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

Category Archives: Lawn Care Treatment

Dollar Spot Disease

Summer weather provides a host of environmental stresses to the cool-season turf varieties that we have in New Jersey. Temperature, humidity, lack of rain, and sometimes too much rain all impact residential lawns throughout the summer months. Outside of heat stress, foliar diseases are a common issue we encounter as lawn care professionals. One of the most frequent diseases we see in the summer months is Dollar Spot.


As I mentioned briefly, Dollar Spot is a foliar disease affecting the leaf tissue of grass blades. You can imagine because of the name; the most notable trait of this disease is its appearance. In the image below, the disease presents as burned or bleached circles in the lawn that resemble silver dollars. These circle-like shapes can continue to grow and morph into bigger areas that then no longer resemble small circles.

Causes of the Disease

If this disease is so common, what is the reason it is in your lawn? Well, unfortunately for the homeowner, certain grass varieties are more susceptible to this disease.  We commonly find dollar spot on fine fescues, especially when these shade loving varieties are planted directly in the sun.  Using generic sun and shade mixes when homeowners seed is usually the main culprit of having turf that prefers the shade growing in the full sun. Other varieties like rye grass, blue grass, and even tall fescue are also susceptible.

Secondly, weather conditions also play a large part of when this disease becomes active. Most foliar diseases we encounter in the summer months like hot, humid, and wet weather. This means, nighttime temperatures above 55 and daytime temperatures in the 80’s-90’s. The main component however is moisture, the turf blades must be wet for dollar spot to infect the plant. Some recent summers in New Jersey, we have experienced a great increase in rainfall, while others are more notably remembered for a drought.

The moisture component is not just left to mother nature, we can be promoting disease by watering too frequently.  Remember, the grass blades must be wet for the disease to infect the plant, so having your sprinkler set to water every day increases the likelihood of disease. Long periods of leaf wetness from dew, rain, or sprinkler irrigation, coupled with warm temperatures, leads to the perfect environment for dollar spot to start spreading. We will discuss proper watering a little later in this blog.

What do you do once your lawn has dollar spot disease? There are two areas of control that we should discuss: chemical and cultural.

Dollar Spot Treatment

From the chemical side of things, you can apply a foliar fungicide to your lawn to help stop the spread of the disease for 20-28 days. With the appropriate use of fertilizer and irrigation, you can start to grow out the turf and you will see the diseased tissue going away with mowing. Something very important to remember, a fungicide applied to the lawn after the disease is present will NOT make the disease go away. The fungicide only stops the spread of the disease for a period of about a month. An additional fungicide may need to be applied if favorable weather conditions continue.

If you are reading this blog because you have dollar spot disease in your lawn every summer, then a preventable fungicide program may be the solution you are looking for. If you apply a foliar fungicide to the lawn before the disease is active, you can prevent disease activity on the property for about a month. Talk to your lawn care professional to see if you should be applying fungicides preventatively, and depending on your property, what months they recommend. For people in our service area, we normally recommend a monthly fungicide applied from June through August.

Cultural Considerations

We touched on how most diseases need the presence of prolonged wet foliage. For homeowners that have irrigation or hose-end sprinklers; there is a way to reduce the amount of time your grass blades stay wet. Changing your watering schedule from running your sprinklers every day for twenty minutes, to DEEP and INFREQUENT watering. This means only water every third or fourth day for an hour to an hour and a half per zone. The goal is to provide your lawn with an inch of water every week while letting the grass blades dry out in between watering. The best time to water is between midnight and 6am, this is because the grass is already wet from dew formation so we are not prolonging the time it stays wet.  For more information about a watering schedule, please visit our blog.

Additionally, we would also recommend adding aeration to your lawn care maintenance schedule at least every other year. Decreasing soil compaction and thatch improves water and nutrient flow deeper into the soil which leads to root growth. Healthier grass plants = more stress tolerant.

Finally, if your property is largely a grass variety that is more susceptible to Dollar Spot disease, you can overseed your lawn annually with a more tolerant grass type. We would recommend using the right variety for the area you plan on seeding.  We like turf type tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and annual ryegrass in areas that get a lot of sun and fine fescues in areas that are shaded.  If you plan to go down the route of overseeding your lawn and you are in our service area, feel free to reach out to our office and we can help answer any questions.


Dollar Spot disease is a common disease in the New Jersey area during the summer months. While it is common, there are a couple of steps you can take to reduce the damage of the disease both culturally through your watering methods, and chemically with fungicides and adequate fertilization.

If you have questions about Dollar Spot disease, feel free to reach out to our office to speak with a lawn care professional, at 908-281-7888.

Why Does My Lawn Have Moss?

Moss is a plant that generates a lot of questions from our customers. Most customers want to know why they have it and how they can get rid of it! This blog will discuss what moss is, why moss grows, and how you can help remediate the problem.

What is moss?

Moss is a non-flowering plant that grows low to the surface of the ground. Something unique about moss is that it does not have a root structure like grass and other common broadleaf weeds. It is also important to understand that moss does not kill grass, instead it fills in open spaces where grass varieties are not successfully growing.

Why is moss on your property?

Moss is on your property due to a combination of environmental factors, but the one we hear about most often is related to pH. While it is true that moss prefers acidic soil, it is not true that simply adding lime will get rid of it! You can have perfect pH levels, but if other environmental factors are present, moss can still grow.

If you have moss and want to know if your soil is acidic, the best plan is to test the pH and add lime only if necessary. A pH in the range of 6.3-6.5 is ideal for most cool season grasses in our area. In summary, having moss in your lawn doesn’t automatically mean your pH is too low and you need to lime, that could be a factor, but you need to test the soil’s pH to be certain.

Another environmental factor that helps moss thrive is shade. I don’t mean to imply that moss can not grow in areas of full sun, it can; however, it is the shade that gives the moss an opportunity to grow. What do I mean by this? Well, have you noticed that grass usually does not survive in areas of heavy shade? When grass cannot get enough sunlight, it dies and thins out. This is a perfect opportunity for something else, like moss, to move in and grow in the open and thin areas.

Further, soil moisture plays a roll in where moss is present on your property. If you think about where moss is on your property, you can probably find it in areas like the crack between two paver stones in your walkway or sidewalk. These areas trap moisture and can remain wet for a long period of time. This can be true in parts of your lawn as well. Not only does moss do well in wet areas, but the trapped moisture is not a favorable environment for grass. Over time areas with excess soil moisture will cause grass to thin and die off, creating a space for moss to grow.

Soil compaction also plays a role in where moss is present on your property. In our service area, soil is largely clay based. Clay based soil easily becomes compacted by foot traffic, mowers, pets, etc. Unfortunately, when soil is compacted, oxygen and water are unable to work their way through the soil and water often sits on top of the surface. In addition, grass roots have a difficult time growing in heavily compacted soil which will compromise the long-term health of the grass plant.

By now you should be seeing a common theme amongst the environmental factors. Environmental factors that negatively impact your turf, such as acidic soil, compaction, heavy shade, and excess moisture, are the same factors that moss prefers to grow in. Now these environmental factors certainly didn’t appear overnight; so, what can be done to help remediate the moss problem?

Getting rid of Moss

First, if you want to reduce the moss on your property, change the environment. For example, you may have a row of trees that have matured and created a large area of shade in your lawn. We recommend annually pruning or thinning the trees so more sunlight can reach the plants below.

Core aeration is a key component to help reduce soil compaction. This mechanical process removes plugs in the soil three to four inches deep. This creates space in the soil for grass roots to grow and allows oxygen and water into those spaces. Core aeration may need to be completed annually to remediate heavily compacted areas. For more information about core aeration, check out our blog.


Additionally, we recommend watering less in shaded areas of your lawn. If moss is a present issue, let the soil dry out in between watering to make sure the soil is not overly wet for long periods of time.

If you are interested in remediating moss quickly, you can physically remove it with a rake. There are also products you can purchase to kill moss. You can find them at most of the big home improvement stores in the garden section. Using these types of products will be effective in killing moss that is present; however, without changing the environmental factors the moss will return! It is also important to understand that crabgrass control and other broadleaf weeds will not have any impact on moss.


The only long term way to remediate moss in your lawn is to change the environment. Making those areas more hospitable to grass would help establish turf in the areas instead of moss. If you have further questions about moss, please contact our office or request a free estimate.

Organic Fertilizers

Throughout the past decade, there has been increased interest in customers wanting to learn about organic lawn care. Our experience with customers that contact us regarding organic treatments is they are more interested in reducing weed control, insect control, and disease control on their property, while the source of the fertilizer is less important. This blog is intended to discuss the differences between organic and synthetic fertilizers, not control products.

What are organic fertilizers?

An organic fertilizer is derived directly from plant sources, animal sources or human waste. Examples of organic fertilizers include manure, compost, bone meal, or blood meal, etc.

What are the differences between organic and synthetic fertilizers?

Both organic and synthetic fertilizers can provide plants with key nutrients needed to grow healthy and strong; however, they differ in how those nutrients are derived.

Organic fertilizers can provide the three key nutrients for plant growth; nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, but in smaller percentages when compared to synthetic fertilizers. Microbes in the soil are needed to convert organic fertilizers into nutrients that the plant can use. This process takes some time, and it can vary dependent on environmental factors. Organic fertilizers can also provide some secondary nutrients such as calcium, sulfur, and magnesium, as well as micro-nutrients like boron, chlorine, manganese, iron, and zinc to the grass plants for use. Organic fertilizers are typically more expensive than synthetics because of how they are sourced, and you will need to apply higher quantities of fertilizer to get the right amount of nutrients needed by your turf.

Within synthetic fertilizers, nitrogen and phosphorous are derived from petroleum products, while potassium is a mineral that is mined from the ground. When using synthetic fertilizers, the conversion process from the fertilizer to a usable form to the plant is usually a shorter process compared to organic fertilizer. With synthetic fertilizer, nitrogen can be manufactured in different ways to have slow-release capabilities, similar to or even longer than organic fertilizers. Unlike organic fertilizers where the amount of nutrients released to the plant are controlled by the soil microbes, with synthetic fertilizers the slow release can be customized to provide more uniform grass growth and effective nutrient absorption. Secondary and micro-nutrients can be added to synthetic fertilizers if necessary.

Is organic fertilizer better than synthetic fertilizer?

Both synthetic and organic fertilizers can provide vital nutrients to help your lawn grow and thrive. An obvious benefit to organic fertilizers, is that it is organic, renewable, biodegradable, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Additionally, organic fertilizers, if used for a long period of time, improve the structure of the soil, and increase the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients. Please keep in mind that your grass cannot distinguish between what is organic fertilizer or synthetic fertilizer, the nutrients are processed by the plants in the exact the same way.

It is important to remember that the quality of fertilizer the consumer purchases is very important for both organic and synthetic fertilizers. You can buy a high quality organic or synthetic fertilizer that provides your turf with the nutrients it needs, while a poor quality organic or synthetic fertilizer may not. Whether you choose to use synthetic or organic fertilizers, quality is very important


Once you understand what your turfgrass needs, you can then choose a fertilizer, organic or synthetic, that supplements those nutrient deficiencies. Both synthetic and organic fertilizers can provide your lawn with the nutrients that promote growth and health. If you are in our service area and would like more information about organic lawn care, request an estimate or call our office at 908-281-7888.

Undesirable Turf Species

A weed is defined as a plant growing where it is not desired; this includes different turf varieties that are undesirable to a maintained lawn. Unfortunately, these “grassy weeds” are extremely difficult to control because most lawn care treatments can’t effectively target just one species of grass. In this blog we are going to discuss two of the more common grassy weeds in our area of New Jersey.

Poa Trivialis and Creeping Bentgrass

Poa Trivialis, commonly known as Roughstalk bluegrass, and Creeping Bentgrass are two problem grass species that are very common in New Jersey. Both species are shallow rooted and spread through stolons along the surface of the soil. When conditions are ideal, they can start to crowd out desirable turf species and take over parts of your lawn in large patches.

Why is this plant an issue? One reason this grass type is undesirable is because poa trivialis is not tolerant of high heat and drought conditions. In New Jersey, these turf varieties will start to go dormant and struggle in the summer, potentially leaving large sections of your lawn looking brown until the weather cools down in the fall.

This grassy weed would be less of a problem if the summer heat killed the plant, then we could reseed with a better grass variety and our problem would be solved. Unfortunately, both species are extremely resilient and can continue to grow from stolons for many years.

When temperatures start to cool down, you will notice new growth developing, even in sections where the plants looked completely dead during summer. Once the plants recover from the summer heat, they will continue to spread and potentially take over larger areas of desirable turf. The more they spread, the harder they become to control.

How did this plant get in my lawn?

Roughstalk bluegrass seed looks very similar to Kentucky bluegrass seed, so one of the ways it can get into your lawn is through contaminated seed. When purchasing seed for your lawn, make sure you get certified seed from a quality source. As previously mentioned, the plants are extremely resilient and if any stolons or seeds are present in the soil (your existing soil or soil purchased from a store), they can begin to grow and spread when the environmental conditions are right.

Favorable Conditions

What are the right conditions for these grass types? Both grass varieties prefer areas that are frequently watered and also do well in shaded regions of your lawn. In the past two years, our region has experienced higher than normal rainfall which made it ideal for these species to thrive.

Watering Practices

Although we can’t control the weather, we can control our irrigation settings. Even though it seems to be a very common practice, there are numerous reasons why you should not set your irrigation to turn on every day (or every other day) for 30 minutes per zone. If you are currently watering this way, you are improving your chances of getting disease in the summer and making the perfect environment for roughstalk bluegrass and creeping bentgrass to thrive in the spring and fall.

Set your sprinklers to water infrequently but for a longer period of time. This will allow the soil to dry and make the environment less ideal for these problem grass varieties. Depending on the layout of your property, a good starting point for irrigation is twice a week and 1 hour per zone, depending on the type of irrigation heads you have installed. To learn more about setting up your irrigation schedule, check out our blog.

Mowing Practices

Following proper mowing practices is important for the health of all turf varieties and can also help you deal with these problem grasses. We recommend leaving your grass at least 3” tall and never mowing off more than 1/3 of the plant at a time. Both of these problem grass varieties prefer lower mowing heights, closer to 2” is ideal. By leaving the grass taller, you’re creating an environment that promotes the health of desirable turf, making it more difficult for poa trivilias and creeping bentgrass to spread.

Reduce Soil Compaction

Finally, we recommend reducing soil compaction in areas where these plants are a problem. Roughstalk bluegrass does very well in compacted soils. For home lawns, we typically recommend core aerating every two years, however if you have areas where these grass varieties persist, you may want to aerate on an annual basis.

To summarize the cultural practices, you want to water infrequently but for a long time, keep your mowing height at least 3” tall, and reduce soil compaction by aerating. Even if you don’t have problems with grassy weeds, these are excellent cultural practices to follow for desirable turf species. If you’re following all these cultural practices and the problem continues to get worse, there are chemical control options.

Chemical Control

When cultural practices are not able to control these undesirable grass varieties, the most practical option is to apply a non-selective herbicide and kill those areas. Afterwards, those areas need to be reseeded in September. Even if the plants look like they are already dead from summer stress, it is important to still treat those sections with a non-selective herbicide.

These plants are resilient and can regrow from a small section of stolon above or below the surface, therefore treatment is a crucial step. Wait approximately two weeks after you treat the area and then seed with the right variety of grass for that area of your lawn. For our region of New Jersey, seeding results are best if you do the seeding sometime in late August through the entire month of September.

Importance of Good Drainage

If these plants are thriving in an area that typically stays wet for extended periods of time, be sure to address the drainage and grading issues with your landscaper before reseeding. These areas will continue to be a problem until the drainage issue is solved. Even if you follow the right cultural practices, use chemical control, and reseed, the constantly wet environmental conditions are ideal for these grass varieties and they will re-establish in those areas.  First solve the drainage issues and then tackle the problem turf varieties.


If you choose to reseed your lawn, some of the unwanted grass varieties will somehow find their way back. It is very difficult to completely remove these species with 100% control without doing some type of very large and expensive renovation project. But with the right cultural practices, you won’t have to worry about the plants rapidly spreading and taking over. It’s also much easier to control them with a non-selective herbicide when they are in small numbers and just start to show up.

Grassy weeds are some of the most difficult plants to control in a home lawn. That being said, following proper cultural practices as described in this blog can make the environment extremely difficult for them to thrive. If you still have issues, chemical control and reseeding will help eliminate these undesirable turf species in the short term. Long term monitoring will be necessary to stop these unwanted plants from taking over again. If you live in our service area and have any questions, feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888.

What To Expect The First Season With Lawn Care

Integrated Pest Management home and green lawn

Millions of homeowners dream of having the perfect lawn and becoming the envy of their entire neighborhood. After a few years of lawn maintenance consisting of regular mowing, some people make the decision to invest a bit more and sign up with a reputable lawn care treatment company.

The sales associate explains the benefits of a regular maintenance program, the homeowner signs up for service and can hardly wait to have the lush, weed-free sea of deep green they’ve always dreamed about. Like every other thing in life however, it’s just not quite as simple as all of that. This blog will help homeowners anticipate some of the differences in managing a treated lawn, so that this largely beneficial choice isn’t overshadowed by a few surprises.

Start your Engines

The homeowner often underestimates the accelerated growth of the turf following lawn fertilization. Typically for a lawn that has not been fertilized, the homeowner can have it mowed every 7-10 days, sometimes closer to 14 days with little consequence. Once the lawn starts receiving regular fertilization, mowing must occur once each week through spring and early fall in some cases closer to every 5 days to keep it at a reasonable 3” height.

The extra cutting means added wear on the mower, which leads to the need for regular mower servicing. We recommend sharpening the mower blades 2-4 times per season and servicing the motor to insure it continues running properly. If there is a regular landscape service responsible for mowing, they will need to schedule cutting more often than before. Consult with your landscaper as there may be an additional cost associated with more frequent visits to the property.

Not all that is Green is Grass

One of the biggest misconceptions amongst homeowners is that all weeds are like dandelions; large, broadleaf, and have a huge flower. Once all the weeds are gone, the lawn is certainly going to look a whole lot nicer; however, there are plenty of weeds on the lawn that are low-lying, green and may develop a flower for just a short time. Broadleaf weeds such as ground ivy, clover, and wild violet that are eventually controlled by herbicides, may have actually contributed to the green ground cover observed from afar as part of the lawn prior to service.

As much of a difference as broadleaf weed control makes, the absence of crabgrass in the summer is probably the biggest difference homeowners aren’t prepared for. Without crabgrass prevention done each spring, a large percentage of any residential lawn becomes overrun with this weed by July each summer. Crabgrass is a low-lying, grass-like summer annual which means it actively grows in the heat. Without treatment, lawns that consist of a large amount of crabgrass are very low maintenance. They stay green with very little water and can be mowed down to 2” or less without consequence.

Once your lawn care provider preventatively controls for crabgrass, all that remains on the lawn in summer is the desirable grasses, which do not tolerate the heat nearly as well, and will not stay green unless they are properly watered. Does this mean the lawn will have to be irrigated through the summer each year? No. It’s just that the expectation is the lawn will look better with treatment, that might not be the case in the summer unless the homeowner is able to properly irrigate. It is better for the overall health of the turf to keep the crabgrass out, it just may be frustrating for the homeowner to see surrounding lawns of crabgrass (that will appear as nice, green lawns from afar) not requiring any water to maintain color.

Once crabgrass and weeds are controlled, the lawn may eventually start to appear thinner. This is because the amount of desirable grass present at the start of treatment may not have been significant enough to provide dense ground cover in the first place. Once this happens, the lawn technician servicing the property may recommend over seeding to improve the density of the lawn.

Again, this is contrary to what most homeowners expect. After all, they already purchased an annual treatment package to make the lawn look nice, shouldn’t the fertilizer be enough to make the lawn thicker? Fertilizer will make the grass already present on the lawn look thicker and greener, but it will not cause new grass to spring up out of the bare areas previously occupied by weeds. Once the weeds are controlled, homeowners shouldn’t be surprised to hear that seeding may be necessary to establish a thicker, higher quality lawn.

What is Core Aeration?

A lawn mostly comprised of grass needs more maintenance than a lawn filled with weeds. Desirable grass species considered desirable prefer well-drained, oxygenated soil. This means addressing the soil compaction regularly and controlling the thatch layer. The thatch is a layer of living grass stems and decomposing organic matter that accumulates at the base of the plants just above the soil surface. The growth of these stems is stimulated by fertilization, so the thatch layer will accumulate much faster with treatment. Overly thick thatch will block oxygen and moisture from reaching the soil, as well as provide a favorable environment for harmful insects and disease.

Additionally, central New Jersey has soil with high clay content that compacts easily. Compaction happens even more quickly as the mowing frequency increases due to fertilization.

To prevent excessive thatch accumulation and address the soil compaction, the lawn technician will start recommending core aeration. Core aeration is the process by which soil and grass plugs are mechanically brought to the surface of the turf and then allowed to resettle into the lawn. This will need to be done at least every other fall as a maintenance practice to counter the thatch growth and soil compaction. Lawns that have severely compacted soil or that are made up of certain turf species that inherently produce excessive thatch, may require annual core aeration.

Soil pH

Most fertilizers applied to residential lawns are broken down by soil microbes in order to release the nutrients to the plants. This process occurs very efficiently within the soil provided that the pH remains within a range of 6.0-7.0, depending on the grass variety. In order to get the most from fertilization, lawn care companies test the pH regularly as part of regular maintenance. When the soil becomes more acidic the technician will recommend that lime be applied to help bring it back up into the optimum range.

It Never had Disease Before

Almost everyone knows that mushrooms are fungi, and most everyone has observed mushrooms growing in the grass or near trees in beds at one time or another. However, it is not common knowledge that there are also millions of microscopic fungi living in the soil that can attack grass plants causing what we refer to commonly as turf diseases. These pathogenic fungi do not significantly impact broadleaf weeds or crabgrass, so prior to the lawn becoming a grass exclusive property through treatment, disease is of no concern.

Like diseases that affect humans, lawn diseases can range in severity from relatively harmless to damaging. All lawn diseases though have some sort of negative impact on the look of the turf. Lawn technicians will diagnose disease issues and make recommendations for treatment. Control recommendations are usually adjustments to water or mowing but can also include the use of fungicides. Fungicides, like medicine, are additional treatments done to chemically control disease symptoms. The cost of fungicide is not something typically built into any normal maintenance program, so they can present an additional cost which can be a shock to the homeowner receiving treatments for the first time.

Don’t Be Too Concerned

At the end of the day, the lawn will look far better with treatment than it did without. Also, not all the circumstances outlined in this blog are going to present themselves all at once, but each one will likely be something referenced by your lawn specialist at some point. The difference now is that you have been equipped with the knowledge of what to expect, so it should come as no surprise.

The Importance of Crabgrass Control

The most common question we get in the early spring as lawn care professionals is “Isn’t it too early to apply the crabgrass preventer?”  Since crabgrass becomes apparent in the lawn in the hot summer months, some may think the spring is too early to apply crabgrass control. In this blog we will discuss the appropriate time to apply a crabgrass pre-emergent as well as the importance of it on your turf for the rest of the year.


What is crabgrass?

So, what exactly is crabgrass? Basically, it’s a weedy grass that can grow anywhere, it grows fast and we can all agree that it looks bad in a lawn. It typically grows low to the ground and resembles a “crab-like” shape. This is an annual weed, which means it germinates in the spring, proliferates throughout the growing season, drops its seed for next season and then dies in the fall. In the following spring, the seeds germinate, and the process starts all over again.

Crabgrass is the most troublesome weed in lawns and can tolerate environmental extremes; including hot temperatures, drought conditions and full sun exposure. It is a coarse textured plant and lime green in color. It also has fine hairs along the leaves and leaf sheaths. One crabgrass plant can produce upwards of 150,000 seeds, making crabgrass a very big problem in the future years. Crabgrass plants can also tolerate very low mowing heights and can still produce seeds when cut at ½ inch short.

How to control crabgrass

A pre-emergence herbicide or “crabgrass preventer” controls crabgrass by stopping the seeds from germinating and spreading. Before crabgrass seeds get a chance to germinate, you want to apply a crabgrass preventer to the lawn each spring. Once the crabgrass germinates, the pre-emergence is not effective in preventing crabgrass.

When to apply pre-emergent

It’s important to apply your crabgrass pre-emergent in the spring, before the crabgrass germinates.  Earlier is always better than later, because if you wait too long and the crabgrass seeds have germinated, the pre-emergent will not be nearly as effective. Unfortunately, the timing is based on soil temperatures so it can vary year to year. A good rule of thumb is to apply a pre-emergent between the beginning of March and the end of April. A second application can also be made about 4-8 weeks after the first, this will help prevent crabgrass from germinating later in the summer.

It is significantly easier to prevent crabgrass than it is to control it once it starts to grow. You may need multiple applications of post-emergent crabgrass control throughout the growing season to control the already matured crabgrass plant. Luckily, in the fall once soil temperatures dip below 56 degrees and we get our first frost, the crabgrass will start to die off on its own. It will start off by turning a purplish color and then It will leave brown skeletal remains behind and decompose on its own.

What happens if you don’t control crabgrass?

If you do not take care of the crabgrass on an annual basis, slowly over each season, more and more crabgrass plants germinate and take up a significant portion of the lawn. There may be some turf remaining; however, if your lawn is primarily made up crabgrass, you will need to reseed or have sod installed.

We would also like to mention that seeding requires a lot of upfront work to prepare the lawn, then bring in the right equipment to complete the seeding, followed by the big commitment of watering for the seed to germinate and grow. This process is time consuming and often very expensive.

Also, bare or thin spots in your lawn are more susceptible to crabgrass growth than a dense portion of lawn. These bare or thin spots present no competition to the crabgrass germinating, which lets the crabgrass populate. Even when you apply a crabgrass pre-emergent on your lawn, bare and thin areas are still susceptible to crabgrass germination. The best course of action is to spot seed bare or thin areas.

If you are going to do any seeding in the spring, it is important to understand the challenges that come with spring seeding. Unfortunately seeding in the spring means these areas can’t have the crabgrass pre-emergent or weed controls applied as these will adversely affect seed germination. We recommend waiting to do any large seeding renovations until late August through September. To learn more about spring seeding and its limitations, check out our recent blog.

How to apply crabgrass pre-emergent

The best way to use any lawn product is to read the label and follow the instructions from the manufacturer.  If you use a product labeled for 10,000 square feet and apply that to a 15,000 square feet lawn, you will not have applied enough product and your crabgrass control will be limited. Read the label completely and follow it closely for the best results.


Crabgrass prevention is important for homeowners looking to have a maintained lawn. It not only looks bad but can take over sections of your lawn if left untreated. If you are in our service area and have questions about crabgrass control, request a free estimate online or call our office at 908-281-7888.

Property Aging, Soil Compaction and Erosion

It is believed that 35 million years ago the Colorado River flowed over what was then nothing more than a vast plain.  However, after hundreds of millennia the river carved a giant trench into the earth’s surface more than 5000 feet deep and 277 miles long. This great trench we now call The Grand Canyon was shaped by two of the most powerful forces known to man; erosion and time. Over time, use and forces of Nature shape all land areas including the lawn and landscape.

It’s Just Common Sense

That bit in the opening about the Grand Canyon was something we probably all learned in grade school and haven’t thought much about erosion since then.  Just because we haven’t thought about erosion in the last decade or so doesn’t make it any less true. We haven’t thought about the periodic table in just as long, but the elements still exist. Erosion is every bit as real as copper, gold, and silver, and no surface on this earth is immune to its influence.

Aging on the other hand is something we can all appreciate. As time passes, everything from our cars to our cell phones, to our own bodies start to wear out. Our properties are not any different. In fact, if you think about it, it’s remarkable that they last as long as they do. Cars have garages, cell phones have cases, and we have clothes and homes. What does the property have to shield itself from the elements? Now you may not live on the same parcel of land for as many millennia as it takes to see a canyon form, but it is reasonable to understand that wear and tear happens, even to our properties.

Soil Compaction

The quality of the soil and the long-term health of the lawn go hand in hand. In central New Jersey there is predominantly clay soil, so one of the main concerns is soil compaction. Clay soil holds water and remains soft for extended periods following irrigation or rain fall. While in this state the soil can easily compress, especially within the top inch or two. Over time, the soil becomes compacted and it makes it very difficult for oxygen and water to reach the root zone where it is needed. If soil compaction goes unaddressed for too long, plants suffer due to lack of oxygen. As a result, the grass cannot recover from even moderate stress, and eventually ground cover is lost as plants slowly die off.

Soil compaction becomes an issue more quickly in areas that receive higher amounts of traffic. Areas in and around children’s swing sets, near gates, portions of the lawn near the perimeters of beds where mowers make turns, areas in front of entrance/exit to decks or porches, corners of driveway/walkway that are cut across on foot, are all areas where soil compaction stress is accelerated. The grass recovery cannot outpace the stress that occurs, and these areas thin out more quickly than open sections of the property that receive less traffic.


We have established that lack of oxygen in the soil can lead to the decline in grass health as a result of soil compaction and that the clay soil has a tendency to hold moisture. In open areas the direct sunlight evaporates moisture from the soil surface. This allows oxygen to enter microscopic pore spaces between the soil’s particles so that the roots can “breathe”. The health of the grass depends on this influx of oxygen between irrigation and rainfall.

Without being able to take in the oxygen, the grass suffocates and under-performs. Within the shade of tree canopies, the moisture remains inside the micro-pores of the soil for too long, and the roots don’t receive enough oxygen. The clay soil also remains softer for longer, which accelerates compaction. As time passes, trees become larger and more mature, their canopies shade more surface area, and the amount of lawn affected becomes more extensive.

The lack of direct sunlight also interferes with the ability of the grass to photosynthesize. Plants use the sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to produce carbohydrates in order to live. The sunlight filtered through the leaves of the trees is not enough to support the grass beneath, and so it suffers.

Moreover, the tree roots also compete with the grass for beneficial soil nutrients. As the trees mature, their nutrient requirements increase, and their roots reach further across the property to support the demand. As a result, the same tree can impact a much larger area than it had previously.


A lot of people may forget that the relationship between the soil and the grass is symbiotic. Most everyone understands that the grass depends on the soil as a medium in which to set its roots and grow. The soil’s ability to hold moisture and nutrients is essential for the plants. However, the soil also relies on the plant roots to give it stability as well as absorb excess moisture. Without established ground cover, soil becomes very unstable and as rainfall or irrigation occurs, the soil washes away a little at a time.

Properties are designed to shed water away from buildings, so there is always water movement over the soil surface following rain or irrigation. We do our best with landscaping to minimize the effects of erosion, but over time this process can take a significant toll on the property.  In wetter regions such as ours that receive higher amounts of annual rainfall, the effects of erosion can be very substantial from one year to the next.

What to do

To minimize the negative effects of soil compaction, the lawn should be core aerated at least every other fall. This process of removing plugs from the soil and allowing them to resettle alleviates the compacted clay. As a result, the grass plants receive ample oxygen to support dense, healthy root growth. The fibrous root growth in turn helps maintain the integrity of the soil structure and discourage soil loss from erosion.

What better way to reverse the aging process than bringing in new life! Seed whenever necessary to re-establish ground cover. Do not allow thin areas to become bare areas and incorporate higher quality newer turf blends whenever possible. Newer grass varieties have better resistance to drought stress and disease which will provide more durable long-lasting ground cover.

Also, work with a landscaper to minimize erosion by directing water shed through areas least vulnerable to soil loss. For example, you can run downspouts into underground drainpipes or into gravel areas so that water doesn’t flow over the soil surface or settle in low points of the lawn. As trees mature and roots become exposed install more durable ground cover to keep it from getting worse. Any combination of mulch, stone, and low-lying shrubs can be used to create long-lasting, functional, and attractive features to the landscape that will prevent erosion.

Irrigate the lawn deeply and infrequently to promote root growth. Most lawns with clay soil should be watered heavily every fourth day. Frequent watering can cause disease and shallow rooting if done lightly and can promote erosion and serious oxygen deprivation when done heavily. Irrigation cycles should be spread out to allow the moisture enough time to move deeply into the soil. Depending on the weather and how well your property drains, irrigation may only need to be run once every 7-10 days.

Additionally, we recommend promoting dense turf growth through fertilization. Keeping the grass well fed will give it the capability to recover from stress. Without vigorous turf growth, stress from traffic, disease, drought, and insects can cause significantly more permanent damage and loss of ground-cover.


Despite your best efforts, at times deterioration can occur. Most of the time this isn’t because you’re doing anything particularly wrong, or your landscaper doesn’t know what they’re doing. These things happen because your lawn is exposed to a myriad of different types of stress in an ever-evolving environment, and sometimes it just can’t keep up even with your help. The best that you can do is institute sound cultural practices and accept that like any other living thing, the lawn will require additional care as it ages.

If you are in our service area and would like more advice about your lawn and landscape, request a free estimate online, or give our office a call at 908-281-7888.

Soil pH and Lime: How Lime Affects your Soil

Soil pH tester

What is pH?

Soil pH is the measure of its acidity or alkalinity and is rated on a simple logarithmic scale. The scale represents hydrogen ion concentration and ranges from 0.0-14.0, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline.  The halfway point on the scale, 7.0, is neutral. Soil acidity increases as values decrease from 7.0 to 0.0, and soil alkalinity increases as pH values increase from 7.0-14.

What causes the pH of the soil to be acidic?

The soils of the northeastern region of the United States tend to be naturally acidic. The amount of annual rainfall largely determines whether soils will become acidic, neutral, or alkaline. In regions of high rainfall, such as here in New Jersey, the alkaline elements are leached deep into the lower soil regions by percolating rain water. This natural process leads to acidic soils.

Along with rainfall, there are other factors that will affect soil pH.  Removal of grass clippings that contain alkaline elements, instead of allowing them to decompose into soil, will promote acidity.  Leaves, pine needles, and other plant matter can create more acidic soil conditions as they decompose, and living plants will feed on alkaline elements (potassium, calcium, and magnesium). For these reasons, areas under dense tree cover or anywhere grass and tree roots compete for soil nutrients tend to have more acidic soil.

Why does the soil pH matter?

Knowing the soil pH is crucial because it strongly effects grass growth. Soil pH dictates nutrient availability, elemental toxicity, and microbial activity.

Various mineral nutrients are readily available in varying concentrations depending on the pH of the soil. At certain critical levels, some of the minerals remain bound to other minerals and are unavailable for plant use. The chart is a general representation of plant nutrient availability based on soil pH levels.  The narrow areas of each band represent low availability of that nutrient, while the taller areas represent optimal nutrient availability.

The chart clearly illustrates that between a pH of 6.0-7.0, availability is at its peak for most of the critical lawn nutrients.  The other thing to observe is that at about 5.5, nutrient availability becomes problematic and only gets worse as the soil becomes more acidic. Likewise, as the soil becomes more alkaline than 7.0, nutrient availability will also begin to suffer. However, soils with a pH of 7.0 or more are very rare in New Jersey, so the concern is normally in keeping lawn soil as alkaline as possible.  The chart is not specific to our grass types, for typical cool season grasses found in New Jersey, the recommend pH level for optimal nutrient availability is between 6.3 and 6.5.

In addition to increased soil nutrient availability at a range of 6.0-7.0, this is also the range at which microorganism activity starts to peak. On the above chart the line labeled actinomycetes illustrates this point. Actinomycetes are bacteria in the soil responsible for the breakdown of a lot of organic matter as well as complex soil nutrients.  Keeping the soil microorganisms as active as possible is of interest to the lawn care technician because they will help breakdown fertilizers into forms usable by plants, as well as keep thatch to a minimum by aiding in decomposition.

How can the pH be corrected?

Acidic soil pH can be corrected by applying lime.  The most common liming materials are calcitic or dolomitic agricultural limestone. These are natural products made by finely grinding natural limestone. Since natural limestone is relatively water insoluble, agricultural limestone must be very finely ground so that it can mix with the soil particles and react with other nutrients to change soil acidity. The more finely ground the limestone is, the faster it will react in the soil. Both calcitic, and dolomitic lime contain calcium carbonate. Dolomitic lime however, also contains magnesium in the form of magnesium carbonate and should be used when soil tests indicate a magnesium deficiency.

Because high quality, finely ground limestone is very dusty and difficult to spread, some companies market a prilled or pelletized limestone for commercial and residential use. A small amount of clay or a polymer is added to the ground limestone so small prills are formed instead of dust. This makes it easier to apply out of a fertilizer spreader. Once applied, soil moisture will cause the granules to dissociate and disperse the limestone particles. Furthermore, newer pelletized lime products can be manufactured with reactants such as organic acids. These reactants speed up the chemical process by which lime changes soil pH, allowing for lawn applicators to produce quicker results, while using less product.

When using any limestone product, it is important to apply the material at the correct rate. Calcitic or dolomitic limestone, be it ground or pelletized, can have recommended application rates ranging anywhere from 5-200lbs/1000sq.ft. The rate at which the lime should be applied depends on the pH of the soil, what target range is trying to be obtained, and soil type.

Optimum pH range in cool-season turf soil is between 6.3-6.5. At this range soil microbe activity and nutrient availability is high, and it provides the most optimum condition for the most desirable species of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye.

Soil type comes into play when determining lime application rate. Certain soil types will be more resistant to change in pH than others. In general, it is more difficult to change pH in clay soil than it is in sandy soil. When liming clay, higher lime amounts will be necessary to have the same effect that a smaller amount would have on sandy soils.

Before applying lime to an area, a test of the pH should be done. Soil pH should be measured at least once a year as a general practice. This can be done using any number of kits or through the use of a pH meter. The lower the pH, the more lime it will take to correct. For example, a soil with a pH of 4.5 will require significantly more lime to correct to 6.5 than a lawn with an initial pH of 6.0. It is for this reason that a pH reading should be taken at least once each year.

If severely low pH is suspected, a soil sample can be sent to a commercial or university lab. The results of the soil test will specify how much lime should be added in a single or multiple applications to correct the problem. In addition, any other nutrient deficiencies that may exist will be specified, and recommendations on treatment to correct these issues will be provided. Soil tests are a very accurate and a useful tool in determining hard to diagnose turf issues. However, soil test results take time and are an added expense, which is why they are less practical for determining pH on every lawn.

If you are in our service area and want to know more about liming your lawn or testing the pH, give our office a call at 908-281-7888.  Also, you can learn more about our liming process from our website.

Are You Prepared to Comply with the New Jersey Fertilizer Laws?

Are You Prepared to Comply with the New Jersey Fertilizer Laws

What are the New Jersey fertilizer laws?

The New Jersey fertilizer laws were signed into effect by Governor Chris Christie on January 5, 2011.  It is one of the most restrictive fertilizer laws in the nation for good reasons.  It was enacted in three phases.

  • Phase one- This required the use of best management practices to reduce the impacts of fertilizers on waterways, and provided public education regarding correct fertilizer use.
  • Phase two- Initiated the creation of a certification program for professional fertilizer applicators and lawn care providers.
  • Phase three- Required manufacturers to reformulate their fertilizers for New Jersey.

Why were the fertilizer laws enacted?

The New Jersey Fertilizer Laws were enacted to help protect waterways from having run off of fertilizer by setting new limits on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that can be applied on lawns as well as the times in which they can be applied.  In addition, fertilizer companies and homeowners are required to clean up any fertilizer that has gotten onto hard surfaces such as patios, walkways, decks, sidewalks and roadways.  Other factors that impact waterways include soil erosion, leaking septic systems, biological waste that makes its way into storm sewers, and even leaves washing into sewers and waterways.

How do the New Jersey fertilizer laws affect businesses?

A “blackout period” was imposed to restrict the timing in which fertilizers can be applied.  This date range is from December 1st to March 1st for lawn care companies.  Neither Nitrogen nor potassium can be applied between these dates.

In addition, businesses are now required to be licensed to apply fertilizer.  This not only applies to established businesses, but anyone you hire to apply fertilizers must be licensed.  To obtain this license, applicators are required to pass a test, take continuing education courses and pay an annual fee.  It is illegal to apply fertilizer in New Jersey without this license.

Enforcement of this law will be done by the municipalities, counties, police, local soil conservation districts and the local health departments.  Any of these parties can receive reports from citizens, community groups, and companies regarding the fertilizer applicators that are operating without proper certification.  Professional lawn care applicators and homeowners that violate the law are subject to an initial fine of $500 and $1,000 for each subsequent offense thereafter.

This New Jersey state law also affects the fertilizer manufacturers.  Since the law went into effect, the fertilizer manufacturers had to change their formulation of products to comply with New Jersey laws.  These fertilizers are now required to contain 20% slow release nitrogen and 0% phosphorus.  Phosphorus can be used if a soil test indicates a need for phosphorus or the lawn was recently seeded.

How do the New Jersey fertilizer laws affect the homeowner?

The “blackout period” for homeowners begins on November 15th and goes until March 1st.  Homeowners will have a little less time to get their final fertilizer of the season completed since the blackout period starts sooner than for a professional fertilizer company.

If you are a “do it yourselfer” you want to make sure you purchase a fertilizer that is specifically made for lawns.  If you purchase the lawn fertilizer from your local hardware store, nursery or co-op, it should already be reformulated to comply with New Jersey laws.  Be sure to follow the instructions on the label when applying the product.

Have the New Jersey fertilizer laws benefited the environment?

The New Jersey Fertilizer Laws are a good thing for our state.  As lawn care professionals, we are doing our part to help protect the environment.  In addition to helping our environment, these laws also ensure businesses are operating legally through continuing education and testing.


Anti-Desiccants: Everything You Wanted to Know About Protecting your Plants During Cold Weather

Everything You Wanted to Know About Protecting your Plants During Cold Weather

What is desiccation?

In biology and ecology, desiccation refers to the drying out of a living organism. In your landscape plants, winter desiccation injury occurs when plants lose moisture from the leaves and do not have the ability to absorb water from the frozen soil. This moisture loss may cause your plant’s leaves and stems to dry out, resulting in discoloration of leaves and even death to stems and branches.

What is an anti-desiccant spray?

An anti-desiccant is a material applied to the foliage of evergreen plants to slow the rate at which moisture is lost.

How is an anti-desiccant spray applied?

An anti-desiccant, also called “anti-transparent” is a liquid spray.  It is applied using a pump system which moves the material through a hose end sprayer.  The liquid is sprayed onto the foliage until it is completely covered and there is slight run off of material.  It will take about two to four hours for the material to dry.  Once dry, it adheres to the target area and is in place to protect your plants.

Here is a video of anti-desiccant being applied:

How long will an anti-desiccant spray last?

Anti-desiccants are typically applied in November and December, and will last for a couple of months. The material gradually wears off and will be gone by springtime. In areas that experience cold harsh winters, like New Jersey, multiple treatments are recommended to ensure the material is in place to protect the plant all winter long.

Do I need an anti-desiccant spray?

If you live in New Jersey and have broadleaf evergreens (plants that keep their foliage all winter) then the answer is yes.  New Jersey can have drastic fluctuations in temperature as well as high winds during the winter, both of which can accelerate moisture loss in plants.  Anti-desiccant applications are very beneficial for plants exposed to wind and/or full sun that will lose moisture faster than ones which are protected from the wind and in shade.

Warning- Not all plants should get anti-desiccant treatments. Do not spray an anti-desiccant on waxy-blue conifers such as blue spruce.

What can I do to protect my plants from winter injury?

The first step is an anti-desiccant application.  This will help your plants hold moisture by providing protection against evaporation and slowing down moisture loss. It will also protect the foliage from accelerated moisture loss due to wind.  This spray will break down over time, so it’s a good idea to have the trees and shrubs treated regularly in the winter to extend the anti-desiccant spray longevity.

Next, you may wrap your plants with burlap.  For small plants, you may wrap the burlap over or around the plants and secure it with twine.  For moderate to large plants, you may drive stakes into the ground around the plant and then secure the burlap to the stakes using staples. This creates a “screen” or “windbreak” around the plant.  Burlap and stakes can be purchased from most garden centers, improvement stores, nurseries and co-ops.

There are also rolls of tape that can be purchased to wrap around the bark of smaller trees.  This will help reduce splitting of the bark that can be caused by large changes in temperature during the winter.  Split bark can cause damage or disease to the interior (cambium) of the tree, leading to permanent injury or death.

Water the plants throughout the fall even as it gets cooler out.  In the fall, plants are still growing and require good soil moisture to do so.  Keeping the soil around the roots moist until the ground freezes will ensure the plants have adequate moisture going into the winter.

Another helpful tip is maintaining proper mulch levels in your landscape beds.  2 to 3 inches of mulch will insulate the soil and help regulate soil temperatures throughout the year.  Please note that mulch should not be piled high on the trunk of trees or covering the shrubs. This will lead to decay and damage in the future.


An anti-desiccant treatment should be applied to your broadleaf evergreens prior to and in many cases during the winter months to minimize moisture loss.  Minimizing moisture loss will not only maintain the look of your landscape throughout the winter but will also reduce stress on your plants.  In areas with high wind, like New Jersey, a burlap wrap is also recommended for certain broadleaf evergreens which are susceptible to winter damage.  It is best you do everything you can to protect your landscape from winter damage and overall plant health going into the winter can play a key role. Improve your plant’s health during the year with proper cultural practices and regular fertilization to maintain a beautiful landscape.

If you are in our service area and have any questions about protecting your plants this winter, please 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 Fairway Green Inc.