Leaves that are not removed from your lawn can block sunlight and air from reaching the grass. The problem becomes worse when it rains -those fluffy layers of leaves turn into dense, soggy mats. The lack of air circulation can lead to turf diseases and may even smother the grass and kill it. But raking isn’t the only—or even the easiest—method of protecting your lawn’s health. It turns out that mulching leaves is what’s best for the health of your lawn. You can easily mulch the leaves by running over them many times with a mower to chop them into tiny bits, and letting the mower scatter them back into the lawn. As the mulched leaf bits decompose over the winter, they enhance the soil with valuable nutrients that feed the microbes and worms present in any healthy lawn. And compared with raking, mulching leaves takes MUCH less time and effort.
The first and most important rule is to set the deck of the mower to the HIGHEST SETTING to leave the grass as tall as possible. If the deck is too low, you’ll end up scalping the lawn and the grass will be vulnerable to weeds and possible to damage from winter temperatures. Better to leave the deck set high and make several passes with the mower from different angles to mince the leaf bits up to the size of a dime- and multiple passes will help scatter the bits around the lawn evenly. Properly shredded leaves are the size of confetti and will filter down between the blades of fescue where they won’t be noticeable. In summer lawns such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, or Zoysia, the shredded leaves will blend in with the brown, dormant grasses.
When you’re done, if there’s so much leaf mulch that you can’t see ANY grass, try one more pass with the bag attached to the mower, then scatter the leaf-litter that was picked up into your landscaping beds. Leaf mulch is also beneficial to planted beds this time of year, but it’s important to add mulched leaves to the beds NOW, so they’ll be fully decomposed by spring. If you wait until spring to leaf-mulch the beds, the nutrients won’t be broken down and available to the plants when they need it most.
It’s nice to know that the back-breaking job of leaf raking isn’t necessary- or even advised- for lawns in our region. So instead of hours of raking and bending over to fill plastic bags that could wind up in our landfills, simply ditch the bag attachment on your mower and enjoy a nice walk around the yard! If you have a landscaping service that usually mows for you, be sure to ask them to mulch the leaves for you instead of bagging. It’s better for your lawn, better for our environment, better for your back, AND, better for your wallet!
What can I do to protect my delicate trees and shrubs this winter?
The Lower Tidewater region is unique because we enjoy warm summer weather that is ideal for tropical trees and succulents. Unfortunately, we can also experience harsh winter temperatures and high winds that can severely damage tender plants. Wrapping palms and other tropical trees in plastic sheeting is NOT advised in our specific area, because the winter temperature fluctuations can cause condensation inside the plastic, which can lead to rot and specific types of fungus. Our tree and shrub care expert, Dave Planelles, recommends applying an anti-transpirant product such as AquaLock to any ornamental plants that are susceptible to winter burn, because it protects by forming a “thin, flexible, water-repellent layer on plant surfaces” to insulate and prevent damage.
Other recommendations from Dave to keep your shrubs healthy this winter, include keeping the mulch level around the base of the plant at NO MORE than TWO inches deep. If the mulch layer is too thick, it may cause harm to the plant by preventing proper nutrients from being absorbed, and can (in some cases) suffocate the plant. In our region, two inches of mulch is more than enough to insulate and protect the roots and retain the right amount of moisture. Dave also recommends considering a light application of a low-nitrogen, organic 3-4-3 product, such as our “Replenish” top dressing compost fertilizer to help gently feed roots over the winter. If there are disease/pest concerns, having an application of dormant horticultural oil will help to smother any lingering scale bugs and their eggs, as well as protect against diseases like blight on new growth in early spring.
Over the next two weeks, Dave will begin applications for customers who purchase an AquaLock treatment for their delicate ornamentals. If you’d like an estimate for the cost of an AquaLock treatment for your at-risk shrubs and trees this winter, or for more information on Dave’s Annual Tree & Shrub Program, please contact our office and Dave will be happy to stop by to evaluate and quote pricing for you!
The best time to water grass seed is in the morning and evening. These are the coolest parts of the day, which allows water to absorb into the ground instead of evaporating. A water timer can simplify the process of when to water grass seeds, so you can easily and efficiently water your newly seeded lawn with no hassle at all.
How to water new grass seed depends on the area you’ve seeded. Large areas can benefit from the use of a quality rectangular sprinkler. Use a small spot sprinkler for smaller seeded areas
How Long to Water New Grass Seed
How long to water new grass seed depends on your soil conditions and your sprinkler setup. In general, ten minutes of watering per session (morning and evening) will provide enough water to keep the top couple inches of soil moist.
As your new grass seed grows and flourishes, you can water deeper and less frequently – this will encourage established grass roots to extend deeply into the soil. When watering grass seedlings, gradually increase your morning watering sessions over time, while decreasing your evening watering. Eventually, you’ll want to water between 6 and 10 am, while the weather is still cool. An established lawn typically requires about 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall.
How Long Does Grass Seed Take to Grow?
How long it will take for your new grass seed to begin to grow really depends on where you live, your climate and what type of grass you plant. It can take anywhere between 3 and 28 days for new grass seed to begin to grow.
A beautiful, vibrant lawn not only looks great, but it also provides a place for you and your family to play, relax and enjoy. A consistent water schedule for watering new grass seed is key to making sure you’re growing a healthy, lush green lawn that will give you years of enjoyment and beauty.