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?

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It’s Time to Start Thinking About Lawn Renovation

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

Your grass can really get a workout over the years as it is subjected to foot traffic, weather, pests and diseases, among other factors. Patches may start to appear and the lawn doesn’t look as healthy as it once did. As we approach fall, it is a great time to consider doing a lawn renovation as needed.

What Is a Lawn Renovation?

There are basically two different kinds of lawn renovations that your landscape may need. If the damage is not too extensive, you may be able to simply overseed and fill in the bare spots. You could also use this opportunity to add in different kinds of grasses to improve the quality of your lawn.

However, there are times where you may need to remove some or all of the existing lawn and start over. This is more work, of course, but can ultimately mean that your landscape will be whole again. This process is known as a lawn renovation.

Basic Overview of Doing Lawn Renovations

As with many garden planting projects, a good first step is to have a soil test done. You want to make sure that the proper pH and nutrient levels are present or your new grass will struggle also. You can get tests at a garden center or home improvement store. More extensive testing can be obtained by sending samples to a soil laboratory.

Once you know the state of your soil, you can start working on the removal of your existing lawn. You want to get a general herbicide like glyphosate that targets all plants. Be very careful if you are only doing part of your lawn since this could kill the grass that you want to keep. It will take a few days for the herbicide to work through the plant and kill it.

Next would be removing thatch, especially if thick, and tilling up the yard. Thick thatch layers do not allow nutrients and water to reach grass roots and would make it more difficult for the new grass to thrive. You may also want to add soil to help even out the ground, especially if some areas are sunken or raised.

Once your area is cleaned and prepared, you are ready to add your new grass. You can use seed, sod or plugs depending on your budget and type of grass that you would like to grow. Early fall is an optimal time to install new grass since the cooler temperatures mean less stress and there are usually less problems with weeds.

If you are thinking about doing a lawn renovation, we are here to help. We can help you decide the best course of action to bring your lawn back into tip-top shape.

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How Is the Lawn Soil pH in Your Landscape?

Soil samples are taken to figure out the pH and nutrient levels in your landscape

As autumn approaches, it is a good time to start thinking about your lawn soil pH so that you can add amendments if needed. Fall is a period of growth for grass as it prepares to go dormant for the winter and ensuring that the pH levels are optimal will help it stay healthy.

Test Your Soil First

You definitely do not want to just assume that your soil needs some sort of amendment. Plants grow best in a certain pH range and if you change the soil to be higher or lower than needed, your grass will struggle or possibly die.

A quick way to test is to buy one of the soil pH kits at a home improvement store or garden center. However, these are very simplistic and may not give you precise results. There are also soil pH probes available for sale in retail locations. These suffer the same flaws as home pH kits.

Your best option is to send off a sample to a soil laboratory. In addition to pH levels, they can also determine the type of soil present and the levels of important nutrients and micronutrients that are currently present in the soil. This information will help you get the right amendments and fertilizers for your grass. Here in New York you can send it off to the soil laboratory at Cornell University.

Steps for Preparing a Soil Sample

A proper soil sample requires that you dig in a few different spots throughout your lawn. You need to go down 3″ in your grass to make sure that you are reaching the levels where the roots will be growing. Take out a shovel of soil at the bottom of the hole and replace the grass.

Put all of your samples together in one container and mix it around. This will allow the laboratory to have an accurate representation of the levels present throughout your lawn. If you are sending it off to Cornell, they would like three cups of soil from this mixture to perform their tests. More information for ordering a sample can be found here.

Do You Need to Add Lime?

If tests show that your pH levels are on the low side (under 7.0 is considered acidic), you may need to add some lime to your soil to help raise the pH. The amount that you need will depend on what kind of soil is present and your current pH number. Refer to this chart from Cornell to see how many pounds per 1000 square feet that you should add.

If you would like help with these tasks, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

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Core Aeration is Great as Part of Fall Lawn Maintenance

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If you have walked by a lawn and seen little cylinders of grass and dirt, you may have wondered what was going on. Why would anyone want to punch holes in their grass?

This process is called core aeration and it can be very beneficial as far as keeping your lawn healthy. As grass grows, it builds up a layer of matter that is called thatch. If it becomes too thick, it can cause your lawn to not be able to receive air and water properly, stunting its growth.

Sometimes raking alone is enough to keep thatch in check, but you will likely need to aerate your lawn too. This procedure involves using a specialized machine to take out cylinders from the grass at evenly spaced intervals. Aeration opens up holes in the layer of thatch that allows water and oxygen to reach the roots easier.

Why would you want to aerate your lawn in the fall specifically? That season sees a lot of growth as plants get ready to go dormant for the winter. Performing core aeration in autumn allows the roots to spread and grow. It also allows the plants to get the nutrients that they need at this important time. Taking this step will help ensure that your next growing season goes more smoothly.

Fall is just around the corner, so please give us a call if you are ready to schedule a session of aeration for your lawn this fall.

 

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Are There Foxtail Weeds in Your Grass?

Foxtail weeds can appear in your lawn

If you have noticed that some areas of your lawn look a bit different and there are spikes of seedheads shooting up, you may have foxtail weeds in your grass.

There are three different species that you commonly see throughout the United States. They are:

  • Giant Foxtail (Setaria faberi)
  • Green Foxtail (Setaria viridis)
  • Yellow Foxtail (Setaria glauca)

 Why Are Foxtails a Problem?

They form in clumps and tend to remain upright, breaking up the uniform appearance of your lawn. They send up seedheads that are full of seeds, producing new plants. These seeds are also able to cling to animals and clothing, causing potential pain and problems.

These species can act as a host for nematodes, which can then affect your lawn. Foxtails also produce chemicals that can actively harm other plants in the area to reduce competition through a process called allelopathy.

Controlling Foxtail Weeds

One way to help control these species is to apply preemergent herbicides. Since these plants reproduce by seeds, stopping them before they can really get growing is helpful. However, if seeds were dropped in that location before or are blown in, they can germinate after the herbicide has worn off. Applying more than once a summer can be helpful in this case to control foxtails and other weeds with similar tendencies.

As with all weeds, keeping your lawn grass in a healthy state helps keep undesired plants from taking over. Properly growing grass forms a good root structure that can grab the nutrients it needs and the plants can shade out seedlings.

How do you control foxtails?

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Battling Common Mallow in Your Lawn

One weed found in lawns is the common mallow

If you have noticed a plant in your lawn with crinkly lobed leaves and flowers in shades of white, pink or light purple, it may be the common mallow (Malva neglecta). This relative of hibiscus, hollyhocks, cotton and okra is one of those plants that do offer benefits (in this case, nutrition,) but are too invasive to use as a garden plant.

The common mallow can be either an annual or biennial depending on where it is growing. In general, it tends to act as more of a groundcover and stay close to the ground, but it can reach a couple of feet high if left unchecked.

How Do You Get Rid of Common Mallow?

Watch out for this weed and pull it out while it is little. You definitely want to remove it before it produces flowers and goes to seed. As the plant matures, the roots also become stronger and woody, so it will be much harder to pull them out.

Using this method will help keep this species from colonizing your lawn. This is the best way to control this weed since chemicals do not usually work very well. You can use a tool like a dandelion digger to help you get out the long tap root. If the plant has been growing for a while, it can possibly resprout if some of the root is left.

As always, keeping your grass lush and healthy is another way to help stop this weed from spreading. When plants are growing well, their roots spread out appropriately and it is harder for other species like weeds to become established.

How have you stopped common mallow in your garden?

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Is Field Bindweed Taking Over Your Lawn?

Field bindweed in grass

At first glance, you might think the field bindweed is just another pretty little plant. It features many white or pink trumpet-shaped blossoms that are much like its relative, the morning glory. However, it is definitely one of the worst weeds that you could come across.

What Makes the Field Bindweed So Noxious?

The simple definition of a weed is a plant that is located where you don’t want it. Some plants have such difficult growing habits that you would not want them anywhere! For starters, they are very good at survival. This species is a perennial, so it is naturally structured to live more than one year.

The stems tend to act like a vine, twirling around surrounding plants and strangling them. One plant can spread across several yards, so it would not take many plants to overtake your lawn if you leave it unchecked for several years. It bears an abundance of flowers that can produce thousands of seeds, perpetuating the problem.

It gets even worse when you look at the root system. This tenacious plant develops an extensive mass of roots that can spread several feet beyond the width of the top plant. It has one main taproot, but also sends out side roots that grow for a few feet, then move down. It has the ability to send out new stems from any roots left behind after pulling as long as it has buds.

If It’s That Bad, What Can You Do?

There are systemic herbicides available that can help curb this problem. As the Penn State Extension office suggests, you should apply this when the flower buds have formed or just started to bloom. The plant is focusing its energy towards pollination and fruit production, so it uses up some of the energy stored in the roots to accomplish this. When you apply the herbicide, it has a greater chance of killing off the roots, though you may likely have to repeat this several times to truly get rid of the plant.

You can also achieve the same effect with manual removal over the long-term. If you keep removing the plant, it will slowly starve. Penn State asserts that a good time to remove the new growth is about 2 weeks after it appears.

Have you wrangled with field bindweed? How did you finally conquer it?

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Fertilize Your Lawn at the End of May

 May is a good time to fertilize your lawn

Growing season is into full swing these days. Plants everywhere are blooming and your lawn has woken up and started growing again. Now that it’s had a bit of a chance to come out of its winter slumber, you should fertilize your lawns around the end of May.

Why Should You Fertilize?

Plants are like people in that they need proper nourishment to grow. Plants are designed to pull water and nutrients from the soil. However, some areas may have become depleted over the years or had low levels from the start. Adding fertilizer is like a human taking a vitamin to ensure that they are getting everything that is needed to stay healthy.

What Kind of Fertilizer?

It is always a good idea to get a soil test every new growing season so that you can make sure that you are adding the proper nutrients. The laboratory will tell you what is in short supply. The three main nutrients that are on a fertilizer package are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The three numbers on front (written like 5-5-5) let you know the percentage of each nutrient that is included, in that order. Grass is always hungry for nitrogen, so your best choice of lawn fertilizer will include that.

How Much Do I Need?

The amount will vary depending on the product that you are using and the results if you had a soil test performed. You will need to have the square footage of your lawn handy as this will be involved in figuring out the amount to apply. The label will tell you how much to add for every 1000 square feet or similar measurement.

Need help in getting your lawn fertilized this year? We can help!

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Get Your Irrigation System Ready for the Growing Season

Tune up your sprinkler system this springSpring is here in all its glory. Plants are coming alive again and the temperatures are creeping up. There are still days here and there that are colder, but it’s definitely on the upswing. For much of spring, rain is enough to take care of all of your landscape’s watering needs. However, you should work on getting your landscape ready now for the rest of the growing season.

Can You Turn It On Yet?

Even if the air temperatures are above freezing, the ground can still be frozen for a little while more. Find a spot where you can easily try to dig down and see if the soil has thawed yet. You want to be able to reach at least one foot down.

Get Your Irrigation System Back Up to Speed

You properly winterized your sprinklers last fall and shut them down, so they should be ready to go, right? The freezing temperatures in winter can be harsh, possibly dealing damage to your watering lines. There could also have been damage from snow plows or other garden equipment. Sprinkler parts also fall apart over time from normal wear and tear.

Before you turn it on, walk around your yard and physically inspect sprinkler heads, valves and other parts of your system to see if they show signs of problems. Make sure that the water pressure is not too high. According to Rainbird, a sprinklers manufacturer, this range should be within 40-65 PSI (pounds per square inch). We can help you measure this if needed and otherwise check over your system.

Turn It On Carefully

As Hunter Industries mentions, you should start turning things back on slowly. If you switch the valves on full blast, the surges can damage the pipes and cause problems. Make sure the timer settings are appropriate for the time of year; you need less water in spring than in summer, so start out lower. Once you have turned everything on, walk around again and see how the various sprinkler heads are doing. Note if there are areas that are especially wet, since this can be a sign of a leak.

Has your ground thawed out? Give us a call if you want to get your irrigation system ready to go.

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