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

Benefits of Core Aeration and Over Seeding

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.

 

Soil Compaction

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.

Thatch Layer

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.

Strong Roots

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.

Seeding

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

Lawn Watering Schedule

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

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

properly watered lawn next to dormant lawn

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

Lawn Watering Schedule

The best time to water your lawn is between the hours of 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.

Conclusion

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

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

What is the Right Grass Mowing Height?

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

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

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

Grass Mowing Height

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

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

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

Frayed blades of grass

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

Mowing Blades

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

Other Best Practices

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Mosquito Control Treatment

Close up of a mosquito on skinNothing 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.

Birdbath with standing waterA 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.

In Conclusion

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.

Ascochyta Leaf Blight

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.

lawn affected by Ascochyta Leaf Blight

This picture illustrates how ascochyta leaf blight can be spread from a mower.

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.

Cultural management

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.

Conclusion

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.

Red Thread Lawn Disease

A closeup of red thread lawn disease.

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.

Cultural Management

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.

Conclusion

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.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moths

About Tent Caterpillars

The eastern tent caterpillar moth is a native North American pest, that can regularly be found throughout New Jersey. Tent caterpillar nests are a common sight on cherry, apple and crabapple trees in the late spring and early summer months. These unsightly silken webs are built in the crotches of the tree limbs and can become quite large based on the number of caterpillars on the tree. During the day you may see these nests filled with hundreds of caterpillars. Eastern tent caterpillar moth populations fluctuate from year to year with large outbreaks occurring every eight to ten years. During years with high populations the eastern tent caterpillar moth can also be found on plum, pear, maple and hawthorn trees.

The eastern tent caterpillar moth overwinters on the tree as an egg, usually in a mass of 150-400 eggs. These egg masses are covered with a shiny black material the helps protect the eggs during the winter months. Once spring arrives the larvae hatch, this is normally around the same time cherry tree buds open and the trees begin to produce leaves. As the larvae crawl, they produce a silken string which is the beginning of their nest.

What Tent Caterpillars Feed On

The caterpillars feed for 4 to 6 weeks on the foliage of the host tree and grow to approximately 2 to 2 ½ inches in length. Feeding generally occurs during the day time if temperatures allow. Most feeding will occur within 3 feet of each tent caterpillar nest, so it is common to see multiple nests per host tree. During the night, or in the rain the caterpillars will stay inside the nest for protection from the elements. As they grow so will the size of the nest. The eastern tent caterpillar moth can defoliate a tree when populations are high, and some tree species may be killed if the tree does not have enough time to grow a new set of leaves for food production and storage prior to the winter. Any level of feeding and leaf loss weakens the host tree. In home landscapes the nests can become an eyesore, especially as defoliation occurs and they become more visible.

Mature eastern tent caterpillar moths will leave the host tree and search for a suitable, protected location to spin their cocoon and pupate. It is during this wandering phase that they become a nuisance and can be a mess when found on driveways, patios and walkways. The caterpillars are no longer feeding at this time, so no further damage will be caused to surrounding trees. Once a favorable location has been found the caterpillar will spin a white or yellowish cocoon. Once inside the cocoon the caterpillar transforms into a pupa and remains in the cocoon for approximately 3 weeks. Once fully mature, the eastern tent caterpillar moth emerges from the cocoon. Adult eastern tent caterpillar moths are reddish-brown in color and have a wingspan of about one inch. Male and female eastern tent caterpillar moths mate and the female will begin to lay eggs on small branches. These eggs will hatch in the spring of the following year. We see one generation of eastern tent caterpillar moths in New Jersey per year.

If you have experienced tent caterpillar moth damage on your trees, we recommend learning more about Deep Root Fertilization to promote tree recovery.

Treatment

There are a wide range of treatment options for eastern tent caterpillar moths that range from removal to chemical control. Beneficial insects, birds and toads feed on the eastern tent caterpillar moth. Beneficial wasps parasitize eggs, larvae and pupae reducing that year’s eastern tent caterpillar moth population. Early control is essential in minimizing damage to the host tree. Pruning of small twigs and branches that contain egg masses can be done in the winter prior to the eggs hatching in the spring. Small tent caterpillar nests may be removed and destroyed in the spring. Tent caterpillar removal is best when the nest is small, prior to feeding damage. The tent caterpillar nest should be destroyed or disposed of offsite. Removing the nest from the host tree and leaving it on site will allow the caterpillars to migrate to another host tree.

The application of registered insecticides by a licensed company is also a tent caterpillar treatment option. Tent caterpillar treatments must be applied to the host tree once the tent caterpillar nests are visible. They are protected while inside the nest, so it is important the tent caterpillar treatment be applied to the branches and leaves of the host tree as well as the tent caterpillar nest. As the tent caterpillars venture outside of the nest to feed they ingest the tent caterpillar treatment and are controlled. It is important to only use a licensed pesticide applicator for the treatment of eastern tent caterpillar moths. The timing for tent caterpillar treatment is critical as the application is only effective up until the wandering phase.

Conclusion

If you have a history of eastern tent caterpillar moth activity on your property contact your tree care company to discuss tent caterpillar treatment options and timing for your area. If you are in our service area and have any questions about this pest, feel free to contact our office at 908-281-7888 or request an estimate.

When will my lawn green up?

This picture illustrates how a Fine Fescue grass (right) greens up differently than a Blue/Rye grass mix (left).

In the spring, many lawns are brown and still in their winter dormancy state.  They will eventually green up, but timing depends on some external factors.  Your lawn’s green up in the spring is dictated by the temperatures of the soil as well as grass type.  The temperature of the soil needs to reach 50 to 65 degrees to actively start the growing and green-up process for northern grasses in our area including rye, blue and fescues.  To further complicate things, different species of grasses green up at different soil temperatures.  Thicker lawns can take a little longer to green up because the sunlight is not directly getting to the soil, hence taking more time for the soil to reach the desired green-up temperatures.  Also, if you have a lot of tree cover or other shade issues, the soil may take a little longer to warm up, delaying your lawn’s green up. You can’t control the external factors but there are a few things you can do to help your lawn green up a little quicker next spring.

What can be done to help the green up process in the spring?

The most important thing you can do to help your lawn green up in the spring is starting to think about it in the fall.  Specifically, a winterizing fertilizer applied late in the fall season will improve the green up process the following spring.  The winterizing fertilizer is one of the most important applications for your lawn.  It will provide nutrients that help promote root growth and get stored as reserves over the winter. The stored nutrients will be used for new growth and aid with your lawn greening up during the spring.

Once your lawn greens up in the spring you are going to want to keep it that way for the rest of the season.  Here are some helpful tips to keep your lawn green all season long especially during the hot and stressful summer months.

  1. Water the lawn regularly. Your lawn should receive roughly 1 inch of water per week. It is recommended to start running underground sprinklers for 1 to 1 ½ hours per zone, twice a week.  As for hose-end sprinklers start at around 4 hours per zone, once a week.  If the lawn loses color add more time to your watering schedule not more days.  Bump up your watering schedule by half-hour increments weekly until the color is adequate.  Watering should occur between midnight and 6 a.m.  Watering your lawn at night while you are sleeping will help to minimize the length of time the lawn is wet which will reduce disease activity.  It will also help save you money.  At night there is no sun to evaporate the water and you will use a lot less water to achieve your watering goals.  For hose-end sprinklers, you can go to any home improvement store and purchase battery operated timers and splitters for the hoses to set up in your lawn for overnight watering. Once the hot summer months roll around, the lawn will be under a tremendous amount of stress.  If the lawn does not get enough water it will turn brown and go into summer dormancy. Once the lawn turns brown from summer stress it will take heavy watering for to green back up.  The secret to having a green lawn all summer long is to water on a regular schedule and keep to that schedule.
  1. Mow the lawn correctly. The taller grass blades will shade the soil underneath keeping the soil moist longer. Mow the lawn when it needs to be mowed (not because you mow every Wednesday).  Mow off 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. Keep the height of cut to 3 – 3 ½ inches in length, and change the direction of the mowing pattern with each mowing.  This will help to reduce bending of the grass blade in the same direction and reduce ruts by the tires of the mower.  Keep the mower blades sharp to avoid shredding the leaf tips, which can cause infection of disease and the weakening of the grass plants in general.
  2. Core aerate your lawn annually in the fall. Core aeration is the mechanical process of removing plugs of soil creating small holes in the lawn which allows air, water and nutrients to get down to the grass root zone. This process also helps the grass roots grow deeper and produce a stronger, more vigorously growing lawn. To watch a video and learn more information about core aeration, check out our blog.
  3. Apply lime. Lime will help to regulate the pH of the soil. When the pH of the soil is low the nutrients in the soil are not completely available for use by the grass plants.  If the pH is in the optimum range (between 6.3 – 6.5 for grasses in our area) the lawn can utilize the nutrients to its full capacity which will help create a healthy and stronger lawn. For more information about soil pH and lime, check out our blog.
  4. Fertilize your lawn regularly throughout the season. By maintaining a good fertilizer program, you are supplying your turf with vital nutrients (like Nitrogen which helps maintain the color of the grass plants) it requires for optimum health, growth and color.

Conclusion

Bottom line, be patient, there is nothing wrong if your lawn greens up later than your neighbor’s.  It will green up over time, but keeping it green throughout the season, now that’s the real trick to a beautiful colorful lawn. If you have any questions about lawn services that can help the lawn green up throughout the year, check out our platinum lawn program.

If you are in our service areas and have questions, please feel free to give our office a call at 908-281-7888.

Early Spring Weeds

The season of new life in our lawns and landscapes has finally arrived! Early in the spring, trees and shrubs produce beautiful flowers that bring vibrant colors to the landscapes, but unfortunately this time of year also brings unwanted plants; also known as weeds. Below we will go through the most common early spring weeds and the best treatment methods.

Dandelion

Dandelions are easily the most infamous of the early spring weeds that are very easy to identify.  We’ve all driven by a beautiful green landscape freckled with dandelions, disrupting the look of a lawn that recently greened up from winter dormancy. Dandelions are a perennial plant with leaves between 3-10 inches in length, stemming from a singular taproot. The yellow flower will transform into the white “puff ball” that we all used to pick up and blow on when we were kids. This part of the flowering weed is the seed head. Often, the seeds are carried by wind to a new destination and germinates to form a new dandelion plant the following year.

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy bittercress is another common early spring weed that sticks out like a sore thumb in the lawn. This early spring weed is an annual plant that starts to grow in early winter and matures through the very early part of the spring season. It produces a white flower, that is easily identifiable among the rest of the green plant. Many homeowners observe the presence of this weed despite having a lawn treatment service because this weed develops during the winter and most lawn companies have stopped treating weeds for the season.  Unfortunately, its presence in the lawn is almost unavoidable.

Wild Onion/Garlic

Wild onion and wild garlic are perennial plants that grow from bulbs in the soil. These are the tallest of the early spring weeds that are sure to stand out on any home lawn. Both plants have thin green waxy leaves; however wild garlic are round and hollow leaves, while wild onion leaves are flat and solid. The bulbs of the wild onion and garlic plan can remain dormant in the soil for several years, making the control for these weeds sometimes difficult. They look very similar to scallions you purchase in the store, except smaller.   Additionally, deer will not eat these weeds, and your dogs and cats should stay away from these plants as these early spring weeds are poisonous to them.

Common & Mouse-ear Chickweed

An early spring annual plant, chickweed typically will grow along edges of beds, sidewalks and curbs as seen in the image below. Chickweed grows in low lying patches as it roots itself from nodes along its stems.  It can develop a white flower if soil temperatures become warm enough before the lawn is being mowed regularly. The difference between the mouse-ear variety and common chickweed is that the leaves of mouse-ear chickweed are hair covered and appear fuzzy upon close inspection.

Henbit

This early spring weed is an annual plant with circular to heart shaped leaves and square stems that have a green to purple color to them. The flower of henbit grows in whorls around the stem and are a pink to purple in color.  Henbit usually resides in the harshest of environments near foundations, in stone, and very compacted soil.

Treatment

Although there are numerous types of early spring weeds, controlling them is not very difficult with the right product.  A treatment with the appropriate broadleaf weed control should kill most of the visible weeds this year.  Unfortunately, broadleaf weed control does not act as a preventative, so you will need to apply follow up treatments as more weeds emerge.  When selecting weed control, make sure you read the label to confirm the product will control the type of weeds growing in your lawn.  In addition, be sure to follow all instructions for proper use and rates to avoid any adverse effects.  Please make sure you do not apply a non-selective herbicide to your turf, such as Round Up containing Glyphosate, this will not only kill the spring weeds but also any grass plants that it contacts as well.

For information on cultural practices that can help prepare your lawn and landscape ready for outdoor parties and get togethers this spring, check out our spring maintenance blog.

Conclusion

Although it’s practically impossible to avoid having these weeds enter your lawn, these common early spring weeds are easy to control. If you have a lawn care company already, control of these early spring weeds should be included as part of your basic program. If you’re a do it yourselfer, getting rid of these early spring weeds can be accomplished using over the counter herbicides. Just be sure to read and follow all label instructions.

To be ready for the common summer broadleaf weeds, check out our blog. If you have any questions and are in our service area, please give our office a call at 908-625-9891.

Before You Plant Grass in the Spring

Among a host of other long-awaited chores, many homeowners are eager to get out onto their lawns once the snow has melted and plant grass in the spring. While it may be difficult to contain the urge to rush out to the local home improvement store and spend hundreds of dollars in a state of euphoria brought on by the smell of fresh cut grass, there are a few things to consider first before planting grass in the spring.

How to decide?

The first thing to consider before planting grass in the spring is whether or not the lawn needs to be seeded at all. In the early months of spring the soil is often super saturated from the snow melt. A lot of the plants are overly succulent with no rigidity and the color is poor because a lot of plants are still dormant. Keep in mind that the lawn has just started to wake up and isn’t looking its best. I mean, would you want anyone making any decisions regarding what to do about your overall appeal right after you rolled out of bed? Just try not to be overly disappointed with the lawn’s appearance at first sight and know that it looks as bad as it is going to early in spring before the soil temperatures become warm enough to trigger spring growth before you decide to plant grass in the spring.

How should one determine if you should plant grass in the spring? Spring seeding should be planned if there any obvious areas of exposed soil. These areas can represent a large percentage of the property, or be as small as a baseball or basketball.  Even small areas of exposed soil where there is little to no grass present can be an eyesore, and establishing new grass in these areas before they become worse through erosion is important.

When to plant grass in the spring

Once the decision is made to plant grass in the spring, the work should be done as early as the weather permits. The best time to plant grass in the spring is when the snow has melted and it appears that there will be no future snow accumulation. This is usually between late March and early April. The timing is important because it is essential that the new seed has as many weeks as possible to establish before the summer arrives. One of the biggest disadvantages to seeding any areas in the spring is that a large percentage of the new plants do not develop a root system mature enough to survive the stress of summer. Therefore, it is best only to address the sections of the lawn that absolutely need it in spring.

unseeded lawn and seeded lawn

The above pictures show a portion of a lawn that needs to be seeded, and what it looks like post seeding.

 

After you seed

After the seeding has taken place it is important to feed the young plants. If you have a lawn care service in place they should be notified. Explain to them when and where on the property you have planted grass in the spring. The service provider can then be sure to avoid the application of any herbicides to the areas, and to bring out starter fertilizer with the next scheduled treatment to apply on the new grass. Keeping new grass properly fed with starter fertilizer high in phosphorus is critical in trying to ensure that the young plants establish in time for summer. Skipping the Early Spring application of fertilizer for fear that it may damage the turf in some way is a huge mistake often made by homeowners. Like any other newborn, young seedlings need to feed immediately to grow, and like infants they require a special diet different than that of mature adults.

With the new seed planted and fertilized, it becomes about monitoring the seedlings as they come in. The areas need to be kept moist always. One of the advantages of planting grass in the spring is that there is frequent rainfall, so keeping seeded areas moist is not very difficult. Light, frequent watering is best. New plants do not have roots, so deep watering does not serve much of a purpose. Traffic of the areas should be kept to a bare minimum. Use stakes and some string or caution tape to keep anyone from entering the area unnecessarily. The areas will need to be mowed eventually, but that should not happen until the new plants reach a height of about 4” or so.

If these instructions are followed to the letter, the new grass will have been given the best chance to germinate and establish. However, there are additional issues that come with planting grass in the spring that may adversely affect the result despite the best efforts of the homeowner.

Summer Heat

First, as mentioned already the trick with planting grass in the spring is to get it to establish before the summer arrives. Sometimes though, summer arrives earlier than expected. It is not unheard of for there to be heat waves as early as May, and it won’t take much to damage the young plants. Just a single week of temperatures more than eighty degrees may be enough to cause injury from which the new grass will not be able to recover.

Broadleaf Weeds

Second, the race for the new grass to establish is not just against the heat, but also the broadleaf weed growth. In areas of the lawn where there is less grass established there is more soil exposed to direct sunlight. The temperature increase in the soil, along with the lack of plant competition, creates the perfect environment for excessive broadleaf weed growth. If broadleaf weeds establish in these areas before the new grass does, then the results may be less than desirable.

Crabgrass

The last factor to consider before deciding to plant grass in the spring is crabgrass. The most effective way to control crabgrass is preventatively with treatments that are applied in the early spring. Any areas seeded cannot be receive this treatment because it prevents the new grass from being able to establish. What this means is that any areas seeded will most likely have to contend with a good deal of crabgrass growth. And because crabgrass growth doesn’t really occur until June, even new seed that looks amazing to that point can suddenly become lackluster once the crabgrass populates the area. The crabgrass can be treated at that point, but then the homeowner is left with an area filled with dead crabgrass plants until the lawn can be reseeded at summer’s end.

Conclusion

While spring is the time for new growth, all the factors mentioned should be carefully considered before planting grass in the spring. In general, smaller touch up seeding is a non-issue and should be taken care of without much thought. However, before doing any extensive plantings of grass in the spring, it may be best to contact a lawn care professional and weigh the options carefully.

For more information about preparing your lawn and landscape for spring, check out our blog that takes an in-depth look into preparing your property for the spring. If you are in our service area and have any questions about planting grass in the spring, please don’t hesitate to call us at 908-281-7888.

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Phone: (908) 281-7888