The Importance Of Lawn Aeration

Lawn Aeration: One Of The Biggest Keys To A High Performing Lawn

Aeration is an easy and cost effective way to really boost the health of your lawn. By simply plugging holes into the soil, you are allowing for some amazing things to happen to your lawn. Grass roots need air, water and nutrients to grow thick and strong roots that can survive the winter and hot summer months. Have you ever planted grass seed in the Spring and been impressed by how well it started off, only to watch it fizzle out come August? 

Soil Compaction

display showing a bad lawn due to shallow roots, and a lawn with healthy roots from aeration

The reason for this is most likely your ground is super compact. When soil becomes compacted, even slightly, it ruins the flow of nutrients that support thicker, healthier lawn growth. A layer of compacted soil just a quarter to half inch thick can make a significant difference in the health and beauty of your lawn. Sadly, this is most often the case when a lawn burns out in a hot summer. An aeration in the spring and fall could have helped to allow the grass roots to reach those nutrients just a little below the surface. Just one aeration could help save your lawn from dying out! We recommend doing an aeration in the Spring and Fall for the best results. Once a year is fine, but twice a year will really make the lawn stand out. An easy way to figure out if your lawn is compacted is by simply sticking a screwdriver into the ground. If you meet resistance fairly quick, think about how hard the roots of your lawn must be struggling if you can’t even stick a metal object into it!

Thatch Layer

demonstration of thatch layer build up on a piece of turf

You also may notice your lawn has more thatch than usual. Thatch is the build up of decomposing grass that will acts like compaction to prevent the flow of air, water and nutrients grasses need. Aeration will also prevent this, and help fight against thatch buildup. 

When To Aerate A Pennsylvania Lawn

Once the heat waves of August and early September have died off, we enter peak growing season. Pennsylvania is in a ‘cool season grass’ growing zone, but we can healthily support warm season grasses as well.. You may notice some of your lawns have zoysia grass which is a popular warm season grass that turns dormant in the winter and looks completely white. The month of September and the first few weeks of October are the best times for growing grass, which also makes it the best time to aerate a lawn in Pennsylvania. Lawn aeration and overseeding go hand in hand! Add in some starter fertilizer and now we’re really talking. 

Aeration should precede any overseeding or fertilization. It is even alright if you aerate and don’t seed for a few days/a week after.

How To Aerate A Lawn

Aeration can be done a variety of different ways. The most common is renting a core aerator, or hiring a lawn aeration service such as ourselves. You could also simply take a pitchfork and plug holes all through your lawn, especially if you have areas that are more compact than others. There are a number of videos available online that demonstrate this, and this coming fall we will be making some video footage of us aerating to put on the website as well for reference.

The easiest way to aerate is to walk the perimeter of the lawn in a square and keep closing the square in, this way you limit turns and it’s less fatigue on the operator. I highly recommend renting or buying the Ryan Lawnaire Aerator with Easy Steer, which will save you a serious headache. (Rent or buy with the Honda engine not the Briggs and Stratton). Most aerators are an absolute pain because you can’t turn with them so each time you need to make a turn, you have to turn the tines off and flip the machine yourself and re-engage the tines, and continue working, only to repeat 800 times. 

We currently run one of these on our team and we are able to fit through gates that only allow 36” clearance, so if your lawn falls into this category, let us know!

If you are looking for lawn aeration near me, look no further than Bolton Lawn Care. Give us a call or send us an email for an estimate. We promise to reply promptly.

-AB

perfectly manicured lawn

How To Protect From Lawn Burnout In The Summer

As we’re about halfway through the month of July, I think this is probably an important subject to address. Our area is beginning to experience consecutive days of 90+ degrees of heat, which even the hardiest lawns can be stressed by. Below are a few tips to keep your lawn looking tip top through the rest of summer, and prevent from lawn burnout.

burnt out lawn vs healthy lawn

Raise The Cutting Height On Your Mower Deck

If the lawn is being mowed at any less than 3 inches right now, I would bet serious money it’s going to burn out before the fall. It’s very easy to tell which lawns are being cut at a proper height, and which ones are not. The picture below is of a lawn we take care of from less than a week ago. The color of the lawn has a nice dark green color, and minimal yellow spots. Yellow spots are a sign the lawn is stressed. This could be because of a number of reasons such as dull mower blades, cutting too short, or a lawn treatment that killed weeds and left yellow spots.

If you are not sure of the height of your mower blade, simply take a ruler and measure from the ground to the bottom of the blade and make sure it’s at least 3 inches. Even on commercial lawn mowers like we have, when the decks are assembled onto the mower, the height of the mower is almost never the same as where the pin says the height is. For instance, on our Gravely mower, we know the actual cut height is a quarter of an inch lower than where the pin says it’s located. So if we are cutting a lawn at 3.5 inches, we set the mower to 3.75 inches because the deck leveling isn’t perfect.

beautiful lawn with great edging

Watering The Lawn (If Necessary)

So far we’ve had an abundance of rain, but July and August in Pennsylvania can be drought city. Lawns need at least one good watering per week. A solid rain really allows for maximum absorption and will prevent lawn burnout. The best time to water a lawn is in the morning before the sun has completely risen. This is because watering a lawn while the sun is fully risen will waste a good amount of water to evaporation. Watering at night is good, but can be an issue with lawn mold and fungus’s.

Sharpen Lawn Mower Blades

Keeping your mower blades sharp is one of the best tips a lawn care company can offer. The above picture shows blades of grass cut with dull and sharp lawn mower blades. If your lawn looks like the picture on the left, you are causing a lot of stress on your lawn, which is especially dangerous in the summer. On the right is how blades of grass should look after it was mowed. If you are mowing the lawn yourself, I’d recommend sharpening your blades now since we are about half way through the season. This will keep your property nice and healthy for the rest of the year and help to avoid lawn burnout.

At our company, we sharpen and replace blades every week because of the volume we do, and because of the quality of cut. Professional lawn companies change blades frequently for this exact reason It’s easy to spot a lawn that was being cut with dull blades, you’ll see uncut blades of grass, and a light green hew to the lawn that will turn the lawn yellow if the issue is not addressed. There are a number of “How To” videos on Youtube for sharpening mower blades, or take them a local hardware store.

Consistent Mowing Schedule

Frequent mowing (weekly) is required for all healthy lawns. Waiting too long between lawn cuts is a recipe for disaster. You never want to “Tomahawk” a lawn (chop off more than one third of each blade) because you’ll kill it. Also when grass grows too long without being mowed, it’ll become yellow above the soil line and begin to die off.

Avoiding Lawn Burnout Conclusion

Hopefully this article was enlightening and you will share it with your friends! Keep those lawns nice and healthy this summer!! For quality landscaping service and weekly lawn mowing, contact us today.
-AB

Plant Profile: Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

emerald green arborvitae as a privacy hedge

Emerald Green arborvitae is an evergreen in the Cypress family (Cupressaceae). Although some might say they are, technically, tall shrubs, they are commonly referred to as “trees”.

Emerald Green Arborvitaes are great for privacy hedges and wind breaks on any property. Emerald Green Arborvitae typically reach about 12 feet in height and spread between 3 and 4 feet wide. They grow in a pyramid shape, which differs from how most shrubs grow in a ‘globe’ like shape. The pyramid shape helps make them a great privacy hedge. Emerald Green Arborvitae can be confused with Green Giant Arborvitae, which grow much faster, and much taller. Green Giant arborvitae are not good privacy hedges because of their massive size.

Emerald Green’s will have no problem with freezing temperatures or ice in the winter. They are low maintenance until they reach maturity, which at that point will likely need hedge trimming each spring. Trim arborvitae in the spring before new growth is established.

Planting Arborvitae

If you are planting more than one arborvitae, make sure to properly space each plant out. We recommend at least 3 feet apart from one another. They will grow into the space between one another, and if they are planted too close together they can get crowded. When shrubs or trees get crowded, they are more susceptible to disease.

Dig a hole that is at least 3 inches wider than the base of the arborvitae. This is important because when you back fill the plant, you want enough room to move the shrub around for adjustments and remove air pockets. If you allow air pockets with sloppy back filling, the arborvitae will begin to lean as the soil gets more compacted.

Do not plant arborvitaes too low below the surface. They are much better off planted at the surface level, or slightly above the surface. Most trees and shrubs are like this. There is an old saying when it comes to planting: “If it’s too low, it never grows, and if it’s too high, it’ll never die”.

For landscaping service, lawn mowing company, or spring cleanups visit here.

female holly bush with berries

Plant Profile: Hollies

Hollies are very versatile plants that can range anywhere from only a foot high, to trees that are 70 feet tall. In ancient times, hollies were used to decorate statues of Saturn (the Roman god of the harvest), to providing medieval protection from evil spirits, and of course decorating our houses at Christmas time with them.

In Pennsylvania, hollies will have no problem growing. They are most hardy in regions 5 and 6, and in Southeast Pennsylvania we are zone 6. Zone 5 would be the Lehigh County and above.

Gender Of The Holly

When you think of hollies, you think of the bright white flowers, red berries, and the shiny prickly leaves. The gender of the holly actually plays a big role in the appearance of the plant. Female hollies will produce berries as long as they are pollinated by a bee who bring seed from a nearby male holly.

Holly Maintenance

These plants do not require regular pruning or trimming, but if you want to keep them small, or to prevent them from overcrowding, pruning is going to be required. Holly bushes are very low maintenance as well, and typically do not need to be watered unless we are in a dry spell.

We always recommend mulch for our clients for a variety of reasons. Hollies are no exception. They have a shallow root system which makes them susceptible to rot and freeze thaw damage in the winter. Mulch not only helps prevent this, but once it decomposes it adds nutrients back into the soil so fertilizer is unnecessary. Also, who doesn’t like the way a fresh garden bed of mulch looks?

How To Plant Hollies

The holly bush you purchase is most likely going to be in a pot. The size of the pot should not matter, but most likely it’s going to be in a three gallon pot. Find the spot you wish to have your holly planted, and make sure it has adequate sunlight and good drainage. All good landscapes start with knowing what your plants need.

  1. Dig a hole in the ground that is about 3 inches wider than the diameter of the holly. Do not dig the hole too deep; allow the holly to sit about one or two inches above the soil line.
  2. Remove the holly from the container and using a shovel or spade, slice about 3 or four inserts into the root ball. Don’t cut the ball in half, just about one or two inches deep. This will prevent the roots from wrapping in a circle and choking itself out. Cutting these inserts will let the ball branch out into the garden.
  3. Back fill the holly. (Fill in the space around the plant)
  4. Sprinkle compost or manure around the bush to help with water retention.
  5. Water.
  6. Add mulch around the base.

We hope you enjoyed our post on holly plant care! Visit our blog for more information on other plants and “how to’s“.

liriope border

Plant Profile: Liriope (Lily Turf)

Liriope is a grass like perennial that typically grows up to 12-18″ tall. They can grow in just about any soil condition, but prefer well drained soil like most perennials. These plants make a great natural border wall for landscapes and garden beds. Liriope can tolerate full sun and almost full shade, which makes them a versatile plant for any landscape. They do not expand aggressively like the Liriope Spicata, so you don’t have to worry about them taking over a garden. One of the best parts about Liriope is their bloom season, which is in August-September. Most perennials flower in the spring, but Liriope’s late bloom gives landscapes a nice violet-blue color in the late summer-early fall.

liriope walkway border

How To Plant Liriope

If you are planting Liriope as a border plant for a landscape, make sure to give at least a foot of space between the edge since these plants spread about 8-12 inches. Planting is very similar to hosta planting.

  1. Dig a hole a few inches deep, depending on how long the root system is. Give ample room for the roots to spread.
  2. Fill in the hole by spreading soil around the crown of the Liriope. If this is a brand new plant with no foliage, do not cover the stolons when spreading soil. The eye is the part that will grow into the plant, so leave it exposed. Most likely though, you are planting Liriope with
liriope division

How To Divide Liriope

Dividing Liriope is also as easy as planting them. Dig up the plant you are dividing, and shake the dirt off of the root system. From here, simply pluck off the individual, or clusters of plant you wish to separate, and plant them by following the instructions above.

We hope you enjoyed this article about Liriope planting and division! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.


For landscaping, lawn mowing, and lawn treatment services visit here.

hosta garden

Plant Profile: Hostas

Hostas are an easy, low maintenance perennial that are perfect for shady areas. Most vibrant perennials require full sun, but not hostas! These plants are excellent for growing under trees as ground cover, or wherever you need to fill in space in a shady area. Hostas come in many different color variations, but the most common variation is green and white. Hostas do flower, and grow a long stalk with usually pink or purple flowers on it. While they may look tropical, they are actually native to Asia. They can withstand very harsh weather conditions are extremely durable. The only drawback for hostas: deer love them. From what I have seen, hostas are a deer’s favorite plant of choice.

How To Plant Hostas

hosta garden bed

Hosta planting is very simple and easy to follow.

  1. Dig a hole about 8-12 inches deep, depending on how long the root system is. Give ample room for the roots to spread.
  2. Fill in the hole by spreading soil around the crown of the hosta. Don’t cover the eye of the root ball when spreading soil. The eye is the part that will grow into the plant, so leave it exposed.

Dividing Hosta Plants

divided hostas

Hostas can grow very fast and begin to take over gardens. Dividing hostas is very simple as well. Gently dig up the hosta you wish to divide. Once the hosta and it’s roots are out of the ground, shake off excess dirt so you can take a good look at the root structure. You will notice that the giant root system is intertwined with other hosta roots. From here, with your hands, separate the the hosta into even parts, ensuring that both newly divided hostas have enough roots to be re-planted. Even if the division is not perfect, and one hosta has more roots than the other, it should be fine.

We recommend hostas for landscapes that will not have a deer problem. If deer are a concern, some recommend planting daffodils around the hostas to give them protection, but we personally have not tried this. Slugs can also be an issue with hostas, but they can be easily managed by sprinkling sand or insecticide around the base of the plant. At the end of the year during a fall cleanup, be sure to cut hostas down to about 2 or 3 inches in height and compost the rest of the dying plant.

We hope you enjoyed this article about hosta planting and division! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.


For landscaping, lawn mowing, and lawn treatment services visit here.

iris flower header

Plant Profile: Bearded Iris (Bearded rhizomatous irises)

Iris, the Greek word for “Rainbow”, are some of our favorite flowers for a garden. Bearded iris have creeping rhizomes (like certain grass types we have discussed) that spread horizontally instead of vertically like most flowers. These flowers bloom in the late spring, and can make a great color addition to any garden.

Similar to daylilies, bearded iris require full sun (6+ hours) and prefer well drained soil. If drainage is a concern, plant Iris in a garden bed that is sloped, or slightly raised above the ground. The best part about planting Iris, is that they are deer resistant, which means you no longer have to worry about deer ruining your garden!

Planting Bearded Iris

iris rhizome explanation

The area which she is pointing to is the main section of the rhizome. It’s important that when you are planting Iris, to NOT fully cover this section of the flower.

  1. Dig a hole twice the width of the longest rhizome, and about six inches deep.
  2. Like the daylily, build a small mound within the hole which will allow the Iris to sit on. Roughly 75% of the main rhizome (pictured above) should be exposed above the surface level.
  3. The Iris has a front and back. The back is where the rhizome roots are pointing. When planting, aim the roots away from lawn or garden edges so the rhizomes have enough area to expand.
  4. Water, and add fertilizer if this is a newly established garden. Add something with a nitrogen content no higher than 10.

Iris Maintenance

Iris will require slightly more upkeep than other other low maintenance perennials. They expand quickly and will create multiple rhizomes that increase the number of Iris in a garden. Every few years they need to be divided.

Iris rhizome cluster.

To divide the Bearded Iris, dig up the roots of the flower first. In the picture above you can easily see the clump of Iris rhizomes. Simply dig up the plant, and pull off the rhizomes around the middle one, which will be the biggest rhizome. If you are going to transport the rhizome to another area, be sure that the height of the established rhizome is no bigger than 3 inches or so. Most gardeners recommend dividing Iris one month after they have flowered.

We hope this was informative and you enjoyed reading this! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.

For landscaping service,lawn mowing, and lawn care services visit here.

daylily flower

Plant Profile: The Daylily (Hemerocallis)

The daylily is one of the most reliable flowers you can grow in a garden. They are extremely insect and disease resistant, which makes them very low maintenance. The botanical name Hemerocallis is Greek, and translates in English to “Beauty for a day”. This is quite fitting for daylilies considering they often have multiple flowers that bloom for a day, and die within 24 hours of blooming.

Daylilys bloom in June, and only show their great beauty for a few weeks. Most breeds of daylily thrive in full sun (6+) hours, and don’t require fertilization. We recommend adding compost or mulch to the gardens every year to help supply them with basic nutrients.

When And How To Plant Daylilies

We recommend planting daylilies in the spring, so they have a lot of time to establish before the winter. Realistically, they can be planted almost any time of the year because they are so resilient. When planting a daylily, consider the following steps:

  1. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the size of the root system, and around 6 inches deep. Give at least 12 inches of space between each plant.
  2. Once the hole has been dug, create a small mound within the hole that will allow the crown to sit just above the surface level.
  3. The daylily’s roots should be spread out on top of the mound so they have space to grow and expand.
  4. Cover the root structure and mound with soil and leave just the crown exposed to sunlight.
  5. Water, and wait for them to bloom!
picture of daylilies in a beautiful garden

After the daylilies have been established, they will return year after year stronger than ever! We hope you enjoyed this blog topic. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.

For landscaping, lawn mowing, and lawn care services visit here.

lawn mowing service by bolton lawn care

How To Setup A Fertilizing Schedule For Your Lawn

If you don’t want to hire a lawn care company for fertilizing services, it’s worth doing some research on how to do it yourself. We lay out a basic schedule for homeowners to follow in order to setup a fertilizing schedule for your lawn, and get the best lawn in the neighborhood.

Spring

Once the weather starts to warm up, it’s a good idea to cleanup the lawn once again. Rake up any dead grass or leaves that were left from the winter. Around March or April it’s best to put a fertilizer down that also has pre-emergent crabgrass and weed protection. Some companies we recommend are Scotts Turf Builder with Halts Crabgrass Preventer and
Lesco Professional, 19-0-7, Crabgrass Preventer Turf Fertilizer.

Be sure that you are mowing high! Too often we are asked to cut the lawn around 3 inches. This is TOO low for the spring and summer. 3.5″ should be the absolute lowest. In order to get thick, healthy grass, lawns need to grow high during these seasons. Fall and Winter are the only times you should be cutting at 3″ or lower. If you want the lawn to be overtaken by crabgrass and weeds, by all means mow the lawn too low!

Also, this is a great time to overseed and aerate if you haven’t yet. Lawns will be compacted from the cold Northern winters, and aerating is a great way to loosen the soil. Overseeding, in combination with a fertilizer and pre-emergent, is the absolute best way to jump start a lawn.

Summer

The lawn shouldn’t need fertilizer until around July, so for the most part, summer is spent enjoying the lawn. If you have had problems with grubs in the past, however, we suggest applying Scott’s GrubEx in the early summer. Grubs are the larvae of Japanese Beetles and other Beetle species like the June Beetle.

Scott’s Summerguard is a great option for a lawn that has issues with ants, spiders or ticks. It’s essentially a nitrogen heavy fertilizer that also has insecticides in it. If the lawn doesn’t have an issue with insects, just apply a regular granular fertilizer with a Nitrogen content of at least 20. So looking at the bag it should say something like “20-0-8”.

Grubs love healthy lawns. The nicer your lawn is, the more likely you are going to have an issue with grubs. Grubs feed on the roots of grass seeds. The healthier a lawn is, the more resistant it will be to grub damage. If the lawn is facing a drought and it’s not being watered enough, the damage done by grubs will be far worse. Be sure that grubs are the problem and not a fungus such as lawn rust.

Additionally, make sure the lawn has enough water if there is a drought. In the summer of 2018, I don’t think we had a single week where it didn’t rain, so there wasn’t a problem with drought!

Fall

It’s finally time to start lowering the cutting height of the lawn. Do this periodically however, and not all at once. Never take off more than a third of the grass height in one mow. Simplest way to safely lower the cutting height is by lowering the deck of the deck a quarter-half inch every week until you get to 2.75-3″. Southern grasses can go lower, but for the northeast keep it at the minimum 2.75 inches.

Cutting low is important for preparing a lawn for winter. If grass is left high in the winter, the lawn will be susceptible to “snow mold”.

snow mold

Fertilizer can be applied twice in the fall to maximize lawn health. This can be done in early September, around Labor day, and again towards the end of October or November. if you decide to skip the labor day fertilizer, be sure to apply the final one in October or November. This is one of the most important times to fertilize. The “final fertilizer” helps feed the lawn through the winter, and ensures the lawn will come back stronger than ever in the Spring.

How to setup a fertilizing schedule for your lawn:

End of March/April: Pre-emergent herbicide and fertilizer combination

June: GrubEx treatment for grub prevention

Early-Mid July: Standard Granular Fertilizer With Nitrogen Content above 20. OR, Scott’s Summerguard if insects are an issue.

Labor Day-Early September: Standard Granular Fertilizer With High Nitrogen content (30+). Look at Scott’s Fall Lawnfood.

November: Same as above, Standard Granular Fertilizer With High Nitrogen content (30+). Look at Scott’s Fall Lawnfood.

I hope these tips helped! If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us.