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Protecting Your Family From Insects

Bugs, bugs, bugs! Summer is here and with the season comes bugs! Not only can insects become really annoying – who likes getting large red welts from pesky mosquitoes while trying to enjoy an evening on the patio – but some bugs can cause serious health issues to you, your family and your pets.

Keep in mind that insects do play an important role in the ecosystem of your yard and landscaping. The following are a few tips for making your outdoor space more tolerable.

● Ticks and Fleas – These tiny blood suckers are quite common in the Chicago suburbs and spread diseases to you and pets. In particular, Lyme disease is spread by Deer Ticks and others. It’s a good idea to keep your lawn short and prevent areas of lots of overgrowth where fleas and ticks are sure to lurk.

● Mosquitoes – Yuck! There’s nothing that can ruin a night outside quicker than these suckers. To help eliminate areas where mosquitoes breed, make sure your lawn has proper water drainage and eliminate standing water. Make sure any water features you may have has moving water, or, for ponds and other outdoor features, be sure to add some fish, such as Koi, that will eat mosquito larvae or routinely add agents to the water that will prevent breeding. Bug zappers, garden torches, citronella candles and garlic can help keep mosquitoes away from your outdoor living space.

● Spiders and Ants – Although not dangerous, besides the Brown Recluse that lives in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, spiders and ants can be unsightly and problematic. For spiders, be sure to keep areas of overgrowth to a minimum and eliminate debris or other piles, such as wood piles, away from your home. Spiders love debris piles. Ants are quite common as well, especially near walkways, stone paths, brick patios and sandboxes. Routine cleaning and ant killer application goes a long way to keeping them at bay.

Be sure to call a professional pest care company if you have a severe infestation, especially when it comes to wasps and bees. Don’t try to tackle a problem that you can’t handle or put yourself in danger.

And remember, simple prevention steps and routine maintenance of your lawn and landscaping will go a long way to keeping bugs out, keeping you and your family safe, and making your outdoor living space a heck of a lot more enjoyable!

Four Tips for Fertilizing Your Lawn in the Spring

Well, spring is already halfway here! Fertilizing your lawn and plants is important for a great looking yard. The following suggestions will set you on the right path. If you need additional help, please do give us a call and we’d be happy to discuss options that are custom-tailored to your needs.
Spring Fertilizing Tips:

1. Use your soil as a barometer – If you have problems determining when your lawn needs fertilizing, your soil can tell you. Most organic fertilizers work best with this method because their formulas are designed to feed the soil when it is depleted. A simple soil test performed by us or from your local hardware store/nursery will tell you specifics on what your lawn needs or may be lacking. Then all you need to do is feed it!

2. Why do you want to fertilize – Visualize and think about how you want your grass to look. What results are you shooting for? Determining how lush, how green, and what times of year you want your grass looking its best can help you determine proper fertilizers and how often you need to fertilize.

3. Decide on using organic or traditional fertilizers – The market is pretty crowded with various types of fertilizers, each with their own benefits and negatives to weigh. Your decision on type of fertilizer will need to take into account, efficacy, desired results, and impact on the environment, and your family and pet health.

4. Understand what your grass needs – Just as there are many types of fertilizers available, there are many species of grass. Some fertilizers work better than others in our northern Illinois climate with the type of grass you have.
Keep the above in mind before choosing your next bag of fertilizer and you’ll end of with a great looking lawn. After fertilizing, it’s simply a matter of routine watering, mowing and enjoyment!

Maintaining a beautiful landscape requires routine work, patience, timing and love. Fertilizing is only one aspect to proper lawn care. Be sure to visit our blog regularly for more helpful tips, advice and strategies for grooming the perfect lawn. We’re always ready to help and we service the greater southwest suburbs of Chicago, chiefly Aurora, North Aurora, Wheaton, Batavia, Glen Ellyn, parts of Naperville and more. Give us a ring!

Wheaton Landscaping: Winter Plant Care

Unfortunately for most Chicago area homeowners, few are aware of some of the basic steps you can take to protect your lawn, plants and trees for the long, hard, cold Winter months. Winterizing your lawn and landscaping is key to a healthy, happy landscape that lasts. If you don’t have the time or need more help with preparing for Winter, be sure to call your local Wheaton landscaping firm, such as Schmitt’s Landscaping Company, to do the dirty work for you. Their expert advice and Winterizing can help save you money come Spring time.

Protecting Your Grass In Winter

A great idea to protect grass against the coldest Winter temperatures, ice and snow is to cover it with a bit of mulch or compost material. This could be layers of leaves, manure or even uncollected grass clippings from your last Fall mowing. The more insulation your provide your grass, the warmer that both the grass and soil will be during the Winter. Spreading a thin layer of mulch helps to protect the roots of your grass, which can be negatively affected by the cold temperatures. Colder weather can cause roots to stop taking in water and feeding.

Protecting Plants In Winter

For plants growing on walls, trellises or other structures it is a good idea to cover them with a sheet of plastic so that the leaves and stems of the plant can be protected from the cold air. If leaves on plants are affected by the cold, they could stop taking in the sun’s rays and this could also cause the plant to die or change appearance.

Plants that are planted in movable pots and containers can easily be protected by moving them indoors and keeping them warm inside. This could be labor intensive if you have many plants in containers, but it will certainly be one of the best ways to protect your plants from the cold. Larger plants that cannot be moved inside like trees or shrubs should be wrapped around the base and at weak points to protect them from snow damage.

Glass is also a good way to cover plants and protect them from the cold. A sheet of glass can be placed inclined over a plant and a wall, so that it sort of creates a greenhouse effect. This is rather easy and it also allows the plant to get some light from the sun. The glass covering can be left for many days and your plants can easily survive the entire Winter by being inside a glass structure.

Many big-box hardware and gardening stores carry frost-proof plant containers. Frost-proof plant containers are very effective at protecting your plants from the cold. These containers can be costly, but they are certainly worth it.

Winter Protection Is Important

Protecting your beloved plants from the harsh cold temperatures is important, if you want them to look nice and healthy next Spring. Every gardener and homeowner should learn the basics of packing up their lawn and plants for the Winter, or, hire a competent Wheaton landscaper or Wheaton lawn care specialist to help you.

Preparing Your Lawn, Trees And Plants For Winter

Your home’s landscape is a big investment and adds value to your property, therefore protecting your investment is essential. During the winter months in Illinois, all of the leaves fall and foliage appears to halt in growth, however what is really happening is the roots are taking the season off in order to prepare themselves for Spring.

The good news it that there are many things you and your Wheaton landscaping team can do to give these wily roots a boost up during the Winter season. Do yourself a favor and make preparations as Fall approaches, that way the soil can still be worked and roots can be properly tended to.

Preparing Your Grass For Winter

Grass should be mowed and aerated and a good organic winterized fertilizer should be applied by a competent Wheaton Landscaping company. Water and water well. It will add insulation. Grass is very fragile during the winter so reducing foot traffic and keeping it from being compacted will surely help. This would be a good time to throw down some grass seed in the patchy areas from the foot traffic that the kids and dog created last summer.

When the last mow of the season commences, leave the lawn clippings and try to work these back into the ground for added protection to the soil and roots. What ever happens, do not let Santa park his sleigh on the front lawn. He will compact the snow which will reduce the amount of oxygen that is essential to the grass roots during this tough time.

Preparing Trees And Shrubs For Winter

For trees and shrubs, make sure to give them a very good watering. “Good” means the soil should be moist at least 2 inches deep. It is also recommended to lay down organic material such as leaves, mulch, and/or compost. This will keep the roots healthy, add extra insulation, and produce heat. To keep the varmints from digging up their lost nuts and goodies around the bases of trees and shrubs, some mesh or hardware cloth can be laid around the trunks.

Sometimes Winter wind can be an issue for homeowners in Chicago’s Southwest suburbs. In this case it would be wise to put up some sort of barrier such as landscape cloth. This cloth is very manageable and can be stapled or tied onto posts or large branches.

Preparing Plants And Perennials

Perennials and bulbs are the easiest to care for during Winter months because during this time, they will naturally die to the ground. The only big problem here are the critters that will dig them up for a Wintery treat. Again, mesh or some other barrier can be laid on top of the bulbs. Large branches would even do, however before the first frost appears, make sure to cut back all of the dead foliage. This will reduce the risk of disease and other undesirable insects.

A couple of inches of compost or other organic material placed on top of the perennial bed would be beneficial. You could also simply dig up the bulbs and store them in the basement if you like. This would prevent battling critters and can be replanted elsewhere for spring.

Making Sure Your Lawn And Landscape Are Ready For Winter

To summarize, everything should be watered generously, Winterized fertilizer and some sort of organic mulch should be applied, and a defense system against unwanted varmints should be in place. Roots are going to be hidden in the soil while preparing themselves to boast spring growth, and by Winterizing the landscape and taking these measures during the Fall, will ensure an excellent recovery and a beautiful yard in the Spring. If you need help, be sure to call a Wheaton landscaping firm, such as Schmitt’s Landscape Company!