Ecoyards provides complete lawn and landscape services with an emphasis on quality customer service and environmental responsibility.

Posts in the category "Seattle Lawn Care"

Lawn care during dry weather

August 22, 2012 @ 8:00 am

Dry, brown lawn in August. Photo by Ecoyards.

It’s almost a given around Seattle that lawns turn brown during the dry summer months. It’s too expensive to keep watering grass during the summer, so many of us in the Northwest choose to let the lawn go dormant knowing it’ll bounce back in the fall. There’s good incentive to lay off watering lawns during the summer months. Seattle, for example, charges three tiers of water rates from May 15 to September 15 when water is in greatest demand and shortest supply; customers are charged progressively more as their water use increases.

Brown lawns aren’t necessarily dead lawns. Turfgrass goes dormant as a survival mechanism. Lawns can tolerate about 4-6 weeks without water without experiencing too much stress or damage, if the temperatures are fairly even. If the mercury skyrockets, you’ll likely to see some damage in about 3 weeks or less. Turfgrass goes dormant to protect themselves from drying out. In this protective mode, it sends what available moisture it has to its crown, roots and rhizomes. The grass stops growing and turns brown.

Here are some tips for how to care for your lawn during dry conditions:

  • Keep off the grass if possible. Walking on the grass can stress it out.
  • Dormant lawns don’t need fertilizers. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the grass won’t be able to take all that food in.
  • Improve the soil during the spring and fall by aerating, topdressing and overseeding as appropriate. Healthier soil means your grass has more moisture available to it root system during the hottest months.
  • Keep grass high, leave clippings on the grass to add more moisture to your lawn.
  • Weed as much as you can during the spring, before the dry months arrive. Weeds hog up precious moisture and nutrients that grass needs.
  • If the drought persists beyond a few weeks, it’s a good idea to give your lawn a deep weekly drink (about 1 inches). That may not be enough to turn it emerald again, but it will help it stay alive. Water in the morning so you won’t lose water to evaporation.

Reference: Managing turfgrass under drought conditions

 

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Annual bluegrass weed

August 15, 2012 @ 10:28 am

Annual bluegrass

If you take a close look at your lawn, you’re likely to find one of the most common weeds around: annual bluegrass, or poa annua. Annual bluegrass can cause headaches for golf fairway managers and homeowners who desire a smooth, manicured lawn. There are many types of annual bluegrass, both annual and perennial. This weed starts germinating around late summer, and is extremely difficult to control because it sends out lots and lots of seeds. It forms fibrous roots, dense clumps and can grow pretty tall, over a foot in height.

It’s difficult to control to remove, because it grows in turf, and can often outcompete other warm-season grass seeds. Poa tends to thrive when you mow your lawn too short, when you water lightly and too often and when you overfertilize. So the best way to control annual bluegrass is to keep a healthy turf. Washington State University Extension recommends using low-phosphate fertilizers to reduce seed production;, improving soil by aerating (though not when it germinates); and provide deep, infrequent watering.

 

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Lawn aerating, over-seeding, and top-dressing

April 5, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

Spring is here, and that means it’s time to give your lawn a healthy, natural boost by aerating, over-seeding, and top-dressing. This triple-combination lawn practice is a key way to maintain a natural, organic lawn. Doing this once every couple years will help you maintain a green healthy lawn without the use of pesticides.

Some companies may only aerate your lawn, but we feel your lawn benefits most when you also over-seed (spread grass seed) and top-dress (spread a thin layer of compost over your lawn). Here’s how and why we do it:

First, we aerate your lawn. Why aerate? Over time, lawns become compacted from heavy use; each time your pets, kids and others walk across or play on the lawn, all that foot traffic presses down on the soil, making it harder for the grass roots to take up water and other nutrients. That greatly reduces air pockets in your soil. Grass (and other roots) require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water. When we aerate your lawn, we use a mechanical aerator that pulls out small plugs of soil from the lawn about one to two inches in length. This creates little air pockets that allow water, fertilizers and other nutrients to move to the root zone more easily. These air pockets improve the lawn’s ability to absorb rain and prevents fertilizers from running off the lawn surface. The soil plugs are left on the lawn, because they’ll eventually break down and work back into the soil.

Second, we over-seed your lawn, which means we’ll spread a Northwest blend of grass seed over your lawn to help fill in bare patches. Spring is a good time to aerate, over-seed and top-dress because weather is important. Grass seed needs roughly 60F temps to germinate. Put it down too early in the winter and it just rots or gets eaten by birds. Put it down too late in the summer and you’ll have to baby-sit it with a sprinkler to keep it from drying out.

Finally, we top-dress the lawn, which involves spreading a thin layer of compost on top of your lawn. Compost is great for building healthy soil in landscape and garden beds; the same is true for your lawn. Healthy lawns require healthy soil. We’ll rake a thin layer of compost over your lawn (with some filling the aeration holes), where it will gradually move to the soil below the grass. Top-dressing with compost helps soils use fertilizer more efficiently and adds nutrients. It’s a good idea to top-dress your lawn once a year to restore soil humus.

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Early Learning Garden at Mercer Island Library

March 28, 2012 @ 12:58 pm
ladybug rocks, ecoyards, mercer island

Painted ladybug rocks, set on basalt column; all photos taken by Ecoyards

As parents of a rambunctious toddler, we’re always interested in getting our son outdoors to explore and learn. So we were excited to learn about the Mercer Island Public Library Early Learning Garden from our clients on Mercer Island. (Ecoyards frequently works with Mercer Island customers on design-and-build landscape projects; we also help many Mercer Island customers maintain their lawn and landscapes). The public library garden opened last fall, thanks to sweat and labor from hundreds of community volunteers.

The Mercer Island Library worked with the Pomegranate Center to build a unique outdoor space that connects kids with nature and literacy. The landscape design does a lot with a relatively small space that surrounds the library. A short trail starts at the parking lot and wraps around the west and north sides of the public library. It connects three gathering circles: basalt columns in the smallest, granite boulders next and cedar benches and stumps to sit on in the last and largest gathering circle.

cedar circle, mercer island, ecoyards

Cedar circle

The garden recognizes that literacy and life-long learning can go beyond books and reading. Young kids have a sense of wonder and imagination that can be cultivated early on, both indoors and outdoors. Alphabet tiles handmade by children and other volunteers are placed throughout the trail to help the library’s youngest patrons develop early literacy skills. The tiles illustrate animals and plants that can be found on Mercer Island, such as B for butterfly and J for jay.

Maple pavers, mercer island, ecoyards

M for Maple

The paths are filled with empty hazelnut shells (yes, they come from Washington), and make for a fun crunching sound under feet.

Child walks on path full of hazelnut shells.

There’s a lot for gardeners to love as well. Northwest native plants such as rhododendrons, ferns and Oregon grape.

Rhododendron, Mercer Island

Rhododendron

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Ecoyards Achieves Landscape Industry Certified Status

September 28, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

At Ecoyards, we pride ourselves on our professionalism, knowledge, and high standards in the landscape industry. This year, owner Andy Nicholls took the extra step to become a Landscape Industry Certified Manager through the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). On Sept. 21, PLANET announced that Andy has successfully earned his certification. He is now a nationally-certified landscape manager in Seattle. PLANET is an international association serving lawn care professionals, maintenance contractors, installation/design/build professionals, and interiorscapers.

To get his certification, Andy underwent an exhaustive written examination that tested his knowledge, skills and theory in all aspects of working in the landscape industry. He had to demonstrate mastery of seven topics covering leadership and corporate citizenship; production operations/horticulture; sales and marketing; strategic planning; human resources; risk, law, and contracts; and corporate financial management. The program requires that he maintains certification through mandatory continuing education.

Landscape Industry Certified, Seattle, Ecoyards

For our customers, it means you can expect the same high quality and professionalism that you’ve come to expect from Ecoyards. Andy’s certification, however, means he’s taken the extra step to validate his skills and knowledge in the industry.

For more information, visit landscapenetwork.org.

 

 

 

Filed under Seattle Drainage, Seattle Hardscaping, Seattle Irrigation Services, Seattle Landscape Design, Seattle Landscape Maintenance, Seattle Lawn Care, Seattle Rain Gardens, Seattle Water Features · No Comments »

Get the moss out – or not

March 14, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

It rains a lot in the Northwest, so it’s inevitable that many of us deal with moss in our lawns and on our roofs.

Mosses are opportunistic, thriving in just about any location where there is access to nutrients and moisture. Mosses spread in a number of ways, but they depend on moisture to reproduce, according to Oregon State University. Some mosses are extremely absorbent and are able to take up nutrients from water that flows over them (for example, under a shady tree where it’s wet and moist). Other mosses take up nutrients directly from soil (i.e. bare patch in your lawn) or substrate on which they are growing (i.e. cedar shake or composite roofs). So it’s no surprise that mosses take hold on our sidewalks, rooftops, driveways, trees, and in our gardens.

Moss in lawns
Many people view moss in lawns as a problem. With the exception of rooftops, mosses don’t necessarily cause damage. Moss doesn’t kill your grass. Moss in your lawn is usually symptom of a stressed lawn. Most likely, you’ve got poor drainage, excessive shade, poor fertility or compacted soil. Moss grows because these conditions aren’t idea for turf. Unless you address these underlying problems, moss is likely to return. Consider improving soil conditions, or planting something other than grass in that area. Some good substitutes for grass in areas where mosses thrive include blue-star creeper, beach strawberry (a Northwest native) and sweet woodruff.

beach strawberry

If you’re determined to get the moss out, there are both physical and chemical controls. Moss can be killed with a number of products containing ferrous sulfate, ferrous ammonium sulfate, including Moss-Out and lawn fertilizers that contain some type of moss control. According to the Washington State University Extension, none of these materials pose serious threats to the environment; iron and sulfur are essential nutrients for grasses and tend to improve their color. Using chemical controls such as Moss-Out can be quick, easy and relatively cheap. But they won’t actually fix the problem in the long run. Why? You can kill the moss, leaving bare dirt. Since the conditions weren’t great for grass in the first place, moss will continue to grow and invade that particular area of your lawn.

To fix the underlying problems that promote moss growth: improve soil conditions by aerating or amending the soil with compost; trim tree limbs or shrubs that shade out portions of your lawn; plant shade-tolerant grass seed or ground covers; improve grass growth by mowing at the right height and cutting off no more than one-third of the blade at a time. For areas where drainage is a problem, you may also consider installing a French drain or trench to prevent water from pooling up in certain areas of your property.

Moss on rooftops
Moss on rooftops can damage shingles, cause water leaks and other problems. Cedar shake and composition roofs are more vulnerable to moss problems than metal roofs (remember how moss takes up moisture and nutrients?) Again, there are chemicals you can use to get moss off of rooftops. The Washington Toxics Coalition has this handy fact sheet with suggestions on how to prevent moss on your roof:

  • Keep tree limbs from touching your house or roof;
  • Trim overhanging branches to reduce shade and falling leaves;
  • Keep your roof clean;
  • Sweep off pine needles, small branches, leaves, which are breeding grounds for moss;
  • Use a garden blower or a broom; don’t pressure wash composition roofs because it’s the quickest way to reduce the life of your roof;
  • Look out for early signs of moss growth, indication by green or black discoloration. Spot treat with moss-killing soap;
  • Consider mounting zinc strips along your roof peaks or beneath shingles.

If you do use chemical controls, the Toxics Coalition recommends soap-based products over acid-based ones. It lists some of the least-toxic moss-killing products: Safer Moss & Algae Killer and Surface Cleaner II; Bayer Advanced 2-in-1 Moss & Algae Killer; Worry Free Moss & Algae Control; St. Gabriel Laboratories Moss Killer. The group recommends that you avoid products containing zinc sulfates or copper sulfates because these chemicals are not biodegradable. Also, the group says, be sure that rinse water does not run off the roof or street and directly into a body of water.

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Smart irrigation

March 13, 2011 @ 8:13 am

When I was growing up, one of the chores my dad assigned us four kids was to keep the front and back lawn evenly watered and emerald green. My dad never installed an automatic sprinkler system, let alone put a timer on it. Why would he need to? He had four perfectly capable children whom he could assign to hand-water the lawn. I remember countless mornings when my siblings and I would take turns going out to water the lawn before the hottest hours of the day descended. We would methodically move the spray nozzle from section to section, making sure to moisten but not over-saturate the grass.

Thank goodness for advances in technology. My dad was trying to be efficient with his water use — i.e., watering in the morning so as not to lose too much to evaporation; avoiding excessive run-off by not watering too much — but smart irrigation technology has made the whole process so much easier. Much like smart technology that has allowed us to set and control the thermostats in our homes, smart irrigation technology allows us to set how often and how much we water our lawns or landscape beds.

Traditional timers allow you to set a sprinkler system to turn on and off when you want. Smart irrigation technology senses weather changes and adjusts the irrigation accordingly. If it rains, it stops watering. (How many times have you seen sprinkler systems running when it’s raining out? This would certainly put an end to that.) If it’s hotter or the soil is drier than usual, the controller will increase watering. The controllers do all the work, and they are a much more efficient and sophisticated way to reduce outdoor water use. Studies show that weather-based irrigation technology help reduce outdoor water use anywhere from 15 to 30 percent, depending on the type of controller and where it was used. One study involving Denver, Colo. and two locations in California found that average individual homes save between 7 and 25 percent in water. If you’re interested in reading more, the U.S. Bureau of Interior did a literature review of studies involving smart controllers.

Many cities such as Seattle offer rebates for households that install smart irrigation controllers. In Seattle, the rebates range from $50 to $500, depending on what you install and whether it is on a new or existing sprinkler system. A smart controller on a new sprinkler system can net you rebates of between $225 and $375. You have to submit your rebate application within 90 days of installation. Click here to read about an irrigation project we completed in North Seattle using the latest in smart irrigation technology, which qualified the homeowner for a $480 rebate from Seattle Public Utilities.

Rotating spray-head sprinkler nozzles are also a new innovation in irrigation technology (shown above in top photo). They apply water more slowly and evenly than conventional sprinkler nozzles. The nozzles shoot multi-trajectory, rotating streams that apply water more uniformly. The water that shoots out of these rotating nozzles is less likely to mists and more resistant to wind. Applying water slowly allows soil to absorb it without running off into the sidewalks and streets.

Check out this city of Seattle brochure for more information about how to water wisely while keeping your landscape healthy and beautiful.

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Ecoyards and PLANET

December 27, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

Ecoyards is now a proud member of the Professional Landcare Network.  PLANET cultivates and safeguards opportunities for the dedicated professionals and companies that create and enhance the world’s landscapes.  PLANET’s mission is to be the respected leader and voice of the green industry.

Learn more about planet at the following site:

http://www.landcarenetwork.org/

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Ecoyards wins Angie’s List Super Service Award

December 21, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

Ecoyards Earns Coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

Ecoyards has been awarded the prestigious 2010 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor bestowed annually on approximately 5 percent of all the companies rated on the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies.

“Our Super Service Award winners are the cream of the crop when it comes to providing consistently high quality customer service, as judged by the customers who hired them,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List.

Ecoyards is thrilled to have one this 2010 award in three different categories – Landscaping; Lawn and Yard Work; Hardscaping and Pavers.  Thanks to all our great customers for posting positive reviews on Ecoyards.

Angie’s List Super Service Award winners have met strict eligibility requirements including earning a minimum number of reports, an exemplary rating from their customers and abiding by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List, but members can find the 2010 Super Service Award logo next to company names in search results on AngiesList.com.

Angie’s List collects consumer reviews on local contractors and doctors in more than 500 service categories. Currently, more than 1 million consumers across the U.S. rely on Angie’s List to help them make the best hiring decisions. Members get unlimited access to local ratings via Internet or phone, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine and help from the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Take a quick tour of Angie’s List and view the latest Angie’s List news.

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Garden Calendar: April

April 19, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

1. Plant a tree in honor of National Arbor Day, which is April 30.

2. Give your lawn a face-lift by aerating, overdressing and topdressing about every two years. (Read more about how to do so in this blog post). Otherwise fertilize your lawn with a good organic slow-release fertilizer.

3. Mow weekly, removing no more than 1/3 of the blade.

4. Add compost to your vegetables, trees, landscape beds.

5. In the vegetable garden, continue to plant cool season crops, such as lettuce, beets, snap peas, chard, radish, spinach and parsnip.

6. Plant seeds for annuals such as cosmos, asters, marigolds and zinnias.

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