Tag Archives: cedar run landscapes

Lawn Care and Renovation

The lawn is often thought of as an extension of our home. It’s a place were families gather to relax and have fun. But keeping a green lush lawn means understanding the requirements of our lawn and providing the appropriate conditions they need to thrive. Such things as drought, excessive shade, poor drainage, soil compaction, inadequate fertility, acid soils, infestations, disease, thatch build-up, improper mowing, poorly adapted grass species, and others may contribute to poor lawn performance.

Cool Season Grasses:

Most lawns in the Philadelphia region consist of cool season grasses, like perennial rye, Kentucky bluegrass and the fescues. These grass species thrive during the cooler seasons of fall and spring and can handle the freezing conditions and snow cover of winter. It’s during the hot and dry summers that these grasses struggle, often going dormant and turning brown.

 Soil Conditions:

One of the first important steps to a successful lawn is to assess your soil conditions. Check the degree of compaction and amount of topsoil present. Also it is essential to get a soil test done.  You can easily purchase a test kit from a university or private test lab. A soil test report will provide you with information about pH and lime levels and the amount of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and organic matter in the soil. Along with the test results, test sites will often provide recommendations for liming, soil amendments and fertilizing. Taking these steps will help you determine the best course to take in improving your lawn.

Helpful tips to improve your lawn:

 Mow Right

  • Cut lawn at 3” or higher, not cutting more than ⅓ of the leaf tissue
  • Mow frequently during active growth
  • Leave clippings on your lawn, clippings containing important nutrients that will return to the soil, significantly reducing the need for fertilizer applications.
  • Make sure mowing blades are sharp

 Feed Right

  • Choose a complete fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) made for lawns
  • Read and follow all directions when applying
  • Spring and early fall are the best times to feed
  • Sweep products off hard surfaces and back into the lawn

Water Right

  • Its okay for lawns to go dormant during the summer
  • If you choose to water during the summer do it early in the morning
  • Water deeply and infrequently, about 1” a week when there is inadequate rain fall.
  • Frequent light watering encourages shallow rooting and germination of weed seeds

 Lawn Renovation

 If you have been struggling  to get a successfully established lawn it might be time to do a full lawn overhall. Lawn renovations restore failing lawn and with the arrival of cooler temperatures, September signals the perfect time to renovate thin, tired, weak, and wore out lawns.

Basic Steps for Renovating a Lawn

Step

Options

Comments

Weed Control Physically Pull For large or spreading weeds; won’t kill all weeds.
Broadleaf Herbicide If weeds are primarily non-grasses.
Nonselective Herbicide   Kills most green vegetation; allow 5-14 days to effectively kill the plants.
 Thatch Removal Vigorous Hand Raking Not practical for extreme thatch problem or large areas.
Vertical Mower Can be rented or hired; can also be used to prepare seedbed.
Sod Cutter Recommended for extreme thatch problem; can be rented or hired.
Soil Preparation Vigorous Hand Raking For small sites with little vegetation remaining.
Aeration 3-5 passes with commercial aerifier; especially recommended if soil is compacted.
Vertical Mowing Tines should nick surface to a depth of ⅛-½ inch.
 Fertilize Nitrogen (N) Phosphorus (P) Potassium (K) ½ pound of N per 1000 square feet; P and K as determined by a soil test.
Seeding  Hand For small sites mix 1 part seed with 4 parts fine sawdust or a natural organic fertilizer such as Milorganite.
Rotary Spreader Preferred method if mixed with sawdust or Milorganite.
Drop Spreader Seed in 2 directions or overlap ½ way.
Slit Seeder Equipment can be rented but requires skill; generally best done by professionals
Irrigate Water lightly to provide good seed-soil contact; then, water lightly twice daily to rewet soil surface. Don’t allow to become soggy.
Mow At 3½ inches, mow to 2½ inches with sharp mower; continue regular mowing as needed.

Other Helpful Links:

Penn State University’s Center for Turfgrass Science Home Lawns Website

Using Composts to Improve Turf Performance

Recycling Turfgrass Clippings

Meadows and Prairies: Wildlife-Friendly Alternatives to Lawn

Garden Giving Update

Collecting Extra Veggies

A student collects excess greens to donate to charity.

Last fall our staff volunteered to help in the creation of a garden at Shady Grove Elementary School of theWissahickon School District in Montgomery County. Cedar Run Landscapes donated soil, labor, and equipment which helped students create and plant a vegetable and flower garden.

Students working in the garden during recess.

The school’s initial goal was to help teach students about the earth and environment. As time has passed, another benefit that has taken form; students have been harvesting excess lettuce, spinach, and chard from their garden and donating it to the local food cupboard. They have also created a garden club, where students volunteer during their recess to help care for the garden.

Aside

 Blooming from mid-May until autumn’s first frost, these colorful plants can produce a dramatic and striking landscape. Their diverse colors and textures provide the gardener with numerous opportunities, like filling in open spaces in a bed, defining an edge in a … Continue reading

Converting Lawn to Meadow

More and more people are becoming environmentally conscious and looking for ways to become greener.  One way we can all make a difference is by decreasing the amount of lawn we have on our property. Our society has created an unsustainable monoculture of grass that requires annual fertilizing and constant watering during the hot summer months. Not to mention the harmful pesticides we use to keep a weed free lawn inhabitable to most insects and the noise and air pollution created by weekly lawn mowing.

Taking this monoculture landscape and transforming it into a diverse native meadow provides many benefits to our environment and local ecosystem. Meadows are low maintenance, needing to be cut only once or twice a year, and require little to no fertilizers or pesticides. Meadows also create a wonderful ecosystem helping to sustain wildlife. Native plant species provide food for insects that then help feed amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds.

The grass varieties we usually see in our perfectly manicured lawns are often a non-native species with a shallow root system. These shallow roots limit the amount of water and nutrients absorbed and why we so often have to throw on the hose to keep our lawns from browning out. Native meadow plants on the other hand have developed extensive root systems allowing them to be drought resistant and able to find the nutrients they need without our help.  These roots are also powerful soil stabilizers that can be used on sloped areas were lawns are difficult to maintain. Below you can compare the different species and their root system. The first plant to the left, Kentucky Bluegrass, is a commonly used grass species.

 

Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Illinois Native Plant Guide

Meadows can act as pollutant filters unlike the typical lawn that does little to absorb excess fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants. This excess is instead washed away with the rain and ends up in our waterways destroying aquatic habitats. Wet meadows strategically placed in a storm water system can provide a filtration barrier, absorbing those contaminants that have run off lawns and imperious surfaces, before it reaches our waterways.

To create a sustainable meadow requires planning and time. The need to have a good understanding of the site conditions and to know what type of habitat would thrive best in those conditions is critical to a successful meadowscape. It will take several years to develop a mature meadow, although with the right plant selection one will see beautiful flowering plants within the first season.  The most fantastic part about meadows is their aesthetic diversity. Each season brings with it new color, texture, and movement.

Meadow Fall Colors and Textures

Resources:

Urban & suburban Meadow by Catherine Zimmerman

http://www.peoplepoweredmachines.com/faq-environment.htm#environment

http://www.gardeninggonewild.com/?p=12945

Taking a trip to Atlantic City

This week “The Rain Guy” along with his employees will be attending  MAHTS (mid-atlantic hardscaping trade show) in Atlantic City, NJ. This three day event will be filled with interesting exhibitors  and many educational lectures. “The Rain Guy” will be leading several of these lecturers including ‘Water Features and Hardscaping’ and ‘Rainwater Harvesting’.

Check back later this week for an update on this event and what we saw.

Pond Builder of the Year!

We got some great news this week at Cedar Run Landscapes — our company received an Honorable Mention in the Water Garden News magazine‘s Pond Builder of the Year competition! A profile of Cedar Run, as well as the other contest winners, will appear in an upcoming issue.

We’re very excited and honored to be recognized for our creative design skills in pond-building, and for the ways in which we’ve given back to our local community by educating about rainwater harvesting with water garden features.

From the Rain Guy's beautiful pond at home

Garden Giving and Green Drinks

We had a great time helping the students and faculty at Shady Grove Elementary School (part of the Wissahickon school district in Montgomery county) with the planting of their new garden. Cedar Run Landscapes donated soil, labor, and equipment to help the students plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The school’s goal is for students to learn about the earth and environment by planting and maintaining the garden over the year. I  was contacted by a parent of one of the students, who remembered us from last year’s Ponds for Kids project.

My employees and I helped the students plant lettuce, spinach, snap peas and crimson clover (cover crop to help provide nitrogen for the next year’s crops), as well as a few flowers for the native plant butterfly garden.

Cedar Run Landscapes with students from Shady Grove Elementary

More photos from the day are available on Snapfish and our Flickr page

What’s next on the Cedar Run Landscapes agenda?

We’re hosting the next Whitpain Township Green Drinks meeting at our office in North Wales on September 20, at 6:30 pm. Please join us for a group tour, discussions, and refreshments.

We’d be delighted to have you join us for this event, which is open free to everyone.  Green Drinks is a group that gets together to talk about some green issues, network, share ideas, and brainstorm. At this meeting, I’ll be giving a tour of our Cedar Run Landscapes facilities, showing the group our 13 water features, including 2 rainwater harvesting and re-use systems, rain gardens, constructed wetland filters, permeable patios, eco-system ponds, pondless waterfalls and fountains, and talking about the ways in which we’ve successfully reduced waste and saved energy by recycling rain water.

Below is contact information for the group – if you’re interested, please RSVP by emailing WissahickonGrowingGreener [at] gmail.com. Or become a fan of the Wissahickon Growing Greener page on Facebook, where you can RSVP to this event and continue to receive updates about upcoming Green Drinks happenings!

We hope to see you there,

The Rain Guy