Tips Growing a Healthy Lawn in the Ozarks

Cooler weather should be just around the corner. It makes a perfect time take care of the lawn. I don’t just mean cutting the grass.  Over seeding a lawn with bare spots, aerating and top dress to promote fertilization are all great things to do during cooler weather.

Top dressing  is when a thin layer of very high quality dirt is added to the top of a lawn. It is raked in to fill odd holes and divets in the lawn. The dirt is generaly composed of compost, manure and worm castings to help fertilize and replace the nutrients that have been absorbed by the grass root system over time. Every living thing appreciated a diet routine change. Here is a little more information on soil amendment  Natural Tricks for Better Soil

bare lawn

Top dress and over seed to fix bare spots.

Over seeding is simply adding new grass seed to the lawn to help fill in bare or thin spots. After topdressing is a great time to overseed. It gives the new seed a good place to rest and lots of nutrients help it grow. Benefits of Over-Seeding

Aerating is for lawns that have become root bound. The roots have in most cases become so grown together that there is no room for new starts to begin. Aeration can also benefit a lawn that has suffered drought or when the soil has not been properly amended and fertilized. Here is more information on  Lawn Aeration

Remove Rocks and other Debris. Cooler weather is also a good time to just get out in the yard and remove any loose rocks that happen to have grown. Yes, everyone that lives in NWA know that we actually grow rocks here overnight. They prevent grass from growing, trip children and wreck havoc on lawn mower blades.

Mulching can be done almost all year round. Autumn leaves can be mulched with a lawn mower to add the leaf debris back into the lawn. Its also a lot quicker than raking them all up. Saves garbage bags or the risk of starting a fire for those that burn them instead of bagging or mulching them.

During the growing season mowing over large clumps of grass several times adds the nutrients and any seed that was on the grass back in to the soil.

leaving clumps of grass when mowing can kill the new grass growing underneath

leaving grass clumps after mowing can kill the new grass growing underneath.

Let the Grass Seed. As the weather gets cooler or before it begins to get to hot let the grass get a little shaggy and produce its own seed. Why waste free seed and risk more bare spots later when the lawn can replenish its self.

grass does not have to grow to high only until you start to see the tassels

A lush grassy lawn takes a little TLC. Well maybe a little more care and attention here in NWA where the ground is so rocky and most of our dirt consists of clay that does not promote good drainage or root growth.

Best Grass to Grow in the Ozarks 

Lake Front View

This is a gorgeous spot located on a little lake in Bella Vista, AR. The very steep grade of the backyard going down to the lake presented many challenges. The sidewalk leading down to the lake is so steep that you have to almost lean backward in order to walk down it. The homeowners were almost unable to use this entire area safely.

We can’t wait for the newly terraced areas to fill in with grass, and maybe sedum or other ground cover to add more color. On a happy note the homeowners now have a very nice sitting area and are able to safely bring their paddle boat to and from the lake.

graveled-slope  The entire backyard are was originaly all covered in gravel with only two retaining walls. You can see the first retaining wall up by the house.

 

 

 

Keystone Retaining wall systems The gravel below the original wall has all been cleared away. The first native stone walkway is in the process of being laid out.

 

 

 

1105161007Our first Native Stone retaining wall is starting to come together.

 

 

 

 

Native Stone Retaining Wall and Pathways  Both Native Stone walls in place with steps and a pathway.

 

 

 

 

Retaining Wall with block by KeystoneThe bottom retaining wall was raised. These blocks are a Keystone product. They are very durable and easy to assemble. We would recommend them for any similar projects, they will do their job for a very long time.

 

This is the Native Stone sitting area built into one of the walls. The perfect place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee, or just look at the lake.

 

Terraced Lake Front Home

 

 

 

Holiday Lighting

We love to drive around a look at the wonderful lights during the holidays. In the past few years it seems like fewer and fewer homes are putting them up. At 2 J’s & Sons we understand the hassle and lack of time most people have for this daunting task that helps make the holidays enjoyable and more festive. Especially here in NWA where we can’t rely on the snow to help usher in a more festive spirit. christmas-snowman

christmas-light-bulbs

We want to help make the holidays easier for you, and more enjoyable for the kids and neighbors. So let us help take the stress out and do the hard work. Dragging out the ladder and untangling that mass of lights, all the while hoping the bulbs all still work.

 

  • Use your own lights and decor or let us supply them for you.
  • We will also come back at any point if your lights are malfunctioning.
  • We will put them up and come back after the holiday to take them down.
  • If you already have lights of your own you can rely on us to pack them away neatly for next year.christmas-penguine

christmas-light-reindeer

Let’s make the holidays brighter by lighting up Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Give 2 J’s & Sons a call to talk about your holiday decorations, estimates are always FREE 417-772-4181. Contact

christmas-lights-on-tree

Just a Little Fall Decor

 

Halloween is less than a week away. The leaves are falling and mums and pumpkins are being sold everywhere. We are trying to bring in some festive decor, while the kids are still trying to decide what to dress up as for Halloween. On top of all the chores that need done before the weather gets really cold.

 

We’ve started to build a new wood shed that will have a tool shed attached, that we can’t wait to share IF we ever get it done. We have also been doing a very large and dangerous landscape job that hopefully will be completed by the end of the week. It will look amazing when it’s finished. Along with making the homeowners backyard with a gorgeous view of a lake much more practical so they can enjoy it.

Now about those fall decorations. We finally bought some mums again (much later in the year than I had originally planned). We really love the dark red ones, hopefully we can get them to survive the winter inside this year and plant them in the spring. Here is the link to our post about mums and their care Tips for Growing Mums.

Two pumpkins because it just isn’t October without pumpkins. Our hope that our four year old son would help with carving went out the window as soon as he realized his hands would get dirty. But he loves them now that they are cleaned and lit.

The two tiny white pumpkins are everyone’s favorite including our sons, he carried them around all day.

The fallen leaves are really what brings all of it together. At least for now. A few in the yard are pretty and help remind us of the time of year. So long as we stay on top of keeping the vast majority cleaned up.

pumpkins-and-mums

pumpkins

We hope you are having a wonderful fall, and bringing the beautiful fall colors into your home also. Give us a call if you need help getting your yard or chimney ready for winter at 417-772-4181.

Tractor Service

Our tractor is small so it fits through most gates and causes LESS damage to  existing landscaping. Bigger isn’t always better. It will get most jobs done, equipped with a front end loader and backhoe. Its perfect for moving gravel behind most houses and digging drainage ditches for gutter drains. Its also good at grading in tight spaces.

jds-grade-before-1

Some grading work Before 

jds-grade-after

 

 

 

 

graveled-slope

Steep Gravel Removal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gravel-yard

Gravel install

 

Yucca Arkansana

I honestly did not know that the yucca was native to NWA. That could in part be that I didn’t know it’s real name was Yucca Arkansana, or it could just because I don’t really care for them. Maybe knowing that this cactus, succulent actually belongs here will help me like them a little bit more.

 

The Smallest Yucca

The Yucca arkansana is the smallest of the yucca family aparacarceae.  It only grows in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Out of the 40 species in its family the arkansana  is truly tiny especially compared to the monstrous Joshua Trees of California that can grow 40 feet tall. The arkansana on the other hand only grows  stalks up to about 30 inches tall.      joshua tree

 

What it Looks Like

 

The tall stalks that boast the gorgeous white flowers grow out of a base of blue green leaves with sharp tips (be careful this is part of the reason I don’t like them, the tips are very dangerous).  The flowers have 3 whitish green  petals and  3 sepals on each flower. Sepals are found under the bloom, they protect the bud as it grows and later provide support for the flower once it blooms (on a rose the sepal would be the green section  between the stem and petals). The yucca  stalk  can have many blooms all the up  it, the flowers are gorgeous when they bloom between April and June.    yucca 2

 

Where it Likes to Grow

 

Like most yucca this one likes to grow in rocky well drained soil. It can be found on rocky hillsides or dry prairies. It likes full or partial sun but may grow in the shade too. Soil content is not really a big factor for the yucca.

 

The yucca arkansana’s indifference to where it grows makes it great to landscape with.  It’s roots are great at stabilizing rocky slopes where erosion is an issue. Being a perennial and an evergreen are also big marks in it’s favor. The arkansana will thrive in the coldest weather it’s native environment can throw at it, as long as it is in well drained soil so that the roots stay dry. It will stay in place forever to provide a stabilizing force where it is needed. This plant is nearly impossible to kill.

 

How it Reproduces                        yucca flowers

 

Fallen seeds will germinate themselves when temperatures reach between 60 and 70 degrees. It will also reproduce with rhizomes, stem cuttings or by transplanting offsets from the side of an existing mature plant. I am telling you the yucca just keeps coming back it is a very hardy and self sufficient plant.

The Yucca Moth is one of the most amazing things about the yucca family. For millions of years these two species have had a symbiotic relationship. These two species cannot survive without each other. The moth population varies from region to region depending on the yucca population. Without the yucca seeds for the moth larvae to feed on their species would become extinct. In turn the moth is the only insect that can   pollinate the yucca.

 

In the central U.S. the yucca moth is species that pollinates the yucca arkansana is the  Tegeticulla yuccasella it only comes out at night. When the female is ready to lay a clutch she collects pollen from the yucca flowers with two short tentacles near her mouth. She rolled the pollen into a ball and sticks it to her head. She takes her ball of pollen to a yucca flower and opens a hole in the flowers ovary and lays her clutch there. She then packs her pollen ball into the flowers stamen and markes the flower with her sent to alert other moths that the flower has been used.  This allows the moths to control how many eggs have been laid in each plant so that the plant does not abort the eggs. When the eggs hatch they eat the seeds inside the the yucca plant fruit until the burrow their way out. The scent pheromone the mother laid to alert other moths of her clutch not only keeps the plant from aborting the eggs but also helps control the population of both species. To many moths would eat too many yucca seeds and to many yucca seeds would create too many plants. Nature is an amazing thing.           yucca moth

 

Uses

 

American Indians made use of almost every part of their native yucca. The flowers of most yucca are edible raw, boiled and even pickled. The stem of some is also edible and the roots can be used to make soap. I was unable to find anything specific on the uses of the arkasana as far as recipes and such but most sources seem to think that it is no different from most of its cousins along this line.

 

The Amazing Yucca                 

 

A perennial and evergreen with an amazing symbiotic moth relationship in our backyards.

 

Love or hate them the yucca arkansana that cover the hillside on my property aren’t going anywhere. Even the few that I have tried to remove have spited me by growing more. I think we will add some native grasses to add contrast amongst them and leave them to continue doing their job of keeping the hill intact. We will now also be watching more closely at nighttime for the yucca moths.

 

Let Us Build Your Fire Pit

Custom fire pits for your backyard. We can install wood or propane. Native stone or brick the sky and  imagination are the limit. We would love to install an in-ground fire pit, it’s something we have not had the opportunity to do just yet.

 

FallFirePits

Why Plant Native

Some of our past blog articles have talked about native plants like Butterfly Milkweed. A couple of them have talked about invasive species that are found all over our area and have been here for a very long time like Queen Anne’s Lace. But we haven’t talked about why native plants are important. So why plant native?

Why Natives

Natives as a general rule of thumb are adapted to their environment.  This makes them more hardy to their particular climate conditions. honey bee on butterfly milkweed

PROS:

  • Less water
  • More tolerant to drought (if the area frequently has them)
  • Provide homes and food for native insects and animals
  • Don’t require as much fertilizer
  • Don’t require as many pesticides
  • Root systems are designed for the area’s geography, stabilizing rocky terrain or river banks for example.
  • Native plants have also developed to withstand their regions climate like wind and sun.

 

How Invasive Species Affect the Environment

 

Invasive plants have not had the time to adapt to their new conditions in some cases. In other situations non-native plants compete with the native plants and even effect the animals and insects. Queen Annes Flower

CONS:

  • Need more water
  • Need more fertilizer
  • Need pesticides
  • Take over native species, in essence choking them out
  • Take away nutrients from natives
  • Take sunlight from natives
  • Don’t provide sufficient food or shelter for native insects and animals
  • Do not have natural controls in place to control their expansion
  • Run rampant on uninhabited property

 

Yard Scenario 1

 

In a yard that just consists of a grass lawn and all non-native plants on average there maybe about a dozen native insects present.

 

Yard Scenario 2

In a yard with a grass lawn and all native tree, shrubs and flowers there should be hundreds of mostly all native insects.

 

Why Insects are Important

 

It is estimated that 97% of native insects are beneficial. They provide food for birds , bats , fish and other native animals. Spiders and other predatory insects keep fly and mosquito populations under control, along with a horde of other nuisance pests.

 

Native Plants and Animals Create a Sustainable Ecosystem

 

Incorporating just 20% – 30% of natives into your homes landscaping will encourage more native insects and birds to take up residency.     chickadee

 

A single pair of chickadees need up to 9,000 caterpillars to produce a clutch of eggs.

One native oak tree supports the caterpillars of 500 native moth and butterfly species. caterpillar-monarch

 

If we stop planting and encouraging native trees to grow on our property the caterpillars won’t be present for the chickadees to feed on in the quantity they need to breed.

 

We have turned 54% of the continental U.S. into a mixture of suburban and urban development, another 41% is being used for some sort of agricultural pursuit.  This leaves only about 5% undeveloped and still wild. With numbers like that our individual yards and landscaping choices can make a big difference to the environment and ecosystem as a whole.

 

To be honest I grew up in a family that loved to garden but in reality this doesn’t mean that I know a whole lot about native plants. My family loves plants like  elephant ears and banana trees, these are both far from native and are no use to our visiting wild rabbits.

We try now to incorporate as many natives into our personal yard as we can along with companion gardening. But…. the elephant ears and banana tree are both fond childhood memories that I still continue to plant every year. Native or not I feel close to my grandpa ever year when we plant them.         wild rabbit

 

Planting native is a choice that is beginning to give a whole new meaning to the term “Victory Garden”.