Kid and Pet-Friendly Pest Control for Your Lawn and Garden

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Maintaining a lawn and/or garden is a bit of a balancing act, requiring a delicate touch. That tightrope becomes even harder to walk when you have children and pets to worry about. A good number of traditional pesticides and pest control methods contain chemicals that can lead to acute or chronic illnesses in humans and domesticated animals. So, how can you keep your greenery lush and healthy without harming the ones you love by accident?

The answer: utilize kid- and pet-friendly pest control options for your lawn and garden. You may be surprised by all the different ways you can keep unwanted actors away from your property while maintaining the safety of your kids and pets. Let’s go over some of the best options for proper garden and lawn maintenance.

Horticultural Oils and Soaps/Sprays

Though they might sound like cleaning products or perfumes, horticultural soaps and oils are actually plant-derived formulas designed to target small pests like aphids and mites. The best part about these products is that they don’t harm beneficial insects, humans, or pets. Insecticidal soaps can also be made from home materials like vegetable oil, pure dishwasher soap, and warm water. Just be sure to do your research and test your formula on a plant before using it on your entire garden.

Diatomaceous Earth

This naturally-occurring pesticide often comes in the form of a dust or powder made from fossilized diatoms, which are microscopic aquatic lifeforms. The tiny particles kill harmful pests by sucking away moisture and fat from their exoskeletons. Researchers remain hard at work looking for potential negative effects diatomaceous earth may have on pets and humans, but so far there is no compelling evidence. In fact, versions of this material are often used as flea medications for cats and dogs.

Organic Insect Killers (Pet- and Kid-Safe)

Not all store-bought pesticides are toxic to humans and pets. In fact, more and more insecticide manufacturers are now creating safer products, knowing that people care about the safety of their kids and pets. EcoSMART is one such brand creating effective solutions that are safe, environmentally-friendly, chemical-free, and made in the U.S. Look for products that are useful for all sizes of lawns and gardens.

Mulch with Straw or Compost

Some lawn problems can be solved without the use of pesticides. At the very least, using the right kind of mulch can mitigate the number of pests and weeds that enter your green spaces. Mulching with compost or straw is just one way to protect your lawn, garden, and family. Many landscape services offer these mulching options.

Plant Certain Species to allow Predatory Pests

Another way to keep bad bugs away is to cultivate a good environment for “good” bugs. That is to say, if you can stomach it, it’s not a bad idea to create a home for some predatory pests, as they will gladly take care of a great number of other, smaller pests. Setting up this little ecosystem requires much patience and knowledge, so you may want to seek help from lawn services that specialize in this form of natural pest control.
Keeping your lawn or garden pest-free doesn’t mean you need to risk harming your children or pets. If you’re looking for more solutions and advice on maintaining your home’s green spaces, The Parke Company has the resources, knowledge, and experience you need. We offer a wide range of landscaping and tree services, including lawn aeration, irrigation, tree removal, mulching, and so much more. Give us a call today at (615)-350-6033.

Lawn Mowing and Landscaping: Recommended Mowing Height

Lawn

When you consider what it takes to keep your lawn and landscaping beautiful and verdant, a few things might come to mind: ensuring everything gets the right amount of sun, weed and tree removal where necessary, and a proper irrigation system, to name a few. 

What you may not have realized is that proper lawn mowing can be the key to circumventing serious lawn problems and ensuring that your entire landscape lives up to your design dreams. Here is what you need to know about recommended mowing height for expert lawn mowing and landscaping. 

The Basics

In general, the “rule of thumb” for optimal lawn height is that grass should be about 2½ inches. It is believed that you should cut off about one third of the blade of grass when you mow. Doing a little math, that means you’ll probably want to cut your lawn when it’s around 3 ⅔ inches high. 

Season and Climate

While the 2½ inches rule works well in the  cooler months, you may want to let it grow even longer in the hotter months as water is less and less available. 

Conversely, if you live in an area of high moisture, or if the winter months are coming soon, a low cut of grass can be much more beneficial in the long run

Tall grasses trapped under piles of snow can ultimately lead to the infiltration of mold and fungus. It can also be a place that rodents burrow during the winter to seek refuge from frigid temperatures. 

Cutting your lawn to a shorter length right before it is covered in snow can be immensely beneficial for avoiding some potential damage.   

Hydration

If you want to keep your lawn lush and hydrated, consider letting it grow a little longer. According to the home and garden efficianados at The Spruce, a lawn that grows longer has more surface area on every blade of grass and therefore has more moisture reserves, protecting your lawn during periods of drought or when you want to take a little extra time between watering. These longer blades of grass retain water longer down to the roots and can self-sustain until the next rainfall much more efficiently that shorter lawns.  

These longer blades also result in more extensive root systems that capitalize on photosynthesis more than shorter blades, fostering more expansive growth. 

Tips and Tricks

One of the simplest (and most clever) tricks for making sure you’re cutting your lawn to the appropriate height is also from the brilliant folks over at The Spruce. They suggest marking the wheels on your lawn mower with the desired height. 

Using a paint marker, draw a line indicating the height you want for your lawn and use that as a guide when you mow. (Just be sure to include arrows so you know which is the top and bottom of your line!)

While maintaining a healthy lawn isn’t rocket science, it can still be a tricky task. These tips can be a helpful guide to lawn maintenance, but sometimes the best route is to hire lawn services. 

The experienced professionals at The Parke Company can help you assess your lawn and landscape to ensure that your lawn maintenance caters to your property’s unique needs.  

Whether its tree removal, landscape design, or lawn care, give us a call (615-350-6033) or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.

Home Irrigation and Water Conservation– Can You Do Both?

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If you’ve got a green thumb, there’s no doubt that you care a lot about your property. It stands to reason that, as someone who values your land, you’re likely committed to caring for the environment as a whole. 

As more of the world focuses on green alternatives to everyday practices, lawn services and landscape maintenance practitioners are no exception. While many of us are taking shorter showers and riding bikes to work, property owners are also taking measures to ensure that the way they tend to their landscape is also eco-friendly. With as much water as it takes to maintain a landscape, water conservation may be the perfect place to start. 

It may seem like you have to choose: either you have a lush lawn and use excess water, or you can conserve water, but have a dull and lifeless lawn. 

While this may seem like a catch-22, you have other options! Here is what you need to know about conserving water while using a home irrigation system. 

Irrigation System Maintenance 

Making greener choices doesn’t always mean completely eliminating your daily activities that take a toll on the environment. When everyone does a little, it goes a long way to improving the state of the planet. 

One way to conserve water while still incorporating an irrigation system into your landscape maintenance is by making sure that your irrigation system is fully functioning. 

Aside from the fact that leaky sprinklers can jack up your water bill, malfunctioning irrigation systems can also waste precious water and lead to greater environmental impact. 

Regular maintenance of your irrigation system can keep you from wasting water. Check out this article for signs that your irrigation system needs to be repaired. 

Energy-Efficient Irrigation Systems

Another way to solve your lawn problems without harming the environment is to switch to a more efficient type of irrigation system. 

Using a system with time-controlled functions that can be easily adjusted as you experience rainfall can be helpful for conserving water. You can also set your system to water early in the morning, so that evaporation is reduced. 

The most efficient irrigation systems will also incorporate a rain sensor. Rain sensors are devices that can track how much rainfall an area of your property has received and can actually shut down any scheduled watering to prevent overwatering of the landscape. This way, you don’t waste water or damage your lawn. 

Holistically, you’ll also want to consider what kind of irrigation system is most appropriate for the area of land you’re watering. In-ground sprinklers are convenient, but they may be excessive for a small garden space and use more water than needed. Efficient irrigation begins with installation. 

Natural Irrigation 

The most eco-friendly irrigation system may not require excess water at all! 

Rainfall is obviously the most natural way for your landscape to maintain itself, but natural water may be of more use than you think. 

Rather than just letting water run off after a storm and losing valuable rainwater, consider containing extra rainwater and using it during dry spells. 

There are some sophisticated systems that can help you to maximize each rainfall. These systems will collect rainwater so you can lower your water bill and keep your lawn looking great without taxing the environment. 

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance way to harvest rainwater, it can be as simple as setting out some large empty barrels (especially near drainage pipes and gutter downspouts) and using the water in between rainfall. 

For property owners who want to care for the environment as much as they care for their own properties, expertise is key. The team at The Park Company has the exact skills necessary to tend to your property with eco-friendly practices that don’t sacrifice the beauty of your landscape design. 
Give us a call (615-350-6033) or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.

4 Signs Your Irrigation System May Need Repair

landscaping and irrigation

The right irrigation system can be every property owners best friend. When functioning properly, irrigation systems ensure that the beauty of your landscape design is maintained, even when the weather is less than hospitable.

Caring for finicky plants and upkeep of green grasses requires that your irrigation system is running at top performance to ensure that the moisture content of your soil remains optimal.

On the other hand, if it isn’t functioning properly, a faulty irrigation system could spell trouble. Dying plants and flooded flower beds shouldn’t be your first clue that something is up. Do you know how to spot a damaged irrigation system?

For the best landscape maintenance, check out these four signs that your irrigation system may need repair.

1. Increased Water Costs

As a prudent property owner, you should be well aware of how much your water bill typically costs – and for more reasons than one. While this cost may fluctuate somewhat from season to season, a sudden skyrocketing of your water bill for lawn care may be a sign that your irrigation system is malfunctioning.

This may be one of the first and only ways to quantifiably assess that your irrigation system isn’t working properly.

An increase in your water bill tells you that the system is pumping more water than normal onto your property, either due to a glitch in its settings or a leak. In either case, it is vital to have a lawn care professional evaluate the damage immediately before any harm is done to your property.

2. Flooding

An over watered landscape doesn’t always look like a small pond has cropped up in your flower beds. When your irrigation system functions as it should, the appropriate amount of water should be distributed to the soil.

If you notice pooling of water anywhere near your irrigation system, this lawn problem could be a sign that maintenance is required to fix a leak.  

When evaluating the leak, check to see if the excess water is only showing up in certain places or if it appears to be along the entire line of irrigation. This could help pinpoint the area of concern and narrow the focus of your landscaping professional.

This is also a good opportunity to assess your drainage systems. Flooding can also be caused by an inability to sufficiently drain excess water that collects when an irrigation system releases too much water.

3. Dry Patches

Conversely, dry patches on your property can also be a bad sign. At this point, if there are dry patches along your irrigation system, your system has likely been malfunctioning long enough for parts of your lawn to die.

It is paramount that you seek a lawn care professional immediately to quickly mitigate the situation before any further damage is done to your landscape or to your irrigation system.

4. Leaking Valves

You would never let a leaky faucet go unaddressed. The same goes for leaking valves in your irrigation system.

While a little extra water around your spigots may not seem like a cause for concern, it is a clear sign that your irrigation system may need repair.

On its own, an extra few drops of water will not cause significant damage to your landscape, but left unattended, this small issue can turn into a crisis.

If excess water seeps into your soil, it can result in constant moisture around the roots of your plants which can harbor mold and cause serious damage.

Healthy Irrigation with The Parke Company

An irrigation system seems like a form of landscape maintenance that doesn’t require much attention: you can install the system and worry a little less about watering your property as frequently.

While irrigation systems are certainly a source of convenience, a malfunctioning system can be hazardous for your property. The experienced professionals at The Parke Company are uniquely qualified to help you evaluate irrigation system issues or any other lawn problems you may be experiencing.
Don’t leave your lawn service up to fate. Give the experts a call  at 615-350-6033 or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.

Ground Cover: Right or Wrong for Your Yard?

Ground cover

For homeowners, a lawn is both a blessing and curse. When a lawn is lush and well-maintained it greatly increases the property’s curb appeal. But if left unchecked for too long, a yard can quickly devolve into a warzone. Weeds, dead grass, tall grass, fungi, and other unwanted guests can infest this space at an alarming rate. It takes a lot more effort to undo the damage of these lawn problems than it does to prevent them from occurring. One way to protect a lawn from such chaos is by planting ground cover. But is ground cover the cure for every yard?

What is Ground Cover?

Ground cover refers to several species of plant that grow low to the topsoil, including grass. These plants help keep the soil hydrated and cool while warding off unwanted weeds. Though grass is a type of ground cover, people often categorize it separately because it is the most common type of cover for lawns (i.e. when we think of lawns we think of grass). Ground cover comes in many varieties, including the succulent Stonecrop, colorful Creeping Phlox, and darker Brass Buttons.

Which Yards Benefit from Ground Cover?

In truth, just about any yard can use some ground cover. It’s partially an aesthetic decision, though it also makes a big difference in terms of lawn maintenance. The majority of ground cover plants don’t rapidly grow upward like standard grass. This means that lawn mowing isn’t necessary over these spots. Some species will require a little trimming here and there, but for the most part, ground cover is extremely low-maintenance.

Yards that often experience bare spots and/or weed growth are prime candidates for ground cover. Since these plants help maintain the topsoil, they can often grow in these otherwise barren locations, filling out one’s yard while adding new texture and color. Ground cover, as previously mentioned, also stops weeds from growing, essentially maintaining itself. Those who enjoy gardening can also make good use of groundcover. With so many options, you can create patterns and outlines using groundcover to create a border or fill in a garden and protect it from unwanted weeds.

Is Ground Cover Ever Wrong for a Yard?

In short: no. It’s really a matter of taste and practicality. If you don’t have time to maintain your lawn and can’t afford to hire lawn services, installing ground cover makes a lot of sense. It will save you time and money on every aspect of yard maintenance. However, many homeowners would rather have grass fill their yard. This simply requires more effort in terms of watering, weeding, mowing, and fertilizing. Most people opt for a combination of traditional grass and ground cover. This way, bare spots and problem areas can be addressed with minimal effort, and the lawn as a whole still retains that classic look.

Everyone wants a beautiful, healthy lawn. If you’re struggling to achieve or maintain this, The Parke Company can help. We provide customers with complete landscaping services, including irrigation, maintenance, tree removal and trimming, stump grinding, and more. Whether you want to try some new ground cover or simply fix up a damaged lawn, give us a call today at (615)-350-6033.