Keep Your Grass Healthy This Winter: 4 Simple Ways To Winterize Your Lawn

Like all things, the season of winter has some pros and cons. For example, we’ll be able to build snowmen and have snowball fights, but we’ll also have to shovel our doorsteps and sidewalks. For our lawns, we’ll inevitably miss some green grass and sun and, instead, see browner, sparser lawns. But what you do now still contributes to the health and beauty of your lawn in the spring. For this reason, it is extremely important to protect and maintain your lawn even in the winter. Thankfully, the steps to winterize your lawn are pretty simple.

Spread Fertilizer and Cool-Weather Grass Seed

The first and most important step to winterizing your lawn is to apply ample fertilizer. We suggest using a spreader, as it will allow you to spread the fertilizer as evenly as possible. Use only the recommended amount as too much fertilizer can burn your grass. Then, scatter cool-weather or cool-season grass seed on your lawn, preferably with the same spreader you used for the fertilizer.

Aerate Your Lawn

The next step is to aerate your lawn. This comes with many benefits, such as improved air circulation between the soil and atmosphere, greater fertilizer uptake, and reduced soil compaction. You can use a spike aerator, which uses spikes to poke holes into the ground. The other option is a plug aerator, which removes small plugs of soil from your lawn. If you have a large lawn, consider contacting a professional contractor, like Giovine Landscaping, to quickly and effectively help you with this.

Clean It Up

Before severe snow hits, be sure to clean up your lawn. Leaving things like leaves, debris, or toys on the lawn make it susceptible to disease and could smother the grass. Poor conditions like these invite pests like insects and mice.

Cut Your Grass A Little Shorter

Grass that is excessively long can smother itself and cause disease. It can be particularly troublesome if you experience a late freeze or an uncharacteristic thaw. These weather conditions can cause a freeze-thaw cycle, which exposes your lawn and plants to damage. When there is an isolated rise or drop in the temperatures that is followed by regular temperatures, your garden will experience a freeze, followed by a thaw, as explained by the United States Golf Association. The thaw falsely signals to plants that temperatures are warming and spring is near. If plants do begin to bud and bloom, they will become exposed to damage from the cold. Although we certainly cannot control the weather, trimming our grass a little shorter for the winter is a good idea. However, be sure to avoid cutting it too short, which will expose the crown to extreme weather.

Winterize Your Lawn: It’s Worth It

It may sound a bit troublesome to winterize your lawn, but we are sure that you’ll be grateful for having fully prepared your grass to brace the cold weather. We encourage you to take a weekend to prepare your lawn or reach out to a local company to help you take care of it. Then simply sit back and spend the rest of your winter without worrying about your lawn.

What is Lawn Dethatching and Why Do I Need To Do It?

We bet that you didn’t know about all the work required to upkeep a beautiful lawn until you had your own lawn to take care of. We understand that not everyone is an expert on grass and turf. If you’ve never heard of the term dethatching before, or you’ve heard of it but have no idea what that means, read on to find out if lawn dethatching is in your future lawn-care plans.

So What Is Lawn Dethatching?

In order to answer this question, we first need to explain what thatch is. You may think of thatch as that quaint material that old English cottage roofs are made of.

Cottages with thatched roofs after lawn dethatching.
Thatched cottages at Cadgwith Cove, Cornwall, England

However, you don’t have to live in the English countryside to have thatch. Thatch can be found in anyone’s lawn anywhere in the world. Over time, tiny bits of grass die and accumulate on the soil. This forms the basis of thatch. It is a layer of living and dead stems, roots, and crowns right above the soil surface. If you take a look at your lawn, thatch will look like browned grass stems matted together.

In moderation, thatch is actually beneficial for your lawn. As reported by the Penn State Department of Plant Science, less than ½ inch of thatch helps to insulate your lawn from extreme weather, protect weed seeds from reaching the soil and taking root, and help the soil retain moisture.

However, any thicker and thatch will act as a foe against the health of your lawn. Excessive thatch increases the risk for pests and diseases to thrive. Not only does it reduce the ability of fungicides and insecticides to penetrate the soil, but it also reduces the amount of moisture and oxygen that can reach roots.

How Can I Tell If I Need Dethatching?

There are multiple ways to tell if thatch has built up on your lawn. First, upon walking on your lawn, you will notice that it is spongy. When you try to stick your fingers (or a screwdriver) into the soil, you will find it difficult to do so. Lastly, you will see that water will run off the grass rather than penetrate it.

If you’ve noticed any of these signs, or a combination of multiple, your property is in need of lawn dethatching.

How Do I Dethatch My Lawn?

Generally, there are two ways to dethatch lawns. The first is to use a dethatching rake, which will rip the layer right out of your lawn. By hand, you must dig deep into your lawn and pull upwards to loosen the thatch apart. When doing this, the thatch should be visible. Your lawn will look visibly ragged after this and will need to be cleaned up.

If you have a large lawn, you can consider the second method, which uses a power dethatcher. You can rent this tool from a rental agency, which should supply you with instructions. Dethatchers are heavy, and you may need not only a truck but also (at least) one spare pair of hands for loading and unloading. When using the dethatcher, you must also be careful to use it in a pattern that covers the grass only once.

Given that the process of lawn dethatching is time-consuming, technical, and physically taxing, it’s no wonder that thousands of homeowners choose to hire a professional agency to take care of the job. If you choose to opt for this alternative, make sure you choose a reputable landscaping company, like Giovine Landscaping Inc., to help you achieve a healthy, flourishing lawn. Don’t let thatch get in your way.

Everything You Need To Know About Your Lawn

For better or for worse, the first thing we see when looking at a home is its lawn. Before we even get to step inside and admire the interior, our first impression forms right as we walk up to the front door. In order to keep your property looking its best, regular lawn fertilization is a necessity.

How Does a Well-Maintained Lawn Affect Your Home’s Curb Appeal?

For a relatively insignificant cost, proper and professional care of your lawn will bring you high returns. A beautiful home exterior tells potential buyers, neighbors, and passersby that your home’s interior is equally appealing. For potential buyers, a well-maintained lawn means fewer initial costs coming out of their pocket, which drives up the desirability of your home. An attractive lawn even benefits your neighborhood as a whole and increases its marketability. Trust us, your neighbors will be thanking you.

How Do I Take Care Of My Lawn?

The key to maintaining a lush, green lawn is regular fertilization. Most existing nutrients in lawns are water-soluble and will be diluted and washed away over time. Sometimes, soil might not naturally produce the necessary nutrients for a healthy, full, and even lawn. This increases its vulnerability to stressors such as extreme weather, disease, weeds, and pests. Your lawn can be left with uneven discoloration, browning grass, and overall patchiness. This is no way to make a first impression!

When Should I Fertilize My Yard?

If you live in the areas of Essex, Morris, and Union Counties in New Jersey, chances are that your lawn has cool-season grass. This type of grass typically remains green all year round and grows throughout the year, except during mid- and late-winter. Fertilization is recommended twice a year, once in early spring and a second time during the fall, around October and November.

Why Is Lawn Fertilization Tricky to do on Your Own?

Although there are online resources on DIY lawn fertilization, this is a job that should be left for professionals. According to research from the Division of Agriculture in the Department of Arkansas, there are many factors to consider in turfgrass maintenance. Firstly, you must have your soil’s pH level tested and the soil type identified. The pH levels contribute directly to grass health and nutrient uptake, and can indicate a mineral deficiency. Improper pH levels result in ineffective use of fertilizer, as well as increased pest problems.

It is crucial to have your unique landscape evaluated by certified professionals before anything is applied to your lawn. On top of that, you must accurately calibrate the spread of your fertilizer based on a careful measurement of your lawn. Application of nitrogen requires precise timing and vary by turf species.

All in all, a healthy and proper lawn fertilization is no easy task. We strongly advise leaving this in the hands of experts and professionals. If you want to keep your valuable property in its best shape, the team at Giovine Landscaping Inc. can help. We provide unparalleled service and pride ourselves in our precision and professionalism!

Top 5 Benefits of Having a Fire Pit

Fire pits have increased in popularity all over the country. A 2016 survey performed by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) ranked fire pits as the number one outdoor design element requested by consumers. But fire pits are not just another trend cruising on by with no intrinsic value. Having a fire pit in your yard actually brings you several benefits, which makes it a worthwhile, pretty affordable (depending on the kind of fire pit you choose, of course) investment. Below are five real, tangible benefits of having a fire pit aside from just, “it’s cool.” (Which it is!)

Keeps mosquitos away.

Say what? An outdoor activity that DOESN’T include getting devoured by mosquitos? It turns out that mosquitoes don’t like smoke, and if you plant a few bug-repelling plants or light some citronella candles around your fire, you’re even more protected.

A bigger barbecue.

You can literally cook any type of food on a fire pit, and your cooking area is bigger than on a barbecue. Just place a grill on top and get those steaks sizzling. Burgers and hot dogs are a given, but you can use a frying pan and make eggs, pancakes, and grilled cheese, too. For a real family tradition, whip up some Rocky Mountain Toast (cut a hole in a slice of bread, crack an egg into it, and fry it on the skillet. Tastes delicious with some campfire smokeyness to it!). Experiment with different kinds of wood to infuse different flavors into your food.

Family quality time.

I’ll amend that–family quality time away from the TV. For thousands of years, humankind has gathered around the fire to socialize, tell stories, and connect. It’s hard these days to entice the kids-and adults!–away from the ever-beckoning television, especially in the era of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. But it’s in our blood to enjoy sitting around the fire, so light up your fire pit and gather your family together for some cozy, quality time making memories that will last forever.

Reduces blood pressure.

Wait. Seriously? Yes! A University of Alabama study done by Christopher Dana Lynn showed that just 15 minutes sitting in front of the fire caused both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of participants to go down by several points. According to Lynn, evolution may be the reason we relax when listening to a crackling fire. Being able to destress and clear your head actually helped with survival in the days of the cavemen, and that’s pretty much still true today. Stress is a killer, literally.

Increases home value.

With the former four benefits, of course it increases your home’s value. Fire pits are in demand and they extend the living space of your house, which makes your overall property more desirable.

At Giovine Landscaping, we are happy to build the fire pit of your dreams! We have been providing year-round landscaping services to families and businesses for over 30 years.  

We work closely with our clients to get to know their family, their needs, and their outdoor space, and we make sure all our clients end up with a final product they love!