At Next-Door Contractors we strive to educate our customers in ways they can improve their lawn and landscape’s vitality. Here we have assembled a collection of advice that we have given over the years that focuses on one of the most crucial factors to having a beautiful lawn and landscape, general routine maintenance. We will break down our recommended lawn & garden maintenance routine into four parts:
Time – It takes time to implement these crucial steps and time is demanded from you in order to achieve your ultimate goal.
Basic to do’s – Keep your lawn mowed on a consistent basis. Through the growing season your lawn should be mowed every seven days. In the off season, we recommend that you mow your lawn on a monthly basis. Leave your clippings on your lawn as much as possible. Keep your blades sharp. St. Augustine should be mowed approximately 2.5 inches and most Bermuda lawns around 1 to 1.5 inches.
Fertilization and Insect Treatment – At Next-Door Contractors, we recommend Scott Products. The first step is to determine what type of turf you have and to research your landscape to see if you have broadleaf plant material because there are shrubs and such that can be affected by some of the following applications. Second step is to read the labels carefully before application to insure the proper techniques and requirements for application. Use a broadcast spreader that is made by Scotts. The ratio of application and the recommended settings are easy to understand and use and can be easily performed. You can purchase these products at your local Home Depot or Lowes. Use caution because not all products that are provided by Scotts are to be used on all grasses. Follow watering directions carefully!
- St. Augustine – Early Spring (February – April) use Bonus S, Late Spring (April – June) use Southern Turf Builder Lawn Fertilizer, Summer (June – August) use Turf Builder w/ Summer Guard, and Fall (September – November) use Turf Builder with Winter Guard.
- Bermuda – Early Spring (February – April) use Turf Builder w/ Halts Crabgrass Preventer, Late Spring (April – June) use Turf Builder w/ Plus 2 Weed Control, Summer (June – August) use Turf Builder w/ Plus 2 Weed Control.
*Between applications if needed you can use Southern Turf Builder Lawn Fertilizer 32-0-0 anytime.
Treat your lawn with Triazicide which is made by Spectracide. This will especially help with containing Grubs and Chinch Bugs that can literally kill your lawn and protect your kids from harmful effects of fire ants. Use at the normal rate only every four months and water in thoroughly before allowing pets and kids onto the treated areas.
Watering – Watering is one of the most important factors to maintain your landscape, but is the one that is the most abused. Did you know that your landscape needs water even in the dormant months? This is vitally important because it serves as a shield from major freezing temperatures. Think of it as wearing a heavy coat outside to prevent from frost bite.
Next-Door Contractors highly recommends using the manual setting of your sprinkler system unless you’re gone more than 3 days. You shouldn’t water but every three to four days. You should apply one inch of water per area per week. Take all precautions to prevent runoff which may result in watering in two different cycles each time you water. Most people make the biggest mistake by watering more often and a lesser amount. The key is to water deeply and not shallow to promote deep root development. Try to water early morning to minimize evaporation and the chance of encountering diseases or funguses. Water only as needed.
What are mainly required of you are your diligence, time, and knowledge of what to do. FYI, consistency is the key ingredient to a healthy and vibrant landscape and garden and if it is carefully implemented you will receive the results of your dreams!
Austin and central areas are in Zone 8/9 and under the USDA map we are in Zone 8. Identify each planting and their requirements to help insure their health and beauty.
- N-P-K > Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium …..This is the 3 primary nutrients that a plant must have in order to thrive. It’s also known as the percentage ratio of the fertilizer that you’re going to use. This is vitally important and must be understood in order to properly manage your chemical usage. Nitrogen stimulates the growth and greens up your plant. Phosphorus stimulates root growth. Potassium stimulates flowering and fruiting.
- Broadleaf – it is a non-grassy plant. It commonly is what you see in the late fall, winter, and mainly in the spring. It is usually simple to resolve with the right treatment. It can also be a plant in your landscape and can cause damage if the plant encounters the product that is being used. Examples of some are…..Dandelions, Henbit, Spurge, Dichondra, and Chickweed.
- Grassy Weed – It is a very common factor here in central Texas. It is disruptive to a gardener’s eye if noticed! They can be very invasive and difficult to get rid of because there isn’t a product out on the market to kill it. MSMA was removed and banded from being purchased by all personal and commercial applicators. However, these weeds can be limited by using a pre-emergent on your turf and bed areas. Use caution because not all pre-emergent can be applied to all grasses. Examples of some grassy weeds are…..Crabgrass, Dallisgrass, and cool season Annual Bluegrass.
- Post – emergent – is applied to weeds that are actively growing and have taken root. Use a 2, 4-d product for broadleaf weed treatment.
- Pre-emergent – is highly recommended for a successful weed free lawn! It is not a 100% guarantee, but will limit your problems tremendously. Pre-emergent will kill the weed before it has time to germinate and take root. Once a weed germinates and takes pre-emergent will not work. There is a specific pre-emergent for broadleaf and one for grassy weeds. Use precaution and read labels carefully because some are not for some grasses.
- Annuals – These are plantings that are for a particular season and can give a garden an outburst of color.
- Perennials – are plantings that come back year after year. They look best in their designated beds.
- Evergreens – are shrubs and trees that do not lose their leaves. Their leaves remain the same throughout the year.
- Deciduous – plants that foliate in their growing season and lose their foliage at the end of their growing season.
Fertilization of your seasonal annual plantings:
Reasons for pruning: training purposes, maintain health, restrict growth (w/in reason), to improve its repeated blooming cycles. Remember to keep your pruning tools sharpen!
First rule to pruning starts off before planting even occurs. Be sure that your plants are planted in a desired location so that they can grow in their natural form.
Common factors…..shearing a hedge destroys a plants natural growth and causes foliage drop in the center of the plant.
The best time to prune most of your plants is during the late winter or in the early spring before any new growth occurs.
Keep in mind that there are specific times of the year to prune certain plants, but if you do prune in the wrong time you will not kill you’re planting. Exceptions apply with this rule though and I’ll explain more in detail. However, if you keep improperly pruning a plant you will damage it or cause it to be weak and susceptible to potential problems. Never prune a plant immediately after new growth has developed.
Deciduous plants – generally get pruned immediately following their blooming period. This generally consists of thinning out or cutting a branch off at its originating origin.
Evergreens – allow them to grow in their natural formation and use caution before taking a pair of shears to them. Broadleaf evergreens are different in their approach to pruning. They require VERY little pruning. Remove old and weak stems. Always prune after the last frost date. If your desire is to have rows of hedges they need to be kept formed on a regular basis at the time of planting to accomplish the overall design. Do not allow your plantings to grow the desired height before initially shaping them. This will cause dead areas throughout your hedge.
Pruning vines and groundcovers – prune out the top portion of the plant to encourage inner growth. Keep dead branches cut off. Wait and prune groundcovers until the last frost date has passed. At that time prune back approximately 4 to 6 inches.
Roses – cut them back four weeks prior to the last frost date. Climbing g roses do not get pruned until they have flowering in the early spring.
Mulching – mulch your beds once or twice a year. Next-Door Contractors recommends a fine hardwood shredded mulch or cedar. Apply 2 to 3 inches to help hold moisture levels in soils. However, after a couple of mulching you will need to remove some before adding to prevent pile up in your beds that could cause flooding in bed areas that are close to your foundation line.