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Summer Lawn Stress

December 12, 2017

If hot summer weather is wearing you down, just think about how your lawn must feel. High temperatures and dry conditions are bad enough for your turf, but add in the insects and diseases that summer always brings, and your lawn could be in need of some serious help.

Signs of a stressed lawn

Drought and lack of watering often lead to blue-green coloring or footprints that remain in the turf after you’ve walked on it. If insects or diseases are present, you may also notice brown patches or chewed grass blades.

Stopping stress before it starts

Healthy lawns are less likely to fall victim to summer stress, making proper watering, mowing and fertilization extra important in hotter weather.

Be sure that your turf gets from 1″ to 1½” of water per week from rainfall or watering. And when sprinkling, let water soak in to a depth of 6″ so that enough moisture reaches the roots.

Set your mower blade height so that no more than ⅓ of the grass blade is removed with each cutting. And to avoid shredding the tips of your grass blades (which makes it easier for diseases to invade), your mower blades should be sharpened three to four times per season.

Finally, remember that regular applications of fertilizer will help your turf to stand up to insects and disease while decreasing its water requirements throughout the summer months.

For more information on helping your lawn stand up to summer stress, give GroGreen a call today.

Southern Chinch Bugs

December 12, 2017

Southern Chinch Bugs

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Chinch bugs usually grow to no more than 1/8″ in length. While it may be difficult to think of such small pests as a threat to your lawn, a look at their reproductive habits makes their dangerous potential very clear.

Up to seven generations of chinch bugs are possible per season, with adults laying up to 300 eggs during their short lifespan. So, millions of chinch bugs could be feasting on your lawn at any given time this summer.

Signs of damage

Chinch bugs use their beak-like mouths to suck plant juices from the nodes and crowns of turfgrass plants. At the same time, they inject a toxin into the plants that can prove fatal to turf. Turf damage usually appears as patchy dead spots, most commonly found along driveways, sidewalks and curbs. The extent of turfgrass damage depends on the population of the chinch bugs, as well as on the general vigor of the lawn.

Prevention

Chinch bug outbreaks are often seen in turf that gets excessive nitrogen fertilizer. Fertilizing only when necessary, and using a slow-release, low-nitrogen fertility program, will help to reduce the risk of over-fertilization. This will make turf less attractive to chinch bugs. In addition, chinch bugs thrive in hot, dry conditions, so it’s important to keep your turf well-watered during the summer. Finally, proper mowing and regular aeration will help to prevent chinch bug infestations as well.

If chinch bugs do make their presence known, prompt treatment with an insecticide will be necessary to prevent major damage from occurring. For more information on chinch bugs, give GroGreen a call today.

Mowing/Watering Tips

December 12, 2017

Does your lawn need water?

A symptom indicating that your lawn needs water is loss of green color. When you walk across the lawn, the grass remains flattened in the footprints. The inability to penetrate the soil with a screwdriver indicates dry soil.

How much water is enough?

Winter: 1″ of water if no precipitation within two weeks during dormant periods. The roots of your lawn are still alive while the top looks dead or dormant.

Spring: 1″ to 1 ½” of water per week if no precipitation as the turf begins to grow.

Summer: 1 ½” to 2″ of water per week during the heat of the summer.

Fall: 1″ to 1 ½” of water per week if no precipitation as the growth of the lawn begins to slow.

Deep and infrequent watering is best

Light and frequent watering produces a weak and shallow root system. A shallow root system cannot withstand dry heat or extreme cold temperatures. Watering at the proper depth allows deep, healthy roots to endure heat and cold temperatures. Healthy roots produce a greener, healthier lawn.

Measuring how much water

Measure the water by using a measuring device with a flat bottom and sides, like a tuna can. Place the measuring device on the lawn. Turn on your sprinklers and check to see how much water was measured. Once you have determined how much water is measured, then you can adjust your watering to achieve the proper amount needed.

Our clay soils don’t absorb water very well. It may be necessary to water in cycles. First determine how long a cycle can water before the water begins to run off onto the sidewalk or the street. If you are irrigating for 15 minutes and the water seems to be running down the street, then back the time down to 12 minutes and so on. If 15 minutes seems to be working, you may increase the time and use less cycles.

The first rule of watering is to water when possible. The best time to water is early in the morning after the sun begins to rise. Watering at this time will help to reduce evaporation and reduce the chance of disease. To determine how to achieve your optimum watering per week, follow the example listed.

Example: If you turn on your sprinkler for 10 minutes and measure the water at ¼”. You will need to cycle your sprinkler four times that day to achieve 1″ of water. By starting the cycles over at the end of the last cycle, the water will have time to soak into the soil.

Run your sprinklers three or four times per week to achieve the desired amount of water needed. For fescue lawns, you may need to run the sprinkler during the heat of the day in the summer for one cycle to cool the grass down. This is not necessary with Bermuda or St. Augustine lawns.

Using the “repeated cycles” method, you can water your lawn and conserve water at the same time. This will help you to achieve the necessary water you need per week.

Mowing your lawn and watering

Mowing can play a large part in watering your lawn. Make sure the mower blades are sharp. Dull blades will tear the grass instead of cutting. Tearing the leaf blades causes the lawn to lose water. It also gives the lawn an overall brown appearance.

Mowing frequency is also important so that you don’t cut off more than one-third of the leaf blade at any mowing. This can cause the lawn to lose moisture and stress the turf. Mowing height is critical to maintaining a green, healthy lawn.
Scalping

Scalping is cutting the lawn very short in the early spring and the removal (bagging) of the dormant grass clippings. The dormant grass acts as insulation during the winter months to protect the roots. Removal of the insulation will allow the soil to warm up and green up the lawn quicker. Fescue lawns do not need to be scalped.

Scalping can be done after our last frost, usually after March 20. The following mowing heights are recommended during the growing season:

Common Bermuda
– 1 ½” to 2″

Tiff Bermuda – ½” to 1″

St. Augustine
– 2″ to 3″

Fescue – 2″ to 3 ½”

Keep the lawn mowed shorter in the spring to promote growth and thickening of the turf. As temperatures begin to heat up, raise the mowing height. During the heat of the summer, the lawn should be mowed at the highest recommended cutting height to help the grass retain water.

Lawn Fertilization

December 12, 2017

What’s in fertilizer, anyway?

Fertilizer contains three primary nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen promotes strong color and top growth, phosphorus stimulates root development, and potassium helps with disease resistance and water retention.

GroGreen recommends going heavy on the fertilizer this fall. When spring arrives, you’ll be glad we did!

Brown Patch Fungus

December 12, 2017

Brown patch is a powerful fungus disease that infects the grass blades and stems nearest the soil. Usually, affected turf exhibits rings or circular patches of brown, blighted grass.

These patches can range in size from a few inches to several feet in diameter. In severely affected areas, the patches can converge so that there is no noticeable pattern.

Battling brown patch

Like many diseases, brown patch likes lawns with too much thatch, too much moisture or too much fertilizer. The best defense is a well-balanced fertilizer program, aeration when needed, and the right watering techniques.

Of course, sometimes even when we do everything right, disease can strike. A fungicide treatment can chase the disease away, but to help your grass recover more quickly, it will need more.

Diseases most often move from plant to plant in water, so deep watering in the morning, which gives grass time to dry, is especially important. Aerating helps to remove extra thatch and brings with it better air circulation and water penetration. Aeration also improves overall soil drainage, which cuts down on wet soggy spots where disease can spread. And finally, a light fertilization gives your lawn the nutrients it needs to recover quickly.

If you suspect brown patch or any other disease problem, give us a call. Quick action is critical to beating this disease to the punch.

Getting the Best of Broadleaf Weeds

December 6, 2017

Regular Maintenance Goes a Long Way

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Dandelion, chickweed, ground ivy, henbit, knotweed, plantain, thistle…all sorts of broadleaf weeds will soon be making an appearance in our lawns. It would be great if we could eliminate these pests once and for all. The thing is, they create a lot of seeds, so complete elimination isn’t possible.

Just one dandelion seed head can hold over 200 seeds, which are capable of traveling very long distances by wind, water, on animals and on the bottoms of our shoes. New weed seeds are constantly finding their way into the soil on your property, and they can remain in the soil for years until they get enough sun and water to germinate.

Good Lawn Care Practices Crowd Out Weeds

Proper lawn maintenance to encourage thicker, healthier grass is the best way to prevent broadleaf weeds on your property. The denser your lawn, the less room these weeds will have to grow. The three keys to crowding out broadleaf weeds are:

• Removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade with each mowing. This keeps the soil shaded to discourage germination of weed seeds.

• Making sure your lawn gets from 1″ to 1½” of water per week from rainfall or sprinkling.

• Fertilizing regularly to expand your lawn’s root system for more vigorous growth.

Modified Stage 3 Watering Restrictions

December 6, 2017

With most communities restricted to watering twice per month, we realize that you are limited to how often you can water your lawn and landscape. The instructions below are a guideline for watering during this time. By measuring the amount of water and using multiple watering cycles during your water day, you can maximize the amount of water for your lawn and landscape and reduce the amount of runoff to the street and sidewalk.

Example: Turn your sprinkler/irrigation station on for 10 minutes and measure the amount of water in a small flat bottom container. If in 10 minutes you measure the water at ¼”, you will need to cycle your sprinkler four times that day to achieve 1″ of water. By starting the cycles over at the end of the last cycle, the water will have time to soak into the soil to prevent water running off onto the street or sidewalk. Run your sprinkler cycles three, four or more times during your water day to achieve the desired amount of water. Using the “repeated cycles” method, you can water your lawn and conserve water at the same time. This will help you to achieve the maximum amount of water for that water day.

Turf Diseases: Watering at night during the summer heat rarely causes disease problems. In most cases we do not recommend watering at night, however during these water restrictions, we have to utilize the time that we are allowed to water on our designated water day.

Fertilization: Granular fertilization applied with a professional broadcast spreader will not burn the lawn. Although it may be a few days before your watering day after a fertilization treatment, the fertilizer will still be effective without harming the grass.