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  1. slide1Owning a home with a luxurious lawn is a dream of many buyers, but that grass requires extensive maintenance. Mowing, fertilizing and other chores are part of your everyday life. However, you should also consider regular lawn aeration. This procedure involves the creation of holes in your lawn. These spaces allow oxygen to permeate the soil, which gives the grass a fresh resource for vigorous growth. Learn about the best frequency with which you should perform aeration. Your Ann Arbor MI home’s value can improve with a striking lawn appearance.

    Heavy-Duty Use

    Many homeowners see their grass as a play area. You might perform several activities on the lawn, such as playing catch or running through sprinklers. All of these actions, however, are detrimental to your lawn. The soil becomes compacted, which contributes to less water and oxygen at the root level. If you plan on using the lawn for heavy-duty use year-round, aerate the grass at least twice a year. Aerate after winter and in the fall, for instance. The grass will have a better lifespan as a result.

    Grass Species

    Determining aeration frequencies also depends on the grass’s species. There are warm- and cool-season grasses. For Michigan homes, most people have cool-season species because of the harsh winters. These grasses react best to aeration when it’s performed in the spring or fall. Active growth is what you want so that the removed soil plugs can be filled with seedlings before winter’s chill sets in. If you aren’t sure about your grass species, ask a professional for advice.

    Little Girl Dreaming in the parkThickness Factor

    Several grass species have so much growth that they create a thatch or thick layer below the visible blades. If this thatch is too thick, however, it can actually impede the lawn’s ability to remain healthy. Aerate your lawn once or twice a year if your thatch is thicker than one inch. Each removed plug will also reduce the thatch’s thickness too. The lawn has a chance to thin out this deteriorating mass as extra oxygen and water enter the deeper soil levels.

    Thinning Spots

    Your grass definitely needs an immediate aeration if you notice thinning areas across the surface. You might have lush grass in one corner, but it fades into bald areas nearby. These thin areas might be caused by uneven compaction, such as residents cutting through the grass to the front door. Aerate the grass during its growing season, and try to detour any traffic around the area. Grass grows best when it’s not stressed by foot traffic. Add stepping stones to this area or fence it off entirely. The bald spot will return after aeration if the grass isn’t relieved of the foot traffic.

    Although you can buy those spikes shoes for quick lawn aeration, it’s a better idea to use a tool that actually pulls soil sections from the ground. If you press the soil down with the spikes, you’re actually compacting the soil and reducing oxygen supplies. Professionals in Ann Arbor MI will always use soil-removal strategies during aeration. Follow their lead with your lawn.

  2. bigstock-Rain-gutter-full-of-autumn-lea-37528768If your gutters and downspouts are clogging, it could lead to serious water damage to the interior of your home. As there are many reasons why they could clog or otherwise become blocked, it may be best to have an Ann Arbor MI roofing professional take a look at them as soon as possible. He or she can diagnose the problem and help you avoid costly repairs to your home.

    Reasons Your Gutters Could Be Clogged

    A gutter can clog if it becomes too full of organic matter or other debris. For instance, you may have leaves or sticks from a nearby tree fall into them and block water from being able to flow properly. Leaves and other material may fall into a gutter and then decompose, which can turn them into giant piles of thick goo that can be difficult to remove. Gutters may also become clogged or backed up if ice accumulates along the gutter, which forces water back under shingles and into the home.

    Why Do Downspouts Get Clogged?

    A downspout can get clogged for many of the same reasons that a gutter will become clogged. Debris such as pine needles, leaves and sticks may roll off of the gutter and become lodged in a downspout. If a downspout isn’t properly connected to the home or to another piece properly, it could allow material to become lodged and fail to let water through. Additionally, it may be possible for rodents to enter your downspout and either nest there or have babies while inside.

    The Consequences of a Clogged Gutter or Downspout

    When water isn’t allowed to flow away from your Ann Arbor MI home or property, it will flow into the home instead. The first signs of water damage may be streaking on walls or the presence of water in the attic. If allowed to linger, you may notice that water starts to drip from the ceiling in one or more rooms in the house. If still allowed to linger, water could seep into walls and flow all the way to the basement and the foundation.

    Fixing a Gutter or Downspout Doesn’t Have to be Hard or Costly

    If you notice that a gutter or downspout is clogged, fixing the issue may be as simple as having it taken off of the house and reset properly. It may also be a good idea to have gutter guards installed that can block leaves, ice and other debris from getting into a gutter in the first place. These guards can be installed for a few hundred dollars, which is a fraction of the cost of dealing with a clogged gutter. A downspout only costs a few dollars to replace, and labor costs are reasonable as well.

    At the first sign of gutter or downspout issues, you should call a professional to take a look at them. A professional will be able to diagnose your issue and fix it in a timely manner. Once the problem has been resolved, you can sleep easier knowing that your home will be safe from the elements.

  3. Fertilizing LawnFew things are more picturesque of summer than a lush green lawn in Ann Arbor MI. It makes a wonderful natural playground for the kids, and it enhances the curb appeal of any home. But, the primary challenge is that quest to grow a perfectly manicured green lawn is often something more of fairytales than real life. That is unless you are willing to reach for a packaged solution – chemical fertilizers to kill off weeds and enhance the growth of attractive green grass.

    The statistics are somewhat astonishing when you get right down to it. Nearly 100 million pounds of pesticide are used by homeowners and gardeners each year, and the more we learn about them, the more concerned we all are. Studies have shown that the chemicals contained in lawn treatments are creeping into our homes and contaminating indoor air and even surfaces, exposing children to levels as high as ten times as much as pre-application levels. In fact, a study conducted by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 9,282 people found pesticides in 100 percent of the people tested, with the average person carrying 13 of 23 pesticides tested.

    What Are Chemical Fertilizers and Lawn Care Products?

    Chemical lawn treatments are more than just fertilizers. These combinations contain not just the “food” to enhance your lawn’s growth but also chemicals that kill pests. The problem with the chemical element in these treatments is that most are broad-spectrum biocides, meaning they are poisonous to a wide variety of living organisms, such as garden plants, wildlife, pets, and your family. And, it’s not just the active ingredients that can be harmful. The inert ingredients that make up between 50 and 99 percent of the formula may actually be more toxic that their active counterparts.

    How Can Chemical Lawn Treatments Affect Your Family?

    The biggest issue with chemical lawn treatments is that so many of them also contain a pesticide component. Of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 of them have actually been linked with cancer or carcinogenic properties, 13 have been identified with ties to birth defects, 21 with reproductive issues, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with imbalances of the endocrine system.

    Of those common pesticides, 17 have been located in groundwater, and 23 are capable of leaching into drinking water sources. Additionally, 24 are toxic to fish, 11 to bees, and 16 to birds.

    Are Chemical Lawn Products Regulated?

    No. The EPA currently allows no claims on pesticides or lawn care chemicals, and in fact, it is a federal violation to label pesticides with terms such as “safe” or “non-toxic.” It is estimated that nearly 90 percent of pesticides in use actually lack proper health and safety registration; however, they are still permitted on the market.

    Are There Alternatives to Toxic Lawn Care Products?

    Yes. There are natural options to maintain a healthy, pest-free landscape without the use of dangerous chemicals in Ann Arbor MI. One option is corn gluten, a natural pre-emergent weed killer and fertilizer presently available to homeowners. Likewise, a thin layer of compost applied in the spring and fall can support healthy lawn growth while other natural practices can be applied to limit pests and disease.

  4. Lawn Irrigation SystemFinding the ideal irrigation system for one’s lawn can be extremely overwhelming and challenging at first, driving the person to beg the question of where to start. Fortunately, this straight-forward guide will make this entire process a whole lot clearer.

    This step simply cannot be left out. To start off, make a map scale, setting one inch equal to one foot, or whatever the person prefers. Try to be as detailed as possible, including all objects such as trees, lawns and other things of the like. Most importantly, keep note of where the main source of water will be coming from. Be aware of all possible obstacles, including gas, electric, and other lines of the like. The gas or electric company can provide this information upon request.

    Before creating a sprinkler system, one needs to know the necessary operation pressure, which is generally 40 to 50 psi for a large majority of houses. If the water company isn’t able to provide this information, one can always measure their water pressure with a pressure gauge by closing all faucets within the house and attaching the gauge to an outside spigot. One can easily obtain such a gauge from a plumber in Ann Arbor MI.

    The second thing that needs to be known is how much water flows through the house at one time. This rate is measured in gallons per minute. In most cases, one should be able to obtain this information from their water company in Ann Arbor MI with no problem. If for some reason one cannot obtain this information, they can always easily measure their water rate themselves by simply filling up a gallon bucket. If the gallon bucket fills up in 20 seconds, then the actual rate would be three gallons per minute.

    Once done, one can finally move on to the rough draft map. This, of course, isn’t the map of the property, but the future design itself. Fortunately, an irrigation supplier can give one a sample design once they look at the person’s original layout, which was drawn in the very first step. Both maps give one a good general idea of how much area their irrigation system covers. As a general rule of thumb, one wants each sprinkler to overlap by at least 50 percent in order to allow sufficient, even coverage. Although all of the above covers the basics and essentials, there are several additional tips to keep in mind as well.

    Additional Tips to Consider:

    • Draw spraying circles to see exactly how much ground each sprinkler covers.
    • Try not to use different brand sprinklers, as each one operates at slightly different pressures.
    • Make sure to not add too many sprinklers, as doing so will not allow enough pressure to circulate.
    • Make certain that all measurements are accurate, down to the hundredth of an inch if need be.
    • Create a list of all the materials needed for the project.
  5. Having a great looking yard not only adds to the beauty of your home, but it can also help sell a property if you are thinking of selling it. Keeping a yard looking great in a place like Ann Arbor MI, however, can be difficult because of all the rain this location receives. This is especially true if you begin seeing that there is standing water that does not naturally evaporate or flow away. There are a number of reasons why this can be very damaging to your yard.

    Attracts Mosquitoesgrass on water background

    Still water creates the perfect condition for mosquitoes to lay eggs in. This can not only make it less pleasant to sit outside and enjoy your yard, but it can also put your health at risk, since mosquitoes carry many different diseases. If you begin to see water pooling in your yard, you need to act fast so that you do not end up with a mosquito infestation.

    Damages Plants

    Standing water can drown plants, destroying their roots. Many times these plants rot, releasing unpleasant smells and damaging even more plants. If you have great landscaping that you want to keep healthy, then getting rid of pools of water is vital. If you begin to see plants losing color and becoming brown, this could mean that they are getting too much water in their roots. Speak with an expert to see about removing the excess water so that your plants can grow in a healthy way again.

    Weakens Foundation

    Poor water drainage in your yard can wreak havoc on your home’s foundations. This is especially true if your home has a basement, since water can leak in and weaken the walls and ceiling. Structural issues with your home can take a lot of money to fix, so the best thing is to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place. The first step in this option is making sure there is no excess water in your yard.

    Limits Yard Use

    People do not want to walk on ground that is wet and that can even move underneath them. A yard that has water that does not drain makes it impossible for you to enjoy your yard. In spring and summer, when you want to use your yard the most, you may be limited from using it because of the excess rain that usually occurs in these seasons. A wet yard can be a hazard, too, since people may easily slip and hurt themselves. If you are worried about pools of water that do not drain, then it is important to contact experts to help you.

    If you live in the Ann Arbor MI area and you suspect your yard may not be draining correctly, take the time to contact professionals who can help you figure out why this is an issue and what you can do to fix it. Many times, the solution is simple, but you do not want to run the risk of damaging your yard so having professionals helping you can be the best thing you do for your property.

  6. DSC01055A retaining wall serves a distinct purpose in holding soil in place. It can be used for multiple purposes such as beautifying a given space or serve as a standalone garden. Retaining walls can be professionally constructed by an experienced landscaper or the homeowner. One of the top benefits of adding a retaining wall to the yard is that it can improve the health of a garden.

    Planning for drainage

    Soil becomes overly saturated. Adding a retaining wall can help with drainage. This is if it is built with a slope. The slope facilitates drainage. The base should carefully managed to enhance the draining. The drainage pipe can be covered with fabric and supported with gravel. The pipe systems allows any excess water to escape, preventing the water from becoming trapped within the designated plant areas.

    Creating optimal soil conditions

    Soil can become either too acidic or alkaline in Ann Arbor MI. An imbalance can hinder growth. Retaining walls makes it possible to better control the conditions of a given space. A soil test reveals the pH balance of the soil. The soil can be either acidic or alkaline. If growing vegetables, the soil can be potentially more acidic. Calcium sulfate, sulfur, wood chips, sawdust, or composted leaves can be added. Controlling the soil conditions throughout the entire area requires a lot of work. Adding additional resources may have to be invested in order to accomplish this goal. A retention wall creates a clearly defined space where you can focus resources and time on improving the soil conditions for an area.

    Limiting soil erosion

    Soil erosion is a risk whenever the natural layout of the yard is overly sloped. The soil runs off when environmental conditions like excess rain occur. Adding mulch or rocks throughout the area holds the soil in place. That results can be improved with the addition of a retaining. Carefully monitoring water levels and making sure that the soil isn’t too compacted also limits soil erosion and runoff.

    Growing two varieties at a time

    When there are two types of crops being grown in a specific space, there is always the risk of cross-pollination if the two vegetables are identical. A retention wall can limit the risk of cross-pollination. The retention wall can create quadrants or multiple box sections throughout the given space. Planting a wall anywhere between 400 and 500 feet between the two crops makes it easier to manage. A retaining wall adds an extra effective barrier between the two groups. Additionally, the plants can be planted at different times, so that they blossom on alternative schedules.

    A retention wall functions to prevent the soil from shifting. The wall can be used to accomplish multiple goals. To improve the health of your garden, add a retention wall. You can grow multiple varieties simultaneously, limit soil erosion, facilitate drainage, and optimize soil conditions. Gardeners in Ann Arbor MI with multiple vegetables, sloped lawns, or varying soil conditions may benefit from adding a retention wall.

  7. drainage - does your yard look like thisWhile everyone loves and adores having a beautiful lawn, many homeowners put little effort in maintaining it. What many homeowners don’t know is that there is more to focus on than keeping the lawns green with grass and watering. Ann Arbor MI residents need to be careful to avoid problems associated with poorly maintained lawns.

    Runoff due to slope

    If you are experiencing excessive runoff during rainy seasons it can be because your slope may need adjustment. The slope might be graded down towards the house or away from it causing problems with the run off. This extra water can make lawns ugly and  cause damage to your home. A lawn that is in perfect condition should direct water away for the house. This way, you can protect the house from fungi, mold and other types of water damage.

    Visible pools of water

    A lawn that has a pool of water in it and marshy soil is a clear sign that there is need to do some work on the ground under the grass. The situation can be worse if the pool is near the house or the foundation because it can destabilize the house and cause potential disasters. In some cases you might find a lawn or a yard on top of a porous soil that convey water pooled down from the yard towards the basement and cause water damage.

    Couple Concerned About LawnEroded Area

    Erosion is a common problem Ann Arbor MI, especially for homeowners that live in high relief areas. Erosion is more common in homes with uneven lawns. Uneven and inaccurate lawns will cause the water to run off the surface all the way to the garden. In this process, it will most likely carry the top soil and important plant nutrients. This might cause starvation to the plants in the lawn and cause patches. Sometimes, the runoff will carry away the nutrients from the grass and other plants only to encourage growth of stubborn weed and other undesirable plants. After a long time, the erosion can worsen and expose tree roots and the foundation of the house.

    Tough Weeds

    If your lawn has tough weeds that do not go away easily, you should consider lawn re-grading. Lawns will likely develop areas that are too hard for grass seed to penetrate. Some of these places are overwhelmed by weeds such that grass cannot grow there. Other dead lawn patches can be due to deep-seated matrices of a soil fungus.

    Tripping Joints

    A lawn might develop holes or rivulets that can negatively affect the survival of trees, grass and shrubs used for decoration in the home. Alongside tripping joints, they can form breeding grounds for mold, weeds and other plants that affect the general aesthetics of the lawn.

    The lawn a key element of any home. Taking care of it can increase the resale value of your home in case you want to sell it. In case you are having a serious lawn re-grading issue, it best to contact an expert to address the problems.

  8. Despite its abundance of plant life, the terrain surrounding the typical suburban residence is as much a man-made feature as the house itself. Knowing this, it’s easy to see how the addition of structural elements, hardscapes, to the yard can make it more enjoyable. Nearly all homes have things like sidewalks and porches that are both functional and attractive, but installing the right structures beyond these basics not only further enhances the outdoor experience, they can boost the property’s value too.

    The Best Hardscape Projects
    Not all outdoor additions are created equal. Some can be counted on to raise home values due to their almost universal appeal. The following stand out among the possibilities because they work well in Ann Arbor MI or just about anywhere else.

    Elegant Outdoor Living SpacePatio
    Patios are fairly commonplace, but it’s still important to choose the right kind. It’s tempting to just pour a slab of concrete to create an inexpensive place to lounge. While it’s better than nothing, switching to brick or pavers to create a design will produce noticeable returns. Even as a flat surface, patterned patios add to the aesthetics of the property, but including built-in benches and a low fire pit, as long as it’s not overdone, can contribute even more.

    Pond
    Adding water to the landscape provides a focal point that’s both mesmerizing and soothing. The key is to keep it small so it’s affordable to maintain, aesthetically pleasing, and safe. Adding a fountain helps keep the water clean while producing the sound of flowing water many people find comforting. Water lilies are another nice touch, but stocking the pond with fish requires lots of unattractive extra maintenance work.

    Long exposure of a backyard waterfall and pond surrounded by green foliage.Garden Path
    People prefer to have the option of admiring flowerbeds close up as well as at a distance. Having a winding garden path to show the way is always appreciated by just about everyone. As with patios, brick, stone, or pavers are the best options for creating a walkway that’s decorative and functional. Installing garden paths eliminate the eyesore of worn trails in the lawn. They also provide a clean, safe surface leading from the house to all the intriguing spots in the yard. Just remember that garden paths always benefit from the inclusion of lighting to make them accessible after the sun goes down.

    Outdoor Room
    These structures are more elaborate than patios. They can serve as extensions of the house or be free-standing like a gazebo. Often, these hardscapes include extensive awnings or pergolas to provide overhead cover from the sun and the weather. Sometimes, they’ll also be enclosed on one or two sides by low masonry walls that perform extra work as protection and a source of warmth for cold-sensitive plants. There are examples of homeowners using such features as extensions of their kitchen complete with refrigerators and sinks, but this wouldn’t be very practical in the outdoor climate of Ann Arbor MI.

  9. In Ann Arbor MI, summer is all too short, and you would love to use your back yard. Unfortunately, it permanently seems to be waterlogged after rain, meaning that your family can’t use it. And chronic standing water on a property doesn’t just affect barbecues, it can serve as a nesting area for potentially dangerous insects such as mosquitoes. This standing water can also do serious damage to the inside of your home, particularly its basement and foundation. Trying to sell your home with a swampy backyard won’t attract many buyers, or do much for your property’s value, either. Besides, you don’t want to get rid of the Couple Concerned About Lawnhouse, you want to get rid of the standing water. Is there a way to do this?

    There is, but let’s start by considering why you have the Black Lagoon on your property instead of a yard. Conditions that cause yards to retain standing water frequently or be in a semi-permanent state of wetness include:

    • storm runoffs
    • broken or damaged plumbing
    • improper grading of property
    • sloping property

    It should be noted that a permanent body of water on a property, especially one that “bubbles”, could be either a natural body of water like a spring, or the afore mentioned damaged piping. In either of those cases, property should be carefully inspected before any excavating, possibly involving the state or a municipality, to avoid evenbigger problems. But if the condition of a a property’s landscaping is causing swampy areas or “raging rivers” to frequently form after rain events, than a technique called trench drainage can be very effective.

    Also known as a French drain or pipe (it gets its name from its 19th century designer, not the country), correctly installed trench drainage uses gravity to pull both surface and ground water away from specific areas of your property. This drain consists of a rock filled trench overlaying perforated piping. Water seeps through the rock into the piping and then travels through the piping into:

    • a containment area, such as a dry well
    • the street
    • a drainage ditch

    Who should install this trench drainage? While in our DIY age it seems that any homeowner should be able to install a downward flowing ditch, there are a number of reasons why amateurs should not attempt this themselves. Although this type of ditch is simple in design, in order to work effectively, its dimensions and sloping must be precise to be effective. Professional landscaping companies are a great resource for this type of drain. Not only do they have great experience in installing and locating this type of drain, they can make recommendations about other types of drains and natural landscaping techniques, like certain type of vegetation, to try as well.

    Summers in Ann Arbor MI come with rain, but that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying your yard. If yours is plagued by excess water following storms, call us to see how we can help you protect and get the most from your property.

  10. Hundreds of homeowners in Ann Arbor MI have to deal with the annoyance of a leaky basement in the summer, but unfortunately, not all of them are able to confirm exactly what the cause of the leaking is in the first place. Some of the most common culprits for leaking basements are as follows.

    Window seeping

    One of the primary causes of basement leakage that’s easy to overlook is water that seeps in through the windows. Air and light can commonly enter the basement through window wells, but if your drain pipe becomes clogged or compromised in any way after a heavy summer rain, then that excess water might seep in through the basement window without being stopped.

    After a weak window well has become bloated with water, there’s very little to prevent it from pushing the window open and letting a torrent flush into your basement with barely any resistance.

    Openings in the foundation wallWater Damaged Basement

    One of the more subtle causes of basement leakage can occur when the foundation wall has a minuscule opening that allows fluid to leak through without being immediately detected. Generally speaking, the foundation wall’s perimeter footing network is one of the first component of the foundation that actually gets constructed; even the smallest openings in this network can lead to water seeping into the basement. These openings in the foundation wall that cause water to leak into the basement are formally referred to as “cove joints”, and anywhere in your basement where concrete meets a wall is potential risk area.

    Cracks in the floor

    If your basement floor happens to be made of concrete, then there’s a likely chance that it’s depth is between 2 or 4 inches. Though concrete might be hard and strong, the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t actually fortify the structural integrity of your home. An excess of hydrostatic pressure in your concrete floor can easily lead to an upward surge of force that causes cracks. If enough cracks riddle the surface of your concrete floor, then it’s very easy for subterranean water to gush up through the new openings and make your basement damp.

    Non-structural cracks

    Large Cement Patio Crack Getting BiggerOccasionally, basement leakage through cracks won’t always be entirely be caused by any specific kind of structural integrity. Even the slightest amount of lateral pressure can lead to cracks developing in even the most stable of basement foundations. Non-structural cracks in the basement are actually the most frequently-occurring types of cracks that directly cause leaking in the basement.

    Addressing the issue

    If you live in Ann Arbor MI need the leaking in your basement taken care of, then it might just be a simple matter of expanding polyurethane injections. Professional Ann Arbor MI landscapers can effectively fill the cracks in a manner that seals the opening out to the soul. The crack filling can be made to maintain flexibility, which can be highly beneficial for ensuring that future movement i the foundation won’t be as likely to cause reopening.