Atlanta Landscaping Tip: It’s Time to Lime!

unnamedEven when your Bermuda and Zoysia turf is dormant, there are things that can be done over the next couple of months to prepare your lawn for a beautiful spring green-up.  In the Atlanta metro area, we recommend applying lime during the fall and winter months because it will treat the soil, not the grass.

Applying it now allows it to break down and change the soil pH for the warm spring days to come just when your grass starts to break out of dormancy.  Waiting until later in the spring could possibly burn actively growing grass.

We are in the process of sending out Lime Proposals to our current clients. If you haven’t received one and would like more information, please contact Michele at (404) 691-9310 or

Thinking about Scalping Your Lawn?  Please don’t just yet. 

With the warm days that we’ve recently had in the metro Atlanta area, you might feel that temptation to get out and scalp your Bermuda or Zoysia turf in preparation for spring. Please don’t.  Scalping it too soon could cause it to green up prematurely, leaving it susceptible to cold damage when February and March roll around. Lightly mowing over the top to even out the turf is okay, but wait until late February or early March before you get to the point of lowering the turf to the ground.


Compost Your Leaves This Fall

Starting now and through January, the site of landscape companies using motorized leaf blowers or family and friends hand powering a leaf rake will be a common site all across Atlanta and North Georgia.  Leaf drop on properties depends on the varieties of trees within the community.
Before bagging or burning leaves, please keep in mind that allowing leaves to fall and decompose in natural areas or placing and spreading them there is beneficial to the trees for water retention along with nutrient replenishment. Leaves can also be used to cover bare soil in your vegetable garden during the winter to protect the cold-hardy vegetables (carrots, kale, leeks, etc.) When it’s time for spring gardening, just turn the leaves in but add a slow-release nitrogen before planting as the leaves will deplete soil nitrogen.
Burning is a bad option because the smoke contains dangerous compounds and it can irritate anyone’s lungs, especially children or elderly and anyone with respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
But before all the beautiful color falls to the ground, get out and enjoy it. There are many parks around Atlanta that exhibit beautiful fall color.

It’s Aerating and Overseeding Time in Atlanta

After our hot, dry weather most of this summer in Atlanta, mature plants begin to slow down their reproduction rate. Since a blade of grass lives only an average of 45 to 60 days, production of new growth must continually outpace the dieback of older leaves. Young grass will produce new growth faster than older grass. Therefore, one of the most important secrets to maintaining a healthy, thick lawn is to make sure your grass is young. Georgia’s hot, dry summers put additional stress on fescue turf areas so the annual aeration and overseeding of the turf area is very important to establish a healthy stand of grass for 2012.

Unique Environmental Landscapes starts overseeding of fescue lawns in late summer or early fall. We recommend September 15 through October 15. There are many reasons for this. With fall germination, the young grass will have two or three months to become better established before temperatures drop too low and growth stops. The roots will be established before winter, which greatly reduces crop loss should you have a hot, dry spring.

Maintenance that Follows Overseeding ~ Keeping the Seeds Moist

After the aeration & overseeding is done, the seeds will need moisture to germinate. Keep the soil moist (but not overly wet) by lightly sprinkling two times a day throughout the required germination period. After germination, gradually reduce the frequency and increase the time of irrigation watering until a normal irrigation program can be established. Unique will monitor (our landscape maintenance clients) and adjust your irrigation system during this critical period of seed germination.

Install a New Zoysia Lawn Before September 30th

If you are thinking about installing a zoysia lawn, keep in mind that it’s best to have it installed by September 30. It does not do well if you install it after that date as it doesn’t establish a good root system over a cold winter. You can still install Bermuda sod year around.

Irrigating for Fall

It’s time to start thinking about adjusting your irrigation system by reducing the watering schedule for turf zones. Typically, the number of days and time allotted per zone can be reduced this time of year. If the turf zone is currently running 20 to 30 minutes at a time, it can be reduced to about 15 minutes and at least one less watering per week…..saving on the water bill isn’t a bad thing either!

Additionally, when you aerate and over seed, these turf zones may need to be adjusted appropriately as well for the Fescue seeding.

Time for Preemergence Application

Preemergence is effective in controlling summer annual weeds and certain annual broadleaf weeds. The length of control depends on the specific product being used, soil, physical and chemical properties, soil moisture levels, and soil temperatures. Preemergence can be most effective on Crabgrass if it is applied before the seed germination process. Crabgrass initiates spring germination when soil temperatures at a 4-inch depth reach 53 to 58 degrees F. This can occur from mid-February to April in most areas of the southeastern United States. Unique Environmental Landscape’s rule of thumb is to start application of the preemergence herbicide in late January through February. Unique then applies a combination of preemergence and postemergence in late March through early April to catch in weed seeds that may have germinated.

Warning: If you sodded in late fall or winter with Bermuda or Zoysia, do not apply a preemergence until after ‘green up’ of the turf. The grass should be actively growing so the the root is not damaged by the preemergence.

Summer tips for keeping your lawn healthy

Everyone enjoys a nice residential lawn, it’s not hard to have a beautiful lawn, just follow a few simple landscape maintenance guidelines. This is the first of a series of ‘landscape tips’ to be provided on Unique’s blog, please check back often:

  • Your lawn is a garden of grass plants, not a rug, and it needs nutrients to grow. Grass clippings that are properly mulched and left on the lawn will eventually decompose and recycle nutrients back into the soil. Mulching the grass clippings and letting them naturally
    decompose on the lawn for a whole year is equal to about one annual fertilizer application. In addition, leaving the grass clippings on the lawn also helps shade the soil, keeping the roots cooler and reducing moisture loss.
  • Mowing heights are different for Fescue and your warm season grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia. Keep mowing height high-3 inches or more, especially in hot, dry weather is important on your fescue lawns. Bermuda and Zoysia can be slowly brought up in mowing height when we get to the hot time of year. Low mowing heights stresses out grass and requires more water for it to properly grow and survive in temperatures at or above 95°.

Tips on watering properly:

  • Lawns need a total of one inch of water per week- this includes rainfall. Set out an empty tuna fish or cat food can to gauge. When the can is full, this is one inch of rain water. If temperatures stay in the 90° F for more than three days, lawns need 2 inches of water per week. Apply a half inch every other day.
  • For best results, water early in the morning- before 9 a.m., watering in the midday may cause up to a 30% loss due to evaporation.
  • Follow drought-watering guidelines if restrictions are in effect Here is the link:

Tips for the landscape and the hot dry weather

  • Mulching is critically important for plant health in the summer season. It is recommended using two to 4 inches of mulch to reduce soil temperature and improve water retention.

Atlanta Habitat for Humanity & Unique Environmental Landscapes

Unique Environmental Landscapes and MALTA are coordinating efforts with Habitat for Humanity for their third year in a row next Saturday March 13th.

Unique Environmental Landscapes will have staff volunteers helping to assign tasks for the event and working with the materials available to create new living spaces for families on Pryor Road and Bagwell Drive.

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Habitat for Humanity. You can also show up at 2488 Lakewood Avenue, Atlanta, Ga. at 7am. The event lasts until 1pm, so come out and help when you can!

Unique Environmental Landscapes and MALTA enjoy giving back to the community! We hope you can help!

Rich’s Winter Recommendations


What will this toe numbing, water pipe-busting, shiver-inducing weather do to our vulnerable southern plants? The weather is anything but predictable as we all know, but the last few years have really been doozies when it comes to extremes!  Drought followed by ridiculously heavy rainfall and now freezing weather hanging around for over a week.  What is a landscape to do? 

Let’s deal with the latest extreme, the arctic express of January 2010.  It’s not that the temps have been disastrously low; they’ve certainly been lower and more disastrous in past years.  That they are staying below freezing for an extended period of time, however, is cause for some concern. 


So what can you do?  The harsh reality is that in many cases the answer is nothing.  People tend to use plants that are borderline hardy, (and some that just shouldn’t be considered at all) and harsh conditions such as these remind us that perhaps we should choose plants more discriminately while planning a landscape, or when we replace them, as will be the case with many this year I’m afraid.  In most instances it just isn’t practical to try to cover all those tender plants for extended periods.  Tent cities of plastic and multi-colored blankets over those poor plants look ridiculous on so many levels, and frankly, they’re still going to be damaged.


What then can you do?  You can plan ahead and contract with qualified, experienced landscape professionals like those at Unique Environmental who will design landscape areas using plants that will survive these extremes.  You can make sure your plants are well mulched before the cold weather arrives.  Once the weather warms, make sure that your plants are hydrated, especially in planters or raised beds, as these cold, windy dry days will desiccate a plant in no time flat.  Deadhead your pansies and give them a drink (straight up, NOT on the rocks!) and perhaps remulch those perennials, hostas and other more shallow rooted plants that are exposed to these decidedly northern conditions.  Should you notice damaged leaves on your evergreens, refrain from cutting them back until it is apparent they have died back, later this spring.


Beyond that, know that this is but a passing event and we’ll soon be warming again.  Join us at the Southeastern Flower Show at the Cobb Galleria Centre, February 4th through the 6th, enjoy our garden and those of others, and dream of sunny days and sultry nights.