Posts Tagged ‘pH’

Fall lawn treatments in NH & VT

Fall is an excellent time to repair the damage caused by the summer of 2010.  Now is the time to act.  Now is the time to prepare your lawn for next spring by adding new grass to brown or bare spots.  Even if your lawn seems ok, there is always work which can be done to improve it for next year.  If your lawn suffered from the hot, dry weather of 2010 don’t think you are alone.  Most grass suffered under minimal rainfall, above average temperatures, and brutal heat which in turn promoted insect and drought damage.  Don’t be fooled and think your lawn is brown simply from a lack of water or heat.  Any brown areas in your lawn in September or October can be prime indicators of chinch bugs, white grubs, sod webworms, or other noxious turf pests.  If you are in doubt, have an expert examine your lawn because many of these pests will not go away.  In fact, they will overwinter and return next spring only to continue the population explosion and expand their dominion conquering your lawn and raising the flag of victory.  The problem is, the flag is not your’s and will only mean expensive renovations and possibly drastic measures to eliminate the enemy.

What procedures should you consider?  Aeration is at the top of the list and can be done up until the ground freezes in November.  Seeding after aeration is called overseeding and is a great procedure.  For most of us in Upper Valley region, we can seed well into mid October and still expect decent results in most years.  Depending upon weather conditions, seeding later is a roll of the dice and results may be reduced by the onset of early snow or unusually cold weather.  Have sea kelp applied to your lawn to improve root density and promote organic matter.  Let us not forget lime, our old friend who will adjust soil pH so fertilizer works better.  Of course, applying a high potassium fertilizer in addition to a standard balanced fertilization is wonderful- especially in October.  Potassium thickens cell walls and makes the grass more resistant to drying out, ice and drought damage.  Many benefits are derived from a late season balanced fertilization which is not intended to push top growth, but become stored for use next spring in the root system and soil environment.  The tougher your grass, the better it can withstand ice, cold, and the drying winds of winter.

In summary, a lot of things can be done in a very short period of time to provide a whole lot of benefit to your home or commercial lawn area.  Don’t miss the window of opportunity to enhance your brown lawn this fall.

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Back to School applies to your lawn as well

Look beyond your current lawn

As August wanes slowly into September, one can hear the school bells ringing in the distance, beckoning fresh pens, note books, and clothes for all the children readying themselves for another school year.  This time of year not only signifies preparation for school, but an ideal- if not momentous time frame to make significant gains in your lawn.  Yes, it’s back to school for your grass too!  Fall has huge advantages over spring in terms of aeration, seeding, renovations (large and small), liming, potassium, and various blends of fertilizer.  Fall is “Christmas” when it comes to strategically improving your urban or suburban lawn through a host of treatments in a short period of time- 1 to 2 months in most cases.  Why all the fuss?  Why all the clatter- what could be the matter?  I will tell you so please read on!

Your grass likely took a pounding this summer with the unusually high heat, dry periods, weed invasions of all kinds that crawl or stand upright.  People, this is war and if you don’t make your move- the enemy will win- you will lose ground.  Fall is the perfect time to fight back- but why you say?  The soil is warm with cool nights making ideal seed germination conditions.  Annual weeds like crabgrass- spurge and other villains are dying- on their way out which means minimal completion for light, nutrients, and space.  Indeed, fall has many benefits similar to late spring without the mud, cold soil, and upcoming competition of those aforementioned annual weeds.  Simply put, if you love or even like your lawn- if you dabble in applying a little fertilizer here or there- this is the time to do it.  Deep down, you know you should act- but how?

 If you hire a company like mine- all of the details will be handled for you.  However, should you take on this roll yourself- you must plan out what you want to accomplish because the timing and sequence of events are important for maximum results.  After all, working for no results is not much fun- like eating out at a restaurant with no food- fun for a few minutes but quickly becomes a waste of time and energy.

Aeration and over-seeding rank #1 and #2 in our top 6 turf list of beneficial things to do.  I will not go into detail as to why these services are so important- you can check out my earlier blog posts for that- but rather I will rate the treatments in terms of overall importance.  http://mrgrass.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/think-aeration-overseeding-this-fall/

Coming in at #3 is lime, especially high calcium lime- again- check out my post and link below which explains why lime is so important, especially around seeding. http://mrgrass.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/lime-in-the-key-to-any-successful-lawn-care-program/

Sea Kelp, a natural bio-stimulant, soil enhancer, and organic matter delight comes in at #4 in our top 6 list of lawn treatments.  If your lawn is new, sandy, weak, or has soil that was best left in a landfill or Walmart parking lot- this product is for you!  The best part about Sea Kelp is how wonderful it is to improving the soil and root zone environment for your grass.  You may have a hard time finding some fresh Sea Kelp, but it is worth the time finding it.  http://mrgrass.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/sea-kelp-a-multivitamin-for-your-lawn-soil/.  Lets just say Sea Kelp is one of my favorite overall treatments.  The only reason Kelp ranks 4th is it can be done any time of year!  If you have not had a treatment, now is the time- don’t wait until spring.

Rolling in at #5 is a balanced fertilizer treatment (1-3 visits) depending upon your exposure, grass types, and how early you start the series of treatments (Aug vs Oct).

The #6 treatment is potassium and can be done in late September to early November depending upon your geographic location.  For more information on this treatment, click on this link.  http://mrgrass.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/give-your-lawn-a-banana-potassium/

In an ideal situation, you would want to complete the entire list.  However, budget restraining- I have numbered them in order of priority in terms of benefit to your lawn this fall.  So while you are out clothes shopping for your kids and just found that perfect backpack or stapler- don’t forget to prepare your lawn for school as well!  Rent that aerator, buy that seed, shop for lime and fertilizer.  Best of luck and I wish that the grass may always be greener on your side of the fence!

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Lime is the key to any successful lawn care program in VT or NH

Published by JKeefe on June 27th, 2010 - in Lawn Care Companies, Lime, Misc.

Lime in NH or VT is a vital part to any lawn care program for multiple reasons.  The most common reason to lime your turf annually is to improve the soil pH.   The soils found in NH & VT are acidic in nature with a common pH ranging from 5 to 6, with 7 being neutral.  Lime improves this situation by raising the pH since turf grass appreciates a slightly acidic figure- right around 6.7 to 6.8.  Another reason to lime relates to how nutrients (N-P-K) react in a soil system.  Most are locked up and not available at lower pH figures, especially those found in the 5 range.  Therefore, applying lime on a regular basis is not only good for the crop you are trying to grow- in this case turf grass due to preference, but the process actually frees up what would otherwise be locked up nutrients.  No wonder farmers often call lime “a poor man’s fertilizer”; it frees those essential nutrients found in fertilizer already in the soil.

There are many types of lime in terms of how quickly they change soil pH, ease of application such as powdered/crushed forms to pelletized.  Pelletized lime is usually lime coated with clay in order to help improve the application process.  These types of lime usually deal with refined limestone and often function faster versus a crushed rock type of lime.  The difference in the pH change can be as much as months to weeks depending upon what type of lime is used.  While farmers can afford to wait and may apply lime in the spring or fall in preparation for the following years crop- your lawn could use that change faster since our growing seasons are so short.  Pelletized lime also comes in different versions- Magnesium based and Calcium based.

While most lime will have a combination of these two elements since limestone is based upon calcium and magnesium carbonates, the percentage of each dictates whether you have a high calcium lime or a dolomitic lime.  You can purchase lime with higher amounts of either calcium or magnesium.  Standard pelletized dolomitic lime usually has a higher magnesium content while pelletized high calcium lime is very high in calcium and low in magnesium.  Using one or the other is a matter of cost and what you are trying to achieve.  Typically, a high calcium lime improves soil structure therefore it helps reduce compaction- this is a generalization but it still applies on the whole.  Turf needs large amounts of calcium so this type of lime satisfies that demand over a magnesium based lime.  Another benefit of calcium lime is you need less to achieve the same result as other types of lime and the reaction time is greatly improved to weeks versus months.  It is for these reasons that I exclusively use high calcium lime in my turf care program.

High calcium lime has increased in popularity over the past few years as growers and lawn care companies recognize the multiple benefits and are switching over from standard limestone formulations.  High calcium lime also comes coated with an organic acid which improves seed germination- another fabulous benefit.

Soil tests are helpful if your lawn is really messed up and either you or your lawn care company suspects deficiencies or abnormal levels of nutrients which is possible- especially through irrigation systems.  However, as a general rule- you should lime annually to condition your soil for maximum results as pH tends to drop over time due to the environment and surrounding vegetation.

Old fashioned powdered lime

Using powdered limestone is slow and messy

For the cost of lime, it is well worth the expense and effort due to the benefits your lawn will receive with an annual application.  On a closing note- you can apply lime at any time of year regardless of what else is being applied.  In some cases two lime treatments may be warranted.

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