Michigan Winter Landscaping

Winter Landscaping Ideas

Some folks like to while away the winter indoors, donning slippers and flannel PJs and hibernating by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. But some Michigan homeowners want to wring every available minute out of outdoor living, regardless of the snow and cold temperatures. If you fall into the latter category, we’ve got some good news: you can make your yard look just as good throughout the winter as it did during the warmer months — and lay some important groundwork so your lawn is ready when the thaw comes.

 

Don’t Neglect the Essentials

Before you worry about getting fancy with winter decor, remember that there are some simple things you can do to take care of your landscape in the winter. Ice and snow removal is a must. So, too, is taking care of plants that are prone to crushing under the weight of winter precipitation with a burlap wrap or some strategic tie-offs. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at a little winter gardening; it’s a great time to start seeds indoors for outdoor planting in the spring, and you’d be surprised how well lettuce, peas, onions, and some other leafy greens do outdoors in the winter.

 

Find New Sources of Color

Most of us don’t think of bold colors when we think of winter. We think of muted light, snowfall, and lots of dead, brown plants, and grasses. That doesn’t mean the season has to be dull and grey (or beige). Choosing evergreens, or perennials that flower or retain their fruit in winter, means having cheerful and seasonally-appropriate color. And remember that the dramatic light that’s common this time of year makes it great for other elements — patterns, contrast, and texture among them — to shine so that you’re not relying on color to do all the heavy lifting. Outdoor decor like a gazing ball, a wreath, or some pinecones and other decor in planting boxes can really stand out. And of course, a bird feeder will not only take care of your feathered friends but also make sure you’ve got company while you enjoy your morning coffee.

Use Native Plants

Don’t succumb to the lure of non-native plants from your local garden center or big box home supply store. Many of them are sold for their looks, not their suitability to the Michigan soil and climate; some will even be invasive species. Relying on native plant species has benefits year round. They’re lower maintenance in the warmer months, and they’re hardy enough to survive the worst that winter can dish out. Not sure what to plant? Ask us!

Get Creative with Hardscaping

Up to this point, we’ve primarily considered softscaping — that is to say, all the green stuff in your lawn and garden. But hardscaping has its place in the wintertime, as well. A fire feature, like a fire pit or outdoor kitchen, can give you more options for using and enjoying your outdoor spaces year round.

Getting a Helping Hand

Of course, nobody said you had to do all of this on your own. The best time to prepare for winter landscaping is actually months in advance, but if you’re reading this in the dead of winter, we still have good news: you’re just in time to start thinking about the spring and summer months. HTA Companies can take care of the essentials with a range of Michigan lawn care services that ensures your lawn wakes up from its winter rest ready to look its best in the warmer months to come.

snow removal services

Prepare for Winter with Snow Removal and Snow Services

Prepare for Winter with Snow Removal and Salt Services 

Winter snow can be beautiful, at least if you’re inside with a cup of hot cocoa and a plate of fresh-baked cookies. It can also be hazardous to your health. Studies cited in Consumer Reports show that cold weather raises cholesterol and blood pressure, increases the chances of clots forming, and leaves you more prone to a heart attack or stroke. Step outside to shovel, salt, or use a snow blower and the added activity — especially for those over 65, or those with a prior history of heart attack, stroke, or circulatory problems — goes up exponentially. Why take your chances? Get in touch with HTA Companies for Lansing salt and snow removal instead.

Snow and Ice Management Services

HTA Companies is the biggest snow service company in Lansing MI. We live here, we know the area, and we know how to respond quickly and appropriately to the unpredictable weather experienced during tough Michigan winters. We don’t just monitor; we keep our customers informed, so you’ll never have to wonder when — or if — we’ll be there.

Parking Lot Clearing and Salting

No matter how much it snows, life in Lansing goes on. Whether you own a home, an apartment complex, a business, or a retail establishment, you want to ensure that traffic around your property continues unimpeded without risking accidents or property damage. We’re here to help.

Sidewalk Salting and Clearing

Nobody wants a steep medical bill — or worse still, a lawsuit — because they, or a pedestrian, slipped on their sidewalk and sprained an ankle or broke a bone. We’ll clean and salt your sidewalks to keep dangerous ice from forming so your property stays clear and safe.

Snow Hauling

The first storm or two may not seem like much, but once we’ve gotten some way into winter, it’s easy for snow to pile up. It looks unsightly and can present dangers for pedestrians and vehicles. That’s why we also offer snow haul-off service.

Extra Cold-Weather Tips

So let’s say you’re convinced that scheduling professional snow removal is for the best. We’d still like you to be safe (we care about our neighbors), so here are a few extra tips if you’re heading out in the cold.

  • Bundle up, since the warmth prevents hypothermia and frostbite, and helps protect your heart, too.
  • Warm up by doing a bit of exercise (some jumping jacks or running in place) before exerting yourself outdoors.
  • Eat healthy, since the sugary and fatty foods, and alcohol we tend to indulge at this time of year, aren’t doing our bodies any favors.
  • If you’re younger and fitter, check in on neighbors who are older — they may need a hand with tasks like food shopping and household chores in the winter, and they’ll be glad for the company.
  • Know the signs of heart attack and stroke, and seek medical attention immediately if you suspect something’s wrong.

Start Planning Now

We help Lansing homeowners and businesses keep their property looking beautiful year round. We’d love to do the same for you. Plan now for the cold months ahead by scheduling salt and snow removal with HTA Companies and enjoy winter for a change!

fall lawn cleanup

Fall Landscaping and Lawn Cleanup Tips

Fall isn’t just the time for back to school, apple cider, and taking the warmer clothes out of the attic. It’s also one of the most important times for lawn care. And autumn lawn care is a lot more than raking (and raking… and raking) leaves. If you want your lawn to look great next spring, you need to get started on some essentials right now — and if you live in the Lansing area, HTA Companies is here to help.

Lawn Fertilization and Weed Control

Most homeowners think of weed control and fertilization as tasks that belong on spring and summer to-do lists. The time from September through November actually finds us busy with liquid weed control for broadleaf weeds, and the application of slow-release and high-nitrogen fertilizers that ensure your plants are fed for their winter nap. We can also aerate your soil and overseed, ensuring a healthy lawn that’s better able to inhibit weed growth in the spring.

Tree and Shrub Services

If you’ve noticed that some of the trees and shrubs in your yard aren’t as healthy as they should be, our tree and shrub care addresses the problem. Pruning that removes dead or diseased areas on shrubs, and large tree trimming that removes dead limbs, can be great to take care of in the fall. Not only does this help ensure the long-term health of your trees and shrubs, it also ensures that the snows of winter won’t weigh down and break dead branches, potentially doing further damage to an otherwise-healthy tree or falling on your car or home. We even offer on-site consultations with horticulturists and certified arborists who can suggest your best course of action.

Landscape Design and Construction

The autumn is also a good time for certain landscape design and construction projects. While projects that involve heavy planting are sometimes best left for the spring and early summer, autumn can be a good time for hardscaping. That’s because the kids are back in school and your yard is seeing much less use. This is a good time to repair or replace decks and retaining walls. It’s also perfect if you’re designing and installing a new patio, sidewalk, driveway, or a fire pit to enjoy those crisp autumn nights. In any event, our work at this time of year is much less likely to disrupt your day-to-day routine.

Other Things to Remember

We often find that homeowners take a hands-off approach to lawn care in the fall. There are a few important steps to take before the first frost that will help ensure your lawn is healthier when the snow melts, the ground thaws, and spring returns.

  • Remove leaves, since a carpet of autumn leaves may look gorgeous but can trap moisture and kill grass
  • Keep mowing, since your grass is growing (albeit slower than it did during the summer)
  • Keep watering, because a dry spell can still damage your grass even without the high heat of summer causing evaporation
  • Get a helping hand from HTA Companies, since timing matters in lawn care — we can keep you on schedule
Grass Care Tips

Late Summer Grass Care Tips

As summer winds down, it’s likely that your lawn could use some attention before the transition into autumn. These simple tips from HTA Companies will help keep your grass happy and healthy until the cooler weather sets in — and even make sure it’s ready for the colder months that follow.

 

What Summer Does to Grass

Under ideal circumstances — lots of rain, plenty of sun, adequate nutrients, and just enough heat — your lawn will thrive, since grass is a plant like any other. However, summer conditions around Lansing are often less than ideal. High heat and irregular rains can cause grass to brown, die, and thin out. Those bare patches can then grow as aggressively as the grass once did, which in turn leaves more room for weeds and lawn pests. 

 

Protecting and Caring for Grass

There are some simple things you can do to ensure your lawn stays healthy.

Water Properly

Just as you don’t feel your best when you’re dehydrated, insufficient water takes a toll on grass too. Keep an eye on the weather, and if you notice there’ll be long stretches of hot, dry weather, water your lawn. How you water matters; if you’re neglecting segments of your grass, they’re more likely to die out, so pay attention to sprinkler patterns. Similarly, make sure you water thoroughly, since watering only the surface leads to evaporation and may even mean the root system starting to pull upward to take advantage of what little water it’s getting. Deep watering helps.

Mow the Right Way

Every plant needs the right balance of sun and shade. Grass is no different, and it even provides its own shade — as long as you mow properly. We understand that nobody wants to mow too often, so there’s a temptation to give your lawn a buzz cut. However, that keeps the leaves of grass from shading the root system, leading to scorching and dead patches.

Seed When Necessary

Even when you’ve done everything right, you can still end up with bare patches. That’s especially true if you’ve got kids or pets, whose traffic on the lawn can cause damage. Rodents and other visitors can also lead to bare patches. Rather than visiting the hardware store or big box home supply store and making your best guess, let HTA Companies evaluate your lawn care needs and traffic to plant grass that will last.

Feed Regularly

You wouldn’t last too long on a diet made up only of water, and your grass won’t, either. We can help by applying fertilizers that release over a long period of time so your grass can nosh instead of bingeing. That leads to steady, healthy growth instead of rapid growth that can cause more problems than it solves.

 

Think Ahead

Your lawn is on its own highly specific timetable. Sometimes preparing for a season means thinking several months ahead. Some of the most important lawn care done by HTA Companies — including pest control, soil improvement, weed eradication and control, and slow-release fertilizers — takes place at this time of year so your lawn gets a good nap over the winter and can face the spring-fed, rested, and ready.

home curb appeal

How Curb Appeal Helps Boost Your Home Value

Remember your last job interview? You probably put in quite a bit of preparation and research, brushed up on your skills, and — especially — dressed to impress. We all know the importance of a good first impression, after all. Well, those first impressions count if you’re thinking of selling your home, too, and that’s why curb appeal matters. As HTA Companies knows from many years of experience, your landscaping and lawn care play an outsized part in that curb appeal. 

What Is Curb Appeal, Anyway?

Curb appeal is the term used by realtors and home buyers to describe the first impression left by a home. While the conventional wisdom says it’s all about location, location, location, you can think of your landscaping, then your home, as locations within the location. Most homebuyers will see your lawn, flower beds, and shrubs before they’ll ever lay eyes on your charming kitchen or the lovingly-restored built-ins, so those things are important.

Curb Appeal and Home Value

Let’s try to put a dollar value on your landscaping return on investment. But, since we’re landscapers and not bean-counters, let’s look to an outside expert just to keep things honest. Jill Chodorov Kaminsky of the Washington Post found that the average ROI was close to 150 percent — which is surprising given that many home improvements lose more money than they return

Lawn Care and Curb Appeal

So where does that dollar value come from? Rightly or wrongly, the care you’ve put into your landscaping is perceived as a hint to homebuyers about how diligent you’ve been about other parts of your home. If they see lush greenery and healthy plants, they’re getting subconscious signals that you’re likely to have paid attention to other aspects of maintenance indoors and out. If, on the other hand, they see something that looks like a jungle or a post-apocalyptic movie, they’re going to second-guess every creaky hinge and floorboard.

First Steps in Lawn Care and Landscaping

That, in turn, raises another question: how much should you invest, and how? The Post article cited above suggests ten percent of your home value. The median home value of a home in Troy, MI is in the low 300s, which would mean landscaping starting at around $30,000 — which isn’t going to be practical for many people. 

Our advice is to figure out a budget that’s sensible to you, and prioritize carefully. Start with areas that need attention, filling in bare spots, eradicating weeds, and restoring your lawn to health. Once that’s done, pay attention to plants that add character and color without needing a lot of maintenance; you don’t want a prospective buyer looking at your lawn and thinking of the amount of lawn care they’ll need rather than the beauty they’ll enjoy. Those fixes are quick, easy, and — perhaps most importantly — inexpensive. 

Will there be a bright line between money spent and the money you recoup in your home value? It’s helpful, but it’s also hard to assign a dollar value to the net effect. However, landscaping can do something else that, for many home sellers, is priceless: it can get your house off the market faster. If you’re not sure how or where to get started, reach out to the lawn care specialists at HTA Companies

lawn irrigation

Signs You Need Lawn Irrigation

A lush green lawn is money in the bank. It helps with your home’s curb appeal — adding tens of thousands of dollars to its value, by some estimates. But it still has value even if you’re staying put for the foreseeable future, since it makes your house and property feel more like home. There’s just one problem: your lawn can’t feed and water itself. So how do you stay on top of care and watering when your time is finite? One step is lawn irrigation, in the form of a smart irrigation system from HTA Companies. 

Your Water Bills Are High

At one time or another, we’ve all been told we need eight glasses of water per day. But how do you translate that to your greenscaping? The fact is, most people overwater with the best of intentions, which ends up leading to skyrocketing water bills every summer.

Your Plants are Suffering

There’s another problem with manual watering or using a store-bought solution. Not everything in your yard needs the same amount of water. Under-watering can leave everything yellowed, parched, or dying. However, overwatering won’t do you any favors either, since it can lead to soil erosion, rot, fungus, and other issues you’d probably rather avoid. An irrigation system helps you side-step this. 

You Want the Right Tools for the Job

Many homeowners make do with a combination of watering cans, garden hoses, and store-bought sprinklers. That turns watering into a time-consuming chore, but just as much to the point, it also doesn’t guarantee a thorough job. An irrigation system is designed for your property, and is adjusted so that each area gets precisely the water it needs when it’s most needed.

You’re Short on Time

The best time to water is early in the morning and late in the day. This allows water to filter into the soil and nourish the root systems of your plants and grass. That also means getting up early, or cutting short your evening plans, to care for your lawn. A smart irrigation system can be set to do its job, whether you’re home or not, saving you time and letting you sleep in on weekends.

Your Existing System is Old

Of course, not everyone’s puttering around with a garden hose every time the lawn needs a drink. Plenty of homeowners call HTA Companies because they already have an irrigation system and they suspect it’s on its last legs. Here are a few signs it’s time for irrigation repair or replacement:

  • Leaks, often manifested by pooling water
  • Low water pressure 
  • Rising water bills that outpace rate increases
  • System age, since many systems need extensive repairs or replacement after 25 years
  • Poor design that leaves large swaths of your landscape under or over-watered

 

Irrigation Design and Installation in Troy, MI

Homeowners, realtors, and your neighbors all agree: keeping your lawn green is a good thing. However, that can be easier said than done. Most Troy homeowners don’t double as landscaping experts, so knowing the right thing to do at the right times — whether it’s laying down pre-emergent, feeding, fertilizing, or keeping your lawn hydrated and happy — can be a challenge, to say nothing of finding the time to get everything done. That’s why so many homeowners rely on HTA Companies for smart irrigation systems, maintenance, and more. Why not contact us today?

weed prevention

Keep Up on Weed Prevention with These Best Practices

Whether you own a home or a business in the Lansing area, trying to keep your property looking great can be a challenge, at best. It’s likely that weeds are the bane of your existence. After all, the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University identifies more than two dozen weed species as the state’s worst — and those are just the most common! While HTA Companies specializes in weed prevention, we’ve found that the best way to keep a weed-free property is to keep them from taking hold in the first place. It’s easier than you think if you follow these steps.

Keep the Soil Intact

The soil in your lawn and garden is chock full of weed seeds. However, like any other seeds, weeds require a sufficient quantity of air and light to sprout. If you’re digging or tilling too much, you’re bringing more of those seeds to the surface and giving them a chance to grow. When you need to dig, keep it as localized as possible — and that includes the times you choose to pull weeds by hand. Fine Gardening suggests cutting the roots with a knife or other sharp object rather than pulling or digging, since that minimizes soil disturbance.

Mulch

Mulch doesn’t just keep your lawn and gardens looking tidy. It helps soil trap moisture, while the critters it shelters (like crickets and other insect species) help keep soil healthy while also feasting on weed seeds. But that isn’t the only way it helps control weeds. Remember, we mentioned earlier that plants need light to grow. Mulch helps to prevent weeds by keeping light away from those seeds.

Plant Tightly

While it’s not a good idea to overcrowd plants — they end up competing for water and nutrients — it’s also not a good idea to leave large spaces between them. Even small plants create shade, and are capable of denying sunlight to the weeds around them.

Mow Right

Nobody likes to mow (we’ll have more to say about this below), but if you’re going to mow, do it right. It’s tempting to mow short so you don’t have to mow quite as often, but this can cause grass to burn or even die off. You’re better off keeping grass mowed slightly higher. You’ll have to mow more often, but healthy grass that doesn’t contain gaps and bare spaces chokes out weed growth too.

Water Properly

Plants need air, sunshine, and water to grow. We take for granted that some plants will thrive in shade, while others require direct sunlight or partial sun. But water matters, too, especially if you’re trying to control weeds. Prevent indiscriminate watering and you’ll prevent indiscriminate weed growth. Your lawn will be healthier overall, too, since over-watering can contribute to rot and promote the growth of other organisms (like fungus and mushrooms). Not sure how best to water your landscape? Our landscape design services include the design and installation of sprinklers and irrigation systems.

Get Lawn Maintenance

Of course, you can take every last one of these steps with the utmost dedication, and you’re still likely to have weeds. They’re stubborn little buggers! That’s why we encourage you to take advantage of a comprehensive lawn maintenance plan that addresses your lawn’s needs year ‘round. If you live in the Lansing area, a call to HTA Companies is a first step toward everything from mowing, edging, and trimming to care for trees and shrubs, fertilizer, and pre-emergent and weed control to boost curb appeal with a minimum of time and effort on your part. Questions? Call 517-482-2007 today.

How to Make Your Lawn Pet Friendly

Furry pets are adorable and explorative creatures. They love looking around and finding new things, digging up treasures and giving “gifts” when they find something really cool in your backyard. This all can be really fun for them, but it can also leave your lawn looking a little dingy, not to mention the added hassle of potentially finding fleas and ticks all over your furry animal, which will lead into your house. What can you do to make your lawn a little more friendly for your furry creatures against those pesky pests?

 

More Info About Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks love popping up around April in Michigan, when the weather is starting to become warmer. They thrive on temperatures between 70 to 85 degrees, though they can still survive in temperatures outside of that range. They are actively out looking for good, warm hosts to feed upon, and can be hiding anywhere: Under the bushes outside of your home, in the woods while you’re camping, or even in the crevices of your sidewalks. While your furry pets are exploring, they may accidentally come across a patch of these pests hiding, and find that they are the next big meal for the tiny vampires. What can you do to stop these pesky creatures from infesting your pets–and your home?

 

Arm Your Pet

One thing to remember is that fleas and ticks can be found anywhere. They can come from the dog park, latch onto your friend who is visiting and doesn’t realize they have them, or from visiting furry pets. It’s important to keep your pet protected in these circumstances so you don’t have to deal with a huge infestation in the future. That’s why it’s important to arm your pet.

Thankfully there are many great ways to arm your pet without potentially harming them. GreenPaws Flea and Tick Products Directory is a great resource for anyone who is looking to protect their pets without the use of harsh chemicals. They have done their research in finding what chemicals are in various popular products and the risk behind using them, and rates them based off of the potential danger of using said products. If you’re looking for a better way to arm your pet without harming them–and your family–with harsh chemicals, this would be the website to check out.

If you want to use more natural remedies with no chemicals at all, you can always rub citrus juice on your pet (we’re not kidding!), or let them have a dip in the bath with some Dawn soap. Learn more about those type of remedies here.

 

Deep-Clean Your Home

Fleas not only latch onto your furry pet, they also hide and flourish in shaggy carpets and dark places of your home. Don’t want to bomb your house? Here are some great tips for you to do to avoid these issues:

  1. A Salt-Borax-Insecticide Recipe
    1. This recipe is a dynamic way to kill these pesky vampires by dehydrating them and going deep within the carpets so that you can kill them – eggs and all.
  2. Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum
    1. Lift up bedding, move furniture, and focus on vacuuming! Aim for the deep, shaggy carpets or darker crevices of your home. If you consistently do this, then you’ll eventually have the eggs and adults sucked up and out of your life!
  3. Clean your Clothing/Bedding
    1. You want to do this in HOT water, because fleas die in extreme heat. Make sure to put it through the dryer at high heat as well, as ticks have been known to live after a wash.

Clean Your Landscape

As we have mentioned, fleas and ticks can hide anywhere in your backyard as well. Now that you have your pet and home protected, you want to keep your yard and lawn protected as well for a dynamic trio. We at HTA Companies Inc. will come in three times a year to spot-treat your yard to protect against fleas and ticks, keeping your yard clean, and lessening the chance of an infestation in the future. Find out more about those services here, and call us today to for more information. We’d love to help!

Don’t let your furry creatures become a flea’s or tick’s next meal. Take these tips to heart, and call us today for a flea and tick free landscape. You won’t be disappointed!

Irrigation

Part of maintaining a beautiful lawn is ensuring that the irrigation you have is adequate and smart. When your irrigation for your lawn is installed, you want to make sure the design works well to get the most out of your system while reducing your water usage. With drought conditions coming and going, it’s important that you’re wise in how your irrigation system is used.

With the new advancements in technology, you can now put that power to your irrigation system as well. You can now control your irrigation system from your phone just as you do your lighting, HVAC systems, or even your television. When you’re considering an installation such as this, you want to work with an experienced team. That is exactly what you get with the highly trained staff at HTA.

HTA will send out a technician to go over your irrigation needs and help you design a smart system. If you have a system installed already, you can discuss the changes needed to make sure you save time and money in the process. A new smarter system can help you to maintain a beautiful lawn, stay in line with watering restrictions and get the right amount of irrigation your vegetation needs. When the Red Trucks leave your home, you’ll never know they were there except for your amazing irrigation system that is now installed. They can also service the system for you, so you know it’s running efficiently at all times.

Contact the professional team at HTA today to see how you can start using “smart” irrigation today!

Lawn Maintenance

As spring turns to summer, you want to know that your lawn is looking its best day after day. Let’s face it. The “curb appeal” of your home starts with your lawn maintenance. If you work a full-time job or even are a stay at home parent, the lawn maintenance can go to the wayside with everything else you have going on. Sure, you might get your grass cut but do you really have time to do what is truly needed to keep your lawn looking pristine?

That’s where the team at HTA Companies comes in. Our staff members work diligently to make sure your home is looking in tip-top shape from the curb on. We offer a variety of lawn maintenance services so that you do not have to worry about the curb appeal. We can take care of all the trimming and mowing, maintaining your hedges, cleaning up the yard after spring, and so much more.

We work only with a team of mowers that we have hired personally. We do not subcontract out so that means we know exactly who is at your home at all times. They also keep us updated on any needs you may have to make sure your yard is the best in the neighborhood. We also offer a variety of other services including irrigation and fertilization treatments to make sure your lawn is in great shape.

Contact our office today to set up your lawn maintenance schedule and get your yard in control!