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April is National Lawn Care Month

Every year, members of the National Association of Landscape Professionals celebrate National Lawn Care Month in April in a combined effort to educate consumers of the ecological benefits of maintaining a healthy lawn.

Many homeowners hire landscape professionals to keep their properties looking their best, to save time, and to increase curb appeal and property values. Did you know that hiring landscape professionals to promote a healthy lawn also has positive impacts on climate change? Here are just a few ways:

  • Healthy lawns filters dust, absorb pollutants, and reduce erosion; and provide oxygen. In fact, a 50-foot by 50-foot yard provides enough oxygen to sustain a family of four for one year!
  • Turfgrasses slow down the speed and reduce the force of flowing water, allowing more of it to be absorbed into the soil to the benefit of groundwater reserves. Also, any settlement that has been picked up by water is invariably trapped within the stand of turfgrass. This prevents many of the pollutants and other chemicals that rain water gathers from ending up in our water system; instead they go in the soil where they can be broken down safely. 
  • Turfgrass is excellent at capturing carbon and turning it into organic matter that improves soil quality. Keep your lawn healthy with proper fertilization and weed control to capture more carbon and filter stormwater. If you aren’t sure how to improve your soil condition or build stronger turfgrass, a lawn care professional can help determine your yard’s care plan.
  • Turfgrass, like that found in our lawns, is much cooler than asphalt or cement, acting as an “air conditioner” for the surrounding area (lawns can be more than 20 degrees cooler than urban asphalt “heat islands”).
  • Healthy turfgrass has many miles of fibrous roots that hold soil and filter rainwater. (National Arboretum Grass Roots Project)  A single grass plant can have more than 300 miles of roots.

The Danger of Over-Watering Plants

Overwater HydrangeaHave you ever noticed your indoor or outdoor plants looking a touch on the pale yellow or pale green side, wilting, or even dropping their leaves?  These may be signs of over-watering.  And believe it or not, over-watering is considered the most common cause of death in plants.

There are several principle signs to look for when determining whether your plant is being over or under-watered.  Most often these symptoms are similar and tough to differentiate. But, when a plant is under-watered, the soil is dry and the leaves may turn brown, brittle, and most times fall off. An over-watered plant, on the other hand, has very moist soil, and the leaves are generally a pale yellow or green color, soft, drooping, and often still attached to the stem of the plant.

The dangers of over-watering start with the roots.  Roots play an important part in the life of a plant, and are responsible for absorbing food, nutrients, water, and oxygen so that the plant stays healthy.  Over-watering causes the plant to drown, and the roots cannot absorb the oxygen that is necessary for the plant to breathe.  Mildew, mold, fungus, and root rot can also be associated with too much water.  Not all plants will survive if they have been in saturated soil for a significant time period, but several things can be done to help in the recovery of an over-watered plant:


-Refrain from watering until the soil begins to dry or is only slightly moist to the touch
-If it is a potted plant, remove the excess water by tilting the pot or removing the collection tray if there is standing water in the pot
-If the plant is low in the ground or pot, raise the plant to allow the roots to dry out
-Add new potting soil around the roots, and remove the old soil as it may contain fungus or mold
-Prune any rotting or damaged roots, and remove any leaves that look brown or that are past the pale yellow or green stage
-If possible, move the potted plant to an area with indirect sunlight until it begins to perk up

After these steps are completed, water lightly, and keep an eye on the plant.  When the plant begins to look healthier, add a very light dose of liquid plant fertilizer.  Continue this process until the plant is back to its intended look!Watering


Licensed to Apply

Most people don’t put much thought into the care of their lawn.  Just put down the occasional fertilizer and spray the weeds every now and then.  For many, this is sufficient.  A person can put down those items on his own lawn without having to put any thought into the use of EPA regulated material.  But, when another person is hired to make those applications there are stringent requirements that must be met. Make sure that you aren’t hiring a mad scientist to wreak havoc on your lawn.

Anybody who puts chemicals on your lawn must have at least a Registered Technician certification issued by the state.  This basic level of certification is the first step to ensuring that the person making the applications has the knowledge needed to treat your lawn without damaging it. The Registered Technician must pass a test administered by the state to prove he knows the following:

  • Identify weeds and other pests properly
  • Read EPA labels correctly
  • Calculate mixture rates for the materials being used
  • How to handle the materials safely and responsibly
  • How to store, transport, and dispose of materials safely and responsibly
  • How to handle any spills that may occur
  • Proper personal safety equipment
  • How to determine the correct amount of material to use

All of this seems relatively simple, but one miscalculation on the part of the applicator can lead to disastrous outcomes for your lawn or even the applicator, himself.

  Misapplying material either through improper mixtures or misdiagnosis of the problem can lead to total lawn burnout.  Where there once was grass, only dirt will remain.

Every company that applies chemicals to your lawn is required to have a Commercial Applicator on staff.  The Commercial Applicator is responsible for overseeing the technicians and applications for the company.  A company cannot be licensed to apply chemicals without someone on staff having this designation.  The Commercial Applicator must pass a test similar to registered technician, but must also show superior knowledge of all the items outlined above.

In addition to having certified technicians, every company that applies these materials in your stead, must have a license to apply them issued by the state.  One of the requirements of having a license is tracking the materials that are put down on every property that company services.  Companies are required to keep track of all material, the temperature at time of application, wind speed and direction at time of application, and the square footage of all areas serviced.  All of this information must be kept for a period of two years and is subject to random inspections by the state’s agricultural department.  Random inspections can be done to ensure that companies are complying with above guidelines for record keeping as well as regulations regarding storage and transportation of all materials.

Part of the licensing agreement with the state also makes sure that the company has the proper insurance required to cover any mistakes that may happen as a result of misapplication.  Just like hiring a contractor that does not have the proper licenses (see previous blog), you, the home owner, will be on the hook for any damages that may occur.  Unlike hiring a contractor to work on your property, however, the damages resulting from improper chemical applications can reach well past the boundaries of your home, neighborhood, or even your own county.  Serious fines can be levied against an employer for the misuse of EPA regulated materials, and when the company doesn’t have the proper licenses, they cease to be a legitimate business entity.  When the company you hire doesn’t exist in the eyes of the state, then you, the homeowner, become the liable party.

The regulations regarding chemical application are really about being a good steward for the environment.  As a member of the Green Industry, it a landscape companies responsibility to manage the use of chemicals in such a way that we are enhancing the environment, not harming it. Misapplications and simple mistakes can have serious ramifications on the Chesapeake Bay watershed area for years to come.  Please make sure to ask your provider about the licenses mentioned above.  It’s about more than following the rules, or keeping yourself safe from liability.  It’s about keeping our planet safe from harm.

Chem Licenses


The Grub Conspiracy

As Cicero warned his fellow senators of the threat brewing within the walls of Rome, so we now warn you of similar threat to your lawn.  Of course, the cabal that history refers to as the Catiline’s Conspiracy aiming to destroy of Rome lead by a handful of dissidents in the Roman senate is not on par with the destruction of your lawn.  Nevertheless, deep in the soils of your yard lurks a potential threat that has yet to reveal itself- GRUBS.

The most insidious things about the havoc that grubs can wreak on turf areas is that you can’t see it coming.  All the nefarious deeds are done below the soil.  While your lawn may look great now, grubs can be below the surface, eating away at the roots of your grass and disrupting the water and nutrient supplies that help maintain a healthy lawn.  And, unfortunately, as soon as you start to see the signs of grub destruction, it is already too late.  Brown and yellow patches are the sure sign that your lawn is being destroyed by a grub infestation, at which point your lawn’s root system is in total decay. grubs-turf damage 001

Right around late spring to early summer, mature beetles burrow their way into the ground to lay eggs.  In late summer and early spring, those eggs hatch.  The young grubs feed on your lawn’s root system, storing up nutrients for their winter hibernation.  In early spring, the grubs emerge from their slumber, as adult beetles, to roam the land waiting for their turn to continue the life cycle in early summer.

Luckily, there is a preventative option.  Applying grub control in early summer targets the grubs as they are hatching. When the grubs ingest the grub control, they are reduced to the roll of lawn fertilizer. Good grub control targets only the grubs and does not harm beneficial, soil-dwelling insects like earth worms.

Kane Landscapes includes grub control in all its basic Lawn Care packages and will begin Grub Control Applications this week.  

By: Justin Hill; Office Manager


Best of Virignia

Kane Landscapes is proud to announce that we have been voted one of the Best Landscape Companies in Virginia Living’s ninth annual Best of Virginia Readers’ Survey. More than 32,000 people voted in 455 categories covering the best in Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Living & Recreation, Shopping & Services and Food & Drink across the state.  We would like to thank everyone for voting for us.