2017 Growing Season Wrap Up

The growing season for 2017 started and ended being rainy. However, the middle was quite dry. Both of these extremes caused some challenges for lawns and landscapes all over.

The spring was wet. It was manageable, but still wet. This helped to green our plants up and helped to keep our water bills lower. It was nice to have the moisture from the spring, because summer was a completely different story.

Summer was dry. It was dusty. It was summer. Many lawns and landscapes suffered if they were not getting any water. Even with sprinklers, the lawns and landscapes still were not getting enough water. This carried on into September. There were a few wet periods mixed in, but overall it was very dry.

This fall was very wet, and was warm to start, then very cool to finish. The warm start slowed down the leaf drop for the year. Once we got a hard frost, the leaves seemed to drop overnight. This created the challenge of picking them up quickly, which the wet weather did not seem to help at all.

What will this coming winter season hold? That is hard to say at this point. There are the seasonal forecasts that are currently out, but those have been wrong in the past, so there is no reason for them to be correct now. So, we will just have to wait and see.

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Thanksgiving 2017

We would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I know that it this coming Thursday, but it is good to be thankful more than just one day a year. It should be an ongoing process to reflect on all of the good that is in our lives.

At Harkes Landscape, we want to thank all of our customers and vendors for another wonderful growing season. We are looking forward to working with you again this coming growing season. And we are grateful that even though the growing season is ending, there is a time of snow that lies ahead.

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Benefits of a Soil Test

If you are having a problem with your lawn, and you just cannot seem to get the grass to be as nice as you want it to be, it may be time for a soil test. This is if you are following all of the other suggested maintenance tasks, like proper mowing, watering, fertilization, and cultural care. Some times everything can be done just right, but the lawn may still be missing something. This is where a soil test can help.

Discovering what is or is not available for your lawn:

A soil test will tell you what elements are in your soil, what the pH of the soil is, and what type of soil it is. Depending on what lab tests the soil, other items may be included, but these are the main areas. The elements in your soil will include the primary macro-nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It will also include the secondary  macro-nutrients like sulfur, magnesium, and calcium. As well as micro-nutrients, like boron, zinc, manganese, iron, copper, molybdenum, and lead. If any of these nutrients listed are not within the normal range, your lawn could be affected.

This will only make things more confusing. If the soil pH is off, these nutrients may or may not be available to the plant even if they are in the soil. The soil type can also play into this. That is why a lab takes a look at the sample and gives a report of their findings.

The good news is that with the report, adjustments can be made to your lawn to help to improve it. Once the adjustments to your lawn are made, its health and appearance should start to improve.

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Too Many Specimen Plants

Going to a nursery, or looking online, or flipping through a book of plants can be fun. At least if you are into that sort of thing. Many times no matter where we are, we are drawn to the showy plants. The ones that stand out. It is just human nature that we are drawn to them. Typically these are specimen plants. However, when planning a landscape, too many specimen plants is not a good thing.

A specimen plant per Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: a plant grown for exhibition or in the open to display its full development as distinguished from one in a border or other planting. They are to be unique. When there are too many specimen plants, it is too busy for the eye. It is good to have interest in your landscape. And it it good to have interest all throughout the year. But having too much at one time is not a good thing. A specimen is meant to be unique and the star of the show.

You need some “basic” plants incorporated into your landscape. What this will do is help to make the specimen plants pop out more. These “basic” plants are called foundation plants. Typically they do not do much more than be green and in the background. They may have a season when there is something nice about them. Overall they not the show of the landscape. But they play a key role in making the specimen plant stand out even more.

Planning a landscape can be a daunting task. But doing your research on the plants you want, and knowing what they are going to do will help to create a well rounded landscape that is not too busy.

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Fall Fertilizer

Out of all of the fertilizers, it would seem like fall fertilizer application is the least important. The growing season is shortly coming to a close. The growth rate on the grass is slowing. It is autumn. However, it couldn’t more from the truth about the importance of this fall fertilizer application.

In the fall, the goal is not to create a lot of blade growth. We are hoping to focus the energy and growth on the other end of the plant, the roots. By helping the roots out, we are preparing the grass plant for the long and cold winter that lies ahead.

To help to promote root growth, a fertilizer with a 1-0-2 ratio will be the best option. The potassium, the last number of the fertilizer, should be close to double the amount of nitrogen, the first number. The potassium is what helps to promote root growth.

Why is root growth so important? It is because the roots need to be able to take up nutrients and are the starting point for when the grass wakes up in the spring from being dormant over the winter. When the roots are healthier, the grass plant as a whole is healthier. This will continue into the summer when a good root system is important, but harder to rebuilt. The stress from the summer can be lessened if you have a good root system.

The fall is the best time to built up your root system. The temperatures are idea, and there is typically an adequate amount of moisture for the grass plant. A fall fertilizer application is very important for the health of your lawn. Even though you may not be able to see the benefits right away, they are there and you will be able to see them in the following spring and summer.

 

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