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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Drainage Problems in Lawns

Sometimes lawns have drainage problemsYou may notice spots in your lawn that are especially wet after the sprinklers have gone off or a rainstorm passed through. This can be normal at first since it takes time for water to travel down into the soil. If it seems to take especially long, though, it could be a problem with how your lawn drains.

Why Should You Worry About Poorly Draining Lawns?

Did you know that too much water can drown roots? It seems strange since they are built to take up liquids. However, they also need to have access to air. If there is constantly water present, the roots won’t be able to process the air and die.

Too much water can also cause the roots and other parts to catch fungal disease or rot, since both are more likely to occur in wet situations.

It is also a safety issue since someone could slip and fall when they are walking across your yard.

What Causes Drainage Problems in Lawns and How Can They Be Fixed?

There are several reasons why water is having a hard time draining into the soil. Investigate around your landscape to see if you can find signs of the following:

  • A common problem is thatch since the thick layer can make it hard for liquids to move down. Aerate your lawn to help alleviate this problem.
  • You could have clay soil. The particles in this type are closer together and it is notorious for not letting water through in a reasonable timeframe. Add organic matter like lawn clippings over time and the soil composition will change.
  • One of your sprinkler pipes may be broken. You can test out the system to see if that is the case and work on repairs.
  • The ground may have sunk down and created a depression. Depending on how deep it is, you can either add a top dressing or use a shovel to dig up the sunken area, fill, and add the grass back on top.

There are other problems that would be harder to alleviate, like if the natural level of the groundwater is high or your yard is underneath a slope. 

We would be happy to come out and assess why you have drainage problems in your yard, so give us a call.

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Apply Your Pre-Emergent Weed Control Now

PreEmergentWeedControlFlickranneh632One of the best ways to control weeds, of course, is to never let them get started. A good dose of pre-emergent weed control will keep seeds from germinating and dominating your lawn.

When Should You Apply It?

One of the main weeds that you are trying to avoid is crabgrass. You want to apply just before that starts germinating. If you do it earlier than that, it is quite likely that rains and snows will lessen the concentration or even wash it all away. If you wait until too late, you risk the possibility of crabgrass germination starting robustly and the chemical does not have a chance to affect the seeds, wasting the opportunity.

As Cornell University mentions, crabgrass germination is usually most successful when the ground temperatures are in the range of 59F to 65 F. You want to do your weed control just before this happens for the best results.

What About My Grass Seeds? Will They Be Affected?

This kind of herbicide works because it affects seeds during the germination phase. Grass seeds are not immune to this process and they will fail to sprout if you try to grow them when a pre-emergent has been applied. You should have at least a few months time in between reseeding and pre-emergent weed control. Fall is another good time to try patching up your lawn.

You could seed your lawn a few weeks before your herbicide application in the spring. Cornell also mentions that parts of your landscape with little or no plants will warm up sooner since they have one less layer protecting it. Patch up your lawn first and there should be enough time before the crabgrass starts that you can have a successful grass germination rate.

Why Do a Split Application of Pre-Emergent Weed Control?

If you try to do only one application, you may still have problems with crabgrass and other weeds. Seeds may be blown or carried into the area and germinate after the herbicide has been washed away. When you do a second application a few weeks later, you can catch these stragglers and keep weeds at bay,

Call us today to get your applications set up. We can help keep those pesky weeds away from your beautiful lawn.

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It’s Spring Lawn Assessment Time!

Spring Lawn Assessment Including Raking

Spring cleanup season is now in full swing. Your next task is to do a good lawn assessment so that you can see what might need to be done.

Dethatching and Aeration

Over time, lawns tend to build up a layer of living and dead parts on the top of the soil that can make it difficult for water and nutrients to reach the roots. Every spring you should check the thickness of your thatch to see if you need to take steps to remove it.

If you do have too much thatch, one way to help remedy the problem is dethatching through raking. This action can remove some of the built up matter and allow your grass to breathe better. You can use a power rake or vertical mower to complete this process. If you do not own either of these, they can usually be rented at your local home improvement stores or you could have us come through and dethatch.

Another tool that you may want to rent or contract out is core aeration. These machines remove small plugs of grass and soil, opening up the thatch and improving the health of your lawn. You should water the ground before doing this as it is difficult to do when the soil is dry.

Raking Out Fungus

You may also have noticed that there are dead patches in your lawn that has pink or white fungi on it. These could be caused by a type of fungus called snow mold. As the weather warms up, the grass will repair itself and usually green up nicely. You can help accelerate this process by doing a light raking to help the grass dry out and get rid of the snow mold.

What else do you do as part of your spring lawn assessment?

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Are You Winterizing Your Equipment Yet?

WinterizingEquipmentFlickrtheCCLC

Part of your fall cleanup efforts should be directed towards winterizing your equipment. This is a good time to check over everything for broken parts and get it prepped for the following year. You also want to help protect them from the impending weather where conditions can be wet and freezing.

Sprinkler System

First, you should drain out all of the water that you can as any that is left has the potential to freeze and break the pipes. The system needs to be blown out using an air compressor. This step is best done by professionals since it can be dangerous. A heavy-duty air compressor is used to force air throughout the system and push the water out. Follow the safety guidelines presented on this site if you decide to do it yourself, including wearing safety goggles and not standing near the section that is being cleared out.

Lawn Mower and Other Power Equipment

Take a moment to clean it all off. Remove any grass or other organic substances. Check to make sure that all parts are functioning and change them out as needed. As this article from Consumer Reports mentions, you will want to change out the oil and either take out all of the gas or add a stabilizer. Sharpen the edges of the blades since dull ones will hack and tear grass instead of cleanly cutting it. If there is a battery, take it out and store it somewhere cool and dry. Keep the mower itself in a location with a similar environment.

Pruning Tools

Clean off the blades thoroughly. Gummy substances can be removed with a bit of citrus oil. Look the tool over to see if any parts are broken and replace them as possible. Use a sharpening stone or tool to go over dull blades. Rub oil over any parts that are metal to help keep rust away.

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Late Fall Lawn Seeding

RakingOutGrassFlickrnociveglia

Prepare your lawn by raking the areas where you wish to plant.

Winter is almost here and for the most part, your garden is ready to go to sleep until the next growing season. If your lawn is still a bit bare, though, this is the time when you can do some late fall lawn seeding! This process is also known as dormant seeding.

Your goal at this time is not to get a new lawn growing. In fact, if the seeds did start to sprout, they would almost certainly be killed when winter’s frosts hit. Instead, you are trying to get a jump start on next year’s lawn by adding seeds now that will germinate when the time is right. Place them just before the time when the ground freezes for the season. This will hopefully allow them to lay dormant throughout the cold months and be ready to awaken when the temperatures rise in spring.

Do start by preparing the patches of ground where you want to place the seeds. Make sure that the seeds are able to reach the soil and start germination. Your bag of seeds will tell you how many pounds are needed for every 1000 square feet. Once you are done spreading the seeds, irrigate the area lightly. If it is too wet, though, the possibility of problems like rots increases. 

If all goes well (a lot is up to Mother Nature in this case!), you will have an improved lawn once spring arrives and your landscape bursts back into life. 

Have you done a late fall lawn seeding? How well did it turn out?

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