Archive for the ‘Compost Tea’ Category

Prepare your lawn for fall this August

As summer winds down, I hear a lot of folks saying they always like to wait until September or October to begin lawn repairs. My response is, “Why wait until fall”? While fall is ideal for many lawn repairs after a hot, wet or dry summer, (seeding, topdressing, aeration, and over seeding), a wetter, cooler summer means you can get a jump start in August. These extra weeks gained by not waiting for fall means more growth and a better chance for new grass to survive the upcoming winter. I recommend August lawn work with several important objectives and facts in mind.

 

An established lawn looking great after topdressing and seeding.

An established lawn looking great after topdressing and seeding.

 

 

First, annual weeds, including crabgrass and other obnoxious plants, begin the slow process of dying, losing their iron clad grip on previously damaged or thin patches of turf. Crabgrass no longer germinates as it did in the spring or early summer; the threat of being overrun is subdued simply because of the time of year. This is a big reason to start lawn renovations in August versus later in the fall.
Unlike the past several summers, this summer has been wet and moist, making an ideal environment for August seeding. The soil is moist and warm, both critical factors for any kind of lawn renovation, from a small patch to a complete lawn installation. The extra weeks gained by August repairs can tip the scale for winter survival simply by allowing for more growth before the season winds down to a close in November. Seed needs warm soil and moisture to properly germinate and grow; we have both conditions as I write this blog post.
Is your lawn thin? Does it have weak areas? Don’t just throw down any seed. The most successful reseeding means core aeration, top-dressing with compost or loam over the bare areas, then seeding/over seeding with a blend of hybrid grasses best suited for your location. All grasses are not created equal for the same site or location. For more information on the importance of selecting the correct grass seed click here   http://www.mrgrassblog.net/2012/08/11/grass-seed-facts/
As fall approaches, build up your lawn’s energy reserves by adding high calcium lime, spraying compost tea, and adding vital nutrients with any high grade fertilizer that is low in phosphate and contains organic material (natural or organic). Once the new grass exceeds 3”, be sure to mow; mowing is more helpful then not mowing. And, while I always recommend mowing to a 3” height during the season, your last cut before winter should be the only short cut right around 1.5”. This will help prevent winter snow mold and discourage mice damage.
As you shop for back-to-school items, don’t forget your grassy friend outside called your lawn. Remember, fall is the best time of year for many aspects of lawn care and this year it looks as though we have gained August as well. Don’t wait, make your plan and take action today.

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May is an important month for lawns

May and September are perhaps the two biggest months when it comes to helping your lawn.  May is the best month to prevent crabgrass, reduce broad-leaf weeds, knock back ticks, spray compost tea and fertilize.  Wow, did you write that down?  Unless you set aside the time, you will surely miss the golden opportunity to set the stage for a successful lawn in 2014.  Failure to address key issues in May means your lawn may certainly suffer, and in the case of ticks, your family and pets may pick one up.  Why all the fuss you say?

Dandelions in lawn
Lawns usually begin to grow in May as soil temperatures warm to stimulate new growth just like in trees, shrubs, and flowers.  Grass must grow to recover from ice, snow, and damage resulting from surface feeding of mice or moles below ground.  Just because your lawn went to sleep last November does not mean all is well this spring because winter can deal unpredictable damage.
Since preventative crabgrass control is dictated by soil temperature, May is the best month to apply a barrier to help reduce this obnoxious weed from overtaking your own little piece of grassy paradise.  May is a great month to knock back weeds like dandelions, clover, hawk-weed, violets, “creeping Charlie”, and chickweed.  Since ticks are coming out to breed, May is the best month to spray for them around your house and wood- line to help reduce your likelihood of a pet or family member picking up a tick.
Compost tea is full of beneficial micro-organisms that fire up the natural processes in the soil below your grass.  More bacteria and fungi mean more available organic matter and a greener lawn, pure and simple.  May is a superior month to spray compost tea because is coincides with turf recovery and preparing for hotter summer weather.  As a probiotic, compost tea adds organic matter and can be sprayed right up to the water in the case of public water supplies, lakes, and streams.  For more information on compost tea, use the search function on my blog and you can find more specific benefits to compost tea in past articles.
Since most turf grass requires 3 to 4 lbs of Nitrogen from fertilizer per year, May becomes a critical month to add this important nutrient to promote a dark green, healthy lawn.  Fertilizer should be provided in a slow release formulation for a consistent, extended release that can improve winter recovery.  Slow release formulations can be in a granular form or in liquids with the proper amendments.  If you are unsure, ask your lawn care provider if they use or have these products.  In my experience, very few companies that spray liquid fertilizer have them prepared in a slow release formulation, like Chippers does.
One last note of caution, many over-the-counter grub control products, such as milky spore, are setup as preventative, not curative treatments.  (Preventative = preventing grubs from becoming established while curative = curing an existing grub problem). Therefore, applying a preventative in May is generally too early and will not kill grubs you have in your lawn right now.  This is a very common mistake, confusing curative over-the-counter products to preventative materials.  Using the wrong product will waste your time and money not to mention the objectionable application of applying an ineffective pesticide.  Knowledge is power and Chippers turf division has both.  May your lawn thrive in the month of May!

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Spring Lawns After a Harsh Winter

Unusually large amounts of snow and a late winter thaw can spell trouble for home lawns in VT and NH.  Massive piles of snow and ancient icy banks are determined to persist well into late April.  Slow melting ice and snow is anything but good news for grass buried deep beneath the arctic wasteland we call home as temperatures remain far below average in the last days of March.  The real damage from the copious use of rock salt will become apparent as the snow recedes, exposing brown and yellow patches along walkways and driveways.  Pieces of turf now flipped upside down lie like fish out of water from plow damage after each successive storm in what has been called a “real winter”.  Cue the spotlight on snow mold as the cold temperatures, with just the right amount of humidity, are ideal for this disease to thrive.  Pink and gray snow mold may be widespread and hamper the ability of your lawn to recover successfully from the trauma dealt by Mother Nature.  If I had a batman lamp, I would surely turn it on and point it into the night sky; our lawns need help.

Help our lawns
Fear not, Mr. Grass is here and although not a super hero, I am well versed in the green art of lawn care and helping the innocent lawns which have been beaten down from a harsh winter.  You can help your lawn immediately by breaking up piles of ice and snow, scattering the chunks onto warmer surfaces to melt; a driveway or patio perhaps.  The faster the snow goes, the quicker the soil will warm and awaken your dormant lawn into recovery mode.  If there are excessive leaves, debris, branches and other objects, try and remove them before the lawn begins growing to prevent mulching and unnecessary damage.  This is especially true of gravel and rocks that may have been pushed up and onto lawn surfaces from winter plowing.  Rake and remove any gravel and sand from your lawn.  If you do have visible turf chunks, help them by flipping the root surface over and put it back on the ground so when growth occurs, some root regeneration can occur.  Leaving chunks of lawn in pieces lying on each other will also damage the healthy lawn below; acting as mulch.  This phenomenon is especially true as things really warm up and the grass begins to grow again.

Big pile of snow
Additional winter recovery can be obtained by firing up the friendly soil micro-organisms with compost tea, a high quality lime, or fertilizers.  I do not recommend heavy dethatching because the damage inflicted may well thin out or even kill portions of your lawn under such stress.  I do recommend lightly raking out any matted snow mold and ice damage which will speed up the drying process, warm the soil, and promote new root and shoot growth.  Your lawn will need extra help this spring so plan on doing your part.  As your lawn recovers, using crabgrass or other broadleaf weed controls become more practical as tools to protect future infestations.  Good luck and may the temperature rise in your neighborhood creating more green and less white!

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