Posted by & filed under Lawn Care, post-emergent, spring weed control, Weed-control.

HenbitCall it another sign of global warming I guess, but I’ve never seen the annual weed Henbit out by mid-February in North Carolina. Henbit it is a common winter annual weed that germinates during fall, but is very small until the warmth of spring causes it to grow and produce those bright purple flowers. Henbit can be so plentiful that untreated lawns can be taken over by purple flowers in March…..not February though. This is a pic of Henbit out already in a lawn in Charlotte…..but not a LawnAmerica lawn!

Our Late Fall Weed-Control Application will do agreat job of controlling winter annual weeds like Henbit, Chickweed, Annual Bluegrass and others. There may be some breakthrough in places, but typically we don’t see many weeds on our lawns in February and March. Not so on untreated or thin lawns, as these weeds can take over in spring.  And this spring appears to be coming on strong, so expect to see more weeds sooner as we get into the season. And spring won’t officially be here until March 20th!

Once Henbit goes to flower, it’s very difficult to erradicate. We spray it with Trimec, a post-emergent herbicide, but it can take weeks for it to completely die. It really helps to mow down the dying weeds about 5 days after we spray, as this stimulates the weeds to attempt to grow back, which helps the herbicide in the plant to work faster. Also, removing the dying vegetation helps the lawn look better. Contrary to some popular opinion, the weeds don’t just magically disappear after spraying!.  They have to decompose, and that can take wees to take place.

Posted by & filed under irrigation, Lawn Care, pre-emergent.

WateringIt still may be officially winter, and turning your sprinkler system on or dragging the hose out is not high on your priority list. However, if you have had a pre-emergent treatment to your lawn recently, it does need to be watered into the soil within about 4-5 days for best results. We are actually in somewhat of a drought in Carolina still, going back to our dry fall. So even without the need to water in your pre-emergent, your trees, shrubs, and even the lawn would benefit from some irrigation.

All pre-emergent herbicides need to be watered into the soil to be activated and do their job in preventing weeds. Barricade, or Prodiamine, is our choice of products, and is the very best on the market. Once waterered in, Baricade will adhere to soil particles close to the surface, and will kill grassy weed seedlings as they try to germinate. Barricade does not last forever by design though, just long enough to last through the crabgrass weed germinating season of spring and into summer.

There are factors that will cause the pre-emergent to break down sooner than it should or to negate the effectiveness of the product. One of them is sunlight, which breaks down the product with longer exposure than just a few days. Some of the Barricade when sprayed on the lawn adheres to grass blades, stems, and the very top layer of the soil. So this needs to be watered into the topsoil, where it is protected from the degrading sunlight. If Barricade just sits on the turf or top surface for a week or more without any significant rainfall or watering, some of the product will just dissipate.

Only about 1/4″ of watering is fine to move the pre-emergent into the soil and activate it. So It does not take much watering to wash the product off the turf and into the soil. We normally don’t recommend light hand watering, but this is better than nothing. And too much water can also be a factor in degrading the pre-emergent sooner than normal. If the soil stays saturated for weeks at a time, such as can sometimes happen during a rainy spring, or with over-irrigation, this will also cause the pre-emergent to break down sooner than normal.

And we can’t forget our old friend the mole. Disruption of the soil surface, such as mole activity, digging, or even aeration, can also break the pre-emergent barrier in the soil, leading to increased crabgrass and weed problems later in the season. So many things can affect the success of a pre-emergent. Watering in the treatment within a few days of application is one that homeowners can control, so please do water to help enjoy a more weed-free and crabgrass-free lawn this season.

Posted by & filed under Environmental, Lawn Care, Weed-control.

RoundupThis past Friday as I got home my wife told me I need to watch the CBS news, as there was going to be a news report on a weed herbicide. I really like Scott Pelley, and he was trying to give a fair report on the fact that a judge in California had ruled that Roundup, a common herbicide used in agriculture and lawns for over 40 years, can add a “Cancer warning” on the label.  An international health organization from France had last year submitted a report that stated the chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, “probably causes cancer.” This, in spite of the fact that glyphosate has the approval from over 800 health and safety studies over more than 40 years, including our own E.P.A, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and the European Food Safety Agency to name a few. This latest ruling from a California judge has caused much confusion, as it flies in the face of every other scientific study on Roundup.

Roundup is the most common herbicide used in agriculture in helping to grow crops. This article is not intended to justify the use of Roundup by agriculture. But suffice it to say, that without it, feeding the world becomes even more challenging and expensive. One would need to plan on spending more at the local grocery store, as farmers would lose an important tool which many use. In fact, most of the corn, soy, and cotton grown in the U.S. are genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup, allowing these crops to be sprayed with the product to effectively control weeds without harming the crops.

Roundup is also used some in home lawns, parks, sports fields, and other urban turf areas, but on a much smaller scale. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, affects only plant enzymes, and is very effective in killing green unwanted plants. So unless you’re a plant, you’re good. And once it is absorbed and utilized, it has a very short half-life, on average of 32 days, and is bound to soil particles before being broken down by soil microbes. At LawnAmerica, the main application we have for Roundup is during winter and very early spring. When the bermudagrass is dormant at that time, we spot-treat fescue clumps to kill them, since the dormant bermudagrass turf will not absorb the product. We also use Roundup on a spot-treatment basis to carefully treat weeds in shrub beds. I personally like to use Roundup to treat along borders to kill a small band of bermudagrass or zoysiagrass, so that I don’t have to use the weed-eater (saving trees and less emissions from an engine). And I’ll use it to kill weeds in non-turf areas such as cracks in driveways. I’ll use it in mulched areas and even around my blueberry patch and in gardens, as long as it’s not sprayed on desirable plants. So in reality, we use a very small amount of this product and only in spot-treatment cases in the lawn care industry.

My concern is the confusion and fear reports like this can cause to the public. Even my wife was alarmed when she heard the headline about cancer, before I set her straight. The facts are that the toxicity of glyphosate, or the LD50, comes in at 5,600 with scientific studies. This means that it’s slightly toxic. Then as I put salt on my potato tonight, with an LD50 of 3,000, eat biscuits made from baking soda (LD50 of 4,200), take acteminophin from the headache I got over this article (LD50 of 1,944), and then drink my cup of coffee the next morning (LD50of 192), I’m putting stuff into my body with lower LD50’s and are more toxic then the Roundup that I spot-spray on a lawn every now and then!

Truth is that it’s the dose that makes the poison, and how something is used which determines if it’s a valuable tool, or something that can harm you. For example, most medicines can be for good if used properly, but can kill if not. For some good information on this Roundup issue, relative toxicities, and what “probably causes cancer” actually means, visit here for a link to a website from gmoanswers.  And for more information on Roundup specifically, with links to various information, visit here.

Rest assured, that after 32 years of caring for lawns, we’ll never use a product that is not fully tested and proven to be effective and safe. If anyone should be concerned it’s the people handling the products and applying them daily. Both of my adult sons are now working for LawnAmerica, and applying many of the same products I’ve applied for 32 years. I believe in their safety if used properly, and we do. Now I’ll go have a glass of wine this evening (which could kill me or others if used improperly), and enjoy a good night of sleep before I wake up and drink that caffeine-loaded cup of coffee in the morning, even knowing that it’s rated as very toxic. It’s still very good!

 

 

Posted by & filed under Choosing a lawn care company, fertiliation, Lawn Care, spring weed control, Weed-control.

Spring is HereA sure sign that spring is coming are seeing all the various lawncare trucks hitting the Carolina neighborhoods. There’s the big corporate guys Trugreen, various regional companies, small companies, and mowers without even a logo or number on their trucks (which is illegal). It’s become a very competitive business over my 32 years in caring for lawns. And they can all sound alike in some ways, with the customer perception that they all do the same thing.

Well…..not exactly.

While all lawncare companies try to control weeds, build healthy turf with proper fertilization,and combat various insect and disease problems in turf at times, the product used, the people applying those products, and the timing and level of service provided can vary greatly from company to company. 

 

So how does a homeowner determine who to use in 2017 for their lawncare needs? For more help and information on choosing the best company to help you, CLICK HERE for an online and printable version on How to Choose a Lawn Care Company.

Posted by & filed under Environmental, fertiliation, Lawn Care, Weed-control.

Are beautiful, healthy lawns only cosmetic in purpose? Should pesticides be avoided at all costs? What about weeds…..aren’t they not all that bad? And does fertilizer just make lawns green with no other positive benefits?

There are some misperceptions and myths about lawns and lawncare and the beneifits that healthy lawns provide. The tools that are used by lawncare professionals, such as fertilizers and herbicides, are sometimes given a bad rap. However the professional lawncare industry which LawnAmerica is proud to be part of, has proven to be a valuable part of our urban environment and community.

Lawns and landscapes in the Carolina region are much more than just for aesthetics, but also provide environmental, safety, and economic benefits to us all. Those healthy lawns and landscapes don’t just magically appear either, as it takes good tools such as fertilizers and herbicides, applied professionally, to help do the job.

For more information on dispelling some of the myths of caring for lawns, Click Here to read more.

Posted by & filed under pre-emergent, Weed-control.

lawnamericaAnother new year is upon us, so the LawnAmerica team is busy preparing for another year in providing lawns that our customers love while making our world a little greener. We typically will begin our spring weed-control later in January, as long as the North Carolina weather cooperates, which often does not happen. But if we’re lucky and the sun is shining, we’ll start in with our pre-emergent treatment that prevents crabgrass and other grassy weeds from germinating. Barricade, the product we use, is really good. However even Barricade will not prevent all weeds from coming up, especially broadleaf weeds. Those will need to be sprayed after they germinate, later during the spring. This is one reason why successful lawn care needs a program, with consistent treatments, about every 5-8 weeks in our case.

Our very best program is our 7-Step Showcase Care Program, with lawn treatments about every 5-6 weeks. All of our programs include this important Step 1 Spring Weed-Control, as the pre-emergent herbicide is so important in setting the stage for successful weed-control during the season. Lawncare is like anything else….you generally get what you pay for. So the more frequently your lawn is serviced with weed-control and fertilization, the better the results will be.

While we are a week away from going out to treat lawns, we’re busy with staff education, planning, working on equipment, and many other projects in preparation for a great, and greener 2017 at LawnAmerica!

Posted by & filed under drought, Fescue, Lawn Care.

 

Leave on lawnFall is finally here in North Carolina, and the changing leaves have been nice, but can be a real chore for homeowners when they start piling up on the ground. Clearing leaves off the lawn prevents suffocation, letting the turf breathe in preparation for spring. Newly seeded fescue can especially can be damaged from heavy leaves piling up the turf. And while leaving fallen foliage on beds and borders can eventually generate useful mulch, this creates a slippery mess on driveways, pavements, patios and paths.

So what is the best way to clear dead leaves out of your high-use areas?

  • Mowing the leaves and mulching the clippings is a great way to take care of the leaves, as long as they are not too heavy. Leaf clippings will decompose and actually add valuable organic material back into the soil with time.
  • If leaves are heavy, use a leaf blower to blow onto a plastic tarp into a pile, which can then be carried off the lawn for disposal. We recommend making a compost pile with dead leaves, grass clippings, and other organic material.
  • One can go “old school” and just carefully rake the leaves. But do so without causing any damage to tender fescue seedlings that may be growing in the turf.
  • If leaves need to be hauled off to a re-cycling landfill, put into paper bags if possible.

So give your lawn a chance to breath, and it looks much nicer, by clearing the lawn of leaves. Most have fallen by now and it’s a great time to do so. And with the drought we are still in, don’t neglect some winter watering also on trees, turf, and shrubs.

 

 

Posted by & filed under drought, fertiliation, Fescue, irrigation, Lawn Care.

NC Drought mapNeedless to say, it’s very dry still in western North Carolina and into the Charlotte area. The current drought map shows the extend of what we are facing now, with exceptional drought in many of the western areas, including Asheville. Forrest fires are consuming miles of dry forest and causing smoke to fill the air. While this is all bad, homeowners in our area are facing watering restrictions, making it very challenging to provide enough water for their parched lawns and landscapes.

Our lawns and landscapes are a big investment, and an important part of our home value, aesthetics, and urban environment. So caring for it is important, and the most important thing one can do now is find a way to irrigate enough to keep plants alive. The good news, if there is any, is that with cooler temperatures, soil moisture will not evaporate as much and plants are not utilizing as much. So one does not have to water as frequently, maybe once a week will suffice. Make it a good soaking though and get the water down deep into the soil. And if you have fescue seedlings trying to come up and grow, lighter sprinkling even by hand will be in order, as those roots are still fairly shallow. And after our fall fertilization on fescue, the fertilizer needs to be watered into the soil to be effective.

So please try to keep your lawn and landscape watered some, and pray for rain, as we all need it.

Posted by & filed under Lawn Care, mowing.

Lawn MowerWith the warm fall, we’ve been mowing lawns a lot deeper into the season, but the grass will be slowing down soon. If you are done mowing for the year, it’s a good idea to service your mower before putting it away for the season. Make sure you drain the gas tank of gasoline-powered engines or use a gasoline stabilizer. Untreated gasoline can become thick and gummy, causing damage to the engine. A few drops of oil squirted inside the spark plug hole (after you remove the spark plug) will help lubricate the cylinder. While you have the spark plug removed, go ahead and replace it with a new one. If your equipment has a battery, clean the battery terminals with a wire brush.

Now is also an excellent time to sharpen mower blades so they’ll be ready next spring. Sharpening rotary mower blades is fairly easy, and really should be done several times per season. A good, sharp blade is really important for a proper cut on the grass, and helps with the health of your turf.

The following steps will guide you through this process:
* Check the blade for major damage. If you can’t fix it, it should be replaced.
* Remove nicks from the cutting edge, using a grinding wheel or hand-file.
* If using a grinding wheel, match the existing edge angle to the wheel. If hand-filing, file at the same angle as the existing edge.
* Grind or file until the edge is 1/32 inch, about the size of a period.
* With a grinding wheel, avoid overheating the blade as this may warp it.
* Clean the blade with solvent or oil, much like if you were cleaning a gun, for optimum winter storage. Do not use water because it will promote rust.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

AlaleasIt’s early November in Carolina, and our azaleas in our front landscape are in full bloom! What’s up with that? With such a long stretch of warm weather into mid and now late fall, some plants such as my azaleas think it’s springtime I guess. It can be normal for some varieties to show a few blooms in fall, but my bushes appear to have about 50% of the buds in bloom. Therefore next spring, since these buds are spent, I’ll have a less than stellar show of color on our azaleas.

Can’t say if it’s a sign of global warming, or just another very warm fall with signs of a warm winter. I do know that it affects plants, trees, and turf in the landscape and is tricking them to do wierd things. It’s very dry also, so some turf is under drought stress sending it into dormancy in a stressful state, which can be a problem next spring. And if you have fescue that was seeded this fall, then we recommend to irrigate your lawn some to help alleviate stress on your turf.

And where is our fall color on trees? The hot and dry fall has sure affected that also, with many tree leaves just turning brown. And without those crisp, cool nighttime temperatures, the bright yellow, orange, and red pigments of tree leaves are still being masked by the green chlorophyll that still seems to be hanging on.