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

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.

What to Expect on Your Lawn this June

Because June is a time of transition for most lawns in the U.S., there are several common turf conditions you can expect to see this month.  

June is an interesting time of year for many lawns across the country, and this has a lot to do with the changing of weather conditions as we inch closer and closer to summer. At this juncture of the season, we start to see warmer days with cooler nights in the north. In the south, the already warmer days will be joined by warmer nights. Understanding how your lawn is affected by these quickly changing weather patterns can help you make better decisions that will help keep your lawn in top form.

In the northern areas of the U.S. where bluegrass, perennial rye and fescue lawns grow, the most common turf stressor to expect at this time of year is leaf blight. This disease typically occurs very quickly and resembles chemical or fertilizer burn.

Lawn Disease

This is likely one of Weed Man’s most difficult issues, as many clients often misconstrue leaf blight for a misapplication. That being said, I can certainly see how many homeowners would think the damage is not disease-based, as it blights out such large sections of the lawn.

One of the ways you can avoid leaf blight is simply to improve your cultural care practices. First and foremost, a sharp mower blade is a must when cutting the lawn. It is also important to make sure you don’t water at night or cut the lawn when it is wet. Keep in mind that sometimes you can do all the right things and leaf blight will still attack your lawn. A good application of fertilizer (and a little bit of time!) will help the lawn recover.

Each and every June, Weed Man also receives several calls regarding “a weird looking weed” resembling wheat. This is actually poa annua, or annual bluegrass, a very common grassy weed. In reality, we do not try to get rid of poa annua, as it is just a part of having a lawn. After it sets seed, the lawn can go somewhat yellowish as it uses up food stores. Again, time and a good fertilizer will help the lawn through this stressful period.

poa annua

In areas where tall fescue grasses are grown, the number one issue is brown patch. Typically, warm nights – combined with long periods of leaf wetness from afternoon thunderstorms, irrigation, or dew – create ideal conditions for brown patch development. Again, cultural practices will have a profound effect on the presence and severity of brown patch. Fertilization, irrigation, and mowing are the most important factors to consider. Applying a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to the lawn, not watering at night, using a sharp mower blade and the right mowing height are all important. Mowing too short (<2.5 inches) will weaken the tall fescue, whereas if you leave it too long (>3.5 Inches), it can retain moisture and create a breeding ground for disease. If you have had issues with brown patch in the past, then looking at a preventative fungicide application may be an option to help keep your lawn free of disease.

brown patch

In southern areas where St. Augustine lawns are prevalent, there are a number of turf diseases that tend to pop up, but brown patch is the main one. The issue for St. Augustine grass is making a correct diagnosis; more specifically, distinguishing between a potential disease issue and a chinch bug infestation.

Because St. Augustine lawns are prone to both brown patch and chinch bugs, it’s important to know what is at play on your lawn. If you miss the proper diagnosis, you may end up with costly damage that will force you to replace the lawn. Control of chinch bugs in the south can be difficult, as many of them are resistant to Pyrethroid applications. Partnering with Weed Man to help you select the right control method is key for eradication and prevention.

chinch

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

2015 Could Be A Bad Year for Ticks!

After a cold winter, you would think that most ticks would have died off. Unfortunately, with all that snow cover acting like a blanket, especially in the Northeast, you can almost certainly expect more ticks than usual this year. 

For those who live in areas where ticks are prevalent during the summer season, there is a real concern that this season may be a bad one when it comes to these dangerous pests. Even though February was one of the coldest months on record – which could have led to a higher mortality rate for ticks –  the large amount of snow that also occurred likely acted as a blanket to keep their populations warm.

If you enjoy keeping active outdoors by participating in activities like camping or taking hikes through the woods, then you should always take a few precautionary measures to prevent being bitten. Wearing tighter clothing and using repellents can help, and regular tick checks on yourself, your children and your pets are highly recommended. Last fall I was cutting wood in some tall grass and did not take the proper precautions. No surprise – the next day I found that I had a tick burrowed into my skin. I was not happy, to say the least. Upon discovery, I removed the tick promptly and properly and went to see my doctor, who prescribed an antibiotic just in case (to prevent Lyme disease and a long list of other illnesses that ticks can carry and pass along to humans).

Tick (2)

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 27,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease and 9,000 probable cases in the U.S. in 2013. The greatest risk of infection was seen in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest states. The CDC recommends daily tick checks after being outdoors (even in your own yard), using repellents, showering soon after being outdoors, and calling a doctor if you get a fever or rash. To some of you it may come as a shock that you should check for ticks even after being in your own yard. The reality is that even in an urban environment there is a good chance that you may come in contact with ticks. Not only should you take precautions as mentioned earlier, but you should also consider hiring a company like Weed Man to perform regular applications of flea and tick control to your lawn and landscape. Contact your local Weed Man for a custom flea & tick control quote. As Benjamin Franklin so famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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 and your families healthy, Chris

After Another Long Winter, You Can Almost Count on Winter Damage!

With many northern locations still experiencing cold weather and, in some cases, battling snow on the ground, it’s difficult to get into the outdoor season spirit just yet.

For those that live in the north and northeastern parts of the United States, I probably don’t need to reiterate just how long and cold this past winter was. We can certainly expect that lawns will have suffered and that there will likely be some winter damage. Turf damage can come in a number of different forms, including ice damage, snow mold, and damage from moles that like to burrow in under the snow, leaving unsightly tracks all over the lawn. When the weather does eventually warm up and that lawn care/gardening spirit does kick in, here is what you need to know:

Ice Damage: Can occur after the soil has frozen and there has been a thaw or rain that refreezes directly on the turf before it has had the chance to run off or seep back into the ground. As the snow melts and refreezes, it can create ice sheets over the lawn, typically in poorly drained areas. As the ice sheets melt away, damaged areas of turf may be evident.

Ice damage on the lawn is only a major concern following extended coverage. Unfortunately, when it does occur, it is considered the most severe form of winter damage, often requiring costly turf renovation.

Snow Mold Damage: This turf disease can come in two different forms – pink snow mold and gray snow mold. Pink snow mold can occur with or without snow coverage, whereas gray snow mold usually requires prolonged snow coverage. Expect to see both this spring as the snow melts away. For obvious reasons, pink snow mold gets its name from the coral pink hue that it expresses, while gray snow mold may look like someone peppered your lawn thanks to the black sclerotia associated with the mold. Although neither form of the disease will kill your grass plants, weakening of the lawn’s structure can occur. Your best option is to try and rake it out. Warmer weather and fertilizer will eventually help the turf fully recover.

gray snow mold 2


Mole Damage:
Mole damage often appears in the form of mounds of soil in the spring or fall, resulting from moles’ underground tunneling. This type of damage is often superficial in nature, and the lawn will heal once it has been thoroughly raked up and fertilized. A good way to discourage moles from invading your lawn over the winter months is to lower your grass cutting height just before winter hits (during the last few mowings). This lower mowing height will not provide the moles with much protection under the snow, and they will ultimately move off to other areas.

mole damage 1

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

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

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