Fairway Green, Inc
9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14 Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone: (908) 281-7888

Category Archives: DIY Lawn Care

Seed Heads

Annual Bluegrass seed heads

This picture shows what Annual Bluegrass seed heads look like.

One of the most common lawn care questions we receive each year is about a strange wheat like weed growing in lawns. Good news, it’s not a weed, but rather a seed head! A seed head is a normal part of the grass life cycle that occurs each spring in our area. All grasses produce seed heads at some point throughout the growing season, it’s the plants way to reproduce and ensure survival.

Seed heads can be different in shape and size depending on the grass species. The timing of seed head production in the grass life cycle varies from plant to plant. Some grass species produce seed heads very early in spring, such as Annual Bluegrass and Rough Stalk Bluegrass; while others may produce seed heads later in the season such as annual rye grass. Seed heads are attached to a stalk that stems from the center of the grass plant and resemble miniature wheat plants. How many seed heads are visible on the lawn at any given time depends on the grass varieties and time interval between mowing. Seed head production normally lasts for a period of 2-4 weeks. As mentioned previously, many homeowners commonly mistake seed heads for weeds but no need to worry, they’re just a part of the grass life cycle. If you want more information on weeds, click here for our blog about weeds and ways to control them.

Seed head production requires energy from the grass plant, potentially causing a temporary lightening in color. The turf looks stemmy due to seed stalks, and short-term thinning of the turf stand. All these temporary issues eventually correct themselves as the plants grow and enter the next step in the grass life cycle. The best way to ensure a speedy recovery is by enhancing growth through regular watering and fertilization.

Seed heads are a necessary step in the life cycle of grass and ensures the specie’s survival, therefore stressed areas of the lawn may generate a greater density of seed heads. Dry soil is a tell-tale sign of seed heads. Check the soil moisture in the turf and compare areas with and without seed heads. The drier sections yield more seed heads. Cool shaded areas where the water evaporation rate is much less may have less seed heads. Watering the lawn properly with an adequate amount of water each week is important to the turf’s appearance and health.

There is no way of controlling or preventing seed heads from occurring chemically in a lawn because it is part of the natural grass life cycle; however, there are ways to improve the appearance of the lawn while seed heads are growing.

Ways to manage seed heads in turf:

  1. Seed headsThe best way to combat seed heads is to mow the lawn often and make sure the mower blades are sharp. We recommend mowing once a week at a height of 3-3 ½ inches and not bagging the clippings.
  2. We do not recommend lowering the mowing height of the mower to help control seed heads. Lowering the mowing height puts additional stress on the lawn and may also cause damage to vital structures of the plant, such as the crown.
  3. Proper fertilization is key. Properly fertilized lawns grow out of the seed stage of the grass life cycle faster. The grass becomes easier to mow and have a much neater lawn.
  4. Make sure the lawn is receiving the proper amount of water each week. The lawn should receive 1-1 ½ inches of water per week. The best time to water is between the hours of 12 am – 6 am. This keeps the turf growing at a good rate to help grow out the seed heads on the turf. We have great tips for a successful watering schedule on our website.

Conclusion

If you see plants that look like wheat in your lawn, no need to worry this is a normal part of the grass life cycle. The timing and amount of seed heads produced depends on grass varieties and environmental conditions. Proper watering and fertilization help improve the appearance of the turf while it’s producing seed heads and promote quicker recovery. If you are in our service area and have any questions about seed heads or your lawn in general, feel free to give us a call at 908-281-7888.

Lawn Watering Schedule

Summer is in full swing and the warm weather makes it perfect to enjoy your outdoor living space. Unfortunately, the same warm weather and lack of rain can really stress your lawn. Maintaining a lawn and landscape takes a lot of work and effort, but there are few cultural practices that are important to keep your lawn looking great throughout the summer.

In addition to following our mowing best practices, another summer cultural practice that will greatly improve the look of your lawn is to implement a lawn watering schedule. When executing a lawn watering schedule, we highly stress sticking to a schedule. Rotating between watering and not watering can weaken the glass plant. Additionally, these recommendations are for the soil types with a considerable amount of clay in them. For sandy soil, the watering recommendation will be completely different.

properly watered lawn next to dormant lawn

This image captures the difference between a lawn properly watered and a dormant lawn.

Lawn Watering Schedule

The best time to water your lawn is between the hours of 12 am and 6 am. This helps minimize water loss to evaporation because this time of the day is often cooler and more humid. This also allows the water to penetrate deeper into the soil and minimizes the length of time the grass blades remain wet, since the blades will already be covered in dew. This helps reduce the susceptibility for turf diseases.

Frequency of Watering

We recommend watering your lawn like a heavy rainstorm; putting a lot of water down at once! It is important to water in a way that will reach the depth of the turf’s root system. A good starting point in our area is to provide 1 inch of water per week. For underground irrigation systems, you want to have your system set to run 1 – 1 ½ hours twice a week.

If you have hose-end sprinklers, we recommend purchasing a valve timer and setting your sprinkler to run for 4 hours, once per week.  These run times are approximations to get you to 1 inch of water per week, the timing may vary slightly depending on the type of sprinklers installed.

If your following the watering schedule and your soil is still drying out and you notice browning, try adding an extra half hour of run time to each zone. Always start by adding time to the current watering schedule, rather than adding another day.

Frequent and short watering (15 minutes per zone everyday) is not a good lawn watering schedule. It will promote a shallow root system which can weaken the grass plant and encourages disease. Unfortunately, this is something we come across quite often. Deep, infrequent watering is recommended and will help create a deeper root system, resulting in a stronger grass plant.

Conclusion

Once a lawn goes dormant, it will take a few weeks of good watering for the grass to exit dormancy.  Therefore, it is important to start watering early in the year and not stop. If you keep up with the watering schedule, your turf will have plenty of moisture over the entire summer.

Summer is a great time to spend outside but can be very stressful on your lawn. Following a few cultural best practices can really make a difference when it comes to having a healthy lawn all summer long.  If you have any questions about summer cultural practices or want more information about a lawn watering schedule, please request an online estimate or give our office a call at 908-281-7888.

What is the Right Grass Mowing Height?

Here in New Jersey, summer time has arrived; and now is the time to enjoy your outdoor living space. There are many ways to make your outdoor property look great this summer, including your lawn. Maintaining a lawn and landscape takes a lot of work and effort, but there are few cultural practices that are important to keep your lawn looking great throughout the summer.

To start, here in New Jersey we deal primarily with northern turf grass species. This includes Rye grass, Blue grass, Tall Fescue, Fine Fescues and Chewing Fescue turf varieties. Our below recommendations to follow are averages that can be used by a homeowner to cover norther turf grass species.

One of the very first cultural practices is proper mowing. It may seem like an easy task, just take your mower out of the shed, and go to town on your lawn. There’s a little bit more to it than that, like knowing the right grass mowing height. Below we will go through several mowing best practices.

Grass Mowing Height

Proper grass mowing height and proper frequency is essential to the health of your lawn. The best grass mowing height in our area is about 3 – 3 ½ inches in length. When mowing the lawn, mow off only 1/3 of the grass plant at a time. We recommend frequency of mowing should depend on how tall the grass is, and not necessarily following a calendar schedule. For example, if a lawn is being kept at 3 inches in height, it should be mowed when the grass reaches 4 ½ inches, not every other Wednesday. By removing too much of the grass blade at one time, it can weaken the plant which in turn will reduce its ability to withstand other environmental issues such as disease, surface feeding insects and even invasion of broadleaf weeds.

Also, be very careful not to cut the lawn too short or weedwack the edges too close. This is commonly referred to as scalping. Scalping is when too much of the grass blade is mowed off at one time and the stem and crown of the plants are left exposed. Scalping a lawn whether it is from mowing too short or uneven ground can cause injury to the plant. Raising the mower blades higher will help reduce this problem and watering properly helps aid in recovery of scalped areas. Sometimes seeding is needed to repair permanently damaged scalped areas.

When finding the best grass mowing height, it is best to keep the grass tall. Keeping it tall will help shade the soil under the turf canopy and keep the soil cooler. This will help to reduce the number of weeds that grow.

Frayed blades of grass

This picture displays frayed grass blades from a dull mower blade.

Mowing Blades

You may have already been mowing this season but, make sure that you have the mower blades sharpened regularly and you also perform regular maintenance on your mower like changing the oil and spark plugs regularly. Dull mower blades can tear, bruise and shred the grass blade causing injury to the turf. It can weaken the grass plant, and an open wound on grass blades are excellent spots for disease.

Other Best Practices

We also recommend not mowing your lawn when the grass is wet. Dew or any type of excessive moisture on the grass blades is an excellent way to spread lawn diseases. Also, avoid mowing midday in the full heat of the day because it can place extra stress on the plant. Mow in the cool of the morning after the dew has evaporated, or in the evening.

When mowing the lawn also try to change up the direction you typically mow. Mowing the lawn in same direction every time will cause the grass to lean that way. Mowing in different directions each time you cut the lawn will help the grass grow more upright.

Do not bag your grass clippings because leaving the clippings behind is beneficial for the lawn. This is a process called “grass-cycling”. The benefits of this process are that it puts moisture and nutrients back into the lawn. Contrary to popular belief it does not contribute to thatch build up. Sometimes bagging or removing clippings is unavoidable. If the clippings are too plentiful or too long and clump up, those should be removed. If left in clumps the grass underneath can suffocate and die off.

Conclusion

By following our best practices, like proper grass mowing height, you can reduce various problems in your lawn. Maintaining a lawn and landscape can take a lot of effort and a great amount of knowledge. If you have any questions regarding best mowing practices, please request an estimate or give our office a call at 908-281-7888.

9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 United States | (908) 281-7888
Phone: (908) 281-7888