National Lawn Care Month

 

lawn care month

The green industry has recognized April as National Lawn Care Month. This is a great way to get people excited about working in the great outdoors, specifically on their lawns and landscapes. Here are some interesting facts about your lawn you maybe had no idea about!

Did you know that there are over 9000 different species of grass? Grass specifically, is a term for the plant family Gramineae. Some grasses are even edible. For example, Wheatgrass, which contains most of the vitamins and minerals needed for human health. Lawns have been around for centuries and they most likely evolved from rich European Aristocrats who would clear the trees around their castles in order to allow for better sight lines in case of attacks. Once the trees were cleared the grass would naturally grow in and they would use sheep and other grazing animals that would help keep the grass in a low cut state. The word lawn actually comes from the Middle English word launde, which meant a “glade or opening in the woods”.

Only a few grass species are acceptable for the home lawn and depending on where you live this will typically dictate the type of turfgrass you will have on your lawn. The reason turfgrass makes such a great lawn is the fact that grass leaves begin to grow from the stem apex, located at the base of the plant, which is called the crown. This is the main reason why grasses can be mowed without sustaining serious injury as growth continues from the base of the leaf after a portion of the leaf blade is mowed off.

Speaking of mowing, the first lawn mower was invented by Edwin Budding in 1830 in England. Budding’s mower was designed primarily to cut the grass on sports grounds and extensive gardens, as a superior alternative to the scythe, and was granted a British patent on August 31, 1830.

Did you know? Grass is the earth’s living skin. It essentially protects what’s underneath it by acting as a filter. Pretty neat! A single grass plant can have more than 300 miles worth of roots and a typical lawn has about six grass plants per square inch, which means the average lawn could house millions of grass plants!

Grass is incredible for so many other reasons though! It converts Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen. In fact, an acre area of grass is better at producing oxygen than an acre of rainforest. Grass also reduces temperatures, erosion, acts as a carbon sink and traps dust and dirt (just to mention a few of the great things it does).

This April, let’s get out there and get working on our lawns and landscapes, plant a garden or rake your lawn. After all, there is plenty of research that proves that homeowners find stress relief and healing when interacting with nature. Not to mention, staying active – period – will help you live longer.

At Weed Man, we celebrate #LawnCareMonth. Join us!

For more information about National Lawn Care Month, visit the National Association of Landscape Professionals!

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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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.

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

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

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.

Image

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