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How to Get Your Free Lawn Care Schedule

You notice those great looking lawns in your neighborhood?  Green and Thick.  Hardly ever any weeds.  No grub problems.  So what’s their secret?  Well it’s a lot easier than you think.  Over the years I have found it boils down to putting down a few applications each year of the right stuff at the right time.

So here’s a way to get a specific guide (or program or plan) for your lawn.  Just click this link and answer a few questions to get your personalized lawn feeding schedule that not only builds a thicker, greener lawn; but also helps prevent problems along the way.  Recommendations are based on your type of grass and your neighborhood (zip code).  And if you have questions during the year, Scotts lawn consultants are a click or phone call away.

The right product at the right time is important to building a thick, sturdy lawn without wasting money on unneeded applications. (click photo to enlarge)

The right product at the right time is important to building a thick, sturdy lawn without wasting money on unneeded applications. (click photo to enlarge)

 

Lawn Moss Control Reminder

A rolling stone may gather no moss, but the lawns in the Pacific Northwest or in parts of the country with lawns that stay mostly moist and shady sure do.  Moss love the kind of weather many folks are experiencing this year.  Left alone, moss will spread and take over your entire lawn.  You can’t change your climate or conditions, but you can stop the moss in your lawn this season.  (For those of you trying to encourage a “moss lawn” in areas where it is just too shady for grass, here is a link to info that you may find helpful.)

Once you kill the moss, plant shade resistant grasses and feed your lawn regularly to encourage thicker grass.

Once you kill the moss, plant shade resistant grasses and feed your lawn regularly to encourage thicker grass.

Scotts has a range of liquid and granular moss killers.  For those of you in the Pacific Northwest, Scotts Turf Builder with Moss Control is a good choice.  It kills moss quickly and gives your lawn a deep Turf Builder feeding – to help your grass thicken and fill in the patches where the moss used to be.  The granules will not harm a blade of your good grass and you can put down new grass seed once your moss is dead.  For many other areas you can kill moss with Scotts Moss Control Granules or Scotts 3 in 1 Moss Control Ready-Spray.

Moss can also thrive in acid soil (although I have also seen it grow in an alkaline soil with low fertility).  A soil test will tell you if your soil is too acid (has a low pH) and could use some lime.  Moss is not necessarily a sign of needing lime so a soil test is really the first step to figure out if lime is needed.  To help you find a soil test lab in your state, you can do an internet search using these key words:  soil testing lab, along with the name of your state.

Regular feedings during the year will help raise your soil fertility and encourage healthy grass to crowd out additional moss from growing.

Why Are Some Lawns Brown in Winter While Others Are Green?

This question arises for those of you located in areas that can grow both Northern and Southern Grasses.  Turf experts call these areas the “transition zone”.  You can tell if you are in the transition zone if some lawns in your neighborhood are brown (dormant) this time of year and some remain green in winter (especially if you fed your lawn a couple of times in fall).

Winter dormant Bermuda on the left and a blend of Fescue/Kentucky Bluegrass on the right

Winter dormant Bermuda on the left and a blend of Fescue/Kentucky Bluegrass on the right (click photo to enlarge)

Northern Grasses (like Bluegrass, Fescue and Ryegrass)

  • Stay green all winter, especially with a couple of fall feedings.
  • Can grow in sunny areas and can tolerate a fair amount of shade.
  • Healthiest growth with 4 or 5 feedings a year during spring and fall when daytime high temps are below the 90’s.
  • Grass height should be around 2-1/2 to 4 inches after mowing.
  • New grass seed can be planted in early spring and early fall.

Southern Grasses (like Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bahia and Centipede)

  • These lawns are brown in the winter when they go dormant (except in very southern areas).
  • Grow best in full sun, however St. Augustine and Zoysia have some tolerance for shade.
  • Feed 4 or 5 times a year. Spread the first feeding when you are starting to see about 50% green up in early spring from the winter brown color. Then feed every two months through the end of September.  Centipede lawns do best with 2 or 3 feedings a year.
  • Grass height should be (after mowing): Bermuda ½ to 2 inches, Zoysia ¾ to 2 inches, St. Augustine and Bahia 2 to 4 inches, and Centipede 1 to 3 inches.
  • Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede and Bahia can be seeded in late spring. St. Augustine needs to be sprigged or sodded.

If you want to figure out what kind of lawn you have, click here to go to Scotts easy to use grass type identifier.  This tool uses your zip code to narrow down the kind of lawns that grow in your area with descriptions and pictures.

California Drought – What Now?

Now that there has been some drought relief the question becomes what now.  I lived in California back in the 70’s during a serious drought so my heart has gone out to all of you over the past 6 years who want to garden AND do your part to conserve water.  Since there will always be a rainy and dry season in California, it still makes sense to reinvent your yard to conserve water.  The New Normal may mean rethinking your yard or even re-imagining and reinventing it.  Whichever direction sparks your imagination, here’s a link to 7 ways you can help make your yard a water-stingy natural wonderland.

New grass growth from dormant grass after a drought.  This is a good time to feed your grass, especially if you are beginning to see rain return or are able to water

New grass growth from dormant grass after a drought. This is a good time to feed your grass some Turf Builder Lawn Food, especially if you are beginning to see rain return or are able to water

When to Apply Your Crabgrass Preventer in the South and West

Last year’s crabgrass is dead and gone after any heavy frosts over the past few months.  The seeds those plants left behind practically everywhere will germinate as your soil warms up.  The good news is you can stop them from growing by putting down a Scotts Halts barrier that prevents them from geminating.  Even if you live in parts of the deep south and southern California where heavy frosts do not occur, you can prevent new crabgrass plants from growing from seed in your soil.

The big question:  When to apply?  Experts say crabgrass germination starts when your soil temperature reaches 55 degrees for several days.  Here is a link to a soil temperature tracking map that provides you up to date soil temps for your area.  It is better to get your preventer down too early than too late.

Crabgrass seedlings about a week after germination.  Crabgrass gets its name because it sprawls from a central root low across the ground. It can become a problem quickly because it is able to grow vigorously in hot, dry conditions choking out your good grass. Before dying in the fall, a single weed can distribute thousands of seeds which will be ready to germinate in spring.

Crabgrass seedlings about a week after germination. Crabgrass gets its name because it sprawls from a central root low across the ground. It can become a problem quickly because it is able to grow vigorously in hot, dry conditions choking out your good grass. Before dying in the fall, a single weed can distribute thousands of seeds which will be ready to germinate in spring.

Some areas of the country have been warmer than normal and some areas colder than normal so far this winter.  In a typical year this is the timing guidelines for those of you living in areas where it is important to spread your preventer over the next several weeks:

For Florida:  Apply by Mid-February.   If you have dormant (brown-looking) Bermudagrass, Zoysia or Centipede grass you should use Scotts HALTS  without the Turf Builder.  If you have St. Augustinegrass you should use Scotts Halts now and then feed your lawn later with Scotts Bonus S Weed and Feed.

For other Mid-South States:  Apply by March 1.  If you have dormant (brown-looking) Bermudagrass, Zoysia or Centipede grass you should use Scotts HALTS without the Turf Builder.  If you have Fescue, use Scotts Turf Builder with Halts.

For Texas:  Apply by March 1 in South Texas, by March 15 in rest of the state.  If you have dormant (brown-looking) Bermudagrass, Zoysia or Centipede grass you should use Scotts HALTS without the Turf Builder.  If you have St. Augustinegrass you should use Scotts Halts now and then feed your lawn later with Scotts Bonus S Weed and Feed.

For California:  Apply by March 1 in Southern California and by March 15 in Northern California.  Use Scotts Turf Builder with Halts.

Great Time to Discover Plants with Winter Interest

Several of our plants are showing their stuff during this splash of warm weather we are having right now.  This makes me appreciate that we took the time to discover plants that provide seasonal interest during winter.

Here are four low-care plants that we enjoy this time of year.   I say low-care because the only thing we do is give them a feeding in spring and mid-summer with Osmocote Plant Food.

Visit your local public garden or garden center to discover plants with winter interest that will thrive in your area.

Hellebores, also known as Lenten Rose, bloom during late winter and are totally deer resistant. (click photo to enlarge)

Hellebores, also known as Lenten Rose, bloom during late winter and are totally deer resistant. (click photo to enlarge)

Witch Hazel plants bloom prior to the foliage showing up.

Witch Hazel plants bloom prior to the foliage showing up. (click photo to enlarge)

The red bark of Paper Bark Maple really stands out during winter when the foliage is off the tree.

The red bark of Paper Bark Maple really stands out during winter when the foliage is off the tree. (click photo to enlarge)

Winterberries (a type of Holly) will need a male plant nearby to maximize fruits on the female plant

Winterberries (a type of Holly) will need a male plant nearby to maximize fruits on the female plant (click photo to enlarge)

The Easiest Way to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Buildings are so well insulated these days it is like we live and work in sealed boxes!  You can’t even open the windows in some office buildings.  And many folks don’t even open the windows of their homes from one season to the next.  The downside is a silent form of air pollution.  Some items in our homes release fumes.  The paneling and carpeting in our home, and even our clothing, release formaldehyde and other chemicals.  Cooking odors and byproducts, cleaning products, along with the carbon dioxide we breathe out are all contributors to less than ideal air quality.

The good news is that we can improve our indoor air quality simply by bringing the outdoors indoors.  Many common plants absorb dangerous chemicals into their leaves, turning them into new growth while putting oxygen back into the air.  For example:  Philodendron and Ficus leaves remove the nicotine from tobacco smoke, and either store it in the leaves, or break it down into harmless compounds.  Just about all plants take in the carbon dioxide we breathe out while adding oxygen back into our air.

My wife Rita has a knack for taking care of house plants (as you can tell from these pictures).  She buys them small, pots them in Miracle-Gro Potting Mix and feeds them with Osmocote.  She likes to repot into the next larger pot each spring.  She suggests that if you are buying house plants this time of year, pick a warmer day and protect them as much as possible from extreme cold when transporting them home.  Place them in a location with good light that does not receive blowing hot, dry air from a heating vent.  Allow the soil to dry in between watering.  Don’t allow water to stand in the saucer after your plant has drained.

Hope we have inspired you to improve your indoor air quality with plants.  Your local garden center has a great selection of both plants and pots this time of year.

Rita selected this Philodendron for its unusual foliage

Rita selected this Philodendron for its unusual foliage

Rita grew this fern from a tiny plant in two years.

Rita grew this fern from a tiny plant in two years.

Rita grew this Variegated Ficus from a 10 inch plant to one that is now over 6 feet tall.  It survived our move from Ohio to Georgia three years ago.

Rita grew this Variegated Ficus from a 10 inch plant to one that is now over 6 feet tall.

This Dracaena has been a very fast grower.  In two years it has grown from 1 foot tall to 4 feet now.

This Dracaena has been a very fast grower. In two years it has grown from 1 foot tall to 4 feet now.