We’ve written before on our blog the importance of cleaning your leaves for a healthy lawn. Fall leaf cleanup is essential for preserving a healthy lawn. Leaves, when mulched up by a mower are great organic compost. However, if left sitting on your lawn, will undoubtedly invite disease to plague your lawn next spring. Many factors affect the rate and time leaves will fall on your lawn. The two most important factors are rainfall and temperature. A drought will cause leaves to fall quicker, while excess precipitation (like we have had in 2018) will delay trees from dropping leaves.
Leaves when left on the lawn retain moisture, and we know that moisture can invite a host of problems such as fungus, rust, and insects. However, if you have a garden or garden beds around your property, mulched leaves can be a major benefit. The leaves will help shrub beds and gardens retain moisture during the cold months, which will benefit the beds unlike the grass. Since leaves sit on top of the grass, they block out sun and oxygen. Mulched leaves that sit on mulch beds will not block out sun or oxygen from shrubs. Fall leaf cleanup and some fertilizer will help put your lawn to sleep nicely for the winter.
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If you are looking for a walk behind mower that takes up minimal space in the garage, and works almost as well as a commercial walk behind, the Cub Cadet 33 inch Walk Behind Mower (CC 760 es) is an excellent choice. It definitely has flaws, which I’ll address, but after using one for six years now, it’s arguably one of the best purchases we have made. Let’s start with some Pro’s and Con’s of the mower.
Compact – does not take up a lot of space on a trailer, or in a storage area.
Strong Engine – have not had to replace any engine parts in six years and 600 hours.
Light Weight – easy to maneuver around tight corners.
Gives A Good Stripe
Electric Start – In my opinion, anything that is electric start is better than pull start.
Incredible On Steep Hills – Put the mower into the “1” speed and it will walk itself up a hill with an 85 degree slope. The Cub Cadet 33′ Walk Behind is the best mower I’ve ever seen on steep hills.
Very Easy Access For Any Maintenance – Easy to change belts, oil, blades, etc.
Good Sized Gas Tank – Can hold around 2 gallons of gas, which is CONSIDERABLY more than a push mower.
Cheap Deck Welding – Have had to replace the deck twice because it randomly cracked and fell off. The second time I took it to a welder who reinforced it with a piece of steel and have not had issues since.
Drive Speed Change – There are five speeds on this mower, Reverse, 1, 2, 3, and 4. 1 is reserved for hills and 2 and 3 are just a little too slow in my opinion, and the 4th speed is too fast. It does not seem to have a nice middle ground speed.
Uncomfortable Handles – Until you have used the mower for awhile, your hands will hurt from constantly letting go and re-engaging the drive and blade handles.
Who Would This Mower Benefit The Most?
This mower has a wide range of applications. It can easily be a reliable homeowner unit that gets used once or twice a week, or it can be part of a lawn mowing service‘s fleet. We use this mower for probably an hour or two of mowing per week, for our clients who have backyards with small gates that we can not fit our zero turn mower in. In my honest opinion, I do not see why a landscaper would purchase a 32″ commercial walk behind from brands like Bobcat or Scag, when they can cost three-four times as much as the Cub Cadet 33 inch Walk Behind Mower (CC 760 es). The only exception would be if the landscaper uses it with extreme frequency. In this case, the Cub Cadet will not be able to handle such workload.
If you have a decent sized lawn (1/4 acre- 1/2 acre) and are looking for a walk behind unit, I would recommend this. I have not tried the Toro Timemaster 33″ Walk Behind or the Exmark 30″ Walk Behind, but I would like to so I can compare brands and update this.
Let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for any other questions you might have.
If you look closely at the blades of grass on your lawn and notice an orange discoloration, you have identified what lawn care experts call ‘Rust’. Lawn rust can wreck havoc on lawns in Pennsylvania because Rust is found on perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and tall fescue, which are the three most common grass types.
Lawn Rust is a fungus that can easily be spread by wind, contact (blades touching one another), animals, and insects. This disease prefers the shade, but also heat and humidity. Unlike many other fungal lawn diseases, it grows well in soil that is low in nitrogen.
Rust reduces the ability of grass to undergo photosynthesis, and in photosynthesis, plants make sugar which fuels growth. When they are unable to produce the sugars necessary for growth, grass starts to die.
Identifying Lawn Rust
If you have a problem area on your lawnthat you suspect has rust, pick up a blade of grass and inspect it. Spotting an early rust infection is key. The grass blades will have small, yellow discoloration dots. If the disease is not treated fast, the yellow dots will rupture and spread an almost powdery rust colored substance across the blades of grass.
Severe lawn rust will make the lawn turn brown and the grass will become matted down and bunched together. Some people might confuse this with thatch, when in fact this is a fungal disease.
Preventing Lawn Rust
Since rust thrives in wet, humid conditions, having soil that drains properly is key. When we have a summer like we did this year in 2018, where it rained so much, preventing lawn rust is extremely challenging. The best way to prevent rust is keeping your lawn rich in Nitrogen, by fertilizing in the Spring and Fall. Aerationwill help your lawn drain better.
Hopefully next year we do not get as much rain frequency, because consistent wet and humid conditions are a breeding ground for Rust. Ideally, your lawn should be watered once a week, for a long period that really soaks the lawn.
In order for lawns to flourish, a balance between the right nutrients and oxygen must be established. After a hot summer or a cold winter, the ground becomes hard, and clay-like. If your lawn is covered in thatch (excess grass clumps), this will also prevent the grass that is underneath from getting the right amount of oxygen and nutrients. Aerating is the process of drilling small holes into the ground in order to break up the hard ground, and allow for stronger, deeper root systems.
Aerating, along with overseeding and a starter fertilizer, can be one of the most effective ways to jump-start your lawn. A deeper root system will allow grass to spread faster, but also more effectively. If grass seed is planted on a lawn that is compact, the root system will never become strong enough to survive the fall and winter. By aerating and fertilizing, you will ensure that your lawn has the proper nutrients, oxygen, and space to take hold in your yard.
Some homeowner are opposed to aeration because of the tiny grass cores that litter the lawn after an aeration. These will not have a negative effect on the health of the lawn. After a few mows, the tiny cores will be recycled back into the yard. If the small dirt plugs are a concern, we also offer liquid aeration. Liquid aeration consists of mixing a concentrate (developed for loosening soil) with water and applying with a backpack sprayer. This is best reserved for small lawns, or sections of a lawn that do not drain properly. We recommend liquid aeration as an alternative to core aeration if the lawn is between 1,000 and 4,ooo square feet.
Yellow spots on your lawn can be an eyesore. No matter how green your lawn may look, the first thing that people will notice are the yellow spots. There can be a number of causes for “dead” spots on your lawn, and they are becoming more common as we move into the late summer. Let’s look at a few reasons why your lawn maintenance may not be up to par.
We’ll start with the easiest fix first. If there has been multiple days or even weeks of no rain, lawns begin to dry up. If you take a look at the
surface of the soil, you may notice cracks in the ground. Cracks are a warning sign that if the lawn is not watered soon, the soil’s ph will become unbalanced and cause harm to grass roots, causing the grass to turn yellow or even die.
The fix: Water your grass! If rain is not expected soon, you most likely need to go out and water the lawn. Water for about 10 minutes in the morning between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. This way you can hydrate your lawn before the hottest parts of the day, and the ground can actually absorb the water instead of losing it to evaporation.
Surprisingly, dogs aren’t perfect. Pet urine is full of nitrogen, and when too much nitrogen is introduced to a lawn, it burns holes in the roots. Nitrogen is essential for ensuring a healthy lawn, but pet urine unfortunately has too much nitrogen and may cause yellow spots on your lawn.
The fix: If you can, try to train your dog to urinate somewhere else. This isn’t the most practical solution, but effective none the less. You may have to rake up the dead grass and plant new seed in that area. Don’t bother putting fertilizer down that contains nitrogen because the grass will not grow!
Around this time in July, Japanese beetles begin to pop up in Pennsylvania. Beetles lay eggs in the ground and the grubs feed on grass roots. The damage caused by beetles is easy to identify, and can be seen in the picture to the right. Notice the holes (where grubs eventually matured and became beetles) climbed out of. Yellows spots on your lawn caused by beetles usually mean they killed the root system. New grass seed will need to be planted.
The fix: Find the insecticide for the particular insect. Most insects can be killed by using Sevin.
What to do if you are unsure of the cause for yellow spots on your lawn.
If you are not sure why yellow spots on your lawn have appear, keep in mind the following:
Has it rained lately? Do I need to water first before taking a more drastic approach to fixing my lawn?
If it has rained or the lawn has been consistently watered, and you have a pet, notice where they go to the bathroom. Try to avoid having your pet go in the same spot.
If the grass has been watered, and pets are not an issue, take a soil sample to see if the lawn is lacking in nutrients. Soil samples are very simple. Just take a Ziploc bag and go to a local garden center and they’ll be able to do it for you. A nitrogen deficiency is most likely the reason for your lawns yellow spots.
If the soil is healthy, and hydrated, and pets are not an issue, pests and fungus are the last culprits. Anti-fungal treatments can be applied in the spring time, so it’s important to identify that before summer starts. Pests can easily be taken out with an insecticide, so identify which pest is the culprit, and purchase the correct insecticide.
Also, keep in mind that the grass is being cut at an appropriate height. While you may think “it looks better” when the grass is cut very short, it’s extremely unhealthy for the lawn. Grass should be cut around 3.5″-4″ throughout the spring and summer. If the grass is being cut by a lawn maintenance service, make sure to ask them what height they are cutting at. Burnt grass means the grass is stressed. When grass is stressed, it doesn’t grow as fast, and weeds outgrow them, and begin to crowd out healthy grass seed.
Dull blades on a lawn mower also can stress grass no matter what height you cut at. This is why at Bolton Lawn Care, we always keep our blades sharp. We understand lawn care, and how to keep lawns green and healthy.
The difference between annual and perennial flowers is quite simple: Perennial flowers get planted once, and return year after year.
Annual flowers are planted in the spring or summer, and die when the winter comes. Perennials are more expensive, but require less overall maintenance. Annual flowers are cheap, and give great color to your garden or flower beds.
Best Direct Sunlight Annuals
Before we dive into annual flowers, here are a few of the best full sun annuals to plant in PA. These flowers need at least six hours of direct sunlight.
Sweet Potato Vine
Partial Shade Annual Flowers
Partial shade annuals require 3-6 hours of indirect sunlight, and will struggle in direct sunlight areas.
Full Shade Annual Flowers
Full shade annuals are flowers that need less than three hours of direct sunlight. While not as visually appealing as the direct sunlight annuals or the partial shade annuals, there are some great full shade annual flowers.
Polka Dot Plant
Angle Wing Begonias
Annual And Perennial Flowers
Annual flowers can be a great addition to your flower beds. If you plan on planting a lot of small flowers like geraniums by yourself, we recommend planting them in a five sided dice pattern. Basically, give the flowers enough room to be apart, and plant them like the pattern we have shown below. Annuals will require more attention and care than perennials will. Each year we recommend tilling your garden and adding in top soil in order to ensure the soil is rich. Annuals normally are not harsh on soil, but in order to make sure they thrive, more care is needed than perennials.
One of the biggest benefits of annuals is the basic fact that they bloom shortly after being planted. A big disadvantage of perennials is they might not bloom the first few years. Perennials require more establishing time. When you purchase an annual from a dealer, they are already almost close to maturity and will bloom in a few weeks. If you would like your garden to stand out this spring and summer, planting annuals are the best way to go. For the patient few out there, planting perennials and waiting a few years may be a great, low maintenance option.
Perennial Full Sun Flowers
Most gardeners are familiar with the most common perennial flowers like hydrangeas or hostas. Hostas will make your garden and flower beds look great, but will attract an entire family of deer to feast on in the middle of the night. Unless you plan on being diligent with spraying deer repellent, if you live in a neighborhood full of deer, hostas are not the best choice. Deer tend to dislike scented shrubs like hydrangeas and lavender. Not only do these perennials smell great, but they are low maintenance. Below are some of our favorite full sun perennial flowers.
Perennial flowers and shrubs should be the anchor of your garden. Perennials are reliable, and some may live for decades, growing more beautiful by the year. Perennial shrubs and flowers can sometimes be deer bait, so plant them wisely. In our area of South Eastern Pennsylvania, almost every homeowner has asked us about deer resistant annual and perennial flowers. We recommend a mix of perennial and annual flowers, with perennial shrubs anchoring the garden ends, or the middle. The outside, or ring of the garden should be filled with smaller annuals that are bright in color.
If you have any questions about annual and perennial flowers, get in contact with us today!
In order to get rid of moss in your lawn, you are going to need to evaluate a few things. If you have started to notice your lawn fill up with patches of moss, it’s time to fix it. Most likely this isn’t the first time the moss has appeared on your lawn, so understanding why it keeps coming back is important. Shaded lawns are the most susceptible to moss growth. Moss has a hard time surviving in direct sunlight, so a patch of grass that is covered by trees is highly likely to develop moss. Moss growth also indicates that the soil PH is too low or too acidic. What most lawn care companies do is apply a lime treatment to lawns filled with moss which raises the PH and makes it less acidic.
Why Choose Lime?
A soil PH that is completely neutral is 7.0. When the soil PH drops below 7.0, it becomes acidic. Almost all grasses especially in Pennsylvania, like to grow in a PH between 5.5 and 6.5. A lawn can become acidic a few different ways, but the two most common reasons for moss are shade and moisture. Sections of your lawn may have poor drainage which retains more moisture and leads to moss growth. Applying lime treatments after the lawn has been aerated is the best way to get rid of moss in your lawn. Once the lime has been applied, the battle isn’t over just yet. We recommend first raking your lawn with a hard rake and trying to remove the moss. After the moss has been disrupted, follow it with an aeration, and a lime application to get rid of moss in your lawn.
Filling In The Bare Spots
After the moss spots have been raked and aerated, It’s important that over seeding and lime are both applied. Just spreading some lime on your lawn won’t make grass grow; grass seed needs to be spread! If the moss is prevalent in shady areas, applying a grass seed that need direct sunlight is a waste of time. Planting fine fescue grass is the best option for shady lawns in PA. As long as the shaded area receives around three hours of sunlight, fine fescue should be able to be established. It’s worth considering pruning your trees so that your lawn can receive more sunlight, and avoid moss growth. If you have shrubs that are low hanging and create large shady spots on your grass, pruning them will also help fight moss growth around them.
Moss In Areas Of Your Lawn That Get Direct Sunlight
While moss isn’t typically found in areas of grass that get direct sunlight, we have seen it happen. Usually it’s because the lawn is new and is struggling to adjust to the correct PH level, or the soil is extremely compacted. If you have not aerated the lawn in a few years, the soil becomes more and more compact. Regular aeration in the fall will prevent your soil from becoming too compact and unable to properly drain rain water. If heavy equipment or cars have been driving on your lawn, this can also make your lawn too compact.
When To Get Rid Of Moss In Your Lawn
The earlier the better. Treating your lawn with lime when the ground is too cold will not be beneficial, but lime treatments can start as soon as the ground thaws. March is probably too early in Pennsylvania, but applying lime in early April is the most ideal time. Lime can take between four an six months to completely rid a lawn of moss, so the process takes time. Raking it with a hard rake first, aerating, and seeding those patches will make quick work of the moss. Contact us today for all of your lawn maintenance needs!
Aside from making your property look great, shrubs can benefit your property in a lot of ways. Do you have a neighbor you can’t stand the sight of? Well, shrubs make for great natural screens that will cost a lot less than a fence! Additionally, if planted close enough together, shrubs can be great intermediaries between large elements of your property. For example, shrubs can help bridge the open space gap between a house and a tree. Also, shrubs are great for acting as ground cover. A low growing shrub creates less space that needs to be mowed or weed wacked. So what are the best shrubs to plant in PA, and how spaced out should they be?
How Spaced Out Should Shrubs Be?
The rule of thumb for shrub planting has always been at least half the width of the plant at maturity. An example of this would be planting a shrub that is 3 feet wide at maturity 1.5 feet away from a driveway. To cover up the space between an element and the shrub, flowers and perennials can be planted until the shrub reaches maturity and fills that empty space out. If that sounds like too much work, covering the ground with mulch will help keep weeds down and the soil moist. Below we have listed a few of our favorite shrubs to plant for our clients in Southeastern PA.
Rhododendrons are one of the most common shrubs homeowners plant around their property. The large pink, purple, red, and yellow clusters that bloom during the spring are beautiful. They are relatively low maintenance once established, and come in all kinds of sizes. They can be low growing ground covers, or large bush plants like the picture shown here. There are more than two thousand different kids of rhododendron types, which allows homeowners to choose from all kinds of options like height, color, and smell.
Hydrangeas are great plants for forming a hedge, or for having them provide a beautiful wall for your property. These bushes can do well with partial shade, and have large, beautiful white flowers that sometimes turn to pink in the before drying out. If a homeowner is concerned about the hydrangeas getting too big, they do make dwarf varieties which will remain small. Make sure to prune these hydrangeas in the early spring in order to encourage new growth.
These are a relatively easy to grow shrub with little maintenance required. They are bacteria resistant, so treating it with chemicals is not an issue. They also do not need a lot of watering once they have been established. Once a few years have passed by, peonies are one of the best shrubs to plant in PA. The distinct pink blossoms will stand out in your home’s garden this year.
Dwarf Crape Myrtles bushes have a long lasting bloom time with bright color. The bloom period starts in the summer and will last all fall in Pennsylvania, some can bloom for around a third of the year! These plants are great anchor shrubs for gardens and islands. We added Crape Myrtle bushes to this list because special varieties of Crape Myrtles exist that only grow to about three to five feet, making them the size of a shrub. Most people think of large trees when they hear Crape Myrtle, but they can be found a shrubs!
If you have any other recommendations about the best shrubs to plant in PA, let us know! Contact us today.
Research Suggests You Can Buy Happiness By Spending Money On Services That Save You Time.
Can you really buy happiness? Research now suggests that you can..if you use it to buy time. People that are spending cash on services like landscaping, cleaning, taxis etc. are a little happier than those who do not. The survey took place with over 6,000 people in four different countries.
The researchers gave each subject $40. In the first week, they asked the subjects to purchase an item that was material such as a shirt or a pair of pants. The second week they asked the subjects to spend the money to save them time on something. This could be cleaning, or cutting the grass, something that saved the subjects time. An overwhelming majority of the subjects said that when they spent money to save time, they felt much happier.
Ashley Whillans of the Harvard Business School who lead the study said “the right way someone spends money, like time-consuming drudge work, is what really makes them happy.” when purchasing material objects, humans feel less satisfaction.
The data also suggests that people with lower incomes were able to get a bigger happiness boost from time-saving purchases than those with more. Surprisingly, only 28% of the people surveyed had spent money to save time in the last month. Research also shows that people in rich nations like The United States, have more stress than people in poor nations.
Edward Diener, a researcher at The University Of Illinois says “Buying time through purchases makes a lot of sense. A big part of the stress in rich nations like The United States is this time pressure. We have too much to do, and not everything can get done.”
If you are hesitant about hiring a lawn care company, or any company to perform a service you dread, consider the following:
What is your time worth?
If you really consider what your time is worth, most people will agree that mowing the lawn or taking care of your property isn’t worth the lost opportunity cost. During that hour it took you to mow the lawn, trim the edges, and blow down the driveway, you could have been doing a number of other things. Maybe you could be working an extra hour, or maybe you could be relaxing another hour. Too often in America people get “burnt out” trying to do too many things, especially maintaining a nice property. If you value that extra hour you can sleep in on a Saturday more than you value cutting the lawn yourself, have us take care of your lawn.
Is it worth the cost?
It’s no secret that lawn care equipment is expensive. If you want your lawn to really stand head and shoulders above the rest, you need a high quality mower and trimmer. All said and done you can be looking at over a thousand dollars (or couple thousand depending on how nice you want the mower to be). Not to mention the cost of upkeep, like gasoline and repair parts. Finally, factor in what we mentioned above, the cost of labor. What could you be doing other than cutting your lawn every week for an hour? Are you losing opportunity that might be greater than paying a business to cut your lawn?
When a customer asks, “What do you charge?”, it is often more complicated than giving a simple answer. For a lawn mowing service, we take a number of factors into consideration.
1. Property Size.
Instead of doing an estimate based on the square footage, it is more efficient to survey your property. We could look at Google Maps and decide based on the size of the house, the going rate in the neighborhood, and the area demographics, that your property will cost X amount. However, lawn service companies that do this often find themselves either over pricing or under pricing. This is why at Bolton Lawn Care, we come out to your residence or business and make an estimate.
2. Property Layout
After we have done a general assessment of your property, we take into consideration the layout. If your home is the corner property in a neighborhood, your lawn may be much bigger than your neighbors, and could have more sidewalk. When a lawn has a large sidewalk, this adds extra area that will need to be edged and trimmed. If your home has an abundance of trees or plants, these also form obstacles that will increase the amount of time necessary for trimming and edging.
A common mistake landscapers make is not realistically considering the amount of time a property will take. As a Business Management and Entrepreneurial Studies Major, I have learned the importance of opportunity cost. Here is a perfect example of missed opportunity: If I decide a lawn looks like its the size of a typical $40 lawn, and neglect the potential time needed for extra weed wacking, it could take 30 minutes more than a regular $40 property. In this hypothetical, I’ve lost half an hour of revenue. Factoring in time during an assessment of your property is often a step that landscapers overlook.
Are you interested in joining the Bolton Lawn Care family? Send us an email or give us a call today. By signing up for our weekly lawn service, we’ll give you the first cut FREE!