Category Archives: Yard Maintenance

Fall Bucket List

fall bucket list

Who doesn’t LOVE fall?

There are leaves for jumping in, apples for picking, pumpkins for carving, and freshly baked goods to eat. Did we mention pumpkin spice everything? We’ve collected more than 30 ideas to help you make the most out of the season, including tips for preparing your landscaping for the cooler months ahead, and compiled them into this fall bucket list.

  • Go apple picking
  • Go for a hayride
  • Rake your yard; front and back
  • Drink warm apple cider
  • Try new pumpkin recipes
  • Get lost in a corn maze
  • Jump in a pile of leaves
  • Take a scenic fall foliage drive
  • Trim rouge tree branches
  • Enjoy hot chocolate under the stars
  • Host or attend a bonfire
  • Decorate your front porch or patio with fall decor
  • Lace up your hiking boots, and set out for these trails
  • Bundle up in your favorite sweater, scarf, and boots
  • Clean your gutters
  • Do a fall photoshoot
  • Watch Halloween movies with kettle corn
  • Carve a jack-o-lantern
  • Curl up under a comfy throw with a good book
  • Make your home smell like fall by filling a stockpot of 4 to 6 cinnamon sticks, orange rind, 2 tablespoons whole cloves, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 to 5 bay leaves. Add water and allow to simmer.
  • Add a good layer of mulch to your landscaping beds
  • Tell ghost stories
  • Visit a haunted house
  • Plant fall perennials
  • Sip on a pumpkin spice latte (a delicious combination of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, mace, nutmeg, and cloves served hot or cold)
  • Bike to neighboring farmer’s markets
  • Host a chili or soup night
  • Volunteer
  • Start holiday shopping
  • Go antiquing or thrifting
  • Make apple butter from scratch
  • Make homemade candied apples
  • Overseed your lawn using Arizona’s cooler season grass: Perennial Rye. The best time to overseed your lawn is during the first two weeks of October when temperatures are consistently below 65˚F.

Join the conservation: What are you most excited for this fall?

A Weed-Free Lawn

weed-free lawn

Think a weed-free lawn is the stuff of dreams? Think again! Although these pesky “plants” are aggressive enough to grow uninvited, and in all the wrong places, there are ways including growing a beautifully thick lawn to combat them. The following information is designed to help you have a weed-free lawn.

The right tools for the job

Invest in a sharp trowel or garden knife to help you slice into the soil to remove the toughest weeds. For deeply rooted and established weeds, use a spade or mattock to remove them once and for all. You will also want to invest in either a hoe or cultivator, and high-nutrient, organic mulch. Don’t forget a pair of heavy duty gloves for protecting your hands from irritants, spines, thrones, and other harmful things.

Weed when wet

The old saying “pull when wet; hoe when dry” is sound advice. Moist soil provides far better weeding conditions – especially when the goal is to pull the entire root system out. With the weekend forecasting rain showers, equip yourself with a pair of household gloves and a trash can or bag, and get to work on ridding your lawn of weeds. We recommend weeding a little every day or two so nothing gets missed.

Prevent weeds from returning

A single weed can produce hundreds to thousands of seeds, spreading them all over your yard! For this reason, it’s important to dislodge new seedlings with a hoe or cultivator, and pull weeds out by hand before they get a foothold in the soil. If possible, mulch immediately after weeding to prevent new seeds from reaching the soil, and to keep buried seeds from getting sunlight and sprouting.

Herbicides

When nothing else works, or your lawn is completely overrun by weeds, you can consider using herbicides. Follow directions to the letter. Used incorrectly, herbicides can kill grass, landscaping plants and other wanted greenery. If you’re planning to use an herbicide, choose one that is safe for your specific lawn, and effective against the most common types of weeds (e.g. crabgrass, dandelions, white clover, ground ivy, etc.).

Overseeding in Arizona

 

overseeding

Would you like to ensure a beautifully green, lush lawn, no matter the season? Overseeding – part of a proactive maintenance plan – keeps lawns from going dormant during the colder months of winter. If you want your lawn to be green year round, now is the time to overseed. It is important that either you or your landscaper uses Arizona’s cooler season grass – Perennial Ryegrass, during this process.

When to Overseed?

The optimum time to overseed is during October. This is ideal because good seed germination requires sun, adequate water, and contact with the soil while it’s still warm. If you wait until November, the cooler temperatures may slow the process of germination, providing you with uneven results. You may notice that many of Arizona’s golf courses are temporarily closed, as they too, overseed for the winter.

Process of Overseeding

To ensure success, without wasting natural resources when overseeding your lawn, follow the next eight tips – and as always, if you have any questions, please contact Elite Landscaping and Sprinkler Repair: (602) 390-4645.

#1. Stop fertilizing 4 to 6 weeks prior to overseeding your Bermuda grass.

#2. Lightly de-thatch your lawn to allow the seed to contact the soil. This is accomplished by setting the dethatcher blades to cut approximately ¼” into the soil – any deeper and you risk damaging the root structure of your Bermuda. Rake the removed thatch into piles and dispose of it properly.

#3. The next step is scalping. This lowers the height of the Bermuda, making it easier for the Perennial Ryegrass seed to receive the sunlight it needs, in order to germinate. It is recommended that you drop your mowing height to ¼” – ½”. Clippings can be used as a top-dressing after seed is spread.

#4. Apply 10 to 15 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Include a quality starter fertilizer with seed. Broadcast seed in two directions to achieve even coverage.

#5. Cover the seed with ¼-inch of organic, salt-free mulch, or scalping clippings to help retain moisture. Keep seeds damp by watering 3 to 4 times per day to keep the top ½-inch of soil wet. Seed should germinate in about 7 days.

#6. When grass is 1-inch tall, reduce watering to once per day.

#7. When grass is 2-inches tall, at about the 2-week mark, mow for the first time. After the second or third mowing, 3 or 4 weeks in, water once every 2 to 3 days to a depth of 4”-6”.

#8. Once your lawn is established, water once every week.

Fall Landscaping Checklist

fall landscaping checklist

Fall means a kaleidoscope of colors, cooler temperatures, apple cider, and pumpkin spice everything. Fall also means that it is time to get your landscaping in shape for the cooler months ahead. We at Elite Landscaping and Sprinkler Repair have prepared the following fall landscaping checklist to help get you started.

Aerate the Soil: If you have noticed that water has difficulty penetrating through the soil surface, when you may want to aerate your lawn so that oxygen, water and fertilizer can easily reach the grass’s roots. You can rent a mechanical core aerator for about $30 to $75 for a few hours. You can find these at most garden centers. If you don’t feel like aerating yourself, hire a professional landscaping contractor.

Fertilize for Future Growth: Fall is also a great time of year to fertilize your lawn. Even if you only do this once a year, do it in the fall. The reason? Fertilizer delivers essential nutrients, which allows the grass to grow deep roots now, and keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start to spring. You should apply a quality, dry fertilizer to all grassy areas, mid-to-late fall.

Reseed the Lawn: The best time to reseed your existing lawn is in the fall. The ideal time to reseed in most parts of Arizona is in late August or September. It will germinate while temperatures are relatively warm, then grow and mature as temperatures begin to cool, thus ensuring lush green grass in spring. Just make sure not to overseed.

Spread Mulch: Spread 2 to 3 inches of fresh mulch around shrubs and trees once in the fall and again in the spring. Mulch helps protect roots from frost and helps retain moisture during cold winter days. It also suppresses weeds and, overtime, mulches made from organic materials break down and increase your soil’s structure and fertility. Shredded hardwood, cocoa mulch, compost, and fresh wood chips all make good choices.

Plant Trees and Shrubs: Fall is actually the best time to plant new trees and shrubs. The combination of warm soil and cool air in the fall enables the establishment of strong root systems. September through late October are ideal for planting. When planting in the fall, select balled-and-burlapped or container-grown plants rather than bare-rooted plants, which should only be planted in early spring.

Do Some Pruning: A little work now results in healthy plants, shrubs, and perennials come spring. Prune to remove dead or broken branches as well as those with heavy disease or insect infestations. Mid-to-late fall is also a great time to complete some corrective pruning. Corrective pruning means removing parts of a plant that are not growing as they should.

Spread Mulch: Spread 2 to 3 inches of fresh mulch around shrubs and trees once in the fall and again in the spring. Mulch helps protect roots from frost and helps retain moisture during cold winter days. It also suppresses weeds and, overtime, mulches made from organic materials break down and increase your soil’s structure and fertility. Shredded hardwood, cocoa mulch, compost, and fresh wood chips all make good choice.

Summer Lawn Watering Guide for Phoenix Residents

summer lawn watering guide

Ensuring a healthy, lush, green lawn doesn’t have to waste one of Earth’s natural resources – water, if you maintain proper watering techniques. Proper watering, along with fertilizing, and mowing practices can help prevent a host of problems including: bald patches, insect infiltration, and disease. Below are some basic guidelines for ensuring your lawn receives just the right amount of water this summer.

How Much Water Does Your Grass Need?

To maintain a lush, healthy lawn, you should completely wet the root zone each time you water. To accomplish this, grass should be watered to a depth of 6 to 10 inches, once every three days during the summer months (June through August). While it may be tempting to water every day, it is not necessary, and is in fact wasteful and expensive. Watering every day can also negatively affect your lawn’s growth.

Here’s a test to determine if more water is needed. Using a ten-inch soil probe, sharpened piece of rebar or a very long screwdriver, try pushing it into the ground one hour after watering. If it goes in easily, no water is needed, whereas water is needed if it won’t penetrate the soil. Water your lawn until you can easily slide the probe to the recommended depth of 6 to 10 inches.

When Should You Water Your Grass?

In the desert, watering in the evenings or early morning hours are the most effective times to water, because wind and evaporation are lower. High winds can distort sprinkler patterns and produce non-uniform irrigation. By watering in the evening or early morning hours, you promote deeper root growth, which ultimately makes your lawn more water efficient.

How Long Should You Water?

Now that you know how much water your lawn needs, and when you should water, it is important to understand the length of time required to get the recommended amount. How long you should water depends upon the output of your sprinkler system. On average according to Water, Use It Wisely, pop-up sprinklers apply 0.4 inches of water and impact sprinklers apply 0.2 inches in 15 minutes.

You can; however, expect to see some variation depending on the conditions. If you notice a big difference – greater than 0.2 inches – then you may want to contact a professional landscape and sprinkler repair expert in order to get more uniform, and as a result more efficient, coverage. To measure your sprinkler systems’ output, follow the steps outlined below.

  • Collect four to eight shallow cans.
  • Spread cans around your lawn, 4-5 inches apart.
  • Turn on entire sprinkler system, and leave on for 15 minutes.
  • Once the sprinklers turn-off, measure the depth of water in each can.
  • Record the numbers on the test can worksheet, found on wateruseitwisely.com, and calculate your sprinkler number according to their directions.

How to Repair Bare Spots in Your Lawn

bare spots in your lawn

Do you dream of having a lush looking lawn? Are  you plagued by unsightly bare, bald, thin or patchy spots? Whatever you want to call those unsightly spots within your lawn, there is hope for treating them, and restoring your lawn to its once lush glory.  Read on for more information on how to repair bare spots in your lawn. If you have any questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact Elite Landscaping.

Bare spots in your lawn could result from heavy foot traffic, drought, disease, chemical burn, weed or insect infestations, dogs doing their daily business, or any combination of these conditions. Before you can repair bare spots in your lawn, it is imperative that you determine the root cause of the problem, as this will help prevent it from reoccurring and destroying your perfectly manicured yard.

Determining the Root Cause of the Problem

If heavy foot traffic is the cause of the bare spots in your lawn, look for ways to minimize the amount of traffic those areas receive. Some great methods for controlling foot traffic include installing stepping stones, a gravel pathway, or a barrier that works to reroute traffic and protect your lawn – all of which are relatively inexpensive to incorporate into your landscaping.

If you’re dealing with a insect or weed infestation, or a combination of the two, it’s best to determine the specific cause of the infestation(s) prior to remedying the problem. Once applied, most treatments will require some time to work, before you can grow new grass. Always follow manufacturer recommendations when using any kind of treatment to avoid adverse effects.

Ready, Set, Repair

Once you have addressed the specific cause or causes of the bare spots in your lawn, it’s time to repair the damage, which is easier to do than you’d think. Your best bet is to replant the grass using seed, fertilizer, and mulch. Depending on availability, you can also use sod, as long as you keep it moist. The next six steps will walk you through the process of replanting.

Step #1: Break up the dirt using various garden tools.

Step #2: Add top soil if your dirt is mostly clay (common in Arizona).

Step #3: Choose the right type of grass seed depending on shade density and spread onto to the dirt patch using a seed spreader or your hands.

Step #4: Add fertilizer separately. You can also purchase all-in-one lawn patches which combine grass seed, fertilizer, and mulch.

Step #5: Spread the mulch material of your choice on the affected areas after planting the grass seed and applying the fertilizer to help keep it moist and prevent the birds from eating your seeds.

Step #6: Water right away and frequently. You should water the affected areas up to three times per day for 7 to 10 days following seeds’ application. Once the grass has started growing, you can water once per day.

*Note: Late spring is the best time to repair bare spots in warm season grasses, whereas, early fall is the best time to repair bare spots in cool season grasses. If you don’t know what type of grass you have, or you have any questions you’d like answered, please feel free to contact a professional landscaper.*

How to Keep Bugs at Bay While Outdoors

bugs

Summer is such a wonderful time. Except when swarming flies and mosquitoes are threatening to ruin your cookout. Fight back and avoid getting bitten simply by following some natural (no need for harmful bug repellents) steps as found below.

Ban Standing Water

Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Kiddie pools, planter trays, mop buckets, bird baths and backyard ponds are just some of the places where water gathers. When you can’t remove the water, do one of two things: 1) Place some window screen over the top of the container or 2) install a pump that gently agitates the water.

Move and Remove Attractants

One of the easiest methods you can use to cut back on the number of bugs in your yard is to relocate your trash and recycling bins as far away from your prime entertaining areas as possible. You should also ensure the lids fit snugly. Flies love garbage and ants love sugary residues found in both types of receptacles.

Keep Food Covered

While backyard barbeques and picnics under the sun are favorite summer pastimes – you should do your best to keep food covered at all times. Unless, of course, you want uninvited guests enjoying your meal. You can find metal or nylon “food tents” and silicone lids at your local grocer or retailer for reasonable prices. Paper towels work too.

Keep Your Landscaping Tidy

Overgrown bushes, lawns, and trees provide great hiding spots for a slew of insects. Keep your landscaping looking sharp by trimming back tall grass, brush, and weeds regularly. Trees and bushes should be trimmed as well. Don’t have the time to devote to keeping your landscaping tidy? You may want to consider hiring a professional landscaper.

Make Some New Friends

Make some new friends – feathered friends that is. Inviting feathered friends into your yard can make for fun window watching as well as effective pest control. Most birds survive off a diet of berries, seeds, and insects. Install a birdbath or fountain and a bird feeder to encourage your new friends to make themselves at home.

How to Protect Your Plants from Wind and Rain

Protect Your Plants from Wind and Rain This Monsoon Season

protect your plants from wind and rain; Elite Landscaping and Sprinkler RepairAbrupt lightning strikes, ear-splitting thunder booms, racing flood waters, punishing winds and eye-blinding dust storms – these can all signify one thing; the arrival of monsoon season.

In Arizona, monsoon season typically spans a length of 15 weeks, from June 15th to September 30th to be exact. It relieves Arizonians from 110+ degree days, yet brings with it humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife.

It brings much needed rain to lands once dry, thus alleviating the need for homeowners across the state to water their plants. However, too much rain and wind, can bring about bad tidings as well. Just look at this year’s news reports!

Monsoon season throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan area causes trees and plants to be more vulnerable to the elements. Heavy rains can over-saturate the soil. Strong winds can cause them to uproot or fall over.

However, there are several things you can do both before and during monsoon season to protect your plants from wind and rain. Here, we at Elite Landscaping and Sprinkler Repair, discuss some of the more important tips.

4 Tips for Your Plants’ Protection

Tip #1: Before planting new plants or trees, you should take time to ensure proper soil preparation and cultivation. This will help you avoid problems with heavy rainfall.

Tip #2: Protect vegetable gardens from heavy rains and winds by placing the correct amount of mulch around their beds.

Tip #3: Attend to pruning. Proper pruning will ensure your plants and trees aren’t too top heavy – therefore making them more tolerant to the onslaught of monsoon season.

Tip #4: Cover tiny plants, or plants that are more delicate, with a fine sheet off glass that is supported on small wire clip pegs. Tilt the glass slightly to one side so that the rain water runs away from them.

Small Backyard Landscaping

small backyard landscaping, landscaping for small backyards
{Image Source: Fluteflute via Wikimedia Commons}

If your home is your castle, but the area right outside your backdoor looks something like a postage stamp in need of a landscaping miracle, you probably already know that you have a bit of work to do.

Your home’s small backyard was never meant to be abandoned and left barren.  In fact, it is an asset to your home – one that can even add thousands of dollars to your property’s value. {Source: Realestate.Com}

While conjuring up a landscaping miracle can sometimes be something of a challenge in a small backyard it is definitely worth the effort. And, although we are no magicians, we most certainly have a few tricks up our sleeves.

Landscaping Defined

First off, allow us to define what we mean by landscaping. Many homeowners’ are under the impression that grass and flowers are the only things they can add to their small backyard when in actuality there’s so much more to it.

Instead, think of your small backyard landscaping project as a horticulture environment that is enveloped by elements such as artificial lighting, fences, decks, fire-pits, built-in barbecues, natural rocks and other structures.

In order to conjure up a lasting, beautiful and valuable landscape in your small backyard it will take some planning and some patience as well as some resources.

Taking the time necessary to thoroughly plan and map out this precious space is sure to pay off in the long run. Just imagine sitting at your patio table, sipping on coffee or reading a book, while looking out at your beautiful new landscaping.

Things to Include

  • Functional and Decorative Lighting
  • Outdoor Seating Areas and Entertainment
  • Plenty of Shaded Areas
  • An Attractive Design

Start Today

Forget about how minuscule your backyard may be for a moment, and think about how lovely it will be to take the time to conjure up a great landscaping design that is sure to win your heart over.

If your budget presents limitations, you don’t have to invest all at once – you can stretch your small backyard landscaping over the course of months or even years. There’s no need to rush.

If you’d like more information on how our professional landscaping services can help transform your small backyard landscaping into something magical, please feel to contact Elite Landscaping and Sprinkler Repair at (602) 390-4645!

Low Maintenance Landscaping Paradise

Low Maintenance Landscaping Plants

Take it from me: Even in a drought prone state like Arizona, paradise is possible, as long as you have a little imagination.

If you’re anything like the average American, you probably don’t spend a lot of time at home, right?  That’s what I figured.

So, what happens when you want a beautiful yard, but don’t have a lot of time to tend to it?  Design to the rescue!

With low maintenance landscaping plants and materials, not to mention a little extra start-up time, you can have a yard that can easily take care of itself for weeks on end without compromising curb appeal or comfort.

Low Maintenance Landscaping Idea #1: Do Away With Your Grass Lawn

Those of you that have grass lawns, are acutely aware of just how much time and of course water they require, in order to remain beautiful.  But grass lawns don’t have to be the end all!

In fact, there are several low maintenance options available that may suit your needs far better than a grass lawn ever could.

These options include decomposed granite, xeriscaping, ornamental grasses, rock gardens, artificial turf and clever hardscapes.  You can also opt to add beautiful fuss free decks around your property.

Low Maintenance Landscaping Idea #2: Select Water Wise Plants

Plants such as aeoniums, papyrus, cordylines, kangaroo paws and small palms thrive on very little water – you can actually use drip irrigation – and rarely need to be pruned or fertilized.

Depending on which plants you select, during Arizona’s dog days of summer, you may need to water them a little bit more – but overall most water wise plants are drought tolerant.

Make sure you only choose plants that have been specially designated for Arizona’s climate especially considering that water is a luxury.

Plants that are in tune with their environment can help minimize your need for watering them.

Low Maintenance Landscaping Idea #3: Add Pool Friendly Plants

The last thing any pool owner wants to see upon arriving home from work or play is leaves and debris in their pool.

Minimize your need for cleaning your pool by carefully selecting plants that will not shed their leaves or drop other debris into your pool’s water.

For more low maintenance landscaping ideas, please feel free to browse our website at www.elitesprinkler.com, or contact us directly at (602) 390-4645.

We look forward to the opportunity of helping you design your dream low maintenance landscaping!

Low Maintenance Landscaping Xeriscape