How to Mow Stripes in your Lawn

Have you ever admired the uniform stripes on the field at a baseball game? It’ll take some practice, but with some work you can create your own striped lawn.

The striped effect is achieved when light reflects off of the blades of grass bent in different directions, creating the dark and light patterns. It’s the same effect you’ll notice after running your hand back and forth across a suede jacket or a thick carpet. This is often the result of grass being bent down by the pressure applied by rollers attached to the back of a lawn mower. The pros use reel mowers with multiple rollers.

Mowing stripes into your lawn actually benefits your yard and encourages healthy grass growth. Mowing too often in the same direction can cause taller grass to bend over, shielding other blades from the sun and killing you lawn over time. Not to mention, you could create ugly tire marks from repeatedly mowing in the same pattern.

To get a landscape design worthy of its own baseball league, you’ll need to start with proper care. Green lawns start with proper care. Always use an organic lawn fertilizer or all season lawn food. Harsher, chemical lawn products can be eaten, ingested or passed on to your dog. This exposure has been linked with a higher risk of canine cancer.

Whether you’re mowing stripes or not, a good cut begins with a sharp mower blade. A dull mower blade tears grass and can cause brown spots. So, sharpen your mower blades every fall and spring. Keep the mower blades high (3” or higher) to encourage healthy roots. If your mower blades are too low, you’re scalping the lawn.

Not all grass types will stripe equally. Choose cool-season grasses, such as fescue, for the best stripes.

5 Steps to a Striped Lawn

1. Get the right materials. Check with your local garden center to see if they sell striping kits or purchase one online. Or, use brooms and squeegees to achieve the stripe effect you desire.

2. Plan your pattern. With a little skill and a big vision, you can put your mower to work. The first time you do this, sketch a pattern of what you want your yard to look like to help you visualize it.

3. Keep your mower straight. It’ll help you to mow if you start parallel to a sidewalk to begin with. To continue mowing in a straight pattern, keep your eyes looking 10 feet in front of you while you mow.

4. Make clean turns. At the end of a row, make a Y-shaped turn to reduce the chance of damaging your lawn. Then mow in the opposite direction alongside your previous pass.

5. Take it to the next level. Make your stripes look professional with a lawn roller. Using the lawn roller, roll it across the grass in the same direction you previously mowed.

TIP: Create a checkerboard by mowing your lawn a second time at a 90 degree angle.

Espoma Organic Lawn Food Featured in this Post:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Feed or Not to Feed: Organic Fertilizer Run Down

Just as you need energy to get through your day, your plants do too. And of course, when it comes to family-friendly gardening, organic fertilizer is the way to go!

What is Organic Fertilizer?

Organic fertilizers contain only ingredients from plant, animal or mineral sources.  Examples of these kinds of ingredients are bone meal, kelp meal and greensand.

Why use Organic Fertilizer?

While it is true that all fertilizers ultimately feed nutrients to plants in the same form, it is the process by which they are delivered that makes organic fertilizers superior to others.

Three ways to think about organic fertilizers:

 1. Gardening always starts with the soil. Organic fertilizer “feeds the soil that feeds the plants”. The process by which organic fertilizers deliver their nutrients enhances the fertility and structure of the soil.

Organics are digested by soil microorganisms, which then release the nutrients in a form available to plants. This process produces humus, a spongy material that improves soil structure. When you improve soil structure, the soil is better able to hold the proper balance of water, air and nutrients until they are required by plants.

Plants respond by developing larger root systems. Larger roots support more vigorous top growth and make plants less susceptible to drought. And by stimulating a healthy population of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, plants become more resistant to insects and diseases.

 2. Organic fertilizers will provide slow, steady feeding, as the plants require it. The release process is slow and largely dependent upon three factors: the microbial population in the soil, moisture, and soil temperature.

A healthy population of microbes in the soil is necessary for the digestion process. Moisture is required to sustain microbial life as well as to keep nutrients flowing into the plants root zone. And soil temperature is critical because as it rises, plants require nutrients more rapidly.

Fortunately, microbial activity mimics these requirements and increases as soil temperature rises, so that organics feed the needed nutrients as the plants require them.

Espoma fertilizers are safe for pets, people and the planet.

3. Most of the time, the gardener isn’t the only one in the garden. Organic fertilizers are the safest choice for your plants and the environment.Unlike synthetic plant foods, organics have an extremely low salt index, which means there is little to no risk of burning (dehydrating) plants in periods of extreme drought or when over-applying.

Organic fertilizers are generally very resistant to leaching out of the soil, so their nutrients stay in the root zone until the plants need them. And since most organic ingredients are byproducts from commercial farms and meat processing plants, the utilization of them for feeding plants is really a system of recycling much like composting.

So, when the debate of whether you should fertilize your plants pops in your head remember: organic fertilizer is the right choice for you and your family. Check out our fertilizers here.

Winter is Coming – Frost Preparedness

It may still be warm outside, but that doesn’t mean winter is not going to come bite us in the bud. Frost is coming and it will hit your garden hard if you aren’t prepared.

Be sure to find your first frost date and prep your garden for winter.

What is Frost?

Frost is when the dew you see on your garden turns into ice crystals. This happens when the temperature drops down to 32° F or lower.

Even a light frost can end your garden for the season. This happens when temperatures are between 29-32°. When frost hits a garden that hasn’t been properly prepared, you can say goodbye to heat-loving plants.Winter can be hard on any garden, but many plants can be protected from a light frost and continue to grow until your first hard freeze.

Find your Frost Date.

The easiest way to find your frost date is to type in your zip code into this frost date calculator.

This calculator gives you an idea on when frost will hit first and when you can expect temperatures above freezing in the spring. The percentages on top of the chart explain that you have that much of a chance of having frost for that date. For example, in the Fall 32° row, if you have the date Oct 14 under the 50 percent column, you have a 50 percent chance of 32° on October 14th.

What does this mean for your garden?

Once you know your frost date, it’s time to prepare your garden to preserve what you can.

Prepare. Often times, first frosts are light and followed by some sunshiny days before everything freezes over for good. Cover crops with a blanket or cloth material to keep them warm during this period. Try to avoid plastic as it can freeze and crack. You can also try to hose off your garden first thing in the morning to get any of the excess ice crystals off and warm your plants back up.

Harvest. Remember to harvest as your vegetables continue to ripen. You don’t have to make a mad dash to get all of your vegetables inside, but keep an eye on them. If they stop producing or if a harsh frost is coming, harvest any vegetables on your plants and let them ripen inside. Frost will damage the delicate tissue of fruits and veggies like tomatoes.

Wait. For winter vegetables, such as some squash, pumpkins, and cabbage families, you can wait until after the frost. In fact, some root crops actually have improved flavor after the frost. Check your seed packet or with your local garden center to check which vegetables you can keep outside during a frost.

Feed. Lawns will stop growing when it gets colder. This is great news for you – no more mowing! Give them a fresh dose of Espoma’s Fall Winterizer Lawn Fertilizer to help it withstand the winter’s harsh cold.

When the hard frosts are on the way, it is time to put your garden to bed for the winter.

Grass is always Greener: Different Types of Grass You Should Consider

Guest Post by Brian Rees of Bradley Mowers

Do you ever drive through a neighborhood and check out all the fellow homeowner’s grass? If a lawn is the perfect color and neatly manicured, you can’t help but take notice.

The Importance of Picking the Right Grass
Grass is divided into three types, cool season, warm season and transitional. The success of your lawn will depend on numerous things. The most important thing is planting the right grass for your area or zone. Those that live in the north need cool season grasses, while those that live in the south need warm season varieties. Those that live in the middle can use a transitional grass. Randomly picking a grass based on its color and promises is not wise. You may be purchasing grass that won’t grow in your climate.

Cool Season Grasses
Cool season grasses are for areas that have cold winters and hot summers. They may experience a great deal of rain. These grasses can go for an extended period of time during drought periods. They do this by going dormant. These grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, Rough Bluegrass, Perennial and Annual Ryegrass, Bentgrass and Red Fescue.

Transition Zone Grasses
Between the northern and southern turf regions, there is an area known as the “transition zone.” This area is in the lower elevations of North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Kansas, and Arkansas. In these zones, neither the warm and cool grasses will be successful.

Keep in mind that some of the cool season areas, the Kentucky bluegrass will do well best. In Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia, the Tall Fescue variety work well. Lower elevations do better with warm season grasses. For those that live in the transition zone, they should use Zoysiagrass, Tall Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass, Thermal Blue, and Kentucky Bluegrass.

Warm Season Grasses
Those that live in the south find that growing and maintaining a lawn is a bit more involved than what it is for northern homeowners. Grass selection is much trickier. There are many turfs that will do well when started from plugs or sod, but they don’t do well started from seed. The key element is the soil.

A low maintenance yard in this region must have good soil. When cold temperatures arrive, almost all warm season grasses will lose their color and turn brown. To prevent having a brown yard, some southerners will add Rye-grass to their existing laws to help keep a green hue during the winter. The technical term for this is called “winter overseeding.” Warm season grass varieties include St. Augustine Grass, Zoysiagrass, Centipede, Carpet Grass, Buffalo Grass, Bermuda Grass, and Bahia.

Lawn Care
Establishing new lawns from seed or sod doesn’t have to be difficult. For the lawn to take root, you need to make sure it has plenty of water. This is especially true in warmer climates where the sun will suck the moisture away.

Try Espoma’s Organic Lawn Starter to help nourish the new lawn. The new lawn should be watered frequently until it has been cut at least two times. The ideal cutting height for a new lawn is roughly to about 3 inches tall. After those initial growing phases, regular water methods can resume.

Though it takes a little bit of work at first, having a gorgeous lawn isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes patience, dedication, and knowing the right products to help achieve your desired result.

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Brian Rees is a media relations representative for Bradley Mowers. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, music, and spending time outside.

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.

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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.   

Weed Out Bad Seeds from the Lawn

It’s time to put an end to the weed invasion, for good.

Stop annoying weeds, dandelions and crabgrass from ruining your lawn. They won’t know what hit them, but, you will!

Apply a weed preventer now, in early spring, to stop weeds before they start while greening the grass.

No More Weeds Below: Stop Weed Seeds from Sprouting in the Lawn

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Start your early spring lawn care right. Apply an Organic Weed Preventer now to have more time for organic gardening later.

Tender Offenders. Pre-emergent fertilizers only affect weed seeds, so handpick visible weeds. Compost tip: When composting weeds, discard weed seeds first to prevent germination.

Born to Corn. Espoma’s Organic Weed Preventer is 100 percent corn gluten, which helps your lawn grow faster and greener. Corn gluten also organically prevents weeds from growing roots, according to numerous field trials. That’s right: science shows corn stops weeds.

Say No to Chemicals. When you use an organic weed preventer, there’s no need to worry. You’re growing a Safe Paws lawn, so children and pets can safely walk on the grass. Encourage friends and families to use only organic lawn products, too. Studies found a link between chemical lawn fertilizers and canine cancer.

Spring Fling. Apply Weed Preventer in early spring on a dry, recently mowed established lawn. Instructions here. But don’t do this if you recently seeded the lawn. Corn gluten will stop all seeds from germinating, not just weeds!

Expect to Correct. Greener grass is on the horizon! If this is your first year applying a weed preventer, you’ll see up to 58 percent fewer weeds. In your second year, you’ll see up to 85 percent weed reduction. In year three, you’ll have up to 91 percent fewer weeds, according to Iowa State University research. Plus, you’ll have healthier soil and feel better about what you’re putting into it.

Greener grass and fewer weeds – all while keeping your pets and family safe. Life is g-o-o-d with a Safe Paws lawn.

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.

Live on Lawn! Tips for End of Summer Health

From barbecues and summer parties to gardening and endless games of fetch with your pup, your lawn has endured lots of activity this summer.

But, the summer isn’t over yet and your lawn needs some TLC. Go out with a bang by rejuvenating your lawn and prepping for the cooler season ahead.organic

safe paws espomaHelp Your Lawn Hang On All Winter Long

  1. Know How to Mow. When mowing, keep the mower blades high (3” or higher) to encourage healthy roots.
  2. Agree to Reseed. If all of your lawn looks dry and brown, overseed the whole lawn. If only certain areas look bare, reseed only those spots. First, perform a soil test and improve if needed. Then cut grass and remove clippings. Level and rake soil smooth. With a broadcast spreader, apply a seed that best suits your region and weather. Finally, water.
  3. Prepare with Care. Get your lawn ready for the cooler weather ahead by fortifying it with nutrients. An organic fall winterizer promotes growth, helps lawns recover from drought and increases winter hardiness. So apply an organic fall winterizer after you’ve seeded and mowed. Follow instructions here.
  4. Fido First. Always use an organic lawn fertilizer or winterizer. Harsher, chemical lawn products can be eaten, ingested or passed on to your dog. This exposure has been linked with a higher risk of canine cancer. Keep your dog alive longer by making sure their paws are safe thanks to organic lawn products.

And just like that, you’re done with lawn care for the summer! How are you going to celebrate? We foresee a barbecue with fresh herbs and spicy homegrown peppers.

Fall into Fall. Easy Ways to Transform Garden

Those dog days of summer are hot, hot, hot. But, the end is surely in sight!

Yes, that means cooler weather is on its way. Fall will settle in soon — especially if the “Back to School” ads are any indicator.

Get your garden ready for the coming season. Stick with us, and you could be eating fresh lettuce in October — maybe even November!

Help Your Garden Fall into Fall

  1. Enchant the Plants. Plant fall veggie starts or transplants You can even sow seeds directly into the garden. Choose fast-growing, frost-tolerant plants such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets, carrots, green onions, lettuce and spinach.
  2. Do the Can-Can. If your harvest is maturing faster than you can eat it, store it! There are many ways beyond canning to stockpile your fresh produce for winter. Try making jams or pickles. Freeze raw fruit, veggies or herbs. Make tomato sauce, or slow-roast them.Longfield Gardens
  3. Boost your Keep annual flowers blooming as long as possible! The trick? Apply Espoma Organic’s Flower-tone often!
  4. Ahead with Red. Tomato plants not performing anymore? Or have lackluster leaves? Feed ‘em Tomato-tone to help them pull through until the first frost.
  5. Divide in Stride. Divide and transplant spring-flowering and other dormant perennials. To reduce stress, do so during the coolest part of the day, and don’t skimp on the water!
  6. Finish with Gusto. Deadhead flowers to keep them flowering. Also, keep pinching off those suckers on tomatoes! They can create a heck of a mess later on.
  7. Bury the Bulb. While you’re tidying up, plant those dreamy, spring-blooming flower bulbs.

Ah, the garden will soon be ready for fall. For now, though, the summer sun is still shining! Kick back, relax and enjoy every last drop of summer.