You step out onto your patio on an early summer morning, the sun’s rays just barely peeking above the eastern horizon. A fresh cup of joe rests between your fingers, and as soon as the warm liquid kisses your lips, they curl in satisfaction. If your friends saw you now, they wouldn’t have to ask what caused the joy you’re feeling — they’d need only to look at your lawn.
By Dustin Jayroe
It’s the American dream; right behind finding a good partner to settle down and start a family with, working up the ladder of success to make a name for yourself and eating apple pie and ice cream. We all yearn for the perfect landscape to complement our home — a yard so uniform in color and lush with grass, yet as tight as if a barber works around the clock to edge every blade. But there’s a lot of work that goes into having the hottest plot on the block, something Derek Schaffer of Hillcrest Lawn Care knows very well.
He’s been at this game for more than 20 years, delivering the best-looking and most efficient landscaping to each and every one of his many clients. And as summer quickly approaches, we could all (probably) use a little help from an expert — either with a few minute details or repurposing our entire outdoor feng shui.
In the month of May, Schaffer recommends having a landscaper come in and aerate your lawn.
As the months pass, filled with rains and foot traffic, even the best-kept lawns can become compacted, making it difficult for the roots of the grass to breathe. A simple aeration opens the soil up and is one of the biggest and simplest keys to a healthy lawn.
This time of year, folks should also be removing weeds from flower beds and mulching, perhaps even removing old mulch to be replaced with new.
“You don’t have to do that every year, but it’s good to do it every couple of years,” Schaffer says. “Remove that old mulch before you put down fresh mulch, and fresh mulch is key to keeping the weeds down. It makes your yard look really sharp.”
Just be sure not to over-mulch, as it can strangle some of your best plants and flowers.
A lot of aesthetic beauty can be attained by simply knowing when and how to mow, especially in these first few mows of the year. A common mistake that people make, according to Schaffer, is scalping their lawn, believing that a really low cut is helping the health of their grass, when it’s actually a hindrance.
“Certain grasses can do that; you can scalp Bermuda anytime,” he says. “But you want to be very careful with your St. Augustines and your Zoysia grasses, not to cut those down and cut them too low — especially St. Augustine, as the roots run across the top.”
Schaffer also recommends mowing a different direction every time you mow and thatching, or removing patches of dead grass, this time of year.
Perhaps the most important thing a homeowner can do for his or her lawn is fertilization.
“I highly recommend anybody who really cares about their lawn to get on a fertilization program,” Schaffer says. “It is a very smart buy. It goes a long way for not a lot of money. I think most of the average yards are $50 to $60 to have the yard treated, and it’s usually seven times a year.”
This is also trimming season for many of us — hedges, shrubs and bushes. While this is important maintenance for our plants, it is also important to know when to prune and when not to.
“For instance, right now a lot of azaleas are blooming,” Schaffer says. “You don’t want to trim those until they’re done blooming. You also don’t want to fertilize those till they’re done blooming either. But a lot of shrubs, your evergreens, you can trim those just about anytime you want.”
Speaking of plants in bloom, this is also the perfect time of year to begin working on your potted arrangements. Schaffer notes that many people will fill their pots with annuals, but he recommends using a base of perennial plants when potting so that you can actually use them over and over again, even transplanting them elsewhere in your yard. Many perennials also attract bees and butterflies, another selling point for Schaffer.
“It’s a nice thing to do for the earth right now,” he says.
Hillcrest Lawn Care • (501) 666-9405 • hillcrestlawn.care