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Prevent Winter Lawn Damage

Prevent Winter Lawn Damage

It is cold out there! Your lawn is probably the last thing you are thinking about right now. But should you be? If you have worked hard over the growing season to get your lawn into tip top shape, don’t let winter lawn damage ruin your hard work. Read this post to learn how to protect your lawn over the winter!

How to Avoid Winter Lawn Damage?

In order to determine how to prevent damage to your lawn, we need to talk about what can cause it. We are going to talk about the following sources of lawn damage:

  • Salt damage
  • Excessive debris buildup
  • Excessive traffic

Let’s explore these sources of lawn damage and we can avoid them!

Salt Damage

I know what you’re thinking, “What does he mean by ‘salt damage’?” Let me explain. When the temperatures drop like they do this time of year, it is common practice to use a de-icer your sidewalks and driveways to prevent ice from building up on them. If we didn’t de-ice our sidewalks and driveways they would become very hazardous. Let’s talk some science.

De-icers are made usually made of salt. Salt can be toxic to plants. When salt gets on your lawn it can cause a condition called physiological drought. This is a condition that can cause bare patches in your lawn by essentially causing your lawn to starve. How can you avoid this condition? Here are some considerations:

  • Not all de-icers are made the same. There are many types of salt. Common table salt for example is made of sodium chloride; this is the worst kind of salt for your lawn. If you can, opt for calcium chloride based de-icers near your lawn.
  • Use only what you need. Don’t over apply de-icer. Not only are you wasting product, you are increasing the likelyhood that you will damage your lawn. Excessive de-icer will be washed onto your lawn.
  • When you shovel snow from your sidewalk/driveway, try not to put it on the lawn (especially if it was already de-iced once).

De-icing your sidewalks and driveways is often a necessity of winter. However, by exercising a little bit of caution when using these products you can protect your lawn from unnecessary damage. Let’s talk about debris build up.

Excessive Debris Buildup

One thing about PNW winters is that they can bring some very harsh winds. As a result your yard will be plagued with debris that blow in from the woods, from your neighbors yard, from the trash can that couldn’t hold its own against the wind, debris will come from all angles. That said, don’t let this debris pile up in your yard.

Not only is debris in your yard unsightly, it can cause lawn damage. By leaving debris on your yard it will create dead spots. Here’s a quick gardening tip, if you have a part of your yard that you want to de-sod, cover it with a tarp for a couple of weeks. Doing so will kill the underlying vegetation. For this reason it is important to always cleanup after a storm.

Remember not to leave any of the following on your lawn, it’s bad for your lawn and looks trashy:

  • Branches, large or small. Especially large evergreen branches that break off in the wind.
  • Paper, leaves, or other garbage that may blow in and form piles in your yard.
  • Patio/lawn furniture or toys that gets blown over, or left on your lawn.
  • Bonus: Dog poop, seriously, it’s gross.

If you’re still not sure if it’s okay to leave something on your lawn until spring, don’t. You don’t want to start the spring with bare patches in your yard.

Vehicles travel down Interstate 5 infron of Seattle Downtown

Excessive Traffic

Are we talking about I-5 from about 4 am until 10 pm? No, we are still talking about your lawn! Walking on your lawn too much can cause damage to it. Yes, your lawn is a great playground for you children and pets, but it gets weak in the winter. In the growing season your lawn is very resilient. It is growing everyday and can withstand the traffic of kids and pets at play. In the winter though, the ground is soft, your grass isn’t growing as fast, and this isn’t a good combination.

In the winter the ground becomes saturated and soft. When this happens it becomes very easy to compact the soil (even by walking on it). One trick that is used to help compact gravel or soil is to water it as you compact it. That is why in the winter, traffic on your lawn can compact the underlying soil. Why does this matter? Soil compaction makes it harder for your grass to grow a deeper fuller root system. Your lawn needs a strong root structure in order to properly utilize soil nutrients and water in the growing season. Soil compaction can also cause drainage issues.

To prevent soil compaction in the winter:

  • Avoid moving heavy objects across your lawn if possible. Use your sidewalk.
  • Don’t walk across your lawn (except to keep it clean!).
  • Don’t park on your lawn!

If you can avoid too much traffic on your lawn over the winter you can prevent excessive soil compaction and weakening your grass before the growing season arrives.

Conclusion

You spend 9 months of the year working on and tending to your lawn. Don’t let that hard work go to waste over the winter. By following this guide you can prevent a lot of avoidable lawn problems. Taking simple steps to prevent damage to your lawn can save you a lot of time and money in the spring. However, if your lawn is suffering from any ailments resulting from the above, we can help you to identify the cause and correct it. If you need any help getting your lawn back up to speed in the spring, contact us, we can help you fix it!

Outdoor Living

A large paver style patio in Whatcom County

What Is an "Outdoor Living Space?"

2021 is here, and so is outdoor living. What exactly is “outdoor living?” You have probably been hearing this term thrown around a lot recently. Especially in regards to new home improvement trends that have been driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. To sum it up, an outdoor living space is an outdoor space that has been enhanced to make your time outside as enjoyable as possible.

Here Are Some Examples of This Type of Space:

Decks: A nice deck makes for a great entertaining space. Especially a deck that is large enough to support a small gathering of friends (who are practicing social distancing of course!). You have many different deck designs to choose from. I’m not going to cover those here. Decks are a great place to spend those long summer evenings. Decks are great because they can be covered with an awning that is attached to your house. Adding an awning truly making them an extension of your home.

Patios: Patios are a great choice for an outdoor entertaining area. You can have a lot of fun with a patio too. You can do, concrete, stamped concrete, pavers, flagstones, or a combo of any of these. Done correctly, a patio can last a life time with little to no maintenance. If you want a hot tub a patio is a great place to put it.

Outdoor Kitchens: Outdoor kitchens provide you with a space to prepare a meal in the great outdoors. Think about it, cooking has brought people together for millennia. By adding an outdoor kitchen to your home you will be adding a safe place to have friends and family over to cook a great meal outside.

Why an Outdoor Living Space?

An outdoor living space is a great place to bring friends together in the outdoors. The CDC recommends that if you have gatherings during the pandemic that you do it outside. Therefore, adding an outdoor living space provides you with a place to safely entertain. Besides the short term value of adding this space, you are investing in the long term value of your home. But, I think the best reason to add this type of space to your home is that it will give you an excuse to spend more time outside!

A custom outdoor living space in Bellingham WA

3 Steps to Prepare Your Yard for Spring

3 Steps to Prepare Your Yard for Spring

Spring is a very exciting time of year! It’s the time of year when the air starts getting warmer, and you can feel that winter will soon be behind us. As you look at the trees and shrubs in your garden you start to see buds and nodes as they prepare to put on a spectacle that only nature can birth. The days are getting longer, and soon the dark dreary days of winter will be behind us.

This begs a question, is your yard ready for spring? I have prepared a short list of 3 items to consider to prepare your yard for spring. Please read on to learn more.

1. Spring Cleaning

More than a cliche, this is a real thing. Spend some time cleaning your yard before spring gets here. You will want to pickup any branches or leaves that have blown in over the winter. It’s important to do this now because it will make room for any annuals or perennials to come up when it’s their time. It will also make it much easier to mow the first time of the season as there won’t be so much debris to cleanup first.

2. Final Winter Pruning

This is your last chance to get to some winter pruning of your shrubs/small trees. For deciduous plants this is a great time to get into the middle and thin them out as needed. Many of your shrubs will be full of growth nodes, making it very easy to find places to make cuts.

3. Mulch

This is a great time of year to apply a fresh coat of mulch to your beds. Many of your plants are dormant making it easier to work around them. It’s also a great time to put mulch down because there won’t be many weeds, and any small seedlings can be suffocated by the mulch.

If you found this list helpful, or have anything to add to it, please comment below! If you know someone who would benefit from reading this list please share it with them. Thank you for reading!

3 Simple Tricks to Up Your Lawn Game Now!

You too can have a professional looking lawn without hiring a professional!

Many people wonder, “What’s the difference between a professionally cut lawn and home cut?”

Spoiler alert! You don’t need to do buy any specialized lawn equipment!

Here’s 3 simple tricks that will take your lawn from amateur hour to professional over night:

1. Maintain Your Lawn Mower

Before each use you should do a quick inspection of your lawn mower. Check the that the wheels are tight, your blades are sharp and that the gas tank is full (never fill up on your grass!!!). You should have your mower serviced at least once a season. Any local mower repair shop can perform a full service on your mower to make sure it’s making the optimal power for that perfect cut. Also, be sure to clean your mower after every use, failing to do so will shorten the lifespan of your lawn mower. A dirty mower deck will also reduce the amount of lift produced by your mower, which will significantly degrade the quality of your cut.

2. Mow Like a Pro

No professional landscaper will do the spiral cut on your lawn, and you shouldn’t either. Professional landscapers always make anywhere from 1-3 passes around the perimeter of the lawn, then work in a straight line back and forth until the lawn is cut. For a typical homeowner style lawn mower you should do 2 passes around the perimeter, then use the already mowed perimeter as your turn around space after each pass. Think about how a swimmer does laps, they swim back and forth in a lane, rather than swimming around the edge of the pool.

Perfectly mowed lawn
By mowing straight lines instead of spiraling in your lawn will look instantly more professional!
(Bonus Tip: By alternating patterns from week to week you’ll reduce soil compaction and eliminate those stubborn spots that seem to “lay down” when you cut them)

3. The Devil is in the Details

One of the biggest differences between a professionally cut lawn and a home cut is the detail work. When a professional mows your lawn they will trim the corners and perimeter of your lawn with a string trimmer. This little detail really differentiates between a professional job and a home cut. Use a string trimmer to trim around any objects in your yard and around the perimeters and you’ll take your mowing game to the next level! For an added effect you can use an edger (or a flat nose shovel that can be found at your local hardware store) and define the edges between your lawn and your beds/sidewalks/driveways.

Conclusion:

You don’t have to hire a professional lawn mowing service in order to get that professional look you desire. However, it can be very tedious, and there’s much more to having a great looking lawn than just how you mow. Prefer to leave the work up to the pros? Call Cascade Lawn Care today. I can provide you with a free consultation and an estimate of a plan to make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood!

Charlie Dunlap
(360) 389-2557
charliedunlap@cascadelawncare.com

Covid-19 Update 3

With the latest announcement from Governor Inslee’s office the stay at home, stay healthy order has been extended into May. However, there was also an update to the essential business list that makes it possible for me to provide limited basic services to my clients. The update reads as follows:

“OUTDOOR MAINTENANCE
Outdoor maintenance, including vegetation, is deemed essential only when necessary to prevent spoliation, avoid imminent damage, or address emergency repairs.”

Regular maintenance is essential to prevent the spoliation or imminent damage of your yard. I consider the following services to be essential:

  • Lawn Mowing
  • Shrub Trimming
  • Weeding
  • Irrigation repair

Other services are up for debate, but at the very least this allows me to keep your yard in shape during this pandemic. I want to reiterate though that we must all continue to do our part to prevent the spread of this disease. I have previously listed my Covid policy. A quick reminder, when I sent invoices, you have the option to pay online, so you do not have to write me a check or make direct contact with me. This is a very awkward time, but we can make it through!

Covid-19 Update 2

Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. You know the drill.

Last week I submitted a clarification request to the state to be sure whether my services are considered essential not. I heard that other companies in the area are still out and working, however I wanted to be sure that I am considered essential. Unfortunately the response I got back from the state was just as vague and inconclusive as the essential list is to begin with. It said:

Thank you for your inquiry. Landscaping is allowed, but only to the extent necessary to prevent imminent damage or spoliation of hardscape or greenery. Routine maintenance is not permitted.

The response left me wondering, what is the difference between landscaping to prevent “imminent damage” and routine work? As someone who has worked in the landscaping industry for 10 years, I can tell you that routine maintenance is required in order to prevent damage. If you let your lawn grow too tall and mow it down afterwards it will be damaged. If you let shrubs grow for too long without trimming they will be bald and ugly once you cut them. If you don’t routinely weed your beds they will turn to weed-sod.

I have suspended operations and will continue to abide by the quarantine. I have also put in a request (see below) to be included in the essential business list going forward, because I believe that landscaping is essential to maintaining a healthy civic environment. I understand and support the premise of the quarantine but don’t believe it should apply to my services because the amount of client contact can be reduced to 0. I am also concerned that if the quarantine is perpetuated and landscaping is omitted from the list of essential businesses it will cause unsanitary conditions. There are many people who rely on my services to keep their properties clean.

I will continue to update everyone via my blog and via social media. Please, for the sake of all of us small businesses out there, follow the guidelines put forth by the state and the CDC. I know it’s tough to stay home when you have work to do and bills to pay, but it won’t go away unless we all do our part. For more information on how to stay safe during these strange times check out what the CDC has to say: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Is landscaping essential? What are your thoughts?

Covid-19 Update

After sharing some exciting news that I am rebooting Cascade Lawn Care, there was a development in the covid situation. Starting tonight there is a statewide quarantine and only essential businesses are allowed to operate during this quarantine. I have checked into the statewide quarantine regarding whether my business qualifies as essential or not. It’s really fuzzy at this time, but I have requested a clarification/exclusion. I’m hoping to be able to continue providing services during this unprecedented time. Once I confirm whether or not I can continue providing services I will update everyone. In the meantime here is my policy going forward:
  • Client contact must be limited to zero. I will still accept new clients during this time, however estimates must be done either via FaceTime or over the phone. I can still do onsite estimates, however I request that we not speak in person, other than through a window or screen door. I did an estimate like this today, which I will admit is very awkward, but is necessary at this time.
  • I will not knock on your door when I arrive to perform your services. I will send you a text to let you know I have arrived.
  • If I perform a service that needs your review upon completion, I will call you and wait in my truck while you inspect the work, then if there are any clarifications I will perform them while you’re inside.
  • Payments can be placed in a ziplock bag under your doormat, or another designated safe location. I will do the same with business cards. Other documentation (estimates, invoices, etc.) will be sent via e-mail.
While part of what I enjoy about this work is personal time with my clients, it’s not the best practice at this time. I look forward to when this time is over and hope the impact is minimal. Please remember to be safe: keep trips to the store to a minimum, wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds and wash them often, don’t touch your face, and practice social distancing! If we all do our part we can make this go away sooner!

I’m Back in Business!

Returning to the landscape game in 2020!

Thank you to everyone who is still following Cascade Lawn Care! In December of 2017 I made the decision to suspend the operation of my business until further notice. I took on a job as assistant operations manager of a small trucking business, eventually working myself up to operations manager of the same business at another location. I have left my position there to return to my true passion, landscaping!

I have begun doing bids and scheduling jobs for this season. I am currently looking for spring cleanup, lawn renovation jobs and irrigation startup/repair work. In addition to those sorts of one off jobs I am also accepting a limited number of recurring lawn maintenance clients. My goal is to provide the best service to my clients, so I’m looking to do quality work, not quantity work.

I’m also looking for landscape/hardscape/irrigation clients who need design and install work. I would like to start designing your project now so we can schedule the install for after the spring maintenance rush.

If you or anyone you know is looking for a personalized landscape experience please contact me. Thank you!

Charlie Dunlap


Pumpkin Spice Season

Fall is the season of pumpkin spice lattes (and everything else pumpkin spice) and football. The kids are back in school and the days are getting shorter. The bears are going into hibernation and so is your yard. But is your yard ready? Aside from cleaning up the leaves off your lawn and beds, here is a list of items to keep your yard looking good all winter:The Lawn By this time of year your lawn’s growth rate has slowed tremendously, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need any maintenance. While the fall may mean you need to mow less there are a few things you can do to keep your lawn looking great all winter and be ready to go come spring time:
  1. Fertilize/Lime: Fertilizing your lawn in the fall will give it the food it needs to stay green and healthy all winter long. Fall fertilizers also help to promote root growth so that your lawn will be healthier and greener come spring. Applying lime in the fall gives it all winter to be worked into the soil. Applying lime helps to adjust the pH level of your soil. If your soil is acidic you should apply lime, since grass grows best in neutral soils. Another benefit is that moss prefers acidic soils and changing the pH level of your soil can help prevent moss infestations. 
  2. Aeration: Aerating your lawn in the fall is a good idea because it helps with drainage. Aerating in conjunction with fertilizer or lime will also help your lawn to utilize the fertilizer better. 
  3. Seeding: Seeding your lawn in early fall will help fill in sparse areas or patches in your lawn. The morning dew and rain showers will help to keep your new seed moist until it germinates. The warm soil temperatures will also help seed to fill in.
Shrubs/Trees/Ornamentals
    As the season winds down your shrubs and trees will also require some attention. 
    1. Thinning: As deciduous trees and shrubs lose there leaves it makes pruning much easier. Thinning and removing dead wood is much easier once the leaves have fallen. Thinning and removing dead wood is good for your shrubs and trees because it makes room for new growth and focuses the new growth on the outside. 
    2. Trimming Perennials: Some plants need to be cut down each year to allow for new growth in the spring. These plants should be cut back in the fall to keep them healthy and looking great year after year. 

    Irrigation 

    Your irrigation system needs fall maintenance too. It should have the water shutoff and be winterized. Winterizing your irrigation system requires using a high CFM commercial air compressor to blow out all the water in your system. This is very important to prevent water from freezing in the lines and bursting pipes. Need help?If you need help with any items on your Fall checklist we are here to help you. Contact us today and we will give you an estimate for your Fall cleanup. We can simply clean all the fallen leaves in your yard, or we can prepare your whole yard for the winter. Let us know what you need. 

    Check us out!

    Thank you for visiting Cascade Lawn Care!

    We will be keeping this page updated with posts and specials, so keep an eye on this page, you don’t want to miss out. We are looking forward to this new year and can’t wait for the season to start!

    Charlie Dunlap
    Cascade Lawn Care
    (360) 389-2557
    charliedunlap@cascadelawncare.com