Archive for the ‘Crabgrass’ Category

Crabgrass Q & A

Published by mrgrass on April 23rd, 2015 - in Crabgrass

Q. It’s April and my lawn is full of crabgrass, what can I do?

 
A. Crabgrass is an annual plant and does not even germinate in NH and VT until mid or late May. Any grasses you see now and suspect are crabgrass, are not. They are perennial grasses and may appear to look like crabgrass. This is a very common misperception. Unwanted perennial grasses need special care including manual or herbicide removal.

 
Q. I always have crabgrass, nothing seems to work, what can I do?

 
A. Crabgrass generally indicates an underlying problem like unhealthy soil, recent insect damage, or some other event that allow it to flourish rather than your lawn. Although pre-emergent products work great, in the absence of surrounding grass, the barrier will fail and the problem will reoccur year after year. Only by improving the soil and adding superior grass seed into the infected area will you ever conquer this ongoing issue.

 

Q. I typically dig out crabgrass and weeds, is this doing more harm than good?

A. Whenever you tear up any plant, you bring up more of the weeds’ seeds to the surface where they will germinate. While you may have temporary relief and feel good about removing crabgrass manually, you are actually making the problem worse by depositing seeds that would otherwise have remained dormant buried below.

 

Q. When is the best time to apply crabgrass control?

A. In NH and VT, there are several types of pre-emergent control products that do a nice job by safely preventing not only crabgrass, but also many annual weeds from germinating in the soil. A pre-emergent is the best product and means to reduce crabgrass. By definition, a pre-emergent must be applied before the crabgrass rears its ugly head! Soil temperature is the big deal here and once mid to late May arrives, you are likely to have crabgrass germinating; especially in sunny locations like along your driveway, walkways, or roadside. Once crabgrass germinates and while still small, in the two or three leaf stage, there are other products that can be used to still gain control. For larger crabgrass, you would need to switch to yet another specialized material for use through August. Once fall rolls around, just let this annual plant die off. However, the best way to prevent crabgrass is with a thick healthy lawn created with healthy soil, adequate nutrition, and by mowing at the proper height (2” first cut of the season, 3” May – September).

 
See my blog http://www.mrgrassblog.net/2012/03/30/crabgrass-is-more-than-a-crabgrass-problem/ for information on crabgrass.

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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.

 

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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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