To Rake or Not to Rake?

Guest Post by Brandon Sheppard, Weed Man Franchise Owner 

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Keeping your lawn free of leaves has been a fall ritual for as long as any of us can remember.

…But Why Do We Do It?

Excess accumulation of leaves can quickly smother otherwise healthy grass. Lawns are essential elements in our modern environment. Healthy lawns filter a wide range of both airborne and waterborne pollutants. Another critical role lawns play is stabilizing and protecting valuable topsoil from washing away and polluting our waterways. Allowing leaves to collect and suffocate areas of your yard leaves that soil unprotected and vulnerable to wash away during the abundant precipitation that occurs from fall through early spring.

That’s why raking and disposing of leaves in a responsible manner is the environmentally sustainable thing to do.

Whatever approach you choose to help you manage the leaves please consider using environmentally friendly approaches for their disposal. The nutrients and organic matter contained in the leaves is far better in your soil than in the landfill. Composting leaves or piling them in areas off of the lawn will allow the nutrients to return to the soil and provide habitat for a wide range of insects and small animals.

Try mulching small accumulations of leaves with your mower. So long as the pieces fall between the blades of grass, this is an effective strategy. Additionally, mulched leaves will decompose and help to improve the overall quality of your soil.

A Tough Season for Turf!

The fall season provides a great opportunity to give your lawn some TLC after the stresses of summer.

crabgrass

This past year was one of the most difficult I can remember for keeping lawns looking good throughout the growing season. Weather certainly played a huge role in this, as – depending on where you live – you either had to deal with an overabundance of rainfall or a major lack of precipitation. Due to a number of reasons I will address below, many lawns are looking a little beat up as we enter into fall. The good news is you still have some time to get that lawn back into shape before the cold weather sets in.

One the most difficult issues we dealt with this year was crabgrass. Unfortunately, even lawns that were treated with pre-emergents were not safe from crabgrass invasion. Weather conditions (i.e. the heavy rain or dry weather mentioned previously) had a major impact on the efficacy of pre-emergent applications this spring, as it helped break down the protective barrier at a faster rate, allowing crabgrass to germinate. As a result, crabgrass was seen almost everywhere and created quite a bit of work and cost to most lawn care operators who were forced to do post-emergent treatments to try and get rid of the crabgrass.

We also saw a large number of insect infestations across the country this past growing season. From chinch bugs and bluegrass weevil in the north, to armyworms in the Tennessee Valley and tropical sod webworms in the far south, almost every region across the U.S. was faced with some form of unwanted pest.

Last but not least, we received many calls in our Weed Man offices related to turf disease that led to thinning turf, unsightly patterns in the lawn and discoloration.

Help Your Lawn Recover

If you’d like to get your lawn back into shape and help it recover, fall is the perfect time to give your lawn a good feeding and help tackle any ugly bare patches. During the cooler weather of autumn, turf grasses tend to use the nutrients from fertilizer to grow roots and fill in bare spots, which is part of the reason fall provides such an optimal window for fertilizing. In the spring, on the other hand, fertilizer nutrients are mainly used for top growth in the leaves and shoots.

Fall fertilizer contains two key ingredients: nitrogen and potassium. Both will help stimulate and repair your grass. Nitrogen aids in plant growth and helps keep grass looking green and healthy. Look for fertilizer that has a high amount of available nitrogen in a slow release form (like Weed Man’s exclusive granular fertilizer!), so that it feeds the lawn slowly, as the plant needs it.

Potassium (potash) is equally important in the fall, as it plays a vital role in healthy turfgrass development and is second only to nitrogen in the amount required for lawn growth. Potassium enacts a protective mechanism in grass plants, hardening off cell walls to fight back against damaging factors. Turfgrasses that are deficient in potassium are more prone to injury during the winter months.If possible, try to mulch your grass back into the lawn when cutting, as this will help put nutrients like potassium back into the soil as the clippings break down naturally.

Keep in mind that fall is also a great time to seed the lawn, as ground temperatures are still warm and benefit from plenty of dew at night (this will help keep the seed moist). You should have an easier time getting the seed to germinate at this time of year, which will reinvigorate any bare spots that need repair. For larger areas, aeration combined with an overseeding will really help that neglected lawn come in green and hardy next spring.

If you have any questions about your lawn, Weed Man would be happy to help. Find your local office using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

Drought Damage? Time to Start Thinking About Fall Seeding!

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Soil with seed and new grass.

It’s hard to believe we’re already at the end of the August. Every year at this time I always ask myself “where has the summer gone?” Typically by now we start to see some cooler temperatures, especially at night, which does help the turf out immensely. That being said, nothing can help a lawn like cooler days and rain, which we are still waiting for in some areas.

My theme for the past number of posts has been focused on the hot, dry weather the north and northeast have been experiencing this season, especially compared to other areas like the midwest where they have had more than normal amounts of rain.

For those that have had to deal with drought and possible watering restrictions, your lawns may not be looking very good at the moment. Not to worry, now is the time to start thinking about how to get your lawn back into tiptop shape. With September’s cooler temperatures and more frequent rainfall, there is a great opportunity to make huge improvements in your lawn before winter hits. Most people don’t realize that the period between September and early November is the best time to seed your lawn – even better than in the springtime! This is because you often get too much fluctuation in temperature (both air and soil) during the spring season, not to mention excessive rainfall. This makes it difficult to get optimal seeding results.

Regardless of the time of year that you seed, there is one constant requirement: water. Turfgrass seed requires moisture for up to a month, depending on the type of grass seed used. If the seed dries out at any time after it has become moist, it will die. The majority of homeowners make the mistake of putting seed out and not watering it…and then wondering why they didn’t see any results.

There are many benefits of seeding in the fall. Firstly, it will help thicken up any areas that may have been thinned out during the summer months (like during the drought I mentioned previously). Another big benefit of overseeding is that it introduces better cultivars to a lawn that may have been planted or sodded 20+ years ago. Every year, seed growers improve their grass hybrid species to have better drought and disease tolerance than the previous years. Overseeding is a great way to help introduce these more tolerant species of grass to your lawn. The result is fewer turf diseases and a smaller water requirement down the road.

While there are many different ways of seeding your lawn, Weed Man will typically do it in combination with aeration or by using a split seeder. If the lawn has had major drought damage, split seeding is the best way to renovate the lawn. Because seed requires some soil contact, combining overseeding with aeration or split seeding is a great way to make that happen. I’ve seen homeowners just throw seed out over their lawns without thinking about soil. This is a waste of money, as it is unlikely that much seed will germinate without soil contact.

To learn more about fall seeding, please visit our website at www.weedmansua.com. And don’t forget that the next few months is the time to do it before it’s too late and we see those colder days of late fall.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

Summer Drought & Your Lawn

The summer drought conditions this year have been pretty severe in a number of areas and we’re only into the early part of July. With it being so dry in May and June, it can’t help but have an effect on your lawn now and into the fall.

In March I wrote a blog that started with “If the weather predictions come to fruition this year due to the strong El Niño, it looks like we will have a drier and warmer-than-normal summer in 2016.” So far, that is exactly what is happening in a lot of areas in the U.S. The past few years (at least in the eastern parts of the U.S.) we have been pretty lucky in that we had fairly regular rainfall and cooler summers. So it may come as no surprise that we were due for some drier, warmer weather with some severe drought. So what can you do to help the lawn through this hotter and drier weather?

As I mentioned in my March blog, one of the things you could have done to prepare for the hot and dry summer was getting your lawn as healthy as possible in the spring prior to having to experience the summer heat and drought. “You definitely don’t want to skip any fertilizer applications this spring or early this summer as the lawn will need it. Fertilizer is going to be very important in setting up the lawn to withstand the stress of a hot summer by giving it the key nutrients it needs to help it stay healthy when its under stress.”

That being said if you are watering your lawn through the summer and keeping it green, the lawn will still need to be fertilized as it will utilize those nutrients to maintain its healthy state. If you decide not to water it and therefore let it turn brown, the amount of nutrients it requires will be a lot less and fertilizing it may be unnecessary. However, if you use a slow-release fertilizer, not to worry, those nutrients should stay there for the plant to utilize when you do get rain, which will encourage the grass to grow again.

Watering will have a big impact on a lawn’s appearance and proper watering is a must if you are going to keep the turf healthy until more regular rainfall occurs. Almost all grasses can withstand a certain amount of drought. For example, bluegrass can withstand drought for up to 6 weeks before injury. As you see in the picture below, this lawn had not been watered for quite a while and the lawn did not recover. The end result? Most of it had to be re-sodded that fall.

Remember that there are a lot of ways not to water your lawn and it isummer-drought-stresss the most misunderstood practice for homeowners. The biggest mistake occurs when homeowners irrigate their lawn every day for 20 minutes (simply because that is the way most irrigation systems are set up), without realizing that this type of light watering can lead to shallow rooting and disease. Shallow rooting creates a weaker plant that is prone to environmental stresses, which can result in an increase in lawn diseases. Also, not allowing the lawn to dry out for a period of time can also increase the chance of disease. This ultimately leads to discoloration of the lawn and poor visual quality. Watering at night is often the biggest reason for the presence of disease on the lawn.

When it comes to watering your lawn and helping it look its best, water only when the lawn needs it and be sure to water deeply. Watering deeply in the morning when the lawn requires it will give your turf the opportunity to dry out and prevent lawn diseases in the process.

Mowing can also influence the health of the turf, so when it’s hot and dry out, it’s a great idea to mow your lawn as high as you can. The longer the turf is maintained, mowing-heightthe healthier it will be, as it will have a much deeper rooting system. This deeper root system will better utilize underground water supply and find its own water and remain healthier overall.

Click HERE to view the NOAA National Precipitation Map for June by %, to see how your area is doing for Rainfall.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

It’s Grub Season!

Do you suspect grubs on your turf? White grubs eat away at grass roots and can devastate an entire lawn…fast! If you’ve been noticing beetles on your property or have a weak, discolored lawn that can be rolled back like a carpet due to its poor health and weakened roots, you could have a serious grub infestation.

At Weed Man, we recommend a preventative approach when it comes to grubs. Although they may not always be visible, seeming like an insignificant problem, you’re wrong. Grub larvae will cause detrimental damage to your turf, if left untreated.

Grubs live underground. They feed on your turf’s roots, which ultimately makes your lawn spongy and yellow in color. Grubs are seen as a tasty treat to wildlife, so if you have noticed animals digging in your lawn, it could also be a sure fire sign you have an issue on your hands.

If you do have a grub problem, they will have done significant damage to the roots of your lawn by next month. Prevention is the way to go, especially in regions of the country – such as the Midwest or the Northeast – where grubs tend to be a regular problem for about 30 to 60 percent of lawns.

Preventatively treating potentially devastating white grub infestations can help protect your investment and your property. Weed Man offers a highly effective preventative product that lasts 60-75 days in the soil.

To learn more about Weed Man’s grub preventative or to schedule a complimentary lawn analysis, call your local Weed Man today. Don’t forget to visit us online at www.weedmanusa.com and like us on Facebook for regular lawn care tips and advice.

Annual Bluegrass can be a major eye sore on your lawn.

“What is that awful looking wheat grass on my lawn?” is a question I get a lot when dealing with customers who have concerns over Annual Bluegrass.

On most home lawns there is a very common occurrence that takes place in the later part of the spring and earlier part of the summer, which is the Annual Bluegrass going to seed. This yearly occurrence can create some unsightly looking lawns not just because of all of the seed heads that shoot up but also because after the plant seeds set, the grass will turn yellow, discoloring the turf.

Annual BluegrassIn a perfect world, Kentucky Bluegrass would make up the majority of the grass on a lawn,
as it has a deep blue color and is relatively drought-tolerant. Annual Bluegrass on the other hand, is really a weedy grass that is a winter annual or weak perennial and often dies during summer heat and drought, resulting in a lack-luster lawn. Almost every lawn will have some Annual Bluegrass in it, some may be taken over by it, and others will show signs of it but just in scattered areas or in unsightly patches.

The big question I get from homeowners after identifying the Annual Bluegrass and Annual Bluegrass - Closeupdetermining we can’t control it with our broadleaf weed control, is “how did I get this and how can I get rid of it?” Believe it or not, the lawns that have the biggest problem with Annual Bluegrass are typically belong to homeowners that are over-managing their yards.

One of the biggest contributors to Annual Bluegrass in the home lawn is mowing height. A lot of homeowners will want that golf course look to their lawn and they will end up cutting it way too short. Annual Bluegrass is very adaptive and can survive very low mowing heights. This is a huge issue for golf course superintendents, because it can even survive in low-mowed golf greens, creating an uneven putting surface (especially when it goes to seed).

In the home lawn however, when you cut the grass at a height of 2 inches or less, you will discourage the Kentucky Bluegrass that was sodded or seeded when the house was built. I always recommend cutting at a height of 3.5 inches, especially in the summer months, even considering it can tolerate a lower mowing height of 2.5 inches. However keeping it cut higher will keep it healthier, with deeper roots and thus discourage the Annual Bluegrass from germinating, as well as out-competing it.

Another possible factor of the growth of Annual Bluegrass is overwatering. I see a lot of homeowners that have irrigation systems programmed to go on every day for 20 minutes. Again, watering is important for your Kentucky Bluegrass, but it prefers deep watering around 1 inch to 1.5 inches per week. This may mean once or twice a week depending on the time of year and how much rainfall has occurred. Remember, early morning watering is best to discourage any disease as it allows the lawn to dry during the day.

The reality is, almost every lawn will have some Annual Bluegrass but what you do culturally will have a real effect on how much you’ll have to deal with. If you’re at that point where your lawn has the problem, then the best thing you can do is to bag your grass clippings. This will help prevent the seeds from going back into the soil. Although this may only have a small impact, as there are likely thousands of Annual Bluegrass seeds sitting dormant waiting for the right opportunity to germinate. Lastly, once the seeds are set, the turf will look a bit yellow. Saying this, keeping the turf as healthy as possible will help minimize the yellowing that will occur for a few weeks afterwards.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

Early-Blooming Dandelions

Something that I expected, and we are already experiencing, is Dandelions blooming extremely early this season. This can be explained pretty easily, but what can be done about them is a bit more complex.

To fully understand why we are witnessing so many dandelions blooming so early this spring, it’s as simple as looking back at last fall’s weather conditions. In many places, last fall we experienced fairly warm weather compared to the last few we’ve had. On Christmas day, I was actually able to get pictures of some dandelions blooming, which was the first dandelionstime I’d ever seen this. I jokingly mentioned to my wife that we might actually receive some calls from customers wanting us to treat their lawns. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t complaining about the nice weather (it did extend the golf season), but I knew seeing all of those weeds so late in the year would spell some headaches this spring.

Due to the warm fall weather last year, those pesky dandelions were able to germinate late in October and early November and grew pretty big, even blooming in late December as I mentioned above. Typically in the fall, dandelions will germinate and start growing prior to the winter season and will then enter a state of dormancy once the temperatures drop. Typically they are small in the spring and some will germinate once the soil warms up. They are usually the first weed that you notice on the lawn due to their yellow flower.

A lot of people, once they see dandelions flowering, want to get out there and treat them immediately. However, treating them when the nights are still cool and the soil temperatures are as well can mean slower results. I have seen early applications take more than a month for the weeds to die. Also, treating dandelions too early on can lead to having to treat the lawn a number of times rather than just once. Keep in mind, herbicides used to control broadleaved weeds do not prevent them from germinating, they only get rid of the weeds that are up and growing. So if you’re too early, you will miss a lot of those late-germinating plants such as plantain or knotweed (to name just a few), therefore resulting in having to re-treat your turf each time a new set of weeds germinates throughout the season. Those who wait to treat their lawn will experience better results, with less amount of time and product required, saving you some cost.

What if the dandelion flowers and turns to seed? Not to worry! It will anyways once the herbicide is applied; and regardless, if it does or doesn’t, there are thousands of seeds lying dormant in the soil already, so adding more really won’t make much of a difference. The best defense against weeds is a healthy, thick lawn that will help prevent those seeds from germinating. A lush and nutrient-filled turf will also keep them from getting the sunlight they require in order to germinate.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

National Lawn Care Month

 

lawn care month

The green industry has recognized April as National Lawn Care Month. This is a great way to get people excited about working in the great outdoors, specifically on their lawns and landscapes. Here are some interesting facts about your lawn you maybe had no idea about!

Did you know that there are over 9000 different species of grass? Grass specifically, is a term for the plant family Gramineae. Some grasses are even edible. For example, Wheatgrass, which contains most of the vitamins and minerals needed for human health. Lawns have been around for centuries and they most likely evolved from rich European Aristocrats who would clear the trees around their castles in order to allow for better sight lines in case of attacks. Once the trees were cleared the grass would naturally grow in and they would use sheep and other grazing animals that would help keep the grass in a low cut state. The word lawn actually comes from the Middle English word launde, which meant a “glade or opening in the woods”.

Only a few grass species are acceptable for the home lawn and depending on where you live this will typically dictate the type of turfgrass you will have on your lawn. The reason turfgrass makes such a great lawn is the fact that grass leaves begin to grow from the stem apex, located at the base of the plant, which is called the crown. This is the main reason why grasses can be mowed without sustaining serious injury as growth continues from the base of the leaf after a portion of the leaf blade is mowed off.

Speaking of mowing, the first lawn mower was invented by Edwin Budding in 1830 in England. Budding’s mower was designed primarily to cut the grass on sports grounds and extensive gardens, as a superior alternative to the scythe, and was granted a British patent on August 31, 1830.

Did you know? Grass is the earth’s living skin. It essentially protects what’s underneath it by acting as a filter. Pretty neat! A single grass plant can have more than 300 miles worth of roots and a typical lawn has about six grass plants per square inch, which means the average lawn could house millions of grass plants!

Grass is incredible for so many other reasons though! It converts Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen. In fact, an acre area of grass is better at producing oxygen than an acre of rainforest. Grass also reduces temperatures, erosion, acts as a carbon sink and traps dust and dirt (just to mention a few of the great things it does).

This April, let’s get out there and get working on our lawns and landscapes, plant a garden or rake your lawn. After all, there is plenty of research that proves that homeowners find stress relief and healing when interacting with nature. Not to mention, staying active – period – will help you live longer.

At Weed Man, we celebrate #LawnCareMonth. Join us!

For more information about National Lawn Care Month, visit the National Association of Landscape Professionals!

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

 

Looking Ahead to This Year’s Lawn Care

As we all know, the weather plays a huge part in how your lawn will look from year to year. The past couple of years we have been pretty lucky, except those on the west coast, with fairly regular rainfall and cooler summers.

If the weather predictions come to fruition this year, due to the strong El Niño, it looks like we will have a drier and warmer-than-normal summer in 2016. Here are some simple tips that will help you keep the best looking lawn on your street this year, despite the drier weather conditions.

One of the first things that you can do to help with the look of your lawn is to help it thrive, returning it to a healthy state. You definitely don’t want to skip any fertilizer applications this spring or early this summer for that matter, as your turf will need it. Fertilizer is going to be very important in setting up the lawn to withstand the stress of a hot summer by giving it the key nutrients it needs to stay healthy when its experiencing stress.

Weed Man’s exclusive blend fertilizer is a granular 65% slow release fertilizer that helps feed the lawn for periods of 8-10 weeks. It feeds the roots of the turf and allows the plant to slowly absorb of all the beneficial nutrients, over that 8 to 10-week period, therefore maximizing the return on investment.

Watering can also have a big impact on a lawn’s appearance, especially if you are expecting a very hot and dry summer. Proper watering is a must if you are going to keep the turf healthy until more regular rainfall occurs. Almost all grasses can withstand a certain amount of drought. For example, Bluegrass can withstand drought for up to 6 weeks before injury. As you see in the picture below, this lawn had not been watered for quite a while and it didn’t recover well, resulting in most of the lawn having to be re-sodded that fall.

Poor Watering

Watering is one of the most misunderstood practices when it comes to caring for your turf. The biggest mistake homeowners can make is irrigating too much – every day for 20 minutes (which is quite common). This is not suggested, although most irrigation systems are set up that way; however, this type of light watering can lead to shallow rooting and disease development. Shallow rooting creates a weaker plant that is more prone to environmental stresses, which can result in an increase in lawn diseases. Also, it is important to allow your lawn to dry out from time to time. Keeping it constantly saturated with water can increase the chance of disease, ultimately leading to discoloration and poor visual quality.

When it comes to watering your lawn and helping it look its best, water only when the lawn needs it and be sure to water deeply. Watering deeply in the morning, when your lawn requires it most, will give your turf the opportunity to dry out and therefore prevent lawn diseases in the process.

MowingMowing can promote a healthy turf, so when it’s hot and dry out this summer, it’s a great idea to mow your lawn as high as you can. The longer the turf is maintained, the healthier it will be, as it will have a much deeper rooting system. This deeper root system will be able to better utilize underground water supply and find its own water, as well as help is remain healthy and thriving.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

Have You Aerated Your Lawn Yet?

Have you scheduled your annual aeration? If not, now is the perfect time. The cooler air and moist soil of fall allow for optimum results. 

Lawns depend on regular cultivation to help enhance soil conditions, and to build a greater resistance against disease, insects, weeds and drought. Home lawns generally see an increase in foot traffic throughout the summer months, which can place stress on grass plants. By the beginning of the fall season, soil is often hard and compacted, making it uncomfortable to walk on. This isn’t the only downfall – a compacted soil indicates that air, moisture and nutrients don’t have a healthy pathway to the lawn’s root zone.

The Answer? Core Aeration

aeration (2)

Core aeration is the removal of small cores of soil and thatch (the layer of living and decomposing organic debris between the soil surface and green vegetation) from your lawn with specially designed equipment. A series of hollow coring tines are rolled over the lawn, puncturing its surface and systematically removing small plugs of soil and thatch from the lawn. The removal of these plugs allows air, water and nutrients to reach the root system of grass plants much more effectively. In turn, both fertilizer and water use become more efficient. This contributes to a healthier, deeper root system that enables the grass plants to better overcome stress caused by weeds, insects and disease.

aeration

Additional Benefits:

  • “Plugs” of soil left on the lawn following aeration contain organically-rich micro-organisms that will help break down thatch
  • Enhanced root growth
  • Improved fertilizer and water uptake
  • Less compaction
  • Better thatch breakdown
  • Reduced water runoff

Don’t skip your annual aeration. Doing so can lead to slower green-up come springtime and a thinner, sparser lawn during growing season. Contact your local Weed Man for more information.


If you have any questions about your lawn, Weed Man would be happy to help. Find your local office using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris