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.

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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

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

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!