Posted by & filed under Uncategorized .

Written by Jake T. Johnson, USMC

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

As is the tradition around here, whenever a patriotic holiday comes around they open up the storage shed out back where they keep me and lure me out and strap me to a computer to write some words down. Those that know me personally know that I usually try and keep things pretty light, I would rather go for the quick laugh than risk letting things go any deeper. This year I was asked if I wanted to write a blog post for the company and obviously I accepted because this topic is something that I have become very passionate about. For me, writing is a form of therapy. 99% of the things that I write stay in my journals or scribbled on one of the notepads I carry around with me throughout the day. I have a couple of journals laying around somewhere in the house that I filled up during deployments. Maybe one of these days I’ll pick them up and read through them again. Maybe not. Maybe I am scared that if I go through them over and over I will gain some sort of closure and understanding that I both want and don’t want at the same time. For those of us that came home from our wars, we are left carrying around what feels like a physical burden that will always be there. Some days I hardly even notice the weight, but that doesn’t mean I am able to forget that it is there. Other days you can feel the weight in every crushing step throughout the day and it becomes impossible to think of anything else other than that burden you brought home with you. In the past, this burden was spread throughout a more connected society and community that we are ironically moving away from in the digital age.

I have a tough time opening my life up to others no matter how much I know that it helps. I would much rather be back in my shed. Either way, this is my Veterans Day post, 2017 edition. Don’t take my sarcasm for me not appreciating this platform to serve as my figurative couch to lay out all of my problems. Honestly, I am not even sure this will get posted to our blog here at LawnAmerica. I know I was supposed to do a meaningful, light post to bring in some traffic and get some clicks, that’s business. I have 4 drafts right now of 4 different attempts to write that version of the blog post, but I just couldn’t submit them. If you have got this far, I ask you to go just a little further and try and put yourself in the position of the men I am writing this post for. I promise I will try and tie it all back together, maybe not in a way that makes the grass any greener but in a way that forces us to have a little more perspective and understanding of those few, those merry few, that band of brothers that came home and is trying to reintegrate back into the society they swore to defend. In the end, this post is for the Veterans that came back. The silent warriors carrying around the weight of a nation that we need to become more aware of as the citizens who sent them to fight for us. They appreciate the support and love shown on days like today, it helps lighten their load just by acknowledging the sacrifices. I would personally like to thank anyone reading this as writing is my way to get a little relief from the straps digging into my back some days.

Americans have been waging war ever since the birth of our country that was formed by doing exactly that, fighting a war. Ever since the Civil War, these wars have been fought in distant lands, far away from the public’s eye or thoughts. Each war becoming easier and easier to ignore if it was not something you wanted to be a part of. The armed forces and society as a whole has gone through very drastic changes over the last century. During World War II 26% of the population served overseas in the war. Basically, one from every family, most of the time more than one blue star was hanging in the window. Even those left at home were not just left waiting for their loved ones to come back. They had to make sacrifices of their own with rations of things like bacon, butter, sugar, gasoline, meat and much more. They even banned the Indy 500 so they could send that fuel over for the tanks of Patton’s Own Third Army storming to Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge. Everyone sacrificed until the war was fought and won. The men and women who came home in 1945 came home to a country that was extremely and mortally aware of the price that had just been paid in the bloody battlefields from Normandy to Iwo Jima. It was an unspoken awareness that was impossible to avoid and it was that shared trauma and knowingness that bonded the citizens to the soldiers.

Jumping ahead to the early to mid-1960’s, we see a not so united United States of America moving towards the inevitable clash of communism versus democracy. Vietnam was at the forefront of every citizen’s mind and the top story every night. It became the world’s first “televised war, ” and soon journalists like Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather became embedded into every home in America. In Vietnam, there was a sharp drop off when it came to percentage of the population that served in the war. This time, only about 9% fought the war, with the other 91% back home. The differences between the Second World War and the Vietnam War were apparent, especially regarding support for the war both from those in America and the soldiers, airmen, seamen and Marines in the rice paddies fighting. There was one major similarity though, and that was the draft.

Before I go any further, I have to say that I will never be able to convey the amount of respect, admiration and a feeling that I can only describe as love for those vets that came home from the Vietnam War.  In the last five years or so since I came home from my own war, I have been forced to confront emotions and memories that I thought I would be able ignore. After coming home from our war, we came home to parades welcoming us home and pats on the back thanking us for our service. That show of appreciation from everyone was something that helped us start the uphill battle we now faced back home to transition back into society.  A show of support from the people of the country that had sent us to war. Veterans of the Vietnam War came home to a very different landscape, one that I couldn’t begin to try and imagine and I am glad that I did not have to imagine.

The draft in Vietnam was one of the major friction points that I read about and can see learning about that time in our history. I don’t think the draft would work today, especially with how divided we are as a country. It’s important to understand what the draft did though compared to today and our all-volunteer force. The draft forced people of every demographic to look at the Vietnam War as something they might have to take part in. Even though the draft was something that contributed to how controversial that war was. War should always be controversial and uncomfortable; it should never be something that is glossed over or hastily rushed into. I am not advocating for the draft though, but it is worth looking back and trying to understand so that maybe someday we might actually learn a thing or two.

Finally, we come to the decade and a half (and counting) war of Operation Enduring Freedom as they call it. This war passed Vietnam in length long ago and is now getting close to passing it again as we continue to run around in circles. Continuing the downward trend of what percentage has served in this 15-year war, that divide between citizens and soldiers is as deep as it has ever been. Today, only .5% of the US population has served in OEF. Yes, you read that correctly, half of 1%. It is hard for the people back home to stay invested in something that is being drug out for so long and that is causing these men and women to return to a country that seems to have forgotten them. This is not a dig at anyone reading this. I was just as ignorant about the fact there was a war going on before I joined in 2009. I can barely keep my attention focused on something for a few minutes these days, let alone 15 years. The price and the weight of freedom have not changed in the time from World War II to today. It is still only attained through sacrifice, and now that sacrifice is being shouldered by a fraction of the population today.

Whew. Sorry if that was a lot to take in and I know it is not the most uplifting thing to read about but I had to write it. If we want to fix a problem, we need to stop sugar coating things and dig until it makes us uncomfortable. So, what can we do as citizens to help those returning home and those still struggling to plug back in? None of what I wrote matters unless we try and come up with a solution to help alleviate these men and women trying not to collapse. I wish I could have written a nerfed version of this but I think that would be doing a disservice to who this day is actually for, the Veterans. We as a society need to welcome them back and really try and understand what it is they went through over there. Just that alone is how you are able to help prop them up and give them the opportunity to hand some of that burden off for you to carry around for them. Listening, understanding and engaging are simple things that we can do every single day to help anyone who is trying to carry too much weight around by themselves. I have to force myself out of my comfort zone in the shed more days than not. I know things today seem like we are more divided than we have ever been. All of that would start to disappear if we would just look up every now and then and engage with another person face to face. Instead of focusing on what makes us different, we can focus more on what brings us together. I have complete faith in my country and in the people living here that we will get through this tough time and come out better for it on the other end. I can’t express how thankful I am towards the citizens who allowed me to be able to serve this great country. There are a million more ways to serve here at home as well. Look for some way to plug into your community and keep making this country a better place for the next generation. Everyone who came before us has entrusted us with this great gift and we need to keep improving it for the next generation.

Thank you for trudging through that with me and letting me unload a little of my weight today. Take a step back today and try to put yourself in the position of the Veteran in his day to day life. Especially in the 364 days until the next Veteran’s Day. I am not sure if Ben is going to let me come out of my shed after he asked me to write a light piece to mark the occasion. Either way, I’m just thankful that shed is here in America. Greatest country on Earth.

Posted by & filed under fall lawn care, mulch .

The first freeze of the season has come and gone and our warm season grasses are starting to fade into dormancy. The trees are also changing into their beautiful colors and beginning to drop their many leaves.

That brings up a question we get every year. Should I rake my leaves just let them sit? The answer to that question varies a little bit depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

Unless you are trying to maintain a native, wooded area, some type of leaf clean-up is necessary to keep a healthy lawn. Leaves that are allowed to accumulate on lawns will suffocate grasses, especially newly seeded cool-season lawns, like Fescue or Bluegrass, resulting in dead spots next spring. Too much leaf cover also makes it harder to provide proper weed control in the fall making it likely to see some weeds breakthrough over the winter and into the spring.

Raking leaves is one option for keeping the lawn clean. It is a great way to get some free exercise (or keep the kids busy over the weekend). The problem with raking is that it creates piles of leaves that have to be removed. Since burning leaves is not something allowed in city limits, the next best option is to force them into big trash bags, drag them to the street and wait for the city to pick them up to deposit them at the landfill. That creates unnecessary waste and removes the opportunity for decomposing leaves to have some benefit to the lawn.

A better alternative is to keep them mulched. Mulching leaves actually chop up the leaves into smaller pieces and deposits them back into the turf. Mulched leaves have many benefits to the lawn, providing insulation over the winter as well as allowing carbon and other nutrients to be returned to the soil and made available for the plants to use. To be successful with mulching leaves, you will need to be consistent. Waiting for all the leaves to fall and trying to mulch them all at once will likely still have a smothering effect on the grass. So while you still reap the benefits of improved soil composition, you would have killed the turf. Nobody wants that!

There is a third alternative, but it would it probably make your neighbors mad. You could just blow all the leaves into their yard when no one is looking and let someone else deal with it. Just don’t tell them you heard it from us.

In all seriousness though, if you want to maintain a healthy lawn and protect your seeding investment leaf clean-up is a must. Contact LawnAmerica today for more information.

Posted by & filed under Christmas Decor .

Well, it happened last night. I was driving home from eating out, and there it was. The first house brave enough to turn on their Christmas lights. And, a full week before Halloween no less!

At first, I thought, it is a little early even for me, and I love Christmas. However, the more I pondered on it, the more I think the homeowner was on to something. Why not go ahead and light up early?

Decorating our houses is much more than showing off for our neighbors. It is about the feelings that the lights and decorations provide. It is a reminder of family gatherings and being thankful for each other. It is a reprieve from the negativity of the news of the world. It is a chance to be a kid again and remember the simple pleasure of making others smile.

Our guys at LawnAmerica finished their Christmas Décor training yesterday and will be out, starting today, to install displays all over town. We do not usually turn them on this early, but if you are brave enough to spread a little Christmas cheer early, we would be happy to let them shine.

Christmas Décor by LawnAmerica is a full-service Christmas Light company. We design, supply, install and take down décor on your property and have been since 1997. For more information or to request a quote, go to our website or give us a call at 1-866-567-5296.

Posted by & filed under Landscaping, mulch .

When your favorite college football team takes it on the chin, as the Oklahoma Sooners did last week, and the OSU Cowboys did the week before, why not take out your frustrations by working in the lawn and landscape? Fall is a great time to add mulch to shrub beds and around trees, while hopefully easing the pain of the most recent Saturday football heartbreak.

Mulch provides several great benefits to the Oklahoma landscape:

  1. Mulch helps preserve soil moisture around shrubs, flowers, and trees, lessening the irrigation requirements and leading to healthier plants.
  2. Mulch helps moderate soil temperatures, cooling in summer heat and warming in the winter cold.
  3. Mulch helps prevent many weeds from germinating and taking over shrub beds. It does not stop all, but it does decrease significantly.
  4. Mulched beds just look better, and adds color to the landscape.

A layer of 2-4” of mulch is best in shrub beds. Mulch comes in several types, with Cedar, Cyprus, and Pine being the most popular. Bags of mulch can be purchased at local nurseries or the big box stores, and is easy to haul and spread around. If you have a truck, many local nurseries such as Sanders Nursery in Broken Arrow or Easton Sod sell mulch in bulk, which saves a little money.

With time, mulch will break down into the soil, which also helps build a more organic soil. So it should be added annually for best results, and fall is a great time to do that.

Posted by & filed under tree care .

If you’ve ever planted a new tree or if you have a young tree that isn’t yet mature, you may have some questions. Water, fertilizer and maintenance are the main issues to consider for young trees, but rest assured it’s fairly easy to help them grow into healthy mature trees that benefit you and your landscape.

 

Fertilizing young trees is required annually from the time they are transplanted until they become established or reach a desirable size. Fertilizer is best applied between early spring and late July while the plants are actively growing, and again in early Winter. We offer two liquid deep root fertilizations for trees and shrubs, the first in March and the second in December, either of which will be beneficial for the plants in your landscape. If you would like to do it yourself you can apply a granular fertilizer around the roots inside the canopy of the tree. For shrubs, you can apply the fertilizer around the roots.

 

A grass-free circle three to four feet wide should be maintained around a young tree for at least three years. This will ensure that the tree roots are not required to compete with turf roots for moisture and nutrients. This also keep weed-eaters away from damaging the lower trunk at the base, which is a leading cause of tree death. Watering new or young trees is paramount. Make sure to supplement watering especially during the heat of the summer as the lawn sprinkler is not going to supply enough moisture to the roots of the tree, and in most cases is only enough for the turf’s roots. We recommend a soaker hose placed around the roots of the canopy of the tree and allow it to soak for several hours each time. The amount of water required will depend on the temperatures and rainfall amounts.

 

Fall is also a great time to plant new trees in your landscape. With planting now in fall, the root system will be able to become somewhat more established before the stress of our Oklahoma summer hits.