Archive for the ‘Broadleaf Weeds’ Category

Why 2015 was a tough year for grass

I’ve said it time and time again, 2015 has been a really tough year on New England lawns. As the New Year rolled in with bone-chilling cold and tons of snow, our winter certainly continued through February. A wintery March came and went while snow banks lingered well into April in many towns. The next punch landed in May with hot, dry weather – crushing normal turf recovery after a brutal winter of cold and long-lasting ice and snow. With a shortage of rain in May, many lawns saw permanent damage and a backward swing from the fall of 2014.



Fall is the best month to help repair damage caused by summer heat and drought.

Fall is the best time to help repair damage caused by summer heat and drought.

June was the “best” lawn month with some rain and a somewhat normal temperatures only to have the oven turned to broil as July/August lingered in hot and humid weather for weeks upon weeks. Our cool season grasses simply never had the opportunity to recover never mind prepare for a dry, hot, humid summer. But there is more!

Trying to control broadleaf weeds without good soil moisture and reasonable air temperatures meant many were left to linger and grow. In a normal lawn season, these weeds would have thinned out. If that were not enough, the heat flamed the fan of crabgrass growth which took off like a rocket. Any crabgrass barrier failed prematurely with the hot, arid soil simply baking in the summer heat. Thin or bare patches of lawn soon became a sea of limey green crabgrass as the invasion progressed from late July into August.

Seriously, this was a hard year for many lawns. But there is still hope. Fall has arrived with rain, wonderful rain, and cooler temperatures. Perhaps all is not lost. There is hope for recovery; there is hope for repair. But what should be done? Fix damaged lawns with loam and seeding. Aerate and overseed thinned lawns or those needing extra help from the beating they received only weeks ago. A modest amount of fertilizer can bulk up your lawn and get things back on track. Prepare now for next spring, for we know not how the winter will treat our grassy friends. There is much to be done in the next two months, don’t let this vital time slip through your fingers. Not this fall.


Summer lawn tips

Dramatic weather fluctuations in temperature and humidity cause real problems to your summer lawn. Daily temperatures in the upper 80’s or low 90’s directly contribute to our cool-season grasses shutting down to protect themselves resulting in brown or tan patches in your lawn. High heat also contributes to fast drying of the soil which speeds up the browning in a normally green lawn.


Grub control being applied to a large lawn


Lawns really prefer temperatures in the 70’s, so grass browning is a normal part of summer. Even with adequate soil moisture, high heat slows lawn growth and the typical lush lawn you had in the spring fades to lighter shades of green. July and August can be brutal on lawns, especially if you are mowing too short and have not been diligent in preparing your lawn in the spring and even the previous fall for summer weather.
Thin lawns or those predisposed to quick drying, perhaps with a higher sand content or southern exposure means the soil will become very hot, leading to crabgrass germination and annual weeds like spotted spurge, oxalis, black medic, and purslane. These heat-loving weeds will pop up in a short time, barely noticeable until they begin filling in thin or bare areas within weeks. Spurge is particularly aggressive and will literally grow up and over your lawn like crabgrass. Crabgrass thrives in hot and dry weather, seemingly growing inches overnight under ideal summer conditions. What can be done?



Spurge is a fast growing summer annual weed.

Spurge is a fast growing summer annual weed.



Preventative measures are the best course of action starting off the year with a spring pre-emergent, broadleaf weed control, and high mowing, and mulched clippings to recycle valuable nutrients. However for severe weed infestations or those with a low tolerance for such invaders, summer spraying can provide some relief. There are several products available which will specifically target the crabgrass and annual weeds during July and August. A few treatments can do a nice job restoring a civilized lawn which may have become overrun by crabgrass along the driveway, walkway, or patio sections.
Areas prone to high heat such as along roads, thin areas, and pavers are particularly vulnerable to weed invasion even with a spring treatment of inhibitor simply due to the weak turf foundation and the harsh conditions of summer. Any pre-emergent product applied can only stand up so long in thin or bare areas of a lawn which is why a thick, healthy lawn is the best defense. High heat is not the only down side to summer lawn blues; high humidity can spell double trouble as diseases like summer and brown patch can really take hold and do damage in short order.
In the case of brown patch, too much water when combined with high heat can set your lawn up for damage and thinning virtually overnight. Watering in the morning is your best friend and a little less water is better than too much when it comes to irrigation systems. I’ve seen a lot of lawns killed with kindness as irrigation systems drown the grass, and although the color is better and there is less dry brown, damage from summers diseases can cause more significant turf loss.



For a free mowing magnet, just e-mail or call anytime.

For a free mowing magnet, just e-mail or call anytime.



On the flip side, short mowing and not enough irrigation promotes summer patch, especially in sod or bluegrass lawns. Summer patch damage becomes evident as pitting, scars, and crescent-shaped lesions due to heat, humidity, and turf under stress like drought. Short mowing further compounds the problem which means even more stress placed on your lawn resulting in permanent damage. Seeding with a disease-resistant rye grass into the patches in the fall will help ease the visual trauma.
Think of the summer as a time to get your lawn through a bad cold or flu and fall as the cure. The goal is to prevent as much damage as possible from weeds, insects, drought, and disease. Sometimes a light touch is better than spraying materials which further stunt and stress out an ecosystem already under duress. Each lawn is unique, but many underlying principles remain the same in respect to irrigation, mowing, and lawn treatments.  As always, the best offense is a good defense in the spring and fall. When in doubt, seek professional advice; what you chose to do or not do this summer really can impact your lawn.


In any case, take a vacation, this is great beach weather!



Enjoy your summer vacation but be sure to follow basic lawn tips.

Enjoy your summer vacation but be sure to follow basic lawn tips.



Organic weed control

Published by mrgrass on May 19th, 2014 - in Broadleaf Weeds

Most folks do not understand or believe that lawn weeds can be effectively reduced with organic products and methods.   There are several effective sprays which will specifically reduce broadleaf weeds while leaving surrounding turf grass unharmed.  Your lawn can be treated with organic products in the spring and or fall and generally two sprays do just as good a job as conventional treatments.
If you have dandelions, clover, hawkweed, or even ground ivy and violets, organic sprays can significantly reduce these weeds and many more in your lawn.  A cautionary note on weeds they are a sign of a bigger problem in your lawn.  Weak lawns with poor soil quality, low soil pH, compaction, and thin turf create the ideal environment for promoting more weeds than grass.  So while you may want to attack the known, visible issue – broadleaf weeds, the big picture issue is generally more complex and should be dealt with first or in conjunction with organic weed reduction.
Many weeds indicate a sour soil or compaction.  Plantain and Pineapple weeds (pictured below) are classic indicator weeds growing in compacted soil.  You can see plantain on playgrounds, ball fields, or even paths along roads where traffic causes compaction in the soil.  The solution is core aeration in combination with spraying for the weeds.  Once the weeds are gone, you need to replace the empty space with hybrid turf grasses better suited for the location.  Appropriate timing is critical along with the proper sequence of events for successful results.


Plantain weedPineapple Weed means compacted soil
Organic weed control should and can be used in conjunction with lime, aeration, compost tea, and a variety of slow release fertilizers for substantial visual results most folks look for when spending money on their lawn.  If you are considering a longer-term approach and want to be environmentally conscious, look for a licensed lawn care company ‘.  As I have said before, even organic products can cause harm in the hands of untrained or unlicensed workers.  If an organic product is designed to attack a pest, be it a weed, insect, or disease, you must be licensed to legally use these materials.  This makes sense doesn’t it?  After all, why would you want to hire a company not truly prepared to do the job right – ethically, legally, and morally when it comes to your family, pets, and the environment?
Don’t let weeds get you down this year, now you know you have choices and knowledge is the power for success.

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