Featured Turf and Tree Tip

Fall Planting Means Glorious Spring Plants

Spring may be known as the prime planting season but taking time in Autumn can lay the groundwork for healthy and hearty plants and flowers later on. Bulbs, daffodils, phlox, fritillaria, trees and shrubs will focus on establishing strong roots in the still-warm soil.

Past Turf and Tree Tips


Protect High Traffic Areas

The best practice for preventing lawn damage in highly used areas is to forget grass altogether. Install alternative ground cover like mulch for playgrounds  and gravel, flagstone or pavers for pathways. If grass is your preference, Hillside can suggest the appropriate varietal that can handle foot traffic.

Play In The Dirt

There's a scientific reason why playing in dirt can ease your stress. Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have found a healthy fat hidden in dirt that quells stress-related disorders and brings them one step closer to developing a "stress vaccine."

Check Your Lawn Mower

Dull mower blades tear the grass which promotes grass disease. As temperatures rise, so should your mower blades. Set mower to three inches, never removing more than one third of the grass blades at one time. Always mow in straight lines with sharpened blades to reduce turf injury.

Keep Your Shears Clean and Disinfected

It's important to keep you shears clean because they can cause the spread of horticultural diseases. Use a brillo pad and a warm, damp cloth to remove soil, sap and debris. Then disinfect them in a 10% bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) and do a 30-minute soak. Disinfect your shears after each use.

Know Your Frost Date

While the date can fluctuate from year to year, The University of Maryland uses historical temperature data to calculate the date of the last frost. Calculate your area's late frost prediction date using the National Gardening Association calculator.

Mowing Maintenance

Before you start mowing, and after 25 hours of use, the mower will need to a tune up.  Remove and sharpen blades, clean entire mower from top to bottom and lubricate all moving parts.

Watering Practices

According to University of Maryland Extension Service,

Lawns composed mostly of turf-type tall fescue will withstand drought conditions unless they are newly seeded or sodded. Established fescue and bluegrass lawns should not be irrigated. Light, frequent watering is harmful because it encourages shallow rooting. Fescue lawns turn brown and become dormant during a drought, but green up and grow with a return to cooler, wetter weather. If you choose to water your lawn irrigate only when needed rather than on a schedule. Water if the grass develops a blue-gray color or if walking on it leaves footprints. Water slowly to allow water penetration and to prevent runoff. Wet the soil to a 4-6 inch depth. You can check the depth with a screwdriver. Early morning watering allows the grass to dry before night and reduces the chance for disease. Shallow, frequent watering, or watering in the evening, can damage your lawn.”

Mushrooms In The Lawn

They are beneficial because mycorrhizal fungi extract micro-nutrients from the soil and feed on them to the grass in exchange for sugar from the plant. Other than being unsightly, mushrooms are actually good for the lawn.

“Various species of mushrooms may appear in lawns after wet weather. A mushroom is the spore-bearing or fruiting structure of a fungus that grows in the soil. The fungus feeds on dead organic matter such as dead tree roots, buried logs and stumps. These fungi may live for many years until the wood is completely destroyed. Mushrooms cause no harm to a lawn, although some species are very toxic, if consumed. There is no practical or permanent way to eliminate mushrooms. If mushrooms must be removed, simply pick and remove them as they appear.” – University of Maryland Extension Service

Fall Leaf Removal

Always remove leaves to prevent them from smothering the lawn and causing dead spots. Decaying leaves will prevent airflow and sunlight from reaching the turf causing disease issues and overall decline of the turf below.

Dog Damage Spots

Try to train dogs to urinate in areas other than the lawn. Dog urine will cause irreversible yellow patches in the lawn which more than often dies causing bare areas.

Mulch Grass Clippings when Mowing

Mulching your grass clippings back into the turf will provide nutrients and organic matter necessary for healthy growth & color. A year’s worth of mulched clippings equals on fertilization!

Caring for Shade Lawns

Raise mower height to expose more of the leaf blades to what sunlight is available. Adjust fertilization to meet the needs of shade turf, usually about half of full sun turf. Irrigate heavily in dense shade areas but not in areas outside the drip line of trees, Too much water can be as bad as not enough.

Turf Seed Selection

Always use regionally recommended turf varieties specified by University of Maryland research facilities.

“Maryland lawns are primarily bluegrass, red fescue or the turf-type tall fescues.  Of these the most drought tolerant, insect and disease resistant are the various turf-type tall fescues and is the type of grass recommended by the University.” – University of Maryland Extension Service