It’s time to work on your Lawn !

It’s time to think about Lawn Quality

Many of us think of spring as the prime time for rejuvenating our yards and landscapes, but did you know that FALL is really the best time to work on improving your lawn quality. Why…you ask?? In this part of the country, we grow cool weather grasses. These varieties of grass typically take 3 weeks to germinate from seed. When planting grass seed in the fall (Late August, beginning of September), they will begin to germinate and actively grow during the end of September, all of October, November and even some in December…..that’s approximately 12 weeks of growth. The new grass plants go dormant for the winter and then begin to grow the middle of March, April, May and June (now 22 +/- week old plants) before getting stressed out with the Summer heat and humidity.

Compared to seeding in the Spring and putting new grass plants (10 +/- weeks old) through the summer stresses, the older fall grass plants will stand a better chance of surviving. The moral of the story? Always, always, seed in the FALL !!!

So what should you do this fall?

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Time to aerate

Start by Aerating your lawn. Aeration is the process of producing holes in your lawn (that look like plugs). Aerating your lawn will allow oxygen and water to get down to the root zones of your grass plants. This is a great preventative maintenance service for your lawn. And yes….leave the plugs alone. They will eventually break down and go away.

Next, apply lime to your lawn. I like pellatized lime…..it takes a little longer to break down but it’s basically un-noticeable when applied to your turf. Lime is an essential mineral for lawns. Lime will sweeten up the pH of your lawn, thus allowing the grass plants to more efficiently process the nutrients of the lawn application (fertilizers) that are made each year.

Seed into your existing lawn…..A slit-slicing machine will drop a pre-calibrated amount of seed in front of vertical slicing blades (which plant the seed in the soil). The benefit of slit/slicing your lawn with grass seed is that it will introduce new varieites of grass into your lawn and in time will help thicken up your lawn. And once you are done introducing new grass seed into your lawn…be sure to water. In fact, if it’s warm, you may have to water 2-3 times per day. It is imperative to keep the seed bed (the soil) moist during seed germination.

You may need to do a lawn renovation at the end of the growing season

Bare spot caused by fungus

If you have a bare spot in your lawn….scratch the spot out, add a light layer (1/8″-1/4″ of compost) and plant some grass seed in the spot. Make sure the seed is in contact with the compost…..seed needs to make contact with soil to germinate. Cover lightly with some straw and water away !!!

Fertilize your lawn. Did you know that you should be applying 4 pounds of nitrogen (fertilizer) per 1,000 sq.ft of grass per growing season to keep your lawn healthy and green. Many of us take supplements to keep our bodies strong….why deprive your lawn? The spring (May), Fall (September) and late fall (October/November) are the BEST times to fertilize. So this September apply a nice application of slow release fertilizer to your lawn.

Fertilize your lawn to keep it growing in the fall

It’s time to Fertilize your lawn

Work on weed removal during September and October….that right, get rid of the weeds !!!! The “nasty” looking crab grass plants can manually be removed. And some of the more tender broadleaf weeds can be removed with the use of “selective herbicides”. A selective herbicide application can help remove the weed from your lawn while not effecting the surrounding grass. So go ahead and remove those weeds.

In summary…..after the residual effects of a six week stretch of high temperatures, high humidity and intermittent rainfalls we are seeing declines in lawn quality, outbreaks of weeds, and yes a lot of fungus. It’s been a tough summer on lawns. There is a lot of wet, hot soil out in our yards creating havoc on your lawn. Start making your plan NOW for a thorough lawn rejuvenation.

If you have any questions about any of the above information, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 914-377-9039.

 

IPM (Integrated Pest Management)….Watching for problems

IPM – Start Scouting for Problems in the Landscape 

Keeping a sharp eye on your landscape is a key part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). By quickly noticing changes that could indicate problems such as invasive plants, unwanted pests, poor soil quality, inadequate drainage or other issues, you can more quickly take steps to solve those problems with the least invasive method necessary.

How to Scout Your Landscape

Scouting your landscape means you need to be in intimate touch with the changes in your yard, whether it is the growth and health of turf, the bloom and blossom cycle of flowers, growth patterns of evergreen plants or life cycles of insects. All landscapes have natural life cycles and seasonal changes, and you need to be aware of their usual changes in order to spot something different that may indicate a problem. When watching your yard, take careful note of…

Foliage color, shape and condition

  • Budding and growth patterns
  • Turf density, growth and color
  • Bloom density, size and quality
  • Fruiting cycles and produce sizes
  • Water issues, including standing water or drainage
  • Wilting plants
  • Plant damage or injuries
  • Insect populations and their life cycles

Not all changes are necessarily problems, and the more aware you are of seasonal changes, the more easily you will be able to spot unwelcome issues. It can be helpful to keep records about your landscaping, noting dates of typical blooms or garden progress and other seasonal changes. In time, you will become very aware of the natural cycle of your landscaping, and you will quickly note unusual changes.

When You See a Problem

Seeing a problem is the first step in correcting it, and if you’ve scouted your landscape regularly, you are more likely to notice problems when the solutions may still be simple and easy. When something unwanted happens in your landscape…

  1. Identify the Issue
    To treat a problem effectively, you have to know exactly what that problem is. If you see a new weed or unwanted bug appearing in your yard, for example, identifying the exact pest will help you plan how to control it with the fewest chemicals or least effort so the rest of your landscape is not affected.  You may need to do a lawn renovation at the end of the growing season
  2. Define Your Tolerance
    IPM is all about tolerating a natural landscape, and that occasionally means some pests are allowed in your landscape when they don’t adversely affect the entire yard or garden. A single bug or weed may not be a problem at all, and if it doesn’t take over the landscape, the best action may be to leave it alone. Learn about the potential problem, and decide if it is worth reacting to before taking any action. This could mean scouting the landscape more regularly to note the pest’s progress rather than reacting right away.
  3. Research Multiple Solutions
    There are many ways to react to different landscape problems. Some unwanted bugs, for example, could be hand-picked off your plants, or they may vacate your landscape by themselves if you plant different vegetation. Adjusting your watering schedule may make the landscape less inviting, or you may need to try a selective pesticide. Study all the solutions to each problem to understand your options, and how each of those options may affect other parts of the landscape. Will changing your watering cause other plants to wilt? Could a pesticide take away more beneficial bugs? You need to know the answers.
  4. Implement the Solution
    Once you understand your options, it is time to take the appropriate steps to keep your landscape in top condition. In some cases, this may mean doing nothing at all if the pest is not a big problem, or else you will need to implement the appropriate solution. Be patient with the results, as it can take some time before the problem is corrected. Keeping records of the changes in your yard can help you see whether your first solution is effective or more aggressive steps may be necessary.

Never Stop Looking

The most important part of scouting your landscape as part of IPM is to never stop looking. Your landscape will change on a daily basis, and you need to be aware of which changes are normal and which may be early indications of problems. Weekly monitoring may be adequate for a healthy, robust landscape, or you may need to carefully check your landscape 2-3 times each week during stressful periods, such as during a drought, after a severe storm or when many plants are young or transplanted. The more aware you are of your landscape, the more easily scouting will help you spot any problems that need care, and the more easily you will be able to keep your landscape healthy and vibrant.

If you have any questions about the information contained in this newsletter, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 914-377-9039.

Joe Yedowitz, CLT

Ready to Fertilize? Round 2 – Post-Emergent Control and Fertilizer

If you want a healthy, robust lawn, fertilizing and weed control should not be once-a-year chores. Instead, several seasonal treatments can be adjusted to meet your turf’s changing nutritional needs throughout the year. Late spring is the ideal time for post-emergent weed control and fertilizer to nourish vigorous growth as the growing season really gets underway.

About Post-Emergent Weed Control

Weeds can germinate at any time, and a good post-emergent herbicide will help deter weeds even after they have sprouted. These herbicides work on actively growing weeds, and may be absorbed through the plant’s foliage, root system or both, depending on the formula and weed type. Post-emergents are most commonly used to control various broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions, clover, ragweed, chickweed, plantain and chicory.

Because these herbicides are most effective when weeds are actively growing, they are best used on young weeds in late spring, after pre-emergent formulas have already minimized how many weeds are popping up in the lawn. Post-emergents are ideal for spot treatments of individual weeds, but can also be used across your entire turf to kill any weeds that are just making their appearance. Older, more mature weeds may take several herbicide applications to completely kill.

Because post-emergent herbicides are available in both selective – kills only specific plants – and non-selective – kills all plants – formulas, it is critical to choose the right type. A non-selective formula will kill all the weeds, but will also kill your grass, shrubs, flowers, garden and anything else that may be growing. Selective formulas are safer for lawn use, but be sure that the specific formula you choose will be effective on the weeds you want to eliminate.

Both types of post-emergents are available as either liquid sprays or granular products, but whichever one you choose, read the application directions carefully and follow them meticulously to avoid any overuse that can harm your turf. Apply the chemicals at the proper time of day, and allow adequate drying time if needed. Some formulas may need watering-in, which can be done naturally if there is rainfall expected, or you may need to use sprinklers or manual watering to ensure effectiveness.

Spring Fertilizing

Controlling weeds in spring is of little use if your turf is thin and weak, because new weed seeds will simply take over after every herbicide treatment. It may seem counterintuitive, but you want to avoid heavily fertilizing your lawn in early spring – this is the period when roots are growing most actively, and most fertilizers are designed to “green up” your lawn and foster shoot growth instead. Improperly applied, spring fertilizers will instead take away from your root system and create a lawn that, while it looks healthy at first, has a weaker root system and will not withstand summer stresses.

In late spring, however, fertilizing can be very beneficial for your lawn. In mid- to late May or early June, your lawn will crave more nitrogen as its stored supplies are exhausted. Weed-and-feed combinations that include post-emergent herbicides as well as late spring fertilizing formulas are ideal. These blends will not only help combat unwanted weeds, but will give your lawn adequate nutrition for building up its strength against the heat, drought and heavy use that summer brings.

Everything is growing in spring, including the lawn you want and the weeds you don’t. With a post-emergent weed control application and appropriate late spring fertilization, you can keep weeds away and let your lawn thrive.

And hey…..if you just don’t have the time to drag out that old wobbly spreader out of your shed to perform your Round 2 application, then give us a call.  We would be more than happy to treat your lawn for you.

Weed Management in Lawns

Weeds can quickly take over a yard and before you know it, your formerly lush lawn is filled with dandelions, clover, crabgrass, foxtails, thistles, sheep’s sorrel, ragwort and other unwelcome intruders. With proper management, however, you can keep weeds away with ease.

Know Thy Enemy – Identifying Weeds

To properly control weeds, you need to know what you’re trying to control. There are hundreds of different types of weeds, from weedy grasses to broadleaf weeds to invasive plants. In fact, any plant – even a lovely flower, bulb or tree sprout – can be considered a weed if it’s growing where you don’t want it.

Because many weeds look similar to popular grasses and groundcovers, you need to identify them carefully in order to choose the most effective control methods. Look at unwanted weeds carefully, noting the leaf, stem, bloom or blade shape and size, as well as the plant’s overall size, color, texture and growth habit. Compare your observations to gardening books or websites for weed identification. If you aren’t sure, take several photos of the plant and consult with a gardening center or landscaping expert for proper identification.

Your Lawn Is Your Best Defense

A rich, healthy turf has no room for weeds, and a well-managed lawn is your best weapon against weeds. When your lawn is stressed, it will become thin and poor, leaving much more room for weeds to flourish. To keep your lawn at its very best.

  • Choose the proper type of grass for your climate and soil condition. This includes considering season lengths, high and low temperatures, moisture levels, drainage and soil pH so grass can grow well.
  • Use the proper watering schedule for your lawn, giving it a deep, thorough drink at longer intervals rather than shallow sips too frequently. Deeper, less frequent watering encourages stronger, deeper roots so the turf can resist weeds.
  • Feed your lawn as needed with appropriate fertilizer, adjusting nutrient levels and application densities to be appropriate to the time of year. This will help the lawn grow thicker, minimizing space for weeds.
  • Patch bare spots in the lawn as quickly as possible. You can opt for patch mixtures, sod patches or grass seed, but don’t give weeds a chance to take root. If the entire lawn is thin, overseeding may be necessary.
  • Remove excessive thatch and aerate the lawn to help the grass grow more productively. Too much thatch or compact soil will nurture weeds with its dense base, while preventing grass from growing effectively.
  • Set your mower height for the optimum length for your grass type. If the grass is longer, it will shade and cool any weed seeds, decreasing their germination and minimizing how many weeds can take root in the yard.

Controlling With Chemicals

Even a lush, healthy lawn can occasionally see a weed or two, and careful chemical use can manage those weeds before they get out of control. There are two general types of weed control chemicals…

  • Pre-emergent: These herbicides are applied to the lawn before weeds appear to stop germination and keep weeds from getting started. These herbicides are often available in weed-and-feed combinations that include fertilizer that will nurture the lawn at the same time weeds are discouraged. Pre-emergents are first applied in early spring, and there may be several applications throughout the summer to catch new generations of weed seeds.
  • Post-emergent: These herbicides are used after weeds appear and will slow their growth and eventually kill them. Both liquid and granular varieties are available, depending on how applications will be made. Selective herbicides kill only the weeds they are formulated to attack, while non-selective chemicals will kill all plants, including grass, flowers or gardens. Never confuse the two types, or you may have a bigger problem than just a few weeds!

Weed-killing chemicals should always be used carefully. Read all instructions before use, and follow them meticulously or else you may do your yard more harm than good. Ideally, use chemicals as sparingly as possible to avoid possible overuse or environmental contamination, and dispose of any unused or unwanted chemicals responsibly.

Pulling Weeds

A little elbow grease can also help you manage the weeds in your yard. When just one or two weeds may be appearing, it can be quick and easy to remove them by hand. Weeds will pull out easier if the soil is damp, and it is critical to remove the entire root if possible. If the root breaks off and some is left behind, new weeds can sprout from the old root. Because of that difficulty, it may be best to only pull roots by hand from very loose soil, such as in a garden, flowerbed or mulched area where they will pull out easily.

It’s not impossible to manage the weeds in your lawn, and if you take care of your turf from the roots to the tips, you’ll soon be weed-free.

Time to Think About Firing Up the Sprinkler System

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, but Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate with plentiful spring rain on schedule. Now is the time to be sure your sprinkler system is ready to take up the slack.

Restarting Your Sprinklers

Before you actually start needing your sprinklers, you should take the proper steps to be sure your irrigation system is functioning properly and efficiently.

  1. Check that the ground is not still frozen.The deeper parts of the soil are the last areas to feel the warm kiss of spring, and before you begin work on your sprinkler system, you want to be sure your buried pipes aren’t still in frozen ground. Use a spade or shovel to check that the soil is fully defrosted at least 12 inches below the surface, otherwise you may damage your sprinklers and pipes when you start them up. If the soil is still frozen, wait another 5-7 days before checking again, and do not start your sprinklers until defrosting is complete.
  2. Adjust your automatic controller as needed.

    The times and durations of watering cycles you used last fall are not likely to be the same that you will want to use this spring. Furthermore, your timer may not be set to the correct time depending on Daylight Saving or power adjustments, so now is the time to double check that your controller is properly adjusted and timed for spring use. Reread instructions if necessary to refamiliarize yourself with how to change the settings appropriately.

  3. Recharge the sprinkler lines slowly and carefully.

    When you open the main line to your irrigation system, do so very slowly and carefully, staying alert to possible leaks or problems. It is crucial to allow the line to fill slowly, otherwise the air pressure and water pressure surge could damage pipes, valves and sprinkler heads, leading to costly repairs and landscaping damage. Once the main line is recharged, do the same for each individual sprinkler zone, but keep the pace slow and gentle. It may take up to 30 minutes to recharge each zone, but use that time to watch for leaks or other indications of damage, particularly at valves or sprinkler heads where even slow leaks can add up to hefty water bills.

  4. Run each zone briefly and adjust coverage if necessary.

    Once your system is fully charged and ready to be operated, run each zone for a few minutes to check the efficiency and coverage of individual sprinkler heads. Frost heaving, snowblower incidents and even inadvertent kicks from pets or children can all misalign sprinkler heads, leading to more water on sidewalks or driveways than on the lawn. This is also the time to remove any dirt or debris that has built up on the sprinkler heads, and check that the overall coverage is adequate for each watering area.

If you find damage in your sprinkler system, you can make the proper repairs on your own or hire our company to repair and inspect the system thoroughly. You may also want to consider upgrading to better or more water-wise sprinkler heads in the spring, which can save you money all through the watering season.

Is It Time to Start Watering?

Just because you’ve fired up your sprinkler system, that doesn’t mean it’s time to set the automatic timer and let the sprinklers take care of themselves. The actual time you will start using your sprinklers will vary based on your lawn’s condition, local climate, recent precipitation and your fertilization schedule. While you will want to get your sprinklers ready to go 2-4 weeks before regular watering begins in case there are repairs to be made, a good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t start watering your lawn until the grass starts to grow naturally. At that point, more water will be needed to nourish a healthy root system and keep the grass lush so weeds do not take over. You will want to schedule your sprinklers to provide two inchs of water to the lawn each week, using 1-2 watering cycles to reach that total. When Mother Nature does oblige with a good spring shower, you can use your sprinklers less.

Reseed Your Lawn This Fall

You can reseed your lawn during the fall

While you are out looking over your sprinkler system and getting your garden ready for the coming winter, why not reseed your lawn as needed? If you only need to repair small areas, this is also known as overseeding and will help you make your lawn healthier and uniform by filling in any spots that are bare or otherwise problematic.

Why Reseed your lawn This Fall?

Autumn is a good time to get new grass growing and repairing your lawn. As long as you are not doing it at the end of fall, there should be enough time for a strong root structure to be formed and give the grass a chance to store away nutrients for the coming winter dormancy.

You do want to keep an eye out on your local forecasts for frost and be aware of your average first frost date of the year. For example, it is usually around November 1st to 10th here where we are in Yonkers, NY. These dates are not a guarantee of course; frosts may definitely start before or after these dates. They are, however, based on observations of past trends and serve as a good guide when planning your garden tasks. A frost right when seedlings are emerging can be devastating.

The Basics of How to Reseed Your Lawn

It usually is not too hard to get new grass seeds going in the bare spots in your lawn. Start by mowing your lawn, taking away the clippings and adding just a little soil on top so that the new grass seed has somewhere to get started. You don’t want to smother your existing lawn, though, so only use a fraction of an inch.  Choose a type of seed that matches or compliments your current grass. Sow the seeds and make sure they get watered lightly a couple of times daily to keep the ground moist enough (not wet) for germination.

You can also totally reseed an entire lawn if it is beyond repair, though you will need to remove the old grass, work to enhance and repair the soil, then get it even and ready for reseeding.

Are you going to reseed your lawn this fall?

Image by anneh632 under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

 

Continue to Water Your Lawn in Autumn

You need to still water your lawn even in fall

As the temperatures cool down and rainstorms start appearing, you may think that you can just turn off the sprinklers and not worry about your grass any more. However, you should indeed keep them on and water your lawn as needed in autumn.

Why Water Your Lawn in Fall?

Autumn is a great time for growth in your garden. Many grasses that are used for lawns are cool season (for example, Kentucky bluegrass and fescue,) so they enjoy the milder temperatures present at this time. Plants will produce some new growth and roots as they prepare for winter. It is important that your grass receives adequate nutrients and water during this time.

While the rains that start to fall more frequently during this season will help take care of your plant’s needs, it is important to make sure that they are consistently watered every week. If you depend solely on precipitation, there may be weeks with little or no rain and your lawn will be left thirsty during this important period of growth.

How Much Should I Water?

This will depend, of course, on how rainy this fall proves to be. During summer the general rule is about an inch per week, but the grass will start to need less in the weeks before winter arrives.  Watch the weather forecasts to get an idea of what the coming days may bring. Keep a rain gauge in your landscape so that you can see how much is actually falling on your lawn.

Adjust your sprinklers as needed so that you do not accidentally overwater your grass. You may, in the end, not need to water much or at all, but it is better to be prepared for the possibility and help your lawn stay as healthy as possible.

Image by fabola under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Fertilize Your Lawn and Remove Broadleaf Weeds Around Labor Day

Plantain in the middle of grass

Broadleaf weeds like this plantain can pop up in your lawn

Labor Day is fast approaching and many people take the day off to barbecue or otherwise enjoy time in your garden. Now is a good time to fertilize lawn your lawn and work on getting rid of your broadleaf weeds also.

Why Should You Fertilize Your Lawn Now?

As we have mentioned on this blog before, fall is a good time to give your grass some extra attention, including a dose of nutrients. Temperatures are starting to head downward and grasses (especially your cool season varieties like Kentucky bluegrass) can breathe a sigh of relief that the stresses of summer dryness and heat are on their way out.

You do want to do any fertilizing earlier in the autumn season until waiting until the very end. If new growth occurs right before winter, freezing temperatures or icy conditions can severely damage your grass. You want to give it a chance to get new growth started, but also give it enough time to prepare for winter and properly go dormant.

What Are Broadleaf Weeds and How Do You Kill Them?

There are three basic types of weeds that you may find in your lawn: grasses, sedges and broadleaf varieties. Broadleaf weeds usually have wider and/or thicker leaves than the blades on grasses or sedges. Common examples include dandelions, plantain, common mallow and bindweed.

The trick to getting rid of broadleaf weeds without disturbing your grass is to use a herbicide that is specially targeted towards them. These plants are physiologically different from grasses and the herbicide manufacturers are able to create a product that will work on only the broadleaf weeds. Make sure that you read the label to see what kinds of plants are targeted and follow the instructions carefully.

What do you use on your broadleaf weeds?

Image by Macleay Grass Man under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Fall Is an Excellent Time to Work on Lawn Quality

Work on lawn quality in the fall

Many of us think of spring as the prime time for rejuvenating our yards and landscapes, but did you know that fall is also a great time to work on fixing your lawn quality and make your landscape shine next year? Take a walk around your landscape and see what improvements you may want to work on in the coming weeks.

Why Is Fall a Good Season for Lawn Repair and Renovation?

Spring is, of course, a time when plants begin to awaken and rapidly grow. However, this new growth can be stressed when the hot and dry summer season arrives. As the weather starts to cool down in fall, new growth can occur and then the grass will prepare to go dormant for the winter. This will help protect the improved lawn and make it stronger for the following growing season.

Less Weed Problems

Another benefit to working on improving your lawn in fall is that many of the weeds have stopped actively producing seeds or otherwise producing new plants as they prepare to die or go dormant for the winter. If you strike right now, you have a better chance of lessening or removing the problem entirely.

Timing is Important

You do need to make sure that you are working on these projects more from early to mid fall instead of later. If it is too close to winter and the time that frosts set in, the new growth may be damaged and the repair or renovation will fail.

What will you do to improve your lawn quality this fall?

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Dealing With Bentgrass in Your Lawn

Bentgrass is one weed that can invade your lawnBentgrass is not necessarily always a weed. In fact, it is often used to create lawns and golf course greens in some areas. The problem comes when it pops up in lawns and competes with the type of grass that you did intend to plant.

How Does Bentgrass Invade Your Lawn?

Seeds can arrive in your landscape by being blown in. They may also be brought in if you use a lawn mowing service. The plant starts to grow and can spread itself through stems called stolons. These allow the grass to put down roots in other areas and become firmly entrenched. 

How Do You Get Rid of Bentgrass?

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to remove just the bentgrass from your lawn, especially once it has had the chance to spread. If you are lucky and catch it when it first arrives, you may be able to manually remove the plants. It may take some time and diligence to make sure that it is truly gone.

You will need to use a nonspecific herbicide like glyphosate (one common version is Roundup®) on the areas around and including the bentgrass. This will kill any plants in the area so be careful when spraying. Follow the instructions on the bottle and protect your other plants outside the target area. 

It is safe to reseed your lawn a few days after the grass has died. You want to make sure that the herbicide has had a chance to become inactive before planting any new grass seeds. Make sure that it stays watered properly so that germination can occur.

How have you gotten rid of bentgrass?

Image by Matt Lavin under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License