In order to maintain a healthy lawn, your soil requires water, air, and nutrients. Lawns become compacted with normal use including foot traffic and lawn mowing. All lawns need aerating at some point, but depending on the conditions and use of your lawn, your soil may require aerating more or less often than typical.
Lawn aeration is the process of mechanically removing 2”-4” soil plugs and small portions of thatch from the lawn. Lawn aeration relieves soil compaction and improves the ability of roots to grow deeper into the soil and expand. Aeration is generally recognized as the best way to improve air and gas exchange, along with water and fertilizer intake. Lawns that receive this care will be healthier, easier to maintain and have fewer pest problems than lawns that are neglected. It is preferable to aerate your lawn in the fall when new root development is more prevalent.
You should be able to see the ‘thatch’ layer, as it should be about 1/2″ thick or so just underneath the grass and above the dirt. “Thatch” refers to the non-decomposed layer of organic material between the soil surface and the living grasses. When thatch build up becomes too thick, the turf’s roots cannot receive proper airflow, nutrients or water. This leads to thin, patchy, and yellowing grass. This is when aeration becomes necessary.
Some homeowners have trouble determining if unhealthy grass is due to soil compaction, thatch buildup, or another issue, such as poor fertilization. Let Miracle Farms help you to determine the best plan to get your lawn in tip-top condition. Don’t have time to aerate your lawn, or have a large property that needs aeration? Our lawn care experts would be happy to provide the help you need!
japanese beetle damage on roses
So one day your roses were covered in colorful blooms and then the next day… gone! Chances are the culprit is the dreaded Japanese beetle. It’s late in the season for beetle damage here in the Lakes Region, but my knock out roses are still being devoured. The telltale sign, along with an extreme lack of blooms, are skeletonized leaves and even complete defoliation. Usually, the demons can be caught in the act. Japanese beetles also love to eat rosebuds – every last one that you’ve been anxiously awaiting.
If you are unfamiliar with Japanese beetles, they have shiny, metallic green and copper colored bodies – kind of pretty in the worst sort of way. They are roughly 3/8-inch long and 1/4-inch wide.
WHAT DO I DO ABOUT THEM?
The best defense is a good offense. Japanese beetles are the adult stage of grubs that are found in your lawn earlier in the season. A good lawn program to control grubs applied early in the spring before the beetles emerge is your best bet. Watering, fertilizing and general good horticultural practices will also help reduce the damage caused by Japanese beetles.
Inevitably though, the beetles still come and there are a couple of options to hold the major damage at bay. Spray affected plants with a pyrethrin-based insecticide the minute you notice them. This is a safe and effective control that can be used on flowers and vegetables alike. It will help to control other pests as well. To make every effort to cause no harm to honeybees with these products, do not apply during hours when bees are actively visiting the flowers.
Neem oil is an “antifeedant”, which when used early on can be an effective tool to reduce feeding. Chances are you will have to reapply either of these options if the beetles last as late in the season as they are this year.
Another helpful, but disgusting option, is to hand pick them first thing in the morning when temperatures are cooler and they move a bit slower and drop them in a bucket of water containing one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent. If you are diligent about this it is a very effective way to clear your garden of these pests.
Japanese beetle traps are helpful if you have the ability to place them far from your garden. They actually have an aromatic chemical attractant that brings them to the trap so you don’t want to hang it near the plants you are trying to preserve.
Whatever option you choose – choose something fast! Timeliness and thoroughness of application are very important in controlling the damage or at the very least, keeping it to a bare minimum.
healthy plant, no blooms
Hydrangeas in bloom are among the most eye-catching plants in the garden. They add color and interest through summer and into fall. When your hydrangeas aren’t blooming you can’t help but feel like something is completely missing from the garden. There is usually a fairly simple explanation for a lack of blooms. Some species of hydrangea grow each season off of new wood and some grow off of old wood. The first step is to make sure you know which variety you have planted. Along with knowing the variety, it’s important to be sue you have planted the right plant for your growing zone. This can also be the reason for wimpy blooms.
Check out this informative link from Proven Winners that gives you a step by step chart to clear up any hydrangea questions you might have.
right plant, right spot
We want to tell you again how much we like the recent landscaping you did on our waterfront property. Your crew changed a mediocre back yard to one of exquisite beauty as well as being functional. It’s absolutely beautiful and beyond our expectations.
Your men (Marcelino and Louis) did a fantastic job . We were impressed with their professionalism and their work ethic. Please extend to them our sincere thanks.
If you and your company ever need a reference please feel free to ask us.
We would highly recommend you .
Again thank you for making our home just that much more beautiful.
P.S. Horst also agrees, your guys did a fantastic job!
Carol and Horst G.
It seems straightforward enough, right? Water your plants and they will grow. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that, but at the same time it’s not all that complicated either. There is not a handbook for watering, but keep a few simple things in mind and you’ll get the results you are hoping for. Using the right tools: soaker hoses, lightweight hoses, sprinklers, rain barrels and irrigation timers can help make your job easier. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
The Best Way to Water
• Focus on the root zone. Daily light sprinklings encourage the roots to grow near the surface making them vulnerable to drying out instead of growing a deep, healthy root ball. Remember that it’s the roots that need access to water, not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease. There is no value in watering if the water runs down the outside of the root ball or pot leaving the roots of the plant dry. Slower watering, especially at first, will help make sure the water soaks in to the root ball.
• Water only when needed. If we are in a stretch where we are getting frequent rain, which is not the case in the Lakes Region at the moment, then it’s ok to cut back on watering. Too much water can be just as damaging to plants as too little. Plant roots need a fairly constant supply of both air and water. Too little water and the roots die from lack of moisture. Too much water and the spaces between soil particles remain filled with water, suffocating roots. Both situations reduce a plant’s ability to deliver enough water to stems and leaves, resulting in wilting. The only way to tell if lack of water is causing wilting is to check soil moisture.
• Water deeply and thoroughly. Lawns and annuals don’t need to be watered quite as deeply as perennials, shrubs and trees. Move the soil away with your hand or a garden tool to be sure that the water is actually soaking down to the root system. Watering at the base of the plant instead of from overhead, loses less water to evaporation.
• Water in the morning. If you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It’s much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.
• Mulch everything. Mulch reduces surface runoff and slows evaporation from the soil.
Use the right tool. For efficient watering at the root zone, use a soaker hose or an even more precise drip irrigation system instead of a sprinkler.
Some of us received beautiful hanging baskets as long ago as Mother’s Day. Keeping them fresh and flowering throughout our very changeable growing season here in the Lakes Region can be a challenge. As the heat and dryness of summer bears down on us, hanging baskets can start to decline. But with these basic techniques your baskets can look great all season long.
1. Water, water, water
Baskets can dry out quickly, and should be checked twice daily and watered every day; be sure to wet the moss sides as well. If you are seriously dedicated, once a week, take the basket down and soak it in a tub of water for 20 minutes to hydrate the entire root ball.
Remove spent flowers, or deadheading, on a weekly basis, prevents plants from going to seed. This will encourage more flower production. Part of the beauty of the mixed basket is its prolonged and varied display.
3. Check for pests
During your weekly deadheading, keep a watchful eye out for aphids, whiteflies and other unfortunate pests. If you see any, try a quick spray of insecticidal soap to keep them from becoming problematic.
Not every plant in the basket will be at its peak all season. Cutting plants back after a flush of bloom will tidy them up and prepare them for a fresh crop of flowers. Meanwhile, other varieties will begin putting on a show. If the entire basket seems to be “flat lining”, go ahead and give the whole thing a trim. If you fertilize it heavily, in a couple of weeks it should be full of buds again.
Daily watering means nutrients can be leached out of the soil before the plants can absorb them. We like to use a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Grow once a week to keep plants thriving.
midsummer hanging baskets
During stretches of extreme heat, give your baskets a break and move them to a cooler, shaded spot to de-stress for a couple of days; likewise when heading on vacation. Your baskets will appreciate it.
We would like to compliment Miracle Farms for the fantastic job they did in designing and building a bluestone walkway and stairs from our house to the water, and underneath a large deck, creating a patio. Drainage issues were a concern and were carefully considered and accounted for. What was most impressive, however, was the implementation of the design. The employees consistently showed up earlier every morning, worked continually until leaving at the end of the work day for approximately a month. (It was a big project.) Aside from a lunch-time break, we never saw anyone disengaged. After each day’s work, before leaving, the grounds were cleared of debris and materials re-organized for the next day’s work.
Miracle Farms also cares for our lawn and looks after our house and dock during the winter. They have provided excellent service. They are responsive to any queries we have made regarding any concerns we have had. We are really pleased with the quality of work and care they provide.
Linda and Jarrod W
June 20-26, 2016 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Why should I care you ask? Here are some very good reasons why.
- About 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization.
- Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and bees.
- Pollinators are often keystone species, meaning that they are critical to an ecosystem. The work of pollinators ensures full harvests of crops and contributes to healthy plants everywhere.
The Pollinator Partnership has a series of guides that will help gardeners around the country select plants for their area by simply putting in your zip code. It does a good job of explaining the different types of pollinators and their habitat requirements. It takes more than flowers to keep these populations healthy. There are also many shrubs listed that will also get the bees buzzing.
We want to remind you not to freak out if you see a caterpillar munching on your plants. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want to see butterflies, you need to let the caterpillars eat. Don’t get terribly concerned – in most cases a few nibbles on a leaf won’t kill your plants. Relax. Someday that caterpillar will be a beautiful butterfly.
Do your part. Plant something in your garden today that will benefit pollinators. Butterflies love yellow, orange and red, while hummingbirds are attracted to red, fuschia and purple.
arbor for wedding
For several years now we have been asked by clients to send our garden services crew to “freshen up” their properties for parties or other events. A crew generally goes in just before a wedding, graduation party or summer barbecue and mows the lawn, edges beds, touches up mulch where needed, and rakes beaches.
whiskey barrel accent
We often add annuals for a pop of color in the landscape. Many clients have rented colorful containers to accent areas of the yard or to enhance an area for picture taking. Give Miracle Farms a call when you’re planning your next backyard event no matter how large or small.
Container gardening is one of the most popular ways to add interest and color to any outdoor space. The only rule you need to follow when creating your container garden is to be creative and enjoy it! At Miracle Farms we generally follow the Thriller, Filler, Spiller method when planting containers. This concept utilizes three different types of plants to create well-rounded combinations. Here’s how it works.
thrillers, fillers, spillers
• Thrillers are plants with height that add drama and a vertical element to the combination
• Thrillers can either be flowering or foliage plants or ornamental grasses
• Thrillers are generally put either in the center or at the back of the container
• Place it in the center of the container if it will be viewed from all sides
• Place it in the back of the container if it will be viewed from only one side
• Some examples are: angelonia, argyranthemum, grasses
Once you’ve chosen your Thriller, next start choosing your Filler varieties
• Fillers tend to be more rounded or mounded plants and make the container look full
• Fillers are generally placed in front of, or around, the Thriller variety
• Fillers should be placed midway between the edge of the container and the Thriller variety
• If the Thriller is in the center of the container, the Fillers should surround the Thriller variety
• Some examples are euphorbia, calibrachoa, and petunias
• Lastly, you add the Spillers
• Spillers are trailing plants that hang over the edge of the planter
• Spillers are placed close to the edge of the container
• If the container is going to be viewed from all sides, Spillers should be placed on all sides
• If the container is going to be viewed from only one side, Spillers should be placed in the front of the container
• Some examples are bacopa, lobularia, and sweet potato vine
use potting soil rich in organic matter
Feel free to plant containers full. You don’t need to go by the space requirements listed on the plant label because it’s not making a permanent home in your garden. Especially here in New Hampshire where are growing season is rather short, who wants to wait for a container to fill out? However, you will need to make sure you have enough space for the root zones. Use a well-draining, mixed potting soil that’s rich in organic matter. You can fill the container part way with a substitute fill material (we use empty plastic containers) to save on the cost of soil and to make the container lighter and easier to move. Most annuals will do very well with about 12 – 16” of soil. Remember to fertilize once a week as frequent watering of containers results in leaching of nutrients.