Month

April 2018

  • How to Kill Crabgrass in Your Yard for Good

    Want to know how to kill crabgrass in your yard for good? It’s all about being proactive because this particular warm-season annual weed is a tough species. Digitaria or crabgrass, is a difficult thing to combat in your lawn. That’s probably not much of a surprise but it’s worth noting just how problematic it is to deal with, year after year.

    There are three effective methods for killing crabgrass: using a pre-emergent herbicide, using a post-emergent herbicide, and organic control. The first two are more powerful but all three aren’t exactly predictable. It’s really a matter of experimentation to get the results sought. While this isn’t necessarily a ringing endorsement, it goes to show just how difficult killing crabgrass is to do.

    About Digitaria or Crabgrass

    Many people wonder why it is so hard to kill crabgrass. Well, digitaria, or crabgrass, is very adept at eluding control. This is because it is a warm-season weed that starts growing as the weather warms. Here in sunny Sarasota, winters are ultra-mild, but grass does still go dormant. Crabgrass is killed off in cold-weather climates during the fall and especially during the winter when frost, snow, and ice conditions appear. And, even though crabgrass isn’t truly drought tolerant, it’s very difficult to get rid of completely.

    Crabgrass is a tough opponent, but with a lawn spreader, a pump sprayer and a few turf products you can get rid of crabgrass in the spring and control it throughout the summer. The best weapon you have against this annual weed is crabgrass preemergence herbicide (also called crabgrass preventer). You apply this product in the spring before the crabgrass seed sprouts. This granular herbicide works by creating a chemical barrier at the surface of the soil. As the seeds begin germination, they take in the herbicide and die. —Family Handyman

    In a typical cold-climate cycle, crabgrass dies during the fall and winter, but that’s just the plant itself — not the seeds. During mid-summer through fall, digitaria produces its seeds. Then, when the spring soil temperatures reach between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (at a depth of 2 to 3 inches), those seeds germinate. Viola! Crabgrass now begins to grow freely, wreaking havoc on your beautiful lawn and rudely interrupting your landscaping.

    How to Kill Crabgrass in Your Yard for Good

    Although crabgrass is tough, it isn’t invulnerable. Because there’s very few times freezing conditions befall us here in west-central Florida, you’ll probably see digitaria just about the entire year. And even though it does go dormant in the fall through the winter, only the plant itself might die off. This however, doesn’t account for its seeds. And that’s where the battle must be fought in order to win. Here are some methods for how to kill crabgrass in your yard for good:

    • Use a pre-emergent herbicide. There are several pre-emergent herbicide products available and you should ask your local nursery which are the most effective in killing crabgrass before it has a chance to germinate. Keep in mind that pre-emergent is just that — prior to the seeds germinating, so this a proactive measure. Irrigate after apply the pre-emergent herbicide and reapply the herbicide periodically. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and don’t dethatch or aerate after application. Also, don’t use pre-emergent herbicide on new sod.
    • Use a post-emergent herbicide. If you already have crabgrass growing in your yard, it’s still possible to kill off. However, this is a more difficult method because you’ll only kill the plant and not the seeds. So, you’ll see digitaria reappear and have to reapply more post-emergent herbicide. The challenge is to spot crabgrass in its infancy. Once crabgrass begins to germinate, you can no longer rely on pre-emergent herbicide and you’ll have to be careful with applying post-emergent herbicide so you don’t harm healthy grass.
    • Use organic control. You can also control crabgrass by keeping your yard hardy. Healthy grass is a great partner to weaponize against the weed. You don’t have to use any chemicals but bare in mind, it’s very difficult to kill off otherwise. So, using a combination of pre-emergent herbicide and beefing up your grass is a winning combination to control crabgrass. Simply use a good fertilizer, don’t allow bare spots to linger, water deeply but do so less frequently, and mow high during the summer, leaving grass about 2 1/2 to 3 inches high.
  • Backyard Entertaining Landscape Ideas

    Your outdoor living space might be less than exciting, or, functional. You’ve wrestled with the idea of a complete makeover, but, just can’t come-up with a conducive idea that will work. Sure, you’ve seen plenty of design ideas, but these look difficult to implement, and what’s more, just too expensive. Like many homeowners, you want an impressive backyard entertaining space, but the landscaping is less than inviting. It’s just too plain, too old, and too much to transform into something new.

    Like with many things in life, there are workarounds for making a boring space into something that will wow. The good news is, it doesn’t have to come at a huge price. There are plenty of ways to get the look you most want and keep costs way down. With a little creativity and some elbow grease, you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.

    Choosing the Right Outdoor Living Space Arrangement

    The biggest trick you’ll have to pull off is to choose the right outdoor living space theme and arrangement. Some homeowners envision a beautiful outdoor kitchen, complete with all the bells and whistles: a small refrigerator, over-sized grill, a sink, some storage space, plenty of landing space to prepare meals, and of course, lots of seating with tables for family members and guests. While this is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, it should be done with a lot of foresight.

    Before you contemplate specific backyard landscaping designs, you have to ask yourself some basic questions. What are you looking for from your yard? Are you trying to create an entertainment area where you can host friends for cookouts? Or is kicking back and relaxing in a meditation garden more your style? If you have kids and/or pets, you’ll have to take their needs into account when designing your yard. —Landscaping, About.com

    A huge mistake is to build-out a place for an over-sized grill, only to discover during the first try out, the guests are smothered under a cloud of smoke. That seating arrangement might seem to flow just right, giving plenty of room to maneuver, but, it’s also exposed to the full strength of the sun, creating a sauna effect. You probably get the idea — being thoughtful about where this and that will go and how it will interact with the environment and weather is of utmost importance. This is why you need a workable plan to make a truly beautiful and functional outdoor entertaining space. Know typical wind patterns, sunlight exposure, and the like to arrange the space for maximum comfort.

    Backyard Entertaining Landscape Ideas

    If you’ve seen different concepts, designs, and even finished projects, these can look very overwhelming. Instead of tackling the entire project from start to finish at-once, consider an incremental approach. Over the course of a few or several weekends, you can piece the concept together, which can actually help you save money and time, if you approach it smartly. Here are some backyard entertaining landscape ideas:

    • Install a fire pit. A fire pit is a multi-functional feature that can be used for gathering around to cook, roast marshmallows, or just provide ambiance. Regardless if it’s square, rectangular, or round, you can install a fire pit that also serves as a table, with seating all around it. For additional look and function, stake some citronella bamboo torches around the perimeter to fend off insects and for a bit of fragrance.
    • Put-up a pergola. This is also a multi-function feature because it can be used as a gathering place where guests are shaded from the sun. Install lighting for evening use, and, go for beauty by spreading vines over the top and along the support posts. If you want to take it an extra step, put an outdoor fireplace at one end, giving it a more sophisticated look.
    • Install a water feature. A waterfall is a background feature that not only looks terrific, it adds quite a bit of ambiance to an outdoor space, with its sound of flowing water. Place lighting around it to make it sparkle during the night for an even more exquisite experience.
    • Create a garden dining area. If you like to grow vegetables and/or fruits, this can be expanded to do much more. Put a picnic bench right alongside your garden, or, plant a garden around a picnic table. You can treat your guests to fresh meals while dining right in the heart of the garden.
    • Transform a shed into a studio. If you have an old shed on your property, you might consider refurbishing it and transforming it into a studio. Hang French doors, install a few windows, and extend a small porch from the front, complete with seating. You can also opt to wire it to accommodate a small refrigerator and lighting.

    Another thing you can do is to hang a hammock or two. These are great for relaxing and can bring a bit more functionality to your outdoor living space.

  • Preventing Brown Lawn Spots

    Now that we’re well into the fall months and winter is officially right around the corner, you’ll probably see more and more brown spots on your lawn. When homeowners see such sights, particularly this time during the year, they often attribute it to the season–after all the grass is dormant and there’s less rain, with much cooler temperatures.

    To a good degree, that sentiment is true, but weather and climate alone are not the only causes of browning grass patches. There can be a few different reasons you’re seeing what appear to be deadening patches throughout your yard and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with seasonal change.

    If you grew-up having the chore of raking leaves in the lawn, especially during the fall months, you probably attribute that mundane task with parental discipline and their want to keep the yard looking good. However, you might not know that raking leaves is far more than an aesthetic choice, it’s one that’s often necessary for the health the grass systems incorporated into your yard. Sure, it might keep the yard tidy, but it also keeps it healthy.

    Common Reasons for Brown Lawn Spots

    So why is it that raking is healthy for grass? Well, that’s because the majority of yards in North America, particularly those in the northern United States, as well as throughout the midwest and into the south, are composed, in-part or in-whole, of what’s known as “cool-season” grass. One example is Kentucky bluegrass, which, contrary to conventional wisdom, is not actually dormant during the fall. In fact, the opposite is true, such grass is really the most active during the fall season, as it seeks to revitalize from the heat of the summer.

    Symptoms of brown and large patch diseases may vary greatly with the type of grass and soil conditions. The diseases usually cause thinned patches of light brown grass that are roughly circular in shape. These areas range in diameter from a few inches to several feet. Often the center of the patch will recover, resulting in a doughnut-shaped pattern. When disease conditions are favorable, large areas of the lawn may be uniformly thinned and eventually killed with no circular patch being evident. This type of pattern is commonly seen on infected St. Augustine grass grown in shady, moist locations. —Clemson Cooperative Extension

    It is through the months of fall such cool-season grass does its best to “make hay” in a necessary process to strengthen its root system. If the grass is not given free reign to soak-up as much sunshine as possible, it will be deprived of much-needed nutrients and water. The latter two are more scarce during autumn and sunlight becomes all the more critical to the equation. If you allow leaves to cover your lawn, an impenetrable canopy will prevent that precious sunshine from getting to the grass.

    Preventing Brown Lawn Spots

    Though leaves can be a problem, causing brown lawn spots, these are not the only cause. There are a few other sources of browning lawn grass and ways to prevent and/or treat such unsightly spots. Here are the most common causes and treatment protocols:

    • Brown spots in unexpected, but seemingly consistent places. If you are raking the leaves and doing so regularly, but still see brown grass patches in your yard, it could be an organic life form that’s causing those spots. A popular best friend and quadruped, your furry family member, your dog. Dog urine is quite harmful to grass because it contains concentrated nitrogen, which actually burns the grass. Given enough potty visits in a particular area, which dogs are well-known for having their favorite places, and the result is brown patches in the same places. One way to prevent this is with a pit stop made of pea gravel or mulch.
    • Broad creeping brown spots. Though mowing is a weekly requirement in Sarasota during the spring and especially the summer months, it slows during autumn. However, the need to mow doesn’t completely stop, mowing in Florida is almost a year-round job, and, if you’ve notice brown patches, take note of when they begin to show and are most prominent. Then, check your lawnmower blade, it’s probably dull and/or you’re cutting too close to the soil.
    • Brown patches appearing after raking leaves. If this is the case, the explanation most likely is spelled-out above. Leaves block sunlight and, if left in the dark long enough, cool-season grass, most especially, will suffer and begin to wither, struggling for light, nutrients, and water. Rake regularly to prevent brown spots from forming under fallen leaves.

    Should you not experience browning in the fall but see it when it’s most unlikely, like in the summer, then the cause is either Japanese grubs and beetles or it’s brown patch fungus. One way to tell is the latter thrives most in hot, humid conditions.

  • Signs a Swimming Pool Needs Resurfacing

    The average residential swimming pool needs to be resurfaced every eight to ten years. This doesn’t mean every pool will perform the same. Depending on the materials, size, and maintenance, it could be more or less often. But since this is such a long time, it’s easy to forget when it refinished last or even the date the pool was installed. The good news is, you don’t have to be a pool contractor to spot the signs a swimming pool needs resurfacing.

    What’s Involved and Cost to Resurface a Swimming Pool

    If you think your pool needs resurfacing, plan on it taking about 3 to 4 days to complete. This is the average amount of time it takes to drain the pool (about a day), clean it from top to bottom, pressure wash it, allow it to dry after washing, abrade the surface, fill cracks and chips, apply new coating, and refill the pool. If there is any inclement weather or the pool is in bad shape, it could take longer, of course.

    If you would like to resurface your inground pool, you must understand a pair of critical points, or you may end up with significant problems. Because an inground pool is composed of nonporous material, it will not accept a new coating unless it is conditioned using friction-based abrasion. Since the new surface will be exposed to relatively high levels of chlorine, you must select a new coating formulated to be resistant to the chemical’s corrosive effects. –eHow.com

    The average cost for resurfacing ranges between $3.28 and $3.75 per square foot. In general, a basic resurfacing cost on a standard 15 foot by 30 foot pool starts at a price point of approximately $2,500.00. However, that can steeply rise, exceeding $15,000 for most sophisticated premium surfaces available today. Keep in mind that some services won’t include things such as the cost of permits, inspection fees, sales tax on materials, and other expenses.

    Signs a Swimming Pool Needs Resurfacing

    There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to determine if a pool needs to be refinished. One, is there are ordinary maintenance and repair protocols which are able to address small issues that do not warrant resurfacing. Another is the age and overall condition of the pool itself. For instance, if the pool was installed decades ago and is used a lot, it could require more extensive repairs, substantially increasing the average cost. But, under ordinary circumstances, it’s not complicated. Here are some typical signs a swimming pool needs resurfacing:

    • Cracked or broken tiles. Perhaps the most obvious sign a swimming pool needs to be refinished are cracked and broken tiles. Such cracks will eventually lead to bigger problems, like leaks in the pool. This is serious because it lessens the structural integrity against what’s known as “hydrostatic pressure.” That’s the pressure of the underground water table puts against the walls of the pool. Hydrostatic pressure can cause the walls to collapse.
    • Discoloration or etching. Usually, yellow or brown discoloration, also known as etching, will generally appear on the pool floor and be visible when looking down from the deck. Such discoloration or etching is more than unsightly, it is potentially dangerous.
    • A chalky film appears on the side. The chemicals used to treat the water to keep it balanced and safe for swimming have an unfortunate side effect — erosion. This appears in the form of a chalky film on the sides of a pool, indicating chemical erosion. In these instances, a pool needs to be resurfaced.
    • Constant chemical water imbalance. There’s nothing out of the ordinary with having to rebalance pool water to keep it safe for use. However, if you notice the water becomes more unbalanced, more often, something is awry. Pools with pitting issues become more and more difficult to maintain and refinishing is generally the right answer.
    • The need to refill the swimming pool often. It’s completely understandable you don’t want to deal with a tiny leak in your pool. But the reality is, it will inevitably grow and become larger and larger. As a result, it will run up the cost of your monthly utilities and be more expensive to repair. So, if you have to refill your pool more than you normally do, it’s probably a leak and it could mean the pool needs to be resurfaced.

    If it’s time to update your landscape or add more features, contact us. We are a full-service, professional landscape design company and serve all of Sarasota, including near Bayfront Drive, around Rolling Green Golf Club, along Longboat Club Road, and elsewhere.