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We’ve been discussing ways to pre-plan your garden and shrubbery as we head towards the spring, but let’s talk about your lawn practices. Your flowerbed layout and pruning your shrubs and trees is important, but the art of a well-cut lawn can make all the difference to your landscaping. We’ve collected a few lawn-mowing tips, so that you don't have to!
In a previous post we encouraged you check on your mower blade to ensure that it didn’t have any damage so that come warmer months, you were able to effectively use your mower. Since we are still in the middle of February, despite the warmer weather, it’s not too late to get your mower serviced if needed. The last thing that you want to deal with during the summer is a broken down mower while you watch your grass grow to unruly heights.

Keep your mower blades sharp to reduce chances for disease in your grass. The most common type of disease that your lawn can contract is fungus. If this isn’t treated it can spread to and kill your entire lawn. The length of your grass is also important. We recommend you keep your mowing height at 3” or higher, and when you mow, make sure you’re only removing 1/3 of the grass blade per cut. Mowing under these guidelines should help to avoid brown spots on your lawn.

Compaction is a problem that you want to try to avoid with your lawn care. We recommend changing your mowing patterns week to week to avoid the heavy traffic of the lawn mower in the same routine repeatedly. Additionally, you want to try to mow when the ground is dry. This can be difficult especially as we enter into summer because we all know that Western North Carolina summers can be pretty wet, but mowing the grass while the soil is still wet also leads to compaction. If compaction is something your lawn is struggling with, we suggest aerating. If your grass receives heavy traffic, it will best survive if aerated once or twice a year. A heavy clay soil also needs more frequent aerating. Lawns receiving light traffic or established on a sandy soil can be aerated once a year or every other year.

The winter is a great time for you to start planning out your spring and summer garden. You can take time to think about the fruits and vegetables you want to grow and how you will help to defend them from pesky insects and/or other creatures like deer and rabbits.

Garden Guidelines


The first thing that you can do to effectively start planning your garden is to have your soil tested by your local county extension office. This will test your soil’s pH levels, which determines ultimately how well your plants grow. Different kinds of fruits and vegetables thrive in different types of soil, so knowing what soil you are working with in your garden is helpful when choosing what to plant.

A soil test will also reveal what nutrients are missing from your soil, giving you an idea   what you kind of fertilizer you should be using. If you use your local county extension office your results might take a few weeks to process, which is why doing it in the winter   is useful, because you aren’t missing prime planting season. Alternatively, you can buy     self-soil tests at your localLowe’s if you do not want to wait.

Once you have your soil tested and know what you’re dealing with in terms of nutrients   and acidity, you can browse through seed catalogs to begin to plan your garden. You can also begin to prepare the garden by loosening the soil and adding organic matter as well as any nutrients that the soil might be lacking. We recommend you look at planting cold hardy vegetables like sugar snap peas, onion sets and winter lettuce.

If you choose more temperamental seeds to plant, you could always start the seedlings off indoors, and replant them outdoors when the weather warms. You can create a makeshift greenhouse right in your home by planting your seeds according to their package instructions and covering the containers with plastic. Make sure that you water your seeds carefully to avoid drowning your seeds or any type of fungus cause by overwatering.

Pest Control

Making sure to maintain pest control during the winter is as important as preparing for your future garden.If you’ve suffered from mealy bugs, aphids, scale or mites last year, you should apply dormant oil on your fruit trees and roses. Dormant oil is effective in killing pests even if they are already on your plant.

Just because you have a plant indoors, do not assume that it is safe from pests. Overwatering an indoor plant can lead to root rot, which attracts insects. Fungus gnats can also signify overwatering. Fungus gnats look similar to fruit flies and their small size can make them harder for the untrained eye to identify, so you should be sure to note if the gnats are appearing around your house plant.

If you find that your houseplants are suffering from insects you can use an oil spray, much like the dormant spray you use on fruit trees and roses, to suffocate the insects on the plant. You can also spray insecticidal soap on the soil and let the plant dry out completely to help kill the gnats. If possible it would be best to report the plant into fresh potting soil and sterilize the pot. And even though it sounds a little silly, remember to dust your plants!

With the uncharacteristically warm weather invading the Western North Carolina Mountains, it is easy to forget that we are technically still in the throes of the winter season. Keeping with our ongoing theme, we wanted to offer some tips on tree and shrub care during the winter in preparation for the spring, which might be upon us sooner than we think!


February is the time to prune most trees, shrubs and woody ornamentals such as Hydrangeas, Crape Myrtles, Butterfly Bushes, Roses and fruit trees. If your trees or shrubs are supposed to bloom in the spring, late winter is not the time to prune them. This time period is for trees and shrubs that bloom in the summer and early fall.
For plants that bloom in the spring, prune them after they bloom.

When pruning your trees and shrubs, make sure that you are cleaning up the wreckage as you go- especially in the case of the Camellia. Camellia plants are susceptible to a fungal disease called Camellia blight. Camellia blight causes the flowers of the shrub to brown and fall off prematurely. If your Camellia appears to be infected, you need to make sure the fallen infected blooms are picked up and destroyed away from the plant to help rehabilitation.

Another issue that trees and shrubs might face during winter is damage from inclement weather. If any of your plants experienced damage from ice or wind, you should prune the damaged area so that your tree or shrub doesn’t continue to grow with a dying limb or branch. The dryness of the winter season also contributes to your plants’ susceptibility to breakage. Making sure that your evergreens and young planted trees and shrubs stay hydrated during the driest part of the winter helps to defend against breakage and keeps them healthy through the most difficult season of the year.

As you prepare for spring and begin to think about your mulching needs, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. When you’re mulching, especially a tree trunk, you don’t want to pile the mulch in a ‘volcano effect.’ Keep the mulch 3-6 inches away from the trunk. Better yet, if you don't want to deal with the hassle of mulching, take advantage of our February deal. Make an appointment to have us mulch your planters before March 1 and you will receive 10% off materials!
We at TPS Landscaping felt our customers’ pain during last fall. The dry weather made it almost impossible to keep any lawn or garden looking healthy. Western North Carolina natives felt the immense drought especially during the North Carolina wildfires. We wanted to provide a way to help our customers with all of their gardening and lawn maintenance needs. That is why we have decided to begin offering irrigation systems and installation this year. These systems make sure that the plants you’ve dedicated your time to remain healthy even through a dry spell. And for a limited time with every purchase of an irrigation system, we will include a free winterization of your lawn for next winter!

Just because it is winter, doesn’t mean that you should stop caring for your lawn. Some people spend all spring and summer perfectly manicuring their grass only to completely forgo any care during the colder months, don’t make that mistake. There are three tips we give concerning lawncare in the winter—they are as follows.

FERTILIZE 

Fertilize fescue lawns in February with one pound of Nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. Fescue grass is a huge draw as a cool season grass because it is relatively low maintenance. It requires less watering, mowing and fertilizer as a whole, making it cost efficient and environmentally friendly. That being said,you should not neglect your fescue grass just because it doesn’t always require the same amount of care as other, more temperamental grasses. Our recommendation of Nitrogen as fertilizer is a once a year treatment to help keep your fescue grass healthy. Additionally, you can use the process of over-seeding your fescue grass in early spring to help repair areas that have started to thin.


WEED 

Make sure you’re keeping an eye out for cool season weeds. Some of these weeds include Chickweed, Hairy Bittercress and Henbit. If you spot any of these varieties of weeds on your lawn you can remove them by pulling or through the use of a broadleaf herbicide. There are some ways you can identify these weeds in your lawn. The first is to become familiar with different types of weeds that flourish in the Western North Carolina weather.Chickweed is typically is common in new lawns. Henbit and Hairy Bittercress are both weeds that love moist soil, so melting snow is the perfect environment for them to grow healthily. The most important thing to remember when it comes to winter weeds is that information is the best ammunition. Being knowledgeable about how to identify each weed and the best way to treat it is all even the best green thumb can do.


MAINTAIN

During the winter, make sure you don’t forget about all of your trusty gardening equipment that has been so reliable throughout the warmer months of the year. The winter is a great time to replace or repair worn equipment such as your lawn mower blade. This is the one time of the year when you can focus on getting the blade sharpened or replaced if it is damaged. That same tip goes for all of your lawn equipment. Make sure your Weed Eater and Leaf Blower are still functioning. The winter is the perfect time to reevaluate the quality of your equipment so you aren’t out of luck when the spring rolls in.