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Creating a beautiful, lush landscape is no easy task. It takes time, effort and year-round commitment to keep a landscape that’s green, healthy and well-maintained.

By hiring a landscape professional for regular lawn care and maintenance, you can avoid many landscape problems that create an eyesore for your home and neighborhood.

Here are eight common problems and their landscaping solutions in NJ.

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1. Overgrown Grass, Shrubs and Trees

Overgrown grass, shrubs and trees can quickly destroy your home’s curb appeal and cause a variety of lawn and landscape problems.

Overgrowth attracts insects, outdoor pests and small animals to your property and provides a great hiding place from predators.

During the fall and winter when temperatures are dropping, small animals like field mice, rats, gophers, moles, chipmunks, raccoons and even snakes will be attracted to the overgrowth that provides a warm winter home.

During the warmth of spring and summer, insects and outdoor pests can invade your soil and grass and cause significant damage to your lawn. All landscapes are susceptible to harmful insects and outdoor pests, but an overgrown landscape will be invaded much faster than a landscape that’s well-maintained.

An overgrown landscape not only looks bad, but it can make your property look vacant. Untrimmed shrubs and trees can block the view of your house from the street and cause numerous safety problems for your family.

Overgrown shrubs, hedges and trees, especially near your windows and doors, hide entrances and exits. Statistics show that burglaries occur more frequently in homes that are partially hidden by overgrowth because it provides a good hiding place for burglars.

If you have overgrown grass, shrubs and trees contact a professional about landscaping solutions in NJ for your home. Keep your grass mowed and your shrubs and trees trimmed on a regular basis.

A well-maintained lawn and landscape will keep your grass, shrubs and trees neat and healthy and your home safe from unwanted intruders.

2. Weeds

If your lawn has developed unsightly weeds, you will probably need landscaping solutions in NJ from a lawn care professional to get them under control.

Most weeds are fast growing, and without proper weed control they can spread across your entire lawn rapidly.

Inadequate or improper lawn care, improper watering and the use of incorrect weed control products all contribute to weed growth in your landscape. If your lawn develops thatch, a thick buildup of dead grass, turf roots will be deprived of essential nutrients and air and water that are necessary for healthy growth.

Your grass will become less green, weak and more susceptible to additional weeds and lawn diseases.

Weeds fall into two main categories, broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds. Both varieties will take every opportunity to invade your Northern NJ lawn without proper weed control.

  • Broadleaf Weeds – Common broadleaf weeds include clover, creeping Charlie, chickweed, dandelions, plantain and purslane. They typically invade in late spring and early fall when soil temperatures are cooling down. With broad leaves and thick stems, broadleaf weeds are easy to identify but difficult to eliminate.
  • Grassy Weeds – Common grassy weeds include creeping bentgrass, crabgrass, green foxtail, nimblewill, sandbur and smutgrass. They typically invade during warm spring and summer weather. With grass-like characteristics, grassy weeds are often difficult to identify. They are also harder to control, because lawn care practices that encourage grass growth also encourage grassy weed growth.

There are hundreds of weed varieties that are common in Bergen County, so the proper landscaping solutions in NJ are essential.

A pre-emergent herbicide should be applied each year in early spring by a lawn care professional who’s knowledgeable about proper weed control and using the correct herbicides.

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3. Lawn Diseases

All lawns are subject to lawn diseases, but malnourished and poorly maintained lawns are especially vulnerable.

Most lawn diseases are caused by some type of fungal growth that invades the soil and turfgrass. Fungal spores can be easily spread by insects, contaminated soil, wind, rain and shoes walking across wet grass.

Lawn diseases typically result in yellow or brown patches; bright green rings; blackened areas of grass; bare spots; dead grass; unhealthy grass blades and mold.

Proper landscaping solutions in NJ are essential to prevent lawn diseases and lawn damages.

If extensive damage occurs, it may be necessary to replant your entire lawn. Here are some common lawn diseases that attack cool-season grasses used in Northern New Jersey lawns:

  • Brown PatchMost common in bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass, brown patch thrives in shade and high humidity. It usually begins as a small spot, then spreads outward in a horseshoe or circular pattern up to three feet wide. Often, the grass inside the circle will recover, but brown patches resembling smoke rings are left outside the circle.
  • Fairy Ring – Fairy rings are easily recognized by bright green circular rings that spread rapidly across the lawn. Rings usually appear in the spring or fall, and they can reach diameters of up to fifty feet. The grass around the edges of the rings turns brown and sometimes contains excessive mushroom growth.
  • Fusarium Blight – Fusarium blight is a common lawn problem in New Jersey during late winter and early spring. Fusarium blight, also called summer patch, causes light green circular patches of grass that are typically one to three inches in diameter. Patches eventually turn reddish brown, then die. When winter snows melt, grass is covered with a white/pink mold.
  • Red Thread – Most commonly found in fescue, perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass, red thread grows rapidly in moist air and cool weather. It gets its name from the pinkish-red threads that form on grass blades. Once grass blades are infected, they usually turn brown and die.

If you notice any of these problems in your lawn, talk to a Bergen County landscape professional who can provide the correct landscaping solutions in NJ for your lawn, with proper fungicide applications to eliminate the fungal disease and prevent further lawn damage.

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4. Outdoor Insects and Pests

All lawns are susceptible to outdoor insects and pests, but regular lawn care and maintenance will help keep them away.

Without proper pest control treatments, harmful insects and outdoor pests can easily invade your lawn and landscape. Harmful insects like grub, web and sod worms, aphids, caterpillars, slugs and fire ants can invade your soil and damage your lawn.

Outdoor pests or small animals like mice, rats, moles, gophers, rabbits, raccoons and deer can invade your landscape and garden areas and damage your plants.

An Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) is  one of the best landscaping solutions in NJ for outdoor insects and pests. It focuses on safe, organic pest control treatments that will keep your lawn and landscape pest-free year-round.

If you have an existing insect or pest problem, a lawn care professional who provides Integrated Pest Management can identify the insects and pests that are causing damages and provide proper pest control solutions to eliminate them.

An Integrated Pest Management Program can help change the balance of harmful outdoor insects and pests in your lawn and landscape and replace them with beneficial ones.

A lawn care professional can help you create healthy soil; pest-resistant varieties of plants, shrubs and trees; and flowering plants that will attract beneficial insects and animals, rather than those that cause damages.

Specialty IPM treatments include:

  • Winter pest control protection
  • Organic root feedings for plants
  • Organic mosquito, flea and tick control
  • Organic deer repellent
  • Additional pests control treatments as needed

To create a healthy, pest-free lawn and landscape year-round, talk to a qualified, NJ landscape company that can provide an Integrated Pest Management Program for your home.

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5. Water and Drainage Problems

If your landscape is composed of flat land, dense soil and a high water table, you may be susceptible to water and drainage problems.

Without proper drainage and landscaping solutions in NJ in place, standing water that collects can undermine your home’s foundation, drown expensive landscape plants and turn parts of your lawn into soggy swamp-like areas.

To keep your lawn and landscape plants, shrubs and trees healthy, proper irrigation and drainage is essential.

Ground water related to local rainfall patterns also plays an important role in drainage. In Northern NJ where fall and winter brings abundant rainfall, proper drainage is necessary to prevent lawn and landscape damages. Rainfall is the periodic catalyst that sets drainage problems in motion.

In heavy rainfall, your lawn and landscape can become flooded for an extended period of time if proper drainage is not in place. Standing water quickly becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects that can cause health problems for your family and pets.

A French drain is a drainage solution that’s been around for a long time. The drain gathers water and provides a an underground area for excess water to slowly filter through dense soil.

A French drain is a great solution to any lawn and landscape with water and drainage problems. A professional landscape company can install a French drain on your property to eliminate standing water and prevent further drainage problems that can ruin your lawn and landscape.

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6. Bad or Unhealthy Soil

The pH balance and texture of your soil has a big impact on the health of your lawn and landscape. It’s determined by the amount of sand, silt and clay that’s present in the soil.

Sand, the largest particle in the soil, creates soil that drains quickly, so it doesn’t hold moisture or nutrients. Silt, a medium-size soil particle, feels smooth and powdery. When wet, it creates a slippery surface that helps drainage, but doesn’t hold much moisture.

Clay, the smallest particle in soil, is sticky when wet. Often referred to as heavy soil, clay soil is good for absorbing nutrients, but air and water don’t penetrate well.

Soil composition and particle size has a lot to do with proper drainage and a soil’s ability to absorb air, water and nutrients.

A landscape professional can test your soil to determine its pH balance and see if your landscape has acid or alkaline soil conditions.

Turfgrass, flowers, plants, shrubs and trees rely on healthy, balanced soil to produce strong, stable root systems and green healthy leaves.

If you have unhealthy soil, a landscape professional can provide customized landscaping solutions in NJ, adding important fertilizers and other nutrients back into your soil to produce a healthy lawn and landscape. You can purchase a soil test kit at a local garden or home improvement store and do your own test, but hiring a professional will ensure best results and proper solutions.

If your soil has become dry and compacted, one of the easiest landscaping solutions in NJ is aerating your lawn to improve air flow, water absorption and nutrients in the soil.

The process punches holes in the soil and helps to relieve compaction, so roots can spread out and grow deeper to produce stronger turf and plants.

Cool-season grasses, most common in Northern NJ, should be aerated in the early spring or fall for best results.

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7. Soil Erosion

If your Bergen County home is built on a hillside or steep slope, soil erosion can be a common problem. In most hillside subdivisions, each lot features a cut slope above and a fill slope below. Each slope demands a slightly different approach to erosion control.

While upper slopes suffer from more surface erosion problems, bottom slopes are prone to more underground problems. When it rains, bare soil erodes quickly. As it runs down the hillside, it picks up more and more soil particles creating a soil erosion problem.

When the runoff reaches the bottom of the hillside, all of that soil has to go somewhere. It often ends up in driveways, streets and neighbors’ landscapes creating large areas of mud and clogged storm drains.

Plants are natural protectors of bare soil in any landscape. Their foliage absorbs rainfall and prevents rain drops from falling directly onto soil particles.

On a hillside landscape, rainfall will still flow down to the lower level, but at a slower, gentler speed. Choosing the right plants for a hillside or steep slope, will provide safer landscaping solutions in NJ and prevent soil erosion.

  • Ground Covers – Ground cover plants provide dense foliage that will help prevent surface erosion. English ivy, mondo grass, moss phlox, blue wood sage, white heath aster and periwinkle are excellent ground covers for Northern NJ hillsides and slopes.
  • Creeping Shrubs – Creeping shrubs have one stem that spreads out in all directions to create a carpet of foliage. Andorra creeping juniper has blue-green summer foliage and plum-purple winter color. Sargent juniper retains a beautiful green winter color all year.
  • Hydro-Seeding – Hydro-seeding is a quick method of sowing seed on hillsides and slopes. It quickly covers a large area to prevent problems with soil erosion. You can plant a hillside with ground covers and creeping shrubs, then hydro-seed right over the top.

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8. Too Much Shade

An overly shady landscape makes your yard feel cold and dreary and creates darker interior spaces in your home.

Lawns and landscapes with too much shade will grow moss, algae and mushrooms, and prevent the planting of sun loving flowers and plants that add richness to your yard. The best landscaping solutions in NJ to prevent overly shady landscapes are as follows:

  • Trim your trees – Trees are the most common cause of too much shade in a landscape. Canopy thinning can let more sunshine into your landscape, but make sure it’s done by a certified arborist to prevent damage to the tree.
  • Plant variegated plants – By planting variegated plants with white, yellow or chartreuse leaves, you can brighten a shady landscape. Hostas, lillyturf and gold variegated periwinkle are great plants that will add light to shady areas.
  • Plant colorful perennials – Adding colorful, shade-tolerant perennials to a shady landscape will brighten the area. Astilbe, carpet bugle, foamflower, lungwort and spotted deadnettle are wonderful shade perennials that will provide vibrant color.

If your Bergen County lawn and landscape stays shady year-round, talk to a professional landscape maintenance company about landscaping solutions in NJ that may let more sunshine into your landscape and brighten up your home.