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Five Things To Do Now For a Great Yard

Fall is truly one of the best times to get outside and to accomplish yard work. Summer’s heat has come and gone and your landscape is ready to be worked. Get your lawn in tip-top shape with this simple checklist.

Cross off these tasks from Hick’s Nurseries before winter to ensure your lawn and garden jump back into shape come spring.

Prep Your Lawn for Winter

Start with a soil test.

Test soil now for pH and nutrient levels so you have time to amend before spring. Grab a stainless steel trowel and dig 4” deep. Use either use a DIY soil test or send your soil sample to the county extension office.

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Compost

Rake or collect leaves in a mower with bagging attachment from the lawn and add to compost. Leaves add great nutrients to compost.

Dethatch Lawns

Thatch is the layer of dead grass, roots and debris that accumulates between the soil surface and the grass. Over time, a thick mat forms that hinders water and air from reaching the soil. It can encourage pests and diseases. Use a thatching rake to break up small areas. For larger lawns, use a power dethatcher.

Reseed Bare Spots.

Fall is the best time to reseed tired and stressed lawns. With a broadcast spreader, apply a seed that best suits your region and weather.

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Prepare with Care.

Get your lawn ready for the cooler weather ahead by fortifying it with nutrients. An organic winterizer promotes growth, helps lawns recover from drought and increases winter hardiness. Follow instructions here.

Your lawn is ready for winter and will surely bounce back in spring. Now it’s time to start planning your garden for next year.

About Hicks Nurseries

Hicks Nurseries is Long Island’s largest and oldest garden center. Family owned and operated since 1853, the nursery offers an exceptional selection of indoor and outdoor plants, casual furniture, garden accents, silk flower arrangements, pond and birding supplies as well as complete landscape design services. The Long Island, NY garden center is located at 100 Jericho Turnpike in Westbury; 516-334-0066. Visit our web site at www.HicksNurseries.com.

   

Test And Amend

A soil test measures how acidic or alkaline your soil might be. If your soil has too much of either, plants won’t absorb the nutrients they need. Most plants grow best when the soil pH is in near-neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0, but there are exceptions. Blueberries and potatoes, for example, love acidic soil, so a pH above 7.0 will not make them happy.

With a soil test, the guess work is gone. You’ll know just what your soil needs. So, you’ll add the right amount of lime or sulfur, and you’ll select the best plant food, too.

While fall is for planting, it’s also about for prepping for next season. McDonald’s Garden Center has the scoop on how to on amend soil for healthier, bigger and better crops come spring!

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Test And Amend Soil’s pH:

1. To solve your soil mystery, grab a stainless steel trowel and get diggin’! Dig 6-8” deep if sampling garden soil, or 4” if testing your lawn’s soil.

2. Either DIY it with an easy to use, at-home soil test from your local garden center, or call in the professionals and send your soil sample to the County Extension Office.

3. Fix soil’s acidity and alkalinity in a way that’s good for the planet and your home. Go organic! Espoma soil amendments are 100% natural, safe to use around pets and children, and contain no fillers whatsoever.

4. Apply Espoma Organic Garden Lime to raise the pH of very acidic soil. Poke holes in the soil’s surface and scatter on the lime. Rake lightly into the top inch of soil.

5. Apply Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier to lower the pH of extremely alkaline soil.

6. Compost also helps push the pH of any soil neutral.

7. Wait until spring to test your soil for positive changes.

Want to turn pink hydrangeas blue? Learn how to amend your soil and work magic in the garden.

Grab Your Books for a Lesson in Gardening 101

Going back to school is equal parts nervous jitters and genuine excitement for what could be. Remember what it was like to have a new backpack, a fresh outfit that makes just the right statement and your stack of empty notebooks waiting to be filled?

It feels like anything is possible at this time of year!

Molbak’s Garden + Home is here to help teach you gardening basics. Already an experienced gardener? Now is the time brush up on your lessons.

Espoma’s Gardening School 101

1. Build a Foundation for Success. For a garden to be great, superior soil is a must! Perform a quick soil test, study the results and your garden will be A+ in no time!

soil test

2. Back to School Shopping. Examine your garden equipment to see what should stay — and what needs to go. Look for cracked handles, rust and missing or loose parts. Then, go shopping for replacements.

Plan your garden

3. Get a Whole New Look. A new school year means it’s time to reveal your new look. Do you want to be refined? Edgy? Colorful and bold? Sweet and simple? Define your garden look and do your homework — then start pinning!

Espoma Pinterest

4. Make a Plan for Success. The only way to improve this year’s performance is to analyze the successes and failures of last year’s garden. Your assignment: create a new garden plan.

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5. Meet the Teacher. Hi! It’s a pleasure to see you! At Espoma, we’ve been teaching organic gardening practices since 1929. Comment with questions below, post them to Facebook or tweet us. We’re here to make you the best gardener you can be.

Espoma Facebook6. Sharpen Pencils. Clean and sharpen your garden tools to get them ready for the new season! You can DIY or take them to your local garden center.

Garden tools

7. Find New Friends. Follow us on Facebook and check out our posts to find gardeners who are just as passionate about organic growing as you are.

Garden Party

Patio Party photo by Proven Winners

Throw your cap (or gardening gloves) up in the air! You passed the Back to Gardening School Class! Your garden will thank you for it later!

A Little Lightning Lime Does a Lawn Fine

Refreshing, invigorating and energizing — your lawn loves limes as much as you do!

Lawns also benefit from limestone if their soil pH is too low. Organic Lightning Lime restores patchy areas and helps your lawn get its green glow back.

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Lightning Lime works by correcting soil acidity and adding calcium and magnesium to your soil to help preserve that luscious green color and protect grass from stress caused by heat, drought or traffic. Calcium helps regulate nutrients such as zinc, copper and phosphorus.

Find out if your lawn needs Lightning Lime.

Lawns Like Lightning Lime: How and Why to Apply Lightning Lime in the Lawn

A dash of Lightning Lime can do wonders. It’s one of those organic lawn care tips you’ll wish you always knew!

 The Lawn Stress Test. Perform a soil test to see if your lawn’s soil pH is too low. A low soil pH leads to patchy, yellow spots.

organic lawn care, safe paws, lawn care tips, lawn lime

Lime It or Leave It. Only add Lightning Lime if your soil pH is low. Lawns thrive in soil with a pH between 6 and 7. And if your soil pH is below 5.5, your lawn will suffer since it can’t absorb nutrients properly.

Cool Like a Lime. Only use a pelletized, organic Lightning Lime for a Safe Paws lawn. Espoma’s Lightning Lime contains no hydrated lime, so it’s safe to use around pets and children. And that’s a big deal! Other lawn limes contain hydrated lime, which can be harmful.

Time to Lime! Apply organic Lightning Lime in early spring or fall. See how much Lightning Lime to use here. Then water. Never apply Lightning Lime if the ground is frozen or the grass is wilted.

Wait It Out. This organic lawn care trick takes time to kick in! You’ll see a lusher, greener lawn in a season or two.

You went right to the root of the problem — and solved it! Your lawn thanks you for that revitalizing Lightning Lime. It’ll repay you with lush, green color soon!

The Grass is Always Greener with Lawn Starter

The big reveal. The snow melts, and your grass emerges. But wait a second… are those bare spots?

If you need to repair your lawn this season with seed, early spring is best! Later on, lawn seed won’t survive the summer heat – and you won’t survive that water bill! If you can, wait until fall to seed. That’s when the soil, temperature and sunlight are just right for lawn seed.

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Update old grass and worn-out lawns by reseeding and then encourage strong root systems by feeding it. It’s an easy and quick way to give your lawn the update it needs without starting from scratch.

Can’t bear to stare at those patchy brown spots any longer? Here’s how to reseed successfully in spring.

Hit the Lawn Seed Sweet Spot: Start Seeds with Organic Lawn Starter

 Order Organic. Help lawn seed take root by applying an organic fertilizer made specifically for lawn seed and sod. This used to be impossible to find, but you asked, and we delivered! We made the first and only organic lawn starter. Now you and your pets are free to roam, play and enjoy your Safe Paws lawn. Together, we can keep pets safe with organic lawn care from start to finish.

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Know How to Mow. If overseeding an established lawn, mow grass to at least 3”. This helps grass to develop strong roots.

Smart Seed Start. After you’ve spread lawn seed or sod, apply organic lawn starter. This helps your lawn seed establish faster and grow stronger roots. The secret is in our Organic Lawn Starter’s powerful Bio-tone microbes. Yes, the same Bio-tone you use to strengthen new plants!

The New Rule. Lightly water new grass seed or sod frequently until you’ve mowed it twice. After that, give your lawn 1” of water a week.

Patchy spots be gone. Go on, green lawn it’s your time to shine! And we’ll be here to share more lawn care tips for your new, fabulous organic lawn.   

Paw-lease Petscape the Yard this Spring

“Paw-lease, let us go outside!” your pets seem to be pleading as they flash you their saddest puppy dog eyes.

After spending most of their winter indoors, pets are springing to life – and pawing at the door.

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Before you let your pets frolic outside this spring, petscape and create a safe and pet-friendly outdoor landscape.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Pass on Pesticides. The most important way to keep pets safe outside is to use organic lawn care products. It’s scary to hear, but dogs whose owners applied chemical herbicides were 4.4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer, according to research. Remind your friends and families to grow a Safe Paws lawn. Always.

No-No Cocoa. Skip the cocoa mulch when petscaping. While this mulch is a true beauty, dogs can’t resist its chocolatey smell. As you may have guessed, cocoa mulch is dangerous and toxic to dogs when eaten.

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Flower Power. Curious dogs and cats often want to see what those fragrant, colorful flowers taste like. While some plants are fine for pets to sample, others are poisonous. Before adding another plant or shrub to your garden, check if it’s safe for your pets.

Compost Ghost. While composting is great for the planet, it’s not as great for your pets. As food and garden waste breaks down, mold may grow. So if your pets nibble your compost, they can become sick. Symptoms range from excessive drooling or panting to vomiting and seizures. Keep compost bins closed or out of pets’ reach.

Your pups and kittens will want to play fur-ever in their Safe Paws lawn. So, go what’s the harm of one more game of fetch? You did use organic lawn care products after all!

Step-by-Step: Prep the Garden for Winter

Did you feel that? Jack Frost has flown in for the season. We’ve already felt the first nip of cold weather, which means your garden has, too.

For many, the first frost date arrives in late October or early November.

Help your garden weather the cold this season. Prepare the lawn and garden beds now for an easy, fruitful spring.

Gardening for winter consists mostly of outdoor cleanup, followed by an indoor revival. Cleanup first, though!

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Clip, Drip and Equip the Garden before Winter

  • Discard the Deceased. Compost spent annuals and vegetable plants.
  • Protect Perennials. Water perennials (rose bushes included!) once more. Then, after the ground freezes, cut perennials back to 3”, and remove any dead or diseased cane on roses. Finally, mulch.
  • Create a Clean Slate.Remove weeds from garden beds and then create superb soil. Take the soil test and add organic amendments as needed. After a hard freeze, mulch beds.

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So Long to the Lawn

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Ta-Ta for Now Trees

  • Leave the Leaves. Turn those golden leaves into garden gold by composting them!
  • Bolster the Bark. Feed trees with an organic tree fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Tree-tone for winter sustenance.
  • Stare at the Bare. After the leaves have fallen, examine your tree for weak spots and problems to prevent damage from fallen tree limbs during snow storms.

Your garden’s been put to bed for the winter and will surely sleep soundly. Now, let’s focus on those incredible indoor plants to keep you gardening all winter long.

Host a Haunted Homegrown Halloween Dinner

Round up the whole gang and dress in your best for a spine-chilling, homegrown Halloween meal.

Start by gathering the fruits of your organic fall gardening efforts, or head to your local farmer’s market to see what’s in season.

Boo! Prepare a Spooky and Scrumptious Homegrown Halloween Dinner (Because even goblins and ghouls prefer homegrown on Halloween.)

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Scary Snacks. Cook up a few frightful and finger-licking good snacks.

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Frightening Feast. All the best fall flavors featured in fangtastic dishes.

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Daring Decor. Use organic and recycled material to create eco-friendly Halloween decor.

And don’t forget to Post a Pumpkin. Whether you carve, paint or bedazzle your pumpkin, there is still time to show it off in our “Pumpkin Decorating Contest.”

Talk about a hoot of a Halloween party! Imagine how much fun your friends and family will find this homegrown Halloween garden dinner!

Keep Your Lawn Strong – Even in the Dead Of Winter

If you want a greener lawn in spring, did you know the most important time to organically fertilize your grass is the fall? Most people guess spring!

Learn why a fall fertilizer — or winterizer — is so important and how to correctly apply this organic lawn food.

Winter Lawn Care Essentials: Boost Your Lawn with an Organic Lawn Winterizerwinter lawn care

In the fall and winter, your lawn looks like it’s done growing, but it’s actually flourishing underground. Grass roots are absorbing nutrients so long as the ground isn’t frozen.

Applying a slow-release, organic lawn winterizer supplies your grass with nutrients throughout fall and winter.

A lawn winterizer is simply a food formulated to help your lawn survive winter. Lawn winterizers contain nitrogen to promote thicker, fast-growing grass come spring. This organic, winter fertilizer also possesses potassium to help lawns recover from summer droughts.

In spring, your grass then uses this stored energy to grow greener grass fast — usually by mid-March.

Put Your Lawn to Bed with an Organic Winterizer

  1. Give Your Lawn a Look. Check if you have cool or warm-season grass. Most areas with freezing winters grow cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, ryegrass or fescue. Southern regions have warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, Saint Augustine or Zoysia. Only apply winterizer to cool-season grasses. Warm-season grasses do not get fertilized at this time.
  2. Prime Time. Apply an organic lawn winterizer one week after your final mow of the season. Or if it’s easier to remember, apply around the week of Thanksgiving.
  3. Need to Feed. Spread organic fertilizer onto dry grass. Get step-by-step instructions on applying lawn winterizer here.

Applying a lawn winterizer is like wrapping your lawn up in a cozy blanket and presenting a warm cup of soup.  Your lawn stays warm and well-fed during winter, so it can grow back thicker, greener and faster next spring.

Still looking for more info? Check out our Winter Lawn Care Pinterest board?

See Spot Go. Tricks to Fix Brown Spots in the Lawn

At summer’s end, your lawn may begin to look less than stellar.

If your entire lawn is brown, no need to worry. Your grass has gone dormant, which happens during heat waves with little rain. Your lawn should bounce back as soon as the weather cools and rain returns.

The real problem is those random, pesky brown spots in the lawn. Luckily, there’s treatment.

  1. Pup Clean Up. Dog urine is one of the most common causes of brown spots. These small, round patches appear in areas where your dog does his business. Repair these spots with organic gypsum. To avoid future mishaps, train your dog to go only in a certain section of the lawn.
  2. Brown Bares. Some brown spots are actually soil peeking out through bare spots. Now is the time to reseed your lawn to fix bare spots.
  3. Learn from the Burn. Chemical fertilizers when spilled, overused or incorrectly applied cause lawn burns. Dilute by watering. From now on, stick to organic lawn fertilizers. Organic lawn food is safer for you and your pets and more cost-effective in the lawn-term.
  4. H2O Flow. Check your lawn after watering. If the surface stays wet while the soil remains dry, the watering is too frequent and superficial. To fix, water deeply
  5. That Thatch Patch. A thatch layer of more than 1/2” decaying grass prevents water from getting to living grass roots. Break up the thatch with a rake. Then, apply an organic lawn fertilizer.
  6. Know the Mower. A dull mower blade tears grass, causing brown spots. So, sharpen your mower blades every fall and spring. Also, if your mower blades are too low, you’re scalping the lawn. Avoid more brown spots by never cutting off more than 1/3 of the grass’s current height.

See spot disappear! Those unpleasant brown spots are on their way out! You’re one step closer to a greener, lusher lawn.