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

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

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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.

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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

5 Fall Lawn Preparation Tips

As we gear up for the upcoming fall season (yes, it really is on its way!), we’re joined by Jake Lane, our newest guest blogger from LawnStarter.com. Jake has stopped by with a few helpful lawn care reminders as we move past the dog days of summer and begin transitioning into a new season.


With back to school shopping and the new school year fast approaching, most people’s schedules are about to get quite a bit busier. Busy schedules means less time for lawn care tasks, but the good news is, those hot summer days won’t be baking your lawn for too much longer. To help you prepare for the fall season, we laid out some lawn care tips and reminders that will help you keep your lawn lush and healthy into the winter.

1. Deal with Summer Pests

Summertime weather brings out quite a few pests that can wreak havoc on your lawn’s health and appearance. Sometimes the damage can’t be seen until it’s too late. Below are a couple frequent trouble makers that can make lawn care a chore throughout the summer and fall months.

Southern Chinch Bugs

Southern chinch bugs are a nuisance for southern yards, primarily targeting St. Augustine turf. The small bugs suck the juices out of the grass blades and cause damage that resembles drought stress. According to a study done by the University of Florida, chinch bugs cause millions of dollars worth of damage every year. Management and prevention typically entails a mixture of fertilization, mowing, irrigation, and pest control.

White Grubs

Late summer is when white grubs begin showing signs of life, which means the potential for a damaged lawn. White grubs are c-shaped larvae that live below the soil and feed on the roots of your lawn. Grub eggs are laid in late June or early July and the larvae begin to hatch towards the end of July. The grubs can create brown dead spots in your yard and a spongy-like feeling when walking over an area that’s been damaged. It’s best to lay down grub control during the summer to help keep grubs at bay and leave animals that feed on the larvae from digging up and damaging areas of your yard.

2. Don’t Forget the Fertilizer

Labor Day weekend will sneak up on us before we know it, so you’ll probably want to make sure that your lawn is healthy enough to withstand all the holiday foot traffic. Summer time is especially hard on your lawn, so proper fertilization is the key to having a lawn worthy of showing off. It’s recommended that you fertilize your lawn multiple times a year to help combat damage from foot traffic, heat, and other stresses.

If you’ve been lax about applying treatments to your lawn, it’s not too late to start. Hot summer days means that your lawn needs the most nutrients possible to thrive and should bounce back with a little extra work.

3. Water Longer and Less Frequently

The summer heat has been pelting your lawn for a couple of months now and you may need to help resurrect some life into the grass and soil. It’s best to set up a watering schedule that allows water to soak as deep as possible into your soil. It’s better to water thoroughly a couple times a week versus a light spray everyday. This will ensure that your lawn gets the moisture it needs and that you don’t lose very much water to evaporation. Moist soil helps promote long root systems and healthy grass that can take on more stress.

4. Mow Regularly

Ensure that your mower’s blade height is set to a high setting for optimal lawn health. During the hotter months, you only want to cut off one-third of your lawn’s grass blade height. This helps keep soil cool and allows for less moisture to evaporate throughout the day.

Also, make sure that you are mulching your grass clippings, not bagging them. Mulching the grass helps provide nutrients and moisture control for your lawn, all while providing a protective layer on top of soil to help reduce surface temperatures and promote better growth.

5. Aerate

With all the foot traffic your lawn saw this summer, the soil is probably a bit compacted. In that case, you’ll want to aerate your lawn and loosen up your soil to let everything breathe. When you aerate your lawn, you’re allowing both air and water to penetrate the soil easily, helping to boost lawn health. A lot of people aren’t aware of how crucial lawn aeration is for lawn health and maintenance. For the best results, aerate your lawn either in the early spring or fall for cool season grass and mid to late spring for warm season grass.

Having a healthy lawn doesn’t need to take a lot of time or work. Keeping up with routine lawn maintenance can mean less work throughout the year, and help prevent costly repairs. If you need help figuring out what the next best steps are for your lawn, contact your local lawn care professional for assistance.


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

Is Dethatching Necessary?

In the spring and fall, many of our customers begin asking Weed Man to come and dethatch their lawns. Dethatching has been a fairly common practice in lawn care for many years, and I still read articles online regarding it. However, if you are looking to dethatch your lawn with an actual dethatching machine, then my response is you likely don’t need to do it.

The first item we nWeed Man Aeration eed to address is: what is thatch? Thatch is comprised of leaves, stems and roots — some are dead and some are living. It lies on top of the soil as a tightly woven layer beneath the visible grass blades. As long as it doesn’t get thicker than 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, thatch actually contributes to lawn health in many ways. First and foremost, it helps keep the grass plant from losing water while decreasing soil compaction. It also protects the lawn from swings in temperature by insulating the plant and is very beneficial in helping the plant tolerate foot traffic, especially in sports fields.

In most cases, lawns don’t have enough thatch to warrant removal of it, and dethatching actually ends up injuring the turf. A healthy lawn requires at least half an inch of thatch, which helps protect the crowns and roots of the grass plants. Dethatching leaves the crowns and roots exposed to the elements and results in poor visual quality of the lawn.

On a number of occasions, I have seen homeowners practically ruin their lawns doing a dethatching, and it ended it up taking almost an entire year to get the lawn back to where it was previously. Dethatching is so hard on turf because, in addition to thatch, a dethatching machine often removes crowns, leaves, and, in some cases, the roots of grass plants.

The best thing you can do to help your lawn and keep thatch to a minimum is aerate regularly. Aeration helps the break down a lawn’s thatch layer. Additional benefits include:

  • Alleviated soil compaction. Compacted soils make it difficult for roots to grow, limiting the movement of air, moisture and fertilizer throughout the soil.
  • Improved water penetration. By relieving soil compaction, water penetration is increased and water runoff is reduced.
  • Deeper roots. A deeply rooted lawn is much healthier and better able to withstand drought, disease and insect stress.

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

Fall Fertilization is a Must for Turfgrass Before a Long, Hard Winter

The fall season providWeed Man Lawn Carees a great opportunity to give your lawn some TLC after the stresses of summer.

Technically summer is over, but in most areas of the North East it still feels like summer outside. We all know that won’t last long and the cooler weather of fall will be here before we know it. That’s ok, though – your lawn will be looking forward to it, as this is a crucial time for bluegrass, perennial rye, fescue and hybrid tall fescue turf to follow the squirrel’s example and start bulking up and storing food for the long winter ahead.

In the fall, northern turfgrasses experience a peak in growth as temperatures start to cool down during the day and especially at night. This is the perfect time to give your lawn a good feeding and help tackle those ugly bare patches that may be covering your yard.

Fall fertilizer contains two key ingredients: nitrogen and potassium. Both wWeed Man Fall Fertilizerill help stimulate and repair your grass. Look for fertilizer that has a high amount of available nitrogen in a slow release form, so that it feeds the lawn slowly and as the plant needs it. Be sure to read all packaging labels and apply fertilizer at the right rate to ensure you don’t overfeed and burn the lawn.

Potassium (potash) is equally important in the fall, so look for a fertilizer with a high percentage of it in the bag. Potassium 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.

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, an 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