Are You Watering Your Lawn Enough?

In our last post, we discussed what all you needed to do to maintain a beautiful, green carpet of grass. While we discussed grass height and other factors, we didn’t get into enough depth on the topic of watering your lawn. Giving your grass the proper amount of water is crucial to the overall health of your lawn and needs to be carefully monitored and controlled for optimal results.

How Much Water Does Your Lawn Need?

Gauging how often you should water your lawn can seem like a guessing game, particularly when rainfall, temperatures and even the type of grass you have all play a part in determining the frequency of watering. There are some general guidelines, however, to keep in mind:

  •  Your lawn should get 1” to 1-1/2” of water every week.
  • Water as early in the morning as you can, particularly on hotter days so that the water can soak down and keep the roots cooler.
  • Avoid watering your lawn in the evening or at night. A damp lawn overnight can lead to problems with fungus or disease
  • You don’t have to water every day. Watering deeply two or three times a week gives better results because it encourages roots to grow more deeply into the soil
  • Are you watering enough? Try this test – you should be able to push a screwdriver six inches into the soil. If you can’t do this, your yard is too dry
  • If you live in a drier climate, water your lawn year round (even if the grass appears to be dead) so that the roots continue to get the moisture they need in order to flourish once spring rolls around
  • Keep in mind that when temperatures soar, your grass can suffer from heat stress and rapid water evaporation, so add an extra inch to your weekly watering routine
  • Fescue grass generally needs more water than other types of grass
  • When the temperature goes up or when there are high winds causing rapid evaporation, consider moving your mower height up slightly so that the grass has more time to soak up the moisture
  • If temperatures remain high (high 90’s or 100’s) for several days, you may want to cool things off by watering lightly each day. The water doesn’t have to penetrate the soil every day; instead, lighter waterings can cool down the surface of the grass. Keep doing the deep waterings in addition to the light waterings
  • 6642830 - cracked earth and green grass. dried ground texture
    If the ground is dry and cracked, it won’t effectively absorb water. Try watering it until there is run-off, then again once the water has soaked into the soil.

Determining How Much Water Your Lawn Gets

You may know that you should be watering 1” to 1-1/2” inches each time you water your lawn, but how do you measure the inches? The easiest method is to get a small, shallow can such as a cat food or tuna can and use it as a makeshift rain gauge. Place the empty can on your lawn whenever you’re watering the grass or have the sprinkler running. You should be able to get a half inch of water in about a half hour.

Signs You Need to Water More

 If you’re watering your lawn and you have water run-off before you reach the 1” point, you aren’t watering often enough. Once you see run-off, turn off the water and give it some time to really soak into the ground, then start watering again. If this happens every time you water, you may have lawn compaction. This is especially prevalent in areas where the soil has a high clay content. Aerating the soil can help. If none of this releaves the problem, your lawn may be suffering from a lack of nutrients or a disease that can be difficult to eradicate. If your grass continues to look stressed or dried out, you may want to consult with a lawn care service. PennTurf can examine your lawn to determine what fertilizers or other treatments would help keep your lawn looking lush and green.

Call Penn Turf at 724-758-3647 or Mr. B’s Lawn Care at 724-752-5551 to get a quote for lawn treatment, grub control or mowing.

 

 

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Maintaining a Beautiful Lawn

Mr. B’s Lawn Service sometimes gets questions from the public about proper lawn care such as how often a residential lawn should be mowed. Because of the variations between types of grass, fluctuating summer temperatures and changes in precipitation throughout the spring and summer, however, the issue is actually more complicated than you realize. There are several factors to consider.

Length

The length of your grass is actually critical when choosing whether or not to mow, so don’t worry about mowing every week or every three days. Instead, take a look at the grass after you’ve mowed. Does it look dried out and brittle after mowing? Is it yellowish in places with a rough, straw-like feel? Then you’re probably cutting your lawn to short, not too often.

She may be mowing her grass to short, leading to dried, yellowing grass.
She may be mowing her grass too short, leading to dried, yellowing grass.

Many people want their lawn to look as lush and green as a golf course, but this isn’t easily achieved because there are so many factors you can’t duplicate. For instance, most golf courses use a particular variety of grass that was developed specifically for softness and water retention even when cut short. These grasses require a lot of watering and fertilization as well, so they are time intensive and costly.

The first time you break out the lawn mower on a warm afternoon, don’t immediately take the blades down to the lowest level. Instead, use the highest setting because you don’t want to shock your newly emerging grass. As the summer progresses, you can slowly move the blade down to the middle setting, but no lower. If your grass starts to look yellow again, simply raise the blade to the next highest setting. For most homes in our area, mowing once a month is sufficient.

Height

The height of your lawn is also a consideration. Generally speaking, a healthy lawn is always growing and so will need regular mowing. If you’re using a good fertilizer and watering regularly, your grass is probably growing rather rapidly and may need to be mowed more often. Many people make the mistake, however, of cutting it too short so that they don’t have to mow as often. This is a mistake because cutting off half or more of the blade will encourage it to yellow quickly. A good rule of thumb is to never cut off more than the top third of the blades of grass.

Watering

One of the most common mistakes people make when they are caring for their lawn is improper watering. They water their grass frequently, but they don’t put enough water on to make a difference. If you water just enough to dampen the ground, you’re actually damaging your grass in the long run because the roots will remain shallow in order to get the water. Instead, water less frequently, but saturate your lawn each time so the water sinks into the earth, encouraging deeper root growth.

Other Factors

There are several other factors besides your mowing schedule that come into play when you want a beautiful lawn. Keep these factors in mind when you’re taking care of your lawn:

  • Keep your lawn mower blades sharp so that they are giving each blade of grass a clean cut. One of the most common causes of a browning or yellowing lawn is mowing with a dull blade that shreds the grass instead of giving each blade a clean cut.

    27299283 - lawn mower blade sharpening
    Sharp blades will give you a cleaner, healthier cut of your grass. The professionals at Mr. B’s Lawn Care can sharpen your lawn mower blades for you.
  • Use a string trimmer or weed whacker sparingly because they tend to wear out quickly and can cause fraying of the grass, which will lead to more water evaporation.
  • During the hottest months of the summer, keep your grass taller so that it can absorb and use more water and stay soft. Longer grass when it is excessively hot out will also help to protect the roots from damage.
  • If you have grubs or other damaging insects in your yard, not even the best mowing and watering schedule will help. Make sure you have your lawn treated at the right time of year for grub control.

All of this yard work can get complicated and time consuming. If you’d like your lawn to look its best, consider outsourcing its care to Mr. B’s Lawn Care, which can evaluate the condition of your lawn, discuss the options with you and draw up a mowing and weed removal schedule that will be ideal for your grass. PennTurf can also help with grub control, fertilization and more. If you would like a quote for your home’s lawn care, call Mr. B’s at 724-752-5551 or visit us online and request a quote.

The Inexpensive Home Improvement Series: A Living Room That’s Livable and Low Cost

Whether you call it the living room, the family room or the den, there’s always one room where the family gathers to watch television, entertain guests or simply relax and talk to each other. It’s a high traffic area that can quickly seem dated or bland through sheer familiarity. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to freshen up your family’s favorite gathering room. There are simple, DIY projects that will give you plenty of comfort and beauty for less than $100.

Skip Traditional Art Work

Have you had the same painting or oversized mirror hanging over your sofa or mantle for ages? Swap them out for something unconventional. You can find gently worn picture frames at any flea market or second hand store and frame anything from old road maps to vintage board games. For a more contemporary feel, put sleek frames around plywood that you’ve painted with chalkboard paint, then write a favorite quote in chalk. Bonus: You can change the quote to reflect the seasons or your mood.

fabric as art
This beautiful wall art is made from remnant fabric over a wood frame.

 

Even remnants can be used as artwork. Upholstery remnants can be stretched over wood frames for textural interest and a bit of color on your walls. Or ask your local decorating store for remnants of discontinued wallpapers. You can mat these in white or black and frame them for a grouping on a wall.

Souvenirs as Décor

If you pick up snow globes, small statues of landmarks or any other tchotchkes when you’re traveling, try grouping them together on one end of a table. They’ll not only look great; they’ll be great conversation starters when entertaining guests.

Freshen Up a Floor

If you have worn, wood floors that you can’t afford to restore, consider painting them. The same goes for wood floors that are simply too dark for the room. A soft shade of pearl gray or a vivid splash of aqua on the floor can set the tone for the whole room. If you’re not sure what color to choose, look around at the furniture and accessories in the room and pull out one of the accent colors to tie everything together.

If you’re feeling highly creative, take it a step farther and add a pattern. Using painter’s tape to give you crisp lines, paint tonal stripes to add interest and camouflage uneven floor boards. Stencils can also help you mimic the bold colors and patterns of an oriental rug without spending a fortune on the real thing.

Visit the Salvage Yard

printing box with letters
This vintage printing box with various letters makes a great industrial art piece.

Architectural salvage yards are chock full of interesting pieces that you can use to add interest to your living room. Oversized signs, old metal lettering or numbers or vintage tools can all be hung on the walls of your living room for a rustic look that will stand the test of time. Don’t forget to look for items that can be repurposed. An old piano bench can become a side table with storage in the seat for magazines and newspapers. Old ceiling medallions can be spruced up with a fresh coat of paint and arranged on a wall as art. Choose colors that coordinate with your living room’s décor but add visual and textural interest. For maximum impact, take the colors of the room and make them bolder and brighter on the medallions or old picture frames.

Repurpose What You Have

Many older homes now have central heating, but once used radiators to heat individual rooms. The radiators now take up space living rooms everywhere. But you can put a simple wooden cap over your otherwise useless radiator to give you display space and a handy spot to put a potted plant. If there is a radiator along the same wall as your sofa, you can easily transform the radiator by putting a cap over it that’s wide enough to double as a sofa table. Put a lamp and a few books on it and no one but you will know what’s hiding underneath.

Get Creative with the Walls

If you have an older home that’s a maze of small rooms, open up the space by taking down a non-loadbearing wall. Let the two rooms flow together, sharing the additional light and space. If you love the idea of a “great room,” but hate the idea of your kids’ toys infringing on your adult space, use a decorative screen to define each space without having the walls seem to close in on you. If you have an alcove that you’d like to use for storing toys, don’t turn it into a closet; instead, hang drapes near ceiling level. You can pull them closed when company is coming to hide the clutter. Then open them when the kids are playing. The curtains will also absorb some sound and soften the lines of the room for a cozy feel.

Custom Curtains on a Tightwad Budget

Custom curtains that are created using colors pulled from your room’s furniture upholstery or wall colors add up in cost quickly because they are unique to your décor and are labor-intensive. To capture the look of custom drapes, choose good quality curtains in a solid color then customize them. It’s simple to sew wide bands of ribbon or strips of fabric onto the curtains or stencil colors on using fabric paint. Consider special touches like braided trim or beading as well, which you can find at any sewing notions store or craft shop.

These decorating tips can quickly turn a tired living room into a gorgeous gathering place your family will fall in love with. Choose one or two to start with and you’ll soon be ready to tackle the rest of your home in your quest for beautiful, inexpensive home improvements.

If you’re in the market for a home in the Ellwood City, PA area, visit Look At My Homes, where you’ll find single family homes and duplexes for rent or purchase. Look At My Homes also offers homes in the surrounding areas, including Ellport, Wampum, Koppel and Trafford, PA.

Dethatching to Improve Your Lawn

 

It’s spring and everyone is busy mowing, trimming, weeding and watering their lawns. Many people also take the time to add weed control and fertilizer to insure a full, green lawn that will continue to thrive until autumn. Despite all this careful lawn grooming, however, many homeowners are disappointed with the results they see because they haven’t bothered to dethatch their lawn. In some cases, they don’t even know what thatch is or they don’t understand how important it is to a healthy lawn.

What Is Thatch?

Thatch is the layer of debris and dead grass that settles on the ground at the base of your lawn. It lies just above the surface of the ground and will tend to build up over time because it decomposes slowly. The good thing about thatch is that a layer of it does help protect the roots of your grass from too much heat. It will help hold moisture in after the rain and protects the delicate blades of new grass as it comes up. The down side of thatch is that it does tend to accumulate over time and needs to be removed every few years to prevent it from choking out healthy grass or harboring bugs, fungi and decreasing oxygen to plant roots.

When Does Thatch Become a Problem?

Thatch does its best work when it is about ¼ to ½ inch thick. If it’s thicker than a half-inch, it can prevent water from getting to the roots of the living grass. It may also restrict healthy air flow and become a damp environment for diseases of the soil and grass.

Try digging up a plug of grass and measuring the thatch to see how thick it is, or ask a lawn care professional (PennTurf specializes in a variety of lawn care options, including dethatching).

Successful Thatch Removal

If your lawn has too much thatch, you may need to invest in a thatch rake or a dethatching machine (most people would have to rent one and learn how to use it). If you’d rather have the experts take care of it, PennTurf and other lawn care professionals can schedule a time to dethatch your lawn for you. Right now is the best time to schedule your lawn’s dethatching. If done in late spring or early summer, the lawn will have plenty of time to heal and develop stronger roots and fill in. The appropriate time for dethatching, however, will depend on the lawn and its condition.

Some lawns may need to be dethatched every year, while others won’t need it that often. It depends largely on how bad the current thatch is, the type of grass on your lawn and weather conditions. You can call Penn Turf at 724-758-3647 to request a free estimate on dethatching your lawn.

The Inexpensive Home Improvement Series: A Stylish Bedroom on the Cheap

Your bedroom should be a retreat where you can relax and settle into a comfortable space at the end of the day, shutting out the noise and activity of your world. It should also be a serene place to become rested and refreshed. But if you’re worried about how much it cost you to decorate it or you’ve left the bedroom unfinished, you won’t be able to fully enjoy it. To help you out, we’ve put together seven great, low-budget ways you can turn your bedroom into a beautiful retreat you’ll enjoy for years.

Change the Linens

This sounds almost too simple, but it’s the fastest way to transform the look of your bedroom and it doesn’t require any physical labor. Crisp, white or ivory linens are the perfect foil for a comforter that has lots of vibrant colors. Conversely, if you have a neutral palette throughout the bedroom, consider using bold, bright linens to add an unexpected pop of color. To tie everything together, purchase a few throw pillows that pull the colors from the linens and tie them into the other colors in your bedroom.

Ground the Bedroom with a Rug

Contrast is key here. If your walls are painted in strong colors such as eggplant or forest green, opt for a bedroom rug that has muted shades so that the room doesn’t seem too oppressive. If you have light, airy colors on the wall, you can choose a bolder, more colorful rug with a strong pattern to ground the room and add color. Be sure to check out second hand shops, where you can often find beautiful rugs with minimal wear at a fraction of the cost of a new rug. Another great option is one of the new outdoor rugs meant for patios; these wear like iron and are less expensive than interior rugs.

Art on the Cheap

Hanging a large painting or print above the bed is a time tested way to add interest, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the same impact. Go for a grouping of smaller prints or artwork clustered together in an interesting pattern. There are lots of places to get beautiful photos or prints for just a few dollars each. When you’re on vacation, keep an eye out for colorful postcards that you can put in matching frames and scatter across the wall. The bonus? Every time you come back from a new vacation destination, you can swap out the pictures.

Another great place to find inexpensive artwork is at museum gift shops. They often sell beautiful notecards featuring various artists on the front. Pick a few that you love and add inexpensive matting and framing for an instant art exhibit. You can also use these in smaller rooms such as the master bathroom because of their more intimate scale.

The Evolution of Wall Decals

When someone suggests putting a Fathead® on the wall, you may instantly think of the oversized decals of football helmets and team logos. While this is where Fathead® got started, today’s wall decals are much more sophisticated and offer you everything from florals to architectural themes. For far less than the cost of wallpapering the entire room, you can scatter colorful decals across your walls in a variety of colors. These beautiful decals will give you the look of a hand-painted mural at a fraction of the cost.

 

 

Faux Headboard or Repurposed Headboard

If you don’t have a headboard for your bed, don’t fret. You can stencil or draw a headboard on the wall behind the bed and paint it in whatever colors you want. Or try repurposing something you already have, such as a paneled door, distressed window shutters or an old window frame. You can clean them up and hang them on the wall with just a few hooks. If you have an old, paned window, you can even tuck some favorite photographs behind the glass for an instant collage frame that does double-duty. Sections of picket fencing and old garden gates also make beautiful headboards.

iron gate as headboard
This old, wrought iron garden gate makes a lovely, vintage headboard.

A headboard doesn’t have to be hard, either. If you have a beautiful quilt that you aren’t using on a bed, hang it on the wall as a headboard. Or if you really want to soften the look of the room, hang a decorative curtain rod near the ceiling and hang plush curtains that will go down to the floor. These will dampen the sound in your bedroom and give the appearance of another window behind your bed. The soft folds of a luxurious fabric will also add romance to the room.

Accent One Wall

Have you always wanted a strong color in your bedroom but been afraid that too much of a good thing will visually shrink or overpower your bedroom? If so, an accent wall is the perfect solution. Choose one wall and paint it in a vivid color that will add drama while coordinating with the other walls’ softer, more muted tones. The same goes for wallpaper – an oversized print or busy pattern may be perfect for an accent wall without drowning out everything else in the room. For great buys, visit paint stores, home improvement stores and local design studios and ask to see their wallpaper remnants and discontinued or returned paints. You can get enough for one wall at a very low price.

You can do any of these inexpensive bedroom upgrades for less than a few hundred dollars, adding drama and comfort to your own, personal retreat.

Still looking for the perfect home for you and your family?  Visit Look At My Homes to see a variety homes of all sizes in the Ellwood City, PA area.