Are you tired of looking at your yard not knowing where to begin? Let me give you 10 great reasons to call me for an educational landscape consultation.
- Lawn Care: Whether you want to remove your lawn completely or learn why your lawn never seems to be happy, I can help you come up with a solution, watering schedule and fertilization.
2. Plant selection: From full sun to full shade I know plants. Low water, low maintenance, native and adapted plants and trees are my specialty. I can also teach you how and when to trim.
3. Outdoor living space: Allow me to create additional living spaces with clever solutions including stone options and installation details.
4. Privacy: Have a neighbor you would prefer not to see, or a noise issue that makes being outside unpleasant? Let me show you some plant and design selections that can address your needs with style.
5. Trees: Oak Wilt is epidemic in our area so I teach you how to properly trim Oaks and all trees as well as when to do it.
6: Water conservation: We all have to do our part and I provide valuable money-saving information on water conserving plants, designs and rain barrels.
7. Organic pest control and fertilization: I am certified in organic gardening and have. Whole host of great ways to control or improve just about everything. Why use chemicals when there are organic solutions to almost every problem?
8. Design: I will teach you to design your own space using basic measurements and the plant selection we compile during our visit.
9. You can do it yourself or take educated bids: If you are the type of person who really prefers to do it yourself and just need some direction a landscape consult is a perfect place to start. I give you step by step instruction including timing and where to purchase the materials you will need. If you plan to have the work done or take any bids you need to know what you are biding on and what you truly need. An educated consumer is a bad businesses worst nightmare. My job is to talk you out of “up sells” and unnecessary materials by showing you “all” of your options, not just the most profitable ones..
10. I can save you thousand in costly mistakes: Since I am not selling you anything my only goal is to educate you on your landscape. I help you stay in your budget, save money on unnecessary plants and materials and offer alternatives to costly hardscape finishes.
Before a consultation…
After the design consultation
Before: Desolate post-construction, outdated landscape in serious need of some love.
After: A Hill Country landscape indicative of the architectural aspects of the home and the beautiful Texas Hill Country topography.
Add the best plants for our Central Texas planting zones 8a and 8b, education on soil and care and you are set for success!
Consultations are really fun and informative. They should be required for every home owner! I provide Landscape Consultations for Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Austin, Buda, San Marcos and Kyle. Depending on your area, a one hour consultation ranges from $100.00-$150 for an hour. Should you need more design or drawing time but don’t need a full design, a second hour can be bought at a discount. Should a full design be needed, the cost of this consult goes towards the cost of a full design. The average design ranges from $500-$1500 and you can find more information here. A two hour consult is also great deal for smaller spaces and generally allows for more detail on plant layout. Most only require a one hour consultation and we typically have time to discuss all of your needs, develop solutions and create a “basic sketch’ of the work to be done. Landscape consults are scheduled Monday – Friday mornings from 9:00 to 1:30. Summer hours are 9:30 – 12:30. If you would like to contact me to schedule your landscape consultation, give me a call at 512-733-7777 or send me an email at email@example.com.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Beneficial insects play a very important role in our biological warfare. One of the best reasons to employ the bug world to fight your pest fights is that chemical insecticides in the form of a broad spray or granular broadcast kill the good guys and can make matters worse. It has also been shown that destructive insects are actually becoming immune to chemical pesticides do to the gross over use in tremendous volume, which is obviously counterproductive in a large number of ways. Chemicals destroy not just the pests, but people, water and soil too. It is very important to get to know your friends and foes in the garden. When you know who is actually working for you, you can make better choices in the way you tackle a potential pest problem. For example, spraying a pesticide over a large area kills your bees, lady bugs, spiders, lizards and any other soft bodies creature who comes in contact with it. Do you really want your children and pets around that? Best part is (not really the best part…being facetious) is that when the destruction is done on land, it dissipates into the air as well…lose, lose.
You can order many bugs online to add to your arsenal, and others like Ladybugs, beneficial Nematodes and Praying Mantis can be purchased at local nurseries and released in your yard. (How cool is that!) You can also order them online at The Bug Lady and some natural pesticide at Planet Natural online. Many of your local nurseries will carry much of this as well so always support your local business whenever possible and if they do not carry these items, ask them to do so!
Lady bugs eat Aphids, in fact, an adult Ladybug can eat up to 5000 Aphids in its lifetime. While you may easily recognize a
lovely Lady Beetle, you may not recognize its eggs that are attached to the bottom of a leave in a yellow egg cluster, or that it’s larvae, that can eat a good amount of Aphids themselves, looks like a tiny ugly alligator (photo right). This is why it so important to know who your allies are.
One example of a pest or visitor I don’t mind sharing with is a caterpillar that will some day be a butterfly. Swallow Tails (caterpillar shown below) love dill and every year I plant plenty so they can have their fill. However, the Tomato Horn Worm is another story. While the Horn Worm will become a Sphinx Moth (Hummingbird Moth) they are voracious and should be controlled as they can eat an entire tomato plant or Penta overnight. I choose the pick and flick method. Yes, it is just how it sounds, I pick them off the plant and flick them off my property, or I escort them down the road to a field away from my house if my son catches me as he believes you should find them a new home ( and he is right), but you may choose to employ the Trichogramma Wasp. This wasp lays it eggs in the caterpillars and many other pests and when the eggs hatch, they feast on the host. Pretty gross really, but after you have lost enough food to the critters…it feels more like tit-for-tat ;-/ The variety of wasp depends on your location and you can ask for the ones for your area when you order them.
Now maybe you’re not the buying bugs type, so at the very least you need to get to know who your friends are. There is a list of beneficial bugs you can find on-line, there are plenty of books, and you can find a short list of both good and bad bugs on a handy laminated single page you can buy at any bookstore for about $6. You can keep the page somewhere convenient and when you see a bug you don’t recognize, you can identify if it is a friend or a foe. If it is a friend, thank him for his kindness ;-), if it is a foe, you will know who it is and you can learn how to attack it. (organically of course )
Now, say you have found a huge breakout of Aphids, (which by the way can be controlled by a hard spray of water from the hose) you can get your Lady Beetles and set them free on that plant/plants, and they will go right to work. If it is a pest you identify but are unable to locate a beneficial bug to “sick on it”, you can be sure your Praying Mantis will take on the job. They are ravenous and vicious and while they will make good work on the bad bugs, they aren’t choosy and will eat anything in their way, including good bugs or her partners head after she has mated. Ugh
However, if you locate a certain bug and realize that the infestation is too great and or aren’t going to purchase bugs, and you think you need to rely on chemical warfare, than you will know what you are treating and can treat only the affected plants, not the whole yard. You begin of course with organics, but if the problem persists, you go to the chemicals as a last resort. There truly is an organic remedy for just about everything, so taking a daily stroll through the garden is not only therapeutic, but helps you see there is a problem before it is too big for an organic solution.
If you are on Facebook, please ck out my” Lisa’s Landscape & Design” Page and by pressing the “like” button you will get daily updates about all sorts of great info including pics of beneficial bugs and what they are hungry for. Here is also a list of the good guys from the Mater Gardeners website.
Happy Gardening !!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on Facebook!)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
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One of the most important and intriguing classes I’ve ever taken in my landscape education, was about the soil. It is the foundation and the environmental anchor of the landscape. If your soil isn’t healthy, your garden will suffer.
Much like our own bodies, we will only get out of it, what we put in. (Above is a nutrient poor clay and rock dirt, with little to offer much more than weeds.) If we are eating chemical laden foods, and sugar filled liquids instead of foods rich in minerals and proper hydration, we will not have the energy we need to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Plants are the same way; the success of trees, shrubs and plants depends on the health of your soil and the soluble nutrients it provides to your plants.
Above is a compost rich, amended soil that is rich with food for healthy fungi like the “white webbing” (Insert Billy Idol music) you see below the mulch. These fungi are called Mycorrhizal fungi or Mycorrhizae and this is a network of food to and from your plants via those little webs. Compost is also home to earth worms whose castings and aeration are extremely beneficial to your soil. Compost is an excellent way to assure your plants health inexpensively, with a huge reward and return in blooms and overall production. Compost chelates chemical damage from soil, adds vital nutrients for plants, fungi and healthy bacteria, increases aerobic properties and increases drainage and moisture retention in soil. Compost also conditions existing soil by encouraging microbial growth there as well. You will also notice your mulch will disappear a little faster and you will have mushrooms after the rain, but that process is the same decomposition that happens in the rain forest and no one is using chemicals to grow things there. So use organic whenever possible.
Now, all that being said, if you are still using chemical fertilizers or weed controls you will not benefit long term as much as you will from compost and organic protocols. Reason being, some of the chemicals and binders, including salt, can kill the microbes and healthy fungi, leaving your plants and lawn dependent on more chemicals. Once you go completely organic with amendments like compost, liquid seaweed, molasses, liquid compost, corn gluten, corn meal, granite sand and other essential minerals, you will create a symbiotic relationship with your soil and plants. Hose end application or granular feeding make organic feed and pest control easy to use and most are safe for your children and animals too. These products are all Lulu approved.
If you do nothing else, compost your trees, lawns and beds. There were a few years when I had two young boys with Autism and a myriad of my own health issues where all I could afford monetarily and emotionally was to compost each spring. It added to the soil depth, provided food and helped carry over watering since my yard was without irrigation. It made an extraordinary difference in the conditioning of the soil, tree growth and flower production.
I recommend you aerate your lawn at last every few years, annually if your soil is compacted, and compost your lawn to the depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch every spring once the day time temps are in the 70’s. Once day temps are in the upper 80’s it is getting hot enough for nitrogen damage. Many commercial compost’s contain animal manure and it has a higher nitrogen content that can burn your lawn and plants. So in Central Texas, I say you should be done with commercial composting by, or shortly after tax day.
These are my composter’s (above) because I’m in a tight space and I don’t want to encourage critters with an open compost system. They are great, but they really don’t make enough for a standard Austin yard, so you will most likely need bags to finish the job unless your space is pretty small. The good news is, homemade compost can be used safely all year without a concern of burning as long as no meat products are used.
This is the compost I used this year, I transfer it to a wheel burrow then distribute it about 1/2 inch all over my whole property and deeper in ruts in the lawn, and veggie beds. Unlike chemical applications that harm the whole planet, organics, used responsibly, are safe for the whole family, including pets, watersheds, and Mother Nature.
Now go get your compost on!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
Drift Rose is an outstanding, easy care rose selection for Austin and the surrounding area which is zone 8, and for those of you from hardiness zones 4 to 11. I am a huge fan of this full sun, low water, low maintenance rose and I cannot say enough great things about the prolific bloom and disease resistant foliage. If you love roses and don’t want the bother of a traditional tea rose, this is an obvious choice.
The Drift Rose is considered a carpet rose or ground cover rose because of its short, compact stature. At mature growth, it spans from about 18 inches tall to about 2.5’ to 3‘ wide and stays evergreen, even in the worst freezes I’ve seen here so far.
The colors are varied and I have found that the Coral, Red and Peach Drift (shown below) are the hardiest for drought tolerant beds in full sun. The others such as white and yellow (Popcorn) seem to “peter out” a bit on blooms comparatively, but you should certainly give them a try if you’re looking for a certain color.
I am in love with the peach because it is 3 colors in one. It has the coral, pink and yellow hues and vary from stem to stem in color. It also has a little more sizable bloom than its brighter red and orange counterparts.
The red starts out bright red and can lean into a pinker hue once the blooms are spent. This plant is perfect as a specimen or planted in mass for impact with a stunning pop of color.
Coral (below) is a stunning pop of color in the landscape and the flowers last all season long.
You shouldn’t have to trim your Drift Roses if you place them properly, but if you do, cut them during growing season as needed. These make an excellent border plant in mass and really put on a show.
This rose is so carefree I’m really not sure why it isn’t on the Earthkind list yet. For other great low maintenance and low water, disease roses check out this page for easy care roses you may enjoy as well.
Winter and early spring are great times to plant your new roses, and here is how you properly plant them.
If you’re not excited enough already. Check out my video on why you should be!
If you are in the Austin Texas or surrounding area and would like some help with the perfect plant choices for your space, based on light requirements and education on all things gardening, or a hand drawn Landscape Design, contact me at 512-733-7777, or email me for more information or to make an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will also find a lot of great information of my Facebook page or YouTube channel.
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll have noticed two huge themes, I don’t like big fat lawns and I don’t like stabby stuff. I am a bit of an anomaly in that I love to garden, but the garden doesn’t always love me. I have horrible seasonal allergies, I am sun and heat sensitive and I’ve learned a mad respect for the plant world and its ability to remind us who’s really in charge. There are some great clues when plants don’t really want you to mess with them and here are a few to help you out.
Does your tree look like the hulk in tiny pants? It’s because they don’t want those pants on. Trees hate your tree rings, and they don’t appreciate your sense of style. I like to remind people that covering a trees bark in a foot or more of soil is a lot like covering your feet in wet soil for months (and years) then see how you hold up. The tree bark rots away in the tomb of fill dirt which promotes pest issues. Eventually, if the tree is lucky enough to continue to defy nature, it will break through the barrier looking for some freedom. Much like the hulk. If you must have a structured hardscape around your trees, make it huge around and only one stone high. Never cover the base of the tree above the root collar.
Some plants are dangerous when ingested. The plant below, Datura Moonflower is also called jimsonweed, and it gets a bad wrap because people used it for a hallucinogenic and some I guess liked it, and some I guess, died. Now I don’t know about you, but if I knew that 2 seeds is a good buzz and 3 seeds is death, it’s not for doing. So if you decide to eat something, know what it is and check your sources.
This is a Moonflower seed pod. It speaks for itself 🙂 handle with care. So I say grow the plant and enjoy the glory of it all, then don’t eat it and wear gloves when handling the seed pods. To me, it’s worth it.
This big guy below is another Austin favorite that people love to plant 3 feet from their front door, not realizing the thing is the size of a Volkswagen Bug when mature. Now, it’s right by the door and you realize in order to hack back the offending fronds you’ll have to put your hands in the shark’s mouth. This baby has multiple rows of serrated teeth that are reversed on the stem to do optimal damage when you pull away from the Sago Palm plant. Cycads are awnry in general so consider that when choosing one.
I should also mention the Sago Palm is a notorious Dog killer and they seem to find it tasty for some reason, so if you have a tenacious dog, don’t plant it. If you do plant it, make sure you have room for it out of the way from people.
Here is the “OGP” because it is truly an original gangster plant. One of the most toxic on the planet, all parts of this plant from stem to stern can kill you if ingested. Oleander used to be a go-to plant in Austin if you were looking for something fast growing. It eventually got some crazy disease and they were wiped out for the most part and perhaps rightfully so. you’ll still see them for sale, so buyer beware.
The shot below is a two-fer. Not only is this Agave just waiting to skewer a passer by, it is also a fire dragon waiting to strike. Much like its spiney margined predecessors, it too is serrated along the margin edge and each tip sports a 3 inch needle. As if this isn’t exciting enough, some people are allergic to the liquid inside but only find out when they cut into the giant whale and experience a searing pain described to me as being “set ablaze”. Leaving huge water filled blisters that can take weeks to heal.
The spiney cactus to the right above, also have their own arsenal of weaponry just waiting to strike when you least expect it. If I had a nickel for every time I saw someone go aww, like it was all cute and fuzzy, then reach to touch it only to curse themselves when they realized they just injected themselves with a zillion stabby hairlike needles too small to even see in your skin.
Plants like palms, Agave and stabby guys like these need to be used judiciously in the landscape, I never recommend these plants be used where kids and pets are an issue.
Stabby, spiney weeds like those above are also milk producing plants that can cause an allergic reaction and it’s spiney margin can cause a rash as well. Always wear gloves, a weed popper or just kick the tops off these little jerks. Fact is that the roots of most of these plants can’t live without the tops, so take out your frustrations whenever you see them and give them a good swift kick (with good shoes on of course )
Some plants like the Confederate Jasmine are actually not true jasminoids. If you’ve ever trimmed one you’ve noticed they ooze a white milky substance as they are actually members of the milkweed family. Some people are allergic and don’t even know it. Always wear gloves when handling these plants if you’re not sure because reactions to plant allergies can be anything from an itchy rash to anaphylactic shock. Protect your clothing because the milk can turn black on your clothes in the wash.
Above, roses are beautiful and for the most part care free if you choose Earth Kind or heirloom varieties, but even the easiest rose can be a beast when it comes to grooming. Leather Rose Gloves and long sleeves are a must for this chore because not only do the thorns stab your skin, they can also inject a fungal disease in you that can be quite serious. Better safe than sorry…wear the gloves.
Below, there is a plethora of stabby and spikey plants that frankly I’m not a huge fan of in my garden because I’ve had to handle to many of them, though I’ve seen them in beautiful designs that I enjoy. I don’t like them in general when dogs and kids are part of the equation, or any place used for public consumption. If you have a large property and deer and water are an issue, these are a great choice away from foot traffic.
The Euphorbia above (at the bottom of this photo) can cause a wicked rash and blisters on your skin by simply scraping across it. Much like Agave which is a notorious fire breather, caution is key. I’ve learned to respect the power of these monsters and while I know I get along with tequila (Agave) really well, I’m not sure if that’s any indicator so I’m not about to find out.
Below, this tree has become the bully on the playground. Don’t let your trees, plants and shrubs take out their unruliness on your neighbors. Not only could those low limbs take an eye out, it is certainly not very welcoming.
On the topic of bullies, let’s talk parasites. Check your plants and trees for unwanted visitors and hire an insured and educated tree person/Arbor to treat them as organically as possible. For example, mistletoe below left, is a parasitic plant that needs to be cut away and ball moss (below left) in mass should be removed. Ball moss in small doses are no big deal, but when you start getting so many it is choking out branches, it’s time for removal. They are air plants that are easily plucked. Mistletoe steals nutrients from the tree, Ball Moss chokes out the sun and the trees ability to feed itself through photosynthesis.
If you have a Crepe Myrtle, never crop it. It’s a sure way to have deformed limbs that produce half the flowers and are now structurally damaged. If you want your trees to be happy and healthy, educate yourself and only hire educated people to care for your trees so they don’t eventually end up with anger issues. The one on the right was never cropped and is definitely a happier tree.
So the moral of the story is not to scare the hell out of you so you don’t go outside, but to remind you that nature is a force to be reckoned with and respected.
Plants are dangerous because of user error. (above, the curb is about 2 feet the other direction, so this is a lawsuit waiting to happen). Plants are not going to break in and get you, but they will check you if you don’t respect them. Plant responsibly, learn to ID plants like Poison Ivy and Poison Oak. If you have an allergic reaction to any plant, look up the family of the plant so you can avoid them in the future. Plants families can have vastly different features so look them up.
If you choose to live dangerously, the best defense along with education is protective gear. Always wear protective clothing in the landscape like glasses, hat, gloves and good shoes or boots instead of flip-flops. If you’re a little more subdued in your approach, you’re in luck, because there are at least a hundred more non stabby, plants and trees to choose from, that are also native and adapted to Central Texas! If you need help with plant choices, making a total plan, or just need someone to run ideas past, check out my list of services and give me a call.
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
What a blast I had at my last trip to Leaf Landscape, which used to be “Emerald Gardens”, for all of you “way back” Austinites. I used to make the trek down south, then sort of forgot about it to be honest. You’d think a landscape designer like myself would be over the whole nursery experience but I have to tell you that nothing excites me more than a fully stocked nursery. So when I saw a couple of years ago that they had moved and grown, I needed to check it out again. I am all about an inventory of native grasses, native and adapted plants, trees and shrubs, and Leaf Landscape Supply did not disappoint.
I’ll warn you that their parking is a bit challenging at times so I encourage you to go during the week whenever possible, but it is well worth any trouble you may have finding a sweet spot. They have a load up drive through that is super convenient for large orders and pick up.
My shopping partner is my son Zachariah. Zach has a form of high functioning Autism and he can get a little over sensitized sometimes, but plants and puppies (that stroll around the property) keep him calm and entertained. He is one of the biggest hearted people I’ve ever known and he has an amazing sense of humor. Zach recently graduated from high school and now we are acclimating him into his adult life. Both of my children are Autistic (18 and 26) and nature has been a big part of our therapeutic journey.
Touring a nursery gives us the opportunity to discuss plants we like and to talk about some of the cool tricks they (plants) can do. Some plants are tough as nails and others need to be babied. The truth is that every nursery carries plants that are on the edge of inappropriate for our planting/hardiness zone 8 here in Austin TX and surrounding area. If we have an exceptional drought season or cold snap, not all plants for zone 8 will survive. My favorite two examples you will see here are Dianella Flax Lily (green and white stripes above) and Bottlebrush, (fuzzy red things on a bush below). These are two plants that have to be planted in a protected area because they are really zone 9 and may not survive our cold snaps, but a little homework on your part will go a long way when making the right decision. If you’re looking for super low maintenance, make sure your plants are properly spaced (tall and wide) and suitable for the bed at maturity. If you’ve seen it at a commercial property or in a residential median, you can bet it’s drought tolerant and deer resistant. I was very pleased with the selection of tough as nails , Xeriscape plants and trees they offer.
The yard always looks amazing, it is easy to navigate and the plant selection is one of the best around. I tell my clients up north that it is well worth the drive down to 290 just west of Mopac to check this place out. The service is great, the selection is beautiful and the prices are fair. Apparently it looked so so beautiful Zach thought it also looked delicious.
It can be really tempting to buy plants and trees that don’t work for your space so I always recommend that you hire a Landscape Consultant (like me) to help you choose the right plants for your space before you go shopping. If that’s not an option, do your homework on your spaces light requirements (how many hours of sun or shade the beds or space get), is your space soggy or extra dry and rocky? You also need to amend your soil with compost and avoid all chemicals so your plants have the best advantage to start with. Follow an organic protocol and never over water.
I’ve never made any secret that spikey cacti aren’t my faves, (I am in love with sedum and echeveria) though I do have clients that enjoy them so I like to have a variety of interesting textures and colors to choose from, and I’d say Leaf Landscape has one of the largest selections out there. They are also knowledgeable and eager to help with selection and special orders.
I don’t think Zach was listening when I told him that wasn’t a seat cushion.
If you would like to schedule a plant consultation with me, at your home or at a local nursery to make the best plant choices for your space, give me a call or text at 512-733-7777, or email me at email@example.com. My fee is $125 – $150 an hour depending on your location and I can save you thousands in costly mistakes. Support local small businesses like mine, and locally owned nurseries like Leaf Landscape Supply and encourage them to carry organic fertilizer, soils and products, as well as local plants and trees for local bee’s and wildlife.
Check out my blogs on Xeriscape, deer resistant, low water, full sun and low maintenance plants, then visit Leaf Landscape Supply in far south Austin off of Mopac on the 290 frontage road. Wear your walking shoes because this place is big, check out the discount section in back, and tell them Lisa sent you!
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
It was a wise person who said that weeds were only misplaced flowers. In most cases however, weeds in your landscape seem to be the antithesis of pleasurable. Something I’ve observed over the years is that with each weedy bed I visited, came an owner of said bed, whose life was filled with weeds as well.
If your life is complicated enough, you just don’t enjoy yard work, or you want to keep it simple and enjoy other things as well, I have some quick tips that will help you out this season.
For example: Did you know that you can kill most weeds by simply cutting the tops off of them? You’re depriving them of food through photosynthesis and after a few scalps the roots can no longer support the life of the plant. Never use products like Round Up because you think it’s simple, because the truth is that it’s the worst thing you can do for your land and our planet. Round Up or Glysophate, are directly linked to Autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s cancer and MS. Here are 6 truly easy tips to an ORGANIC, weed free lawn and life!
1) Simplify: if you have a huge space, don’t worry about having the perfect lawn. If you have bald spots under trees, mulch them, the trees don’t like lawn up to their trunks anyway. If you have a yard full of weeds in any size space and don’t care about replacing your lawn, mow them, and often. Who cares as long as if it’s green. If you happen to have a nice lawn and want to keep it that way. Mow regularly as well, at least once a week and water deeply to the depth of one inch every 7 to 10 days. Alternatively, Find clever solutions as I’ve done below to address a sad, trampled lawn.
2) Compost (3,4 & 5 should also be compost it is so important in this equation) As sure as anything, a compacted, poor quality soil is perfect breeding ground for compromised lawn and weeds. Aeration every 2 to 3 years at least and composting every spring will not only add to your soil depth, it increases root depth and water retention as well as removing previous chemical damage. Compost is also essential to healthy fungi growth which is crucial to the eco system beneath your feet. A healthy, chemical free soil, rich with compost and occasional fertilizers like Medina Hasta Grow for lawns or liquid seaweed and a semi-annual application of corn gluten and you’re good to go.
if your soil looks like this…
You’ll need a lot of this…above is a freshly composted lawn and below is the method I recommend if you don’t have a composter large enough to fill a yard, and most people do not. Spread the compost into your newly emerging grass with a soft rake every spring after the last freeze and before tax day, to the depth of 1/2”. Water in well and watch it grow! A thick healthy lawn leaves no room for competitive weeds.
3) Organic, Always! Chemical weed control is harmful to your plants, trees and shrubs and chemical fertilizers are bound with salt which makes nutrients in your soil insoluble to your plants, rendering them more dependent on more fertilizer. Chemicals kill the natural microbes, worms, mycorrhizal fungi and healthy bacteria, then eventually kills your soil. Corn Gluten, Corn Meal, dry or liquid molasses, liquid compost or liquid seaweed are all excellent natural fertilizers. Never use chemicals like Weed and Feed or the blue stuff because they kill the beneficial mycorrhizal fungi you are trying to grow to achieve a full and healthy lawn and flower beds. When your lawn is sparce, weeds have room to prosper.
4) Keep plants properly spaced: Plants and shrubs planted too closely are the definition of maintenance. If a plant is too big take it out, don’t leave a troublesome bush in the walkway; start over and select the right plant. Be sure to educate yourself on your planting zone and the plants indigenous to your area. These will be the most beneficial to local bees and will be most adept to your soil and annual rainfall. All this being said, proper spacing with only enough room for each plant will help choke out weeds. Leaving too much open space between plants allows seed to germinate, so be sure your plants fill up most of the bed space, then fill the beds with plenty (4-6” deep) of hardwood shredded mulch as a weed barrier. I do not recommend Landscape fabric, spend your time and money on increasing soil and mulch depth and the rest will work itself out.
Below: the beds on the left are newly planted and laid out properly so they will touch once mature, but not crown each other. the two on the left are examples of fully grown beds, both minimal and abundant, but properly spaced for the best growth and weed control.
5) Buy a good weed-puller: your fingers will thank you for it and so will your lawn. Use your Corn Gluten before each spring and fall, compost and aerate each spring if you can and mow regularly (every 7 to 10 days max) to the correct height of your lawn.
If you have a large area or bed that needs to be weeded, the tool top right can be used for weeding between plants In large beds. The tool top left is a weed puller you step on to pull the entire weed and root with minimal effort. The tool below is great for tilling up larger areas as well as planting and digging holes. I use it at the beginning of every season to till all my beds before planting seasonal herbs and veggies. if you have a huge weed bed you can also use the sun to your advantage. Buy yourself a roll of 4mil painters plastic and some landscape pins and scalp the entire area with a weed wacker, then cover with the plastic until the sun cooks those babies; typically a couple of weeks or so.
If you have St Augustine , it wants to stay at 4” , cutting it too short can end badly. Bermuda or Zoysia perfect to be kept shorter and thrive in the heat so learn the proper mowing height and make sure you’re watering deeply and not too often which can keep roots close to the surface instead of looking deep for water. Clean your tools with the hose and some Lysol and after each mow so you’re not spreading disease and weed seed.
6)Mow and weed regularly: Once a week you should mow and weed. Before you know it both will be easier because the lawn will be thicker and the weeds will be whacked and unable to reseed which is what causes weedy yards in the first place. Encourage your neighbors to do the same. Check your irrigation every couple of months for leaks and breaks, if you water manually, buy a digital timer to run your water from to be sure you’re consistent and hands free.
Look for products like “Medina Hasta Grow” fertilizers and weed control. Just attach it to your hose and go. Remember that a healthy lawn and garden are the greatest defense against weeds. This product can be found at local nurseries, big box stores or online.
Here are some of my favorite products for weed control:
Here are some of my favorite fertilizers:
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
’Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”