How to Create a Fun Family Retreat—Right in Your Backyard!

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Blonde women on luxurious patio playing guitar and drinking wineOutdoor living spaces have only grown in popularity in recent years, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, their value is more apparent than ever this summer. If your family is looking for ways to get out of the house safely, the answer lies right in your own backyard. Check out these summer yard ideas to use it to its full potential and give your family a summer of fun that even a pandemic can’t ruin. 

Summer Yard Ideas for Family Fun

Create Zones

Even in a relatively small yard, creating distinct areas for different activities can help you maximize the potential of the space, as well as making your family more likely to use it. Do you have areas for lounging, cooking and eating, active play, gardening, or other interests? Think about what your family needs and enjoys, and prioritize those activities rather than trying to emulate landscaping from a magazine or a set list of what a backyard “should” have.

For instance, if you have younger kids, you may want to prioritize a lush patch of lawn, swings, a sandbox, or a sensory play area; if you have teens, a comfy lounge area might be more your speed. Make sure to include shade into your plans, as no one wants to sit outside in the hot Georgia sun for too long without relief—they’ll be running back into the air conditioning in no time! 

Welcome Wildlife

Even in the city, you’d be amazed at the wildlife living right in your backyard—or at least nearby. If you live in a more suburban area, it’s even more likely that there are animals around. Habitat loss is a major issue around Atlanta, but you can help local wildlife with some easy additions to your backyard that won’t decrease your enjoyment of the space. In fact, observing the wildlife you attract can be a hobby of its own! Some ideas to create and enjoy a wildlife-friendly backyard include: 

  • Adding birdhouses, bird feeders, and bird baths
  • Building a bat house (Contrary to popular belief, bats aren’t scary—they actually eat bugs and can keep the mosquito population down!)
  • Planting pollinator-friendly flowers, trees, and shrubs
  • Setting up a trail cam to see which animals visit your yard at night or early in the morning 

And if you’re really feeling extra, you could even build a squirrel obstacle course!

Take it Outside

To get your family interested in using the backyard more, start out with some fun activities. Set up a tent and “camp out” in the backyard, Lay out some blankets and read or have a picnic, eat dinners on the patio, grill out, blow bubbles, roast marshmallows, tell stories, sing songs! The possibilities are endless and you can make your backyard your own, perfectly tailored for your family.
The key to making your backyard an oasis for your family is to nail the basics, like a lush, green lawn. We can help you make it happen with residential lawn care in Atlanta, from professional fertilizing and weed control, to aeration and seeding, to fire ant control.    

Give us a call at 770-923-0387 or contact us online to find out how we can help you execute your summer backyard ideas and enjoy your home to its fullest potential this summer and beyond!

Why Flea and Tick Prevention Services are So Important This Season

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Dog lying in green grassThe weather is heating up, enticing Atlantans to head outside and enjoy their patios, porches, and yards (while safely social distancing, of course). We’re all sick of being stuck inside, and the warm spring days are beckoning us out for a little boost of vitamin D. 

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, it’s more important than ever to make sure those outdoor living spaces are safe and enjoyable for you, your family, and your pets. Unfortunately, warm weather also means that it’s flea and tick season. So, how can you get outside for some much-needed R&R without the bites? 

We’ve got you covered with flea and tick lawn treatments by Simply Green. Keep reading to learn more about this invaluable Atlanta lawn care service and why you should give us a call to schedule yours today!

Fleas and Ticks: More Than a Nuisance

If your family includes a dog, cat, or other furry friend, you’re probably on the lookout for the excessive scratching and biting caused by fleas. Pet owners who have dealt with fleas or ticks know that it’s a huge hassle… But what many may not know is that fleas and ticks are not only annoying, they’re also potential carriers of viral and bacterial diseases that can be dangerous for pets and people. 

In addition to itchy bites, rashes, swelling, and skin irritation, fleas can carry serious diseases like typhus, the bubonic plague, and lymphoreticulosis, more commonly known as “cat scratch disease.” Ticks are also prolific carriers of disease, able to infect their victims with everything from Lyme disease and tularemia to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and anaplasmosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites are on the rise across the U.S., causing homeowners to look for new solutions to protect themselves from these serious illnesses. 

How to Protect Your Family and Pets from Fleas and Ticks

At Simply Green, we’re known for offering high quality lawn care services across Atlanta, but we do more than just make landscaping look good; we can also help you protect your family with preventative flea and tick lawn treatments. Here’s how it works: 

Our prevention service consists of 2 applications—one during the spring and one during the summer. These treatments significantly reduce the presence of these pests, leaving you to enjoy your outdoor spaces worry-free! 

If you’re ready to make the most of your outdoor living spaces this summer, give us a call at 770-923-0387, email us at [email protected], or use our easy online form to request a consultation and estimate

Sign up for flea and tick prevention service today and prepare for warm-weather fun without the worry.

Everything You Need to Know About Thatch

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Yard in springtime with azaleas bloomingHere in Atlanta, the azaleas are blooming, the flowering trees are putting on a colorful show, and you’re probably thinking about getting your yard ready to enjoy for spring and summer. If achieving a beautiful, lush, healthy lawn is on your to-do list, it’s important to understand what thatch is and how it affects your grass. At Simply Green, our business is all about helping you achieve that “dream lawn,” so take a look at some pro tips from our lawn care team

Lawn Thatch 101

What is Thatch? 

You’ve probably heard of thatch before, but do you know what it is? Thatch is a layer of plant material which accumulates around the base of your grass. Remember that your lawn is an interconnected network of grass plants which not only sends roots down into the soil, but also grows shoots (stolons) horizontally across and just under the surface. Over time, that plant matter— rhizomes, runners, roots, blades, and crowns (the base of the grass plant)— eventually  settles down around the base of your grass, where it will start to decompose and form a thick layer between the blades of grass and the soil. 

Why is Thatch a Problem?

So, why is thatch a problem? After all, thatch is a natural result of growing grass, right? Well, while some amount of thatch is normal, this layer can become so thick and impermeable that it impedes the healthy growth of the grass. If proper lawn care is not maintained, the layer of thatch blocks sunlight, air, and water from permeating the ground and reaching the roots of the grass. This leads to compacted soil, roots that are shallow and weak, and ultimately, a sparse and lackluster lawn.

How to Deal with a Thatched Lawn

While there are several things that can cause thatch to build up in excess, your best best option for addressing the issue and improving your lawn is core aeration. This process removes small plugs or “cores” from your lawn, creating tunnels from the surface to the soil. Creating these holes allows water, air, and sunlight to reach all the way to the soil where the roots of your grass are located. Over the next month or so, your lawn will become denser and grow deeper roots, making your lawn more resistant to weeds and other invaders.

When Should You Aerate Your Lawn? 

If your lawn contains warm season grass varieties like Zoysia, Bermuda, or Centiped, you should have your yard aerated now. Spring and early summer aeration will help you enjoy a thick, green lawn all summer long. 

As an essential business, we are still open and providing lawn care services to clients across metro Atlanta. Give us a call today at 770-923-0387 for a free core aeration estimate, or fill out our quick and easy online form

4 Common Culprits of Shrub Disease and How to Identify Them

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Shrub Disease

Shrubbery is one of the most important parts of your landscape, providing structure, adding visual interest, and maybe even creating privacy between you and your neighbors. Just like trees, shrubs can fall victim to pests and shrub diseases that can sicken or even kill them. Fortunately, many of these can be prevented if you know what to look for and how to treat it. 

Check out these tips from our lawn care experts to help you identify common shrub diseases, or call us at 770-923-0387 for a free estimate and landscape analysis

Types of Shrub Disease

Fungus

One of the most common afflictions Atlanta shrubs face is a fungus, Powdery Mildew Fungus. This shrub disease leaves a white, powdery substance all over the foliage of the affected plant, and can ultimately kill the plant if left unchecked. 

To prevent or treat this shrub disease, you’ll need to remove any parts of the shrub that were infected, thin the shrub to allow for better air flow, and apply a fungicide to kill any spores left behind. Make sure that you’re watering your plants from underneath, rather than dousing them from above, and hold off on fertilizing until the plants have recovered. 

Bacteria

One of the most common shrub maladies is called Fire Blight, a bacterial disease that causes the twigs, shoots, and stems of the plant to shrivel and turn black. If you notice this happening to your shrubs, it’s important to prune the affected areas right away, being sure to clean your pruning tools between cuts. If it’s an active growing season, don’t bother pruning; just remove the whole plant so you don’t risk it infecting the surrounding shrubs. 

Virus

If you’ve noticed the foliage on your shrubs turning mottled colors that are out of the norm, you may have a case of Rose Mosaic Disease on your hands. The disease can also cause stunted growth. 

If you suspect that a plant has this virus, remove it from your landscape immediately so it can’t infect the other shrubs. 

Nematodes

Also known as roundworms, these pests can infect a shrub and cause its undergrowth to die. If you notice dead sections or pieces of your plant falling off, it’s likely that nematodes are present. While harder to see, they also attack the root system of the plant, resulting in stunted, uneven growth. The best course of action in this case is also to remove the infected plant before it can spread.

Want or need to take something off your plate, a plate that is probably already towering with to-dos? Simply Green is here to provide the best lawn care in Atlanta, so  let us help you get your outdoor space into shape for spring and summer. You can even get your first lawn application for only $25!

Eco-Friendly Ways to Get Rid of Your Christmas Tree

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Close up photo of wooden tree ornaments on evergreen tree with white lightsThe holidays are over, the decorations are packed up for another year, and you’re left with a Christmas tree that has seen better days. Once the novelty of “Christmas tree scent” has worn off and the annoyance of vacuuming up the tree’s needles has set in, you’re probably ready to get that tree out of your house ASAP. What should you do with your Christmas tree once the holidays are over? 

Well, as it turns out, there are actually a lot of things to do with a Christmas tree! Whether you decide to return it to nature or get crafty with it, check out these 3 eco-friendly ways to get rid of your Christmas tree

Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Disposal Ideas

Mulch your Christmas Tree.

Pine needles (also known as pine straw) make great mulch for certain areas of your yard. If you have a wood chipper (or can borrow a neighbor’s) you can even turn your tree into wood chip mulch as well! If you don’t want to deal with processing the tree, not to worry—you can recycle it. Just check out these tree recycling opportunities in Fulton and Gwinnett counties to find your nearest dropoff location. Your tree will be turned into mulch and might end up adorning a public flower bed near you. 

Create a wildlife sanctuary. 

Winter can be a hard time for wildlife. If you have enough room, you can sit your undecorated tree outside in the stand to provide shelter for birds. The birds will appreciate a cozy place to get out of the elements, and you can enjoy birdwatching right in your backyard. For bonus bird-points, hang a couple of feeders from the tree, or create “garlands” of pinecones covered in peanut butter and birdseed to decorate the tree. This is a great project to do with kids, especially if they’re a bit sad that the holidays are over. 

Christmas trees also make great fish habitats! Many communities gather Christmas trees to sink in lakes and ponds, especially ones that are man-made and therefore have fairly flat bottoms. The trees give young fish a place to hide from predators, which helps keep the ecosystem of the pond healthy. Check with your county for information on donating your tree.

Use Christmas tree branches as plant stakes. 

If you grow peas, beans, or other legumes in your garden, make sure to keep the branches of your Christmas tree. You can strip the branches of twigs and use them as plant stakes. Legumes thrive when they can climb towards the light, and the knobby, rough shapes of evergreen branches give the shoots plenty of opportunities to grip the stake as they climb. 

However you decide to get rid of your Christmas tree, we hope your year is off to a great start. Give us a call at 770-923-0387 or check out our residential lawn care services to give your yard a head start, so you can enjoy your outdoor spaces more this year.

Winter Lawn Care in Georgia: What to Expect

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winter lawn care in GeorgiaWondering why you still need lawn care, even in the winter? Learn what to expect from your lawn with these tips for winter lawn care in Georgia from the landscaping experts at Simply Green.

Winter in Atlanta: Does It Even Count? 

For the most part, we’re lucky with our winters here in Atlanta. Sure, we’ve had some infamous storms like Snow Jam ‘82, Snowpocalypse 2011, Snowmageddon, and a handful of other freakish weather events, but overall, our winters are generally mild and manageable. However, just because we’re not dealing with major snowfall or extremely low temperatures doesn’t mean winter is all sunshine and roses. We’re not in Florida, after all.

Winter can be a rough time for lawns, as many of the common types of turfgrass used in Atlanta go dormant during the winter. These turfgrasses include Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Bahia, and Centipede, so if you have one or more of these in your yard, know that it will require more careful management during the winter months. 

What You Need to Know About Winter Lawn Care in Georgia

Why does grass go dormant? And what is dormancy, anyway? 

Think of dormancy as hibernation or sleep. Just like humans need to rest every day, and bears need to hibernate through the cold winter months, your grass needs a period of dormancy to survive freezing weather. 

Dormancy is your grass temporarily “shutting down” to conserve energy, water, and nutrients. During this time, it turns brown, and it’s much more vulnerable. While summer lawns can generally handle a good amount of foot traffic without sustaining much damage, winter lawns are not able to spring back as easily. This is especially true when there’s frost on the grass. 

How to protect your lawn during the winter in Georgia

  • Avoid walking on it as much as possible, especially in the morning when there’s a layer of frost making it extra fragile. If you must let kids and animals run around on the lawn, wait until the frost has melted for the day. 
  • Don’t overwater it. Your lawn still needs water to survive during the winter, but it can’t absorb (or evaporate) nearly as much as it does during the hot summer months. Adjust your sprinkler system accordingly to save water and only give your yard a light watering once a week. 
  • Keep grass clear of leaves, sticks, and other dead plant matter. Removing plant debris from your yard doesn’t just look better, it also protects your grass from suffocation, shade damage, and diseases. 

Looking for an Atlanta lawn care company focused on giving you the healthy, beautiful, lush lawn you’ve always wanted? Concerned about winter lawn care in Georgia? Give us a call at 770-923-0387 to get an estimate or schedule your lawn treatment.

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants: What Works & What Doesn’t?

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how to get rid of fire antsIf you own a home with a yard in Atlanta, chances are you’ve encountered one of the area’s most frustrating pests: fire ants. These ants (and the unsightly anthills they seem to build overnight) are not just annoying, they’re also dangerous. Wondering how to get rid of fire ants? Learn what works (and what doesn’t) from the professionals at Simply Green Lawn Care

Why Destroy Fire Ants? 

Fire ants are a particularly aggressive species of ant that will swarm once disturbed. That means that if you accidentally disturb a nest, you may end up with dozens or even hundreds of bites in a short amount of time. While their painful stings aren’t life-threatening for most adults, about 5% of the population is severely allergic to fire ants, and people have died from anaphylactic shock after being stung. The risk is especially high for young children due to their smaller size, as well as small animals like cats and dogs. 

In addition to threatening our human and non-human family members, fire ants are extremely damaging to livestock and native wildlife, especially ground-nesting birds. As an invasive species, fire ants even harm our native (far less dangerous and destructive) ant species by competing with them for resources. 

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

So, now that you know why they have got to go, how do you actually get rid of fire ants? That’s where we come in. Our Atlanta lawn care company offers fire ant control that can give you your yard back! Read on to learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to killing fire ants

The Dont’s 

First, let’s get what not to do out of the way. While there’s a time and place for folk remedies, we suggest that you don’t waste your time with these: 

  • Grits 
  • Boiling water
  • Orange peels
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Club soda
  • Gasoline

The problem with most of these is that while they may kill some ants on the surface of the nest, they are not going to harm the queen. As long as the queen and some of her workers survive, they will just move away from the annoyances you’ve presented and rebuild. 

The Do’s

Unfortunately there really aren’t any natural or non-toxic remedies for getting rid of fire ants. They’re tough and aggressive, so eradicating them requires an aggressive approach. That’s why we recommend the following: 

  • Use a granular insecticide. Our fire ant control service (which you can book as-needed or include in one of our annual lawn care plans) uses TopChoice, a granular insecticide only available to lawn and pest control professionals.
  • Keep the pressure on. Fire ants are resilient, and eradicating them from your yard requires ongoing treatment. If you treat your yard for fire ants and don’t keep up a regular schedule, they can actually come back worse than before. Our fire ant treatment kills existing colonies and prevents the establishment of new colonies for up to a year.
  • Be safe. Many of the insecticides used to treat fire ant infestations are dangerous, and proper application is required. We use TopChoice because it has a high safety profile and is selectively toxic to insects. When applied properly by a trained technician, you can rest easy that your family and pets can safely enjoy your yard again. 

Eyesore No More: How to Get Rid of Mushrooms in Your Lawn

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Small white mushrooms growing in grassAs Atlanta’s lawn care experts, we get plenty of questions about all kinds of lawn maladies, from shade damage to turf diseases and more. Our Atlanta lawn care services help to prevent (and if necessary, treat) most lawn problems. However, there’s one condition that isn’t actually a hazard to your lawn’s health – mushrooms! 

Why are mushrooms growing in my lawn?

While some types of fungus can wreak havoc on a lawn, mushrooms are quite harmless to grass. (However, some species may be poisonous to children or animals.) You’ll often see mushrooms pop up after a rainy period because moisture is one of the conditions necessary for their growth. They also require decaying organic material and shade. If those conditions are met – presto! You’ve got mushrooms. Fortunately, getting rid of them is pretty easy. 

How do I get rid of lawn mushrooms?

There are a few different approaches you can take if the mushrooms bother you. First, you can just wait for a few sunny days to dry out your yard, and in turn, wither those mushrooms away. If they’re really an eyesore, you can also get rid of them by mowing your lawn. But of course, the best way to enjoy a mushroom-free yard is simply prevention. 

How do I prevent mushrooms from growing in my yard? 

To prevent mushrooms from popping up in your yard, you need to take away the things that help them thrive. 

  • Help your lawn dry out more quickly by pruning any dense trees or shrubs that are blocking sunlight from reaching the grass. You may also need to address an underlying drainage problem in your yard with grading, drainage systems, or dry creek beds to divert water from those swampy areas that never dry out all the way. 

If you’re ready to take lawn care off your plate and leave it to the experts, check out our Atlanta lawn care specials and contact us for an estimate today! 

How Integrated Pest Management Protects Your Shrubs and Trees

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integrated pest management We deal with a lot of pests here in Atlanta, and most of us are primarily concerned with keeping them out of our homes. However, pest control is important not only for you and your family, but also your landscaping plants! Learn how integrated pest management is an important part of plant healthcare from your friends at Simply Green.

What is integrated pest management (IPM)?

Integrated pest management is an approach to pest control that focuses on managing pests while posing the least risk to people and the environment. The scope of integrated pest management goes beyond simply removing a pest. Instead, the goal is to preserve the health of the plant or tree, and your landscaping ecosystem as a whole, while mitigating the negative impact of the pest. For instance, some insects and animals (like spiders and bats) actually help control the population of pests like roaches and mosquitoes. Some of the key tenets of integrated pest management include: 

  • Understanding pests’ life cycle, preferences, and behavior
  • Deploying the least toxic methods first, including the responsible use of pesticides
  • Monitoring pest activity and responding accordingly with new methods if needed
  • Viewing your lawn and garden (and the creatures within them) as part of an ecosystem

How can integrated pest management benefit trees and shrubs? 

Foundational landscaping plants like trees and shrubs take a long time to mature, so the disruption of a pest or disease can have long-reaching effects on the ultimate outcome of that plant, sometimes taking years to correct if a problem arises. It’s important to be proactive with healthcare for your plants, so any issues can be addressed as soon as possible and your landscaping plants will be able to reach their full potential. 

Our Atlanta lawn care and plant healthcare services for every season ensure that your landscaping stays healthy and strong for many years to come. Contact us today to request a free estimate

Shrub Pruning Basics for a Beautiful Yard

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Suburban brick house with shrubs and trees along walkwayIt’s summer in Georgia, the season of iced tea on the front porch, kids playing in sprinklers, and backyard cookouts with friends and neighbors. However, early summer is also the time of year to trim many of your shrubs! At Simply Green Lawn Care, we’re the experts in Atlanta lawn care and landscaping, helping Atlanta homeowners cultivate a beautiful environment. Check out our tips on how to prune shrubs for a fresh, clean summer landscape.

Professional Landscaper Tips for Shrub Pruning

  • Get the right equipment – Lopping shears or hedge shears are good for most cuts, although you will want a pruning saw for branches more than 1.5” in diameter. Don’t forget to have your pruning tools sharpened at the end of the season by a professional before oiling and storing for the winter.
  • Understand how shrubs grow – In order to properly shape the plants in your yard, you should know why they grow the way they do and how your cuts affect them. Each branch or twig has a terminal bud which produces a hormone that controls the growth of the lateral buds along the side of the branch. If you cut off the terminal bud, shoots will start to grow from the lateral buds. The most abundant new growth will occur within 8 inches of the pruning cut you’ve made.
  • Say no to stubs – Pruning to the trunk of the tree or shrub, a lateral branch, or a lateral bud releases hormones that allow the tree to quickly heal the “wound” created by pruning. If you just hack off a branch anywhere, you will leave a stub that is not only unsightly, but also makes the plant vulnerable to pests or disease.

For more information about how to prune shrubs and trees, visit the UGA Extension page Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape. Want help keeping the rest of your Atlanta lawn in peak condition? Reach out to us for a consultation and estimate by filling out our contact form!