Spring Clean Up-Exactly What is That?

Spring is here and it’s time to give your lawn and landscape a Spring Clean Up, but exactly what is that? For a lot of homeowners, it means picking up a few sticks and mulching up the fallen leaves. There is much more to do though, to have the lawn and landscape truly cleaned up and ready for the growing season.

spring clean up

Time to clean up the lawn and landscape

 

These Lawn and Landscape maintenance items need to be done in the Spring. Mulching, pruning, aerating, fertilizing the lawn, fertilizing the shrubs and trees, lawn clean up, weeding of the beds, seeding (for some grass types, in some parts of the US), and more.

Are you planning on doing this, or part of it yourself? Some homeowners think that they can jump in and do a quick Spring Clean Up in one Saturday afternoon. Many times they quickly realize that there’s more to it than meets the eye to do the tasks correctly. Our office will get calls from people every year that start projects then decide that it’s too much work for them to do themselves. That’s OK, that’s why we’re here. Let’s look at what is needed to do a real Spring Clean Up, and what’s most important.

Cleaning up fallen limbs, twigs, and leaves

The debris that has fallen over the Winter really needs to be picked up before Spring arrives, but if you haven’t already done it, this is the number 1 job that needs doing first. The leaves that fall and lay on the lawn will add to the acidity of the soil and in some cases smother out some of the cool season grasses. Heavily shaded lawns will often have moss growing on the surface of the lawn due to the high acid content, heavy shade, leaf drop and lack of moisture in the Summer due to the tree roots sucking all the moisture out.

Clean up all of the debris and dispose, then take a look at the lawn. Do you have bare spots? Do you have any sunken spots or ruts in the lawn that could use filling in with soil? Do you have a mole problem? Winter and Spring is a very active time for moles in the Southeastern part of the US, now would be a good time to do some mole control if so.

If you have any of the problems listed above, now is the time to get them addressed, before the season kicks off and you forget to do it or run out of time. Also, some of these problems cannot be corrected in the Summer, so Spring is the best time to do them.

Aerate and Overseed The Lawn

While Fall is the best time to seed cool season grasses, in some parts of the US you can get a fair stand of grass in Spring by doing a simple aerate and overseeding. If you have some low spots that need filling in with soil, do that now and just sprinkle a little seed over those spots.

If you have cool season grasses (fescue, ryegrass, bluegrass) you can do these seeding projects in the Spring, if you have warm season grasses (Bermuda, zoysia, bahiagrass) you need to wait until the end of April or first of May to do it. The temps need to be averaging 85 degrees or so consistently to get germination of warm season grasses. Cool season grasses only need 55 to 60 degrees, and moisture to germinate. (remember, it’s called “cool season” grass)

Lime Applications

If you have noticed any moss growing on the lawn, that’s a sign that you need lime. Actually, it’s a sign that your soil is acidic. And lime is a solution to that problem. If you are aerating, applying lime afterwards is a great time to do it, this lets the lime fall down into the holes and get into the root zone of the grass. It takes 6 months for agricultural lime, (powdered lime) to get busy changing the soil ph, so don’t be expecting immediate results.

 

Pelletized lime or dolomitic lime goes to work much faster and is easier to spread. It’s much like the consistency of fertilizer so it spreads from a fertilizer spreader much easier. Ag. or powdered lime is hard to spread from a push spreader, and will sometimes tear them up. We much prefer the pelletized lime.

Fertilizing and Weed Control for Lawn and Landscape

Spring is a great time to put down weed control for the lawn and landscape. If you put it down early enough, you can catch many of the pesky annual grassy weeds like crabgrass, goosegrass, barnyard grass and others that trash up the look of the lawn later in the year. They will also cause a ton of labor to have to be done in weeding the landscape beds if you don’t control them now. You can use a granual pre-emergent crabgrass preventer on the lawn, and a liquid bed weed preventer in the landscape beds. We prefer the liquid weed preventer for beds because it’s easy to mix up in a hand sprayer and spray the mulch, gravel or ground cover to make the applications.

Pruning of Shrubs and Landscape Trees

Most homeowners do not properly prune their landscape shrubs and trees. Typically, we get calls several times per year from people that are crying for HELP with their shrubs and trees that have become overgrown. If you only prune the tips of the longest limbs off of all the shrubs and trees, you will gradually let them get larger and larger each year until all of a sudden you notice that they are covering your windows and even growing above the eves. Pruning your shrubs twice a year, and cutting them back enough to remove all of the previous growth you will keep them in a proper size. The two best times to prune are in the Fall, after the growing has stopped, and during your Spring clean up.

Shrub Pruning

Proper Shrub Pruning

Shrubs growing gradually are similar to watching your kids growing, you know it’s happening, but all of a sudden you  take notice of how much they have grown. If you let the shrubs get too large, then all there is left to do is cut them back drastically down to a small version of what they were, and let them grow back out, if they will.

Cutting shrubs back drastically, where you are cutting them back to only a couple of feet tall should only be done in the Fall, Winter or Spring. Giving them a cutback in the Summer will often kill them.

If you don’t know how to properly prune the shrubs and trees, you may be best off to hire a professional Landscaper to do it that knows the different plant types and how each should be prune. Not all plants get cut back the same way, at the saem time of the year. Improper pruning can either kill, disfigure or ruin some of the nicer ornamental shrubs

Mulching of Beds

During the Spring Clean Up, iff your beds have hardwood or pine nuggets mulch, now is a great time to touch that up or add a fresh coating of mulch. Weed the beds, prune the shrubs, and then mulch the beds. This order of doing these tasks will eliminate your having to clean up the fresh mulch if you do them in the wrong order.

If you have gravel for mulch, take a look for thin or bare areas where some of it may have washed out, gotten knocked out by a pet, or where the bed may have settled. Now is the time to do this too. It’s much less of a job to do it now in the cool weather than to wait until Summer and do it in the heat.

Get out there and get these Spring Clean Up chores done before it gets hot, and when you can help your grass get a good start for the season. Waiting will only delay the Spring green up of your lawn. Have a great Spring!

For more information on Lawn and Landscape tips for having a great lawn, check our website for monthly lawn and landscape tips.

For more information about our Lawn and Landscape Maintenance services see our website. 



 

 

Lawn Care Calendar = a Great Lawn This Year

Plan Your Maintenance Schedule Out Now

You know that you will have certain lawn care items to do this year on your lawn and landscape to have a GREAT ONE! So why not sit down with a calendar now and plan it all out?

Lawn Care Calendar

Plan your lawn care calendar out now for 2017

Depending on how great you want your lawn to work, you will have a certain number of fertilizer and weed control applications to make, you will have to mow the grass a certain number of times, prune the shrubs so many times, mulch, weed the beds, clean up the leaves, aerate, overseed, apply lime and possibly much more, or less, depending on your level of Lawn Care Ninja.

Some things that you will do for your lawn won’t actually show up for weeks after it was performed, so planning gets those tasks scheduled and you get them done, before they are forgotten or it gets too late in the year.

If you want a fantastic looking lawn that is weed free and knock-out green for Memorial Day, you can’t just kick it up a notch the week before, you need fertilizer down weeks before, weed control down starting in Feb, or Mar, and the grass cut regularly. Then it all comes together at the end of May.

Fertilizer and Weed Control Applications

Depending on your type of grass, and how much of a lawn geek you are you could do anywhere from 1 to 8 applications. Some people only make one application a year, that is usually done in the Fall if you only make one application.

If you do two applications, put one down in the Fall, usually a Winterizer that will prepare the grass to over winter better and grow deeper roots so it will be hardier next Summer. A Winterizer fertilizer will have a higher ratio of Potash to Nitrogen and Phosphate. Something like a 6-12-12 or 3-10-30 are some I have seen sold. The Nitrogen isn’t needed that much in the Fall for most grasses, and for warm season grasses, you don’t want any nitrogen down. And then put another application of fertilizer and a pre-emergent weed control down in the Spring. If you don’t fertilize, at least use a pre-emergent weed control to help keep out the weeds.

Applying Fertilizer and weed control products with a spreader

Applying granule fertilizer and weed control products

Then put another application of fertilizer and a pre-emergent weed control down in the early Spring, around Feb in the South, or Mar. farther North,  for a two application per year program. The Spring application would be something like a 32-3-10 with pre-emergent and/or post-emergent weed control products.

About 2 months later, April/May,  if only applying 4 applications, use a fertilizer and broadleaf weed control to control dandelions, and other broadleaf weeds. This will have an analysis of something like the 32-3-10 or similar again. The first number is nitrogen and provides the majority of your green in the grass.

A lot of people that use the four application program each year will schedule them like this. Using the major Holidays for reminders, apply around Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.

If you want a little more green, and fewer weeds, and you don’t mind mowing a little more often, plan for 6 applications. You will take the 4 application program I just described, but move the dates around so you start earlier in the year with your first fertilizer and weed control application, end the year with your winterizer application a little later in the year, and then scoot the dates closer together to have an equal amount of time between them.

Your Lawn Care Calendar will look something like this:

  1. February Pre-emergent weed control and Fertilizer for cool season grasses. Pre-emergent only for warm season grasses
  2. March 15 Pre-emergent weed control for Southern areas where the weed germination period is longer, with fertilizer and broadleaf weed control. Northern climates will get broadleaf weed control and fertilizer.

    fertilizer and insect control

    Fertilizer with insect control added

  3. April 30 Broadleaf weed control and fertilizer for both cool season and warm season grasses. If you have an insect problem with army worms, fleas, and ticks, or a mole problem that is exacerbated by grub worms, you might want to use a fertilizer with insect control in it.  If you have Fescue grass and you live in the transition zone or further South, be watching for fungus. Mainly Brown Patch fungus. It starts at the end of April to early May and continues during hot and humid weather. If you see spots that look like the picture to the right, you could have a fungus. A fungicide will need to be applied
    Brown Patch Fungus on Fescue Grass

    Brown patch fungus on Fescue grass

    immediately.

  4. June 15th Fertilizer and broadleaf weed control. Monitor for insects, apply insecticide as needed
  5. July 30th Fertilizer and Broadleaf weed control, again monitor the lawn for insects. Armyworms can attack in the Summer and move quickly across the lawn causing a lot of damage in just a
    Army Worms in lawn

    Armyworms invading lawn

    week or so. If you see mysterious dead or yellowing spots on the lawn that look like the picture to the right, you may have armyworms.

  6. September 15th apply the Winterizer fertilizer with weed control if you like or if you are still having broadleaf weed problems. Some people will apply a Fall Pre-emergent weed control which will control any Fall and early Winter weeds that may germinate.

Mowing, Edging, and Trimming

Depending on a few things like if you water or not, how much fertilizer you are using, and where you live and what type of grass you have, you will have to mow anywhere from every 5 days to 10 days.

This is one of the harder things to keep on a set schedule due to things like rain,

Lawn Care is Hard

Lawn Care Is So Hard!

equipment issues, and life. But it’s important to keep the mowing on a close enough schedule that you don’t cut more than 1/3 of the grass off in one cutting. Cutting more than that off at one time will yellow the grass off, and possibly stunt it. I prefer to cut more often and cut just a little off. But then again, I enjoy mowing, it’s my “quite time”.

Edging of the hard edges, sidewalks, concrete drives, patios and anything with a hard, straight edge will need to be done at least once a month with a stick or blade edger. Normal string trimming (weed eating) is done each week as you mow. Some people are good enough with a string trimmer that they can turn it up on it’s edge and clean up the edging without having to get the blade edger out. If you don’t own a stick edger or blade edger, they do a fantastic job of keeping a nice straight and clean edge on your hard edges.

Other Lawn Care Items needed

Aeration and overseeding, if needed for cool season grasses will need to be scheduled for late August or early September. The earlier you get the seed in the ground, the faster it can get germinated, start growing and be tall enough to be mowed a couple of times before Fall sets in.

Lime applications are best done in the Fall and are usually helpful for most lawns. Very seldom do we find a lawn that does NOT need lime. One bag of lime per thousand square feet of lawn area is what we apply. This is a general rule of thumb for lawns that are on the clay side of the soil structure spectrum. Better quality soils wouldn’t need as much, and a soil test will tell you exactly what you need. With a little experience, you will know what to apply without repeated soil tests.

These are not all of the lawn and landscape chores that will need to be done on your property over the year, but this article is meant to be more of a scheduling primer to get a lawn care calendar set up for your lawn.

For more information on lawn care items subscribe to our blog for weekly lawn care tips and landscape maintenance tips and landscaping ideas. Also, take a look at our monthly lawn care tips pages on our website with monthly lawn care tips.

Aeration-The Most Beneficial, Least Expensive Thing Your Lawn Needs

You have probably heard that aeration is good for your lawn, maybe you’ve seen it done, or maybe you have seen the process done at a golf course, you may have even aerated your own lawn. But did you know that for what it costs to do it, or even to buy an AERATOR to do it with, that it’s the most beneficial and least expensive thing that you can do for your lawn?

First, what is aeration? It’s the process of taking small plugs of soil out of your lawn and depositing them on top of the lawn. Why does this help? Depending on if you have a normal home lawn, a commercial lawn that maybe gets a little more traffic, a school lawn, baseball field, football field, soccer field, or even a golf course, the problems that aerating fixes, will be more severe with more foot traffic, and even some vehicle traffic.

Aerating is similar to taking a house plant that has become root bound and repotting it. The same principles apply. Taking the house plant out of its confined pot and giving it more room to grow is what happens to turfgrass roots when you aerate. The holes that are poked in the ground give the roots more room to grow.

Thatch is a combination of decaying grass clippings, miscellaneous lawn debris, stolons and roots that build up at the crown of the grass plant. Over time this thatch acts like a barrier and keeps water, air, fertilizer and lime from getting into the root zone of the grass to do its magic.

Thatch in grass

Thatch layer in turfgrass

By aerating (making thousands of holes) the lawn, you will help to reduce this thatch layer and allow fertilizer, lime, water and air to get into the soil and the root zone of the turfgrass. The plugs that are left on top of the ground (when using a core aerator) will decompose over time and through microbial activity help to keep the thatch in check.

The picture at left shows the soil with some roots growing in it, the thick thatch layer, the crown of the grass and the grass blades.

As you might imagine from looking at this picture, this thatch layer can get so compacted that it is similar to having a sheet of plastic laying on your lawn. When it does rain or when you water, the water would run off instead of soaking deep down into the lawn. The compacted root zone also restricts the growth of the grass plant leaving your entire lawn looking lethargic, weak and yellowish.

Core Aeration

Core aeration is the best type, this is when the machine actually makes a plug (core) and pulls it out of the ground and deposits it on top of the ground. We prefer the core aerators over the spike aerators for this reason. The spike aerator still will poke holes in the ground and allow space, but they actually do a little compacting of the soil at the same time.

What happens is the spike goes into the ground and makes a hole, but since it doesn’t pull a plug of soil out of the ground, it just pushes the soil to the sides and makes the hole. This compacts that portion of soil while making the hole. This is a small disadvantage, so if you are short on available cash to buy an aerator, the spike aerator is better than nothing, and this one is less than $100.00.

A good core aerator can be bought for anywhere from $141.00 for this lesser expensive Precision Brand plugger to over $390.00 for this better built, better quality Agri-Fab Brand 40″ plugger This is another case of “you get what you pay for”. But, from experience, we have learned that the plugger type aerator does a better job, and if the extra bucks that it’s going to cost doesn’t kill you, then get the plugger.

There is one advantage to this particular spike-aerator. That is that you can seed and aerate at the same time with this one piece of equipment.

You will first need to run over the lawn a couple of times with this aerator being sure that you cover all spots of the lawn without leaving any blank spots in the lawn where you skipped. Then fill the seed hopper, and being even more careful, cover the entire lawn until you have applied the required amount of seed. How much seed you will need to put down will depend on the type of seed, and whether you are trying to just fill in a little bit, or if your lawn was nearly all gone and you’re trying to re-establish it. Look at our seeding page for more information about how much seed to use and how much fertilizer is needed, and what type of fertilizer.

You can also buy an aerator that you just simply push like a push mower. This would obviously be a lot of work for anything more than the smallest of lawns, so it’s not going to be a popular type of aerator.

If you want to get a little exercise or you don’t have a riding lawn mower to pull a tow behind type aerator, you can even buy a set of aerator shoes that will put holes in the lawn with every step you take.

 

So, you can kill two birds with one stone, or (let’s not kill any birds) get two jobs done at once, simply by wearing these.

If you are a serious lawn care fanatic and you have a small tractor that you use for various lawn and landscaping chores around the property, you can get a three point hitch type commercial grade aerator that you can use your tractor to aerate with. This is the type that we use in our Landscape Company. They will do the best job of any that we have shown you so far. However, the disadvantage is the cost.

This unit will run you over $2,100.00 plus shipping to boot. That’s a lot of money to spend for a piece of equipment that you may not use more than a half dozen times a year. But, let’s say that you and your brother, good friend, cousin, etc. go in together to buy one. Then the cost is cut in half and it’s not like the unit is going to be used by one or the other of you each time the other wants to use it. It should be available for either of you when you need it. Of course, one of you will need to own a tractor.

If you are a volunteer at your kids Little League or school, you might find this is just the tool you need to help them keep the fields in good shape.

Renting Equipment to Aerate

Still another option is to rent an aerator. You can rent a tow behind aerator for $50.00 to $75.00 from most rental stores. But, just do a little math and you can see that it wouldn’t take too many rentals and you could have bought one of your own. Plus not having the aggravation of having to drive to the rental store, load it, haul it back, etc.

Many rental stores will also have a walk-behind gas powered aerator. These are plug type aerators and do an excellent job. However, they will work you hard. If you’re not in good physical shape, we don’t suggest attempting one of these. You can buy one like this, Husqvarna 25.5″  for around $3,300.00

There are many options for equipment to aerate, here is another. A three point hitch type aerator for your tractor, in a spike type. Basically, it’s a large drum with spikes welded to it that you can use with your tractor.

Again, your tractor must have a three point hitch and be large enough to lift this unit weighing almost 400#. With this aerator and the 3-pt. hitch plugging aerator listed above, you can’t use just a small lawn and garden mower “tractor”, you will have to have at minimum a small Kubota/John Deere/Kioti tractor that would accept a front end loader, tillers, and other small equipment. You won’t be using what Sears calls a “Lawn Tractor”. Those are just lawn mowers.

And finally, one more option is a hand held plugging aerator. It’s simply a tool with two hollow spears on the end of it. Operating it is plain and simple, raise it up, push it down. Repeat this a few hundred times and you’ll be done. Again, for the person that doesn’t mind some vigorous exercise, or for those that have the smallest of postage stamp size lawns, this might be for you. This one sells for only $24.00 and you can even get replacement tines for it when you wear out what comes on it.

The bottom line of aerating is that it doesn’t matter what type of aerator you use, they will get the job done. The only difference is which type you use, how much money you want to spend and how much work you are willing to do. Aerating is the least expensive thing you can do to your lawn and will give you more benefits than some other lawn maintenance services you could have done.

Benefits of aeration

The benefits of aeration

And of course, if you’re all fired up to get your lawn aerated and you don’t want to buy or rent the equipment, don’t have the time or energy to do it anyway and would rather just have a nice lawn without the sweat, then call your local Lawn and Landscape Company to get it done. It will cost you anywhere from $45.00 to as much as a few hundred depending on the size of your lawn and the market you live in.

The timing for aeration will depend on a couple things. Usually when the soil is soft enough for the tines to go into the ground is the most important, for the equipment to work right. If you have an irrigation system, then this is not an issue. You can simply water enough to make the ground soft, and go to work.

If someone asked I can do this once a year, when should I do it? I would say Fall. The next best time would be Spring. But, remember, golf courses, pro football and baseball fields, soccer fields and other turfgrass areas that get a lot of foot traffic or vehicle traffic will aerate several times a year. It’s one of those things that won’t hurt anything to do it even monthly.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us and we will try to answer for you. If you have found this post helpful, please share with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. We wish you greener grass and lush lawns!

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Aeration and Overseeding

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The 5 Top Ways to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal

We all want our property to be worth more, and as the years go by and you do remodeling jobs or home improvements, some of these projects add to the value, and others don’t.

The National Association of Realtors recently surveyed their members to ask what items added the most to the perceived curb appeal of the home the buyer was looking at. These are the top 5.

  1. A Lawn Care Program – Seventy five percent of those surveyed said that having a lawn care program to keep the grass green and weed free helped to close the sale. They also stated that with the average cost for a 6 application lawn care program being $330.00 that the return on investment was 303%. Or worth approximately $1,000.00 at the time of the sale

    Lawn Spraying

    Lawn Sspray Technician Making a Lawn Application

  2. An Overall Landscape Upgrade – A front lawn / landscape renovation consisting of an average of adding stonework and a flagstone or paver walkway, at least five flowering shrubs, one large deciduous tree and some stone planters added more than monetary value to the home, but also added Homeowner Bliss. The homeowners surveyed stated that they had the desire to be home more. This type of project is more costly than a simple lawn service, but it was described as “guaranteed to have a full return on investment”. The average renovation costing $4,750.00 and had an average return on investment at sale time of $5,000.00 or 105%
  3. A New Patio – New flagstone or paver patios are not as often recommended as
    paver patio and fire pit

    paver patio with sitting wall and fire pit

    much as landscape renovations, due mainly to the fact that not all homes need a new patio. Those that did install new paver, flagstone or concrete patios say that it increased their enjoyment while being at home. The average cost for adding a patio was $6,400.00 with a return on investment of 102%, or $6,525.00

  4. A New Wood Deck – Only 4% of the realtors surveyed reported that a new wooden deck helped to close the sale, but 77% of homeowners said that it made them
    Treated Deck

    Treated Deck

    happier while at home and made them want to be at home more. This was the most costly of the projects listed, at $9,450.00 but realtors reported it packed the most value punch. The average return on investment was $10,000.00 or 106% of investment recovered.

  5. Landscape Plantings Upgrade – 25% of the realtors reported that adding landscaping greenery (plants, shrubs, and trees) would elevate a simple yard’s curb appeal. On average, their description of adding an upgrade to landscaping plants consisted of adding 25 shrubs, 60 perennials, some natural edging (stone) and adding a boulder accent.
    New landscaping

    New Landscaping

    While each renovation will vary based on the size of property, location, and the current value of the property, there is no doubt that upgrading your home’s landscape plantings will go a long way to improve the curb appeal.

There are lots of ways to improve the curb appeal of your landscape, these are just the top five that the National Association of Realtors survey found the most helpful. Other things can help that are not so costly. Simply pruning the shrubs back to their proper size, mulching and edging the beds, pressure washing the home, driveway and walks, and keeping the lawn mowed will instantly improve the curb appeal.

If you need some help giving your home a curb appeal boost, give us a call for free estimates 731.642.2876


5 Most Common Things That Are Killing Your Grass

1. Mowing too close – Quite often we are called out to take a look at someone’s lawn to diagnose why their grass is dying. And very often the first thing I notice is that the grass will be mowed very, very close. Depending on the type of grass, this could be the culprit for the grass thinning out.

Don't scalp your lawn

Scalping your lawn causes dead grass

If you have a cool season grass like Fescue, Bluegrass, or Ryegrass, these generally need to be cut higher than warm season grasses. I recommend cutting these no lower than 3″, they just look better when mowed taller, and will usually hang in through the Summer months a little better if cut at that height.

Many times people will say something like, “I cut it way down there low, so I don’t have to mow as often”. Mission accomplished!! Mowing cool season grasses that low will stunt them or plain old kill them. Do your cool season grass lawn a favor and cut it up higher, I promise it will look better, and survive longer!

Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass and other warm season grasses can be cut much lower and they will thrive. It’s actually better for this type of grass to be mowed 2″ or lower. Golf courses, football fields, baseball fields and soccer fields are routinely seeded, sodded or sprigged with warm season grasses like Zoysia or Bermuda. They are usually cut 2″ or lower, sometimes as low as 3/8″ on golf courses. Some golf greens are Bermuda, they are cut lower than 3/8″.

So, if you don’t know what type of grass you have, find out, then start mowing it at the recommended height for that type of grass in your area of the US.

2. Moisture Stress – Fescue lawns in the South need water. They will tell you when they are thirsty if you know what to look for. The grass will start turning a lighter shade of green, and then the blades will start wilting, shriveling up and the grass canopy starts to get thinner and thinner until the majority of the grass plants go dormant.

Wilting Fescue Grass Lawn

Fescue Grass beginning to show signs of moisture stress

Most cool season grasses are going to require more water/rainfall than warm season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede and other similar grasses. The nature of warm season grasses is that they grow best in warm or hot climates and temperatures, so part of their biology is that they will grow better and survive better with less watering or rainfall.

If you start to see your own lawn looking like the one in this picture, it’s time to water!

3. Too Much Shade – The warm season grasses we have mentioned already grow best in full sun conditions. Usually, Bermuda or Zoysia and their other cousins will grow up to the shade line, or drip line of a tree and slowly thin out. The grass will essentially show you where it’s limit is on how much sun it needs. So, if you have a Bermuda lawn it’s not going to grow under the trees. As a tree matures that you have planted in the lawn, the bare spot under it is going to be in proportion to the size of the tree.

Too much shade

Areas like this are difficult to grow grass in. These parts of the lawn are best left to landscape beds

Fescue, ryegrass, bluegrass and creeping red fescue will grow in the shade but will suffer from the next problem that arises with grass growing in deep shade. It’s not just the shade, but competition with the trees for water, too many leaves falling on the grass and choking it out and lack of lime and other nutrients that are robbed from the soil by the trees.

Growing grass in the heavy shaded areas of any lawn is usually very difficult, no matter what the type of grass. Many times it’s best to just give up the idea of having grass in these areas and turn them into landscape beds, gravel areas or another option.

4. Fungus or Insects – Lawns that are dying off with no obvious signs to the untrained eye are often dying from a Fungus or insect problem. These problems will usually start killing off grass and before we are called to investigate, the grass has large dead spots all over, which are usually not going to recover without reseeding.

Brown Patch Fungus on Fescue Grass

Brown patch fungus on Fescue grass

For Fescue grasses in the South, one of the biggest problems we have with Fungus is Brown Patch. It will start in a small circle as small as a quarter, and slowly start increasing in size until it has killed out circles of grass 2 to 3 feet in diameter. Then, the homeowner sees the problem and calls us. Fungus can be controlled with applications of fungicide, either as a preventative application before it ever shows up, or as a curative application after it does show up. However, our experience has been that once it gets started and kills off sections of a cool season lawn, that section doesn’t recover during that year and has to be over seeded in the fall.

Insects will start chewing on either the grass stems or roots of grass plants and cause the same type of slow killing off of the grass plants as the Fungus does. Only insect damage is usually not in a circular pattern. It will just be a large section of grass that looks thinner, weak or just overall not as healthy as the rest of the lawn. Army worms are a common problem we have in the South, they will attack both warm season grass and cool season grasses. You might go for several years without having a single army worm in your lawn, then have them invade by the thousands for a few years in a row.

Brown Patch Fungus on Fescue Grass

Brown patch fungus on Fescue grass

army worm damage in a bermuda lawn

Army worm damage in a bermuda lawn

Army Worms in lawn

Army worms invading lawn

Army worms are fairly easy to eliminate, an application of insecticide will do it, sometimes two applications are needed. But the biggest issue is to get the insecticide applied as soon as you see any army worms on the lawn. Waiting even a day or two can give them enough time to do major damage. The picture shown is what army worms look like.

Grub worms are the larva of a common “June Bug” as most people call them. Asian beetles are another common name. They grow in the ground and will eat  the roots of plants, but that’s not the only damage caused by them. Moles will start running through the lawn looking for them and do major damage to the lawn by tearing up the turf, cutting ruts in the lawn and killing lots of grass.

 

An insecticide application will also control them but needs to be done at two times of the year when the grubs are at the closest to the surface of the lawn. The insecticide does a much better job of killing them at this point.

Another good idea is to do some mole control at the same time that you do the insect application. Moles will do so much damage to a lawn at times that it looks like someone has taken a roto-tiller to the lawn.

5. Improper Applications of Fertilizer/Insecticide/Herbicides – We will get called several times a year to diagnose another problem, we call it killing the lawn with kindness. Or in other words, the homeowner has decided to make applications of fertilizer, insecticides or herbicides to the lawn, but didn’t read the directions.

lawn damaged by too much fertilizer

Fertilizer damage to a lawn

All bags or bottles of any pesticide will have the directions for proper use and application rates on the label. Please read the label first before applying any product to your lawn. At the least, you could damage your own lawn. At worst, you could kill grass in your neighbor’s lawn, the ditch in front of your house, or worse yet would be if you have a pond or other waterway on the downhill side of your lawn. You could kill fish or even pets with an improper pesticide application.

You will also need to know the size of your lawn or property either in square feet or acres, and know how to determine that number. Without this number it is impossible to make a proper application of any pesticide. If you don’t have the proper equipment to apply the pesticide with, you are best off to call a professional to do this for you. It could be cheaper and easier for you and your health.

Leaf Removal: Necessary or Not?

With the arrival of Fall comes the inevitable blizzard of leaves. These leaves cause lots of work, but also can cause damage to your lawn. So should you rake them, vacuum them, mulch them up, what’s the best option?

Fall Leaves

The Leaves of Fall, Pretty to Look at, Harmful to Your grass

What is best to do will depend on how many leaves you have, what type of grass you have, and even where you live.

If you just have light leaf cover over the grass, simply keep mowing them and mulch them up, if you have a larger lawn. Or, if you have a small lawn, you might just rake them up. That would ultimately be best for the lawn. The less leaf litter that works its way into the lawn, the better.

If you have a larger lawn that would be difficult to rake, or if it’s just more work than you want to get into, I would put some mulching blades on the mower and just keep mowing weekly. It’s important to keep doing it weekly and not let an entire blanket of leaves get built up on the lawn before you mulch them. Too many leaves on the ground makes it much more difficult to mulch them.

deep leaf litter

Deep leaf litter on lawn

If you have a lawn sweeper or vacuum either of these would be ideal. No leave litter at all on the lawn would be best. That way you don’t have the additional drain on the nutrients in the lawn from the decomposing leaf litter.

Leaves that are left on the lawn, mulched up, will find their way into the surface and begin decomposing. The process of decomposing requires nitrogen, so while the leaves are doing their thing decomposing, they are robbing the grass and soil of fertilizer that you are putting down, stealing a little bit of green from the grass. If you are going to mulch up your leaves, that’s OK, if there isn’t too many, just put down a little extra fertilizer.

Mulching leaves with a mower

Leaves being mulched with a mulching blade on the mower

Leaves steal Lime too. One of the first nutrients to leach out of the soil is lime. Even without a heavy leaf load, the heavy clay soils we have in our area of West TN will require regular lime applications to keep them stable. Adding leaf litter to the mix will only make the problem worse.

Your grass type will factor into your decision whether to remove the leaves too. Fescue, Ryegrass, and Bluegrass are cool season grasses and are more tender than Bermuda and Zoysia. These warm season grasses are going to be growing in lawns without too many trees anyway since they don’t grow well in the shade. Fescue and other cool season grasses will die out much easier than Bermuda or Zoysia from leaves being on them. Bermuda and Zoysia won’t be affected much from leaves being on the ground because those grasses are dormant when leaves are falling. So leaves on warms season grasses are not as big of an issue. But the lawn always looks much better if it’s kept clean.

The cool season grasses need to be kept leaf free, as much as they can. If the leaves are left on the grass long enough, they will mat together and form a blanket over the grass and choke the grass out. These leaves matted together is similar to you taking a big blue tarp out and laying it out on the lawn. Both will have the same results.

Regardless of what method you choose to handle the leaf drop, it’s important to take care of them, otherwise, all your work you have put in throughout the year creating a great looking lawn might be for nothing.

Segmental Retaining Walls-Not for Beginners

8" segmental retaining wall block walls

A set of tiered retaining walls with landscape beds behind them

Segmental Retaining Walls (SRW’s) are concrete block retaining walls that use a complicated system of gravity, wall setback, geogrid, proper drainage, compacted base gravel foundation, and other factors to complete a structurally sound, efficient and very appealing retaining wall for commercial or residential purposes.

These walls are difficult to build, requiring lots of labor, lots of equipment, and lots of knowledge to properly build one. Trusting your property to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge, and any combination of the other things can put your investment and property at risk. These walls are quite expensive to build, and if one of them comes down due to improper construction, it could cost you twice as much to have it cleaned up and rebuilt.

 

Small Retaining Wall Block, Too small for the job

This pile of small landscaping blocks is all that’s left of an 8′ tall retaining wall a contractor “thought” he was going to build with them. Needless to say, the wall didn’t survive, it never even made it to completion before it fell

SRW’s are on the average more expensive than a poured concrete wall, that has not been faced with brick or stone but have a much better appearance, having several textures and colors available.

Most of the time, they are built with no concrete foundation, using a compacted base gravel instead, this allows the foundation and the block to move slightly with any frost heaves or movement from hydraulic pressure from ground water. Most poured retaining walls will crack at some point, SRW’s will not crack since they are not mortared together.

Retaining walls can make use of previously unusable land you may have on your property. They can take a steep slope and turn it into several level areas that can then be used for landscape beds, turfgrass, or flower beds. They will add value to your property, in some cases partially or completely paying for themselves in increased property value.

These structural walls can be built at the shore level on most lake properties as a sea wall alleviating erosion and gaining usable land behind the wall once it is backfilled. They can be built virtually unlimited in height, with the right conditions and materials.

Sea Wall on Kentucky Lake

This wall we built on Kentucky Lake to level this property, gain usable land and allow the summer water level to splash against the wall.

LawnMasters Lawn and Landscape has been building these walls for 26 years, we have the experience, knowledge and equipment to build any type of SRW on your property, commercial or residential.

If you need an estimate or a second opinion on how to construct a wall on your property or what type of wall to construct, we are happy to assist. Just contact us and we will take a look and give you a free lawn and landscape analysis for your needs.

Lots of homeowners and quite a few contractors think that any block that you can stack up that has a lip or another method of creating “set back” can be used to easily build a wall. After all, all you do is stack them up, right? Nope….. This is where the situation starts going bad.

Having the knowledge of which block should be used, what type of base foundation, how many feet of geogrid for stablilization, and how many layers of it, how much drainage gravel, etc. all combine to equal what it takes to be able to build a wall properly. This post is primarily a warning to property owners to ask questions of the person or Company that is giving you a retaining wall estimate or proposal.

Things to ask:

  • How long have you been building SRW’s
  • Where are some you can go look at
  • What type/size block would you recommend for this job
  • How much Geogrid will be used
  • Explain how you will address the drainage issues around the retaining wall
  • What will be done at the finish grade to address drainage on top of the wall, to prevent water from running over and down the face of the wall
  • Does your price include excavation and removal of spill
  • Will you provide a stamped engineered drawing of the project
  • What is your warranty for the wall

These are all items that you should ask and get an answer for, that you understand. A structural retaining wall is as important as the foundation under your house and should be given the same professional attention.

Do you have retaining wall questions or issues? Contact us at 888.664.LAWN or email us here EMAIL US

Can Your Lawn Look Like Wrigley or Progressive Field?

Progressive Field, Home of the Indians

The Indians Progressive Field

Yes, with the right grass, proper maintenance and attention to your lawn’s needs.

In West TN, we live in the “transition zone” of the United States, or sections of zone 7 – 7A. This means we can grow both warm season and cool season grasses. Both Wrigley Field and the Indians’ Progressive Field have Kentucky Bluegrass on them which is a cool season grass. You might guess by their name that a “cool season grass”, grows best in the cooler climates with less humidity. Bluegrass will grow in our area of NorthWest Tennessee, but it does require more maintenance than Fescue and it’s not as hardy as some Fescue varieties.

Hardiness Zone Map

New USDA Hardiness Map

Bluegrass is common in the northern states from KY to New York, Ohio, etc. Their climate is suited much more to fit Bluegrass than ours. In the North, they don’t have as much humidity as we do in the South. Humidity is one of the biggest killers of our cool

Wrigley Field Bluegrass

Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field

season grasses in our area. Mainly caused by brown patch and other fungus’.

So what would it take to get your lawn to look like a professional field? The grass type is just the beginning. After you either sod or seed, you will have to apply fertilizer and weed control 5 to 7 times per year to keep the lush green grass and weed free look.

Irrigation is another key, you don’t have to have an automatic irrigation system, but it will lessen your work load . You can water by pulling water hoses and sprinklers around if you have more patience and energy than you do money. But however you do it, your new, lush green grass will need regular water, if you’re not willing to do it, don’t waste your time and money reseeding your lawn.

The first step is to determine if your lawn is smooth enough already to have a smooth cut after the new grass grows in. If you have lots of dips and holes coupled with high spots, you will not be able to have a smooth cut. Your mower can only cut as even as the grade is on your lawn. So if it’s real rough now, it’s still going to be real rough after you reseed it, unless you do a total renovation reseeding, and do something to level out the grade so you can have a smooth lawn.

Total renovation of the lawn will include tilling it up, leveling it, then seeding, fertilizing and strawing it. You can learn more about how to do these on our website SEEDING PAGE.  Simple aeration and overseeding will require far less work, time and money but should only be done if your current grade or smoothness of your lawn is acceptable. If you are having a sore back from hitting potholes in your lawn while mowing, you will want to do the total lawn renovation, and level it as best as you can. It will be worth it in the long run. There’s nothing like mowing a nice smooth, lush, green lawn and enjoying the smell of fresh cut grass.

Getting a first class “pro field look” starts after the seeding is done and your new grass comes up. The seeding/establishment part of it only takes a few weeks, the maintenance that you will do from here on will determine what the lawn looks like in the long run. The “pro look” of your lawn will take a few seasons, so don’t give up if it’s not where you would like it to be after your first seeding.

Lush dark green color comes from regular fertilizing and weed control. The fertilizer gives the green, the weed control keeps the junk weeds out which usually have a lighter green color, size and texture. These junk weeds will do more to trash up your lawn than anything else.

You notice light and dark stripes in the professional fields. This is what we call “striping” in the Lawn Care Business. This is done by mowing in alternate directions, and by using a roller behind your mower you can enhance these stripes even more. Some mowers do a great job of striping, while others not so much. You can practice by just mowing in a straight line down your lawn, then turn around and mow straight back up towards the house. You should be able to notice a difference in the color of the two passes.

Lawn Stripes

Lawn Striping done with a Scag Mower

Mowing Fescue tall, at 3″ or taller helps to enhance the striping also, but you can stripe grass even as low as 1″ or less. Golf courses do it at as little as 3/8 of an inch.

Keeping a great looking lawn starts with getting a good stand of grass, of the right type, keeping it fertilized and clean of weeds, proper mowing, keeping it watered when it needs it, and a few other maintenance items you will have to do. Like lime applications, fall leaf removal, aeration and the occasional overseed to thicken it back up.

If you do these things on a regular basis, over the course of a few seasons, you can have a pro-field look. It’s not easy, and you will have some patience and spend a few dollars on maintenance products or hiring someone to do it for you. But if you want that look, that’s what it will take.

Lawn Care is Hard

Lawn Care Is So Hard!

Remember that these pro fields are maintained by a crew of professional grounds keepers with an unlimited budget, with every piece of equipment you could possibly need, provided for them. They have someone managing the team that has been maintaining pro fields for years, sometimes generations, so they know what they are doing. Don’t get discouraged if your efforts don’t produce a Wrigley field in the first season.

Got questions? Drop us an email and we will be happy to help.

Do you Have What it Takes to Install a First Class Lawn?

With our help, you do!

Most homeowners want a pretty lawn, you have spent thousands on your home and it’s just natural to want to make it look as good as it possibly can. A beautiful, lush, green lawn will frame the home and set it off. So, how do you get it?

You can call us, we can do anything for you that your mind can believe and conceive, but the bigger the dream, the bigger the price tag. You can still get some of what you want by doing the work yourself. Just order our book “Establish and Maintain a First Class Lawn, Like a Pro”

Establish and Maintain a First Class Lawn, Like a Pro

Install the lawn of your dreams using our expertise, and your hard work.

This book is the result of our 26 years experience, years of studying lawn and turf principles and methods, and putting them to use in the real world.

We lay out the “how to’s” to get a great looking lawn. Everything from different methods of establishing a lawn. From the total kill down and complete restoration to a simple aerate and overseed method. Which is best for your lawn, when to do it, how much seed to use, how much and what kind of fertilizer should you use, and how you should maintain your new lawn once it comes in.

 

 

 


Everything that we lay out for you to do, is taken directly from our experience in doing exactly what we do for our customers each and every day.

If you have the energy, and desire to do this yourself, you surely can. It’s hard work! But with guidance, you can do it!

Over the last 26 years, we have gladly given away thousands of dollars worth of information, advice and instructions on how to do certain lawn and landscape maintenance chores. We are happy to help our customers. If you download our book, you automatically get access to answers to your questions by email. Just drop us a note and we are happy to answer and help you.

Our new book is an E-Book, first designed for Amazon’s Kindle, but now can be downloaded and read on any device using Amazon’s free Kindle Reader App Currently we do not yet have a hard copy of the book available. However, click here to download Establish and Maintain a First Class Lawn, Like a Pro  and then let us know if you have any questions about how to complete your project.

Our Background 

Lawnmasters was started in 1990 after owner and founder, Greg Pierce had just finished up his second bout with cancer, and it’s treatments. The Company was then started out of his love of seeing a new lawn establish and grow into a beautiful, lush, green lawn. Greg Pierce, CTP (Certified Turfgrass Professional) founded Lawnmasters as a “Weed and Feed” type of Company to apply fertilizer and weed control products to the lawns of customers in our service area. This was all we planned to do, but due to the demand for more services, we started doing complete lawn and landscape design, installation, and maintenance.

We quickly grew from a one-man business to one of the largest lawn and landscape Companies in our area.

Today, we are finishing our 26th year in business and have serviced customers from Paducah, KY, to Memphis, TN, to Franklin, TN. We are licensed, insured, bonded, and chartered, for our customer’s protection. We have been very successful in our field for the last 26 years, and we are happy to give back to those who have helped us get there.

Greg has also finished his third fight with cancer and is currently doing well.

If you have any questions about the book, drop us an E Mail

 

Sod or Seed A New Lawn? What’s The Difference?

You have a new home and you now need a new lawn. So, what kind of grass? And now how to establish the new lawn, Sod, Seeding, Sprigging?
zoysiairr

Which you do will depend on a couple of things, first being how much money do you want to spend. What’s the difference in Sodding or Seeding? Can be a few thousand dollars. The determining factors are going to be cost, climate, type of grass, time of year being established and end result desired.

1) Cost – The cost of Sodding will be approximately 3 times the cost of Seeding. So if cost is your only determining factor, get it as cheap as you can, then seeding is the way to go, if you want instant grass, Sodding is it. So….do you have more patience than money? Seed. Want an instant lawn? Sod.

2) Climate of your lawn – Some areas of the Country we can sod any time of the year, other parts of the Country we can Seed any time of the year. But there are parts of the Country where we can’t do either at certain parts of the year. So depending on the type of grass you are establishing, you will not be able to Seed at certain parts of the year. Refer to our website for more detailed information on types of grass and when to seed them Click Here For Establishment Page The most important thing to decide upon is what type of grass you want, then what time of the year it can be established will determine the rest.

3) Type Of Grass – This we’ve covered a bit already, but you need to determine the type of grass you want, then you can determine the time of year it can be planted, sodded, or sprigged. As well as how it can be established.

4) Time Of Year – The time of year you are trying to establish a lawn may determine how you do it. Sodding can be done during most of the year, hot weather will stop Fescue in the hottest part of the year, freezing weather will stop most types of sod also. But if you are wanting to seed, there are two times of year to seed Fescue and other cool season grasses. Fall is #1, Spring is #2. During the summer is out for cool season grasses for seeding.

5) End Result Desired – If you want your lawn to look like a park, then you will want to Sod. Seeding can get great results, but you must have patience. If ALL conditions are great, and you do your part to take care of the lawn as best you can, it will still take a year to get a lawn looking as good as a sodded lawn would look immediately. So don’t think your going to seed a lawn and pay 1/3 the cost and get the same immediate results. Seeding can deliver great results if done right, with the proper seed type, proper fertilizer and proper methods. It’s more than just throwing some seed out on the ground.

We have tons of information on our website about seeding, sodding, and maintenance to keep it looking good. Click Here for More

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