In a year when winter has been particularly long, cold, and wet, it’s not unusual to enter spring with a distressed lawn. The high pressure produced by intense winter conditions creates a lot of opportunities for pests and diseases to move in and cause problems.
Here are a few common issues we observe in the Clark County and Portland metro area. If you’re seeing bare patches, brown patches, or circular patches of pink or white, you may be facing one of the following:
Red thread, or Laetisaria fuciformis, is an opportunistic lawn disease. Its name comes from thin red strands this fungus sends out from the tips of infected grass blades. If your lawn and soil isn’t well drained, a wet winter can throw the door wide open for problems due to this infection. Prolonged exposure to moisture is the primary cause of red thread in unhealthy turf.
From a distance, you may notice circular patches of pinkish grass ranging up to 8 inches in diameter. It’s important to take a closer look to see if ‘threads’ are present, though, as there are similar symptoms that result from other kinds of issues.
The good news is that red thread does not destroy grass roots and crowns. There is potential for full recovery if you commit to thorough treatment. The best way to ward off future infections of red thread is by conditioning your soil, providing good drainage, and sticking to a proven, consistent maintenance plan.
Pink Snow Mold
Pink snow mold, as its name implies, is associated with extended snow cover. Like red thread, it’s caused by a fungus, Microdochium nivale. Pink and white foamy fungal spores sit on top of infected grass blades, creating pink circular splotches across the lawn. In a prolonged wet and snowy winter, it can result in severe damage to turf.
The road to recovery begins with skilled thatching and aeration. Committing to best practices for fertilization, drainage, snow management, and pest control is the key to keeping damage from snow mold to a minimum, whatever future winters may bring.
Crane fly infestations are notorious for their potential to kill an entire lawn. While adult crane flies swoop and fly around the yard, it’s the eggs they lay down that spell serious trouble. Crane fly larvae (also known as ‘leatherjackets’) are 1-inch long and tan or grayish white in color. The hungry larvae wreak havoc on turf as they feast on grass roots and crowns.
Look for patches of damaged grass that may appear to grow together and spread. Peeling back the soil will reveal whether crane fly larvae are to blame. While a healthy lawn can handle a medium population of larvae, a teeming infestation means it’s time to call for help.
The encouraging thing about battling crane fly is the potential for treatment and full recovery. The crew at Frontier Landscaping has generated impressive results for lawn restoration and would be happy to work with you to save your lawn if you’re dealing with an outbreak this year.
Maintaining healthy turfgrass is the #1 way to prevent future pest and disease issues!
Lawn Rescues and Revamps
In the moist Pacific Northwest, especially after a very wet winter, it’s not uncommon to have problems show up if your soil and grass haven’t been regularly maintained for optimal health.
If you’re in need of treatment, the Frontier Landscaping crew is expertly qualified to help you back to a thriving, healthy lawn. The process we have developed through years of local experience consistently produces successful, healthy turf.
Aeration is a generic term for exposing soil to the air by removing plugs of soil from the turf. The openings created by aeration help water and nutrients move more easily through the soil.
While it’s common practice to leave soil plugs in a lawn after aeration, the crew at Frontier Landscaping has determined that the most successful lawns are created when we pick up and dispose of the hardened plugs. This additional step allows topdressing to better penetrate the new holes in the soil, enhancing the entire aeration process overall. While it is a greater effort, this step has consistently shown itself to be an effective key to helping sick lawns bounce back quickly and look better than ever.
Additional benefits of aeration:
- Limits fertilizer runoff
- Improves ability to absorb water
- Slows buildup of thatch
- Builds strong root system and layer of topsoil
Frontier Landscaping recommends aeration once each year for all lawns to maintain great health.
Reseeding and Fertilization
Once soil has been aerated, ¼ to 1 inch of rich soil conditioner is applied. This mix works down through the new holes left by aeration and sets the lawn up for improved future drainage.
Why does this matter? Good soil texture promotes healthy turf. In turn, healthy turf is significantly less susceptible to disease.
Once soil has been treated, your lawn will be ready to be reseeded and fertilized. It’s not uncommon to see new grass emerging within a month of completion.
Intense seasons of wet weather can result in significant pest and disease pressure on lawns, especially if the grass isn’t robust and healthy to begin with.
If you find yourself facing ugly bare spots, remember that many issues are treatable if caught in time. Give us a call to learn about treatment options for your lawn. We’ll help you through and are happy to design a custom care plan for the future based on the specific needs of your landscape.
Ready for a winter lawn rescue? Call (360) 574-8979 or send us an email to arrange a consultation today.
Dry creek beds provide attractive, functional relief, especially if your landscape is plagued by standing water. In the wet PNW, drainage problems are a common headache. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Flooded flower beds
- Pooling water below a deck
- Swampy places in the lawn
- Puddles around a foundation
Leaving drainage issues unaddressed has serious consequences, from dead lawn and plants to costly repairs and decreased property value.
The Good News
Frontier Landscaping has years of experience designing and implementing features that effectively carry water away from problem areas. Dry creek beds are star performers, particularly in sloped terrain. They work twice as hard for a landscape by running water from Point A to B, and standing alone as an attractive feature in drier months of the year.
“Even property owners with no drainage issues may choose to install a dry creek bed due to the elements of natural beauty in the way they look.”
Controlling Water Flow
Dry creek beds are an excellent choice for addressing places in the landscape that are hard-hit by heavy rains. While a flat place in the yard may benefit more from a simple lawn drain, gradients and hillsides need the water capacity and speed that a dry creek bed can provide during extreme conditions. Effectively redirecting the flow of water saves you from ongoing erosion and long-term damage.
When property owners are looking for a greener way to landscape, dry creek beds play an exciting role. Different-sized rocks, boulders, and choice plantings give eye-pleasing texture to outdoor spaces, but require much less water than an expanse of lawn. While bark dust alone can look flat, a dry creek bed introduces definition and contrast. It’s aesthetically pleasing and earth-friendly — a winning combination.
Dry Creek Beds for Natural Beauty
We regularly install dry creek beds to add natural beauty to a landscape. Expertly balancing a few key ingredients (a natural shape, native plantings, multiple sizes of stone) brings a natural, organic flow to an area. The results are breathtaking in any season, wet or dry.
No two landscapes are exactly alike, and the solution that works for one may not work for another. While dry creek beds are particularly suited to slopes and hillsides, they aren’t usually the best choice for flat ground.
Other elements, like French drains, catch basins, and lawn drains also have a part to play — and that’s just the beginning. Frontier’s installation team has years of experience solving drainage problems for local property owners.
French drain pipe (L), installed as a garden path (R).
French drains are a functional solution for flat terrain and less water. They often have a part to play in designing an overall solution for moving water in a landscape. Read more about them here.
Ranging in size from 6 to 24 inches, catch basins can be square or circular. These grated drains are typically placed alongside a driveway or in a low or sloped spot in the yard or hardscaping, like a patio. This is a straightforward fix for diverting water away from wet spots. A blend of rocks around it allows the catch basin to blend in with the landscape.
From basic to beautiful, there are many combinations of elements we can put to work that provide an effective long-term solution for drainage issues in your landscape.
Ready to learn how can we help you solve your standing water problems? Call (360) 574-8979 or email us for a consultation. We’ll work with you to protect your landscape with the right drainage solution to meet your needs.
Find more inspiration for dry creek beds and landscape design by visiting us on Houzz!
- Pruning – May is ideal for shearing evergreens such as junipers, conifer and cypress. Azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons can also be pruned back to eliminate frost-damaged branches. Remember that cutting back into bare branches or cutting new flowers off before bloom can harm your plants or stop growth, so use care. Want help? We assist with pruning and maintenance for gardens of all sizes. Learn More About Our Pruning Services
- Fruit trees – Thin fruit as needed. Have questions or need help? We’re here for you.
- Fertilizing – New shrub, tree, and rose plantings will benefit from treatment with fertilizer; remember to water well after application.
- Flowers – Hardy annuals are safe to plant now, but wait to plant more tender annuals (impatiens, geranium, fuchsia) in the ground until nighttime temps stay up over 50 degrees. All summer-flowering perennials, bulbs and shrubs can be planted now, as well as chrysanthemums for fall color. Have fun!
- Watering – Now’s the time to make sure that your irrigation system is working so that you’re prepared to meet the needs of your garden. Schedule an appointment with us to prep, prime, install, or repair before things heat up this summer. More About Frontier’s Spring Start-Up Service
- Lawn Care: De-thatch, dig out perennial weeds or spray, aerate, and overseed with grass. In some cases, applying a thin layer of fine soil helps as well. Call us for more information and guidance on lawn care. Short on time? Let us handle it for you. Check Out Our Maintenance Services
- Weeds / Pest Control – Get aggressive and eliminate weeds before they go to bud and seed. Mulching is a great way conserve moisture and prevent weed seeds from germinating; try using hemlock or fir. Eradicate slugs with bait or traps. Clearing vegetation near your garden helps. Examine the lawn for damaged turf; wet or waterlogged areas are particularly susceptible to hungry crane fly larvae. Recovery is faster when issues are caught early.
What a beautiful time of the year with the rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias, forsythia and other spring flowering plants reaching their peak of beauty. There are a few April garden tasks one can do to keep the garden looking its best this season. Remember what is accomplished early in the season will help cut down on garden maintenance the rest of year.
Now is a good time to give some attention to the lawn. The application of a spring lawn fertilizer will perk up the lawn and improve overall color and appearance. If needed, get one that includes moss killer. Most lawns could use aerating now, and, if necessary, a thatching. Applying new grass seed fills in the lawn and deters moss and weeds. Use about one pound per 300 square feet. Call Frontier today to find out how our landscape services can make having a lush, beautiful lawn.
FRUITS & BERRIES
Local garden outlets have their finest selection of fruit trees and berry plants this time of year. All types of fruits and berries do best when planted in full sun – consider a small back yard orchard this year!
Amazingly, it’s time to get the vegetable garden underway in earnest. Plant perennial vegetables like asparagus, rhubarb, horseradish now. You can plant cool weather veggies: peas, carrots, beets, greens of all sorts, cauliflower, cabbage and more. Wait until later this month to plant beans and corn. Don’t put in warm weather crops like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and peppers until next month.
If you missed the fall window for planting spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils, you needn’t miss this opportunity to plant summer-flowering bulbs including dahlias, gladiolas and lilies. Mix bulb fertilizer, processed manure and peat moss into the soil and check the instructions for proper depth.
TREES & SHRUBS
There is still time to plant trees, shrubs, perennials and other plants. Rockery perennials and hardy annuals may also be planted at this time.
April and May are ideal for pruning or shearing evergreens such as junipers, conifer and cypress. However, if you cut back into bare branches it can be difficult or impossible for the plant to regrow. Optimize your evergreens with an expert pruning by Frontier Landscaping’s team of professionals.
Capricious as March may be in her whims of weather, taking on a few of these spring garden tasks – even if between showers – will spruce up your landscape and lay the groundwork for a great growing season.
A clean sweep of decluttering, purging and tidying now will reward you with a fresh palette and greater options going forward.
Remove dead, damaged branches
Tree and shrub branches that have been damaged by cold, snow and wind should be pruned back to live stems; use a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter.
Prune (some) shrubs
While it’s a good time to prune summer-flowering shrubs, such as Rose of Sharon, before buds swell, the ideal time to prune spring bloomers is right after they flower. However, you can also prune them while in flower and use the flowering stalks in arrangements for inside. Forsythia and lilacs are wonderful examples.
Cut back winter-damaged rose canes to 1 inch below the blackened area. On climbers, keep younger green canes and remove older woody ones; neaten them up by bending the canes horizontally and tipping buds downward. Use jute twine or gentle Velcro fasteners to hold the canes in place. This task is best accomplished with a pair of sharp bypass pruners – and good gloves!
Prune flowering perennials to a height of 4-5 inches to allow new growth to shoot up. Where soil has thawed, dig up overgrown clumps of perennials, such as daylily and hosta, dividing them into smaller clumps to be shared or transplanted elsewhere.
Clear the decks
Rake fallen leaves and dead foliage from around the base of your plants; they can smother plants and foster disease. Pull up weeds and spent annuals and rake away existing mulch to make way for a new layer after spring planting. Use pins to fasten loose drip irrigation lines and a square-head shovel to give beds a clean edge and keep turf grass from growing into them.
Now is a good time to spread a pelletized fertilizer on the soil’s surface so that spring rains can carry it to the roots. Add 5-10-10 fertilizer around bulbs as soon as they flower to maximize bloom time and nourish next year’s growth.
Compost yard waste
A compost pile can be as simple as a small corral made by joining a section of wire fencing. Collected leaves, cuttings, spent foliage and other debris will decompose and create nutrient rich humus for amending your garden. Branches larger than 1/2 inch in diameter should be cut down or chipped to accelerate decomposition or add a bagged compost starter to the pile. Keep the pile as moist as a wrung-out sponge and aerate it with a pitchfork every two weeks. Early spring weeds may keep growing and go to seed. These and chemically treated plant material should be otherwise disposed of.
Prep lawn for spring seeding
Test your soil’s pH in various locations where your lawn will be and assemble the right amendments. Remove damaged, diseased turf to prepare for the seeding that should follow in a few weeks. You can remove dead turf with a square metal rake, then flip it over to spread compost. Work in a half-inch layer of compost to keep the new seed moist and increase the germination rate. Begin seeding once the forsythia starts blooming in your area.
Clean up paths & patios
Rake escaped gravel back into aggregate walkways and patios and order more to spread in large depressions that often form near the driveway’s apron. Refill joints between flagstones by sweeping in new sand or stone dust; water with a hose to set it, then repeat. If the freeze-thaw cycle has heaved pavers out of place, remove them and replenish the base material as needed before setting pavers back in. Use a pressure washer with a low pressure tip to remove slippery algae spots or leaf stains from patios and walkways.
Restore worn wood fences
Remove badly rotted or damaged pickets, boards or lattice and scrub wood structures with a mixture of 2 gallons water, 2 quarts bleach and 1 cup liquid soap; let dry. Patch rotted sections with wood epoxy; install new wood as needed. Check wobbly fence posts to see if they need replacing. Scrape off old paint, then sand with 60 grit sandpaper to prep for a new finish coat. Once temperatures go above 50 degrees F, brush on a new coat of paint or stain.
Choose Frontier Landscaping for help with your spring landscape cleanup. We are based in Vancouver, Wash., and provide services in the Portland-Vancouver area and throughout Clark County, Washington.
Call today to find out how Frontier Landscaping can grant you the yard you’ve been wishing for.
We had a pretty funny February and many people (and plants!) feel like spring is here to stay. Well, we’ve lived in the Northwest for a long time and we know better than to trust a warm February. Even though we’ve had an unseasonably warm and dry winter, we might still get cold temperatures and wet weather and it’s good to be prepared.
Many bulbs, perennials, fruit trees and other plants have woken up early from dormancy, due to temperatures in the mid-60’s this past month. However, if temperatures drop again (and they likely might), plants can incur damage. We recommend keeping your beds mulched to insulate root systems. If we have a hard freeze in the forecast, you can even throw a blanket over vulnerable plants to protect them.
Plant with Caution
Many plants can go in the ground during cold temperatures. Dormant trees, fruit trees, roses and berry plants all do well when planted in winter. However, hold off on planting tender annuals and most vegetables until we get further into spring to avoid frost damage.
Pay attention to the Forecast
A quick look once a day at the low temperatures will help give you a warning if a cold frost is on the way. We also send out cold weather warnings via our email newsletter and on our Facebook page. Stay tuned to both pages to get weather updates and seasonal tips.