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

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.

Be on the Lookout for Chinch Bug Damage

ChinchIt’s hard to believe that such a small insect like the chinch bug can create so much damage on a lawn in such a short period of time. However, year after year homeowners request that we come out and inspect their lawns, which have turned brown and won’t green back up again. More often than not, this rapid transformation is the result of chinch bug damage.

The secret to chinch bugs’ somewhat sneaky success is that they are so small and often go unnoticed until it’s too late. Combine this with the fact that chinch-damaged turf looks just like drought, which is pretty typical at this time of year, and chinch bugs become one of the biggest threats for Bluegrass (north) and St. Augustine (south) lawns.

Weed Man can help prevent and stop chinch damage for those full program customers that signed up in the spring. Weed Man’s technicians are trained to look for chinch bugs and know how to detect their presence early, before major damage can occur. For those lawn care do-it-yourselfers out there: if you miss diagnosing a chinch bug infestation, you may end up with large areas of thinned out turf that will eventually require extensive repair. This means major money, time and effort.

Here are a few hints on how to make sure you diagnose chinch bugs early enough to prevent significant damage:

  1. If you have brown spots forming on your lawn, check sun-drenched areas for insects. Chinch bugs are particularly prone to sunny hillsides.
  2. Be sure to inspect the boundaries of where the brown patches meet the green areas. Damage usually starts off in a small pocket, growing outwards and coalescing with other brown patches.
  3. Examine the base of the plant in the thatch region or where the turf meets the soil. Chinch bugs tend to feed on the crown of grass plants. You may need a bit of patience when seeking them, as they are quite small.
  4. Inspect several areas on the lawn for both nymphs and adults. Nymphs are tiny and red, while adults gradually turn black and have a small white cross mark on their backs.
  5. If all else fails, try Weed Man’s time-tested trick: grab a soup can and cut off both the bottom and top. Place the cylinder on the lawn and pour water into it. Then check to see if any chinch bugs float to the top.
Chinch bugs

Chinch bug damage

Remember: the best defense against chinch bugs is a healthy lawn. The thicker your lawn, the better able it will be to recover from chinch bugs and other surface feeding insects.

Watch our new chinch bug video HERE

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

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris