The 5 Top Ways to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal

We all want our property to be worth more, and as the years go by and you do remodeling jobs or home improvements, some of these projects add to the value, and others don’t.

The National Association of Realtors recently surveyed their members to ask what items added the most to the perceived curb appeal of the home the buyer was looking at. These are the top 5.

  1. A Lawn Care Program – Seventy five percent of those surveyed said that having a lawn care program to keep the grass green and weed free helped to close the sale. They also stated that with the average cost for a 6 application lawn care program being $330.00 that the return on investment was 303%. Or worth approximately $1,000.00 at the time of the sale

    Lawn Spraying

    Lawn Sspray Technician Making a Lawn Application

  2. An Overall Landscape Upgrade – A front lawn / landscape renovation consisting of an average of adding stonework and a flagstone or paver walkway, at least five flowering shrubs, one large deciduous tree and some stone planters added more than monetary value to the home, but also added Homeowner Bliss. The homeowners surveyed stated that they had the desire to be home more. This type of project is more costly than a simple lawn service, but it was described as “guaranteed to have a full return on investment”. The average renovation costing $4,750.00 and had an average return on investment at sale time of $5,000.00 or 105%
  3. A New Patio – New flagstone or paver patios are not as often recommended as
    paver patio and fire pit

    paver patio with sitting wall and fire pit

    much as landscape renovations, due mainly to the fact that not all homes need a new patio. Those that did install new paver, flagstone or concrete patios say that it increased their enjoyment while being at home. The average cost for adding a patio was $6,400.00 with a return on investment of 102%, or $6,525.00

  4. A New Wood Deck – Only 4% of the realtors surveyed reported that a new wooden deck helped to close the sale, but 77% of homeowners said that it made them
    Treated Deck

    Treated Deck

    happier while at home and made them want to be at home more. This was the most costly of the projects listed, at $9,450.00 but realtors reported it packed the most value punch. The average return on investment was $10,000.00 or 106% of investment recovered.

  5. Landscape Plantings Upgrade – 25% of the realtors reported that adding landscaping greenery (plants, shrubs, and trees) would elevate a simple yard’s curb appeal. On average, their description of adding an upgrade to landscaping plants consisted of adding 25 shrubs, 60 perennials, some natural edging (stone) and adding a boulder accent.
    New landscaping

    New Landscaping

    While each renovation will vary based on the size of property, location, and the current value of the property, there is no doubt that upgrading your home’s landscape plantings will go a long way to improve the curb appeal.

There are lots of ways to improve the curb appeal of your landscape, these are just the top five that the National Association of Realtors survey found the most helpful. Other things can help that are not so costly. Simply pruning the shrubs back to their proper size, mulching and edging the beds, pressure washing the home, driveway and walks, and keeping the lawn mowed will instantly improve the curb appeal.

If you need some help giving your home a curb appeal boost, give us a call for free estimates 731.642.2876


5 Most Common Things That Are Killing Your Grass

1. Mowing too close – Quite often we are called out to take a look at someone’s lawn to diagnose why their grass is dying. And very often the first thing I notice is that the grass will be mowed very, very close. Depending on the type of grass, this could be the culprit for the grass thinning out.

Don't scalp your lawn

Scalping your lawn causes dead grass

If you have a cool season grass like Fescue, Bluegrass, or Ryegrass, these generally need to be cut higher than warm season grasses. I recommend cutting these no lower than 3″, they just look better when mowed taller, and will usually hang in through the Summer months a little better if cut at that height.

Many times people will say something like, “I cut it way down there low, so I don’t have to mow as often”. Mission accomplished!! Mowing cool season grasses that low will stunt them or plain old kill them. Do your cool season grass lawn a favor and cut it up higher, I promise it will look better, and survive longer!

Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass and other warm season grasses can be cut much lower and they will thrive. It’s actually better for this type of grass to be mowed 2″ or lower. Golf courses, football fields, baseball fields and soccer fields are routinely seeded, sodded or sprigged with warm season grasses like Zoysia or Bermuda. They are usually cut 2″ or lower, sometimes as low as 3/8″ on golf courses. Some golf greens are Bermuda, they are cut lower than 3/8″.

So, if you don’t know what type of grass you have, find out, then start mowing it at the recommended height for that type of grass in your area of the US.

2. Moisture Stress – Fescue lawns in the South need water. They will tell you when they are thirsty if you know what to look for. The grass will start turning a lighter shade of green, and then the blades will start wilting, shriveling up and the grass canopy starts to get thinner and thinner until the majority of the grass plants go dormant.

Wilting Fescue Grass Lawn

Fescue Grass beginning to show signs of moisture stress

Most cool season grasses are going to require more water/rainfall than warm season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede and other similar grasses. The nature of warm season grasses is that they grow best in warm or hot climates and temperatures, so part of their biology is that they will grow better and survive better with less watering or rainfall.

If you start to see your own lawn looking like the one in this picture, it’s time to water!

3. Too Much Shade – The warm season grasses we have mentioned already grow best in full sun conditions. Usually, Bermuda or Zoysia and their other cousins will grow up to the shade line, or drip line of a tree and slowly thin out. The grass will essentially show you where it’s limit is on how much sun it needs. So, if you have a Bermuda lawn it’s not going to grow under the trees. As a tree matures that you have planted in the lawn, the bare spot under it is going to be in proportion to the size of the tree.

Too much shade

Areas like this are difficult to grow grass in. These parts of the lawn are best left to landscape beds

Fescue, ryegrass, bluegrass and creeping red fescue will grow in the shade but will suffer from the next problem that arises with grass growing in deep shade. It’s not just the shade, but competition with the trees for water, too many leaves falling on the grass and choking it out and lack of lime and other nutrients that are robbed from the soil by the trees.

Growing grass in the heavy shaded areas of any lawn is usually very difficult, no matter what the type of grass. Many times it’s best to just give up the idea of having grass in these areas and turn them into landscape beds, gravel areas or another option.

4. Fungus or Insects – Lawns that are dying off with no obvious signs to the untrained eye are often dying from a Fungus or insect problem. These problems will usually start killing off grass and before we are called to investigate, the grass has large dead spots all over, which are usually not going to recover without reseeding.

Brown Patch Fungus on Fescue Grass

Brown patch fungus on Fescue grass

For Fescue grasses in the South, one of the biggest problems we have with Fungus is Brown Patch. It will start in a small circle as small as a quarter, and slowly start increasing in size until it has killed out circles of grass 2 to 3 feet in diameter. Then, the homeowner sees the problem and calls us. Fungus can be controlled with applications of fungicide, either as a preventative application before it ever shows up, or as a curative application after it does show up. However, our experience has been that once it gets started and kills off sections of a cool season lawn, that section doesn’t recover during that year and has to be over seeded in the fall.

Insects will start chewing on either the grass stems or roots of grass plants and cause the same type of slow killing off of the grass plants as the Fungus does. Only insect damage is usually not in a circular pattern. It will just be a large section of grass that looks thinner, weak or just overall not as healthy as the rest of the lawn. Army worms are a common problem we have in the South, they will attack both warm season grass and cool season grasses. You might go for several years without having a single army worm in your lawn, then have them invade by the thousands for a few years in a row.

Brown Patch Fungus on Fescue Grass

Brown patch fungus on Fescue grass

army worm damage in a bermuda lawn

Army worm damage in a bermuda lawn

Army Worms in lawn

Army worms invading lawn

Army worms are fairly easy to eliminate, an application of insecticide will do it, sometimes two applications are needed. But the biggest issue is to get the insecticide applied as soon as you see any army worms on the lawn. Waiting even a day or two can give them enough time to do major damage. The picture shown is what army worms look like.

Grub worms are the larva of a common “June Bug” as most people call them. Asian beetles are another common name. They grow in the ground and will eat  the roots of plants, but that’s not the only damage caused by them. Moles will start running through the lawn looking for them and do major damage to the lawn by tearing up the turf, cutting ruts in the lawn and killing lots of grass.

 

An insecticide application will also control them but needs to be done at two times of the year when the grubs are at the closest to the surface of the lawn. The insecticide does a much better job of killing them at this point.

Another good idea is to do some mole control at the same time that you do the insect application. Moles will do so much damage to a lawn at times that it looks like someone has taken a roto-tiller to the lawn.

5. Improper Applications of Fertilizer/Insecticide/Herbicides – We will get called several times a year to diagnose another problem, we call it killing the lawn with kindness. Or in other words, the homeowner has decided to make applications of fertilizer, insecticides or herbicides to the lawn, but didn’t read the directions.

lawn damaged by too much fertilizer

Fertilizer damage to a lawn

All bags or bottles of any pesticide will have the directions for proper use and application rates on the label. Please read the label first before applying any product to your lawn. At the least, you could damage your own lawn. At worst, you could kill grass in your neighbor’s lawn, the ditch in front of your house, or worse yet would be if you have a pond or other waterway on the downhill side of your lawn. You could kill fish or even pets with an improper pesticide application.

You will also need to know the size of your lawn or property either in square feet or acres, and know how to determine that number. Without this number it is impossible to make a proper application of any pesticide. If you don’t have the proper equipment to apply the pesticide with, you are best off to call a professional to do this for you. It could be cheaper and easier for you and your health.

Gifts for the Gardener in Your Life-the 12 Days of Christmas

Are you trying to think of something great for the gardener/lawn and landscape fanatic in your life? It’s an easy bet that getting them something to help them do the hobby they love will be loved as well. So, what to get? We have scoured the Lawn and Garden sections of Amazon, and these are some of the must hmust-have, best sellers for someone that loves gardening, lawn care, landscaping, and outdoor living in general. Take a look, for more information on each item, just click on the picture.

How about solar powered Christmas lights? No extension cords to run, no fuss, easy setup.  LED String Lights Solar Christmas Lights 39ft 100 LED 8 Modes Ambiance lighting for Outdoor Patio Lawn Landscape Fairy Garden Home Wedding Holiday waterproof Colored lights


Help them be Patriotic, with a new flag and pole mount. American Flag 3×5 ft. Tough-Tex the Strongest, Longest Lasting Flag by Annin Flagmakers, 100% Made in USA with Sewn Stripes, Embroidered Stars and Brass Grommets. 


A set of “retro” looking patio lights. Spring and Summer will be back before you know it, be ready to enjoy your lawn and patio with some cool looking lights.
Hyperikon Weatherproof String Lights with 15 Dropped Sockets, 2W LED S14 Bulbs included, 48ft, Linkable – Durable Decoration for Party, Event, Patio, Backyard, Garden, Café, Holiday


Everybody needs work gloves, here is a new kind that are comfortable and bright, so you don’t lose them. Bamboo Gardening & Work Gloves (2 Pairs) Ultra-Premium Quality for Men & Women. Breathable to Keep Hands Dry & Textured Grip to Reduce Slipping by Kamojo


Zeka got you worried? Get your own mosquito fogger. Powered by a propane bottle, these will fog your entire lawn in minutes. We have used them for years around our greenhouses and garden center. Burgess 1443 Propane Insect Fogger for Fast and Effective Mosquito Control in Your Yard


Need a place to hide all of those lawn and garden tools out of sight? Beautiful Most Popular Top Seller Large Capacity 99-Gallon Weather Water Proof Indoor Outdoor Deck Pool Patio Laundry Linen Lightweight Portable Patio Storage Basket Bench Box Container Mocha Brown


Keep your flag lit up at night with this solar powered light. Solar Powered FLAG Pole Light LED Mount No Wiring Illuminate Bright Top Selling Item


Every serious gardener or landscaper has a pair of hand pruners. Gardening Shears- Razor Sharp Blades Perfect for Cutting Bushes,Shrubs & Hedges-8″ SK5 Steel Ergonomic Bypass Pruning Shears/Garden Shears


Solar powered mosquito killers, no electricity or cords required, a great idea for any patio. Solar LED Outdoor Mosquito Killer Lamp Larger Bug Zapper Light, Whole Night Protection


Patio umbrellas don’t seem to last too long. They either fade and tear due to sun exposure, or get blown across the lawn and get torn. Here is a replacement, with solar lights underneath it.


Everybody needs a little red wagon! Helpful for everything from hauling fertilizer, weed killer, tools, potting soil, plants or anything you need to carry out into your lawn and landscape. Outdoor Wagon All Terrain Pulling w/ Wood Railing Air Tires


A solar powered, (no electricity needed, put it anywhere) LED, motion sensored flood light. Extremely handy to put where it’s dark and you need light at night walking to the house or the garage.

These are just 12 items that are extremely useful and top sellers for gardeners, landscapers and lawn care enthusiasts. Do you know of an extremely handy tool or lawn and landscape item? Post it below in the comments, we will pass it on.

OH, I almost forgot, any lawn care enthusiast can use our book Establish a 1st Class Lawn Like a Pro, download it free from 11/24/2016 through 11/29/2016

Happy gardening in 2017!

Leaf Removal: Necessary or Not?

With the arrival of Fall comes the inevitable blizzard of leaves. These leaves cause lots of work, but also can cause damage to your lawn. So should you rake them, vacuum them, mulch them up, what’s the best option?

Fall Leaves

The Leaves of Fall, Pretty to Look at, Harmful to Your grass

What is best to do will depend on how many leaves you have, what type of grass you have, and even where you live.

If you just have light leaf cover over the grass, simply keep mowing them and mulch them up, if you have a larger lawn. Or, if you have a small lawn, you might just rake them up. That would ultimately be best for the lawn. The less leaf litter that works its way into the lawn, the better.

If you have a larger lawn that would be difficult to rake, or if it’s just more work than you want to get into, I would put some mulching blades on the mower and just keep mowing weekly. It’s important to keep doing it weekly and not let an entire blanket of leaves get built up on the lawn before you mulch them. Too many leaves on the ground makes it much more difficult to mulch them.

deep leaf litter

Deep leaf litter on lawn

If you have a lawn sweeper or vacuum either of these would be ideal. No leave litter at all on the lawn would be best. That way you don’t have the additional drain on the nutrients in the lawn from the decomposing leaf litter.

Leaves that are left on the lawn, mulched up, will find their way into the surface and begin decomposing. The process of decomposing requires nitrogen, so while the leaves are doing their thing decomposing, they are robbing the grass and soil of fertilizer that you are putting down, stealing a little bit of green from the grass. If you are going to mulch up your leaves, that’s OK, if there isn’t too many, just put down a little extra fertilizer.

Mulching leaves with a mower

Leaves being mulched with a mulching blade on the mower

Leaves steal Lime too. One of the first nutrients to leach out of the soil is lime. Even without a heavy leaf load, the heavy clay soils we have in our area of West TN will require regular lime applications to keep them stable. Adding leaf litter to the mix will only make the problem worse.

Your grass type will factor into your decision whether to remove the leaves too. Fescue, Ryegrass, and Bluegrass are cool season grasses and are more tender than Bermuda and Zoysia. These warm season grasses are going to be growing in lawns without too many trees anyway since they don’t grow well in the shade. Fescue and other cool season grasses will die out much easier than Bermuda or Zoysia from leaves being on them. Bermuda and Zoysia won’t be affected much from leaves being on the ground because those grasses are dormant when leaves are falling. So leaves on warms season grasses are not as big of an issue. But the lawn always looks much better if it’s kept clean.

The cool season grasses need to be kept leaf free, as much as they can. If the leaves are left on the grass long enough, they will mat together and form a blanket over the grass and choke the grass out. These leaves matted together is similar to you taking a big blue tarp out and laying it out on the lawn. Both will have the same results.

Regardless of what method you choose to handle the leaf drop, it’s important to take care of them, otherwise, all your work you have put in throughout the year creating a great looking lawn might be for nothing.

Fall is Bulb Planting Time – For Some Varieties

Flowers from bulbs can make a very beautiful bed, or can be a royal pain in the A**! Things have to be just right or the mountain of bulbs that you chose from a pile of catalogs, and finally ordered in the middle of Summer, will wind up being a waste of time and money.

Daffodils Blooming

Daffodils blooming in a mass planting landscape bed.

Often, 100’s of bulbs are planted in a bed, then you wait patiently for next Spring to see your bounty, and…..nothing, or very little bulb activity and lots of disappointment.

Bulbs are a little different than planting fresh live Spring Bedding plants. They are planted in Fall, for Spring bloomers, or in the Summer for Fall Bloomers, or planted in Spring for Summer bloomers. Live bedding plants are bought as a growing baby flower and planted to grow through the Spring, Summer and into Fall until the first frost.

Bulbs also like a well-drained soil, rich in organic matter. So that means in soil that doesn’t stay saturated with water and isn’t mostly clay. In our area of West TN, that means we have to amend the soil with organic material, mulch, potting soil, compost, or some other organic material that has completely decomposed.

Using a “green” material, (organic material that hasn’t completely decomposed) will cause more problems for your bed than good, so don’t use piles of fresh sawdust, wood chips, or fresh mulch that isn’t already very decomposed. As these materials go through the process of decomposing, they actually use nitrogen from the soil for their own use, and will create heat in the process. This is where the term “it’s too hot” comes from, when referring to mulching materials.

compost

Fresh compost from a home composter

Use only bagged goods that have already reached decomposition, or compost that has reached complete decomposition. Till the soil in these beds that bulbs will be planted in, using shovels or power equipment, if you have enough room. Till the soil first, then pour the amendments on the soil, till again to mix into the soil. Then plant.

Some common questions, and the answers to them are the following, from three bulb wholesale operations. If you need to know how to grow something, go to the source, someone who has been doing it for years. These three account for a major portion of the annual bulb sales in the US each year.

How can I keep daffodils blooming as perennials for a lot of years?

Plant them in full sun in well drained soil.

Before planting, add compost to the soil and top dress with more compost each fall. The addition of organic matter keeps the soil healthy and enables the bulbs to absorb the nutrients they need in addition to the nutrients acquired through photosynthesis.

Wait to cut the leaves when they begin to turn yellow when the photosynthesis is finished, which usually happens about 8 to 12 weeks after they finish blooming.

Keep artificial irrigation away from the area during the bulb’s summer dormancy. Hot weather makes the soil warm; adding water to warm soil around dormant bulbs can cause some to rot.

I have a garden that I want to continue blooming during the growing season, from spring through fall. How can I accomplish this?

Plant in layers:

  • Tulips, lilies, large alliums, camassia – 10 inches deep
  • Daffodils, Hyacinthus, Hyacinthoides, Leucojum, Muscari – 6 inches deep
  • Crocus, Anemones, Ipheion, Chionodoxa, Scilla – 3 inches deep

Plant companions on top of the bulbs; don’t worry, the bulbs will work their way around them.

  • Hemerocallis, Echinacea, Monarda, Phlox, Achillea, Asclepias, ornamental grasses – full sun
  • Lobelia, Thermopsis, groundcovers like Vinca minor, Ajuga, Lamium – part shade
  • Add long blooming annuals “under the arms” of the perennials in early summer.
  • Portulaca, marigolds, petunias – full sun
  • Geranium, Osteospermum – part shade
  • Begonia, caladium, coleus – shade
Fall bulb planting schedule

Fall Bulb Planting Schedule

Layering the bulbs, planting perennial companions in the same bed and adding long-blooming annuals for the summer will ensure a colorful garden for most of the growing season.

What are some flower bulbs for my spring garden. I haven’t worked with flower bulbs before and I don’t know where to start. What should I do?

We’d suggest that you map out the garden beds, and determine the color palette and general ambiance you would like for the garden: Is it more formal or informal? We usually recommend planting 80 percent of the garden with perennial flower bulbs and 20 percent with tulips and hyacinths, which will need to be planted each fall. Tulips and hyacinths have the broadest rainbow of colors available, and by replanting them every fall, you can keep the garden’s look fresh and exciting by changing their colors.

The primary perennial flower bulbs to include are narcissi, allium, fritillaria, lilies and herbaceous peonies, all of which may be planted either in clusters for a more orderly look or in drifts for a more natural look. Finally, finesse the garden with plantings of smaller bulbs like Muscari, Scilla, Chionodoxa and Anemone blanda. Tip: To help keep clients really happy, plant a cutting garden with varieties for the future and bring them spring preview bouquets before placing their fall bulb orders.

I want flower bulbs in our woods, and want them to look like they’ve always been there. I’ve only ever planted tulips before and we have major deer issues. Are there any other bulbs that I can use?

There is a whole range of deer and rodent-resistant naturalizing flower bulbs that can be planted in drifts to sparkle in woodlands from early to late spring. In early spring, Eranthis hyemalis, the winter aconite, adorns forest floors with 4-inch-tall, bright yellow flowers, while Galanthus, the snowdrop, charms us with 6-inch-tall milky-white flowers. One of the most prolifically planted woodland dwellers is the Narcissus, usually planted in loose groups with no apparent design. Hyacinthoides non-scripta, the English bluebell, yields breathtaking seas of 18-inchtall, shimmering violet-blue flowers. Scilla, Erythronium pagoda, Geranium tuberosum and Ornithogalum nutans Silver Bells are also lovely planted in seemingly haphazard drifts. Camassia, a northwest U.S. native, is perfect in irregular drifts in the dappled sunlight of the edge of woods. In just a few years, any of these flower bulbs will appear as if they are age-old woodland inhabitants.

bulb planting depth

How deep should bulbs be planted?

Also, be sure to plant your bulbs at the proper depth. Some are deep planted, while others are to be barely covered with soil, the difference can be having a bare bed or having one that is covered with beauty.

We have a house still under construction. There is only fill where the gardens are going to be. We don’t have the go-ahead on foundation plantings, but want something in bloom next spring. What can we do?

This first phase should focus on laying out only the bare minimum, mandatory beds around the foundation of the front of the house. The soil must be amended so that these beds have good neutral pH garden soil, close to a sandy loam, with reliable drainage. Determine the square footage and the color palette pleasing to the homeowners. Select earlier blooming tulip bulbs and hyacinth bulbs that will create a prominent, yet economical, display, but that can be treated as annuals. You’ll need about five bulbs per square foot for a somewhat dense planting. When the flowers start to die back in the spring, they can be removed, bulb and all, so that work may proceed with any hardscape, foundation plantings and other beds.

We have serious animal issues — both deer and rodents. What are my options?

Flower bulb eating squirrel

A bulb eating squirrel

Deer and rodents can wreak havoc on bulbs, as they can on any other type of ornamental plant. The strategies for dealing with these uninvited guests:

Plant bulbs that animals can’t or prefer not to eat. This is the easiest and most affordable option. It also means telling your client that she can’t have tulips or crocuses. So what can she have? Daffodils, first and foremost. All daffodils are toxic to mammals and will not be eaten. The same applies to other members of the amaryllis family: snowdrops (Galanthus) and snowflakes (Leucojum). Beyond that, there is a small group of bulbs that deer and rodents may sample but generally avoid: crown imperials (Fritillaria imperialis), glory of the snow (Chionodoxa) and winter aconite (Eranthis), among them. Deer and rodents don’t necessarily have the same taste in bulbs. Deer, for example, steer clear of the ornamental onions (Allium), but rodents have been known to eat the bulbs.

Bulb beds can be rewarding, or as we said, dissappointing. Do your homework, choose the right variety, get soil amendments in the bed, plant, and be patient.

Too big of a job for you? Give us a call LawnMasters can take care of hauling the soil, amendments, bed prep, planting and let you do the waiting.

Your Choice in Variety of Liriope Could Haunt You

Liriope (monkey grass) is a very common landscape plant all across the US. It is generally used as an accent plant or a border plant, but many times is used in a mass planting under trees or on hillsides that are difficult to maintain.

It’s very important to choose the right variety for each purpose because different varieties have different growth habits. The picture below shows a variety of Mondo grass that the homeowner planted in a strip along the driveway and sidewalk maybe 15 years ago. Now it has grown out from the concrete 6 to 10 feet in places. They thought it would stay in a clump.

mondo grass taking over a lawn

Mondo grass that has spread out of it’s original space into the lawn

This Liriope is commonly called Mondo grass,Ophiopogon japonicus.  There is another variety closely related to this one that is Dwarf Mondo. Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nanus’

These liriopes are dark green in color, no variegation and are hardy in zones 6-11.

These are best suited in locations where their crawling growth habit is not a problem. Remember that they spread by sending out an underground shoot, or rhizome, which will surface a few inches away starting a new plant and new roots.

As you can tell by these pictures, they will take over a lawn choking out the original turfgrass. This section of mondo grass is so thick that weeds will barely grow in it. If you have an area on a hill, under trees or any area where regular turf grass won’t grow, but you don’t want to have shrubs in those areas, this may be a good choice.

mondo-grass2

Mondo grass spreading over a front lawn. It used to be right against the driveway, but over the years has taken over.

The regular mondo grass will grow to a height of approximately 8″ to 10″. The dwarf variety will only reach 2″ to 3″. The two can be used in closely related areas of the landscape for a contrast in size and texture.

This type of mass planting can be an inexpensive way to cover up wide areas of a landscape to reduce maintenance and mulching expenses later as the landscape matures. Once the bed grows in full, weeds are not much of a problem. Keep the area fertilized and weed control granules applied during the grow-in period. You can find more information on weed control in the beds on our website here.

One of the most commonly used liriopes is “variegated Lilly turf” or Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’. It is a variety that will stay in it’s assigned space when planted and will not crawl. It also has a pretty purple/blue bloom that is a bonus throughout the Summer.

varigated liriope, monkey grass

Variegated liriope or variegated monkey grass is one of the most commonly used border plants/accent plants in landscaping.

This variety is commonly used as a border plant, lined up along the edge of the landscape bed, often running alongside a driveway, walkway or other hardscapes. It can also be used in the middle of a landscape as an accent plant. It will not crawl but will get larger and thicker as it matures. It can be used as a mass planting however, large landscape beds look very nice when an evenly spaced planting of variegated liriope is planted over a hillside, slope or other areas that require reduced maintenance.

There are hundreds of varieties of liriope available from growers across the United States, many can be ordered online and will arrive in a box with moist paper wrapped around it. The plants will be smaller, maybe plug size up to 2 to 4 inch containers, depending on the grower. These can be purchased for anywhere from .20 cents to $1 each, again, depending on the size.

Compare that to $6 to $8 dollars a pot for a mature 1 gallon pot, you can save yourself thousands on larger landscape projects where as many as hundreds of pots, or even thousands, could be needed.

We often say that if you have more patience than money, buy small and keep them fertilized, watered, mulched and weeded, and you will have a full bed within a couple of years. If you are impatient and have the money, by all means, write the check and plant the big plant!

Black Mondo Grass / Lilly Turf

Black Mondo Grass

The Black Mondo Grass in the picture to left, is an interesting choice as it’s not used as often and can provide a striking contrast in color and texture for a change.

In addition to the look of the plant, as you choose what color, height and spread of the plant, also look at the rest of the horticulture information on the plants you are buying. Just because the plant is only 4″ tall right now doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way, or that it will stay in it’s planted spot.

Many times a year we receive calls from customers who have let their landscapes get out of control from lack of pruning, or just simply planting the wrong plant in the wrong location.

Average homeowners don’t have a lot of landscaping knowledge and often choose a plant based on simply what it looks like in the nursery or garden center, and not based on its horticultural specifications. We routinely cut out, pull out or otherwise remove overgrown plants that were poorly chosen. In the long run, this was wasted money.

Try to resist impulse buying while in the garden center, if something catches your eye and you would like to have it, think about where it will grow best in your landscape based on its size, growth habit, mature height and spread, color, foliage habits, sun requirements, and even water requirements.

If you’re not sure if it will work or not, you might want to go home and look at the location and consider all of the possibilities of having that plant, in that location. Choosing the wrong plant can come back to haunt you later.

For more information about lawn care and landscaping tips, check our website. For a free landscaping estimate or lawn care analysis and estimate, give our office a call at 731.642.2876 or at 888.664.LAWN

Segmental Retaining Walls-Not for Beginners

8" segmental retaining wall block walls

A set of tiered retaining walls with landscape beds behind them

Segmental Retaining Walls (SRW’s) are concrete block retaining walls that use a complicated system of gravity, wall setback, geogrid, proper drainage, compacted base gravel foundation, and other factors to complete a structurally sound, efficient and very appealing retaining wall for commercial or residential purposes.

These walls are difficult to build, requiring lots of labor, lots of equipment, and lots of knowledge to properly build one. Trusting your property to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge, and any combination of the other things can put your investment and property at risk. These walls are quite expensive to build, and if one of them comes down due to improper construction, it could cost you twice as much to have it cleaned up and rebuilt.

 

Small Retaining Wall Block, Too small for the job

This pile of small landscaping blocks is all that’s left of an 8′ tall retaining wall a contractor “thought” he was going to build with them. Needless to say, the wall didn’t survive, it never even made it to completion before it fell

SRW’s are on the average more expensive than a poured concrete wall, that has not been faced with brick or stone but have a much better appearance, having several textures and colors available.

Most of the time, they are built with no concrete foundation, using a compacted base gravel instead, this allows the foundation and the block to move slightly with any frost heaves or movement from hydraulic pressure from ground water. Most poured retaining walls will crack at some point, SRW’s will not crack since they are not mortared together.

Retaining walls can make use of previously unusable land you may have on your property. They can take a steep slope and turn it into several level areas that can then be used for landscape beds, turfgrass, or flower beds. They will add value to your property, in some cases partially or completely paying for themselves in increased property value.

These structural walls can be built at the shore level on most lake properties as a sea wall alleviating erosion and gaining usable land behind the wall once it is backfilled. They can be built virtually unlimited in height, with the right conditions and materials.

Sea Wall on Kentucky Lake

This wall we built on Kentucky Lake to level this property, gain usable land and allow the summer water level to splash against the wall.

LawnMasters Lawn and Landscape has been building these walls for 26 years, we have the experience, knowledge and equipment to build any type of SRW on your property, commercial or residential.

If you need an estimate or a second opinion on how to construct a wall on your property or what type of wall to construct, we are happy to assist. Just contact us and we will take a look and give you a free lawn and landscape analysis for your needs.

Lots of homeowners and quite a few contractors think that any block that you can stack up that has a lip or another method of creating “set back” can be used to easily build a wall. After all, all you do is stack them up, right? Nope….. This is where the situation starts going bad.

Having the knowledge of which block should be used, what type of base foundation, how many feet of geogrid for stablilization, and how many layers of it, how much drainage gravel, etc. all combine to equal what it takes to be able to build a wall properly. This post is primarily a warning to property owners to ask questions of the person or Company that is giving you a retaining wall estimate or proposal.

Things to ask:

  • How long have you been building SRW’s
  • Where are some you can go look at
  • What type/size block would you recommend for this job
  • How much Geogrid will be used
  • Explain how you will address the drainage issues around the retaining wall
  • What will be done at the finish grade to address drainage on top of the wall, to prevent water from running over and down the face of the wall
  • Does your price include excavation and removal of spill
  • Will you provide a stamped engineered drawing of the project
  • What is your warranty for the wall

These are all items that you should ask and get an answer for, that you understand. A structural retaining wall is as important as the foundation under your house and should be given the same professional attention.

Do you have retaining wall questions or issues? Contact us at 888.664.LAWN or email us here EMAIL US

Winterize Your Irrigation System to Prevent Damage

Winter is going to be here before you know it, now is the time to plan for winterizing your sprinkler system (irrigation system). Most irrigation systems will retain a small amount of water in the lateral lines, even if you have automatic drain back valves installed. And the valve boxes are all

irrigation system automatic drain back valve

An automatic drain back valve in an irrigation system. It helps to eliminate water from standing in the system

susceptible to freezing because they are exposed to the elements except for a thin plastic lid. If a valve freezes and breaks, it is usually an expensive repair.

 

Winterizing your system is usually going to require having the installer, or a qualified Landscape Professional, that has knowledge about the operation of an irrigation system, pumps that pump out of the lake for water source, and all of the different timers, valves and related systems that make up an irrigation system, to do it for you. A properly installed irrigation system is quite complex and needs the expertise of someone that has done it for years to service it for you.

LawnMasters has been installing and maintaining irrigation systems for 26 years. One of the first systems we installed was on Kentucky Lake for a nice lady who had recently lost her husband. He had started building an irrigation system, but passed away before he could complete it.

We completed the system for her in 1990, and it is still being used today.

Winterizing an irrigation system involves hooking an air compressor up to the system, utilizing a couple of different options, then charging the system with air pressure to blow the water out of the system.

Winterizing an irrigation system

An irrigation head blowing out any water in the line during winterization

Two problems can surface during this action, one is the system can be damaged if too much air pressure is applied to it. Or second, the system can still be damaged by freezing water if all of the water is not purged from the system. Again, knowledge is king when servicing a system that costs thousands to install.

Once we have the system winterized, we turn it off and put it to bed for the season, ready to be started when needed in Spring, protecting your valuable irrigation system and your investment.

When Spring comes, the system should be ready to just turn on the water, adjust your automatic timer and let it take off again.

When should you have your irrigation system winterized? It depends on what part of the US you are in, when your expected first freeze will be, and if you are doing Fall seeding.

Obviously, the farther North you are, the sooner you will have to winterize your system, an easy rule is to have it done prior to the expected date of your first freeze. If you are done using your system for the year, go ahead and schedule to have it done, or do it yourself if you are able. There is no benefit in waiting, and, if you wait until the last minute before the first expected freeze, you may not be able to get on the schedule to get it done in time.

New Sod, Irrigating

New Sod Being Watered

If you are doing some Fall overseeding, aeration and seeding or have installed sod, you may need to wait until the last minute. Still, if you are planning on waiting right up until the last day or so before freeze is expected, go ahead and call to get on the winterizing schedule and you can still get it done.

The first freeze usually isn’t the killer freeze that damages a lot of water pipes. The first time it freezes, the ground is still above freezing and the temps usually don’t drop that far below freezing, and most components will not freeze.

But after the ground gets cold enough, and the daytime temps stop getting warm enough to keep the ground warm, a moderate freeze can do major damage to the system.

If you have the knowledge and equipment, you can winterize your irrigation system yourself. If you don’t, or you’re not quite sure how to go about it, give us a call, it’s not that expensive and can save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills come Spring time.

If you need help with winterizing your system, you can contact us a number of ways

Call us at 731.642.2876 or 888.664.LAWN

Email us

Or stop in and see us at 124 Whitlock Rd., Puryear, TN.

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