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Entries in lawn care (13)


Starting out the lawn care program for 2013

This is a very important time for your lawn- how you treat your lawn right now will set the tone for how your lawn looks for the next 6 months.

First, you NEED to address any weeds that have already emerged from the ground. These are cool season weeds such as chickweed, henbit, etc. These are easy to control RIGHT NOW with a broadleaf herbicide treatment. If you wait another month when these weeds are in full bloom and growing, they are much more difficult to control.

Next, you want to apply a pre-emergent herbicide (crabgrass preventer) to the lawn before soil temperatures reach 55 degrees (crabgrass can germinate once soil temps reach 57 degrees). As I write this on 2/28 soil temps are still in the upper 40's so we still have a few weeks of being in the window. Typically late February to mid March is a good time to do this treatment. Its a granular application that combines the herbicide with fertilizer to provide a feeding for your existing turf. 

Other considerations to address are taking care of any bare spots in the lawn. If seeding is required, you want to do that in early February so you can still get some pre-emergent out in late March/early April. Keep in mind though, you won't have the best protection from crabgrass is you take this approach.

If you have issues with poa annua weeds in spring, well there really is'nt a great approach to fixing at this time of the year. If it really bothers you and don't mind paying the extra money, you can re-sod these areas. Otherwise, you should just live with it for another 6 weeks until it goes away on its own.


Lawn Care in Charlotte Fall/Winter

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.

We did a lime treatment as part of the Premium renovation service this year. Lime usually isn't needed every year, so if you did not get the Premium renovation this year, let me know if you want a lime treatment added.

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 may 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 and proactive 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.    



Summer Lawn Care

We are full swing into Brown Patch fungus season as well as Nutsedge weed growth. We've had a good amount of rainfall this summer in the form of afternoon thunderstorms producing a large quanity of water on the turf at once. And thats exactly what makes those 2 lawn issues thrive!

For treatment of Brown Patch we are rotating between Armada and Disarm fungicides. We get about 30 days control after each treatment and using different active ingredients will reduce disease tolerance in the lawn.

We are using a combination of products for weed control treatment during the summer. Drive is an excellent control of crabgrass and a few other grassy/broadleaf weeds. Dismiss is used for nutsedge control as well as some broadleaf. And then we will use Momentum for control of more aggressive broadleaf weeds such as buttonweed and spurge. As always, we must be very careful when spraying herbicides during the heat of the summer. Some of these products can stress out the fescue grass if its too hot, and rain or irrigation within 24 hours will reduce effectiveness.


Brown Patch Fungus In Charlotte NC

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, a treatment only has a 30 day residual, and the disease can build up a resistance if using the same product over and over again. This means that we have to switch up the products we use with a round 2 fungicide treatment to introduce a new ingredient to avoid resistance. 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. I can't stress enough the importance of auditing your irrigation system this time of year. 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.


Grassy Lawn Weeds in Charlotte NC

Now that the usual spring weeds (like clover, chickweed, etc) have been controlled by all of the great lawn care herbicide products available on the market, we are left with lush and thriving fescue lawns. BUT WAIT! We still see some areas of "different" grasses growing in our deep green fescue lawn.

Unfortunately, we still have grassy weeds that cannot be controlled by a selective herbicide that won't also kill the good fescue grass. Here is a list of the most common we are seeing right now.

Poa trivialisPoa trivialis is a perennial weed that will come back each year. It stands out in fescue lawns as a lighter shade of green and grows a bit faster/taller than fescue. It favors shady and moist areas. Seed from this weed can lay dormant for years and germinate when conditions become favorable and there is low competition. The best treatment for these patches of weed is to apply Round Up to the plant and replace with new fescue sod. 

 Annual ryegrass

Annual ryegrass usually is the result of using hay straw during the fall season when mulching a newly renovated turf area. This weed is a light shade of green and quickly grows taller than fescue a day or two after mowing. Annual ryegrass will die off as we get into hot temperatures in May/June. Its best control is to mow it frequently so it does not produce new seed heads and let it die off on its own.