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The end of summer is quickly approaching, which is why it’s time to starting thinking about helping your lawn out of the pains of a hot, dry summer! Let’s break it down:
Aeration is a process of puncturing the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. This helps the roots grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous stand of grass. The main reason for aerating is to reduce soil compaction. The other benefits include:
For those reasons alone, aeration is a beneficial process that can help your lawn. After aeration, it’s also a great idea to overseed. Overseeding is the spreading of grass seed over already existing turf. This can help the turf renew and fill in bare spots. Since we are located in a region where cool season grasses thrive, this is the best time of year to plant and establish turfgrass. Here are some benefits to overseeding:
All in all a healthy, strong turf is what will keep insects, disease and heat stress from ruining your lawn.
The folks at Garrick-Santo want to help prepare your lawn for the fall! Contact us to see how we can help you with aeration and overseeding.
Stay tuned for more information, tips and resources!
Hedge trimming is almost always best done during warmer temperatures. A couple of hedge variations might withstand cold and frost, but most will react poorly to having new cuts exposed to low temperatures.
During summer you can fine-trim as much as you want, periodically snipping outgrowth during the growing cycle will encourage growth and make it branch upwards. If needed, do two major trims – one in the middle of summer and the other towards the end.
Be careful when choosing what tools you use. Cheap tools often loose their edge fast and a dull blade can do more damage than good by squeezing while cutting, thus getting in the way of the healthy re-growth. To achieve the best result use hand pruners for the majority of the fine work, hedge shears with serrated blades for heavier branches and lopping shears for the thickest ones. If you do not have the proper equipment contact a professional.
• Hand pruners or secateurs – to be used for finer work
• Hedge clippers – preferably with serrated blade for heavier branches
• Pruning loppers – for the thickest branches
• Electrical hedge trimmers – double-sided for shaping or single-sided for the straight portions of the hedge.
To trim your hedges into an even, beautiful shape, you might want to use strings (or a measure laser) as guidelines. First you get rid of the ”main offenders”, large branches sticking out, then get down to the fine pruning. Hedge sides should be trimmed wider at the base to provide maximum light and sun for the exposed leaves. The hedge should resemble a vase turned upside-down.
So, what has to go? If you’re trimming it down for re-growth you can focus on long branches in the middle whereas if you’re just ”fine-tuning” you can concentrate on shape, evenness and thinning out. Start from the top and work your way downward. Also remember to fertilize the hedge to give it energy and to stimulate further growth.
With these few tips – and a bit of old-fashioned, hands-down work – you should be able to achieve a good-looking, healthy hedge with a minimum of trouble!
When in doubt or if you not enough time, call a professional they will be happy to take care of this right away for you. They are trained to do this type of work every day.
It’s that time of the season again and yes, even your outdoor living spaces deserve some TLC! Here are some preventative maintenance steps you can take at this time of year to ensure your project continues to look great through this patio season, and beyond.
Sometimes the edge restraints do not have enough spikes installed to hold the pressure exerted by the paving surface, in which case additional edge spikes will need to be added. Be sure to lift any areas along the edge that need repair. Usually this is just a matter of a few stones along the perimeter. Be sure to clean the sides of the pavers before reinstalling. If you do not remove the sand from the sides of the stones it will be very difficult to get them back into place properly. If the joints were filled with polymeric sand you may find that it is stuck to the side of the paver. If this is the case, wet the stone to help soften up the sand and then use a putty knife to scrape the material off the sides of the paver.
If there is no edge restraint installed, you should consider installing some. There are a number of great “invisible edge” restraints available that are easy to install and are just spiked down into the base materials. It is very important that the edge restraint is sitting directly on the compacted granular base, not the soft soils surrounding the project, as the spikes will not hold in the softer materials. If you do not have a good base to spike the restraint to, you should do a little excavation and install a good stable base.
Identify the area that has been affected and mark with chalk. The most difficult part of this job is getting the first stone out! If possible, try to start at an edge and work your way to the problem area. If this approach is not practical then you can try a couple of screwdrivers down either side of a stone to pry it up. Blasting the sand out with a hose first makes this much easier. Always start with the smallest stone in the pattern, as it will be the easiest one to get out.
Once you get the first stone out, you can get under the other stones and the job becomes much easier. When you have removed all the stones, re-level the area with the appropriate amount of sand and reinstall the stones, taking care to clean side of all the stones. You can tamp the stones with a block of wood placed on the surface and hitting with a hammer. Never strike the surface of the stone directly as this can damage the paver surface.
For stains, or a paver surface requiring more serious cleaning, consider using a specialized concrete cleaner. The most import tip to remember with any concrete cleaner is to read the instructions. There are right and wrong ways to use these products. The wrong way will diminish the effectiveness of the cleaner and may even lead to discoloration of the paver. Test the cleaner in a small unobtrusive area to make sure you are happy with the results before applying to the entire surface.
When selecting sealers, you can choose between a high gloss sealer, which will enhance the color of your paving stones or a matte finish that will simply help protect the pavers. Also, if you are re-sealing it is very important to use the same sealant as originally applied, there are a number of different sealants out there all having their own formulas. One of the critical components of re-sealing is that the new coat should dissolve the first coat and bond together to create a consistent surface protection. If you apply different sealers, you may not get this bonding action or you may have a chemical reaction that will turn the sealant milky. If you do not know what sealant has been applied previously then do a small test of an obscure area of pavers and see how the new sealer reacts.
Following this little bit of preventative maintenance every year will protect your investment and keep it looking great for years!
Take the Time to Determine What to Plant.
Is your garden mainly in the sun or shade? Is your garden in dry sandy soil or wet clay soil? Once you’re armed with that information, it makes your decisions much easier because it is critical to choose plants for the right sun and moisture conditions. If you choose native New England plants, you have some leeway with regards to soil and light conditions, so it’s always best to go with native species if they are available. Plants for the Dry & Sunny Garden Plants like coreopsis, Echinacea (yes, it’s the same stuff they make the cold remedy from) and day lilies will do well in sunny, well-drained soil with little attention throughout the season. So will beach roses (Rosa Rugosa), grasses and pine trees/bushes. A favorite New England native flower that thrives in these conditions is the Black-eyed Susan, often seen blooming on northern New England roadways in June-August. This native is also a perennial, bringing quality blooms to the garden for many years while spreading seeds for new plants.
Plants for the Wet & Partial Sun/Shade Area Garden
These gardens are much easier in some respects because more types of plants will grow (especially the annuals purchased at garden centers) under these more moderate conditions. Day lilies again are a good choice, because they grow well under almost any conditions, and their clumps grow bigger each year with more flowers. In the shade, there are a couple of very good choices, one being the Hosta and the other being Impatiens. Both can survive happily in complete shade all summer and both reward you with great flowers during the season. Planting the Hostas in the back allow the tall spiked flowers (18-24 inches) to provide the backdrop for the smaller impatiens plants and flowers. In more sunny areas with good dark soils and adequate moisture, vegetables will do their best as well as many of the non-native annual species sold in garden centers.
Once seeds have sprouted, remove the plastic cover!
Place the containers in a bright sunny window (the sooner the better) and turn slightly each day. Or, grow them under fluorescent lights for 12‐16 hours per day. Space the lights as close as possible (about 5”) above the seedlings; lift the lights as plants grow.
Plants will stretch to become “leggy” and weak without enough light, or if the temperature is too warm.
Tomato, pepper, eggplant, cucumber, melon and squash seedlings grow best at 60°F at night and 70°‐75°F during the day.
Water seedlings with room temperature water. Water sparingly until seedlings have become sturdy. Overwatering small seedlings can cause stems and roots to rot!
After large seeded seedlings have emerged, thin to 1 or 2 per pot by pinching off or carefully pulling out extra plants. After the new seedlings from small seeded crops have formed a couple of sets of leaves, do one of the following: (1.) transplant to individual pots or (2.) thin to make room for each seedling to have its own space, not touching its neighbor.
About one week prior to planting in the garden, gradually expose seedlings to longer periods of time outdoors. At the same time, reduce watering to a minimum, but don’t let the plants wilt. This process will help the plants adjust to outdoor conditions and is called “hardening off”.
In many areas of Massachusetts, the last frost date is usually around May 15th. Cool weather crops, such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and Brussels sprouts, can tolerate a little frost. Transplant them two weeks or so prior to the last expected frost date.
Wait to plant warm season crops, such as tomato, pepper, eggplant and cucumber, melon and squash until all danger of frost is past, when air temperatures and the soil temperature warm to 60° ‐ 65°F.