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What to Do if You See a Brown Patch in Your Yard

What to Do if You See a Brown Patch in Your Yard

No one wants to walk out and see a brown patch developing in their lawn, especially when they have invested a lot of money into making sure their grass looks green and healthy.

There are many reasons why your lawn could have a brown patch, including fungal disease, improper watering, or insect infestation. If you live in central Iowa areas such as Des Moines, West Des Moines, or Ankeny, then take a look to see what could be causing your lawn’s brown patch.


Fungal Diseases Can Cause Brown Patches, Dead Grass

Brown patch disease has attacked this lawn in Ankeny.

Many fungal diseases can spring up under moist conditions and spread quickly. One common disease is actually called brown patch disease. It begins to form at temperatures in the 60s but really begins to show once temperatures climb into the 80s. The patches show up as circular brown areas with an outer darker brown ring.

The patches can be just a few inches or several feet wide, and the affected grass ends up dying. Preventing these diseases requires regular fertilizer treatments along with making sure your lawn is being watered at proper times. If these don’t work, then your lawn will need fungicide treatments applied to it to control this disease.


Improper Watering Leads to Imbalance of Grass Growth

When irrigation systems aren’t set up with the correct zones and timing, it can cause some areas of your lawn to not get the water they need to grow. If your grass isn’t getting the right amount of water, it can ...

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Benefits of Adding Annual Flowers to Your Lawn

Benefits of Adding Annual Flowers to Your Lawn

If you are looking to revitalize your landscaping at your residential or commercial property in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Ankeny, and other nearby central Iowa areas, there are many ways to do this.

You can add new retaining walls, redo the beds completely, replenish mulch, or if you’re looking for something simpler, consider planting annual flowers in your landscaping beds.

Here are some reasons why adding annual flowers benefits your lawn and landscaping.


The Differences Between Annuals and Perennials

Annuals in a garden in West Des Moines

Annual flowers are defined as annual because they only bloom once during their life cycle, while perennials bloom multiple times during their life. Annuals usually bloom much longer than perennials, which means your landscaping has longer-lasting color that is more vibrant. Many also will drop seeds, which gives the potential for new plants to grow the next year.

If you’re looking to have immediate color, then annuals are the best choice. Perennials often take a year or so to begin blooming and are just green leaves until then, leaving your landscaping without much color.

Perennials also tend to require more maintenance than annuals—they will need to be trimmed and pruned at specific times of the year, will need fertilizer, and the soil where they’re planted will need to be prepared more.

Annuals have more color choices than some perennials do and produce more colorful, brighter blooms in order to bring in...

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How Mulch Helps Your Landscaping

How Mulch Helps Your Landscaping

Adding landscaping to your residential or commercial property in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Ankeny, and other central Iowa areas has many benefits. It increases your curb appeal, it gives off a better impression to guests and customers, and it can provide a good return on investment.

One easy way to protect your landscaping investment is to install ground cover within your landscaping beds after your plants have been installed. At A+ Lawn & Landscape, we provide mulch ground covers to help your landscaping and soil stay healthy and protected. Here are some reasons why mulch helps your landscape beds, besides the aesthetics of a perfectly finished and polished look.


Mulch Helps to Insulate the Soil, Retain Moisture

Mulch helps the soil in this West Des Moines landscaping bed retain moisture.

One of the biggest benefits of using mulch in your landscaping is that it helps to keep your soil insulated from extreme temperature changes. In the greater Des Moines area that includes West Des Moines and Ankeny, our average low temperature in January tends to be about 13°, while we see highs in July at about 86°. When temperatures fluctuate and the soil is unprotected, it can harm the health of your plants.

Mulch also works to keep the roots of your landscape plants protected. The roots are what determine when plants come out of winter dormancy. If they detect warmth too early and come out of dormancy when there’s still a chance for frosts, they could be damaged.

Moisture retention is another perk of mulch...

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Common Plant Diseases and How to Fix Them

Common Plant Diseases and How to Fix Them

It’s disconcerting to walk outside to look at your plants and shrubs and see their leaves looking spotty or see entire tree branches dying off. When plant disease strikes, it’s not easy to stop it unless it’s caught early through proactive practices like routine trimming and inspections.

In central Iowa, there are many types of common plant diseases that we see throughout the areas of Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Ankeny. Here are some of those diseases and what can be done to prevent them from overtaking your lawn and landscaping.


Oak Wilt Signs Include Leaf Discoloration, Wilt, & Death

Oak wilt spreads in spring and can kill an oak within a few weeks, especially red oaks. The first signs of this disease are wilted leaves and leaves falling from the tree. This disease is caused by sap-feeding beetles who pick it up from one oak and take it to another, and it can also spread underground from root systems intertwining.

The best way to try to prevent oak wilt is to not cut any part of the tree during its growing season, which is typically from April to August.


Pine Needles Wilting & Browning May Indicate Pine Wilt

Pine wilt is a common disease in central Iowa areas like West Des Moines.

If you notice needles on your pine trees starting to wilt and turn brown, then that’s a good indicator that your pines may have caught pine wilt. Pine wilt acts quickly, with rapid wilting and death of the tree. The disease is spread by beetles that bore under the bark of infected trees...

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Why You Should Shop at a Local Garden Center

Why You Should Shop at a Local Garden Center

There are many options for homeowners looking for gardening supplies, seeds, plants, and soil. Large box stores have taken over a huge portion of the market, which has hurt local businesses and left many home gardeners disappointed with wilted plants and mass-produced products.

There are many solid reasons why you should shop at a local garden center, including knowledgeable staff, locally grown plants, and a larger selection of native plants. The added bonus is that by patronizing a local garden center, you are supporting a locally owned and operated business.


Knowledgeable Garden Center Staff Is Ready for Questions & to Offer Advice

One primary difference between big box stores and local garden centers is the staff. Many of the big corporate chains have employees who work in multiple departments, or simply fill whatever positions are available. Sure, you may find a great employee with real gardening knowledge at a national chain, but nothing compares to a dedicated local garden center staff member.

For example, the staff at our Des Moines area garden center know the region, climate, and local growing conditions and have experience with planting and growing. We are available for questions and actually love what we do! You simply can’t find that level of service at a chain. Come pay us a visit!

Whether it’s advice regarding what will grow best in your beds, how large a plant will mature to, and what type of pruning is best—we...

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What Happens to Your Lawn Mower Without Regular Service

What Happens to Your Lawn Mower Without Regular Service

All machines need regular maintenance to function properly--and your mower is no exception! Without regular service, your mower can sustain damage and eventually break down.

It’s important to have your mower serviced annually. Our Sharp-N-Lube service offers homeowners a painless way to keep their mowers running smooth and performing well.


Mowers Suffer Engine Damage Without Regular Service

Without regular service, your mower will suffer just like a neglected car. Most manufacturers recommend an oil change at the beginning of every growing season. If left unchanged, oil breaks down and fails to provide proper lubrication, leading to damage and even failure. Dirt and debris can appear inside the oil itself, which can damage internal parts.

An oil change will clear out the used oil and replace it, offering better lubrication and protection.

It’s also recommended to avoid fuel with ethanol because it can gum up your mower’s carburetor. Search for gas stations that sell ethanol free fuel. A good starting point is at a marina or other locations where boats fuel up. You can also use an additive that dissolves ethanol if you can’t find any gas without it.


Mower Blades Need Regular Sharpening to Cut Properly & Avoid Lawn Disease

This lawn mower has received our services in Ankeny.

When mower blades become dull, they won’t cut properly. Instead, they will tear the grass blades. A rough cut will cause your lawn to be susceptible to plant disease, which can spread...

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Organic Fertilizer vs. Chemical Fertilizer

Organic Fertilizer vs. Chemical Fertilizer

Regular fertilizer service is an important way to keep your lawn well fed and strong enough to resist weeds and plant disease. Recently, many homeowners have become concerned with how fertilizer can affect the environment and have sought out more natural ways to feed their lawns.

There is a distinct difference between organic fertilizer vs. chemical fertilizer, including how it performs and how it is delivered to your lawn. Our experts know the ins and outs of the process and the products that are available and can answer any questions you may have.


Main Ingredients of Fertilizer Include Phosphorus, Nitrogen, & Potassium

Fertilizer in a lawn in Des Moines, IA.

Most fertilizer contains three main ingredients: phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. They are often mixed to different ratios for the time of year and type of grass. For example, starter fertilizer is often high in nitrogen to help promote a healthy root system.

Here is a quick breakdown of the main ingredients:

  • Phosphorus - All plants need phosphorus to produce flowers and fruit. Adequate amounts of phosphorus also aid in root development.
  • Nitrogen - Helps plants to grow quickly and develop seeds for reproduction.
  • Potassium - Used to strengthen plants and encourage blooming.
  • Other Ingredients - Other ingredients can include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, with small amounts of iron, copper, manganese, boron, molybdenum, chlorine, zinc, and nickel.

Difference Between Chemical Fertilizer & Organic Fertilizer

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The Dangers of Letting Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Fleas Stay in Your Yard

The Dangers of Letting Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Fleas Stay in Your Yard

Caring for your lawn takes a lot of time and maintenance. From mowing and mulching to trimming and edging, something always needs to be done. One of the last things homeowners think about is the pests that slowly but surely enter lawns.

Mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas are some of the most common lawn pests that can be found on your property, and they pose some of the biggest threats to you, your family, and your domestic animals.


Lawn Pests & The Diseases They Can Cause

Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are common threats that pack a big punch in the disease department. One bite from any of them can transmit a number of diseases to both humans and animals.

Fleas on a dog's skin can cause other issues like diseases in West Des Moines.

Fleas

During early fall, fleas are the most active in the Des Moines region of Iowa. Flea infestations in your yard are just a stone's throw away from being a flea infestation in your home. The most common diseases transmitted directly from fleas to people include:

  • Tularemia
  • Bubonic Plague
  • Murine Typhus
  • Allergies (from flea saliva)

Ticks

The American Dog tick, Lone Star tick, and Deer tick (Blacklegged tick) are the most common species of ticks found in IA. They are most active between April and September and prefer areas that are heavily woody, bushy, or contain tall grassy areas.

Ticks are carriers of a large list of diseases. If you ever find a tick on your skin or notice a tick bite, make sure to identify the tick and monitor for signs and symptoms of a...

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Three Things You Need to Have an Amazing Outdoor Space

Three Things You Need to Have an Amazing Outdoor Space

Creating an outdoor space that is functional, attractive—and most importantly amazing—takes planning and experience. At A+ Lawn & Landscape, we specialize in creating fantastic hardscape additions to homes that bring family and friends together to soak up the natural beauty of our region.

But there are some important considerations for homeowners who want something beyond the norm when it comes to creating a beautiful outdoor living area.

Here are the three things you need to have to make a great outdoor space:


Custom Patios with Concrete Pavers Create Tailored Looks and Extend Outdoor Living Space

A custom patio in West Des Moines, IA.

A custom patio built with interlocking concrete pavers makes a statement. The colors and shapes of each paver can be arranged to create tailored designs that lend themselves to your personal style and your home’s current design. The sturdy construction creates a level surface to support grills, fire pits, and quality seating—a true extension of your home and outdoor living space!

Proper construction of a custom patio takes experience and a detail-oriented crew. Many DIYers find flaws after the fact that our contractor team could have prevented. Appropriate leveling and compacting are required before pavers can be placed using precise measurements. When done correctly, the outdoor space will offer a peaceful retreat from the norm and a new place to unwind in style.


Fire Pits Provide Relaxation with Family & Friends

Another feature of an ...

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Mistakes You Can Make When Maintaining Your Landscaping

Mistakes You Can Make When Maintaining Your Landscaping

For the untrained landscaper, simple mistakes can be made when maintaining your current landscaping aesthetic. Most mistakes can be found in the way plants are cared for on your property, your ground covering for your landscaping beds, and irregular fertilization and weed control.

Unfortunately, many homeowners are unaware of the proper techniques used to maintain a healthy and thriving yard. Avoid making these mistakes when you are caring for your landscaping or consider hiring a professional, such as A+ Lawn & Landscape, to handle your grounds upkeep for you in and around Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Ankeny.


Mistake #1: Improper Pruning/Trimming

Improperly trimmed plants in West Des Moines look unruly.

Plant health is extremely important, however, it is very fragile. Trimming or pruning at the wrong time or in the wrong way can result in a plant that is quickly and easily susceptible to disease, insect infestation, and decay. 

Failing to Prune a Flowering Shrub

Failing to prune flowering shrubs or trees at the right time can cause you to remove the buds that produce the blooms. Pruning a spring flowering shrub or tree should be done immediately following the bloom, however, summer flower and fruit-bearing plants and trees should be pruned in early fall.

Topping and Lion's Tailing

Chopping off the top of the plant (topping) or removing too many lower branches (Lion's tailing) create an aesthetically unpleasing look while also leaving the tree or shrub vulnerable with a weakened branch ...

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