Posts Tagged ‘weeds’

To weed your lawn or not to weed, that is the question!

Published by JKeefe on May 10th, 2011 - in Broadleaf Weeds, Lawn Care Companies

White clover in a lawn is very common

Many folks cannot stand dandelions, clover, violets, wild strawberry and a host of other creepy-crawly broadleaf weeds.  By definition, a weed is simply a plant that is not desired, out of place if you will.  Therefore, one person’s weed is perhaps desired by another.  I often ask clients on a consultation if they want weeds reduced or left alone.  The majority have quick answer, such as “I don’t mind them” or “kill them all!” different strokes for different folks.  The point I am trying to make is this: you don’t necessarily need to feel obligated to attack every broadleaf weed in your lawn to have it healthy, colorful, and green.  Sure, some will flower and it may not have that “golf course” manicured look, but it will certainly be functional for barbeques, picnics, or volleyball.

On the other hand, some folks like a more manicured, groomed lawn with a finer texture and a pleasing roll as the wind combs each blade into a carpet of excellence.  Broadleaf weeds are best reduced and attacked when they are actively growing, and that means spring and fall.  Tough weeds have waxy coatings which makes them difficult to thin out like ground ivy and violets.  Other weeds shake in fear at the mere sight of a bag of weed and feed being loaded up into the spreader for the inevitable is near!  Clover and dandelions are easily reduced or completely eliminated in a single season with proper timing and technique.

The dandelion is the symbol of a common weed

Weeds are like chocolate and vanilla ice cream, there is an opposite flavor and outlook on each, neither being necessarily right or wrong, better or worse.  My final word of caution for those “do it yourself” folks, be vigilant of how much and when you apply your material.  Be aware of surface water like rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds as they border your turf area.  Be careful not to apply too much product under the illusion of better results, disregarding the label instructions.  Have fun, and may your lawn be a source of enjoyment, not a burden to your summer happiness.


Prepare your lawn for spring in NH & VT

Soon my friend, soon you will cut again!

Spring is technically only a mere 4 weeks away on the calendar!  Although you are not likely to be planting any vegetables or flowers outdoors close to March 20th, the countdown to spring is on.  In the world of grass, those pesky snow banks are likely to linger well into April in our geographic region.  One can almost taste that first day when the air temperature reaches the mid or upper 50’s only to be surrounded by dark, crusty black snow banks.  Your first instinct may be to grab a rake and cleanup some of the debris left by winter wind and snow plows.  Raking even a small portion of your lawn can be therapeutic, signaling the end of white and the beginning of green.

Further raking will assist in air circulation and a drying of the lawn surface where snow mold, ice, and mice may have caused damage.  Removal of surface debris such as gravel, leaves, and branches will allow sunlight to warm the soil which will in turn stimulate green leaf blades in your lawn.  You may find mole hills as they search for insects and their favorite meal worms- in the top 6 inches of the soil.

Be careful not to apply a crabgrass barrier too soon or at a heavy rate in the spring to damaged or diseased turf.  Such an application can have an adverse affect on recovery and spring seeding/repair plans.  In addition, an early crabgrass barrier will run out of steam that much earlier in the summer, potentially giving rise to annual weeds and crabgrass in July.  One option is to lightly fertilize with a compost tea, sea kelp, or a pure blend of straight fertilizer to enhance recovery in April.  If “crabgrass control” is still a necessity, you still have plenty of time in May to apply such a product and maintain decent suppression.  As always, the best defense against crabgrass or even broadleaf weeds is a thick, healthy lawn resulting from proper cultural techniques in addition to turf health care treatments.

If you have not aerated your lawn in the past few years, or don’t even know what core aeration is, consider aerating this spring.  Core aeration is an effective way to help reduce compaction/thatch while increasing air, moisture, and nutrient availability to the lawn.  Heavy duty commercial grade aerators do a marvelous job at removing plugs and depositing them on the surface due to their heavy weight and large tines.  Overseeding after an aeration is a terrific time to thicken up those thin or weak areas in your lawn.


Crabgrass is the enemy

Published by JKeefe on September 14th, 2010 - in Crabgrass, Lawn Care Companies

The villain is clearly crabgrass.  This villain moves into your yard without any notice or invitation.  It germinates in cracks, near your mailbox, along the driveway, patio pavers, even the backyard barbecue!  Does crabgrass have no shame?  I think not!

If you want to beat crabgrass, you must know the weakness of your adversary.  Although there may be no silver bullet in our quick blog post, there are many effective countermeasures that can be employed to reduce, knock back, suppress the villain we know as crabgrass.  Where to begin?

Start simple folks.  You don’t need a truck load of chemicals as your sole tactic for global crabgrass reduction.  First, you need to understand the enemy- so lets examine this wonderfully evil plant.  Crabgrass is an annual and as such, it dies every fall- yes, it dies.  As such, it must manufacture a lot of energy in a short period of time to make enough seeds so it can insure a fresh generation next spring.  Next spring, once the soil temperatures warm up to around 50-54 degrees, the seeds will germinate.  The first locations are along streets, bare soil exposed from plowing damage along the driveway.  Yes, crabgrass needs heat to start up.  Therein lies the first vulnerability heat!  You need sunlight for heat and you need lots of it.  What about shade?  Not an issue- crabgrass must have lots of sun- so we don’t have to worry about the shade.  Therefore- do we need to apply pre-emergent crabgrass controls to the shade?  I think not.

Heat is what crabgrass wants- mixed with lots of light.  How do we reduce light and or heat to maybe slow down germination?  MMMM.  Mow high!  Yes, mow at 3″ and mulch thy clippings to enhance your organic matter.  Mowing high keeps your soil cooler for a longer period of time.  Excellent!  If you cut your lawn short, or scalp it- what happens?  The soil heats up fast and you suddenly have crabgrass seeds germinating like radishes in the garden- pop, pop, pop!  Mowing high means you need grass to mow high.  Darn!  What about bare spots and patches?

Even if you do use a pre-emergent product- which by the way are usually just dyes . . . nothing fancy and chemically evil about that- bare areas are just that- bare!  The soil will not stay cool, there is not grass to keep it cool- that’s why it is bare!  Even the best pre-emergent will fail under ideal conditions within 90 days or so- the sun and heat break it down.  If there is a bare spot, the life span is even shorter, perhaps a month or so a best.  You must seed those area now- its fall!  To beat the enemy, you must know the enemy.  Seed those damaged, bare patches, insect devastated, drought ravaged brown patches this fall and you will have the upper hand on crabgrass next spring.

Corn Gluten?  Who said make corn muffins?  Unfortunately, there is no scientific proof that corn gluten really works at preventing crabgrass at this time.  What this product does do is provide a shot of Nitrogen to your lawn like taking a mountain dew and mixing in some steroids to you!  Oh yeah, you get growth, and perhaps in return less crabgrass as your normal lawn starts to smoke and shake.  Lets just say the jury is still out on this product when it comes to substantial crabgrass reduction and I have used it plenty.

To summarize, seed now, mow high, and consider moving your lawn in a more positive direction by making it healthier.  A thick, healthy lawn is always your best defense with our without weeds my friends.  If you wait until the last minute- and then scream fire- the fire will be the crabgrass the size of your car or SUV wheels- and not so friendly.  Take care of your lawn- through the basics, and you will have less crabgrass- period.

Take care and may you have lawn that you can enjoy each and every day!

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