Archive for the ‘Fertilizer’ Category

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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Potassium lawn fertilizer use in the fall

Published by mrgrass on October 8th, 2013 - in Fertilizer, Lawn Care Companies

Our old friend potassium is the third letter (K) listed in the analysis of fertilizer and is second only to nitrogen in importance, use, and need.  (The three components of fertilizer are NPK: Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium.) It should come as no surprise that deficiencies of potassium can predispose your lawn to all kinds of issues, most which you will never see or know about unless informed.  Sandy soils are often the most common lawns to be low in potassium due to a low CEC, a fancy acronym for “Cation Exchange Capacity”.  Simply put, the more organic matter and smaller your soil particle size (clay) the higher your CEC will be and the ability to hold onto and release potassium to your grass; this is very good.  On the other hand, sandy soil has large soil particles which have difficult time retaining potassium.  All soil particles and nutrients have positive or negative charges and like magnets beneath your feet, they can dictate what is or is not available for your lawn to use.  The same analogy is true with soil pH and calcium content as a low soil pH tends to bind up or hide valuable nutrients like nitrogen or potassium.  So what specific benefit does potassium play in your lawn’s overall health?

Potassium lawn fertilizer

Potassium lawn fertilizer

Potassium has a critical role in the ability of grass to uptake and use water and therefore is of great benefit for wear and drought tolerance.  Potassium is involved in many internal plant health issues including manufacturing food and cold tolerance.  Since potassium helps open and close tiny pores (stomata) in the leaves themselves, you can bet low levels surely influence the ability of your lawn to endure heat, use, and drought.  Potassium has also been linked in some studies to help reduce certain diseases, or at least those situations that would predispose your lawn to diseases.  Potassium increases cold hardiness a very valuable benefit in VT and NH!  Since potassium fertilizer is often very salty by nature, its use is generally restricted to late fall as a supplemental lawn application.  This allows for maximum effect for the spring growing season. If you suspect your lawn could benefit from a late fall potassium treatment, be sure to check in and find out with your local lawn care professional before the snow flies!

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Autumn lawn care is great

There is no better time of year with autumn’s crisp blue days and cool nights to help your lawn make significant gains to prepare for winter…and to start spring strong. Warm soil and reduced weed competition means all sorts of good things when it comes to fall seeding and repairs.  My previous blog post explained the benefits of core aeration and over seeding, but there is much more that can be done to prepare your grass for winter and next spring. 

Fall is the best time to help prepare your lawn for winter and next spring.

Fall is the best time to help prepare your lawn for winter and next spring.

Before we talk about what to do now, we must quickly look back to the past summer’s humidity and extensive rain not to mention residual issues from the heat and drought of 2012. .  These weather factors caused widespread insect activity, disease issues, thinning, and in some cases damage to the point of necessary repairs, from small to large.  Ongoing insect damage in the form of chinch bugs are currently brown patches that may continue growing in size!  Grubs are getting large enough now to also cause browning and will continue to eat grass roots right into November.  If you were unaware of these past issues, you are now informed and educated so the rest of this fall can be productive as it pertains to your lawn.  So what now?

Even if your lawn did not experience any of the problems I described above, autumn is the ideal time to help your lawn store energy in the root system by proper fertilizing.  The key here is not to apply too much or too little fertilizer.  Not putting down enough fertilizer on your lawn will not hurt, but the results won’t be there; although you may have fun in the process.  Putting down too much material can cause an excessive flush of growth and predispose your lawn to ice or cold damage come wintertime. Balance is always an important rule of thumb regarding lawn treatments, but exceptions and variations do exist.  For instance, a lawn which has minimal care all season can receive lots of “critical care” in a short period of time versus a lawn which has been on a regular program may see lower rates or different product usage.  While lawns may appear to be alike, they each have personalities unique to their own surroundings such as trees, sunlight, buildings, fences, and exposure to wind.  The care your grass receives should be taking these variables into account with the arrival of fall and foliage season here in New England.

Hardening your lawn off as the nighttime temperatures drop is important and includes dropping your mowing height in October, ending up around 1.5” on most grass types as the final cut in November.  A short cut helps reduce winter, ice, and snow mold damage in your lawn.  Even greater benefits can be gained with proper fall lawn fertilizer treatments such as potassium and zero phosphate products to encourage healthy roots full of carbohydrates.  Like a big Italian spaghetti dinner, your lawn can feast and go into the winter with reserves so your chances of recovery and an early spring green up are enhanced.  There is lots of time to help your lawn this autumn, so don’t let September and October pass without taking advantage of the opportunity to leverage your lawn into an even greater asset in 2014.

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