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.

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Do a Fall Sprinkler System Check

 When doing a fall sprinkler check, make sure the sidewalks aren't getting watered too.

As you contemplate the tasks needed to keep your lawn in the best shape this season, include a fall sprinkler system check to assess the current condition and make sure that it is in proper working order before you turn it off for winter.

Check for Broken Sprinkler Heads

It is natural that some of your sprinkler heads may be broken by the end of the growing season. Sometimes a lawn mower can catch on them. People walking across a lawn can accidentally kick them and sometimes even deliberately break them. Use your fall sprinkler system check to replace any that are damaged and make sure it is in the best shape before you shut it down for the season.

Adjust Sprinkler Head Directions

Sometimes sprinkler heads can be turned around by lawn mowers and kids, among other things. You may find that you are watering the sidewalk instead of your grass. This, of course, just serves to waste water, create slip hazards and take away the moisture that your grass needs.

Take a day and note exactly where the sprinklers are hitting while they are on. Depending on your sprinklers, a little may still fall outside of our lawn, but it should not be widespread. You can use these observations to make any adjustments needed to get your system back on track.

Evaluate Your Watering Times

Your grass will not need the same amount of watering throughout every season. Summer is naturally when you will need the most water since the weather is hotter and drier than other times in the year. In spring and fall, rain is more likely to fall and lessen the need for any additional water from sprinklers. Adjust your settings accordingly to water less frequently, ultimately turning them off at the end of the season.

What do you do as part of your fall sprinkler system check?

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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?

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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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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


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.


Photo: AIREADORA 04” by GuipozjimOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Are There Aphids in Your Landscape?


If you have ever seen clusters of pear-shaped insects on the stems of your plants, you may have an infestation of aphids. I see them on rose bushes, especially, but they may be found throughout the different areas of your landscape. They come in colors like green, pink and black.

What Problems Do Aphids Cause?

Aphids are very fond of cutting into stems and sucking out the juice from plants. This can stunt the growth of the plant. The aphids also may pick up bacteria, viruses or fungi and transfer them to other plants, spreading disease.

In the case of grass, this action can cause your grass blades to turn yellow and orange before dying. Other plants may show problems like yellowing, curling and wilting of leaves and possibly death.

They also can be problematic because of a sticky substance they expel, called honeydew. It can get onto surfaces and cause damage. When it is left on plants, the wet sugary conditions can encourage a fungal problem called sooty mold. While it is overall not too harmful in many situations, it will cause discoloration of your plants.

Why Are Aphids Difficult to Destroy Completely?

These insects can reproduce very rapidly, producing a new generation at intervals of approximately two weeks. They do not even need males to reproduce since they employ a process called parthenogenesis. In fact, aphids are born pregnant! As you can imagine, it can be hard to keep up with the pest population since even one surviving aphid can repopulate an area.

What Are Some Ways to Get Rid of Aphids?

On your smaller plants and shrubs, you can try spraying them with water to knock them off. You want to do this early in the day so that the leaves have time to dry out and avoid diseases. Insecticidal soaps may also be beneficial, as well as encouraging insects like ladybugs that feed on aphids.  If the problem is severe, lawn care companies can spray with pesticides, though this will also kill off the good insects.

You may have noticed that there are ants living near the aphids. They are protective of the aphids since they like to harvest the sweet honeydew. Controlling ants will make the aphids more vulnerable as you take measures to get rid of them.

What do you do to control aphids in your landscape?

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How to Keep Your Plants Healthy This Summer

Keep your plants healthy this summer with appropriate care.

Are you wondering how to keep your plants healthy during the warmest time of the year? Plants can naturally become stressed during summer, so you will need to watch over them carefully. Here are three ways to make sure your garden is in tip-top shape.

Scout Around for Insects, Pests and Other Problems

You definitely want to stay on top of problems so that you can treat them before they become too serious whenever possible. Some signs you may notice, among others, include:

  • Wilting
  • Rotting
  • Cankers
  • Spots on leaves
  • Leaves that turn yellow or brown
  • Holes in leaves, branches or trunk
  • Webbing
  • Galls
  • This one seems obvious, but insects themselves are seen

Once you notice a problem, you can do research to see what is causing it and how it can be treated. There may be several different methods including mechanical, cultural, biological and chemical controls.

Keep Your Watering on a Consistent Schedule

As I have mentioned before, it is usually better to water your plants just a few times a week, making sure that it is for a long enough period that they can get the amount that they need. If you do notice a plant that seems extra wilted, go ahead and give it a drink. However, do make sure that it needs water as overwatering can, strangely enough, cause wilting also.

Consider Moving Potted Plants to Shade

Container plants can have problems sometimes since their soil area is smaller than plants in bedding areas. The roots do not have the chance to fully spread out and can struggle when the soil dries out.

One way to help slow down this problem is to move the pots to an area that is a bit cooler. This can be under an umbrella or close to your house. You could also consider bringing them indoors as needed if it is really hot.

There are some factors to think about when deciding to move potted plants. Make sure that the specific plant is able to handle partial shade, since many need full sun. Your nursery should know if it can or you can search on the Internet by using the plant’s name.

If you bring them inside, you would need to harden them off when you do set them back outside. The environments are quite different between your house and your garden (with the latter usually being harsher,) so the plant can go into shock if it is just set outside. When you harden off, you take them out for a short period on the first day and gradually lengthen it over the course of about a week.

How are your plants doing this summer?

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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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