For throughout the season
First mow of the season: Should be shorter than your average height. As soon as the weather breaks, even before it begins to grow or green up, it is an excellent time to cut a bit shorter. This will rid the lawn of brown dormant blades and speed up the spring green-up process. (see below for further mowing info)
Early Spring Application Step-1: Includes our spring fertilizer and crabgrass preemergent and does not typically include weed control as the temps are still too cold (see below for further information)
Crabgrass Preemergent: Needs to be applied in the spring but is still effective until soil temps are consistently up to 60 degrees, which does not typically occur until late April - early May. Here is a link from Purdue University if you want to read further. https://turf.purdue.edu/when-will-crabgrass-germinate/ We also include a second dose of crabgrass preemergent on step-2 to ensure the protection will last throughout the remainder of the season.
Crabgrass Preemergent, How does it work?: It creates a barrier in the soil that prevents crabgrass seeds from germinating. It’s not intended to prevent general weeds, only crabgrass and a few other grassy weeds. This barrier is aided by turf density, so if you have bare or thin areas, the barrier will break down much quicker, and you may get some breakthrough in the summer. However, if this does occur, we have a post-emergent spray to knock back any breakthrough, which we would take care of on your regular visits at no extra charge for our 5 & 6-step customers.
Crabgrass Preemergent & Seeding: Seeding should not be done after a crabgrass preventative application has been applied, as it will prevent the seedlings from germinating. Furthermore, you would need to wait 6-8 weeks after a preemergent is applied to do any seeding. Contact us If you plan on doing any seeding so that we can properly adjust your future fertilizer and weed control applications. Once your first application with crabgrass preemergent is applied, you will not have much luck getting any new seed to grow.
Crabgrass vs. Tall or Coarse Fescue
They are commonly mistaken for each other; as you can see in the photos, there is quite a bit of difference in the appearance of these two. Crabgrass can be prevented and even knocked down after germination with the proper product. Whereas tall fescue, a desirable turf species in some lawns, can’t be eradicated without a total kill-off of the area, and even then, it will most likely return in the future.
About Weed Control
Weed Control is not a weed preventative; it will only kill the weeds that are actively growing at the time of the application. Most step-1 applications are applied when the temps are still too cold for weeds to grow actively. On our step-2 visit, we apply a blanket application of weed control to eliminate all actively growing weeds, and we continue to spray any weeds we see on all future applications. Keep in mind that it can take a few weeks for weeds to die off and degrade into the soil thoroughly, sometimes longer in lower temps, but you should notice them looking sickly within 24-48 hrs.
After you have had your first two applications, you shouldn’t have many, if any, weeds popping up. However, you can still get a few new weeds here and there for several reasons. Thin turf areas create an opening for weeds to sneak in, lots of rainfall can promote quick growth of a weed seed that had not germinated at the time of previous application, and weed seeds can be blown in from neighboring properties or fields or brought in from birds. Some weeds don’t grow until things get hot, and you may notice some weed breakthroughs closer to fall, which is not uncommon. Any weeds from in the spring that went to seed blew around and burrowed into the turf; those seedlings would germinate and show up in the fall. If we have a rough summer and turf gets weakened or thinned out, that can exacerbate the situation. Again, we will address any weeds on every visit, but keep in mind that if you skip an application, we cannot stay on top of everything as needed. If you have significant weed breakthrough between visits, we will be happy to stop by and address your concerns at no charge for our 5 & 6-Step customers.
There are three main classifications of weeds we encounter in our area.
Most lawn weeds fall in this category and are the easiest weed type to control and are sprayed on every possible visit throughout the season.
They need special herbicides and can be more challenging to control. Some of them include wild violet, creeping Charlie, and ground ivy. These will be addressed on every visit at no charge for our 5 & 6 -Step customers.
Some grassy weeds can't be eradicated without a total kill-off of the area. However, any that can be eliminated will be addressed every visit at no extra charge for our 5 & 6-step customers.
Don’t mow on a set day every week: only mow when the lawn needs it. During spring, when we have adequate and sometimes excessive moisture, a healthy lawn may need mowing every four days. In the summer, you may only need to mow every 10-14 days.
Height: Always mow at or above 3" or your mower's highest setting, especially during hot conditions. If you mow lower than suggested, you are over-pruning, which promotes weed growth, root damage, and die out.
Never mow off more than one-third of the grass blade’s height at any time. Doing so shocks the grass and could lead to problems such as poor color, disease susceptibility, and weed breakthrough.
Mulch or Bag? Mulch your clippings; don't bag them. Mulching returns nutrients to the lawn as well as organic matter. It also helps to retain water. It may be helpful to bag if your grass has gotten extra long between mowings. At that point, mulching could cause clumping and will smother the lawn.
Don't forget to keep your mower blades sharp.
Mowing with a dull mower blade causes shredding of grass blades, which causes a very unsightly brown appearance. It can also lead to water loss and increased disease susceptibility. Have your blades sharpened before your first cut and again after the heavy spring mowing season.
Spring and Fall are the best times to do any seeding, although seeding year-round is fine if it receives adequate moisture. New seeds should typically be watered daily for 10-15 minutes, one to three times a day for the first two to three weeks. During hot conditions, more water may be needed.
First, loosen the soil with a stiff rake. Then spread your grass seed and lightly rake the seed into the soil. A new seed is less likely to grow if scattered over bare spots. Overseeding is more beneficial right after the lawn has been aerated.
Contact us If you plan on doing any seeding so that we can properly adjust your future fertilizer and weed control applications. Once your first application with crabgrass preemergent is applied, you will not have much luck getting any new seed to grow.
You should not need to do much watering in the springtime as long as we get our average spring rain.
As summertime heat arrives and your lawn shows signs of stress, you will want to begin watering. It is best to deeply soak the lawn 1-3 times a week for about 1 hour in each area. Shorter, more frequent watering will do more harm than good and can make your lawn susceptible to disease and insect damage.
Be sure not to wait too long to begin watering; otherwise, it may be too late. By starting to water after the lawn is already dormant, you can cause damage to the lawn.
Mornings before 11 am is the best time to water. During the day is okay if you must, but you will lose a portion of your water to evaporate, which could cause scorching. Never water in the evening with less than 2 hours of daylight remaining; watering at night will keep the soil surface moist for too long and make your lawn more susceptible to disease and fungus damage. If you have questions about when or how much to water, feel free to call or email us.
Is it okay to let your lawn go dormant?
In most instances, it will be okay if it goes dormant for 3-4 weeks. However, you will significantly decrease your chances of problems occurring if you water a minimum of once a week for 1 hour in each area.
The Risks - When letting your lawn go dormant for extended periods, two significant problems may arise. First: You may have surface-feeding insects eating away at your lawn and have no idea they are there or the damage being done until things begin greening back up. This would likely require seeding portions of the lawn for a full recovery. Second: Like any house plant or flowers in your landscaping, there is a point of no return for turf. Going extended periods (5-8 weeks) with little to no water, some turf can be badly damaged and require seeding to return to its former state.
A Beautiful Green, Weed-Free, Thick, and Lush Lawn.
Is what we all want, and that is what we strive for with the products and processes we use. However, we are only a portion of the solution to a beautiful lawn. Mowing, watering, and mother nature all play a large part in the success of your lawn each season. Below are some of what we all fight with to maintain a healthy lawn.
Fighting Mother Nature: The weather conditions play a significant role in turf health but can be minimized. Summertime can bring about problems. Hot, dry, and/or humid conditions can stress the soil and the turf, opening the lawn to disease, insect, and drought damage. Following the mowing and watering guidelines above will go a long way in your lawn surviving harsh summers. In our regular 5 & 6-Step programs, we include insecticide to help reduce the chances of insect damage (other than grubs, that is an added service). We also offer a fungicide program you can add to protect your lawn throughout the prime disease season.
Many diseases can attack a lawn between late spring and early fall. Most lawn diseases are a type of fungal growth that is often already present in the soil and can take hold and spread on the plant once the conditions become favorable. The worst conditions for fungal growth are hot and humid weather, especially hot and muggy nights. The turf stays moist all night, creating prime conditions for fungal growth. Also, watering after the lawn is already starting to go dormant can cause these problems. That is why it is essential to start watering as soon as the first signs of stress appear.
Some diseases can recover independently with cooler temps, lower humidity, and continued rain or watering. But don't overwater; that can make things worse. Keeping the lawn fertilized regularly will help in regrowth and recovery. To prevent these from appearing in the first place, you may want to consider our 3-Step fungicide program, which will protect your lawn throughout the disease season. Or once the activity begins, we can make a single fungicide application that would stop the fungus from getting any worse and spreading throughout your lawn and help aid recovery. A fungicide application will give your lawn protection for around 30 days. To be clear, the lawn still has to regenerate in those areas, and the appearance of a fully recovered lawn does take time.
Grass Types in Our Area
We have what is referred to as cool-season grasses in our area. (bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue): These varieties are NOT intended to withstand prolonged high temps. When temps are in the mid-80s and higher with minimal rain, the grass will go into dormancy, and growth is halted. Once the temps get into the 90s for prolonged periods, that can devastate ryegrass and badly damage bluegrass. Following the mowing and watering guidelines is essential during any of these conditions.
Devastating Grub Worms
Grubs are the larval (or worm) state of many types of beetles. The most prevalent in our area is the Japanese beetle grub worm. These beetles lay their eggs on your lawn. The newly hatched worms work their way through the thatch and into the soil, where they feed on the roots of grass plants. Most beetles lay their eggs mid to late summer and do their most significant damage during fall.
Our grub preventative treatment is a once-a-year, season-long control application. If requested, this application will typically be applied with Step 3 or 4 and is guaranteed for the entire season. This product stores itself in the grass plant so that when the grubs begin to feed on the roots, they ingest it and consequently die. Although you may find a grub or two in your lawn, they will not survive or be able to do any damage.
In the mid-80s and higher, with minimal rain, the grass will go into dormancy, and growth is halted. Once the temps get into the 90s for prolonged periods, that can devastate ryegrass and badly damage bluegrass. Following the mowing and watering guidelines is essential during any of these conditions.
A Misconception about grubs and moles
It is often thought that if you have moles, you must have grubs. Although it is possible as they will eat grubs, it is not as likely as some think. The mole's primary food source is the earthworm, which we do not want to remove from our soil as they are very beneficial.
A few things you may notice throughout the season
Grass going to seed
It is not a weed that takes over your lawn; it is just the grass going through its normal plant cycle and going to seed. As you continue to mow and the temperatures warm up, it will stop its seeding phase.
Not moles but voles. Voles are small mouse-like animals that burrow underneath your lawn and build their tunnels (runs) with thatch and grass. The best and easiest way to rid your lawn of voles is to set out mousetraps using a mixture of peanut butter and oatmeal. Place traps on several of the vole runs throughout your lawn. To help with the damage they made in most cases, simply raking the top of the tunnels and fluffing the grass around them will help your lawn to recover. In more severe cases like the photo, you may need to add dirt and grass seed to heavily damaged areas.
It is a harmless (other than the cosmetic appearance) mold caused by heavy dew overnight and slowed growth, generally due to hot & dry conditions. Fungicide applications are not recommended for rust, as the turf will recover independently with improved weather conditions. Also, fungicide treatments do not cure molds; they prevent spreading. Keeping the lawn regularly fertilized and watered is the best remedy to help get rust out of your lawn. Also, bagging the clippings and washing off your mower after each mowing will help eliminate the spreading of the mold.
They are caused by the right mixture of rain/moisture, often saturated for extended periods, cloudy days or shade, and rich organic material in the soil. On the bright side, mushrooms indicate that your yard has much beneficial organic material in the soil. Mushrooms help break down the organic material and make your soil more productive. There is no treatment to rid the lawn of mushrooms. However, new growth will cease once things dry out and the weather pattern changes. The best thing to do is to pick the mushrooms and discard them in the trash. This will help reduce any spreading.