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Tuesday
Nov012011

Fall Lawn Care Charlotte

Although the turf growth will be slowing down over the next month or so, its very important that we continue to provide nutrients for the grass during the cold weather. This will keep some color in the lawn longer in the season and allow for a quick recovery from “winter fatigue” and faster green-up next spring. A high-nitrogen granular fertilizer will be applied to the lawn around the first week of November. Also, if any weeds have popped up recently, they will be sprayed as soon as the new grass has been cut several times and is established.

For those of you that have had soil tests indicating a need for lime to balance ph, we will be getting that down on the lawn this month. We are using a lime product this year called Cal-Turf Pro. It’s a high calcium limestone that is much better than the stuff you get at the big box garden stores. Cal-Turf is much more effective at raising soil ph, works quickly, and is a cleaner, safer product to apply. Also, if you have had problems with poa annua, I will be using the new product Pro-Grass to treat for that weed this month.

I’m always doing quite a bit of research on lawn care products, as well as talking with vendors and horticultural experts so I can continue to improve my lawn care program. I’ve also been doing some trial and error on my own property and some of my friends properties to find the best combination of lawn products, the best timing of applications, and optimal application rates. I am not content to follow the herd of landscapers and just do what everybody else is doing to get marginal results. Next year I will be tweaking your specific lawn care program based on what we saw on your specific property. No two lawns are the same. What works for your next door neighbor probably won’t be ideal for your property. Once we pick up on the long-term pattern of what your lawn needs, how it reacts to certain products, test the soil, and take into account what kind of weather we’re getting; only then are we able to make informed decisions. There may be points in time when we stumble, its hard to be perfect when we’re dealing with an ever-changing live micro-climate and rely on the weather to help out. But we strive for improvement each year as we get to know your property better as time goes by.    



Tuesday
Sep062011

Dethatching

We now have lawn dethatching available for those that have a lot of dead stuff after killing out Bermuda grass. Dethatching is recommended for .5 inch or more of thatch. This will allow more soil exposure for seed contact and the new grass will grow in unimpeded.

I’ll let you know if dethatching is recommended for your lawn, or feel free to ask me about it if your interested.

 



Sunday
Aug142011

Bermuda eradication- need to act now!

August is the time to start eradicating all the Bermuda grass that has spread into the lawn. This involves killing off the entire area where Bermuda is present and preparing the area for renovation this fall.

There are a few other things we can do this month to get ready for renovation this fall. We've applied the final fungicide applixation and grub control to protect the existing turf from disease and insect damage, we're cleaning out all weeds from the turf areas, soil testing areas that have had unusual problems, and adding good organic topsoil to hard clay areas where roots are having trouble establishing.

Please visit the fall renovation page for details on how we can get rid of bermuda.



Wednesday
Jul202011

White Grubs in Charlotte

As you read this Japanese Beetles are completing their feeding stage and are beginning the next stage in their life cycle. In late July/early August, they lay their eggs in the turf, which hatch into white grubs. This is when the most damage starts to occur to our turf. The larval stage of the white grubs are heavy feeders and they can do some severe damage to the roots of your turf during the months of August, September, and October. Once colder temperatures move in, the grubs will bury deeper into the soil until next year when they repeat the cycle over again.

There are a couple of things we do to combat the damage from beetles and grubs. First, as the beetles emerge and start their feeding, we can spray their targeted plants with an insecticide that will kill beetles on contact and prevent others from feeding for about 2-3 weeks. Sometimes this treatment is needed twice to get through the beetle feeding season. Secondly, we put down an insecticide product over the turf in late July which will kill any beetle eggs and hatched grubs. I will monitor any beetle and grub activity on your property to protect your roses, crepe myrtles, fruit trees and turf.

I do not recommend the use of beetle traps on your property. Although very effective in collecting beetles, they also attract more beetles to your property that otherwise would not be there. Our methods of protecting your plant material and turf roots should be all the control you need.

 



Saturday
Jun252011

Brown Patch Fungus Alert!

This is a turf disease that we see every year around the beginning of Summer. Every fescue lawn has it to a degree, the extent of damage to the turf depends on the specific conditions on your property. The fungus actually lays dormant at the soil level until conditions are right for it to infect the leaves of fescue turf. If the conditions are perfect it can really thrive and do some severe damage.

Conditions for Brown Patch: Typically the circular brown patches in the lawn will start to form when temperatures stay above 65 at night and get into the upper 80s and 90s during the day. When we reach this temperature range, a series of afternoon/evening thunderstorms that keep the grass wet overnite will really accelerate brown patch development. Fescue lawns that are fertilized too heavily with nitrogen, or cut too short will usually see rapid disease development. Areas that are shady in the afternoon or have poor drainage are also prime areas for brown patch.

Symptoms of Brown Patch: It starts out by forming small brown lesions bordered by a dark brown band on the individual turf blades (figure 1). If you look closely at your lawn you can pick out the infected grass plants. This quickly browns out the entire grass blade and creates circular brown spots in the lawn that can be anywhere from 6” to a couple feet in diameter.

Treatment of Brown Patch: A fungicide treatment is the strongest line of defense to prevent and control brown patch fungus.  However, there are a few limitations to relying on fungicides; the products are expensive and a treatment only has a 30 day residual. This means that a round 2 of fungicide treatment may be necessary since we have early brown patch development during the year. Of course, if your on the Whitehouse Premium Lawn Care Program full disease protection is included in your plan. For those that pay extra for disease treatments, I have a strategy that will keep your costs down as much as possible. The first fungicide treatment will be a “wall-to-wall” application over the entire lawn to wipe out all of the existing fungus present in the lawn. After the 30 day residual is over, I will be monitoring your property and can spot spray any new fungus areas that come up later in the summer, hopefully for a much smaller cost. I think this is the best way to keep the fungus in check during the entire season while not hitting you hard with big charges on your invoice.

What YOU can do to minimize Brown Patch: Water management is the key to minimizing brown patch. We know that water sitting on the grass overnite activates the fungus, so you definitely do not want to water the lawn in late afternoon or night. Early to mid morning is the best watering time to allow the grass to dry quickly during the day. We should be on the lookout for drainage problems in the yard and avoid over-watering. I will let you know if we see any areas that need improved drainage so we can come up with a solution.

On our side, we raise the mowing height on our mowers a little bit and keep the blades sharp every week. The lawn care treatment program and products I use are designed to provide the right amount of balanced nutrients to your lawn. I also make sure our spreaders and sprayers are calibrated to put out the right amount of product. We use premium grass seed when we overseed in the fall that has increased resistance to brown patch and mix in organic products to allow turf to recover quickly from any stress. Many lawn care companies will go with cheaper, quick release fertilizers to get a quick green up (especially the big national companies). They might get impressive short-term results but this always causes disease problems and stress on the lawn at some point.

I prefer to take into account the long-term impact of lawn treatments as well as getting results right away. I also do my best to keep prices as low as possible. Sometimes this means using premium products that last longer to prevent future costs.

Please let me know if you have any questions about lawn care. Coming up next month we will address Japanese Beetles and white grubs.



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