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

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Summer Drought & Your Lawn

The summer drought conditions this year have been pretty severe in a number of areas and we’re only into the early part of July. With it being so dry in May and June, it can’t help but have an effect on your lawn now and into the fall.

In March I wrote a blog that started with “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.” So far, that is exactly what is happening in a lot of areas in the U.S. The past few years (at least in the eastern parts of the U.S.) we have been pretty lucky in that we had fairly regular rainfall and cooler summers. So it may come as no surprise that we were due for some drier, warmer weather with some severe drought. So what can you do to help the lawn through this hotter and drier weather?

As I mentioned in my March blog, one of the things you could have done to prepare for the hot and dry summer was getting your lawn as healthy as possible in the spring prior to having to experience the summer heat and drought. “You definitely don’t want to skip any fertilizer applications this spring or early this summer as the lawn 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 help it stay healthy when its under stress.”

That being said if you are watering your lawn through the summer and keeping it green, the lawn will still need to be fertilized as it will utilize those nutrients to maintain its healthy state. If you decide not to water it and therefore let it turn brown, the amount of nutrients it requires will be a lot less and fertilizing it may be unnecessary. However, if you use a slow-release fertilizer, not to worry, those nutrients should stay there for the plant to utilize when you do get rain, which will encourage the grass to grow again.

Watering will have a big impact on a lawn’s appearance and 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 the lawn did not recover. The end result? Most of it had to be re-sodded that fall.

Remember that there are a lot of ways not to water your lawn and it isummer-drought-stresss the most misunderstood practice for homeowners. The biggest mistake occurs when homeowners irrigate their lawn every day for 20 minutes (simply because that is the way most irrigation systems are set up), without realizing that this type of light watering can lead to shallow rooting and disease. Shallow rooting creates a weaker plant that is prone to environmental stresses, which can result in an increase in lawn diseases. Also, not allowing the lawn to dry out for a period of time can also increase the chance of disease. This ultimately leads to discoloration of the lawn and poor visual quality. Watering at night is often the biggest reason for the presence of disease on the lawn.

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 the lawn requires it will give your turf the opportunity to dry out and prevent lawn diseases in the process.

Mowing can also influence the health of the turf, so when it’s hot and dry out, it’s a great idea to mow your lawn as high as you can. The longer the turf is maintained, mowing-heightthe healthier it will be, as it will have a much deeper rooting system. This deeper root system will better utilize underground water supply and find its own water and remain healthier overall.

Click HERE to view the NOAA National Precipitation Map for June by %, to see how your area is doing for Rainfall.

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

Annual Bluegrass can be a major eye sore on your lawn.

“What is that awful looking wheat grass on my lawn?” is a question I get a lot when dealing with customers who have concerns over Annual Bluegrass.

On most home lawns there is a very common occurrence that takes place in the later part of the spring and earlier part of the summer, which is the Annual Bluegrass going to seed. This yearly occurrence can create some unsightly looking lawns not just because of all of the seed heads that shoot up but also because after the plant seeds set, the grass will turn yellow, discoloring the turf.

Annual BluegrassIn a perfect world, Kentucky Bluegrass would make up the majority of the grass on a lawn,
as it has a deep blue color and is relatively drought-tolerant. Annual Bluegrass on the other hand, is really a weedy grass that is a winter annual or weak perennial and often dies during summer heat and drought, resulting in a lack-luster lawn. Almost every lawn will have some Annual Bluegrass in it, some may be taken over by it, and others will show signs of it but just in scattered areas or in unsightly patches.

The big question I get from homeowners after identifying the Annual Bluegrass and Annual Bluegrass - Closeupdetermining we can’t control it with our broadleaf weed control, is “how did I get this and how can I get rid of it?” Believe it or not, the lawns that have the biggest problem with Annual Bluegrass are typically belong to homeowners that are over-managing their yards.

One of the biggest contributors to Annual Bluegrass in the home lawn is mowing height. A lot of homeowners will want that golf course look to their lawn and they will end up cutting it way too short. Annual Bluegrass is very adaptive and can survive very low mowing heights. This is a huge issue for golf course superintendents, because it can even survive in low-mowed golf greens, creating an uneven putting surface (especially when it goes to seed).

In the home lawn however, when you cut the grass at a height of 2 inches or less, you will discourage the Kentucky Bluegrass that was sodded or seeded when the house was built. I always recommend cutting at a height of 3.5 inches, especially in the summer months, even considering it can tolerate a lower mowing height of 2.5 inches. However keeping it cut higher will keep it healthier, with deeper roots and thus discourage the Annual Bluegrass from germinating, as well as out-competing it.

Another possible factor of the growth of Annual Bluegrass is overwatering. I see a lot of homeowners that have irrigation systems programmed to go on every day for 20 minutes. Again, watering is important for your Kentucky Bluegrass, but it prefers deep watering around 1 inch to 1.5 inches per week. This may mean once or twice a week depending on the time of year and how much rainfall has occurred. Remember, early morning watering is best to discourage any disease as it allows the lawn to dry during the day.

The reality is, almost every lawn will have some Annual Bluegrass but what you do culturally will have a real effect on how much you’ll have to deal with. If you’re at that point where your lawn has the problem, then the best thing you can do is to bag your grass clippings. This will help prevent the seeds from going back into the soil. Although this may only have a small impact, as there are likely thousands of Annual Bluegrass seeds sitting dormant waiting for the right opportunity to germinate. Lastly, once the seeds are set, the turf will look a bit yellow. Saying this, keeping the turf as healthy as possible will help minimize the yellowing that will occur for a few weeks afterwards.

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

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.

Lawn Care New Year

Spring lawn care

Happy 2014! With the new year upon us and spring right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about your lawn. Even if your yard is currently covered in a foot of snow, it is important to remember that the action you take over the next several weeks will help give you a healthy lawn when it really counts.

Weed Man recommends taking the following pre-emptive measures to prepare your lawn for the upcoming warmer seasons:

1. Book your lawn care program early. Many homeowners book their lawn care programs well into the spring season. I recommend signing up during the winter months. This will allow your local Weed Man to treat your lawn at the best possible time, and, in turn, provide you with optimum results. With our handy online Customer Portal, you can add services to your account at any time of the day or night.  

2. Repair and prepare lawn care tools. While it may seem like overkill to tune up your edger or get your mower’s blades sharpened in January or February, this is actually a very smart move. Repair shops get slammed as soon as the spring season arrives, often resulting in long waiting times. You’ll save yourself time and money by acting now.

3. Inspect your lawn. As soon as the snow starts to melt, give your lawn a close inspection. Many homeowners do not put their lawns “to bed” properly in the fall, which can lead to early spring turf diseases such as snow mold. Heavy ice and wet leaf coverage are usually to blame, but you can help by clearing your turf’s surface of any unwanted debris. Again, taking early action will only benefit you in the long run.

Don’t let the bitter cold steer you into winter hibernation mode. Stay on point by preparing for lawn care season early – your turf will thank you.  

Until next time,

Chris