Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's That Time of Year...

LAWN MAINTENANCE TIME...Maybe not in your part of the country, but here in Florida everything is starting to bloom, trees are budding, pollen is covering everything and the grass has begun growing. Oh, and happy March 1st! If you are still blanketed with snow, hopefully it won't be too much longer. I mowed a few weeks ago mostly to mulch up the leaves from the fall so I wouldn't have to rake, but Monday I mowed because it needed it. The shaded spots were quite tall so I had to even things out. Now I'll have to keep that up for another 8 months, but that's ok. It's exercise, makes things look nice and it's not humid yet so I enjoy it.

When it comes to maintenance in the south, life isn't as easy as it was in Western NY. Up there you'd mow, fertilize a bit and then seed any small dead spots and that was about it. You only had to use a sprinkler in certain areas usually and not all that long from what I recall. Down here, that is definitely not the case....

In the 8 years we've been in Florida, we've certainly had our share of experiences with St Augustine grass. That is the type of grass we have down here. I don't believe it has anything to do with the City of St. Augustine, but couldn't find a definitive answer. If I had to describe it, it would be tough, coarse and not real soft to the touch. It is also very difficult to maintain well, but does look nice when it's growing nicely and freshly mowed.

When we moved into our first home, the entire yard was dead due to lack of maintenance from the prior owner. When we moved in we had to have a sprinkler system installed and the entire lawn resodded. This was a new experience for us. The sod comes in pallets and is slapped down by a crew of a few people one square at a time. It's a very labor intensive process, especially if you're pulling up existing grass. I know this well, even after having the entire replaced with good quality sod, after a year or two you'll get spots that either don't get hit well with a particular sprinkler, get direct sun with no shade, or the dreaded chinch bug might take hold and start munching on a spot and spread out from there.

It is really quite a lot of work to try and stay on top of all that. For our first 5 years I would fertilize, water and resod the problem areas, trying to fix whatever issue I thought was occurring in a particular spot. Did you fertilize too much, not enough, wrong fertilizer type, are there chinch bugs, just plain dry, etc. etc.?! Depending on the year, I might have had to put down an entire new pallet of sod or sometimes more and like I said, the work to remove the old stuff is rough!

Fast forward to now and I don't do hardly ANY of that! Bug Out to the rescue! They are one of the big pest control and lawn maintenance companies here. They can do everything from lawn care and maintenance, to indoor/outdoor pest control and termite protection/bonding. This isn't a public service for them, but I must say, they rock when it comes to lawn care. When we moved into this particular house a little over 3 years ago, I was still trying to maintain things and after laying down another pallet of sod in the hot humid summer, I finally threw in the towel and said NO MORE!

I had seen all the little signs in neighbors yards when they come to put down fertilizer/pest/weed control every month or two and thought I'd give it a try. It is so worth it, I noticed a HUGE difference. After having them for 2 years now I have not had to dread having to resod large portions of my yard any longer. My maintenance consists of edging/weed wacking and mowing. This year two spots were bugging me, one by the mailbox and one directly adjacent to the driveway that I know a sprinkler doesn't hit as much as it should and I did resod, but only 3 chunks! I did all of my spring lawn maintenance in 5 minutes. That just makes me smile knowing how difficult, time consuming and ultimately unsuccessful it has been before.

Sometimes the hardest part is knowing when to say when, swallow your pride, bite the bullet and leave certain things to the professionals! I currently do all the mowing, trimming, light landscaping myself, but lots of people farm that out here as well. I could see the value of outsourcing that portion too, but I think I do a pretty good job there and not quite to the point where I can justify that.

One thing I do need now is a new weed wacker. My 3 year old Black and Decker Grass Hog is on it's last legs. I really like them and I can get through the whole yard on one charge, but the problem is they are only built to last around 3 years. I got a free gas powered one from a neighbor that had the hard plastic string thing, but I just cannot get used to the bulk/weight of that along with the noise and the string is gone after one attempt to use that yesterday. So I'm planning to go back to the latest Black and Decker rechargeable, which I think is this one here. I saw that one comes with 2 batteries now, which are shared with other Black and Decker rechargeable tools. I need a new rechargeable drill, so thinking that might work out good. Anyone have luck with a particular brand of rechargeable weed wacker? Let me know, as I'll probably purchase one either today or tomorrow online. Thanks and good luck with your lawn this year!


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