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

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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

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

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

September is Here – Time to Start Thinking about Fall Seeding!

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Hard to believe we’re already well into September and the kids are getting settled back into their school routines.

Speaking of which, one lawn care routine that we look forward to in the month of September is the start of seeding season. With this month’s cooler temperatures and more frequent rainfall, there is a great opportunity to make huge improvements in your lawn before winter hits. Most people don’t realize that the period between September and early November is the best time to seed your lawn – even better than in the springtime! This is because you often get too much fluctuation in temperature (both air and soil) during the spring season, not to mention excessive rainfall. This makes it difficult to get optimal seeding results.

Regardless of the time of year that you seed, there is one constant requirement: water. Turfgrass seed requires moisture for up to a month, depending on the type of grass seed. If the seed dries out at any time after it has become moist, it will die. The majority of homeowners make the mistake of putting seed out and not watering it…and then wondering why they didn’t see any results.

There are many benefits of seeding in the fall. Firstly, it will help thicken up any areas that may have been thinned out during the summer months. Another big benefit is that it introduces better cultivars to a lawn that may have been planted or sodded 20+ years ago. Every year, seed growers improve grass hybrid species to have better drought and disease tolerance than the year before. Overseeding is a great way to help introduce these more tolerant species of grass to your lawn. The result is fewer turf diseases and a smaller water requirement down the road.

While there are many different ways of seeding your lawn, Weed Man will typically do it in combination with aeration or by using a split seeder. Because seed requires some soil contact, combining overseeding with aeration or split seeding is a great way to make that happen. I’ve seen homeowners just throw seed out over their lawns without thinking about soil. This is a waste of money, as it is unlikely that much seed will germinate without soil contact.

lawn aeration

To learn more about fall seeding, please comment below or visit our website at www.weedmanusa.com. And don’t forget that now is the time to do it before it’s too late and we see those colder days of late fall.

Find your local Weed Man by visiting our locator map.