Monday, September 15, 2014

Tips for Watering and Lawn Care

There are many options for lawn irrigation in New Jersey, and most people want their yards to look green and happy. However, for many homeowners, a green lawn remains an elusive dream as they face trouble spots that just won't seem to green up. Here are four tips to get the best results out of irrigation and make your lawn work easy:

1.  Water in the morning, not the evening – Many people believe that it's best to water the lawn in the evening around sunset. The reasoning is simple: at night the temperatures are lower and the water won't evaporate off the ground before the grass roots can absorb it. However, in practice this can cause problems. The lawn will remain damp all night making it the perfect habitat for mold and fungal disease can kill an entire lawn or cause isolated brown spots. Instead, water your lawn in the morning (a timed sprinkler system makes this easy). It will still be cool enough for water to sink into the soil, but any excess dries quickly, protecting your grass.

2.  Pay attention to the lay of the land – Sometimes, trouble areas in a lawn fit into one of two categories: the uphill end of a sloped lawn or the downhill end. Water runs downhill, even the small amount of water put out by lawn sprinklers. That can lead to soggy, waterlogged terrain in low spots or dry, parched terrain in high spots. If you notice a lack of green grass in one part of the yard, check to see if it's sloped and adjust watering accordingly.

3.  Shady areas may need more water – Most of us think of shady areas as the dampest, and that's often true. But with less sunlight, shaded grass also faces the toughest conditions. Consider increasing watering in shady areas to help grass grow greener and longer there.

4.  Not all problems can be fixed by water alone – Some brown grass may be caused by fungus, disease, or pests. If irrigation and fertilizer don't help, you may need to call in a professional to diagnose the problem. Generally, the sooner you act the easier the problem is to fix.

A green, healthy lawn will always take hard work and attentive care, but achieving it doesn't have to be a chore that consumes your whole weekend. With a good irrigation system and the right amount of water, most lawns will stay green with a minimum of extra care.


Monday, September 8, 2014

How to Get a Green Lawn in NJ

In NJ, a sprinkler system is a good start to keeping your lawn green and beautiful—but there are a few tricks that can help keep your lawn green even when your neighbors' lawns aren't. Here are our top tips for a green lawn in the Garden State:

1.  Water every morning – Regular watering is a must for a green lawn. Many people water only sporadically, or rush through it because they water by hand. A sprinkler system in NJ will allow you to deliver plenty of water at a set time every day, with no work needed. Set your sprinkler to go off in the morning and rest easy.

2.  Choose the right grass – New Jersey is a temperate region, which means we need a good blend of warm weather and cool weather grasses. Many lawns are just a single type of grass, meaning that the lawn only thrives for part of the growing season. With a good lawn blend, you can extend how many months your lawn looks lush and beautiful. You can take a grass blend seed and "overseed" it on top of your existing lawn, preferably in the fall.

3.  Maintain a healthy mowing height – Most homeowners cut their grass too short. Short grass minimizes how much of the blade is left, which makes for sun-starved grass. This in turn weakens the grass and leaves it more vulnerable to disease and pests. For green lawns, cut your grass about 2.5-3.5 inches high. Err on the high end for shady areas.

4.  Mulch your clippings – Fresh grass clippings are not yard waste – they're free plant food! Grass clippings (unsurprisingly) contain everything grass needs to stay healthy, and make an excellent natural nutrient source for your lawn. Set your mower to its mulch setting and let the clippings lie on the lawn when you mow.

5.  Keep to a regular schedule – Like all plants, grass adapts to the conditions around it. If it's cut on a regular schedule then it will start to grow regularly and become more resistant to insects, weeds and diseases. If you mow irregularly, it begins to grow in a spotty manner that leaves openings for weeds and pests to move in. Set a mowing schedule and keep to it.

These are just the basics of lawn care, but they can help you keep your yard looking great from early spring through the dog days of summer and all the way into the fall. 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Grass Planting and Care Tips for New Homeowners

For most New Jersey residents, having a lush, green lawn is just as important as keeping a clean, organized home. However, if you are a new homeowner with a lot of lawn space, you might be unaware of how to properly take care of it. Many homeowners in South Jersey find that irrigation services are an efficient and economical way to handle the watering, but what about planting the grass in the first place? In order for your lawn to flourish, you'll want to educate yourself on the basics:

  • Soil – Before you put down soil, you'll need to plan what you want to do and get the necessary tools and supplies. First off, testing the pH of your soil is very important, as it will tell you whether your soil is balanced, acidic, or alkaline. This will enable you to take measures to adjust the soil levels and also to choose a grass that will grow well in the environment. You should be able to buy a test kit or meter in any hardware store. After that, you must get rid of any weeds and be sure that that the soil won't harden or clump up. When pulling weeds, make sure that you are getting the roots, as well, or many of them will grow back. You should rototill at least six inches to loosen any compaction and maximize drainage. Lastly, you need to pack down the soil and brush it over with a rake.
  • Seeding – Using a carpet of sod is a simple way to get a great lawn, but it can certainly be expensive – especially if you have a large area to cover. It's better to seed the area by hand or by hydroseeding. Hydroseeding is a planting process in which you use a mix of a special blend of seeds, which are sprayed over the ground. With this process, you are guaranteed an even dispersal of seeds.

  • Trimming – Once the grass has taken hold and grown sufficiently, you should consider the mowing height. Many people don't realize that trimming your lawn too short can actually be bad for the grass, but it can! It is recommended that you mow only the top third of the grass, as taller grass allows for better root development. It is also important to make sure the grass is shaded so that it doesn't dry out too quickly.
Now that you understand the basics, you should be on your way to having a beautiful lawn. Always remember that your grass needs sun, water, and fertilizer to thrive. Going forward, your best bet is to invest in the irrigation services offered by Steeplechase to ensure your lawn remains the envy of your neighborhood. 


Monday, July 7, 2014

How to Get the Best Sprinkler Systems in New Jersey

With a long summer and big lawns being the norm in New Jersey, irrigation systems are becoming increasingly popular. A good lawn irrigation system can save you hours and hours every week in the summer and keep your lawn looking green. But what should you look for if you want one? In our experience, the best New Jersey irrigation systems follow a number of standards:

  • Proper installation – With the cold winters (especially this past one), all New Jersey irrigation systems must be properly installed. You don't want underground sprinkler lines cracking or developing leaks during the cold months and then failing during the months when you need them the most. Talk to your irrigation provider about their install methods—a proper installation will maximize your sprinkler's lifespan.
  • Minimal lawn disturbance – Obviously, laying down the irrigation water lines will involve cutting narrow, shallow trenches through your yard. But like a good surgeon, a good sprinkler company can minimize how much damage they do. They should have a specialized device to cut the turf cleanly, not use just shovels and never a regular ditch digger. Similarly, turf should be laid back over the completed lines, with extra soil as fill if necessary, at grade level so your yard can "heal" quickly.
  • Sprinkler head height – Sprinklers that stick up above the ground can be tripping hazards and can interfere with weekly lawn mowing. In other words, they're a safety hazard. Instead, all sprinklers should be installed to be flush with the ground level. This allows them to function without interfering with normal use of the yard.

  • Rain sensor – What happens when there's a rainstorm outside? Do your sprinklers still come on? If they do, it means a massive waste of water—and in a heavy rainstorm it can even contribute to soil erosion. Neither of these are what you're looking for in a sprinkler system. The best systems come with an automatic 24/7 rain sensor, which overrides the normal sprinkler schedule when it's raining out.
  • Qualified staff – Whoever is installing your irrigation system should have lots of experience doing it. Additionally, a licensed plumber should be the one hooking up the water supply and checking everything over.

If you live in New Jersey, irrigation for your lawn might be a good investment. Do you currently have a lawn irrigation system, and what do you think of it? If not, what makes you want one?


Thursday, June 26, 2014

What to Look for in Your New Sprinkler System

New Jersey homeowners are tired of watering their lawns. Interest in sprinkler systems in NJ has gone up considerably, but many people aren't sure what to look for. Here are five things to ponder when considering our different sprinkler systems:

1.  Nozzles you won't hit with the mower. There are many different nozzle types for sprinkler systems in NJ including some very fancy ones. But no matter what type you're interested in, you need to make sure it won't become a hazard when you're mowing. Different nozzle types offer different amounts of clearance and have different methods for staying out of the way. Make sure you understand how much clearance yours offers and that you feel comfortable mowing over it.

2.  The right nozzle for every location. All those different nozzles do serve a purpose: they allow you to optimize watering for different terrain and landscaping. For instance, a sprinkler on a sloped lawn will cover the area differently than the same sprinkler on a flat lawn. It's important to choose a nozzle that is perfect for the terrain it's actually on. Similarly, plant cover makes a big difference. A popup nozzle can be only 4 inches long in a lawn, but needs to be longer if it's in an area of shrubs and flowers where it has to get higher above the surrounding plants. Since no one mows flower beds, the longer nozzles are fine in such an area.

3.  A timer. For many sprinkler systems, this comes standard but make sure to ask before you buy. A timer is what truly makes a sprinkler system automatic, as you don't even need to remember to turn the sprinkler on. For lawns, a morning sprinkle is a good idea because it takes advantage of cooler temperatures, but unlike an evening sprinkle, it doesn't encourage mold growth.

4.  A rain sensor. If you were watering your lawn by hand, would you go out there with the hose on a rainy day? Of course you wouldn't. And yet many homeowners allow their sprinklers to kick on every day, rain or shine. Irrigating your lawn during a rainstorm is a waste and may even lead to waterlogged turf. Get a simple rain sensor that will override your sprinkler system's timer on rainy days.

5.  Proper, professional installation. Nothing makes a bigger difference in sprinkler system performance and reliability than proper installation. Real pros won't just install it right – they'll do so with minimal damage to your lawn.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dispelling Lawn Care Myths

In honor of spring, we're dispelling some common lawn care myths so that our clients can get the best yards possible. Everyone loves to think they know what they are doing with their landscaping, but you may have unwittingly fallen prey to some of the myths out there. Hold off on those Miracle Grow feedings in the middle of the summer! If you want your property to be the talk of the neighborhood (for good reasons), then pay close attention to the following myth busters.

1. The best time to "feed" your lawn is in the fall, NOT the spring! If you seed in the spring, prior to the strong heat of the summer, you are asking for problems with seasonal dryness and weed growth. In the fall, temperatures are much steadier, and pesky weeds begin to die off.

2. There is such a thing as overwatering your plants! Studies show that plants can die from overwatering just as easily as they can from a lack of water. It helps to allow soil to dry to the point of dampness around the roots before re-watering. Keep in mind that some plants will require more or less water depending upon factors like the amount of sunlight they get, the number of plants around them, elevation, species, etc. Keep an eye on your plants and see how quickly they start to dry out. And remember, your plants may need a break from watering after a heavy rain.

3. Lawn clippings are actually good for your lawn! It was once believed that grass clippings could contribute significantly to thatch; however, a certain amount can actually help stimulate lawn growth. Since they are made up mostly of water and decompose quickly, lawn clippings provide a natural fertilizer that doesn't cost you a dime. Studies have concluded that up to one third of the fertilizer that you apply to the lawn can be reused again by leaving clippings on the ground.

4. "Smart Irrigation Systems" are totally worth the money to install them. For one, newer systems allow for smart technology. This means that you don't have to be home to turn on the sprinklers, and you also don't have to worry about the proper time to turn them off. Smart irrigation systems only allow for watering when necessary, and can offer a cost savings of approximately 1/5th on water bills. Furthermore, by using rotating nozzles, these systems provide more effective watering, with larger droplets sprayed a bit more slowly.

So remember to set up those lawn sprinklers in New Jersey and save your seeding routine for football season; a healthy, great looking lawn is only a few steps away!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

5 Landscaping Tips: Improve Your Lawn and Garden

Everyone loves a beautiful, manicured lawn; while it takes time and patience to develop it, there are always tips available in order to get the most out of your planning. Check out these 5 tips for creating a lawn and garden that will be the envy of all your neighbors!

 - Flowers Are a Winner 

Nothing appears more welcoming and pleasing to the eye than a beautiful arrangement of flowers on the front lawn. Cascade different breeds and types along the driveway leading up to the door, and if you desire, add several other areas within the lawn that achieve an "oasis" look of color and uniqueness.

- Add Different Heights 

Planters and hanging baskets can add an element that breaks up the straight-line look of an expected garden. Different dimensions can engage the senses, and plants that hang are able to get fantastic aeration and drainage, which means they should blossom.

 - Change Layouts Each Year

To add a fresh perspective to your landscaping, try to design and implement several different areas within the yard and rotate them each year. Not only will it be great for the soil, but the new layouts will only enhance the design of the yard.

- Use Walkways to Connect 

Have you ever seen a beautiful garden or landscape, yet you have to walk through a maze to basically get near it? One way to consider connecting major design points is to create walkways directly to those points. For example, slate stone could be used as a path, you could mulch a road between each area, and so forth.

 - Add Outdoor Seating

Standing and staring at a landscape can be quite tiresome; add a bench or some natural chairs to allow one to take in the beauty, enjoy the colors and experience the peace that flowers, trees and plants can bring. Your home in South Jersey can use irrigation as a means to obtaining a beautiful, lush lawn, as well as garden. Get ready for spring, and start planning the ultimate landscape!

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