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Winterize Your Grass Without Harmful Chemicals

10/27/2016 5:00:00 AM

Written by: Erin Vaughan,​

Fall is in full swing, and that means plenty of crisp, beautiful days, amiable weather, and a chance to get outdoors before chillier temperatures arrive. And it's the best time of the year to set yourself up for a luscious carpeting of grass throughout the colder weather and into the spring.​

Unfortunately, winterizing fertilizers and other non-organic products contain dangerous chemicals, like ammonium sulfate, ammonium phosphate, and ammonium nitrate, which can boost the acidity in your lawn to harmful levels. And when over-applied, inorganic fertilizers can burn or damage plants—just when they need your help the most.

There are other options, but you'll need to use them with caution. Organic fertilizers, like manure, can't match the precision of processed fertilizers, so you'll have to be prepared to do a little homework before putting them down. Here's what you need to know.

Understanding Your Grass: Cold-Season Versus Warm-Season

A lot of homeowners new to lawn care make a fatal error in their winterizing. The source of the problem lies in not understanding the kind of grasses they have in their lawn, and how their needs differ.

It's all too easy to go to the nursery or hardware store and just pick out the first bag with a "winterizing" label on it. But if you live in the South, where Bermuda, Saint Augustine, zoysia, and centipede grasses flourish, these products may contain the exact opposite of what you need for your lawn. Specifically, they leave out the nitrogen so necessary to productive grass growth, and boost potassium, which usually isn't required at this part of the growing season.

Test Your Lawn: A Must for All Grasses

Putting down any sort of nutrient without testing your soil first is sort of like playing Russian roulette with your lawn. In fact, if you've been applying nutrient-dense compost all growing season, you may not even need to do much of anything at all.

And soil composition is a finely tuned science—so if you go overboard on one mineral or the other, you can end up burning your grass or harming your lawn. The big three required by lawns are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium—all of which you can get from organic sources like bone meal, chicken manure, or kelp meal. A soil test kit, which can be purchased from a local hardware store, can let you know both the pH of your lawn and what nutrients it may be lacking.

For Cold-Season Grasses: Add Nitrogen to the Soil with Bone Meal

Bring up the merits of either inorganic or organic fertilizers, and you're sure to hit a nerve among growers in the know. Even expert horticulturalists disagree about which is really better for your soil.

However, according to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, the problem seems to lie in a misunderstanding about commercial test results. Fertilizer manufacturers perform trials almost exclusively on warm-season grasses, which means many fertilizers get billed as "winterizing" when they may contain few to little of the nutrients cold-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and fine fescue, need throughout lower temperatures. They have high proportions of phosphorous and potassium, which helps older plants flourish, but doesn't do much to nourish tender young sprouts, which require more nitrogen to do well.

A nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer, such as bone meal, blood meal, or even just plain manure applied to your soil will do your cold-season grasses good. These kinds of slow-release nitrogen fertilizers are especially useful if you have very sandy soil in your area—fast-absorbing inorganic nitrogen can leach through soils and get into drinking water. Always read the instructions when you apply any fertilizer, and make sure not to overdo it. Organic fertilizers may be less processed, but they can still be harmful to your plants in high doses.

For Warm-Season Grasses: Add Compost in the Late Spring

Unless your tests produce results to the contrary, most warm-season grasses do not require extra fertilization to winter over. These species become dormant in the winter, so they do not need to be encouraged to send up new growth at this time of year. A better option is to wait until warmer weather arrives, then spread nutrient-dense organic compost on your grass regularly throughout the spring and summer.

Soil composition can be tricky sometimes, even for advanced ecologists. But the more you study your lawn, educate yourself, and observe the effect your efforts have on your grass, the better prepared you'll be to survive the cooler weather. Bring on the winter!

About the Writer


Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.​​

For more information about Ariens Company, please visit or visit our corporate site at 

A New Look for Ariens: Behind-the-Scenes with the Ariens Industrial Design Team

10/25/2016 5:00:00 AM

​​​​The new visual brand language for the Ariens brand was designed with the intent of creating a premium, upmarket product that would cater to the American homeowner. Creating a brand language that would be recognizable, timeless, and approachable was crucial to the evolution of the Ariens brand.


The scope of the VBL started extremely broad and encapsulated many different looks. In the end, we created a look that stands out aesthetically and really highlights the engineering and componentry that our product is comprised of. The diversification of the Ariens brand from Gravely is something that is being pushed to the forefront in our overarching product portfolio. We wanted to offer a completely different looking Ariens ZTR that could be sold next to a Gravely ZTR with the same performance and underlying frame/features. The differentiation of Gravely and Ariens was key to this re-energizing of the Ariens brand.



The inspiration for Ariens’ new look is two-fold. First, we looked towards what our end-users were purchasing for vehicles. For the new Ariens ZTR line, we wanted to create a product that wouldn’t feel out of place in the home owner’s garage, and one that would be just as visually intriguing as their latest truck purchase. We took inspiration and cues from vehicles that were distinctly American. Ones that were simple, yet had enough visual intrigue to appear modern and relevant. The new surfacing is coined “Rectilinear Tension” and is comprised of strong shapes and silhouette delineation, with full and robust surface transitions. We aimed for continuous transitions where metal parts interacted with plastic parts. Surfacing on the plastic is more rigid and structural where is intersects or encompasses with metal components. This visually unifies the two elements, and creates a more holistic look for the overall vehicle. As the fenders transition to the front we start to incorporate a softer yet defined surface transition for a more refined looking product.

The second cornerstone of the new Ariens VBL is showcasing underlying metal brackets and structural pieces as parts of the overall aesthetic. All of these parts are integral to the machines overall strength and construction. From mounting brackets to reinforced rear wrap, we pushed the boundaries of our in-house metal fabrication techniques for the new Ariens line-up. This growth in creating progressively more complex metal parts will help push the Ariens brand into creating very refined products. Finally, the introduction of multiple textures on our plastic parts considers the heaviest wear points and increases the protection and durability with added texture depth.


Overall, we acted on feedback received from the dealer channel as well as consumers, which called for less plastic, more tire reveal, easier entry into the seat, and a refined product sure to make a splash. We hope you’re as excited about the new Ariens products as we are.

Ariens Introduces the APEX Zero-Turn Mower

10/18/2016 5:00:00 AM

Ariens® introduces the APEX, an all-new zero-turn lawn mower built for the prosumer and large-acreage cutter markets. The APEX is crafted with the durability that the Ariens brand is known for, and brings an all new set of features to the residential market. Packed with premium features like an industry leading frame and deck sizes available in 48, 52 or 60 inches, the APEX is a first-of-its-kind residential zero-turn built to withstand the elements.  ​

The top-tier zero-turn in the Ariens lineup, the APEX incorporates several commercial-grade features like a 10-gauge welded deck design that’s 5-1/2 inches deep with a reinforced leading edge that provides the airflow needed to tackle tough mowing conditions. The APEX is also built on an industry-leading large formed tubular frame rail, which serves as the backbone to support the loads of the machine. ​

The APEX also features Ariens’ new self-adjusting belt tensioning technology, a system that ensures the belt tension is constant, minimizing wear and heat while providing enhanced belt life with minimal adjustments necessary. Maintenance-free aluminum spindles were also added to improve the machine’s ease of serviceability. The new aluminum spindles reduce bearing temperatures for an overall cooler operation. Also improving accessibility, a flip-up foot pan was added, which allows the operator to access maintenance items on the top of the deck in minutes. 

The APEX was built with several considerations that improve the operator comfort, integrating features such as a high-back seat with padded arm rests, which helps support the operator who needs to tackle a large job. The machine’s 17 cutting positions at the operator’s fingertips, and other upgrades like the foot-operated deck lift were added to increase operator efficiency. The APEX is also ROPS capable, offering extra protection to the operator. 

Larger front and back tires add to the machine’s durability and efficiency, while the easily-serviceable Hydro-Gear® ZT-3100 transmission reduces downtime. All models are available with a KOHLER® 7000 Series™ engine, and the 60-inch model is also available with a Kawasaki® FR series engine. 

“The Ariens APEX is a huge accomplishment for the Ariens brand,” said Ariens Company Product Marketing Manager Jeralyn Braun. “What we’ve done is create a machine with features unlike anything on the market today. The APEX is a commercial-grade machine designed for residential consumers, and it includes a lot of the same features found on zero-turns that professionals purchase. This zero-turn is designed for the consumer that has a lot of land to care for, and for the family that doesn’t want to sacrifice quality, durability and innovative design.” 

Models start at a list price of $5,355 USD and are available through authorized Ariens dealers only. The unit comes backed with a three-year limited consumer warranty or a one-year commercial warranty, and a five-year limited warranty on the frame and deck shell. A full slate of accessories is also available for the APEX, including a powered bagger, mulching kit, LED headlight kit and full range of tow-behind accessories. For more information visit 

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