March 2011 News Letter

Whats up with mulch?

Precision lawn care works hard week after week to keep your property looking sharp all year round. One of the extra services we provide to our clients is the option of seasonal mulch installation. Mulch reduces evaporation decreasing the need for watering. It also naturally suppresses weeds, thereby reducing the need for chemical herbicides. As mulch decomposes it acts as a natural soil conditioner. All of these properties make a regular application of mulch necessary to provide a healthy growing environment for your landscape.

There are three basic types of mulch used on landscapes in the Atlanta area: wood, pine straw and synthetic.

Wood mulches are available in various types, consistencies and colors. We will include pine bark nuggets in this category. These reddish-Brown chunks give your garden a natural look. They're slow to break down, so they don't need to be replenished as often. They work best and flat beds so nuggets are often used on seasonal color beds.

Hardwood mulch is a blend of natural hardwoods that are shredded and ground. Hardwood mulch has a natural brown color. It is also available in a variety of vibrant organically dyed colors. Dyed hardwood mulch is great for providing contrast in your garden. Use colors for flower beds and/or pathways.

When thinking mulch, we typically think weed control, water management and soil nutrition. However, cedar mulch can be used for natural pest control for the same reasons cedar is considered good for outdoor furniture and fencing. The oil in cedar is a natural insect repellent. Since cedar mulch has a natural light color it also helps keep plants cool in the summer months.

Pine straw is the naturally shed leaves ("needles") of pine trees. It is a beautiful, native ground cover that has many benefits. Pine straw is lightweight and will not wash away. Plants benefit from excellent water and oxygen penetration through pine straw. And as the pine needles break down they add nutrients back into the soil providing your planting beds with additional natural fertilizers.

Synthetic mulches have provided a great way to recycle various non-degradable materials such as plastic bottles and rubber tires. Synthetic pine straw is usually designed to simulate a consistent mixture of 10 to 14 inch reddish-brown pine needles that fall in the spring from old longleaf pine trees. It is great for commercial and industrial properties that want high curb appeal at a low long-term cost. Rubber mulches are available by recycling scrap tires. Rubber mulch is safe, long-lasting and environmentally friendly. Synthetic mulches are insect resistant and last up to 10 years, so annual replacement is not necessary to keep your garden looking fresh, however, they can be cost prohibitive to the average homeowner.

Since mulches help retain moisture and inhibit weeds the best time to refresh your mulches is late winter or early spring. Replenishing mulch either annually or even semi-annually is the least expensive method as the more often you add the less it takes to cover your planting areas. We are currently in the process of mulch replenishment for many of our clients. Click here if you would like to talk to us about your replenishing your mulch.

Do You Remember What Your New Year's Resolution Was?

If somewhere between January first and now your New Year's resolution has simply faded into the background, don't let that continue for the rest of the year. It is only March, there are still nine months ahead of you. It has been said that a bad habit can be changed in twenty-one days. What it takes is consistent small actions in the right direction. Health is improved one meal at a time. Smoking is stopped one day at a time. Strength is increased one exercise rep at a time.

First, acknowledge that you did not follow through on that one, and let it go. You can now consider and ask yourself, "Do I really want to change this habit?" If the answer to that question is, "Yes," then perk up, you can make it happen - beginning now.

Second, look for a solution you can live with. Is there a course you would like to take, but you just have not gotten around to signing up? Do you have a friend who accomplished the same habit change that you would like to adopt? Talk to them and find out what steps they took to get where you want to be. Even if you decide not to use the method they used, having the conversation will move you closer to action.

Third, take an action step. Realize you are not helpless. You can accomplish the change you have been dreaming about. Failure does not have to hover over you like a cloud -- blow that cloud away with action. Write a simple plan for yourself and begin to take the steps needed to make the change.

Fourth, track your progress. It has been said that what can be tracked or measured will get done. Tracking will show you the small successes that motivate you to continue. It will also keep you on track or help you get back on track when you slip along the way.

Fifth, celebrate your small successes. The journey of a thousand miles always begins with step one. Keeping a record of your progress is a way to map your journey and communicate with yourself. You will have proof that you can lose weight - so celebrate that success. You will have a record of how many days you have been a non-smoker - give yourself a star every day you don't smoke. Keeping track will motivate like nothing else can, because it allows you to see your progress at any moment and when you see progress you can take pleasure in your small accomplishments.

You can change that bad habit that bothers you. Go for it! You won't get anywhere by zoning out in front of the computer or TV. You can get to where you would like to be! Twenty-one days is not even a month away. Let March be the month you take step one on your journey. By the time April gets here that bad habit will be history!