Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Rain Bird App Update Gives Alexa Users Voice-Activated Irrigation System Control

Exciting news from Rain Bird! An update to the Rain Bird App, which enables the "Rain Bird" Skill by Amazon is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play! What does that mean? Well, with this Skill, you can link your ESP-TM2 or ESP-Me controller using the LNK WiFi Module to their Amazon Alexa account.

With 130 different commands, Rain Bird offers unique features incorporating custom program and zone names while enabling inquiries into irrigation time remaining, rain sensor status, and seasonal adjustment values. Just ask Alexa! (Available in the US and Canada only).

See it in action!

To begin, you need to make sure you have installed the Rain Bird and Amazon Alexa apps on your mobile device. Make sure both apps are up-to-date! First, click the "Settings" icon in your Rain Bird app, then click "Connected Home." After entering your password, enter the e-mail address associated to your Alexa (Amazon) account and toggle the Amazon Alexa switch to enable. Click "OK" and "Done." Next, go to the Amazon Alexa app and select the menu icon. Then, select "Skills." Search for "rain bird" in the text box and select "Enable." Enter your controller login information once more, and you are ready to go! Still unsure? Check out Rain Bird's full video instructions here!

Don't have the WiFi Module installed in your controller? Contact Pro-Turf to get upgraded this Spring!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Landscape Design for Four Seasons

Winter is a great time to start thinking about what landscaping projects you want to tackle in the spring. Taking a look at your current snow-covered yard may also give you some ideas for plantings and hardscaping that will enhance your winter views next season!

If your current landscape is an expanse of white, you might consider some plantings which offer interesting lines, forms, textures, or colors. To create depth, use a variety of shrubs and evergreens. As a general rule, the darker and more solid the geometric shape, the more weight the planting appears to have, whereas lighter and abstruse shrubs appear to have lift. Plant your largest pieces first, and then pepper in other plantings based on your determined landscape horizon.

Good landscaping is like art. The eye of the observer should be drawn from one focal point to another. Varying heights are usually more interesting than a straight line. When planning for a landscape that looks great throughout all four seasons, you want to think about what each plant looks like with and without its blossoms and leaves. Certain shrubs change color in the winter, and some even bloom, so it can be useful to research what thrives in your area. Here is a good place to start.

Your yard is your paradise; pick colors and textures that are pleasing to you. Fences and stone walls can create a beautiful rustic environment especially when dusted with snow. Plants with berries can offer a pop of color to break up your snowy canvas. Trees with spindly branches look visually interesting when covered in snow. If you enjoy wildlife, research what plants can draw certain animals to your yard. Birdhouses are easy ways to do this. Just be aware of pests that could damage your plantings and plan accordingly!

Think about what work you might like to do on your own, and what you might want to hire a professional for. Talk to landscaping companies and garden nurseries to get an idea of costs. Prioritize your design ideas to figure out a budget range. Stumped for inspiration? Head on over to a site like Pinterest to see what other DIYers have done to spruce up their yards. 

Always consider the long-term and keep in mind that some plantings require more maintenance than others. Certain plants cannot thrive in winter and must be taken indoors. There are plenty of resources at your fingertips, but it can never hurt to consult a professional. Happy planning!

Resources to Get You Started:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Winter Landscaping Ideas

Don't let the cold and snow get you down. We know that spring and summer are a sure thing, and now that it's almost February we are just that much closer to seeing green when we look outside. 

Aside from gearing up for Valentine's Day and Easter, there's actual things you can do for your landscape to be ready to rock once the warm weather is here. has some great tips for doing more than just sitting around all winter: 
  • Repot houseplants as they outgrow current pots. If you see roots when you look at the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, chances are it’s time to transplant.
  • Sketch garden plans, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement and number of plants needed.
  • Order seeds and plants from mail order catalogs or online retailers as early as possible for best selection.
  • Use your hand or a broom to gently brush away any heavy snow that may accumulate on shrubs before it freezes. Heavy snow can weigh down branches, causing them to break or become misshapen.
  • Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs as they break ground. Use an all-purpose granular fertilizer according to label directions, or apply a light dusting of compost.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Winterizing Your Landscape

The trees have shed their leaves, grass has gone to sleep, and the temps are dropping rapidly! Winter might seem like the time to sit back and relax as the snow begins to cover your yard, but it’s also a great time to be proactive with your plantings. What you do in the winter may very well influence the condition of your property when spring rolls around. Here are some tips to help maintain your planting investments until the thaw!

1. Stow your annuals and fragile plants indoors! Every plant has different needs for storage, so be sure to research the ideal conditions before you dig them up. Sensitive bulbs like dahlias will do best in a cool, dark location, such as your basement. Annuals like begonias will do well if you have a closed-in porch with windows, or a greenhouse. Replacing plants can become costly in from year-to-year, so it’s a great idea to put in this extra step to ensure they last the winter.

2. Bundle up your shrubs and bushes! New England winters can be harsh and unforgiving with biting winds and deep snows. They really take a toll on everything in your landscape. There are plenty of options that will give your shrubs and bushes extra protection and insulation during the winter months. If you have a budget, you can purchase ready-mades such as fleece jackets or cones. If you are more of a DIYer, try burlap or landscape fabric. Make sure you secure them so they don’t blow away!

3. Protect new growth! If you have just planted perennials or a new flower bed this year, extra coverage during the winter can go a long way in establishing them for years to come. recommends a garden cloche, which can be purchased from Amazon. Be sure to measure and secure any coverings in preparation for those winter winds.

4. Trim and prune! Winter is a great time to give some much-needed maintenance to the shrubs and bushes in your yard. In addition, it promotes fast regrowth in the spring. Remove dead leaves and stalks, and be sure to research the best pruning practices for your respective plant life. Not all shrubs are created equal, though in general you should first prune out the dead or diseased branches, then remove the overgrown and smaller branches. This increases light and air at the crown of the plant. Try to cut branches at the node; the point at which one branch attaches to another. Visit the Farmer’s Almanac for some helpful guidelines on pruning!

5. Wrap up tree bark! This is especially important if you are trying to establish new trees. Not only is their thin bark susceptible to changing winter temps, but it is also susceptible to rodents and other creatures looking for a tasty winter snack. Like shrubs and bushes, you can use burlap or landscape fabric to wrap them up, or you can use tree wrap tape and plastic tree protectors.

As always, it is important to research and understand each plant comprising your landscape. Rose bushes require different maintenance than evergreens and deciduous plants, and so forth. There is plenty of free information right at your fingertips. To get you started, below find some winterizing guides we at Pro-Turf really enjoyed. Happy Holidays!