SUBURBAN  GARDENER

Scott Bart

(315) 299-4525

 

Scott@Suburban-Gardener.com

Frequently Asked Questions

This section of our web site will answer questions that we commonly hear from our clients. We welcome any and all inquiries from our visitors but you might find an instant answer to your question listed here.

I am aware that a landscape is the overall appearance of a lawn or garden. However, what services are considered to be in the realm of landscaping?

In general, any additions or improvements made to a home's exterior grounds are considered to be landscaping projects. Most people think of landscaping as any changes made to a lawn or garden surrounding a home. Regardless of the size and shape of an outdoor area, every home owner has a landscape to work with. Landscaping is the art of taking this space and transforming it into a complimentary work of art.

Why should I consider landscaping for my yard or garden?

Even if you are not currently selling your home, it is a well known fact that any landscaping activity can immediately boost the overall value of your property. When you do choose to sell your home, a beautiful landscape can add thousands of dollars to the price. Think of your yard as your home. Would you avoid cleaning the kitchen until you were ready to sell your home? A beautiful landscape around can make living there more enjoyable and promote a positive image to your friends and neighbors.

I've decided that I would like landscaping services but my lawn needs a lot of work. Where should I begin?

One of the first things that landscapers do when landscaping a yard is work with trees. A common problem for most home owners is a large amount of branches threatening to fall and damage their house. After clearing all of the large, dead branches from over the yard, you might find that the additional sunlight immediately adds a new appearance to your yard, as well as protecting what is likely the largest investment that many people make.

Do I really need a professional to handle my landscaping?

While we would certainly love for you to try our services, some projects can be completed at home in only a few short hours. Deciding whether or not to hire a professional generally comes down to personal taste and the size of the project. You can save a great deal of money on very small projects, however, by consulting with a professional for 30 minutes or an hour. If you feel like you do not have enough time, patience or creativity to handle your landscaping, a professional might be the right choice. However, if you look forward to starting a new lawn project, you might decide to handle many of the tasks yourself.

I want to do my own landscaping, lawn care or gardening. Where should I begin?

Start your landscaping project in an area where you feel the most comfortable working. Gather some resources to help you with your project by purchasing books or looking online. You might have a specific design plan in mind that changes once you see what previous landscapers were able to do with a similar area. After you known what you want to do, start by developing a plan. Keep a watchful eye on your yard to see where the dry or sunny spots might be. If you find dry spots, those areas might require a bit more attention. Places in your yard that get a lot of Sun might be great places for new gardens.

I've heard a lot about color theory when choosing plants and flowers. Can I apply this to my landscape?

From a landscapers perspective, color theory is very important. This concept involves mixing and matching colors to create a complimentary piece of art with your yard. Simply put, colors such as red and yellow are warm colors while blues and greens are cool ones. To create the best color scheme in your lawn, try matching warm colors with other warm colors and cool colors in the same way. Warm colors can be exciting while cool colors are often considered to be calming. So, if you are considering designing a garden for meditation, you will likely prefer to stick to cool colors in your fixtures and flowers.

Is fertilizer important?

Lawns require fertilizer to maintain health and vigor. A well fertilized lawn will be better at preventing weed infestation as well as drought and disease. Lawns that are thick and healthy can help the environment to by producing oxygen, filtering and enhancing ground water quality, cooling the air during hot weather, traping and absorbing urban dust and pollution and providing a safer playing surface. It also helps people feel better about themselves and their surrondings. Fertilizers must be applied evenly and at the proper rate to prevent burning or leaving stripes on the lawn. Your Suburban Gardener professional will be happy to help.

Why do I need a professional lawn care company?

One big reason is that you're hiring an expert who can diagnose problems. We can tell you whether or not the problem with your lawn is a disease, an insect or a lack of water, and that can be challenging for you the homeowner to do alone. In addition, when you hire Suburban Gardener, you're buying years of experience in getting the job done right. We can offer our customers this type of commitment because we know we're applying the right amount of the right products at the right time, and do-it-yourselfers can't be sure of that. Plus, putting down the right product at the right rate and at the right time matters with some lawn problems, like crabgrass, and in some areas of the country you may have to apply an herbicide twice to get control. We'll make sure that happens.

Are the products that you use the same as the ones I could buy myself in the store?

There are some good over-the-counter products, and you could probably do 60 percent of what we do very similarly yourself. But we do have some “professional use only” products that you would not have access to, and those products help us with some of the more difficult-to-control weeds or they deliver longer residual disease control than what is available to consumers. But this issue goes back to the previous question – putting down the right product at the right rate. You may have access to the right product, but that depends on you making the proper diagnosis of the problem. So, along with our products, by hiring Suburban Gardener you're also gaining access to our knowledge and expertise. In addition, we are seeing more products taken away from homeowner use, especially in terms of fungicides that help control diseases. As a result, product availability is becoming more restricted.

Why do I need more than one or two visits a year?

Unfortunately, lawn care is not like switching on a light and having the grass stay green all year. Just like people, lawns need continual feeding. There are fertilizers that feed over longer periods of time, but we're accomplishing other things as well with our visits. For example, we want to see if there are any dry spots or weed problems that need to be kept in check. In addition, some weeds appear in the spring while other weeds show up in the fall, and we need to control them all.

What can I do to make my lawn healthier?

Proper watering and mowing are the two biggest issues to be aware of. You need to mow at least once a week during growth periods. When mowing, sharp mower blades are important because rusty or dull blades rip the grass instead of cutting it, providing opportunity for problems like disease to infest the lawn. As for irrigation, you don't want to over water because that will set the grass up for disease problems. At the same time, underwatering stresses the turf and creates opportunities for weeds to grow. Also, make sure the sprinkler system covers the lawn well and irrigates deeply to encourage deep root growth and makes the turf less susceptible to drought. Lastly, as your landscape develops, keep an eye on trees and shrubs and make sure they remain properly pruned or thinned to allow sufficient light to reach the lawn.

How much water does my lawn need?

Your lawn needs 1 to 1-1/2" (3-4cm) of water weekly. Mother nature provides water, but she sometimes needs help. To determine the need for supplemental water, look for these telltale signs of oncoming drought stress:

  • Areas of the lawn especially near concrete or asphalt (sidewalks and driveways), under large trees and on slopes, take on a dark, silvery or smoky blue-green haze. In extreme cases the lawn appears yellowish.
  • Footprints or lawnmower wheel marks don't spring back shortly after they are made.

If your lawn shows symptoms of drought, water it immediately regardless of the time of day. Under normal circumstances, early morning is the best time to water your lawn so that the leaves can dry slowly and naturally without too much evaporation, and instead with most of the water penetrating the soil. Regular, fairly deep watering is better than daily light sprinklings. Deep watering and allowing the lawn to dry out between watering will force the roots to penetrate deeper in search of moisture.

Do I need weed control?

Weeds compete with desirable lawn grasses for water, space, light and nutrients. They are very aggressive and can take over a lawn if not kept in check. It is when this type of imbalance occurs that many customers request help from Suburban Gardener Professionals. Before this happens, a preventive approach to controlling weeds is recommended. It includes regular fertilization, proper mowing and correct watering practices. Weeds can also be controlled through digging or hand pulling. This method is much more labor intensive and is not always effective since many weeds can reproduce through vegetative parts if they are not entirely dug out.

Is it better to aerify or dethatch my lawn? What is the best time? I have a lot of thatch. How often should I aerate/dethatch?

There are a lot of questions here, but here is how we see it. Both dethatching (renovating) and core aeration will help reduce the thatch. Mechanical dethatching / power raking will physically remove some measure of the thatch layer often times producing mountains of organic debris to be disposed of. It provides immediate satisfaction for the homeowner, but will often need to be repeated spring or fall annually to reduce heavily thatched areas. Secondly, it can make some lawns look a bit ragged if their root zones or density is already compromised. We like the benefits of aeration. The thatch reduction is a bit slower, but the task is less physically demanding while not only reducing thatch over time, but also improving the soil condition by opening up the root zone for better rooting and uptake of water and nutrients. The thatch reduction will not be a result of physically removing thatch, but it creates an environment in the thatch layer that increases microbial activity as the soil and the microbes in the soil are redeposited on top and filter into the layer to digest the unwanted thatch. Kentucky bluegrass, bentgrasses, and fine fescues can build up this thatch layer, but perennial ryegrass and tall fescue seldom has a serious thatch accumulation. Aeration and dethatching should be done when the lawn is growing optimally. This means spring or fall for the cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue and summer months for the warm season grasses like bermuda, zoysia, and St. Augustine.