Crabgrass…in Early Spring?!

Every spring, our Weed Man franchises throughout the US field a fair amount of calls regarding possible Crabgrass infestations in home lawns.

To most homeowners, the thick-bladed grass that they’re noticing in their lawn must be Crabgrass. But since Crabgrass is an annual weed, what they are actually seeing (especially this early on in spring) is not, in fact, Crabgrass. However, in very rare cases, if there was no cold weather in the very southern states, the existing Crabgrass may not have died off.

In most cases, homeowners are misidentifying a weedy grass, such as Tall Fescue or Quackgrass. Both grasses are thick-bladed and look a lot like Crabgrass, so it’s not surprising that they presume that’s what they are seeing grow in their lawn.

Above: Crabgrass in August;                     Above: Quackgrass in April

 

Because Crabgrass is an annual, there are things that we can apply in the spring, such as pre-emergent weed control, that will help prevent it from germinating. There are also products that will help control it after it has germinated, although this method is a bit tougher to accomplish. Unfortunately, this is not the case for those weedy grasses like Tall Fescue and Quackgrass. Because these grasses are biologically similar to desired grasses, there really is no way to get rid of them other than digging them out or using a non-selective herbicide and re-sodding the area.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the germination of Crabgrass can vary, often starting in a sunny location, a full month ahead of other parts of the lawn that may be more shaded. A good way to know when Crabgrass is about to germinate is to use an indicator plant, such as the Forsythia Bush.  Keep an eye out for when the Forsythia Bush starts to flower, as this is a good indication that Crabgrass could be starting to germinate. However, in my opinion, the best way to tell is once you see the farmers in the fields planting their corn crops. This means the soil temperatures are just right and you can bet that the Crabgrass is going to be germinating as well.

If you have any 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

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A Cool Spring: A Cause for Concern

This spring season has certainly been more winter than spring. I’ve even heard it described as it being January 74th today. One thing is for sure though…all of this cold weather is a cause for concern for our poor home lawns.

First and foremost, those states where southern turfgrasses are grown are the ones that concern me the most, as damage is likely to happen later this spring or summer. Thanks to the warmer weather those states experienced in February,  the turf came out of dormancy and started to green up and could have even been mowed a few times. But since then, with the colder weather making its return, lawns have entered back into dormancy or at the least, a semi-dormant state.

Morning park grass covered with water drops

When this occurs, the sugars and carbohydrates don’t totally convert into the more cold-tolerant starches, like what typically happens in the fall just before the winter dormancy period. This can be quite stressful for southern grasses, such as Bermudagrass and St. Augustine, and can lead to damage later on, or at minimum, a thinning of the turf.

Centipedegrass may also experience issues this spring, and just like St. Augustine grass, it may take a lot of time to recover since neither of them have below-ground rhizomes. They both grow above the ground through stolons, or runners. This makes recovery and regrowth of these species more difficult.

Other issues, such as cold and drier-than-normal air, increase the risk of damage, specifically in southern turfgrasses, drying the crowns of the plant out completely. Also, possible damage may occur from standing water. In certain cases, there was rain right before the cold weather hit and all that stagnant water froze in and around the crown of the plants, causing damage or weakening the plant.

When it comes to the more northern states, on the other hand, there is some concern for damage with the Tall Fescue and Bluegrass species; but typically, the damage isn’t near as bad as it is with southern turf. If the temperatures warm up enough to allow the water to thaw between the plant’s cells, then the cells will re-hydrate and if it gets cold again, and a hard frost occurs, Freeze Damage can occur.

Freeze Damage looks a lot like random white streaks or bleached out areas. These discolored areas happen when young, tender new growth freezes after a cold snap. This will usually last for only a short period of time before it recovers and grows out.

So, what can you do to help the grass in the meantime?  Be aware that excess foot and vehicle traffic may worsen the effects of cold damage, so stay off damaged turf until the soil and plants have completely thawed. The healthier the turf, the more stress it can handle, so last year’s applications will help.

If you have any 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

New Year, New Lawn Care Routine

Healthy grass is an amazing gift that many of us take for granted. There’s nothing quite like spending time with your family, friends, and pets on a soft, lush lawn. In fact, home lawns provide a convenient avenue for enjoying nature’s gifts without ever having to leave your property.

While you are encouraged to take advantage of your lawn’s many benefits, it is also important that you remember to give back to your grass so that it remains healthy and vibrant. With a new season of lawn care on the horizon, now is the time to start thinking about ways to upgrade your lawn care routine. Starting early with a little education and planning has been the key to success for so many of our customers – and we want to share a few tips of the trade with you.

The health of your lawn – and your ability to enjoy it – depends on good cultural practices.  Consider giving your yard the gift of a professional lawn care treatment this spring, or, at the very least, modifying your current mowing and watering practices to enhance your turf.  Weed Man can help you create a lawn care and maintenance plan that will help give you the lawn you’ve always envisioned.

1. Aeration

Your lawn can’t be at its greenest and healthiest without healthy soil. Soil is the foundation of all plant health and plays an important role in how nutrients become available to the turf.  On many lawns – especially in cases where there is heavy foot traffic – soil often becomes hard and compacted, severely limiting the recommended 12 inches of soil. As a result, your grass may suffer from a nutrient deficiency and become thin and weed infested in a very short period of time.

Aeration can help. Unfortunately, many homeowners skip their recommended annual aeration, thinking that it is an inessential “add-on” service. This is not the case! Aeration is a critical cultural practice that helps alleviate soil compaction by pulling cores of soil out of the turf, improving air, water, and nutrient penetration into the lawn. As an added benefit, core aeration optimizes root development and reduces thatch, allowing for better drainage and greater resistance to disease. If you’re wondering how you can take your lawn care routine to the next level in 2015, consider speaking to your local Weed Man about aeration. You’ll be happy you did!

2. Overseeding

Your lawn may also benefit from an overseeding treatment. Overseeding refers to the process of planting grass seed on pre-existing turf. It may be recommended for lawns that have large, bare areas, particularly when insect and/or drought damage are at play. Far too often we see homeowners hoping for re-growth in bare areas that badly need care and advanced nutrition. Don’t wait for those grass-less areas of your lawn to fix themselves – take action and give your lawn the boost it needs.

3. Mowing

Some homeowners mistakenly believe that mowing merely provides aesthetic benefits, when, in fact, it is an important cultural practice that greatly impacts the health of a lawn. Do not take more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off in one cutting. The longer the leaf, the deeper the rooting system and the more easily your grass can absorb nutrients and water. Additionally, be sure to mow with a sharp blade. This will allow the cut tip of the leaf blade to heal quickly, preventing disease pathogens from entering the grass. As you think ahead to the coming months and your lawn care routine, consider having your mower blade sharpened by a professional. It may also be a good idea to examine the height of your mower deck to ensure you are cutting your lawn at the appropriate height for your turfgrass species (click HERE for a mowing height guide). Taking early steps now will help you start lawn care season on the right foot.

4. Watering

Watering is another essential cultural practice that affects lawn health. Like mowing, watering contributes to the development of deep roots when performed properly. Lawns require about 1 inch of water per week to remain healthy, and this should be delivered in one deep, heavy watering as opposed to several light sprinklings. Now is a great time to shop around for a high-quality sprinkler (if you do not have an underground irrigation system). Look for a model that promises even distribution of water and that will not rust quickly. Remember: read online reviews of various products and take your time. The right sprinkler will aid in lawn health and help you save water along the way.

If you give your lawn the care that it needs, it will surely reciprocate. Think ahead to the coming spring months and visualize the various ways you can give back to the yard that gives you so much enjoyment throughout the warmer seasons.

Keep those lawns healthy.

-Chris

Chris Lemcke Weed Man Blog

How to Avoid Two of the Most Common Late Spring Turfgrass Diseases

The late spring season brings about two common turfgrass diseases. I’m here to give you a few tips on how to avoid trouble on your lawn so that you can enjoy a lush, green yard this year. 

As the weather transitions from those cooler spring days to more consistently warmer days with slightly cooler nights, we begin to see a few telltale signs of lawn disease. These late spring lawn symptoms typically lead to calls to our locally owned and operated Weed Man offices asking our professional lawn care experts to come out and have a look at the lawn to see what may be at play.

Leaf Blight DiseaseOne of the most common diseases seen in the second half of spring is leaf blight. Unfortunately, this disease is also one of the most difficult to manage, mainly because it happens so quickly and creates large, discolored patches on the lawn that resemble chemical burn. Oftentimes, leaf blight may impact one person’s lawn yet have no affect on their immediate neighbor’s, simply due to cultural issues like a dull mower blade. Poor cultural care of a lawn can greatly influence the spread of leaf blight or the severity of it from one lawn to another.

Leaf blight enters the grass plants after evening mowing followed by excessive night watering. In heavily infested areas, the fungus damages the lawn in circular patches that often form large bleached areas. Closer inspection of the plant reveals individual leaves dying from the tips down.

Lawns react very similarly to house plants when they become infected with disease. The first reaction of a house plant is to drop the diseased leaf before the disease can enter the main part of the plant. Turf is similar in that it will shed the leaf by thinning out the lawn. When conditions improve, it will regrow the leaf and fill back in. This can take weeks or even longer depending on weather patterns.

The second disease we see at this time of year is red thread. This disease is more active with rainy spring weather and lower light levels. The most noticeable symptoms of red thread are thread-like strands of coral pink or deep red fungus on the tips of brown grass blades. The strands can protrude up to ½ inch up from the blade and are easily seen, hence the name “red thread.” While red thread typically attacks fine fescue lawns, it can be seen in bluegrass as well. As the disease spreads, it will leave behind unsightly patches all over the lawn.

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So what is the best treatment available to prevent these two diseases from developing?

  1. The most important thing is to ensure you have a sharp mower blade, as this will help the grass heal quickly before the disease has a chance to enter the leaf blade and infect the turfgrass.
  2. It is also critical to avoid overwatering the lawn at this time of year, as many homeowners with irrigation systems will have them on and watering when it may not be required. Too much water is consistently an issue that contributes to late spring diseases. Remember to avoid evening watering (morning watering is best) and do not cut the lawn at night or when the grass is wet.
  3. Lastly, a healthy, well maintained lawn is the best defense against turfgrass disease. Regular fertilization will help keep your lawn strong and thick. Although out of your control, improved weather conditions will also greatly assist in the lawn recovering from leaf disease typically. Once summer arrives, these diseases will likely disappear…only to leave others more suited for the heat, such as dollar spot, in their wake.

Questions about lawn disease? Comment below or contact your local Weed Man professional. To find your local Weed Man, use our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns green and healthy,

Chris

Welcome Spring!

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Welcome Spring

Happy first day of spring! Lawn care season has finally arrived. We hope that you are as excited as we are to head outdoors and enjoy the warmer weather. Find yourself some fresh air and a little relaxation on a soft patch of grass!

Looking forward to a GREAT season ahead!