When you’re ready to have someone take over your lawn care for you, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. That requires doing a little bit of research. You may know what you want but do you have any idea what a lawn care service provides? Do they trim the hedges, and mow the lawn, do they take care of the fertilizing, and do they do the edging? What comes in your yard maintenance deal? In most cases this is going to depend upon what type of package you choose. We’ll go over three different types of packages that are available for your yard care needs in Morgan County.
This is the lowest package, offering what is considered the most needed services. So what does this include? First mowing, it’s the thing everyone dreads spending their Saturday morning doing, so in the basic lawn care package, you’ll be able to skip the Saturday ritual in favor of sleeping in, or reading the comic strip. It will keep the home owners association at bay and the neighbors happy without you having to give up the weekend. Next in line in this lawn care basics is blowing away the mess from the paths. You won’t have to worry when it rains about slipping in the muck of soaked leaves because the lawn maintenance crew will have cleared them away. Twice a month they’re going to straighten up the edges of your lawn to keep it looking neat and tidy. Then five times during the course of the year they’ll make sure your lawn stays healthy by taking care of the fertilization for you, and during the winter they’ll care for the lawn with lime. Lastly, they’ll take care of the broadleaf weeds, the peskiest of the turf weeds. So even at the lowest end of the scale, having lawn maintenance can save you time and stress.
Finally, you get the whole kit and caboodle you get the basic and garden services mentioned above as well as, pruning, of shrubs after they bloom, of hedges when they need it, generally a few times a year. As the weather turns cold, the trees will need pruning as well, and just to put the cherry on top, they’ll take away your holiday tree, just make sure to leave the tinsel off. This covers the basics of what your lawn service should be providing; also, there are sometimes special services available, for instance if you’re pretty sure your yard is headed downhill you could look into one time only services.
Morgan County Lawn Care Pros Offer Tips to Refresh Summer-Damaged Lawns for Fall.
Byline: Pam Waterman Correspondent
We live in a dry Mediterranean climate, but you'd never know it. Just drive along most residential streets in Southern California and you see green lawns ooze out in front of houses as if they were growing on the East Coast with its plentiful supply of water.
No logic explains why most homeowners insist on a green lawn in this semi-arid region. We know our water has to be brought to us at great cost to the environment. And the water problem isn't likely to improve in the future, as more people crowd into the Los Angeles basin.
Some changes in our wasteful pattern of cultivating velvety, picture-perfect lawns are sure to come when water gets more expensive and California's rhythm of drought returns. Get a head start and begin planning a garden instead of a grass carpet that needs constant mowing, watering and fertilizing. Here are 10 alternatives to growing turf on your property. Each one requires less water than grass.
1. Grow drought-tolerant ground covers. Gazania, a bright, daisylike flower, grows either in clumps or as a trailing plant. If you have plenty of sun, ease into a lawn-less future by edging your grass with Gazania ``Burgundy'' or ``Copper King.''
Another choice for sunny spots is ice plant. It will soon be obvious that you get a bigger reward with ground covers than with turf.
Dwarf mondo grass is a good ground cover for a shady area. Although it takes time to become established, mondo grass spreads into an attractive mat in spaces where grass would be much more trouble.
Dozens of ground covers can serve as lawn substitutes: Dalea greggii (trailing indigo bush), Cotoneaster salicifolius ``Repens,'' Ceonathus griseus ``horizontalis,'' Arctotheca calendula, cape weed or Coprosma ``verde vista.'' These ground covers can be mixed with each other for more texture and color than any grass lawn could provide.
2. Plant a kitchen garden. OK, this kind of lawn substitute might take some getting used to. But for 20 years, Cynthia Null of Altadena has cultivated vegetables in her front yard area instead of the boring green grass of surrounding homes. Although she hasn't yet made any neighborhood converts to kitchen gardening, her neighbors all know that Null's tomatoes taste better than grass.
3. Plant a succulent garden. All you need to do is stroll through the Desert Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden in San Marino to see thousands of interesting succulents that grow in a rainbow of colors with many leaf shapes. This is another lawn substitute that you could ease into. Plant a small succulent section in the sunniest part of your lawn and see how much better it looks and how much less care it takes than turf.
4. Leave it natural. This lawn substitute technique works best when you have a large lovely oak you want to preserve. Few homeowners would be happy with no planting at all around their oaks. You can safely locate a few natives or drought-tolerant plants like Centranthus ruber, Penstemon species, Ceonathus griseus horizontalis or Mahonia repens in the vicinity of the oak. But no grass inside the drip line. That is, if you want your oak to live a long life.
5. Plant an ivy collection. If conditions are not too difficult, you could substitute ivy for your lawn. Not the fast-growing, unattractive Algerian ivy (why plant a substitute lawn for something that doesn't look any better?), but English Ivy and perhaps some of the small- or miniature-leafed forms. This solution works best in a small area. I grow miniature ivies in pots, and I'd love to see a textured pattern on someone's former lawn with five or six different ivy cultivars.
6. Plant a garden of grasses. Many kinds of ornamental grasses are now available at local nurseries. An arrangement of feathery festucas, Muhlenbergia capillaris (pink hair grass), Miscanthus sinensis (Japanese silver grass), Pennisetum setaceum ``Rubrum'' or red fountain grass and smaller varieties such as common blue fescue will allow you to create a magical landscape that moves with the wind where a still, monotonous lawn used to be.
7. Plant a perennial garden. This type of garden also looks best when there's a smallish area of lawn to give up. But a small area doesn't mean you have to furnish with small plants. Think big. One homeowner I know loves cannas and allows these tall beauties to grow right up to the sidewalk.
8. Plant an herb garden. Dozens of wonderful herbs grow in our climate. Even if you don't use them for cooking, many herbs look good as ornamental plants. One place to get ideas is at the herb garden at the Huntington. On weekends, a representative from the local herb society has a table under the oaks and hands out information.
9. Create a serene oasis with trees, box and gravel. Although this kind of garden will take time to get established, your ultimate reward will be an unusual and lovely space - a space that will be at least one thousand times more interesting than a green lawn.
10. Install a dramatic hardscape and garden in pots. A garden floor of Mexican paver tiles is not maintenance-free but it's certainly less work than a lawn. The biggest expense comes from the materials.
This type of garden is especially appropriate for people who enjoy entertaining instead of growing grass.
There you are - 10 ideas for easing out of the green-lawn straitjacket. The advantage of most of these suggestions is that you can install them on a gradual basis. And you might find that a small patch of green lawn sets off the beauty of the perennials in the large surrounding beds.
Check your Sunset Western Garden Book for more suggestions. Visit local public gardens and your local nursery.
Professionals in horticulture know a drought is just around the corner. They're familiar with plants to use as grass substitutes. They're just waiting for the public to ask.
(1 -- cover -- color) 10 Ways to avoid mowing your lawn
Low-maintenance alternatives that simplify your life - and save water
(2 -- color) Growing a garden of succulents - including the wide variety of native California cactuses - is a handy substitute for a needy lawn.
(3 -- color) This lawn is not a lawn at all, just ground cover bracketed by trimmed hedgerows.
(4 -- color) Dwarf mondo grass is a good lawn substitute, growing well in shady areas where grass would be trouble.
Photos by Pam Waterman
What Is Included in Your Lawn Care Services?
The lawn is commonly found in the front part of the house. Most homeowners take pride in having immaculately green grass on their lawns. A small fortune is invested on fancy sprinklers and lawn mowers for proper maintenance of the lawn. Lately, most lawns are being sacrificed due to shortage of funds. Lawn grasses are left to grow tall and unruly because mowing is not a weekly routine anymore. Or the grasses die because water is being conserved, too.
4 Types of Plants Used as Ground Covers for the Lawn
Vines are woody plants with thin and wide-spread stems. Examples: Common Ivy, Kudzu, Bougainvillea, and Morning Glory.
Herbaceous plants typically die at the end of growing season or after they had flowered and bore fruit; then they will grow again from seeds. Examples: Peony, Mint, Ferns, and Grasses.
Shrubs are also woody plants with multiple stems and small height. Examples: Lavender, Periwinkle, Common Juniper, and Mountain Pine.
Mosses are small and soft plants that do not have flowers or seeds but reproduce through spores. Simple-structured leaves cover wiry-thin stems.Examples: Red moss capsules, Wall screw moss, and Dawsonia superba (which is considered as the tallest land moss).
The Carabao grass is sturdy against drought and flood. It does not need much attention. No pesticides and fertilizers are used to grow this hardy variety of grass. Since it tends to grow close to the ground, the Carabao grass does not need to be mowed.
Because it is easy to grow, the Carabao grass is the best ground cover plant. You can grow it by seeding directly into the soil or by transplanting. Most plant stores and nurseries sell Carabao grass by small square pieces. You have to water the newly planted grass everyday on the first week to let the young roots grow into the soil. Of course, you must level the surface of the ground first if you're planting on new lawns.
The Buffalo grass is another type of sturdy ground cover plant for the lawn. It is also highly resistant to drought. However, this variety tend to grow robustly so you may have to mow the overgrowth to the desired length. Aside from transplanting, you may also grow the Buffalo grass through direct seeding method.
The Peanut Plant is a Good Ground Cover
This ground cover plant got its name 'peanut' from its flowers that are shaped like peanuts. Because this is categorized as an ornamental grass, the Peanut Plant is often used as accents along the lawn's front and sides of pathwalks. This plant is also sturdy.
The Peanut Plant is also a no-fuss type of ground cover. Just buy several seedling plants in small black bags from the nursery or plant stores. Like other plants, the ideal time to transplant the Peanut plant seedlings into the soil is during the late afternoon. The young plants will be given time to adjust in their new environment during the night.
To further lessen the stress during transplanting, remove only the bottom of the black bag so the soil around the seedling will not be dislodged. This way, less roots will be cut during the process. Gently pack the lawn soil around the small plants. Since the Peanut plant grows horizontally rather than vertically, place an allowance of 6 to 12 inches between each plant. This will give the runners more room to spread on.
Watering is given in small amounts in the early mornings and late afternoons on the first few days. If you're using garden soil for the lawn, you don't have to fertilize the plants. But a sprinkle of organic fertilizer every now and then will help them grow strong and healthy. No need to use herbicide, too. Over-all maintenance care is very simple and easy. Just pull out the weeds that will sprout along with the Peanut plants.
Drainage is as Important as Watering to Ground Cover Plants
All plants need proper drainage system to protect the roots. Too much water causes the roots to rot and the plants to die.
During cultivation of soil or while laying on garden soil, make sure that the edges are in much lower elevation. Excess water must flow freely away from the plants after enough moisture was absorbed by the soil.
When proper sloping is observed in the planning stage of the garden, the actual maintenance of the plants would not be too much demanding.
When a new home has an empty lawn, the sight of the raw earth with a smattering of rocks and concrete bits could be intimidating. Do not lose heart. A garden takes time to develop so careful planning is a must.
Design a garden with long-term enjoyment in mind. The lack of trees in the vicinity should not be despairing. Shaded areas can be created by simply giving crawling plants freedom to grow all over a light structure made of welded steel for support and sturdy screen as roof.
To stop feeling overwhelmed with so much empty space in the outdoor part of the home, build a fence around it. A low concrete wall or tall wooden fence will look better when paint is applied. Several coats of paint also provide protection.
Look for small trees in plant nurseries. Overgrown seedlings have better chance of survival when transplanted. Fruit trees are good choices because they will provide fresh fruits after a few years.
A wide grassy space is the quickest way to make a green lawn. A simple trick is to create a gently sloping surface of packed garden soil. Place concrete hollow blocks around the edges to help prevent soil erosion. Plant small shrubs to give additional support to both the blocks and the earth.
A Japanese-style garden requires a bit of time and effort. This design is appropriate to build on naturally sloping area.
Carving the land into a series of steps will inspire the gardener to put together a variety of colorful and flowering plants, along with the choice of grass or ground cover plants.