grass and dirt

5 Ways to Determine the Best Grass Type for Your Lawn

The time and research you take now to determine the right type of grass for your yard could save you a lot of pain later: haphazard planting could result in a lawn that is discolored, dormant or dismantled, depending on how much traffic it can handle. We’ve outlined a few basics to consider before planting grass seed.

Grasses fall into two major categories and are further broken down by characteristics and behavior. Here’s a snapshot:

Warm season grass

These grasses thrive in warmer regions and during summer, browning when temperatures cool. Examples include:

  • St. Augustine: lush but coarse texture, tolerates shade, needs frequent watering
  • Bermuda: coarse texture, spreads, shade intolerant and prone to thatch
  • Buffalo: grayish-green with a fine texture, low maintenance, slow to grow
  • Centipede: light to mid-green shade, medium maintenance, slow to grow, sensitive to cold
  • Zoysia: medium texture, tolerates shade and droughts, not suited for high traffic

Cool season grass

Spring and fall are prime growth periods for cool season grass, favored in Northern regions of the country. Types include:

  • Fine fescues: thin, feathery blades, shade and drought tolerant
  • Tall fescues: coarse texture, drought and heat tolerant, doesn’t spread easily
  • Perennial ryegrass: dark, fine texture, attractive, high traffic tolerance but doesn’t regenerate
  • Kentucky bluegrass: dark color, medium texture, regenerates, shade intolerant

Transition areas

What about regions like the Midwest that endure temperature extremes? The heartiest choice is tall fescue, because it retains its color and stands up to both hot and cold elements. But there are choices among both warm and cool season grasses that have the character to sustain in this climate, including Bermuda, Zoysia and Kentucky bluegrass.

5 Deciding Factors

You can’t lose by educating yourself on grass species, but when it comes to hard choices you need to start, well, in your own backyard. The right type for you has everything to do with the layout of the land and these five factors:

Acidity. The key to good grass is choosing the right seed for your soil pH. You may need to treat your soil before planting; the best way to know is to test your soil, which can be done with a soil testing kit. Your results will have to be processed, so plan on a two-week waiting period.
Who is on your lawn. Grass type is partially dictated by durability. For example, the delicate fine fescue isn’t a wise choice for a family with small, playful kids. And Kentucky bluegrass, known for its regeneration properties, can handle the rough and tumble nature of athletics. It can be worth the extra maintenance.
Watering. How much can you water? Some grasses can handle drier periods, like tall fescue, Zoysia or buffalo grass. Kentucky bluegrass, known for high maintenance, will need much more.
Shade. The number of trees and amount of shade they produce will affect your grass’ health, so choose wisely from the onset. Seed blends are a good defense because they increase odds that a few types will grow. Rye, fine and tall fescues are good cool season choices and Zoysia and St. Augustine are warm season grasses that can handle indirect sunlight.
Maintenance. How high maintenance of a grass can you handle? Some people love the ritual of mowing and fertilizing–frequent tending jives with their lifestyle. Others aren’t a fan of yard work, or they have a schedule that isn’t conducive to it. Know your patterns and consider your lifestyle.

Questions about landscaping and lawn care? We’ve got you covered. McCarty Mulch is an Angie’s List Super Service Award winner and supplier of landscape supplies and products for homeowners and the Central Indiana landscape industry. Contact us today!

gravel driveway

Driveway Renovation: Gravel vs. Crushed Stone

Does your driveway do your home justice? It could add an aged appearance to an otherwise well-maintained property, especially when the driveway is filled with debris, cracked asphalt or concrete sprouting brown vegetation.  An easy fix that will give your home a modern look is to Install pea gravel or crushed stone.

Characteristics of gravel and crushed stone


A gravel driveway can function like a concrete driveway. Gravel is more attractive: it’s multi-colored, used to create walkways and creates accents around stepping stones and garden beds. Without reinforcement, gravel can travel outside of boundaries due to foot traffic and vehicles. Using edging materials, like bricks and stones, keeps gravel in place and adds aesthetic–especially around larger pavers. Even though it’s cheaper than new asphalt or concrete, maintenance include:

  • Refilling to keep a clean cut look
  • Raking in the fall
  • Shoveling in the winter

Crushed Stone:

Has multiple classifications, but the stone size will determine how it should be used. Examples include: serving as a base for pavers and roads, fence drain and concrete blocks. This easy-to-find material is available in a variety of types and sizes, including clean and decorative stone. Crushed stone can look and function well within any landscape or exterior home decor, and it pours into any shape no matter how irregular. It’s typically cheaper than other stone options, and maintenance is simple:

  • No need to dry and cure before being used
  • Rake grass clippings and leaves, which spreads the rocks evenly
  • Fill  patches immediately

How to prepare your  driveway

Filling the area is only part of the work required for a gravel or crushed stone driveway. First, measure the parameters of the area you want to be covered, especially if it’s long with a few curves or has a slope.This will save you time and headaches later. Additionally, you will need to:

  • Remove topsoil
  • Drain any subsoil water
  • Use geotextile to keep subsoil dry when it rains (optional)

Gravel or crushed stone is simple to install, but since crushed stone is heavier it’s best to use it on top of the geotextile. If you don’t, high wind gusts will carry it away. Adding a crown, which is a slight dip in the center, directs water flow off the sides of the driveway during rainy seasons.

Contractors, landscapers, and homeowners can access our tonnage rates on stones and gravel to save money on large projects at McCarty Mulch and Stone. All of our rock and stone is versatile for a variety of projects. We have affordable stone solutions for you. Call us today!

wooden crate of fresh garden vegetables

Mulch or Compost for your Vegetable Garden?

If you’re an avid gardener, then you know nutrient deficiency in soil limits plant growth and crop yield. Using mulch or compost improves crop growth, but is using one better than the other? McCarty Mulch and Stone can help you decide which organic materials harvest the most crops for your gardening needs.

Mulch or Compost for my Vegetables?

Garden compost: composed of fine materials and controls soil temperatures.

Adding nutrients to soil is a must, and compost is a super food for plants. Although worms and other creatures burrow through the soil to mix it, nutrients in compost release slowly as it decomposes into organic matter.

Where can you get compost? Gather old newspaper shreddings and grass clippings to make homemade compost, or save time and visit your local landscape retailer for rich organic garden compost. For example, horse and cow manure mixed with straw and sawdust aged over months when blended correctly can add organic matter to the most clay-packed soils. The mixture enhances growth to produce beautiful flowers and robust vegetation.

Garden mulch: a smokescreen for your soil.

Layers of mulch retain moisture, protect crops from weeds and gives your home curb appeal.  Mulch can contain a bark, recycled wood, pine needles or stone depending on your preferences and the condition of your yard’s soil.

Mulch releases a low percentage of nutrients; its main purpose is to suppress weed growth and retain water in the soil. Put a fresh layer of mulch on your soil, but avoid covering plant stems and branches. If you do, then bugs and diseases will use the covered area as a habitat. Therefore, leave a few inches of space around the plants. Without mulch, weeds can spiral out of control making it difficult for you to remove without mangling plant stems.

How to decide

It may come down to preference. Compost is natural and provides more nutrients than mulch but generally is not as aesthetically pleasing. And if you want aesthetics, mulch is multichromatic and creates an attractive look. Both retain water, prevent disease and control temperatures in the soil as well as:

  • Reduce foliage and fruit disease
  • Control pests
  • Reduce Weeds
  • Retain Moisture
  • Preserve environmental quality for decades

Whatever your preference, we’ll help you decide on the best mulch or compost materials that meet your gardening needs. You deserve the best quality and we guarantee you’ll be satisfied when you leave. Give us a call today!

planting in mulch

Natural Remedies for Fungal Diseases Your Plants can’t Fight Alone

Most public places offer free hand sanitizer so germs don’t spread. Plants don’t have that luxury. Your plants share lawn beds with other living organisms and without proper care, contamination can occur. Lawn sanitation and treatments, however, preserve your garden’s health. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s making your plants sick?

Microorganisms living in the soil or atop plant leaves are hard to see. How do you know what to look for?  White powdery substances, tiny holes and even brown spots in your lawn are signs your plant needs sanitation. Here’s a list of organisms that make your plants sick:

  1. Aphids: are too small for the human eye to see. Look for yellow leaves or black stems and feel for a sticky substance on leaves and stems, which is a liquid left behind by the insects.
  2. Powdery mildew: is a white fungal residue that looks like baking soda on plant leaves. Mildew damage can dry out leaves and turn them yellow. Hot, humid climates support fungus growth.
  3. Grubs (worms): live under the soil. These little critters chow on grass roots and plants causing sections of your lawn to die.
  4. Mosquitoes: feed on organic debris, decaying leaves, and microorganisms. If plants are sick, mosquitoes appear to clear the waste, however, they carry various diseases.

Plant fungal vaccines

You can purchase pesticides at your local garden retailer, but if you’re not in favor of using chemical-based solutions, try these home remedies for plant recovery. It’s possible that you already have products in your home that naturally prevent fungus from growing. Here are a few home remedies to try:  

  • Dissolve aphids by spraying plants with dish soap and water, which causes the aphid membrane to decay.
  • Remove powdery mildew by mixing milk or baking soda with water and spraying plants to dissolve the powder.
  • June is grub season; liquid Nematodes mixed with water sprayed in grub area is one of many natural solutions that infect and kill grubs.
  • Avoid swarms of mosquitoes by eliminating standing water or purchase a bird a feeder, as some local birds eat up to 200 mosquitoes a day.

Because plant disease is contagious, checking plant health before purchase is important. If you don’t, a sick plant can infect your soil and spread fungal diseases throughout your lawn.

Keeping plants healthy means you have to sanitize their living space. Trimming, pruning and regularly cleaning debris will make plants less vulnerable to fungal diseases. Using healthy topsoil as a life source for your plants or mulch to stop soil erosion improves the quality of your plants. At McCarty Mulch and Stone, we understand that your plant’s quality of life is important to you. Call us today for landscape advice.

wagon filled with mulch

7 Things You Ought to Know About Mulch

Selecting mulch in today’s market may seem a lot like shopping for ceramic tiles: you have seemingly endless color options, including brilliant blue, dark red, ruby red, black, amber, gold, green or basic brown. With mulch increasingly being praised for its decorative properties, it’s easy to lose sight of the benefits that it can bring to your landscaping and gardening projects.

Before rushing off to grab your designer choice in mulch, make sure you understand what you should be doing to get maximum benefits. Here are 7 things to consider:

  1. Understand the benefits of mulch. Keep in mind that the whole business of mulching is to help your soil retain moisture, prevent the growth of weeds and minimize erosion. That’s why experts recommend that you start laying mulching before the temperatures get too hot.
  2. Choose mulch from trusted suppliers. It’s important that your mulch provider follows best storage practices. According to Purdue Extension specialists, if wood mulch has been improperly stockpiled, it can sour. This can cause problems with your plants, causing damage or total loss. Signs that you’re using sour mulch: plants look like they have been burned by fertilizer or pesticides shortly after the mulch is applied. Take a tour of your supplier’s property if you have concerns.
  3. Remove old mulch. Before laying new mulch, remove some of the mulch in the bed, especially if it has been built up for several seasons.
  4. Choose colored mulch as an accent. When selecting mulch, especially the more brightly colored types, keep your overall landscaping, home, and plants in mind. A dark neutral mulch can provide a nice contrast to colorful plants, while rich brown pine bark can complement a more subdued landscape.
  5. Use the right amount. About 3 inches of mulch is adequate for most applications. With delicate plants, try 2 inches of mulch so you don’t smother them.  If necessary, apply another thin layer of mulch if you find that weeds are pushing through in your beds.
  6. Mulch around trees and bushes. Don’t stop at mulching around plant beds. Your trees and bushes could also use some attention to ensure that they’re protected and receiving adequate moisture.
  7. Don’t forget winter mulch. When you apply mulch before winter hits, you protect your plants from wide temperature fluctuations in the soil, which can be damaging. Applying mulch in the winter is a process that is designed to keep plants dormant — not warm.  Timing is essential. Don’t apply it too early, or plants may become smothered and diseased. Instead, apply it after the temperatures remain consistently below freezing and plants are completely dormant. Winter mulch isn’t about decoration, it’s about function: choose straw, grass clippings and pine needles to start.

Unsure where to go for the best mulch in greater Indianapolis? Contact us for diverse options at a great price.

two people shopping for plants

Residential Rubber Mulch: Reduce Landscaping Cost and Maintenance

Rubber mulch is a preferred buffer for playgrounds, sports fields, military training fields and equestrian areas because it is a soft, springy surface–kinder for children, athletes and any situation that invites falls and injuries. The material also holds great benefit for residential lawns, giving homeowners a means to reduce the cost and amount of yard work. How and why should you consider rubber mulch in your yard? Read on.  

The material is straightforward: rubber mulch is made from recycled tires that might otherwise sit in a landfill. In your yard, however, the mulch is productive:

Resists insects, including termites. The last thing a homeowner needs are pests. Wood mulch invites termites and carpenter ants, which can be enormously destructive to the structure of a home. Rubber mulch, however, is a deterrent and can form a protective buffer, making it an ideal to use in flower beds surrounding the house.

Reduces maintenance and stays color true. Wood mulch generally needs to be replaced annually, because the color fades and organic material breaks down. Rubber mulch, however, can last for 10 years or more, retaining its vibrant color and functionality.

Stays put and lets rain drain. After a rainstorm or windy weather, you may have to clean up wood mulch and restore it to various beds. But rubber mulch stays put. It’s heavier, and it doesn’t absorb water the way wood mulch does. Water and fertilizer are able to drain into plants and soil more efficiently, which allows you to get greater results from lesser effort.   

Prevents new weeds. If weeds are already rooted, rubber mulch won’t necessarily stop growth.  You’ll likely have to weed these by hand. But rubber is much more effective at blocking airborne seeds from reaching the soil and germinating. This can be a boon for preventing stubborn weeds from taking root and developing.

Odor-free. Don’t let tire material fool you: rubber mulch is fairly odorless when it’s been laid down, and for homeowners who are plagued with the smell of decomposing wood, the rubber alternative is a godsend.

Gives plants breathing room. Wood mulch can clump and suffocate plants, but rubber doesn’t have the same qualities. It spreads and stays evenly distributed, so your plants have more space and opportunity to breathe.

Want to give rubber mulch a try? We’d be happy to talk you through questions and color options, including our most popular: red, brown and uncolored. Contact us today!

Soil and Gardening Tools

Preparing Landscape Beds for Gardening

When you invest in a new home or business, one is generally focused on structural or decorative projects, not the condition of the soil and how it affects future landscaping projects.  Landscaping helps with curb appeal, but without healthy topsoil; flowers, grass, trees and shrubs simply won’t mature properly. We believe that topsoil is an essential part of landscaping and guarantee it will increase longevity for your lawn and landscape. Here are guidelines to prep landscape beds for spring gardening.

Do you know if your soil is healthy?

Topsoil contains vital organic nutrients homeowners and landscapers know are necessary for plant growth. You can determine the condition of your soil with a soil test, which will confirm if your soil has all the organic matter and nutrients your plants need to grow.  

Soil analysis will measure the quantity of nutrients in your lawn—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are natural elements mixed in soil and a life source for plants. Checking the balance of these elements is important, here’s why:  

Phosphorus: promotes plant maturity and seed development

Nitrogen: feed tree roots to aid leaf growth and produce green leaves

Potassium: nurtures plant strength and boost plant color

Potenz Hydrogen: pH balance measures the acidity of a solution in your garden’s soil

Avoid neglecting your soil’s natural resources on your property, especially malnourished areas that require more attention. Testing your soil will reveal its strengths and weakness. Soil testing kits are found at any local gardening retailer.

Types of soil

The types of topsoil your lawn needs depends on the requirements of your landscaping project. Topsoil sustains life in flowers, grass, shrubs and trees with roots reaching deep into the soil. Testing your soil or conducting a soil analysis will affirm the condition of your lawn:

Pulverized Topsoil:  Put on a fresh layer of topsoil to rid the soil of clods and rocks. Pulverized to a fine consistency, pulverized field soil is perfect for your general landscaping needs.

Organic Black Peat Based Topsoil:  Is substantially rich in organic matter with a neutral pH balance. Loaded with humus, hydrated with a high degree of water and nutrient retention capabilities.

Compost: A blend of animal waste, leaves and mulch fines. Aged like a fine wine; compost gets better with age. Turning compost at regular intervals will aid the decomposition process. Not recommended for direct seeding.

Planters Mix:  A combination of pulverized topsoil and compost with a small amount of sand and bark fines for permeability. Planters mix will give your soil the little extra boost that it needs.

Visit a reputable topsoil retailer near central Indiana for topsoil that is rich with all the resources your garden needs to grow. McCarty Mulch and Stone is devoted to providing topsoil all year so you can have a healthy, beautiful outdoor space. Contact us and ask about our delivery options or visit us in Greenwood Indiana and we’ll help you reach your maximum green thumb potential with our premium soil products.

Natural Stone Landscaping Design

Natural Stone Design Trends For Your Landscaping

You’ve purchased your mulch and other landscaping accessories for the new season but something is missing. Maybe you need a little something extra to enhance the beauty of your outdoor living space. Try something new. Start your creative venture with natural stone designs.

What is natural stone?

  • It does not have synthetic material and chemicals
  • It blends effortlessly with outdoor environment and
  • It’s versatile

Natural stone products include granite, limestone, sandstone, marble and slate. These stones are frequently used in environmental designs. Using natural stone means you get to choose a selection of design projects. You can cover unwanted dirt paths using granite flagstone. These are flat stones available in multiple colors like blue, gray, pink, black, pale green and burgundy. Give your yard some privacy by adding natural stone walls, too. Natural stone will hold up better over time, unlike artificial stones that fade. (Artificial stones are painted concrete that  is exposed more over time during seasonal changes.)

How to pick a natural stone

Be sure that the stone you select is suitable for your yard. This requires understanding the parameters of your home so you can calculate how much stone you will need. Create a budget for your project. Connect with your local suppliers. Natural stone products are an investment, so let your distributor select a stone that meets your budget and quality standards.  

Choosing color and pattern helps set the tone for your landscaping project. Consider all options available–view and sample stones at your local distributor. Before making a final decision, you want a realistic visual of how the stone will look in your yard, so take pictures when you visit your retailer and give yourself time to think through your options.

Stone project ideas

You want your landscape design to “pop!” Natural stones have reliable versatility. You can design steps, waterfalls, fire pits, and benches based on the most popular designs using natural stone, because the multichromatic color range, textures, and patterns are aesthetically pleasing.

If you decide to do a wall cladding design that allows water to pour down stone walls creating a waterfall, do some research on the right stone that is required. Absorption data determines how the stone will age and wear over time as it gets wet, so be aware of that prior to executing the project. Although stone will last a long time, knowing what you’re up against is advantageous.

For example, a stone concrete floor is a beautiful paving that will have a large impact on the overall look of your project. Stone absorption is challenged when weather elements like snow, water and ice freeze on the surface and rest there. Be sure to research stone specifications for snowy seasons and natural stone flooring.

But before you dig, plan your project and dig with care.  If you’re a resident in Greenwood, IN the city will help you with safety guidelines and laws for digging. You need to know specific details about where you plan to dig and mark those designated areas with white paint or flags.  Utility flags create safe zones for digging with hand tools.

When you’re ready to build a retaining wall, flagstone path or a stone fire pit? We can help. McCarty Mulch & Stone has served the city of Greenwood and the greater Indianapolis area for more than 20 years. Let us help you plan your landscaping projects, receive quality materials and experience 100% satisfaction guaranteed. Give us a call today!

Backyard Pond

3 Easier Alternatives to a Backyard Pond

Your yard needs water. Of course, if you have grass and plants, requires a nice sprinkling on a regular basis. But you also could enhance your home by using water as an aesthetic. According to HGTV, ponds, fountains and other water features are still popular among homeowners.

While a pond can be a lovely addition to your backyard, it can also be a lot of work. Aside from the labor involved to create the pond, it requires ongoing maintenance. Problems that may develop include algae accumulation, a leaking pond liner, and predators or parasites killing fish.

If you want a water feature without the hassle of installing and maintaining a pond, the following ideas may be good alternative.

Make a bubbler fountain

Bubbler fountains that gently move water through a small pump are easy to make. You can make a bubbler fountain out of boulders, pots or anything else that can hold water. They use only the water within the fountain, so they don’t require in-ground reservoirs.

McCarty Mulch sells inexpensive bubbler pumps, which you can use to turn a large stone pot or bowl into your fountain. We can also custom drill a boulder for you here at our location or you can choose from many of our pre-drilled boulders. Another option would be to drill a hole in the bottom of a container or pot for the electrical cord, but you don’t have to hard-wire electricity to the fountain – pumps plug into an outdoor outlet, and you can hide the cord under mulch, or in vegetation. Once the pump is in the pot, place it on a bed of decorative rock and add water to the pot, and your fountain is finished.

Create a water wall

Making a water wall is a bigger project that requires the use of a table saw and compound miter saw. If you have the tools and the time, a water wall is a nice way to add some visual interest to a patio.

A basic water wall is made of a trough that, with a surrounding frame, supports panels that water runs down. Some people use tempered glass to make water walls, but you could also use galvanized steel or any material that can tolerate water.

Put a pond in a barrel

Using a pot or barrel, you can make a smaller, freestanding version of a pond and still enjoy the perks of having fish and water plants. To ward off mosquitoes, you would need a pond pump, which adds a lot of expense to an otherwise inexpensive project. If you don’t want to buy a pump, put mosquito dunks in the water.

Add some large rocks or decorative rocks to the pot to serve as underwater plant stands (the rocks elevate plants, so they are at least partly above the water line). Add goldfish a few days after you add water, because tap water contains additives that may harm fish, but those additives evaporate after time.

Pile of Leftover Mulch

5 Ways to Use Your Leftover Mulch

Finished spreading this season’s mulch but still have some to spare? Look at that leftover pile as a golden opportunity! Mulch is good for more than just flower beds, so before you add another layer around your roses, consider using the extra in a new kind of way.

  1. Upgrade Your Mailbox Landscaping

A small wheelbarrow-load of mulch is probably all you’ll need to give your mailbox post a fresh upgrade. While you’re at it, why not transplant a couple hostas or flowers? They’ll add more color at the end of your driveway, and the fresh mulch is sure to help them flourish!

  1. Donate to the Neighbors

If you’re one of those people who finished mulching early on your block, you can always deliver a small load to one of your neighbors. Everyone likes a free gift, and they’ll definitely appreciate the gesture—even if you’re too tired yourself to help them spread it.

  1. Make a Mini Mulch Path

Just because your front yard is looking sharp, it doesn’t mean you can forget about the back! Once all of your trees and landscaping have their mulch, try adding wood mulch around your raised-bed gardens. A layer of three or four inches will help define the space between the garden boxes and create a nice pathway for you to reach your veggies.

  1. Spread it as “Killing Mulch”

For those especially hardy, out-of-control plants, mulch might be your secret weapon. Whether you’ve been battling an army of ivy for years, or a patch of running bamboo, extra mulch can help finish the job. Simply cut back as much of plant as you can, and then bury it deep under a mulch avalanche. A foot or two of “killing mulch” works to smother even the toughest of weeds.

  1. Keep the Extra for Next Year

You can always store your leftovers for later in the season if you’re ready to call it quits for now. All you need are a couple tarps and an inconspicuous place to hide the pile. Spread your mulch evenly over the first tarp so the airflow can prevent any mold growth. Then just anchor the other tarp on top to act as a roof. You’ll be able to dig back in when the time is right. And if you happen to see any thin, white strands in the mulch later on, fear not—it’s probably mycelia, a kind of fungal spore that’s actually good for plants.

With these tricks up your sleeves, you’ll be able to make the most of your mulch pile every year. There are plenty of ways to utilize your extra mulch, so get creative and have fun with your landscaping. Even small projects can make a big impact!