Fairway Green's Lawn Care Blog
In New Jersey, it’s almost certain that you will see deer on your property throughout the year. With large deer populations, damage to plants is significant and sometimes unavoidable for many homeowners in our area. Many homeowners strive to keep deer away from their landscapes, and we will go over some of the best ways to accomplish that.
Most deer follow a similar movement pattern, meaning they travel from wherever they bed down for the night, to a food source and then back to their bedding area. Depending on their location and the time of year, common food sources may include acorns, farm crops, or your favorite landscape plants. Some common landscape plants they like to feed on are arborvitae, hollies and azalea to name a few. When times get tough for deer and food sources are limited, such as during the winter, even plants advertised as “deer resistant” may still have damage from feeding deer.
Deer feeding may cause permanent damage on some plants, ultimately causing death, however, most times the damage just looks unsightly. Some signs that deer are visiting your property include clipped leaves and hoof prints in the soil around the plants. Deer damage on an arborvitae for instance is very noticeable, as the plant will have a healthy looking top while the bottom areas that deer can reach will be completely bare. Azalea plants produce beautiful flowers each spring if left undamaged during the winter months. Unfortunately, deer like to feed on the foliage and flower buds during the winter, leaving the home owner with fewer flowers and a lot less foliage. A holly plant, like the arborvitae, will look bare on the bottom and fuller on the top. When a plant is damaged, its ability to take up nutrients and distribute them becomes hindered. This type of damage may take years to recover and only if something is done to deter the deer from feeding on the same plant.
Deer damage can also affect the value of your landscape. If you are not willing to wait years for your plants to recover, after using effective deer deterrents, the only option is to remove and replace. That can be costly, therefore our advice is to prevent deer damage immediately after you install landscape plants. Below, we will go over the best practices to keep deer away from landscapes.
Cultural practices to keep deer away
There are deer deterrent products on the market that can help keep deer away. Motion activated sprinklers are one available option that can help deter deer. When deer, or other animals walk by the sensor, it activates the sprinkler and sprays water in the direction of the movement. The sprinklers work best during warm months and cannot be used when temperatures are below freezing. There also sound and light deterrents that are activated with motion sensors as well.
Physical barriers will also help keep deer away. During the winter, consider wrapping susceptible plants in burlap to help minimize damage. Chicken wire can also be an effective way to protect plants from hungry deer. Finally, deer fencing is also an option but needs to be tall enough to keep deer from jumping over.
Another cultural option is to use deer resistant plants. That being said, if the deer are hungry enough, especially during tough winter months, they will feed on them as well.
Deer Repellent Sprays
There are many sprays available on the market such as Bobbex, Liquid Fence, and Repels All. Most of these sprays are all natural and can be made of many different things that can deter deer (typically eggs, pepper, garlic). These sprays go right onto the foliage of the plants. Most sprays only last a week or two and require multiple treatments. Rain and sunlight will also break down these sprays faster.
We use a product called Deer Off in our repellent program to keep deer away from landscapes. The main ingredients are Putrescent Whole Egg Solids (rotten eggs), Capsaicin and related Capsaicinoids (hot pepper extract), garlic and other ingredients. This product is reminiscent to the smell and look of hot sauce. The Deer Off product will last about a month on the plant material which is why our deer repellent program offers monthly treatments to help minimize damage.
All these methods are just tools in your arsenal they are meant to help reduce feeding and to help keep deer away from your valuable landscape. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the above practices will eliminate the deer from feeding on your landscape plants, but they will certainly help reduce the damage.
New Jersey has a lot of deer, especially in our area. Protecting your plants can be a difficult task, even with all of the available options. If you live in our service area and have problems keeping deer away from your plants, feel free to give us a call at 908-281-7888 for a free estimate.
All lawn care companies are not created equal. When comparing lawn care companies, it is important to take a deep dive at what you are paying for because various companies do not provide the same services. Below we outline important aspects of a lawn program, hopefully making it a bit easier for what to look for when hiring a new company.
Lawn care prices
An important piece to the puzzle; prices! The first thing a company should do is measure your property, and it is important to remember that large price discrepancies in lawn care prices can be caused by mismeasurement of the property. Also, we recommend looking at the different treatments within each application, differences in treatments may cause price discrepancies. Another reason lawn care prices may differ is quality and quantity of the product being used. Whatever the reason you should always take a close look at what you are getting in each program when comparing lawn care companies, not just the number of times a company visits your property.
Sometimes lawn care prices are the main selling point for people, and that is okay. If you are on a budget, a good lawn care company can help customize their programs to meet your specific lawn care and budget needs. However, you may lose out on some of the benefits of being a full program customer.
Services included in program
Taking a closer look at services provided in each company’s program is essential when comparing lawn care companies. While the programs may look similar, the services within those programs can differ greatly. Starting from the beginning, most companies offer six to seven applications within a program with treatments six to eight weeks apart. In the next few sections we will breakdown the main differences between services throughout the year.
There are usually two spring applications; an early spring and late spring. One company’s early spring application may include fertilizer, weed control and crabgrass pre-emergent. Another company may only offer fertilizer and weed control in the spring and consider the crabgrass pre-emergent an additional service or a separate application all together. Therefore, it is important to understand what each application includes when comparing lawn care companies.
While discussing the spring applications, crabgrass pre-emergent is important to talk about. It can be applied one time in the spring or split into two applications. Studies have shown that splitting the pre-emergent applications have better results because the second application helps to extend the effectiveness of the crabgrass preventer in the soil for the season.
When comparing lawn care companies, every company offers weed control; however, sometimes the weed control is included in the program while other programs consider it an additional charge service.
In the summer, the most common treatments are fertilizer, grub control and surface feeding insecticide. When comparing lawn care companies, a lot of differences between programs typically occurs in the summer applications. Does the summer application have grub control or is that something that is purchased a la carte? Grubs cause substantial damage to lawns in our area annually and it is much cheaper to prevent them than repair damage caused by them.
In addition, the summer is when numerous surface feeding insects like chinch bugs, bill bugs, and sod webworms cause damage to lawns. A program that includes surface feeding insecticides is beneficial to your lawn to prevent damage. For more information about these common summer time insects, check out our blog.
In our New Jersey area, nutsedge is problematic weed during the summer. Make sure you ask your lawn care provider if nutsedge treatment is included in your program. Otherwise, you may have to pay extra to get it under control, or potentially hire a different company if it’s not an available option with your company.
Early fall is another time of year where fertilizer and weed control is important. Some companies separate these two components into two applications, while others perform them as one.
The late fall fertilization is one of the most important applications of the season because it helps with root development over the winter and aids with green up of your lawn in the spring. If you are comparing lawn care companies, it is important to notice if winterizing fertilizer is included in the program because some companies offer lime instead of the fertilizer for the last application.
What we offer
We can now look at the Gold Lawn Care program from Fairway Green Inc and discuss what is included in each application. In addition to the applications below, all Gold program customers receive free nutsedge control and service calls if problems arise throughout the season.
- Early Spring – This application includes a fertilizer and crabgrass preventer for the lawn. As necessary, we apply broadleaf weed control.
- Late Spring – This application includes a fertilizer and a second crabgrass preventer depending on site, weather conditions and products used. As necessary, we also treat for surface feeding insects and broadleaf weeds.
- Any customer that receives the early spring and late spring applications get a crabgrass guarantee for the entire season. If any crabgrass does emerge in your turf, we come and treat it at no charge.
- Grub Control – This is a preventative treatment for grubs, which are the sub-surface feeding stage of beetles. They cause substantial damage to lawns in our area annually. With this treatment, you receive a guarantee against grubs for the season.
- Summer – This application includes fertilizer for the lawn and, as necessary, treat for surface insects and broadleaf weeds.
- Early Fall – This application includes fertilizer for the lawn and, as necessary, treat for surface feeding insects and broadleaf weeds.
- Late Fall – Our last fertilizing application for the lawn promotes winter hardiness and spring green-up.
For more information about our lawn care programs, check out our frequently asked questions.
Now you have the tools to help find your way out of the maze that is comparing lawn care companies. We urge that everyone takes a closer look at the various estimates you may receive to understand what you are paying for. If you are interested in learning more about Fairway Greens lawn programs, please give our office a call at 908-281-7888, or request a free estimate and complimentary lawn evaluation.
It seems every year in this age of “climate change” there is some notable shift in the weather. Along with each of these changes comes new challenges to the lawn care provider. The challenge this year came in the form of precipitation. From the very snowy March to the tremendously wet late summer, this year was anything but conventional for turf managers.
Spring Broadleaf Weeds
Snow cover in March delayed the start of the active growth of the turf. This means that broadleaf weeds, and undesirable grass species that thrive in wet/cold soil conditions have an opportunity to grow without much competition. Once the snow melts away there are often very thin to bare areas where grass plants have shrunk in the overly saturated, cold conditions, and yet weeds such as hairy bittercress, chickweed and wild onion have persisted. While these are not difficult weeds to control, they remain on the lawn until there is enough snow melt for the initial treatment to be applied. Anytime the weather promotes weed growth, and prohibits lawn applications…it’s a problem. Often, full-service programs can create the illusion that broadleaf weeds are prevented, but the truth is that we are only able to control what is actively growing on the lawn when we are present. So, if you feel as though you saw more weeds at the start of the season than normal, that may have been true depending on the timing of your first treatment.
The extended wetter/cooler period also promoted the growth of rough bluegrass (poa trivialis) and annual bluegrass (poa annua). These two grass species thrive under wet/cool conditions. They both have a much lighter green color which makes them stand out among the other turf types. While this attribute is bothersome enough for most homeowners, both species also stop producing growth once the weather becomes warmer and drier causing dead patches to appear. To top it all off, neither grass is controllable with any normal treatment program offered by lawn care services. While these grasses may sound horrific, keep in mind they aren’t generally a noticeable issue (in the absence of a drainage issue or improper watering) unless we are experiencing very cool/wet weather for extensive periods.
Disease and Rainfall
Snow lasting well into March is never good, but its occurrence is not that uncommon for the northeast; however, the amount of rain that fell at the start of September this year was without precedent, and the ensuing disease outbreak it triggered was epic.
Generally, in September the active disease period subsides, and lawns start to recover from the stressful summer. The warm days and cool nights during this time are perfect conditions for promoting grass growth and discouraging any sort of major disease activity. This year, what the weather brought instead was frequent, heavy rainfall with very humid nights. This overly saturated, moist-air environment is absolutely perfect for promoting fungal activity. Pythium blight and grey leaf spot in particular were incredibly prominent. Lawns observed in the morning dew (which lasted until almost noon some days) were covered with mycelium that resembled cobwebs to cotton-ball like or both. Seeing the physical presence of these fungi evident on a handful of lawns for the year is not uncommon. Seeing lawns covered in this type of growth on nearly every lawn, every morning, of every day… just doesn’t happen. The cure for such disease activity is to allow the lawn time to dry out, and to core aerate. The presence of oxygen in the soil pores keeps the disease from being able to actively spread. Usually allowing enough time for water movement between irrigation cycles and further oxygenating the soil through core aeration, is more than enough to promote turf growth and reduce disease activity. The problem was that the rain was so frequent, and the air was so humid, that the lawns were never able to dry out. With conditions remaining favorable for so long, lawn disease activity was rampant, and damage to the turf was wide-spread.
What about treatment?
Shouldn’t a “full service” program include applications that prevent such things from happening? The answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, there is treatment for disease that exists in the form of fungicides. Applications of fungicides can be done periodically before disease outbreaks occur to prevent them from happening, or to help suppress activity once your lawn is already affected. No, they are not included in full service programs automatically. Why not? The answer is simple, cost. Fungicides are expensive, and on top of that they are only effective for a few weeks at a time, so applications need to be done frequently to prevent disease.
Preventative disease programs are offered by lawn care service providers but are usually only recommended to customers facing the same disease issue year after year. The benefit of a fungicide application is only realized if the disease is treated prior to it laying waste to the large areas. Asking someone to spend additional money on an application that won’t make the lawn look any better just isn’t practical. The best recommendation in this scenario was to spend the money on dealing with the disease culturally through core aeration, seeding, or a combination of the two. After all, a fungicide will only address the disease activity. Core aeration not only helps quell the fungus activity, but also promotes turf recovery, so its benefit is two-fold.
So how does one keep this from happening ever again? In truth, there is no way to fully prevent this kind of outbreak from occurring. The best way to stay proactive is with good cultural practices. Core aerate the lawn at least every other year, avoid watering the lawn too frequently (no more than twice each week), and seed the lawn with newer disease resistant varieties. At the end of the day though, it is important to realize that lawns are a lot like us. No matter how healthy they are, they can still become sick.
In addition to disease, the excess moisture in the soil also meant a lot more weed growth than normal. Warm-season weed growth is usually kept in check by lower soil moisture, exploded at summer’s end with the arrival of all the rain. Crabgrass and Nutsedge growth were both noticeably worse.
Crabgrass prevention is part of any basic service program and gets put down in the spring prior to its emergence in early summer. These preventative applications form a barrier that controls crabgrass plants as they attempt to breach the soil surface. The barrier typically lasts long enough to keep crabgrass under control into July. When August arrives the control has worn off, but by then it is so dry that any new growth is very minimal. This year however, there was more than enough soil moisture to promote the crabgrass growth once the barrier wore off.
Nutsedge is a warm-season perennial that is always an issue for lawn care providers each summer. Like crabgrass, it starts becoming noticeable sometime in June, but the difference is that there is no preventative treatment for this nuisance. Plants can only be controlled as they appear in the lawn. Nutsedge is a marsh-grass by nature and prefers areas that stay consistently moist, and so typically it is only a larger problem on irrigated properties or properties with poor drainage. However, with the rain this year, every lawn was consistently saturated. Homeowners that don’t usually have to worry about controlling this weed saw growth of nutsedge soar out of control on their properties. And while a few companies include treatment of this weed on full-service programs, most only offer control at an additional charge due to the high cost of nutsedge control products.
While some maintenance programs may have underperformed this year in the eyes of a lot of homeowners, it is important to keep in perspective just how out of the ordinary this year was. If the lawn treatment program in place has been successful in years prior to this, then making adjustments to the annual regimen to allow for this type of weather pattern would be foolish. The best lawn care providers enact programs that are designed to function at a high level within the climate and rainfall that is typical. And when these programs underperform due to changes in the weather, the good companies know the best thing they can do is take the time to communicate to their clients’ what adjustments in the service plan may be needed for that year.
If you have any questions regarding your lawn care service, or would like to receive a free estimate, please give our office a call at 908-281-7888.
Put those rakes away, it’s time to mulch your leaves! In the fall there are many things around your property to get done before winter, raking and bagging leaves for hours on end should not be one of them.
As the days get shorter, trees go through many chemical changes which signal the completion of another complex growth cycle. The most obvious is the change in leaf color where most attractive colors are on deciduous trees, which shed their leaves annually. After the leaves fall, they make an important contribution as fertilizer to the forest and organisms in the soil. In the landscape, leaves and debris are removed for aesthetic purposes.
Is Mulching Leaves Good for the Lawn?
Mulching leaves has many benefits, not just for your lawn but for the environment. Mulching leaves reduces landfill space, helps to reduce leaves from clogging up sewers and away from surface water where the broken-down nutrients from the dead leaves can cause algae blooms.
The leaves that collect on your lawn cover the grass, reducing air flow and sunlight that would have otherwise reached the grass blades. This accumulation of leaves can cause the grass underneath to suffocate and die off.
Leaves that are left in piles on your lawn can also be used by small animals like a vole, which avoids detection from predators by making tunnels underneath leaf piles and snow cover. To understand what type of damage voles can do to your yard, check out our blog.
How to Mulch your Leaves
Almost every lawn mower can mulch leaves. Most mowers come with an attachment to aid in the mulching process, however if you do not have a mulching attachment you can still use your mower without it. Simply elevate your mower deck to its highest setting, remove the grass catcher and go over the leaves that are laying on top of the lawn multiple times with your mower shredding them into small pieces. Mower mulching works best when the leaves are dry.
These smaller pieces will filter down between the grass blades to the soil surface, eventually micro-organisms and worms will aide in breaking down the leaves. This process will not add to the thatch layer of the lawn and the decomposition of leaves will provide nutrients back into the soil.
When to Mulch Leaves
You should mulch the leaves weekly; weekly mulching will help make the mulching process quicker and this gives you more time with your family and friends and all the while, your lawn benefits from the nutrients it’s receiving from the leaves you simply mowed.
Mulching Leaves: Conclusion
This fall, we recommend retiring your leaf rake, and try mulching the leaves that have fallen on your lawn. Mulching is a great fall clean up option that eliminates large leaf piles and provides nutrients back to your soil. If you are in our service area and are interested in more information about mulching leaves, please request and estimate or give our office a call at 908-281-7888.
Between the summer stresses of drought and disease, and every day activities that lead to soil compaction; your lawn may not be looking its best by time the fall rolls around. To help combat these stresses and maintain a lawn, often a core aeration is recommended for its many benefits for the lawn. For those that may not know, core aeration is the process of mechanically removing plugs of soil and depositing them on the surface.
Over time your lawn can become compacted with every day activities; dogs running around, children playing, parties with large groups of people on your lawn and even mowing the lawn with heavy equipment. The first benefit of core aeration is that it helps reduce soil compaction. Soil compaction is the compression of soil particles which reduces pore space. Pore space is the area between the soil particles where water, nutrients and air travel through to get to the roots. If the pore space in the soil is compacted, the nutrients, water and oxygen are not able to reach the roots.
Another benefit of core aeration is to reduce the thatch layer. Thatch, the organic layer of roots, living and dead shoots and stems that develop between the grass and the soil surface. When the thatch layer is too thick it impedes the infiltration of water, oxygen and nutrients. Also, disease and insects harbor in this area and can be detrimental to a lawn.
During a core aeration, microorganisms from down inside the soil are pulled up to the surface inside of the soil plug. These microorganisms help to breakdown that thatch layer as they look to go back to where they came from.
Core aeration also helps to enhance rooting or root growth into the surrounding soil. When spaces in the soil are created by the core aeration process, the grass roots grow into the blank spots creating a stronger, fuller root system. Also food, water and air will have easier access to the roots where they can be used.
Over seeding after a core aeration has many benefits as well. The first benefit is that the soil is prepared to receive seed; meaning the seed will contact the loose soil, which is very important for seed germination. The holes created by the core aeration will provide a seed bed for the grass seeds that fall into them after they are spread over the lawn.
The next benefit to over seeding is that it will help to reduce weeds and crabgrass. Weeds and crabgrass are opportunist, they will grow in any bare or thin areas that they can. By improving the turf density in these bare or thin areas with new grass, you are effectively reducing space for weeds and crabgrass to grow and take over.
By over seeding after core aeration you are incorporating newer grass varieties. Each year new grass varieties come out onto the market that are superior to the older ones. Some of the benefits to these newer grasses would be more drought, insect and disease resistant and tolerant.
Core aeration and over seeding is meant to “spruce up” your lawns appearance. This process improves the appearance of a lawn with small bare or thinned areas. This type of seeding is not recommended for lawns that have zero grass like new construction, a complete renovation from scratch, or large areas of lawn that are completely bare.
When to seed
The best time of year for seeding is early fall, specifically from the middle of August through September. Seedings are more successful in September because crabgrass preventers that have been applied in the spring will be broken down and gone by then and crabgrass preventers and weed controls can interfere with seed germination. Also, by September any crabgrass plants that have germinated throughout the season are at the end of their life cycle and are dying off, thus creating less competition with the newly germinated grass seeds.
Another reason the fall is a great time for both core aeration and over seeding is because the environmental conditions are great. The heat of the summer has subsided, and we have cooler days and nights that helps the lawn recover from a core aeration. Soil temperatures are moderate and are conducive to seed germination and soil moisture can be maintained adequately from regular watering and rain, during this time of year.
If you have any questions or if you are interested in core aeration and over seeding your lawn, please contact Fairway Green Inc. If you are in our service area, we would be happy to provide you with a free quote to help get your lawn looking great this fall.
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.
Lawn Watering Schedule
The best time to water your lawn is between the hours of 10 pm and 8 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nothing interrupts a pleasant evening quite like a mosquito buzzing around your ear. Mosquitoes are certainly annoying and their bites can be aggravating. They can also carry mosquito-borne diseases which make them a serious health and safety concern. Millions of people worldwide are impacted by mosquito-borne illnesses every year. Not only can mosquitoes carry diseases that afflict humans, they also transmit several diseases and parasites that affect pets such as heartworm and the West Nile Virus. When it comes to achieving an outdoor space without mosquitoes, we recommend following cultural practices that will reduce the areas that hold water and applying mosquito control treatments.
Mosquito Life Cycle
Mosquitoes develop through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The first life stage is the egg stage. Eggs of mosquitoes are often black in color, cylindrical or spindle-shaped and not visible to the naked eye. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs directly into water or in an area that is moist and will later flood.
The next stage of a mosquito life cycle is the larvae stage. Mosquito eggs often are ready to hatch when and if the conditions are suitable in three to ten days. The larvae emerge the egg and swims directly into the water the egg was laid in. The larvae stage is always aquatic but remains on or close to the water’s service to breath air. During the larval stage, they feed on microorganisms and organic matter.
The third stage is the pupa stage. The pupa are in the shape of a comma and do not feed on the small particles like the larvae. They are quite active and can move throughout the water profile. This short stage can last up to four to five days. This is a metamorphic stage that is similar to a caterpillar and butterfly in that the pupa changes its shape into the adult form. When the pupa emerges as an adult the mosquito, it will rest on the surface of the water until its skin hardens and its wings dry and flies away.
The final stage is the adult stage. The primary function of an adult mosquito is to reproduce. Locating mates takes up a lot of energy, which both male and females will feed on plant juices and nectar to replenish their spent energy flying around. Female mosquitoes also require blood meals to produce eggs.
A mosquito’s lifecycle spans anywhere from 4 to 14 days depending on temperature, allowing the species to reproduce at a very quick and alarming rate. There are over sixty mosquito species known here in New Jersey. Any type of water that the female mosquito lays her eggs in is called the “larval habitat”. Every type of water source in the environment will accommodate the larvae stage for a mosquito. Some species of mosquitoes will look for freshwater swamps or woodland pools while some will go to salt marshes or standing water lefts anywhere on your property.
What can you do to help reduce mosquito populations at your home?
Homeowners can contribute to reducing mosquito populations by eliminating standing water or areas that have the potential to hold water around your home. Some of these areas include the following:
- Outdoor pots and decorative containers – drain standing water from pots and containers
- Old tires – move tires indoors or reposition to minimize exposure to rain water
- Bird baths – consider changing the water in a bird bath every three or four days
- Clogged gutters – keep gutters clean and clear of debris to ensure proper draining
- Swimming pools or hot tubs – unopened water sources that are stagnant are great breeding locations for mosquitoes
- Overgrown plant material¬ – remove or cut overgrown plant material to reduce mosquito resting sites
What else can you do?
In addition to following the cultural practices, we believe applying mosquito control treatments that can aid in reducing the population of mosquitoes in your outdoor living space.
We recommend applying five monthly applications from May to September to ensure continual control of the mosquito populations in your outdoor space from the spring to summer. Our full Mosquito Control Program consists of five monthly applications with either Conventional or All-Natural products. The mosquito control treatments are applied monthly targeting mosquito habitat on your property. You can choose a conventional control product or an all-natural product.
We also offer single mosquito control treatments for your special outdoor events. Are you planning an outdoor event or having friends over for a barbecue? Keep your guests outside and the uninvited mosquitoes away by scheduling a one-time application. For one-time mosquito control treatments, please provide a minimum notice of one week prior to your event for scheduling this application.
Achieving a reprieve from mosquitoes this summer is possible for your outdoor space between monthly mosquito control treatments and cultural practices. To learn more about our mosquito control treatments and our five-application program, request an estimate or give our office a call at 908-281-7888.
Lawn disease can affect any lawn at any time; regardless of having a professional lawn care company or, if you are a do-it-yourself, lawn diseases can and will happen. A disease in a lawn can occur when a host (grass), a pathogen (fungi) and ideal environmental conditions are present. These conditions include but are not limited to day time and night time air temperatures, moisture, rain, sunlight, lack of sunlight, and improper watering and mowing. Once these factors, although different for each disease, are met the disease can start up. If the environmental conditions remain favorable a disease can persist for extended periods of time. The longer a disease remains active the more damage it can potentially do to the turf. Fungi can remain dormant in the soil for years until the correct environmental conditions that favor a specific disease before an outbreak occurs. Lawn diseases can be distributed by wind, rain, foot traffic, lawn mowing equipment, etc. Common for the late spring, ascochyta leaf blight can greatly impact the look of the lawn.
What is Ascochyta Leaf Blight
Ascochyta leaf blight is a common foliar disease that occurs in the late spring to early summer. This disease is more common during hot, dry periods and followed by cool and rainy conditions. The symptoms of ascochyta leaf blight appear as large irregular patches of turf that rapidly turn a straw-color and appear to be dead. From a distance the straw-colored areas resemble drought stress. The infected leaf blades appear to be sucked in from the tip down. While this disease looks very serious when outbreaks are widespread, it is actually quite harmless. This disease will not cause any permanent injury to the lawn. This disease will spread very fast by foot traffic, rain, and lawn mowing. Often times, mowing machines pick up the fungus and spreads the disease throughout the lawn, creating a stripe like pattern of the disease in the lawn. Cultural practices are the only way to help get rid of the disease.
What kind of grass does it effect?
Kentucky bluegrass is the most susceptible to ascochyta leaf blight; however tall fescue and perennial ryegrass types are also vulnerable to the lawn disease.
Watering properly is key to controlling ascochyta leaf blight. Avoid light, frequent irrigation in the early morning while surface moisture is present. Deep, infrequent watering that occurs between 12 am – 6 am and we recommend to water 1 – 1 ½ hours per zone every third or fourth day is best. For more information about watering your lawn, check out our blog.
Proper mowing also helps. Do not mow in the morning when the lawn is wet from the dew or last night’s scheduled watering. This will spread the disease further. Mow the lawn in the afternoon when the surface moisture has evaporated. Keep the lawn height at 3 – 3 ½ inches in length. Mow off 1/3 off the grass plant at a time.
Fertilize regularly to help stimulate growth of the grass. The faster the grass is growing the faster the disease will get grown out of the lawn on its own.
Core Aerate the lawn regularly in the early fall to help reduce thatch (where disease harbors) soil compaction. This will also help to create a stronger root system and grass plants.
Unfortunately, fungicide treatments are not available for this particular disease.
It is important to remember that ascochyta blight will not kill your lawn. It simply needs to grow out on its own with a little help from you, the homeowner. If the conditions remain favorable this type of disease can persist for weeks. After all cultural practices have been done, the only other thing you can do is be patient. Give it time, your lawn will be okay.
If you have any questions about ascochyta leaf blight and you are in our service area, please give our office a call at 908-281-7888 or request an estimate.
Lawn diseases are frustrating for every homeowner that desires to maintain the picture-perfect lawn and landscape. Unfortunately, the warmer temperatures of the spring-time that we all love; along with frequent rainy periods, creates the perfect storm of environmental conditions to be just right for fungus to grow in the lawn. A frequent spring-time lawn disease observed in many lawns is Red Thread Disease.
What is Red Thread Disease?
Red Thread Disease is caused by the fungus Laetisaria fuciformis, and is most notable during the early spring months. The first observable symptoms of red thread lawn disease are tan-to-red thread like growths called sclerotia, often seen in patches of 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Two environmental conditions that are key components to the fungus growing are high levels of humidity and temperatures between 60 to 75; making the spring time optimal for the disease to spread. The sclerotia strands can protrude upward from the blade tip of the grass, making them noticeable among other patches of disease free, green grass.
What kind of grass does it effect?
Although all varieties of turf grass are susceptible to red thread lawn disease; perennial ryegrass has been found to be the most susceptible, and fine fescues are also especially susceptible.
Although the disease is unsightly, red thread lawn disease does not cause permanent injury to the grass. The key to controlling red thread lawn disease culturally is to promote turf growth. Maintaining adequate nitrogen and good soil moisture are the two most important factors when dealing with a red thread outbreak. This will not only help to grow out the disease but, also creates a stronger healthier lawn overall. As the new growth occurs, the disease portions are cut away, leaving the healthy turf underneath exposed.
When red thread lawn disease has been a persistent issue, checking the soil pH level and maintaining a reading between 6.3 and 6.7 may help in reducing the issue. Also, the sclerotia survives in the thatch layer of the lawn. Heavy thatch build up and soil compaction can be reduced by core aeration, and we recommend this procedure is performed biennially in the late summer or early fall.
Additionally, it is important to practice watering techniques that will not overwater your lawn since the disease thrives under moist conditions. We recommend watering between midnight to 6 am and for those that have underground irrigation systems, run each zone for 1 hour twice a week. For traditional hose end sprinklers, run the sprinkler for 4 hours per area of coverage twice a week. For more information about watering your lawn, check out our blog.
If optimal weather conditions persist for this fungus, it will continue to spread more rapidly than the grass can grow it off. In this case, it may take several weeks to over a month for complete recovery of the turf.
Treatment for Red Thread lawn disease
While this fungus will not kill the lawn, it can be frustrating for homeowners to deal with this eye sore for weeks while it grows out. If red thread lawn disease is severe, a fungicide treatment can be applied to the lawn. Post application, the disease will not be able to actively spread for three to four weeks. This allows the lawn time to grow out the infected grass blades more quickly than the disease can spread, and the fungus is gradually cut away with regular mowing.
Red thread lawn disease is common; luckily it does not cause permanent damage on your lawn. Most red thread outbreaks can be kept under control through sound cultural practice, and the lawn can soon return to the green state it was prior. For especially bad cases, fungicide treatment is available to control the red thread lawn disease. If you have any questions about treating red thread lawn disease and you are in our service area, please give our office a call at 908-281-7888 or request an estimate.