How To Properly Water Your Trees

Your trees represent one of the most significant investments for your property, yet they are sometimes quickly forgotten once they are considered “established.” While there are various ways to care for these beautiful trees, let’s highlight the most crucial step that you can take without relying on the assistance of a lawn and tree care company – let’s discuss the proper method of watering your trees.

There’s an overlooked aspect worth noting: we’ve planted trees, which typically flourish in forests, into a residential lawn area and then anticipate the same successful growth despite the significantly different conditions from their natural habitat, which clearly isn’t going to happen. In a forest setting, trees benefit from shaded soil which helps retain moisture, receiving rich nutrients from decomposed material in the soil, and importantly, they don’t compete with lawn turf for nutrients and water.

As a general rule, trees typically require a minimum of 10 gallons of water per week per inch of Diameter at Breast Height (DBH). However, there’s often an assumption that trees will receive adequate water during a regular weekly lawn irrigation schedule. Unfortunately, the lawn tends to absorb most of this moisture before the tree roots can access any significant amount. Unless you have a drip irrigation system specifically directed toward your trees and shrubs, it’s almost certain that your trees are not receiving sufficient water. The diagram below shows how to measure DBH.

How to measure DBH - diameter at breast height

This blog is broken out to show how to water your trees per season in Southwest Montana. 

Spring Watering:

In spring, it’s crucial to water your trees before they begin to bud and produce leaves. Around mid-March (depending on the weather), start watering your trees weekly. Typically, this means pulling a hose to your trees, turning the water on to a steady trickle, and leaving it to run at the base of the tree for about 30 minutes. In the weeks following, check the soil. If the top 3-4 inches around the tree are dry, it’s time to water them again.

Encouraging slow, deep watering helps your trees’ roots grow deeper, enabling them to draw more nutrients from the soil and become more resistant to drought and disease.

Summer Watering:

Continue the same watering schedule from spring. If you notice the leaves appearing limp, it’s a sign that they may need more water. Once again, check the top three to four inches of soil, and if they’re dry, give the trees a thorough drink by turning on the hose.

Fall and Winter Watering:

During fall and winter, focus primarily on watering your evergreen trees. Deciduous trees typically enter dormancy by late fall and will likely have shed their leaves and require much less attention at this time. Because evergreens retain their needles throughout winter, they need more water to prevent drying out from the severe winds and cold temperatures experienced in Montana. If they become dehydrated, they may suffer from “winter burn,” where the wind and cold weather strip them of moisture, kind of like windburn. This issue is especially prevalent in the Livingston, Montana area.

Starting in October and continuing through November, water your evergreen trees twice a month, dedicating approximately 30 minutes per tree. Use a gentle flow from the hose to facilitate deep watering. This serves two crucial purposes. Firstly, as the trees prepare for dormancy, the water assists in transporting nutrients to their roots, crucial during the winter. Secondly, it provides a reservoir of water for the trees to access, rather than relying on moisture from their needles as a last resort.

Watering your trees properly is going to prevent them from being susceptible to disease and drought now and for years to come. Make sure to give your trees a good drink to bring them to life in the spring and then continue that throughout the summer and early fall. Once you start getting into late fall and winter, specifically October and November, make sure to water your trees at least twice for each of those months! 

If you are watering your evergreens properly and you’re still seeing winter burn, we do offer a service that helps hold in moisture that we do twice a year, once in the fall and once in the winter as weather permits. Please call our office to find out more or to get on the schedule for our Winter Burn Prevention service. 406-222-1152

Happy watering!

How Do I Prepare My Yard for Fall & Winter?

Let’s be honest, our 2023 summer season felt short. We had very inconsistent weather patterns that made taking care of the lawn this year a bit challenging and confusing, but we all managed!

Moving into September, you might be asking yourself, “how can I prepare my lawn for fall and winter?” 

The way I think of this is to look ahead and start working backward. Think back to this spring and what some of the challenges were: 

  1. Vole damage
  2. Lawn fungus
  3. Drought stress
  4. Quick germination of weeds
  5. Irrigation system turn-on

We would prefer to manage the damage of these items for next year, so let’s talk about what we can do now to prevent this. 

Finish Your Lawn Applications Strong

Trust us, we have a five-application program for good reasons. Weeds germinate at different times during the year. Your fourth application of weed and feed is focused on getting rid of the weeds during the last germination period so that they aren’t able to establish a root system that will come back in the next year. The fifth application, and the one our customers cancel most often, is truly the best application you can receive all year. I have personally talked to customers who haven’t been on all five steps and as soon as they add the fifth step, they see a huge improvement of their lawn in the following spring and throughout the year. It just puts you that much further ahead and allows you to tackle the challenge of weeds quickly germinating in the spring.

Stick with the program – you may not be using your lawn anymore, but the best thing you can do for it is provide the right nutrients so it can start off on the right root (😜) next year.  


This is the best action to take care of sparse or bare patches in your lawn or to introduce new varieties of turf that are disease-resistant. 

You’re welcome to overseed your lawn in the spring or fall. Our favorite time is in the fall and what we will encourage you to do as well. This is considered “dormant seeding” which means we don’t expect to see any new growth this year, but while the soil is warming in the spring, the seeds are starting to germinate. This gives you more weeks of a growing period before the weeds start to compete with the new grass growth and there’s no need for soil preparation while the ground is cold and soggy. 

We recommend seeding around mid-October, right around the time that we put down our fifth application of granular fertilizer. You can buy seed anywhere, but two places we recommend to purchase seed locally are Cashman’s and AG Depot in Bozeman. Ideally, you would use a bluegrass mix, they even make some that are more drought-tolerant – just ask a helpful representative. 

Vole Damage Control

In the spring of 2023, the vole damage was horrible for both the lawns and trees. Unfortunately, there’s not many great ways to manage voles, but there is some prep that you can do on your lawn to attempt to mitigate the population. 

Once we get close to Halloween give your lawn one last short mowing. This is the ONLY time we recommend mowing short (very important otherwise you’ll damage your lawn), set your mower to one of the lowest settings and do one last trim, be sure to bag and discard the clippings. Voles seek out properties that will provide a lot of cover: aka thick and luscious lawns. By doing a short mow, this removes their protection and will hopefully ward off a vole population. Check out our blog How Do I Get Rid of Voles, for additional preventative practices.  

Sprinkler Winterizations

Prepare your irrigation system for next spring. Sprinkler blowouts clear the water in your irrigation lines to be sure that the pipes don’t freeze and break over the winter. We provide this service to in-town city water systems in Bozeman and Belgrade and our no-contact method makes this one of our customers’ favorite services. All we ask you to do is turn off your water in the crawlspace and have everything ready for us for your scheduled date. You don’t have to be home and interrupt your work day and we don’t have to track our muddy boots into your house. Our team will come and clear the lines and follow up with a text letting you know that the service has been completed. 

Call or text our team today if you need to get scheduled for a sprinkler blowout this winter! Contact Us

While you’re putting the lawn furniture away this fall, take some time to consider doing these extra favors for your property, next year it will thank you!

P.S. – The holidays will be here before you know it! Speaking of, have you heard? Yard Guard has a Holiday Lighting service! If you’re tired of hanging your Christmas lights in the cold, give us a call and we’ll give you a custom quote for your home! 


Tips for a Healthy Lawn

At Yard Guard, our goal is the overall health of your lawn. While synthetic options may provide the illusion of a vibrant and thriving lawn, we believe in taking the necessary steps to ensure your lawn is receiving the foundational care that encourages sustainable health. In this blog, we’ll provide you with three essential tips that will give your lawn the fighting chance it deserves.

We hear it all the time, “we’ve been getting so much rain, I don’t need to turn my water on!” As much as we would love to agree, unfortunately, the rains that we were getting don’t always add up to the amount necessary for your lawn to thrive. Did you know that Southwest Montana gets an average of 11 inches of rain between April and October, according to the Western Regional Climate Center? In a week, your lawn needs at least an inch and a half of water (.5 inches three days a week) and this is considering that you have a healthy soil profile. That means that your lawn gets a quarter of what it needs in a week, in a full month, meaning that it’s constantly fighting drought.

So what can you take away from this? TURN YOUR WATER ON ASAP! Please be sure to adhere to the watering guidelines within your area, but please give those lawns a drink, they’re thirsty! The sooner you’ll be able to do so, the sooner your lawn will recover from drought and be well on its way to becoming healthier turf. 

Deep watering is great for your lawn. For MOST lawns, we recommend watering every other day, 30 minutes per zone and adjusting as necessary. This isn’t always the answer for every lawn so if you’re unsure on what you should do, text our team at 406.222.1152 and ask!

We don’t mean like that… but do your thing, we don’t judge!

Please take a moment while your reading this to walk out to your mower and put it on the highest setting that it can go to. We’ll wait….




Okay welcome back, thanks for doing that!

Why is this important? The root depth mimics the blade length above the soil (think of this like an iceberg). The deeper the roots, the healthier and stronger your lawn will be and it will start to outcompete weeds on it’s own! Also a longer turf length means that it’s shading the soil. Most grasses in our area are a Kentucky Blue Grass, Fescue Blend which are cool season grasses. Plus, if you want your lawn to be a dark green color – there is more green on a longer leaf blade!

If you’re not sure what this means, wait for the months of July and August to roll around and take a look at lawns that are mowed very short – they will probably appear more yellow than green.

Soil is the literal foundation for your turf and feeding the soil properly is essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems and plant growth. Just like when we feed our bodies the proper nutrients, your lawn is using those nutrients to outcompete disease and prevent unwanted invaders from creating chaos. 

By replenishing these nutrients, we ensure that your turf is able to access the essentials needed for optimal growth and health. Also, nutrient rich soil encourages biodiversity for an array of microorganisms and other beneficial organisms that contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem. By feeding the soil, we are looking at long-term sustainable solution and resilient lawns that may start to outcompete weeds on their own and not require weed control substances to be used.

This is the whole premise behind our blended organic program and compost tea application that we recommend to all of our customers. While we know the traditional programs gets you noticeable results quickly and can be cheaper, the blended organic program will give you long-term sustainable and beneficial results that also leads to a better looking lawn! 

While you’re driving around looking at short lawns take a look for our organic signs, you will also see they have less weeds and a better looking lawns. 

Cheers to happy and healthy lawns!

What is Compost Tea?

You can show your lawn a HEAP of love by giving it a healthy drink of compost tea! 

What is compost tea? Compost Tea is the liquid version of compost, one takes compost and “extracts” all the good parts into a liquid solution to then be applied to desired plants and/ or soil. 

Think about how you would start a vegetable garden. Your first move is to probably build a healthy base with great quality soil consisting of composted material. However, when we want to have a healthy lawn, our first thought is to establish the seed or sod and then grab a jug of chemicals. There has to be a better way!

Over the last couple years, while building and testing our Blended Organic program, we have been working with a Montana farm and rancher testing inputs based on organics and biology rather than chemicals. When we started working together, he was in the process of converting 200 acres to a sod farm. So far he has only added compost tea and local compost to the soil and the results are awesome!

We’ve partnered with a local company, Yes Compost, that takes local organic waste to create high-quality compost and worm castings. We are then able to take their compost and worm castings which we then run through our extractor to make fresh tea daily into a tea to apply to your lawns and gardens. This tea is packed with organic material, amino acids, humic acid and micronutrients that give your lawn the best liquid concentrate possible.

Compost tea is a natural solution that uses biology to improve soil health. It has been used by avid master gardeners for years! When applied to your lawn, it acts as a nourishing tonic, providing the essential nutrients and microbial life necessary for a thriving ecosystem beneath the surface. The diverse range of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms in our compost tea work together to break down organic matter, enhance nutrient availability, and promote root development.

By receiving this application, you’re working to feed the lawn, aerate the soil, inoculate the biology and restore organic material, thus giving your soil the fighting chance to outcompete weeds on its own. Plus it works as a liquid aeration! The carbon present in the tea helps to create “carbon stacking” air pockets within the soil, improving its structure and allowing for better water and nutrient absorption. This not only benefits your lawn but also reduces the need for excessive watering.

Paired with our Blended Organic lawn care program, you are on a quick path to repairing your soil organically instead of relying on synthetic treatments every few weeks to keep your grass green and weed-free. 

Fill out the contact form below to get a quote for Compost Tea for your home!

Is My Lawn Dead? Can You Fix It?


Leaf Spot Disease

Last week, we found the first example of Ascochyta Leaf Spot this year.

What you’re seeing is a fungal disease called Ascochyta Leaf Spot or “Melting Out.” The fungal spores are always present but usually don’t affect the turf unless it’s stressed and unable to protect itself, like these photos above show. Turf stress comes from poor or lack of irrigation, shallow / poor soil, or being mowed short. Although things will look worse before they look better, the lawn will recover if cultural practices can be changed (more water and mowing at the tallest height). It takes roughly 2-3 weeks of good cultural practices to start to catch back up. 

I know it is hard to believe, but the rain we get in the spring isn’t close to enough. The whole month of April we got a half inch of rain (enough for one watering). Most of the rain storms we get produce around .1” of rain or 1/15 of what your lawn needs in a week. 

In the photos, you can see tracks. You can see damage from the disease where the mower pushes the grass down killing the tissue of the leaf blade, leaving dead looking lines from the mower tracks. From there it can expand to patchy spots that make the lawn appear the lawn is “melting out”. 


With proper watering and mowing your lawn is going to naturally grow out of it in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, we recommend following these guidelines: 

  1. Start Watering! Lawns are a living organism and like us, they need water to survive. As a general guideline if you have healthy soil, an inch and a half of water is recommended per week (be sure to follow watering regulations) and water in the morning between 4-8 AM. 
  2. Put your mower to the maximum height. This is SO important: taller grass = more plant tissue for photosynthesis, longer roots (they mimic the top growth), shaded soil to hold more water, and GREENER GRASS – the longer the leaf blade the more green there is. 
  3. Now that you’ve put your mower to the maximum height, wait a week or two to mow. Allow the turf to come back and strengthen itself while maintaining or slightly increasing your watering schedule.
  4. Add more organics to the soil. More organics means more healthy bacteria and fungi that can help fight diseases such as this one. Just like our gut, when we add the right bacteria, our immune system is typically more strengthened and can outcompete sickness. Healthy soil full of organic material holds way more water! (If you are not on our Blended Organic Program what better time to start.)

If you want to learn more, we encourage you to read this article published by Colorado State University.

As always, please send us photos if you’re not sure what you’re seeing 406-222-1152.

How Do I Get Rid of Voles?

WOW, ever since the snow has melted, the first issue we noticed was how bad the vole damage was this year! Since we had a longer winter, the little buggers had more time to hang out in your lawn and eat the precious grass roots, that we as your lawn care company, try to keep strong and healthy! 

We want to share ideas for how to keep these rodents at bay in the future as well as what you can do now that the vole damage has already been done. 

So, what do voles actually do to your lawn? These rodents eat the crown of grass roots and the bark on trees and shrubs during the winter. Typically, they move in from nearby rangeland areas under the snow and then once the snow melts, they’re gone and your property might show signs of damage like below:

Now if you have these unsightly tunnels right now, stay patient, typically by June everything will look back to normal and you will forget that this was even an issue!


First things first, go ahead and rake up the dead grass. Many times after doing that, you will see that there is already newly established grass in those tunnel areas and it’s going to fill in and look fantastic. However, if you have extensive damage, we would recommend applying a half inch of topsoil to the area. This soil will keep the roots moist while the grass continues to grow back. 


If you have any additional questions or whether you have vole damage, send us a photo of your lawn at 406-312-7633. Our team would love to help you!

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