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Lawn Care Blog

Getting the Right Mix for the Lawns

Monday, April 14, 2014

We always are precise and accurate with our filling procedure for our lawncare trucks. You can rest assured your lawn will get the appropriate mixture of fertilizer and herbicides to make it look its best at all times of year. We are currently applying liquid fertilizer, Pre-emergent crabgrass control and broadleaf weed control. This mixture will turn your lawn around for the 2014 season. Once these products do their job, the lawn will look better and better as we head toward the summer solstice.

We also know how much fertilizer to apply to be in compliance with the Maryland nutrient management legislation recently passed and enforced with renewed vigor by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Its best to have a licensed company handle your fertilization as these regulations are complicated. We have our license and a set program of correct fertilizer levels.

So if you want your lawn to be sprayed accurately by a trained professional, call or click on Hillside today.

In Spring the Poa Wants to Grow

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

There is a grassy weed that grows in the lawn this time of year, called "Poa annua" or "Poa trivialis" which is green and healthy early in the spring but will brown out and look bad in the summer. This “natural grass” occurs in mid atlantic soils and will germinate and grow when the conditions are right. You may think you have a great lawn when its doing well but as the hot weather sets in, it will shrivel up and look like disease-ridden turf. Good turf grass varieties on the other hand will look decent all year and tolerate stress factors such as heat, drought and wear traffic much better than the natural poas. HillSide uses turf-type tall fescue grass for its seeding jobs, this is hearty grass that will hold up to stress factors well.

Most lawns have some Poa in the shade areas or on the edges and curb strips, its when your lawn is dominated by this species is when it’s a real problem. Sometimes it takes the trained eye of a professional to identify it and recommend a solution. Sometimes re-installing the lawn is the only option, sometimes aeration and overseeding will introduce enough new turf to crowd out and overtake the Poa.

So call or click for a free analysis of your turf varieties today. We will give you an honest assessment and let you know if your Poa is a solvable problem.

Lawn Mowing Safety

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Is the boy next door the right person to mow your lawn this summer?  He may want to earn some money and he may be a hard worker, but there are lots of safety catches to think about before you hire him.  First, while the lawn care industry doesn’t have a minimum age for mowing the lawn, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a child be at least 12 years old, and 16 for a ride-on mower.  Second, you’re hiring someone to do a dangerous job on your property – be sure your insurance covers any accidents.  To prevent accidents, emphasize that the basic safety rules apply.  Unfortunately, adults are poor examples.  Often, we don’t follow the rules ourselves.  How many of you actually wear safety glasses or goggles when mowing?  The answer is probably less that those who wear closed-toe shoes.  

Only an adult should touch the lawn mower blades – settings should be at the high level to keep the blades tall.  If you do decide to hire a teenager to mow your lawn, or if you enlist the help of a lawn care professional, discuss good mowing techniques.  It makes no sense to save yourself time by having someone else mow who has poor technique.  It can damage your lawn.  First, always cut forward.  Pulling the lawn mower backward is not only unsafe but also can damage the turf.  A good lawn care professional will be well aware of this.  Take the longest continuous stroke possible, whether it’s diagonal or horizontal.  Tell the person mowing how you’d like the lawn to look.  Finally, mow in a different direction every week – this will help to expose a different part of the leaf blade to sun each week.

Confidence Booster

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Are healthy lawns a sign of consumer confidence?  Or is consumer confidence rendering an uptick in healthy lawns?  The lawn care industry normally experiences an increase when times are good.  That is, people begin to invest in their lawns either by hiring lawn care professionals or purchasing higher-end products for do-it-yourself care.  As pointed out by a recent article on FMC Turfwire.com, home sales are starting to rise, the net worth of the average American household is increasing, and the Gallup Economic Confidence Index shows that Americans are more confident in the economy this year than in the last five years.  All this seems to equate to healthier lawns.

People want to enhance their overall property.  One way to do that is to pay attention to landscaping and turf needs.  Once you get your lawn and garden healthy, it’s easy to keep it that way, with a little TLC.  Healthy turf filters toxins out of rainwater, creating a natural healthy lifecycle.  If the turf isn’t healthy, it tends to perpetuate a downward spiral.  Healthy lawns and gardens require regular maintenance, including weed control, fertilizing and insecticide treatments.  A professional lawn care company can provide all of these services within a budget that’s right for you.  Get a basic package if you’re just starting out and your confidence level still needs some encouragement.  It will cover your critical needs and improve the look of your lawn quickly.  If you’re extremely confident and you want your lawn to show it, invest in a higher-level deluxe package or one that includes your trees and shrubs.  These plans not only offer summertime treatments, but add fall over-seeding and aeration, weed control and winter granular fertilization.  This way, your lawn will be ready for next spring and summer, and you’ll exude confidence all year round.

It’s Buggy Out There!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summertime in Harford County, MD, brings sunshine, heat, and … bugs.  From mosquitoes to wasps, they’re all pesky, but the ones that can infest your trees, plants and lawns can be especially vexing.  Certain plants have recurring insect issues, and although it can happen year-round, it is more concentrated in the summer months.  Heat and humidity coupled with the delicious leaves of the fully budded plants create a wonderful atmosphere for insects to thrive.  Bagworms, beetles, grubs, aphids and scale insects are all challenges for lawn and landscape maintenance.

What’s the solution?  Since there’s really no way to stop the insects completely, we need to control them with insecticide.  Investigate your local lawn care stores aisles and find the insecticide that is most gentle on plants and toughest on the pests.  Or, enlist your local lawn care professional in a care and treatment plan.  The program should include a few seasonal treatments of insect and disease control applications, plus treatments to feed the plants and shrubs so they get their nutrients.  A strong, healthy tree or shrub is less likely to succumb to the clutches of these pesky bugs.

In addition, choose resistant plants that are indigenous to the Maryland area, such as dogwood, laurel and maple.  These trees have developed a strong resistance to the local insects and have a built-in survival instinct.  Most importantly, when you see one or two of these bugs, be sure to take steps to monitor and address it before they happily multiply among the leaves of your beautiful trees.

Summer Lawn Care – Let The Mowing Begin!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

You’re at the starting gate just outside your garage!  Your mower is humming!  The grass is waving in the breeze!  And you’re off for another week of exciting lawn mowing

Hopefully you’ve already mowed your lawn a few times this season and found yourself well-prepared.  The best way to have a lush lawn is to take good care of it year-round – whether that means getting yourself on a schedule to fertilize, mow and water carefully or getting a professional lawn care company who will never miss the time window for a treatment.  For mowing, a checklist of sorts from the professionals at Hillside Lawn:

  • Keep your mower on the high setting so that you are cutting the blades of grass only one-third of the way down.  This will prevent your lawn from drying out or being burnt by the hot sun.  
  • Sharpen your mower blade.  A dull blade will tear or damage the grass, leaving it susceptible to heat and disease.
  • Clean your mower deck.  Having clumps of grass on the deck is simply not safe.  
  • Mow the grass only when it is completely dry.  This will prevent clumping and jamming of the mower and it will also keep your grass healthier.  It will keep the grass clippings from landing in clumps throughout the lawn and preventing those areas from getting sun and moisture to keep growing.  
  • If you have someone mow your lawn, make sure they follow the same guidelines and respect your wishes for a beautiful, green lawn this summer.

Red Thread Disease

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cold, wet weather can cause fungal diseases in your lawn.  This spring has been extraordinarily cold and damp in northern Maryland, so be sure to keep an eye out for fungi.  While we can’t predict the types of fungus that will prevail, nor can we control the weather, we simply have to watch and try to make sure the grass and soil have proper care and nutrients.  One of the common diseases that appears in this type of weather is Red Thread disease.  It’s easily identifiable by its red or pink color.  Unfortunately, by the time it appears, it’s already too late.  It has already affected the grass blade and become a patch.  To make matters worse, it can be spread by windy conditions to other parts of your lawn.  

Once you’ve identified Red Thread, you simply have to wait it out and let the infection run its course.  One of the causes of Red Thread is low nitrogen levels in the soil, so you should be sure the soil is healthy.  Any fungus on the lawn is an indication that something isn’t being done correctly.  You can get a better idea of what might be causing it by consulting a lawn care professional.  You can also follow a few simple steps when caring for your lawn, like not overwatering, using a sharp lawn mower blade and not cutting the grass too short.  Overly wet grass and very short grass can be an ideal environment for fungus or bacteria.  Talk to your lawn care professional about fungus prevention and balanced soil nutrients.  They can offer good insight and services so that you won’t see that red thread running through your green grass.

Much About Mulch

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Aaaahhh, inhale!  The distinctive scent of fresh mulch is in the air!  If you’re wondering whether or not you should mulch this year, the answer is probably yes.  It’s always good to refresh your mulch from year to year, both for aesthetic value and practicality.  Mulching helps to retain moisture in the soil, prevent those pesky weeds and protect the base of the plant.  When mulching, here are a few tips that lawn care professionals use:

  • Buy mulch only from a reputable seller.  It will be freshest and probably most cost-effective.  Decide whether you’ll buy bagged mulch or bulk mulch.  
  • There are many kinds of mulch – wood chips, bark chips, inorganic (rubber, stone, pea chips, etc.) They come in many different hues -- from brown and black to reds and yellows.  A natural color will be better for the soil itself, because it is dye-free.
  • Measure the amount of mulch you’ll need before you order, so you don’t end up with too much or too little.  A thickness of about two to four inches is ample for protecting the plants and preventing weed growth.
  • Edge the grass around the area where you’ll be mulching to help prevent the mulch from blending into the grass.  This not only looks better, it also helps avoid getting mulch in the mower.
  • Weed the area where you’ll mulch so that you start with fresh soil.
  • Consider having a professional lawn care company mulch for you.  They can take care of the ordering, delivery and that back-breaking, time-consuming job of spreading the mulch.

The MO on pH

Saturday, April 27, 2013

If the last time you paid attention to pH levels was in seventh grade science class, here’s where we finally get the answer to that question, “Why will I need to know this in life?”  You may want to apply what you learned to help your lawn become healthier.

In lawn care language, pH is a measurement of the amount of nutrients in the soil and the ability of the turf grass to capture these nutrients.  A science refresher: pH measures the quantity of hydrogen ions on a scale of 1-14, with 7.0 being neutral.  Anything less than 7.0 is considered acidic.  Anything more than 7.0 is considered alkaline.  Ahh, yes, it’s all coming back now.  Remember the litmus test for pH balance using paper strips?

Now the quiz: Why is a balanced pH important for your lawn?  That’s easy.  The pH of the soil affects how fertilizer is absorbed and how effective insecticides will be.  Soil in Harford County and Baltimore County is highly acidic, so it requires some neutralization.  Soil with a bad pH level in either direction won’t allow grass to grow properly.  It will require more fertilizer in order to be absorbed and get to the grass itself.   Spring is a good time to have your soil tested for pH levels.  According to the Maryland Cooperative Extension, most garden and landscape plants grow well in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.  If the results of your soil test show it is highly acidic, you can treat your lawn with lime to get it closer to a balanced pH, which will make your lawn and plants grow healthier and heartier.  

IPM – It’s S-M-A-R-T

Saturday, April 20, 2013

As promised, here’s the lowdown on why we think Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is smart for Harford County lawns.  Integrated Pest Management is the process of using the best mix of products to care for your lawn and thwart infestation of pests.  Using an IMS system means giving special attention to both technique and chemical products – or lack of them.  With IPM, your lawn treatment can be totally natural, using products with no chemicals or preservatives, or it can incorporate some organic products that will have the least harmful effect on the lawn and the environment.   

Simply put, IPM is environmentally responsible.  It’s beneficial for your lawn and for everyone exposed to it – from children and adults to pets.  The new, low-toxicity pesticides available in today’s marketplace work just as well as the traditional toxic chemicals, yet they are safer on all counts.  Using these formulas helps to maintain the natural balance of your healthy lawn and gets rid of insect pests.  They actually preserve the beneficial insects while wiping out the harmful ones. 

The best way to control pests is to prevent them in the first place.  So, ask your lawn care specialist for a plan that’s right for you.  It may include several treatments over time, like surface feeding insect control, sub-surface grub control and ornamental insect application.  It’s best to have your professional lawn care company implement each treatment for two reasons.  They will always get it done within the right timeframe to prevent pests from becoming just that -- pests.  In addition, they will have access to the best organic or 100 percent natural products, knowing how to make them work together in a cost-effective, environmentally sound way.


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