It’s bound to happen at one point or another to all homeowners. You walk out of the house and notice brown spots popping up throughout your lawn, or that hundreds of dollars worth of beautiful plants and flowers appear to be dying before your eyes. These moments call for expert advice, and fast!
National non-profit organization Project EverGreen recommends five must-have resources to answer any lawn or landscape question:
1. Local extension office. Each state has at least one extension center as part of the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The CSREES funds state and local programs that research all topics relating to plants, flowers, insects, invasive species, diseases and so on.
If you need to know what growing zone you are in, how to eliminate a rodent that is invading your yard, or tips to keep your flowers looking beautiful, your local extension office is a great resource. Often, someone from the office will come out to inspect your problem and help you find the easiest and most cost-effective solution. To find the extension office nearest you, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html.
2. Landscape professional. A landscape professional is like a Swiss Army knife for your yard - they have all the right tools to enhance your green space! Not only can they plant flowers, trees and shrubs, but they can also install underground sprinklers, build water features, seed or sod your yard, and most importantly, offer specific guidelines to care for your landscape.
This is especially important in new housing developments, as much landscaping work comes with a guarantee. If your newly laid sod or brand-new tree dies, they will come and replace it at no extra cost. When choosing a landscaper, be sure to ask about their guarantee, or negotiate a guarantee into their estimate. To locate a certified landscape professional near you, visit http://isgweb.landcarenetwork.org/directory/FindaContractor.aspx.
3. Local lawn and garden center. If you have specific questions about a plant or tree, or want to do your own landscaping project, there’s no better resource than your local lawn and garden center. The employees are trained experts in your area and can help you hand-pick flowers and shrubs that will grow properly based on factors such as the direction your house faces, the time of year you want blooms, and the space you have available for planting.
They can help you pick a tree that will flower, produce fruit or attract birds, depending on what you’re looking for. Many offer free tree planting and a minimum one-year guarantee on the trees they sell. Best of all, the advice they have to offer is FREE.
4. Lawn care company. When mysterious brown spots or grubs begin overtaking your lawn, or crabgrass is growing out of control, a professional lawn care company should be the first call you make. Whether you want to hire the company to treat your lawn, or you simply want to know what problems are popping up in the area, these people are the experts. A lawn care company can put together a treatment plan for your lawn that usually consists of three to five treatments.
5. YOU. While expert advice is tremendously useful, it won’t help unless you’re dedicated to maintaining your outdoor living space. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in daily activities and simply not notice your yard’s little problems before they become big ones. Remember to regularly perform a thorough inspection of your lawn, trees and plants, noting any areas of concern. You’ll end up saving yourself a great deal of time, money and frustration in the long run.
It’s hard to be an expert on everything you should do for your lawn and the newest trends in landscape design, but these experts are there to help you. Updating and maintaining your green space provides many economic, environmental and lifestyle benefits. By understanding these benefits, you’re greatly improving your life and helping to lower and maintain your energy use and costs.