer.
Mowing Your Lawn
For many people, it looks like mowing the lawn is the most straight-forward thing, however, that’s what you can expect the kid from down the block who does it for cheap to say. To keep the grass on your side of the fence in top condition you need to realize that mowing your lawn is an expertise; a science that few have actually mastered.
To mow your lawn to perfection you need to focus on three things:
- • Mowing Blades
- • Height
- • Frequency
Before getting started on mowing your lawn you should ensure that your lawnmower’s blades are as sharp as a butter knife. Cutting down your grass using a dull blade can be only termed as tearing your grass instead of cutting it. This means that the grass is going to take longer to recover.
How To Sharpen Your Mower’s Blades
Even though it might sound challenging, sharpening your mower’s blades isn’t rocket science and a novice will get it right with some practice. It is recommended that you sharpen your mower’s blades at least twice in each mowing season.
Step 1: Taking Off The Blade
The first thing you need to do is to remove the spark plug.
Sometimes the mower’s piston is at the top of the compression stroke and a bump could easily force the piston over it and into the power stroke. If that happens, the blade would lurch and you would end up with a broken hand.
After dislodging the blade, return the mower onto all fours until you’re ready to put it back in again.
One last piece of advice is that you’ll need a clamp to detach the blade from the mower. Mower blades are usually tightly bolted in so you’ll need a clamp to hold the blade in place while you loosen it using a long-handled wrench or a breaker bar. Your own safety should always be a top priority so don’t use your foot. Remember, you’re trying to be efficient at mowing the grass and not your foot!
Step 2: Examine The Blade
As you’ll soon discover, sometimes the solution is not sharpening the blade but rather replacing it. Take a good look at your blade and decide which it’s going to be.
Step 3: Sharpening Your Blade
If you decide that you’re better off sharpening your blade you’ll need a mill bastard file. Usually, you’ll need about 50 strokes of a 10-inch long bastard file to sharpen your mower blade.
Alternatively, you could use a grinder to sharpen your blade. Before you do though, you need to know that they require a lot more control to handle and there’ll be a learning curve involved. There’s also the possibility of the grinder overheating and ruining your blade. They are known for their effectiveness and most professional use them, so if you think you can handle them, then you can have a go at it!
Ironically, the more razor-sharp your blade is the faster it’ll dull quickly. Try to keep them “butter knife” sharp instead.
When sharpening the blade ensure that you start from the top side of the cutting edge. This will help ensure that your blade lasts longer.
The file only cuts in one direction on the push stroke. When using it, you’ll feel it bite into the steel on the blade. If you don’t feel the cutting action, then your file has an issue; either you’re not pressing down hard enough or the file is dull.
You’ll find it more challenging sharpening mulching blades. This is due to the fact that they have curved or longer cutting edges which means that they will need more than one type of file to sharpen.
Though not always the case you’ll find that you might need to use a 4.5-inch angle grinder.
Some people find the whole process rather exerting and in the end, wind up taking it to a blade sharpening service or a hardware store. There’s no shame in it!
Step 4: Reinstalling The Mower Blade
Before putting the mowing blade back in place consult the owner’s manual which comes with your lawn mower for guidelines and safety tips on how to do it.
Just in case, you don’t have your owner’s manual with you. Here are some basic tips to help you to put it back in.
When putting the blade back in place you’ll need to ensure that you balance it. This will ensure that it does not vibrate leading to ruined bearings or a blade shaft. To ensure that the blade is well balanced you’ll need to drive a nail through a stud and place the blade sort of like an airplane propeller.
If it falls to one side it means that one of the sides is heavier and you need to use a file to get more metal off of it. Repeat the filing process until the blade is able to stay level.
Most pros say that one of the major mistakes that occur during DIY blade sharpening is that the blade isn’t tightened. So make sure that you don’t make this mistake. If your mower blade is loose, there’s a chance that it will throw off the engine timing. As a result, sometimes it’s hard to start the mower.
The Height of The Grass
Most people tend to make the mistake of mowing their lawn to close to the ground in the hope that they won’t have to do it in another fortnight. You should, however, avoid this fatal (for your grass) mistake.
When you mow your grass close to the ground, you risk it getting unhealthy quickly followed by the death of your lawn. To maintain a healthy-looking lawn you’ll need to raise the height of your lawn mower’s blade.
The rule of thumb is that you should mow your lawn as soon as it hits 3.5-inches. This usually takes about two weeks, but if you happen to notice that your grass is about to exceed the 3.5-inch mark before the two weeks is out, you should still go ahead and cut it.
This rule applies to seed grass as well as sod installations. Give your sod at least two weeks before using a lawnmower. These first 14 days are important as they allow the soil to firm up.
Tips For Getting Ready For Spring
After a drawn out winter, the world outside begins to turn green again signaling it is time to work on your lawn. Spring is usually a very delicate time for your yard; the plants are tender, the soil is spongy, and the weather is not as predictable.
As such you need to take really good care of your lawn in order to nurture it back to health. Below are some important tasks we recommend you do to take good care of your lawn this spring.
Types of Grass
How you take care of your lawn will be determined by the type of grass growing on it: There are two types of grass:
Warm Season Grass – These types of grass do well in high temperatures but become dormant during winter. They start back up again in the last spring frost and by midsummer they are flourishing once more. These grasses include: St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda, and centipede.
Cool Season Grass – These types of grasses experience two growth spurts; a big one in fall and a more moderate one during spring. During hot summer months, cool season grasses might grow dormant as they struggle in heat. In order to strengthen this type of grass for summer, you need to start working on it in spring. Cool season grasses include: rye, bluegrass, and fescue.
If you would like to order some warm season grass, GroundSource.pro is the best place to get it from especially if you live in Orange County, Seminole, Lake, Osceola, Brevard, Polk, or Volusia.
By understanding the type of grass you have and when it does best, will help you determine how best to take care of your lawn.
Clean Up – Gently
Wait for the soil to dry out before doing any heavy yardwork. Hard raking or foot traffic can disturb or compact soggy soil resulting in damaged grass shoots. Only do the spring cleaning on your lawn once the soil has dried up. The spring cleaning is necessary because it discourages diseases and pests while encouraging grass growth. Remove fallen leaves and debris as you gently rake to separate and fluff up the grass shoots.
Leftover snow piles in areas that heavy snowfall, can foster mold growth while smothering the grass that lies underneath. If you live in such an area, use a shovel to spread out the snow piles as the weather gets warmer.
There is no better time to prevent weeds from growing than in spring. Using pre-emergent weed, you can stop weeds from growing as it keeps weed seeds from germinating. The best time to apply pre-emergent herbicide is right about when forsythia bushes finish blooming. Doing so stops crabgrass as well as other weeds from growing.
Pre-emergent herbicide is only good for three months then you have to make another application.
Seeding and Planting
Many gardeners find themselves in a dilemma of sorts in spring; should they seed their lawns or should they do weed control. Pre-emergent herbicide is a double edged sword not only does it keep weeds from growing but it also affects grass seed as well.
What you are focused on achieving should determine how you deal with your lawn. For instance, if you are determined to establish a new lawn or fill in bare spots you will need to schedule your activities based on the type of grass you want to plant.
This type of grass can be planted when the soil temperature is in the 60s and the air temperature is about 70 degrees. You should plant warm season grasses in late spring.
These can be planted as soon as soil temperatures are in their 50s and the air temperature is about 60 degrees. You need to plant as soon as you record low temperatures otherwise, hot temperatures would stunt the grass’ growth. You should in fact plant cool season grasses in the fall and instead patch bare spots in the spring. If you choose to plant cool season grasses you need to be prepared to keep your lawn watered in the summer.
The type of grass you decide to plant will determine how you should fertilize your lawn:
Warm Season Grass – You will need to apply fertilizer in late spring when your lawn turns green and begins to actively grow. This is usually between April and May.
Cool Season Grass – Cool season grasses do not need to be heavily fertilized in late spring as this would encourage rapid tender growth that needs to struggle to survive the heat of summer in particular drought-prone areas. If your lawn is in bad shape, use a slow-release fertilizer and instead save the heavy-duty fertilizer for fall when season grasses are at their peak.
Spring is the best time of the year to conduct a soil test and find out its pH balance. If you test the soil and find that it has a pH of 6 or below, it means that the soil is acidic and you should apply lime to it during the growing season as long as the grass is not covered with frost or is wilted.
However, you need to ensure that you do not add lime to the soil within 3 weeks of fertilizing, otherwise, the ingredients might become less effective.
Other Spring Tasks
Checking Your Sprinkler System
It is important to do a check of your sprinkler system so that you do not end up wasting water as well as ensure the water is getting directed where it is needed most. You should check the following components of the sprinkler system to ensure that everything is in excellent condition:
Water lines – Check for breaks in the water lines such as water that is bubbling up from under grass, shrubs or barks. A pool of water in any of these areas indicates that you have a broken pipe.
Sprinkler heads – Check each sprinkler head to ensure that none of the sprinkler heads are buried with dirt or grass or that they have any breaks. Remember to adjust your sprinkler heads so that they direct water to your yard watering plants and shrubs instead of the walkway and other hard surfaces.
Nozzles – Ensure that the nozzles are not plugged or broken. Usually, grass will grow over the sprinklers which results in plugged up nozzles.
Valves – Sometimes critters get into the valve box and mess things up. For instance, gophers make mounds of dirt that block the valves. You need to clean the valve boxes and ensure that the valves are in good working condition.
Controller – Replace the batteries on the controller and ensure that it still has its program set from the last season. Double check that you have the right water schedule set up.
In addition, we can help you repair your broken outdoor lighting as well as upgrade any outdoor outlets that are not GFCI protected along with other lawn care needs.
Now that you have your sprinkler all set up, the next thing you need to concern yourself with is the aesthetic of your lawn. Even though sod keeps your lawn looking great throughout the day and gives it curb appeal, it is hard to appreciate all the hard work you have put in in the dark of night.
That is why it is important to use landscape lighting to highlight your home’s appeal at night. Here at Groundsource, we help you highlight your home’s beauty by helping with landscape design as well as .
Reasons why you should invest in landscape lighting as a homeowner are many. From enhancing your home’s security to increase the aesthetic appeal of your home. It is important to think of how to enhance your home’s look especially if you plan on hosting late dinner parties.
Here are some reasons why you should consider investing in your lawn’s lighting:
The first and the best reason is because it is likely to add beauty to your home. When done correctly, proper lighting not only increases your home’s curb appeal but it also increases your home’s sale value. Arriving home no longer has to be a dull moment, you can brighten up your home’s exterior to reflect the warmth that is inside.
Generally, homes that do not have any landscape lighting will sell for much less compared to homes that do. The overall ambience of your home can make a huge difference when you are ready to sell. Unfortunately, most people underestimate the level of experience that is required to install landscape lighting and end up doing a shoddy job. Home’s that do not have professional landscape lighting do not fetch as much when put on the market.
Ensure that you get a professional team to do your landscape lighting for you.
Groundsource will help install your home’s landscape lighting if you live in Orange County, Osceola, Lake, Seminole, and parts of Volusia, Brevard, and Polk counties.
Reduces chances of a break-in
When your entire home is illuminated with light, it makes it harder for you to suffer a burglar break-in. Usually, thieves will choose an easy target, however, when your home is all lit up, it makes your home unappealing for a break-in attempt.
A home that has dark side yards and pathways offers the perfect environment for a burglar to lie in wait.
Reduces chances of accidents
When your home is well lit, it prevents both you and your guests from tripping and getting injured. This is especially true if your home has steps that lead to your threshold or backyard. It will save you money in the long term, as a homeowner is liable for accidents that occur on their own property.
Usability for Outdoor Spaces
If you have a patio that you like to have barbecues adding some landscape lighting will help you properly utilize your space. This is because you are likely to use your outdoor spaces more often when there is increased visibility compared to when there is diminished visibility.
Types of Landscape Lighting
There are different types of landscape lighting, they include:
- Recessed lighting
- Post and rail lighting
- Hanging lights and sconces
- Flood lights that come equipped with motion sensors
- Landscape water lights
Up lighting refers to lighting that accents features such as walls, facades, columns, and trees. The lighting is directional, that is, shines from below. One of the classic uses of up-lighting is highlighting trees. If a tree in your lawn has a broad leafy structure, you should consider installing the up-lighting close to the base of the trunk.
Unfortunately, trees that have a compact and tight silhouette, don’t do well when the light is close to the base. In this case, you would need to place the lights farther from the base.
Recessed lighting is perfect for enhancing safety around walkways and steps.
Post and rail lighting
This kind of landscape lighting is designed to light up boundaries
Hanging Lights and sconces
These types of lights are perfect for mood lighting
Flooding lights equipped with motion sensors
This are perfect if you are thinking of making your home more secure.
Landscape water lights
If you have water features in your homes such as ponds, waterfalls, or fountains etc landscape water lights are excellent for accentuating them.
How to Light up Your Yard
If you want to create a stunning landscape that can be enjoyed during the day as well as nighttime with inventive outdoor lighting solutions, then you should consider landscape lighting.
Before you proceed any type of landscape light fixture, you need to determine what the main reason for the landscape lighting is.
Sketch Your Yard
The first step includes sketching your yard and highlighting where all the shrubs, trees, benches, buildings, and existing lights are located. In doing so you need to remember that each of these objects will either reflect or absorb the light. You will also need to note down the height of these objects.
Making a decision
When installing the lights, you will need to ensure that you are matching the purpose of the light to a particular location in your backyard to go with the flow of your lawn care ideas. For instance, you might want to illuminate a bench along a path with a pole-type lamp placed behind it.
If you want to achieve soft mood lighting, you can try to place light under the shrubs.
Decide how much effort you want to put in
Different types of light require different amounts of effort to install. For example, the 120-volt light will require a lot of effort. Wiring for such types of light has to be buried at a depth of at least 18-inches. Alternatively, they can be protected from water by being a wrapped in a conduit.
On the other hand, if you have a solar light, it is usually the easiest to install. This is because it requires absolutely no cords that need to be hidden. The main thing that should be a primary concern is how the photovoltaic cell in the light fixture is positioned, that is, it should receive enough light during the day to allow it to light up at night.
Not all lights cause the same. There are lights that cost a fortune such as high voltage landscape lights that in most cases do not go for less than $100. In addition, since there is electrical wiring involved it is advised that you hire a professional electrician to do the wiring. Groundsource.pro are great at this.
Low voltage lighting starts from $30 and can go as high as $300. One of the main advantages of low voltage lighting, is that it can be installed by a DIY enthusiast.
The least expensive type of landscape light is solar powered. This is because they neither need plenty of money to install or run since they are powered by the sun.
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