“Is Dinner Ready Yet?”

You Can’t Blame your Lawn, Trees and Shrubs for Asking!

It’s hard to overstate how important it is to fertilize your lawn, trees and shrubs, especially during the fall. Most of the plants in your landscape will soon be shifting into dormancy, with top growth slowing down or stopping altogether. Underground, however, they’ll still be very active.

In order to prepare for new growth in the spring, your lawn, trees and shrubs must build new roots and fatten them up with nutrients. You can improve this process by making sure they get a heavy dose of fertilizer in the fall. The stronger and healthier the roots become as a result of proper fall fertilization, the better growth you can expect next year.

Some of the benefits you can expect from fall lawn fertilization include:

  • Grass blades that stay greener and roots that grow later into the season.
  • Better recovery from the stresses of summer heat and drought.
  • Increased ability to hold water, which helps grass plants withstand the drying and browning effects of winter winds.
  • Improves resistance to some cool-weather fungus diseases due to better overall plant health.
  • Thicker green-up in the spring.

By having your trees and shrubs fertilized this fall, you can expect:

  • Improved flowering.
  • Stronger resistance to insects and disease.
  • Better winter color in evergreens.
  • Healthier, denser foliage.
  • An increase in root mass and root branching.

Remember, fall fertilization of your lawn, trees and shrubs will have a direct effect on the performance of your plants throughout next year’s growing season. It’s an essential part of protecting and improving your valuable landscape investment.

Grass Clippings Are Too Valuable to Toss Out

It can be tempting to bag and dispose of grass clippings, especially if it’s been a long time since your lawn was last mowed. After all, clumps of cut grass sitting on your lawn are unattractive, and they can smother the grass underneath if they aren’t removed.

Mowing more often, on the other hand, creates a free source of nutrients that can and should be left behind to decompose in your lawn. The trick is to follow the “1/3 Rule,” mowing often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the grass blade is removed with each cutting. It’s also important to mow only when the grass is dry, and to use a sharp mower blade.

The clippings left behind will fall down between the blades left standing, returning valuable nutrients to the soil as they decompose. This practice is known as “grasscycling,” and it can provide your lawn with up to 15% of the nutrients it needs for healthy growth.

Not only is grasscycling a great way to improve your lawn’s fertility, but it helps to reduce the amount of yard waste sent to landfills as well.  Grasscycling is becoming much more common, and that’s a good thing considering that one lawn can generate roughly 300 pounds of clippings per 1,000 square feet each year. Imagine what would happen to our landfills if nobody bothered to grasscycle!

Grasscycling also cuts down on the time it takes to mow, since bagging and disposal of clippings are eliminated. In the long run, this beneficial practice leads to a healthier, greener lawn that requires less fertilizer and effort to maintain.

 

What Happened to the Lawn?

When we perform our Spring Cleanups passer-bys will frequently stop and ask “What happened to the lawn”.  As you can see from the picture to the right, we run a machine over the lawns we clean up which mechanically rake it out.  The results are often piles of dead, brown grass.  We find this to be a more efficient way of getting dead and organic debris left over from the fall and winter months out of the lawn, giving the grass plants additional space to grow.

Our power rakes are driven by a gas powered engine which drives a spindle of steel blades.  We adjust the height of the blades to just reach and scratch out the thatch layer of a lawn.  Once the adjustment is right, we run the machine over the lawn, producing a bunch of debris.  We then rake and/or blow the debris into piles and haul it away.

After a spring clean up is done, we will then apply our first round of weed control a.k.a. Pre-emergent weed control.  This application, for those that agree to it, helps hinder the germination of broadleaf weeds and crab grass by forming an invisible barrier over the soil that stops weeds from growing through it.

So if you see us passing this machine over your lawn please don’t worry…we are not pulling out your grass.  We are just getting your grass ready for a new growing season.

Happy Spring!

 

Crabgrass is Ready for a Comeback

Healthy Lawns have less of this Bothersome Weed

It’s a fact: No lawn is completely immune to crabgrass. Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken this spring- throughout the growing season ahead- to keep it under control.

AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE

Just one mature crabgrass plant can produce thousands of seeds, which are able to grow in the hottest, driest conditions. Even incompacted soil along sidewalks and driveways, crabgrass seeds have no trouble germinating.

SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The healthier and thicker your lawn, the less crabgrass it’s going to have. Four keys to a lush lawn include:

  • Fertilizing regularly
  • Controlling insects and diseases as needed
  • Removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade each time you mow
  • Making sure your lawn gets from 1” to 1 ½” of water per week

EXTRA PROTECTION

 

A post-emergent herbicide can be used to treat any established crabgrass plant in your lawn. This type of herbicide will kick off the crabgrass as it is absorbed through the leaves of the plant.

A pre-emergent herbicide will also be very effective against crabgrass as long as it is applied at the right time (before the crabgrass seeds germinate). This preventative treatment will form a barrier in the soil, and newly sprouted crabgrass will be killed off before it can emerge aboveground.

There are always going to be crabgrass seeds in your lawn. So, annual treatment with a pre-emergent herbicide, and post-emergent herbicides as needed, are recommended for ongoing control. If you’re planning on reseeding this spring, it’s important to wait six to eight weeks after a pre-emergent application (the pre-emergent can prevent grass seeds from growing too). Likewise, post-emergent herbicides shouldn’t be used on newly seeded lawns until the new grass has been mowed at least three times.

With a combination of good lawn care practices and the appropriate herbicides, crabgrass doesn’t stand a chance!

Get Your Turf Back on Track

Aeration is one of the best things that can be done for your lawn.

With the arrival of fall, all lawns can benefit from a “pick-me-up” to recover from the stresses of another summer season. On their own or in combinations, heat, drought, insects, disease and increased foot traffic can lead to thinning turf and bare patches where lust, green grass used to be.

A Winning Combination

Aeration with overseeding is a tried-and-true method of repairing lawns suffering from summer stress. Fall is a great time for this service, since growing conditions are more favorable and there’s less competition from weeds. Plus, any new grass planted in the fall will have plenty of time to get established before the taxing summer season returns.

The Process

The first step is to make several passes over the lawn with a machine known as a core aerator. This machine removes plugs (or cores) of soil and thatch from the lawn, creating holes through which air, water and fertilizer can more easily travel to the roots. With aeration, a stronger, deeper root system is encouraged; compacted soil is loosened up; and excessive thatch is broken down as the plugs dissolve through rainfall and watering.

Next, the lawn is overseeded by broadcasting new grass seed throughout the turf with a spreader. The holes left behind by aeration will “catch” the seed and provide better seed-to-soil contact for improved germination rates. To ensure successful growth, the soil needs to be kept moist for several weeks after overseeding. If there’s no rainfall, regular watering will be necessary.

Lawns that are aerated and overseeded in the fall will be stronger going into the winter months ahead. Plus, they’ll be thicker, greener and much better prepared for any challenges next year’s growing season throws their way!

How to Germinate Grass Seed

Is your grass looking a little thin? It may be time to plant some new grass. It’s a challenging task to plant new grass but simple steps can befollowed to ensure your success.

Moisture of your seeds:

For germination to be effective it is important that the seeds receive the right amount of water. You don’t want to over water them but if you don’t water them enough they will dry out and die. About two inches is suggested. For more information of how to water your lawn properly you can take a look at last weeks blog post, “Simple Steps to a Healthy Lawn.”

Temperature:

It is key to have the right temperature soil for your seeds to properly germinate and turn into healthy grass. The winter is not a good time to plant grass because the snow will most likely cover it and prevent it from receiving sun light. Spring time has ideal conditions for planting new grass, but we don’t recommend spring seeding, because the HOT SUMMER DAYS are right behind the cool spring days.  So when is the “ideal” time, you ask?  FALL.  That’s right; we are approaching the ideal time to start seeding lawns.  The fall season usually has warm days, cool nights, ideal soil temperatures, good “natural” precipitation (complimented by your irrigation system) and most importantly…the weeds just don’t like (or thrive) during the fall season.  So SEED AWAY in the fall!

Oxygen:

Before planting your grass seeds make sure your soil is aerated. This process is done by a machine that punches through turf and pulls out plugs of soil and thatch. The holes that are created during aeration will allow the new seeds to receive the proper amount of oxygen. If oxygen isn’t present then the seeds can not grow.

Depth:

If your seeds are planted too deep they will not be able to get sunlight. Sunlight allows them to begin photosynthesis which results in the growth of the seeds. The seeds should be planted about a half-inch below the soil. This will allows them to get the sunlight they need to grow.

Germination Rates:

Remember that there are different types of grass that need different conditions, such as cool season grasses which will not grow well in warm weather or warm season grasses that will not grow well in cold weather. Therefore, different types of grass may need different temperatures.

Based on the type of grass you’re growing, the number of days needed for germination can be seen below:

Bentgrass 10-15
Bermuda 10-30
Bluegrass 20-30
Buffalo Grass 14-28
Centipede 14-21
Fescues 7-15
Rye Grass 5-10

Simple Steps to a Healthy Lawn

During the summer time, it is easy for your lawn to become dried up and lose its green appearance.  Thorough watering can prevent your lawn from going into dormancy and becoming a field of weeds.

The right amount and time of day is key:

Your lawn needs approximately 2” of water per week, net evaporation and transpiration.  The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning because if you water later in the day, the sun will evaporate the water and your grass will stay dry.   The best time to water your lawn would be early in the morning, lets say 4:00am.

Evenly distribute the water:

Sprinkler systems are most efficient at distributing water evenly because the sprinkler heads cover all areas of your lawn.  If you do not have a sprinkler system and want to make sure that you are evenly distributing the water simply place cans (like empty tuna fish cans) around your lawn to collect water as you are applying it.  When you are finished for the week, the cans should be filled up evenly in all parts of the lawn,  once again they should be collecting a total of 2″ of water per week.

Avoid over watering your lawn:

Water is crucial yet too much can be harmful. If you receive heavy rain don’t continue to water you grass because too much water can create many problems for you and your lawn. For example, the more you water the lawn the faster your lawn will grow, which means you may have to mow twice per week.   In addition, if your lawn is getting too much water it will make your grass and the plants around your grass prone to fungus.   If your lawn is over watered, the roots may become shallow and pull out easily which can result in large missing patches of grass throughout your lawn.

As you can see, proper watering is important in maintaining a healthy lawn, one that is strong, well rooted, green and pest free.