Tuesday, 27 August 2013

What Causes Potholes in Driveways?

The driveway in your home should be a place where you can safely park your car and not an area wrought with danger and obstacles. If you think that entering your own driveway is like running a slalom course, then it’s high time to fix the problem areas. A driveway that is neglected for long periods of time will only get worse and it’s imperative that you start on the repairs immediately. The sooner you repair it, the more safer and beautiful it will look from outside. To fix driveway problems, address areas that need repairs like potholes.

What are Potholes?

Potholes are the main culprits behind an unattractive and unsafe driveway. Due to the limitations of road construction and nature, the driveway develops pockmarks and deep divots unsuitable for driving on. Driveways are usually constructed in layers, starting with a surface of compacted earth and gravel for drainage. However some may even feature a subsurface of bricks. These layers are then covered with asphalt, a substance which is a mixture of bitumen, aggregate gravel, oil byproducts and curatives. Good quality asphalt repels snow and rainfall, forcing the excess water into drains located near the shoulder of the road. The driveway surface cracks in time due to constant pressure from driving over it and also due to the heat of the day. In homes, improper drainage in the area contributes to water logging, which causes water to seep between the cracks and into the underlying surface of the driveway. Potholes are then formed during cooler temperatures when the water freezes and expands, which in turn pushes out some of the gravel and dirt revealing a hole. If you continue to drive over a damaged driveway with unseen holes, then you put even more stress on the asphalt layer covering it.  Part of your repairs should improve the drainage in the area near the driveway before the asphalt covering is installed.

How to repair Potholes

Potholes can also cause a lot of damage to your car’s tires and suspension system if you fail to avoid driving over it. They can also fill with water during the rainy season and add to any other hazards. Excessive flooding and rainfall can also eat away the road even in areas where temperatures don’t fall below freezing point. There are two ways adopted by contractors and road maintenance workers to fix potholes. These repairs roughly resemble the way a dentist uses a permanent or temporary filling to seal the cavity. During the cold months, potholes can be repaired by using what is called a cold winter mix. A mixture of soft asphalt is poured into the holes after all the debris has been cleared. Then to add some increased stability and strength to the surface, a layer of gravel is added. However, the damage may reappear during the onset of spring. During the hotter months, potholes are repaired using a hot summer mix which is a more permanent fix compared to the former. A mixture of aggregate and road grade asphalt is used to last for years, but it can only be applied during warm, dry weather. The only disadvantage is that the traffic must be rerouted around the area where the work is taking place so that it has time to set and prepare the road for the patch. The finished layer is then compacted to match the level of the road so that it appears invisible and in line with the old surface.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Is It Good to Dethatch Your Lawn?

Thatch is a tightly woven layer that lies beneath the visible grass blades which is found between the grasses’ above ground shoot that’s green and the below ground root system. Generally, thatch is comprised of stems, leaves and roots, some living, some dead and forms a natural part of the turf’s growing process. While the presence of some thatch is good for the lawn, too much of it can cause problems. Thatch contributes to lawn health as long as it does not get thicker than ½ to ¾ of an inch. Depending on the type of grass you have and the climate which you live in, it’s important to choose the right time of year to dethatch your lawn.

The lawn should have the best chance to recover as dethatching can be tough on the surface. It’s not advisable to dethatch the lawn if the region experiences a heat wave or is in the middle of a drought. There should be 45 days of good growing conditions for the lawn after dethatching so that the grass has ample time to recover without letting the weeds take over. Early fall or late spring is ideal for dethatching, but a lot depends on the grass and the type of weather conditions it needs to grow and flourish. There are several benefits for dethatching your lawn:
  •     Improves mower traffic and turf tolerance
  •     Insulates grass crowns from temperature swings in the soil
  •     Slows down water loss and mulches soil
  •     Decreases compaction and cushions soil
  •     When the thatch develops into thick layer, it forms a wedge between the soil and grass which diminishes lawn health and causes problems like:
  •     Blocks sunlight from reaching the lower glass blades
  •     Holds back moisture against the glass blades, which in turn causes the formation of diseases
  •     Creates an uneven lawn surface, which leads to improper mowing and scalping
  •     Forms an impermeable layer, which prevents fertilizer, water and insect/disease control from reaching the soil
  •     Forms a shallow rooted lawn caused by blockage of soil so that grass roots grow into a nutrient-lacking thatch
What causes Thatch formation?

Some situations can result in rapid formation of thatch even if it does form naturally. Overwatering the lawn, mowing too high, overfertilizing with too much nitrogen and using heavy clay soil for the surface can cause thatch formation. There are certain types of grasses that tend to form thick layers of thatch. Cool season grasses and creeping turf types can quickly form thatch when the turf has not been properly fertilized, the soil is too compacted or it has been spread by above and underground stems. Healthy practices to prevent thatch formation include leaving grass clippings on the lawn and using a mulching mower. This is because grass clippings can decompose readily and thatch arises from stems and roots from the top inches of the soil that die and do not fully decompose.

Does Your Lawn Need Dethatching?

To know if your lawn needs dethatching or not, you can undertake some of these tests included below:

Inspect the lawn – Examine your lawn closely and determine how thick the thatch is. If the soil isn’t visible between turf crowns, it is likely that you are looking at a thatch layer. Check to see if you can shove your finger through the visible thatch. If it’s impenetrable then that area has to be thinned down.

Feel the lawn – If the lawn is bouncy underfoot and spongy with a springy feel, then it must be having a thick thatch layer.

Measure the thatch – You can excavate a lawn sample to examine the thatch. By using a spade or trowel, remove a layer of grass and soil which is about 3 inches thick. Measure the thickness of the thatch layer that is lying directly on top of the soil. If the layer is ¾ or more in an inch, it is time to dethatch.