Grass Planting in Ann Arbor, MI
If there is an area in your yard that needs grass seed planted, you might be wondering when the best time to put seed down is. In Michigan and the rest of the Midwest, seed can be planted from April through October. However, for a variety of reasons, the month of September is ideal.
The turf grasses used in Michigan are cool season grasses. Common types include Kentucky Bluegrass, rye and fescue. These grasses germinate best when day time temperatures are between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which typically happens by the second half of September. Ideal temperatures mean quicker germination and the sooner the grass fills in, the less time weeds have to take over. Although grass planted at the end of October will sprout, a hard frost when seedlings are small can have a negative effect. By planting in September the grass will have time to become established before it goes dormant for the winter.
Another benefit to planting in September over April of May is that there are less weed seeds for the grass to compete with. In the spring, the temperatures are right, but many weed seeds can be lying dormant from the year before. Most weeds sprout at higher temperatures than the previously stated grasses but far before the turf would have completely filled in. Because of this, a spring planted lawn will usually end up with more weeds than one started in the fall.
Lastly, with fall comes more frequent rain than in the summer. Soil moisture is needed for about one week to get ryes and fescues to sprout and up to a month for bluegrass. After seeds sprout, watering is still needed on a regular basis for a few weeks. The rainy season means less time is spent watering with a hose or sprinklers, saving time and money.
If time is of the essence, you can get grass to grow from spring through fall. If you want a nice, full lawn without weeds, September is the time to do it. Not only will the final product be superior, but it will take less work. Next spring when others are starting their grass planting projects, your lawn will already be alive and thriving.
Landscape Design in Ann Arbor, MI
During every landscape job I've done this year, the customer specified that they preferred the landscape to be low maintenance. While the most hassle free landscapes are probably lawn or "natural state" landscapes, this is not what people are usually looking for. Unfortunately, anytime there are garden beds, there will be some maintenance that accompanies them. There are ways of designing landscapes to minimize the amount of time and money it takes for upkeep though.
One of these methods is positioning shrubs in ways that allow them to grow to there mature size without becoming crowded and choosing varieties that have visually pleasing natural growth habits. Evergreen hedges made up of yews or boxwoods look great, but come July most people don't want to spend a weekend manicuring a yard full of hedges.
Another way of saving time on landscaping is choosing native and other low water needs plants. Native plants and plants from similar regions have adapted to our natural rain fall amounts. While plants like Annabelle Hydrangeas might be flopped over after a dry week, native flowers like Black Eyed Susans will continue to flower and thrive after weeks without a heavy rain.
A great option for low maintenance landscaping is the use of stones to create points of interest. While it might be more work to get a large rock into the garden, once it's in place, it's not going anywhere. Stones don't need to be watered or pruned. They are virtually maintenance free.
If you're starting a new garden or even changing an existing one, taking into consideration shape, size and water needs will allow your garden to mature into its space without much help. Utilizing more permanent garden elements can add some maintenance free focal points. With a little bit of planning and straying from some of the more traditional ideas of what a landscape should be, you can have more time to enjoy your summer.
Drain Tile Installation in Ann Arbor, MI
For the most part, drain tile is simple and straightforward. Water runs from the high point to the low point. The entire length of the tile should slope downwards and should be able to accommodate the amount of water that will enter the tile. Lastly, it should get the water far enough away that it wont cause any problems later. The confusion can start when choosing materials. Will black corrugated tile work? Perforated or non-perforated? Do I need filter fabric? These are all common questions that will be answered below.
Corrugated vs. Triple Walled vs. PVC
Corrugated tile is the cheapest option for both materials and labor. It's flexible, giving a lot of leeway with how the trench must be dug. From my experience, the tile eventually has problems with roots if they are close to large trees. It should be noted that because the interior of the tile is not smooth, corrugated tile can't be snaked out if it gets clogged.
The second option is tripled walled pipe. The actual pipe costs a little more and the installation will take more time than corrugated. It is sturdier and more impervious to tree roots though. It's smooth interior means it can be snaked out if clogged with debris. For most situations, triple walled pipe is my favorite option.
The last option is PVC pipe. PVC is a great option for areas that might be driven over or receive substantial weight. For most residential purposes, I believe it is more than is necessary. The pieces must be glued together. Also the pipe does not flex so trenches must be dug to fit the pipe, which can be quite time consuming. It is worth saying that PVC tile should never have to be replaced under normal conditions.
Another source of confusion can be whether to use solid or perforated tile. Drain tile has two purposes. The first is to transport water, the second is to collect water. If transporting water, solid tile should be used. If collecting water, perforated tile should be used. It is important not to use perforated tile for the sole purpose of transporting water because water can leach out. This means the water never reaches it's final destination and can create soggy areas in the landscape. Perforated tile is also more likely to have problems with tree roots.
The last common question is whether to use filter fabric, especially when creating a French drain. If perforated tile is used, it should be encased in a "sock". This keeps soil from entering the tile, but allows water to flow through. The tile is covered with pea stone and then soil. Many people think there should be fabric between the pea stone and soil to prevent settling. However, once established, the turf will hold the soil in place. The fabric can slow down the draining of water, defeating the purpose of the French drain.
Installing drain tile is not most people's idea of a good time. However, it can be the best option to fix many destructive drainage problems. Since drain tile is buried, it's important to make sure the right materials are used. No one wants to have to complete a drainage project twice!