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

It’s Grub Season!

Do you suspect grubs on your turf? White grubs eat away at grass roots and can devastate an entire lawn…fast! If you’ve been noticing beetles on your property or have a weak, discolored lawn that can be rolled back like a carpet due to its poor health and weakened roots, you could have a serious grub infestation.

At Weed Man, we recommend a preventative approach when it comes to grubs. Although they may not always be visible, seeming like an insignificant problem, you’re wrong. Grub larvae will cause detrimental damage to your turf, if left untreated.

Grubs live underground. They feed on your turf’s roots, which ultimately makes your lawn spongy and yellow in color. Grubs are seen as a tasty treat to wildlife, so if you have noticed animals digging in your lawn, it could also be a sure fire sign you have an issue on your hands.

If you do have a grub problem, they will have done significant damage to the roots of your lawn by next month. Prevention is the way to go, especially in regions of the country – such as the Midwest or the Northeast – where grubs tend to be a regular problem for about 30 to 60 percent of lawns.

Preventatively treating potentially devastating white grub infestations can help protect your investment and your property. Weed Man offers a highly effective preventative product that lasts 60-75 days in the soil.

To learn more about Weed Man’s grub preventative or to schedule a complimentary lawn analysis, call your local Weed Man today. Don’t forget to visit us online at www.weedmanusa.com and like us on Facebook for regular lawn care tips and advice.

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

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

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

Fall Mushrooms Invading Your Lawn?

fungi on lawn

With the cooler weather of fall and a bit more rain than normal, it is inevitable that you may see the odd mushroom – or an entire colony of them – spring up overnight on your beautiful lawn. This is very typical and should not be looked at as a problem…although it is a bit of a nuisance. Note: you may want to be on alert if you have pets, as they may eat mushrooms from your lawn and get sick (although rare, I have heard of this happening to a customer once).

The questions we get quite often at Weed Man are: “why do I get mushrooms?” And “how can I get rid of them?”

Mushroom Biology

To determine why you have mushrooms growing on your lawn, you have to consider the biology of the mushroom itself. In your lawn there are all kinds of living organisms, and some of these organisms are mushroom fungi. Mushroom fungi help break down all kinds of material that may be buried in your lawn. For example, things like wood that may have been left over from building material, or an old stump that may have been buried in the yard years before. Regardless of what it is, and you will likely never know, the fungi are feeding on it and breaking it down into organic matter. This is actually a good thing, as this organic matter is turned into a nutritional food source for the turf later on.

Get Rid of Mushrooms

So you have fungi in the lawn doing its thing. Given the right conditions – usually moist, cooler weather – the fruiting body of the fungi, the mushroom, will begin growing in your lawn. Now what can you do to get rid of it? I recommend trying one of the following:

  1. Wait for the mushrooms to disappear when you cut the lawn or when the weather changes.
  2. Put some gloves on and pick the mushrooms off the lawn before they go to spore and propagate.
  3. Try an old-fashioned remedy by sprinkling some baking soda around where the mushrooms are growing.

Fungicides can also be effective, but they are expensive don’t last very long. It is important to remember that mushrooms LOVE moisture. Therefore, any lawns that are heavily shaded, over watered, or that have poor drainage may be more susceptible to them. A well-drained, sunny lawn will typically have fewer mushrooms than a soggy one.

A complete ring of mushrooms growing on your lawn is called a fairy ring. Fairy rings were thought to be good luck by the Irish; in fact, legend has it that fairies would sit on the mushroom caps in a circle and have a party. At least that’s what my great grandmother told me when I was a kid.

In the end, mushrooms are not a bad thing. If you are concerned for your pets or young children, then the best method is to head outside and pick them or rake them up.

To learn more about mushrooms, comment below or visit our website at www.weedmanusa.com.

-Chris

Lawn Disease Alert: Rust

Lawn Disease: Rust

Around this time of year, we start to get calls from homeowners who have found a strange powdery substance on their lawns. This almost always turns out to be rust disease. Rust can turn a formerly lush, healthy, green lawn into a weak, yellowish-orange mess. If you’ve noticed a powdery substance on your shoes, pets, or lawn mower, then your lawn may be infected.

Unattractive? Yes. Harmful? Potentially. If left untreated, rust can severely weaken a lawn and leave it more vulnerable to insect, disease and weed damage.

Why Does Rust Occur?

  • High humidity
  • Low light intensity
  • Nitrogen deficiency
  • Prolonged lawn wetness
  • Overcast weather
  • Seasonal transitions
  • Heavy shade

Prevention & Control

  • Boost nitrogen levels in your lawn through professional fertilization
  • Schedule a core aeration service to help improve the flow of moisture through the soil
  • Increase mowing height and frequency
  • Overseed severely infected/thinned out areas
  • Prune shrubbery and trees to decrease shade levels
  • Water in the early morning to reduce periods of leaf wetness
Rust Disease Close-up

Rust on a blade of grass

Your best bet is to talk to your local Weed Man about any changes you’ve seen in your lawn’s appearance. Rust shouldn’t come between you and the green lawn you’ve worked so hard to maintain!

Until next time,

Chris

 

Visit www.weedmanusa.com for more information.