Posts Tagged ‘brown lawn repair’

Prepare for fall lawn projects

September is almost here! What plans to you have for your grass this fall? If you are like most people, you know something should be done, but just don’t know what is important. Like most lawns, summer can be a tragic event with high heat, summer weeds, crabgrass, and browning- a distasteful combination for sure! Don’t lose hope, things can be done to turn your lawn around before winter. Fall is an ideal time to consider several applications that will give you the most for your green dollar.

Start simple. Don’t tackle a lawn project without starting out simple. An easy fall lawn treatment would be lime. Lime has a multitude of benefits and helps fertilizer function better. Like a great hair conditioner lime raises soil pH thereby making most fertilizer nutrients more available to the turf roots. Since it is difficult to apply too much lime, this is a simple, hard to mess up application for the most part. Try to use high calcium limes or at the very least, pelletized dolomitic limestone. Stay away from crushed limestone as it makes a mess and takes a very long time to actually work – months upon months vs weeks for the others I mentioned. So if you do anything this fall, put a good- heavy application of lime down to sweeten your soil.

As your brown lawn comes out of dormancy it will be looking for nutrients to begin the recovery process. Like a multivitamin in waiting, your lawn will benefit tremendously from a balanced- slow release fertilizer. Don’t worry so much about the analysis (the numbers like 10-5-19 etc), but try to select a nice balanced product. There are more fertilizer combinations than ice cream flavors so don’t be intimidated.

Aeration and overseeding are big fall treatments that can make substantial gains in a healthy lawn or one that has taken a hit due to drought and or thinning from disease or insect damage. Aeration will help with compaction, air, water, and nutrient availability plus it makes holes for overseeding.  Overseeding will not establish a lawn but it will add superior turf to an existing lawn or a thin one. Topdressing and seeding can be used at the same time for bare patches or if small sections of the lawn have perished. Don’t be too quick in pronouncing grass dead- just because things are brown does not indicate dead turf. Most turf will brown out as a normal protective measure due to heat and or lack of moisture. Lots of grass can break this dormant period after cooler weather and some significant rain- this process just takes time- patience is key.
On the other hand, extended drought- short mowing- and or insect damage may result in turf thinning to all out destruction in a variety of sizes. If you are in doubt- have a professional check and give you the diagnosis before starting over from scratch something that can be come very time-consuming and expensive.

Broadleaf weed control can be used once weeds begin to grow. Annual weeds like crabgrass and spurge will die out on its own. Remember, most broadleaf weed control products will stress out turf- so only use this material as needed and at the right time. In addition, if you use broadleaf weed control- seeding and or overseeding can be delayed or postponed many weeks due to incompatibility issues. As a home owner, you must decide whether to aerate and overseed first and wait on weed control, or do you go after the weeds first and then aerate and overseed later in the fall. This is a fine dance and timing is important due to the onset of cooler weather and approaching frost/snow in November. If in doubt, ask someone in this kind of business first for advice. Once the material is down, you cannot take it back up and the delay may very well mean a missed opportunity.

A winterizer or a late season fertilizer treatment is a great application to help your grass store up energy for next spring. A late season potassium treatment is different from a winterizer being a balanced product. Potassium normally comes in a 0-0-62 blend, not a balanced product as compared to a winterizer that would be a 25-8-15 for example. The key to a late season application is so you don’t push a lot of new growth this year, but allow the lawn to store up the energy for next spring as a reserve. Potassium helps thicken cell walls and makes your lawn more resistant to drought, disease, and winter damage. Both applications are most useful when applied properly.

I hope this small post has inspired you to plan your attack this fall, after all, it is still early and lots can be done! Don’t let the fall slip away into winter, do some research- ask some questions, and get that grass looking better for 2011!

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Lawn care companies & Japanese Beetles, Grub Control, plus Milky Spore

There are many kinds of bugs that can damage or even destroy parts of your lawn such as the grub of the Japanese beetle.  While they may be out of sight underground, their appetites for turf roots cannot be easily satisfied.  As a result, browning usually occurs all the way to large areas of dead grass in the spring or fall.  How can you save your lawn?  Can this evil beetle and its associates be stopped?  Take a deep breath as we take a closer look at this villain and his underground buddies.

Exposed White Grubs

To begin with, you must start with the environment.  Grubs live underground therefore they are considered a subsurface insect pest, as opposed to a surface one- such as a chinch bug or perhaps cutworms.  This is important because what method and material you may use to target the grubs underground is vital.  So let us move onto timing.  When can you kill them?  Well, there is curative- you have grubs and they need to die now or preventative-  you may have them or are likely to in the future so you treat ahead of time as insurance.

Before you treat anything, ask yourself a question.  Do you really need to do this?  Many lawns will tolerate minor grub infestations and do just well.  Just because you found a few in your mulch beds or garden while digging does not make for an alien invasion or epidemic!  An average lawn will tolerate grub feeding and not all grubs eat turf.  So, before you pull out the tank and flame thrower, ask for some professional advice or at least consider the multitude of choices available.

Grub control products have progressed a great deal in the last few decades in terms of effectiveness, amount of active ingredient required, ease of application, and environmental impact.  Before I proceed forget about Milky Spore, it does not work in New England and should be outlawed.  Most registrations have elapsed or are revoked which is why there is only a few on the market even though there should be NONE.  There is not a shred of scientific evidence or proof that one grub can be killed by this magical elixir in NH or VT.  While I normally do not take such a harsh stand on a topic, I simply cannot stand on the side line while people throw their hard-earned money.  Both Universities in NH & VT agree with this statement since it is at their training seminars that Milky Spore is akin to curing all of your aches and pains with just one teaspoon of “Uncle Jacks wonder tonic”.  Let us move onto more productive conversation.

There are a handful of different materials that will virtually decimate a grub population when used properly.  Many of these control products are only required in small amounts and last months because they are taken into the grass plant up through the root system.  As a result, these control products are very effective and pose a minimal risk to user and the environment.  One new product in particular does not even require a signal word (Danger/Warning/Caution) this is unheard of in the turf or agricultural industry.  Most of these products can be applied alone or blended with a fertilizer for improved results.  Some studies show that with proper irrigation, soil moisture, and fertilizer- a lawn is better protected due to the ability of the grub control material to be readily taken into the turf via the root system.

Most preventative control products can be applied from late May all the way into September in some cases.  The stage of the grub and the material chosen is imperative because not all will work at specific times or stages.  This would be like trying to stop an elephant with a broom, it just is not going to happen verses say a bulldozer- the tool being used and the timing is very important.

Nematodes are being bred and are being touted as a very effective organic if not biological control of not only Japanese but dozens of other beetle grubs.  I plan on using nematodes this year in my program and have done enough research to at least give them a try based upon my findings.  If stuff does not work, I just won’t use it- period.  Sorry, but clients do expect results.  There are lots of important things which must be done in terms of timing, watering, volume etc- but there is no denying these boys are chemical free!  I will report back in a later post the results and findings of how these treatments went later this summer.

Now is the time to research and have your lawn treated if you have had grub damage or problems in the past.  Remember, adult Japanese beetles are very difficult to control since they are strong flyers.  Good hunting.

The following link sums up the importance of timing and life cycles when selecting control products:

http://www.golfdom.com/turfgrass-maintenance/know-your-enemy?page_id=2

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