Posts Tagged ‘lawn thinning’

Excessive grub activity is going undetected in NH lawns

If your lawn is brown, don’t assume it is merely drought damage or continued drought given the dry weather pattern in NH.  Many lawns are being eaten right now by white grubs of all kinds.  White grubs are in bountiful numbers given the past dry, hot weather in NH & VT.  Unfortunately, many homeowners and commercial locations are not aware of this damage which will continue well into early November.  Many landscapers do not have the education or proper state certification and licensing to diagnose and treat complex lawn problems.  Left unchecked, grub damage can destroy sections if not entire lawn areas within weeks to months if left untreated.  The news gets worse!  These grubs will hide and wait until next spring, then the feeding will start again!  Many brown turf areas can be infested with grubs because many will assume the area was caused by drought and high heat.  While this may be true for some, other lawns will continue the downward spiral without appropriate action this fall or at best next spring.

Look for animals digging like crows, ravens, or skunks at night.  The turf will be easily uprooted since the root system is being attacked and cannot grow fast enough to anchor the grass to the surface.  Focus on sunny areas, along driveways or walkways.  Hot, or sunny areas are prime locations for beetles to lay their eggs for the next generation.  Your grass may be brown mixed in with green but when exposed, the trained eye can find grubs of varying sizes and types.  There are many products which can be used to control grubs including chemicals and nematodes.  Each claims success under various conditions and instructions to the home owner.  Don’t assume that picking up a bag at Lowes or the Home Depot will insure results.  Unfortunately, there are many products aimed at specific periods in the life cycle of grubs so a bag of ”Grub X or Milky Spore” applied in the fall does not mean it will work.  You must read the label or call a professional to determine if your $30 investment will actually work or just make you feel good.  If in doubt ask- don’t simply apply materials to your lawn without understanding the ramifications, that would not be environmentally responsible.  While grass is important, what you do to the environment is more important.  This is why professionals like myself must train, take written plus verbal exams by state agencies, and work in the field to gain “real world” experience.

Don’t let brown areas go unchecked, go call or e-mail a reputable lawn care company like mine.  Speak with a local professional with appropriate licensing and experience to give you the real answer.  Your lawn need not be damaged with proper information to back up appropriate action!

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Fall Seeding replaces crabgrass

A very common question I hear is, “When is the best time to seed your lawn?”.  My answer is usually the same due to a few basic factors.  Fall wins over spring for a few key reasons.  The first being the soil is already nice and warm- ideal for faster seed germination with sufficient moisture.  Spring soil is usually cold and even after weeks of warm weather- soil temperatures do not reach into the low 50′s until mid to late May.  Any colder and the seed tends to stay dormant and dry out.  Therefore, fall is perfect for seeding since the soil temperature is already much higher than this- allowing for faster germination periods which means a better lawn for you.

The second reason is the competition- crabgrass and annual weeds like spurge and oxalis are just germinating in the spring- growing and fighting for space, light, water, and nutrients.  Spring seeding and especially summer seeding can often spell disaster because crabgrass will grow so much faster than the seed you planted.  This is an unfair competition because soil laden with crabgrass seed will win every time- even more so in hot, dry weather.  In the fall, these plants are all dying!  Hurray!  Yes, the bad guys are dying and cannot harass your new grass.  Therefore, you have two very big reasons to seed in the fall over the spring because its your time and money.  Why not take advantage of the next 6 to 8 weeks and do a little lawn fixing?  It will be an entire year before you see can seize this opportunity again.

If you seed now, you can apply a crabgrass barrier next spring and help suppress all the bad guys I mentioned above.  If you wait to seed until spring, you will have to forego crabgrass control- unless you pay for a unique product that is VERY expensive which allows seeding and a crabgrass barrier to be applied at the same time.  For most folks, seeding in the fall and applying a solid barrier in the spring makes the most sense- don’t make the fight uphill, go with the flow and take advantage of each season according to the life cycles and maximum benefit you can derive!  Get seeding today!

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Brown lawn? Look to aerate this fall.

Core aeration is a mechanical process that extracts cores of soil, thatch and grass from the surface of the lawn.  This increases nutrient availability, water penetration, soil air exchange, and reduces compaction.  All of these benefits lead to a healthier lawn.

Aeration can be done any time of the year, but typically it is done in the spring and or fall when soil moisture is greatest to insure good plugs.  In addition, any lawn can be over seeded after aeration in order to add hybrid grasses to help thicken up an existing lawn or thin areas.  Aeration is a great process and should be done annually to help maintain good soil health while minimizing compaction.

Core aeration should not be confused with dethatching or power rakes, a different machine which tears and rips turf- often causing more damage than good.  Aeration is a professional means to manage a turf area that is often under care such as fertilizer and lime treatments.

What are the benefits of Aeration?

-      Increased moisture penetration since the holes open up space for rain to reach the root system below.  The surface of the soil is hardened from high heat and summer drought.  A lack of rain makes the surface of the lawn much harder to loosen up due to the baking action of summer heat. 

-      Increased oxygen exchange (important for healthy roots) especially in compacted and dry soils.  Punching holes in the lawn will physically allow air to reach into the surrounding root systems, even as the hole begins to break down and fill back in with soil next spring.

-      Reduces soil compaction (especially soils high in clay) caused by those summer parties or high use.  Compacted soil does not promote healthy roots in grass or trees for that matter.

-      Increases penetration of fertilizers and other lawn products due to the holes being made.  The pellets or flakes simply roll into the plug and dissolve for faster results.

-      Increases rate of thatch decomposition due to micro-organisms being brought up to the surface in the plug itself.  There is no need to rake aeration plugs off a home lawn as they breakdown on their own in a short period of time.

-      Increases root development due to the vacant space created by the aerator tine.  The turf roots can expand outward and beyond in search of water, air, and nutrients in the soil.

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