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

Early-Blooming Dandelions

Something that I expected, and we are already experiencing, is Dandelions blooming extremely early this season. This can be explained pretty easily, but what can be done about them is a bit more complex.

To fully understand why we are witnessing so many dandelions blooming so early this spring, it’s as simple as looking back at last fall’s weather conditions. In many places, last fall we experienced fairly warm weather compared to the last few we’ve had. On Christmas day, I was actually able to get pictures of some dandelions blooming, which was the first dandelionstime I’d ever seen this. I jokingly mentioned to my wife that we might actually receive some calls from customers wanting us to treat their lawns. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t complaining about the nice weather (it did extend the golf season), but I knew seeing all of those weeds so late in the year would spell some headaches this spring.

Due to the warm fall weather last year, those pesky dandelions were able to germinate late in October and early November and grew pretty big, even blooming in late December as I mentioned above. Typically in the fall, dandelions will germinate and start growing prior to the winter season and will then enter a state of dormancy once the temperatures drop. Typically they are small in the spring and some will germinate once the soil warms up. They are usually the first weed that you notice on the lawn due to their yellow flower.

A lot of people, once they see dandelions flowering, want to get out there and treat them immediately. However, treating them when the nights are still cool and the soil temperatures are as well can mean slower results. I have seen early applications take more than a month for the weeds to die. Also, treating dandelions too early on can lead to having to treat the lawn a number of times rather than just once. Keep in mind, herbicides used to control broadleaved weeds do not prevent them from germinating, they only get rid of the weeds that are up and growing. So if you’re too early, you will miss a lot of those late-germinating plants such as plantain or knotweed (to name just a few), therefore resulting in having to re-treat your turf each time a new set of weeds germinates throughout the season. Those who wait to treat their lawn will experience better results, with less amount of time and product required, saving you some cost.

What if the dandelion flowers and turns to seed? Not to worry! It will anyways once the herbicide is applied; and regardless, if it does or doesn’t, there are thousands of seeds lying dormant in the soil already, so adding more really won’t make much of a difference. The best defense against weeds is a healthy, thick lawn that will help prevent those seeds from germinating. A lush and nutrient-filled turf will also keep them from getting the sunlight they require in order to germinate.

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

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

 

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

Weed Control – Frequently Asked Questions

At this time of year we often get many customers asking about weed control applications. Read on below for answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

ImageHands down, the number one call we get at this time of year is: “I have dandelions on my lawn…why haven’t you been here to treat for them yet?” This is always a tough call for anyone in the lawn care industry, as we know we’ve been hired to make sure our customers’ lawns are free of weeds. At the end of the day, this is how we are judged by our clients. However, the issue at hand is that weed control for broadleaf weeds must be completed after the weeds are up and growing, and those pesky dandelions are always the first broadleaf weeds to pop up — way before any of the others. While we would love to get out and treat every one of our customers first thing, this is not possible, and, in actuality, those customers who wait until later in the application cycle see far superior results. Why, you may ask? Oftentimes, other broadleaf weeds do not germinate as early on in the season as dandelions, and if we treat as soon as yellow flowers start to pop, we end up missing out on controlling many of the other lawn invaders: plantain, oxalis and knotweed, to name a few. The longer we wait, the more likely we are to get all of the weeds in one application. Not to mention that if you wait a bit later to apply weed control, you’ll likely see more suitable weather conditions as well.

The second question we often get is: “My dandelions are now going to seed…isn’t it too late to apply weed control?” In reality, Imagedandelions going to seed is not a concern, as there are thousands of weed seeds already in the soil just waiting to germinate given the right conditions. In fact, when an application of weed control is applied to a lawn, it will actually make the dandelions go to seed anyway. This is because the herbicides used to control broadleaf weeds rely on their ability to mimic the natural growth hormones (known as auxins) found in broadleaf plants. Auxins are absorbed through the leaves of the weed and translocated to the meristems of the plant. Uncontrolled, unsustainable growth ensues, causing the stem to curl over, the leaves to wither, and eventual plant death. In other words, the plant grows very quickly and the stress of this accelerated growth is what leads to the eventual death of the plant.

The third most frequently asked question we receive is: “Under the ‘special instructions’ section on the invoice, it says not to water or cut the lawn for 24-48 hours following a weed control application. What happens when it rains the day after? Will the application still work?” The short answer to this question is yes, absolutely. We build in a lot of extra time to ensure the application has enough time to dry on the plant and work before the homeowner waters or cuts the lawn. Typically, though, the application is rainfast after just a few hours. Customers may also mow their lawns within a few hours of the application (as long as they mow high). Always give it at least 14 days to assess whether or not the application has worked. If the weeds don’t seem to be curling or dying, keep in mind that Weed Man provides a 100% guarantee on our services. Our team will happily come back and retreat the lawn free of charge.

Lastly, a question that we sometimes field after an application of weed control is: “Why is there an area of the lawn that looks like it was burnt by weed control?” It is almost impossible to burn a lawn with weed control, and in all of my twenty years of being in the lawn care industry I’ve yet to personally see turf burned by a herbicide application. So then why is there sometimes a large bleached out area on the lawn following an application? As the season turns from spring to summer or from cooler weather to warmer weather when our weed control is being applied, a very common turf disease called leaf blight may arise. Leaf blight can bleach out large areas of turfgrass very quickly, creating a burnt appearance. This disease will clear up quickly on its own. The best thing a homeowner can do is call Weed Man for a quick diagnosis and advice on how to avoid turfgrass diseases.

Remember: the best defense against weeds is a healthy, thick lawn. If you have any questions about your turf, Weed Man would be happy to help.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Q & A with Weed Man: When is the best time to put a pre-emergent on my lawn?

Q: When is the best time to put a pre-emergent on my lawn?

A: Great question! For those of us in the North, it’s pretty hard to see our lawns with all of this white stuff still hanging around. For those in the South and Mid-West, it’s time to start thinking about getting a pre-emergent application out there on the turf.

Weed Man always gets a lot questions around this time of the year regarding when to apply a pre-emergent and prevent crabgrass from taking over a lawn. To tell you the truth, there is no easy answer. There are multiple factors to consider before deciding on the proper time, some of which I’ll address below.

The first thing you will need to look at is what type of product you are applying. If you are utilizing a product that contains Prodiamine, then you will have to be quick to the punch, as it is a preventative treatment. This means that it stops weedy grasses like crabgrass from germinating, and therefore must be applied before germination begins. If you opt for a product with the active ingredient Dithiopyr, on the other hand, then you can be a little more flexible with your time. It can go down a bit later and still get control of crabgrass even if it has already started to germinate.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the germination of crabgrass can vary. It can start germinating in a sunny location, typically a full month ahead of other parts of the lawn that may be more shaded. A good way to know when crabgrass is about to germinate is to use an indicator plant, such as the forsythia bush. Once the forsythia bush starts to flower, it is likely that crabgrass could be starting to germinate. However, in my opinion, the best way to tell is by monitoring farmers in the fields planting corn crops. Corn planting is a good indicator that soil temperatures are right, and you can bet that crabgrass will take advantage of these ideal conditions and start germinating.

Pre-emergents that are applied too early may not last long enough throughout the season, and you may have breakthrough in the middle of the summer. Believe me when I say that trying to control crabgrass in the heat of summer is a BIG challenge. Also, a wetter than average spring can affect the longevity of a pre-emergent, causing it to break down faster than usual. Again, this allows for possible crabgrass breakthrough. Last year we witnessed this occurring in most of the country, which resulted in numerous crabgrass issues once July and August arrived.

Last but not least – crabgrass is typically worse along the edges of driveways and sidewalks, so paying special attention to those areas is really important. This undesirable lawn invader is also more prevalent when the turf is thin or weak. Keeping your lawn thick and healthy will result in fewer opportunities for crabgrass to germinate. When applying the application, ensure that you don’t miss any areas of the lawn, otherwise you will have crabgrass breakthrough as you can see in the picture below:

Image

Lots of things to remember, but reading the label and following the directions provided will help you prevent crabgrass from germinating later in the summer. Weed Man can also help if you have any questions when it comes to crabgrass control and pre-emergent applications. To find the location nearest to you, please visit our locator map by clicking HERE.

Looking forward to a great spring ahead,

Chris

Weed Man USA

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