Archive for the ‘Fertilizer’ 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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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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