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Mikes Mowing Tips – For a Better Lawn

Today I want to talk about one of my favourite past times/chores to do at home. MOWING!!! I don’t know about you, but I find mowing to be so satisfying and enjoyable. Looking back at the finished product when you are done and seeing those lines in the grass and that beautiful cut with green grass is just a beautiful sight for me. I know, I’m a bit of a yard nerd. I would like to go over some important aspects of mowing including mowing heights and mowing techniques and best practices. This is an important part of obtaining and maintaining that beautiful lawn your neighbours will be envious of.

Let’s start with mowing heights. This is actually one of the most important parts of proper lawn mowing if not the most important. A properly mowed lawn at the proper height will promote a thick, lush lawn. It will help to discourage weed development and encourage lawn thickening. Ideally you are cutting off one third of the grass height. “Now what is the correct grass height?” you might be asking. We all want that golf course green look. Unfortunately, this is not the correct mowing height for the type of grasses found in lawns. Golf course greens use a type of grass called bent grass. This type of grass flourishes at very low heights and can handle being mowed every day or every other day. Now I may enjoy cutting grass at home but I sure don’t want to be out there every day. Typically, in lawns you will find a combination of Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Rye Grass and a Fescue Grass. These grasses do very well at a height of somewhere between 2 ½ inches to 3 inches. This is our target height. Now remember, we only want to take off about 1/3 of the plant. When the height gets to around 4 inches, we can cut it back to that 3-inch mark. This may mean in Spring time when grass is very actively growing, you may have to mow more than once per week. In late fall, we can start to lower our mowing heights and will be cutting much less frequently. I like to lower the height to around 2 inches but I do not go lower. I have found that this helps to shut down the grass and get it ready for the winter season. (Don’t forget to apply that Fall Fertilizer!!)

Now let’s discuss some techniques that I like to use. This part will help you achieve a thicker lawn and will give you a lawn that will look a little like a golf course. What I mean by this is that when we think of a golf course we always see those beautiful light and dark lines left in the grass. These lines are achieved because we are pushing the grasses in a certain direction with the mower. When we come back the opposite way we push the grass down in the opposite direction. This gives us the light and dark lines we see. OK – so we have the line thing mastered. So what happens if I just keeping cutting the grass in the same way? Well the grass is basically being trained to only grow in that direction. This will not help to thicken the lawn. We need to change our patterns. This is why I like to do 4 patterns. Start with the criss-cross and follow that up with the diagonals.
The criss-cross pattern is cutting the grass towards the house one week and following up the next week with the exact opposite direction. This will give a checker board appearance. Week 3 we will cut on a diagonal and the 4
th week we will do the opposite angle. (I usually like to choose a nice 45-degree angle. Picture a square and cut from corner to corner.) This will help your grass to grow in all directions and will help to promote a thick lush lawn. If you want to really make your mowing look good, try making all your passes back and forth first and do what I like to call a cleanup cut around the perimeter at the end. This cleans up all the turn marks left from the mower. (why I call it a cleanup cut)

Finally, some best practices when it comes to mowing. The obvious one is to keep your mower maintained. We don’t want a mower that is leaking oil or fuel and we want that motor to be at optimal working condition so the mower blade is spinning at a good speed. This will help ensure the grass is cut properly. Part of maintenance is also keeping our blades sharp. We want to cut the grass clean not tear at it. If we tear at the grass, we are damaging the plant. The grass will be busy repairing itself and not growing. (Plants can only do one thing at a time) Once a month should be sufficient for sharpening blades. I like to have a second blade handy that way I can quickly change the blades and continue mowing. To bag the clippings, or not to bag. In Spring and during growing seasons, I recommend bagging your clippings. During the slower months (usually the hot months of August when grass tends to slow down because of the heat) you can go to a mulching system and switch back to bagging when the temperatures cool down and the grass begins to grow again.

Well I could honestly go on and on about mowing and about lawns but I think I have talked enough. I’m pretty sure your lawn needs you right now so happy mowing.

And if you need a hand or just want someone else to take care of your lawn for you, give me (MIKE) a call at Oakridge. I can give you a free estimate on your yard maintenance needs.

Dealing With SNOW MOLD!

The snow has melted, the weather is starting to warm up and we are getting excited because we can get outside and start working on our lawn again. We go outside and as we walk on to the lawn we see our grass has these round white and yellow patches everywhere. What is that?! Oh no! It’s SNOW MOLD!!! Ewwwwww! Don’t fret. I am here to tell you it isn’t as big a deal as you might think. There are some practices to help tackle this issue right now and to make it better in the future.

What is Snow Mold? Snow Mold is a common fungal disease that affects most types of grasses. The 2 most common types are gray snow mold and pink snow mold. They will appear as patchy spots on your grass that is matted down and web-like. The spores will often remain dormant during the season and then become active under a blanket of snow in Spring as the snow is melting. The more snow cover there is, the more chances of snow mold conditions. One of the most common ways to deal with Snow Mold, if you have it, is to rake it out in Spring then follow that up with a Spring Fertilizer to promote new grass growth. If the patches are larger and leave a dead spot on your lawn, you can throw down some soil and seed to help grow in the patch. Now that you have removed the problem, the next steps are to develop a strong lawn that will not be as susceptible to Snow Molds.

The main keys are to:

Water our lawns at least weekly (1 inch a week),
Mow at the proper height (2 ½ inches to 3 inches is perfect),
And fertilize throughout the growing season.

I recommend starting with a Spring fertilizer in May (I like to use a quicker release to promote growth right away). Follow that up with a Summer fertilizer in June (a slow release is great). Another Summer fertilizer again in late July (use the same one as in June) and put down a Fall fertilizer in September. The Fall fertilizer will help to create a strong root system and be more disease tolerant.

Finally, as the season is winding down, begin to lower your mowing height. Just one notch per week sometime in September (depends on the season and temperatures). Do not go lower than 2 inches though. The last step that will help to prevent Snow Molds is to rake up leaves on the grass before the snow flies. If the leaves were left on the grass, they create another layer for moisture to get trapped and this can create an ideal situation for Snow Molds.

There you have it. See? I told you it wasn’t so bad. Just some good lawn practices and you should be able to keep the snow molds to a minimum. With our winters and the amount of snow we can receive, it is hard to never have Snow Molds but we can limit it and deal with it properly in the Spring and Summer.

We offer many services here at Oakridge to help you achieve and maintain a healthy lawn. Call us now to book your Spring Cleanup and Lawn care packages for Fertilizer and Weed Control. We also offer weekly mowing programs.

Call now for your free estimate.

Spring Pruning Guide

Pruning is a fun and necessary gardening task but to most of us it can feel quite daunting. Don’t fret! Pick up those secateurs and let’s tackle this together!!

The main reasons we prune:

  • Improve health and vigour
  • Encourage fruit and flower production
  • Modify the shape or direct growth
  • Safety reasons

Bad reason to prune:

  • To control the size or height of a plant – if the tree is too tall, it shouldn’t have been planted in the first place!

The first step when preparing to prune a tree is to know the 4 D’s.

  1. Dead
  2. Diseased
  3. Dying
  4. Damaged

Always remove any of the above concerns on a tree or shrub. These cuts can be made at any time of the year. The four D’s, if left on the plant, are actually causing more damage and stress then if they were removed with a proper pruning cut.

Timing
The best time to prune most trees or shrubs is in the dormant (winter) season, before the plant has started to bud out. Trees that are dormant have an abundance of energy stored up. This allows them to repair any cuts made quickly when they come out of their dormant stage. They also spend lots of energy leafing out. This is why it is not recommended to do pruning in late Summer or Fall. If you remove too many of the leaves, the tree cannot produce enough food (energy) to repair itself. A tree can only do one thing at a time. This means it can grow, or repair itself from damage but not both at the same time.

How much to remove
A good rule is to never remove more than 20% of the tree. If you remove more than this, you will leave the tree without the means to produce enough food to repair itself or to prepare for its dormant season. Another good rule is any branch less than 2 inches in diameter is fine to remove. 2 inches to 4 inches should be carefully thought out before removing and if a branch is over 4 inches should only be removed for safety reasons. Trees will spend lots of energy to repair the pruning cuts. Remember, a tree can only do one thing at a time.

This is a good place to start when it comes to pruning. There is obviously much more to pruning depending on plant variety and proper pruning cut techniques. Oakridge Garden Centre has its own licensed arborist that can assist with any pruning concerns that may arise for you.

If you would like a free estimate on a pruning job, please contact us at 204-326-1015 to book.

All About The Coffee We Serve (and Love!)

All of our coffee comes from a micro roaster called Fratello Coffee Roasters, based in Calgary, Alberta. We order our coffee from our Winnipeg distributor two weeks in advance and Fratello roasts it – sends it to our distributor and they deliver it directly to us! This way we get coffee that is freshly roasted with amazing flavour and aroma. Fratello focus is on the ideal of “Direct Trade”, referring to “purchasing practices of coffee roasters who choose to form direct relationships with the farmers they buy from.” Buy doing this it allows them to be very specific about the coffee that they are buying, also allows them to see the direct impact that buying from that particular grower has on the
communities that they want to influence.

We carry three different kinds of drip coffees a Dark Roast, a Medium-Light roast, and a Decaf roast as well as an Espresso and a Decaf Espresso.

Our Dark Roast is called Dixie Voodoo. It has a dark spiced aroma with a deep earthy flavor and a long smoky finish. It’s a staff favorite for sure and a must try for the ultimate coffee lover

The Light-Medium Roast is called Outlaw. Mild citrus and tobacco aromas complement a syrup body with white chocolate flavors and a clean finish.

Our Decaf coffee is called Colombia; it has a nutty aroma with a dark chocolate taste, a heavy body that finishes very clean. A natural decaffeinated coffee used to create a smooth alternative to our caffeinated options.

The Espresso that we use is called Godfather. It has thick caramel aromas, with milk chocolate and sweet flavors. Well balanced body with a lingering caramel aftertaste. Our Decaf Espresso is called Calypso it is also naturally decaffeinated and it is a full bodied decaf with hints of dark chocolate. With a Very smooth finish.

One of the greatest things to note about Fratello coffee is that it’s grown with the Rainforest Alliance seal. The Rainforest Alliance is a growing network of people who are inspired and committed to working together with farmers across 70 different countries to achieve their mission of conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. They maintain mandatory regulations for their workers to make it a safe work environment, as well as environmental standards to ensure farm land can be used for future generations. They aim to re-balance the planet by building strong forests and healthy communities around the world.

Spring Lawn Clean Up!

Ahhhh. Spring is in the air. Ok ok. Ignore the recent storm we had. Trust me. Spring will happen and happen fast.

For most of us, Spring is a time of new things. The air is fresher, we have more sunlight and it is a time to start cleaning up. I’m here to tell you that after you open the windows and clean the walls and floor, it is time to take that cleaning attitude outside to your yard.

Every year, your lawn will accumulate a dead layer of grass and organisms. This layer is called thatch. Typically, you want thatch but only to a certain thickness. This is generally ¼ inch to ½ inch. A good rule for me has always been that if it feels like your lawn feels spongy and like a trampoline, you have too much thatch. The best possible way to remove this thatch is with Power raking. Power raking allows for water and fertilizers to penetrate to the roots, giving you a thicker healthier lawn.

Another good spring yard cleanup chore to do is lawn aeration. Over the course of the year our lawns can become very compacted. A compacted lawn does not allow for air and moisture to move through the soil properly. Core aeration will physically remove a core plug of soil from your lawn and deposit it on top of your lawn. This relieves the compaction in the soil and allows for all those essential water and nutrients to penetrate into the soil. “So what about those ugly core plugs left on my lawn?” is what most of you are asking. Just leave them where they are. They will decompose over a few days to a week at the most and will also bring some great nutrients back into the soil. Just leave them where they are.

Oakridge offers full yard maintenance services including Spring Cleanup and Core Aeration.   Check out our services page or call us at (204)326-1015 if you are interested in a free quote. Now dust off those rakes and get that mower ready for the season. Or call me, Mike, and I’ll do it for you!

 

Yard Maintenance & Landscaping Services

Its the time to start thinking about registering for your spring yard maintenance and landscaping services!

Oakridge is excited to continue offering these yard Maintenance services:

  • Spring Cleanup
  • Aeration
  • Overseeding
  • Lawn Mowing Programs
  • Lawn fertilizer/Weed control
  • Tree and shrub pruning
  • Flower and garden maintenance
  • Fall cleanup
  • Snow removal

All of the above services can be combined into a full year long package or customize your package to what your needs are. Landscaping Services offered:

  • Landscape designs
  • Establishing new lawns
  • Flower/garden bed rejuvenation
  • Patio install
  • Fence post install (can include completing fence)
  • Irrigation systems
  • Retaining walls
  • Tree, shrub, flower plantings

Please call to talk to our Yard Maintenance and Landscaping Specialist Mike Payment for more information and a consultation.  Also see our Services section on our website for more information.

Kokedama – The Poor Mans Bonsai

https://bloomzine.com/garden/kokedama-how-to32014

We are VERY excited to introduce the in demand art of Kokedama – Japanese moss balls – new to the Oakridge workshop line-up.

We were very fortunate to go and learn the proper techniques of this planting style to bring back to Oakridge and offer it as one of our many workshops. Keeping up with current plant decor trends is very important to us here so that we can offer new and exciting experiences for our guests!

Kokedama is a style of Japanese bonsai – translated loosely, ‘koke’ means moss and ‘dama’ means ball. Commonly called the “poor mans bonsai”, Kokedama are typically easier to maintain then the typical bonsai and offer more of a natural organic look.

What makes Kokedama different from other hanging plant styles is the lack of a pot! The plant root is wrapped in a special mixture of soil and akadema soil and moss, these are used to restrict growth of the plant and to retain moisture – creating a beautiful work of natural art! A definite talking piece in your home; Kokedama can be hung indoors and out, placed in a bowl, or displayed on decorative objects. Introducing unique, natural influence and calming atmosphere these arrangements bring light to any space can create a tranquil environment in any space!

If you are looking for a unique way to display plants in your home, take a look at our events page and sign up for our Kokedama workshop today!

NEW – Sprouting Seeds from West Coast Seeds

Macro shot of broccoli sprouts growing from seeds

Broccoli sprouts growing from seeds

Cold weather has us down! For those (like us) who are anxious for planting season to start – we have the solution! Indoor growing sprouts!

Brand new to us here at Oakridge is the Sprouting Seeds from the fabulous West Coast Seeds!
A British Colombia based company who are certified handler of organic seeds, they offer “800 varieties of untreated, non GMO, non GEO, open pollinated and hybrid seeds”.

HG987-Sprouting-Jar-with-Plastic-Lid-and-Seeds-1

Sprouting Seeds offer you the freedom to grow fresh and organic sprouts fast and easy and at any time of the year! West Coast Seeds promote sprouts as “easily digested, and they contain concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, and amino acids. In short, newly sprouted plants are about the most nutritious food available”. According to healthycanadians.gc.ca “While sprouts are a healthy food option, they can sometimes be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella which can lead to food poisoning” this can happen “in the farm environment, during packaging, storage and transportation” So growing your own can become a huge benefit in adding sprouts to your diet, WITHOUT any of the worry!

Find recipes to incorporate sprouts into daily meals!

Find recipes to incorporate sprouts into daily meals!

When starting your sprout growing journey we have a variety of options to choose from : Alfalfa, Mung Bean, Fenugreek, Broccoli, Clover, Yellow Mustard, Green Peas, Red Radish, Red Hard Wheat, Salad Mix, Go-Go mix and a Gourmet Mix – something for everyone!
After choosing your seeds – its time to start sprouting. The process is simple: Soak, drain and rinse 3 times a day! In a few days you will have sprouts ready for enjoying – wasn’t that easy!

Happy sprouting!

Fresh Live Greens & Christmas Trees!

We are so excited to have this next season upon us!   Here, at Oakridge, we love to celebrate Christmas and getting ready for the holidays means spending extra time with family and friends.

Here are a few of things that we have to offer to help you Deck Your Halls! Fresh live greens such as fir,cedar and pine have arrived and ready for your outdoor pot.  We also carry birch, dogwood, curly willow, pinecones and ribbon to complete the look.

All of our live wreaths and Christmas Trees are hung and ready to find a new home!  Come check it out!

christmastrees2 wreath

 

FALL IS A FABULOUS TIME TO PLANT IN YOUR YARD!

Your summer activities of going to the beach, playing golf and family barbeques has dramatically slowed. You may be out in the yard doing your fall clean-ups and notice the beautiful colours that are present. Why not add to those and plant a tree, shrub, or perennial that will not only fill that empty location but improve the amount of fall colours! Plus fall is well known to be one of the best times in the year to plant as the weather is cooler and will create less transplant shock for your tree or shrub.

We have tons of great items that will do this for you. Linden trees are great at adding golden foliage to your landscape, just like the one featured in the photo above. Not only do they do this, but they also are one of the best shade providing trees out there. Maybe you’re looking for some red to really make a corner pop. This is where we would add an amur maple tree or shrub. These add wonderful amounts of red/ rusty orange colour just like the gorgeous example at the top of this email.

If you still want some flowers to hold out until late fall think of adding some perennials such as perennial mums or sedum. These plants add late flowering interest and make fall a little more bearable for those of us desperately trying to hold onto that last bit of “summer”. Also this time of year is when those hydrangeas can really start to show their true colours!

amurmaplepic

 

You don’t want to miss our annual Fall Sale! Join us on Saturday, October 1st  and you can take home some incredible trees, shrubs and perennials at up to 40% off! We also have our outdoor pots, planters and select gardening supplies on sale, plus you don’t want to miss our fantastic garden boxes – get a head start for next year!!

We’ve got racks of clothing on sale and you don’t want to miss getting that perfect new piece for your closet. Racks range from $10, $20, $30 and up!  Get yours before they’re gone!

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