Alex’s Lawn and Turf Blog

Lawn care tips from the experts

Warmer Weather is coming!

March 26th, 2014

Hello and happy spring!

The snow is finally melting, and we’re starting to see peeks of brown in our lawns. Here at Alex’s, we are optimistically getting our lawn care equipment ready. We are tuning up the mowers, putting string on the weed whips, and inventorying rakes.

We are eager to get out and start cleaning up after the winter we’ve had, but of course, it is always a good idea to wait for the ground to dry out a bit before doing too much on your lawn. Too much traffic, or even a vigorous raking on wet soil can cause damage to soil structure. We are waiting for the snow to melt, and the frost to go out, impatient as everyone else to see that green growth start!

As soon as the time is right, we’ll be out cleaning up leaves, picking up sticks, repairing damage from winter snow removal, cold temperatures, and voles, and doing early-season seedings and weed control applications. Look for us in our sharp new red Alex’s Lawn & Turf uniforms. We’re departing from the green uniforms of years previous, and switching to the same red shirts for everyone. We take our quality of work very seriously, and we want to show our professionalism in everything we do.

What can you do to help your lawn until it has dried out a bit and you see those red shirts in your yard? Keep a close eye on it. Look for signs of winter damage. Vole damage often appears as winding lines in the soil from their burrows. As the snow melts, look to see if the water is pooling for excessive periods in certain areas. Areas of poor drainage will often behave differently from the rest of the lawn, and can suffer from more diseases. As the grass greens, look for patches that are remaining brown, and note any changes in the shape or color of the grass. Does the brown spot spread? Is it shrinking? This information could be very helpful in diagnosing trouble spots in the lawn.

Look for any other unusual things in your lawn. Make note of your concerns, and let us know how we can help! We look forward to servicing your lawn and landscape needs in the coming season.

Have a great day,
Jake

Invasion of Japanese beetles!

September 20th, 2012

Have you noticed an increase in grubs or moles in your lawn this summer? We have seen much more mole damage this year due to the increase in Japanese beetles. Japanese beetles came to America from Asia in 1916 and have become a serious problem, in grub form they feed on the roots of grass and when they mature into adult form they feed on over 300 plant varieties. Their favorite varieties are linden trees, birch trees and roses.

Treatment: There are a few options to protect your landscape from this destructive bug. If you are seeing unexplainable yellow patches in your turf there is a good chance you have a high population of grubs feeding on the roots of your grass.

As adults they will attack your trees and eat the leaves and flowers rapidly. They make thousands of small holes in the leaves/flowers and they will fall off. The only effective treatment for the beetle is to spray the trees or plants as soon as you observe the beetle. The insecticide will kill the bugs in 24 hours. Call the office to discuss with questions or to discuss treatment.

Left: Adult Beetle Right: Grub

Left: Adult Beetle Right: Grub

Long-Term Landscape Plan for Homeowner Associations

August 16th, 2012

Over grown shrubs, tree branches hanging so low that the grass is dead underneath, lifeless and sparse bushes scattering the property, and rock beds infested with weeds- these are common problems faced by associations who have not done proper planning for their landscape needs. The solution to this problem is deeper than daily maintenance and upkeep – it requires developing a long-term plan. The long-term plan starts with a vision of how the community will look in the future and assists in developing a budget in order to ensure that funds are available when needed.

Every homeowner association needs to ask themselves this question – what is our vision for the property in the long term? The key here is forward planning – not only for one year down the road, but 15 and 30 years as well. The initial landscape plan laid the foundation, large trees and slower growing plants, shrubs and ornamentals. The original design was put in place to make sure the property looked good for the first couple years to attract buyers, but was not designed for ten years down the road. The yearly installation of flowering annuals, re-mulching, and a knowledgeable horticulture-based grounds maintenance provider, continually adds to the success of the long-term beautification plan. However these weekly and yearly efforts will have limited success if a long-term plan is not in place.

In addition to developing your vision, a good long-term landscape plan will assist in developing a timeline and budget for major replacements of hardscape (roads, patios) and softscape (plants and rock). Some necessary considerations in developing your landscape plan are the life of your retaining walls, concrete, asphalt and landscape rock. Retaining walls last about 25 years; after this time they may no longer be able to perform their function, and may begin to look less than desirable. Concrete driveways last for 20 years, where as asphalt lasts for approximately 15 years. Landscape rock beds and ornamental shrubs last about 15 years, where structural shrubbery can last up to 50 years. This type of information needs to be kept in mind when making your initial landscape investment and planning for future budgeting purposes. As a rule of thumb your landscape will need major overhauls every 15-20 years.

Establishing a long-range landscape plan starts with communication of the individual property’s landscape needs to all residence, a willing board to look long-term and a knowledgeable landscape company or horticulture consultant. This can be the most difficult part to getting the plan started, everyone realizing the need for planning before things are out of control and the budget is being spent patching day to day issues and gaining no ground.

With the original landscape plan growing and aging, it is time to take control of your community or to modify your existing long-term landscape plan. The most important part of long-term planning is to rely on good people. A professional landscape expert or company who understands the needs of homeowner associations and your particular landscape needs. Working with a professional to identify the areas of the landscape that will need maintenance or replacement and in what time frame those projects will need to be funded and budgeted for. As well as clearly laying out the long-term vision and enhancements to the community so the goal of enhancing the property is not lost by the day to day fires.

You must plan for the unexpected, trees hitting the roof, shrubs are growing too rapidly or not growing at all, something has eaten all the flowers off the roses, not to mention that low area that always stays wet, and as the season change snow is piling up and extra hauling is required, and the site is not safe do to all the ice, and additional salt needs to be applied. Many of these day to day issues will be minimized by your long term plan but when working with Mother Nature there will always be unpredictable issues, as well as landscape beds that will always need adjusting to keep up with the growing plants and trees. At a minimum, properties less than 15 years old should reserve 20% of the landscape budget and properties greater than 15 years should reserve 30% for extra yearly services above and beyond weekly grounds maintenance contract so the property is maintained properly and the forecasted service life of the landscape is met or exceeded.

Think of a long-term landscape plan as a beautification plan; a way to beautify each home and the community as a whole for now and many years to come. First impressions count and the beauty of a community is showcased by well-planned and well maintained landscaping in the common areas. Choose a lawn care/landscape company who will work closely with your homeowner association board and managers to create a multi-year, environmentally sustainable landscaping plan that works within your budget. Your landscaping must reflect your goals, the beauty of your community and stay beautiful throughout changing seasons.

For professional planning and consulting Alex Shuda, President Alex’s Lawn and Turf,LLC (651) 247-1444Alex's Lawn & Turf

Environmental Benefits of a Healthy, Sustainable Lawn

April 30th, 2012

We all enjoying having a lush, vibrant yard to enjoy, it can
provide a space for family fun and makes for a beautiful backdrop enhancing
your home, but did you know that having a healthy lawn also benefits our
environment!  Having a healthy lawn is an
important part of both preserving and protecting soil, air and water.

A healthy lawn full of grass provides the most effective
groundcover to prevent erosion and increase the infiltration of water into the
soil. A dense lawn significantly slows down runoff, this reduces the capacity
to carry sediment or other soil matter, reducing the erosive effect of fast
moving water.

Turf grass has a root system that is high in soil
microorganism activity. When soil contaminants come in contact with this root
system, these contaminants are readily degraded and broken down, therefore
there is less opportunity for these materials to reach and affect groundwater.

Having a yard with a healthy lawn, trees and shrubs can also
help regulate summer air temperatures. Shading and evapotranspiration can
reduce air temps from 7-14 degrees which can directly result in lowering you
air conditioning costs.

Here in Minnesota we value our 8 months of summer. It is a
great time to get outside and enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer. Maintaining
a healthy yard offers more than a beautiful place to relax, but also help make
the world a better place to live!

Landscape Design for Winter Color

January 30th, 2012

Most people have beautiful landscaped spaces that they enjoy in the summer. Here in Minnesota we only have summer for eight months, those remaining four months some landscapes become rather drab. Have you ever thought about designing your landscaping to be appealing even during those winter months? Here are some great idea plant ideas to add interest to your winter landscape.

Red Dogwood – Evergreen Holly – Tall Perennial Grasses – Winter Berry Holly – Birch Varieties

These plants continue to add interest to your landscape after the summer months have faded. If you are interested in learning more about how to keep your landscaping looking beautiful year round please contact us today!

Areas of Service

Circle Pines, Blaine, Mounds View, North Oaks, Lino Lakes, Hugo, White Bear Lake, Vadnais Heights, Arden Hills, New Brighton, St. Anthony, Shoreview, Roseville, Little Canada, Maplewood, Lake Elmo, Woodbury, Grant, Mahtomedi, Oakdale, Hugo, Stillwater