Posts Tagged ‘fall lawn projects’

Last minute fall lawn projects

A wonderful Turkey on a nice lawn!

 

Its quarter to Thanksgiving and you are fully engulfed in travel preparations, shopping, and cooking plans.  As the air cools there is little time to make sure your lawn is ready for winter.  Was the last mowing 2 months ago or in October?  Some projects can wait while others should be done before the snow flies!  Here is a quick five step list that is given in order of importance, with 1 being the most important!

5.  Change the oil on your mower, clean the air filter, inspect the spark plug, and lubricate the blade and undercarriage in preparation for an easy first mowing.

4.  Take the time to review your 2011 lawn health care proposal or contract during the winter so come spring time, your turf will receive the care it needs at the appropriate time.  Like reviewing seed catalogs for your garden, lots of planning can be done concerning your lawn during the winter in preparation for a busy spring.

3.  Mark or have your driveway marked with colored stakes along the edge of the lawn so the plow guy minimizes shredding the edges.  Grass growing along a driveway is prime crabgrass growing area, especially if you need to seed in the spring or replace torn up turf chunks.  Nothing says sadness than viewing former pieces of healthy sod upside down with a light gravel coating in April!

2.  Rake and or remove any debris piles.  Piles of leaves, wood, tarps, branches, gravel- anything that stops an air exchange steps up winter kill and dead patches come spring time.

1.  Mow the lawn shorter than usual. 1.5 to 2” is great.  A shorter cut helps prevent leaves from accumulating in piles as the wind moves them across your nicely trimmed, semi- dormant turf.  A shorter cut helps with snow mold and ice damage and provides a faster green up in the spring allowing the sun to warm the soil quicker.

Wishing each of you a safe and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday!

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Snow Mold prevention, spraying is an option this fall

While snow mold disease may be annoying, it can kill turf dead under the right conditions.  Snow mold prevention usually means hardening your grass off in the fall with the proper lawn products like potassium, sea kelp, and calcium lime.  Mowing short helps reduce matting and can help minimize snow mold in home lawns.  Don’t shovel your snow into large piles where melting will be slow and create favorable conditions for the disease.  However, the fact remains that Gray & Pink snow mold are out there and given the right moisture content and temperature, along with the host being your lawn, things can get ugly- dead ugly.  I personally saw a lot of snow mold this past spring, most areas recovered but some did not due to the severity in NH and VT.

Snow mold comes in a range of colors including gray and pink being the most well-known.  Spraying for snow mold in a residential setting is not a common practice but may be helpful if your turf has had a few bad years.  The infection begins with spores in the thatch layer and old leaves and lawn debris.  Removing your leaves and grass debris at the end of the season is a super way to help reduce the source of infection.  Aeration can also help reduce snow mold disease as indicated by a report from Purdue University.  Many chronic factors such as long grass, debris, piles of leaves and other cultural problems help give rise to snow mold outbreaks.  Even under the best conditions, susceptible turf will become infected and if the weather cooperates, damage can occur in small patches to large areas.  Newly seeded lawn areas, those that have not gone through a winter are also susceptible to snow mold.  Spraying a fungicide can be a helpful measure to reduce snow mold if done in the late fall before snowfall.  If your lawn has suffered from snow mold in the past- for more than a few winters- you may wish to explore a preventative measure to help reduce damage visible in the spring such as a fungicide treatment this autumn (Nov-December).  Chippers is pleased to offer this kind of treatment for those residing within our service area.

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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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