Generally, it is recommended to plant hardy bulbs (especially daffodils) and tulips in October to give them enough time to root before winter. But it is certainly not too late to plant them now, as the temperatures have been warm, leading to a warm soil temperature. As long as the soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F, the bulbs should continue root development. Most garden centers still have a good selection, and they can be purchased on-line also. Try to select large, firm bulbs that have not begun to sprout. While many bulbs can adapt to a wide range of soil types, none can tolerate poorly drained soil. Prepare the planting bed by adding organic matter such as peat moss, well-rotted manure, or compost and mix into the soil.
Good fertility is essential. Use a fertilizer relatively high in nitrogen such as a 29-5-4, 27-3-3, or something similar. Apply these fertilizers at the rate of 2/3 pound per 100 square feet. Organic sources of fertilizers low in phosphorus include blood meal (12-0-0) applied at 5 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet, cottonseed meal (6-0.4-1.5) applied at the rate of 10 pounds per 100 square feet and soybean meal (7-2-1) applied at the rate of 8 pounds per 100 square feet. Mix all fertilizers and amendments thoroughly with the soil before planting the bulbs.
The size and species of the bulb determine how deep to plant. In general, the depth to the bottom of the bulb should be about 2 to 3 times the size of the bulb, but check the planting instructions specific to each particular flower. We recommend planting in bare or open areas in the landscape bed, to compliment shrubs and other plants growing there. Plant in bunches, with at least 6 in each bunch. Don’t plant out in the lawn, as it not only looks weird, they will also be harmed when applying turf weed-control products during the spring.
Although we often think of soil testing as a spring chore, fall is actually a great time. At LawnAmerica, we offer soil testing for a $20 fee, working with a laboratory in Ohio, and can send you results within a few weeks. We can test your lawn, or if you have a garden, are happy to do that also.
For lawns, we are mainly looking at what your soil pH is. The acidity or alkalinity of a substance is measured in pH units, a scale running from 0 to 14, with a pH of 7 being neutral. As the numbers decrease from 7, the acidity increases. As numbers increase from 7, the alkalinity increase. Soils generally range from a very acidic pH of 4 to a very alkaline pH of 8. This range is a result of many factors, including a soil’s parent material and the amount of yearly rainfall an area receives. Most cultivated plants and turf enjoy slightly acidic conditions with a pH of about 6.5.
If a soil test shows the pH not being in the preferred range from about 5.8-7.2, we’ll recommend several treatments of either lime or sulfur in order to amend the soil. At very acidic or very alkaline levels, certain soil nutrients are tied up in the soil and not available. So, the nutrients, such as Iron for example, may be in the soil, but the plant cannot utilize it if the pH is too alkaline. With acidic soils, nutrients such as Phosphorus and Potassium are tied up and not available. So with low pH soils, we’ll apply granular lime to raise the pH gradually. On alkaline soils, we apply granular sulfur to help lower the pH. No more than two treatments per season should be applied, and late fall is a great time to do so if needed.
If your soil test suggests more organic matter, and most soils in the urban areas of North Carolina are short of this, fall is a much better season to add organic matter to gardens or lawns. Organic materials are more available than in the spring, and fresher materials can be used without harming young tender spring-planted plants. Generally, the higher the amount of organic matter in the soil, the better for your plants.
Most Carolina soils have adequate levels of Potassium and Phosphorus, and Nitrogen is always going to be needed, as it’s utilized by plants or is lost in other ways. If a soil test shows low levels of these primary nutrients, we can adjust our fertilizers used on your lawn and/or apply a supplemental treatment during the late fall, winter, or early spring. In our part of the country, most soils are on the acidic side. So we sometimes will apply granular lime as part of our regular service instead of regular fertilizer. Contact us now for a soil test, and if the soil chemistry is not ideal, it’s a good time to begin applying amendments to correct.
The last days of summer have faded away, so now is the time to fertilize cool-season tall fescue to strengthen plant and turf roots so that it comes out strong next spring. Late fall is the most important fertilization of the season for fescue in the Carolinas. So with the R6 Fall Treatment on fescue, we provide a good granular fertilization. For warm-season turf, we are applying something totally different, a liquid pre and post-emergent herbicide. So as just about always, we are treating fescue differently compared to warm-season bermudagrass or zoysiagrass.
On fescue turf that has been seeded earlier this fall, this granular fertilization provides a boost of nitrogen for growth, along with other soil nutrients for plant health. After not growing much during the winter, early spring warmth will then stimulate much earlier spring green-up with the nutrition provided from the fall fertilization. “Fall fertilization is the foundation for a successful turfgrass fertility program,” says John S. Kruse, Ph.D, a research agronomist with Koch Agronomic Services, LLC. “Winter survival and spring green-up depend, to a significant degree, on a sound fall fertilizer application, particularly when combined with timely cultural practices.” We also will carefully spot-treat any existing winter annual broadleaf weeds with a liquid weed-control at this time of year. There usually are not many broadleaf weeds now, and we have to be careful not to harm any new fescue seedlings.
We DO NOT apply a fall pre-emergent to fescue turf in the fall, as this would harm fescue seeding. We assume that homeowners will overseed in the fall, so we do not apply pre-emergent to fescue as we do on bermudagrass or zoysiagrass. About the only grassy weed that comes up in the fall may be some annual bluegrass in places. It usually blends in with the turf or is not much of an issue in healthy fescue turf. If it is, then we do offer a supplemental treatment of Prograss Weed-Control, which can be safely applied in early December without harming new fescue seedlings.
Fall is not only an ideal time to fertilize turf, it’s also an ideal time to give trees and shrubs that important boost as the winter months near. Late Fall is the ideal time for deep-root fertilization, so we’ll start this service sometime in late November and on into December.
We are about to wrap up the window of opportunity for seeding tall fescue in Carolina lawns now that we are into October. It’s best to seed fescue from mid-September to about mid-October, allowing for the seed to germinate and grow some before winter sets in. Then as the warm spring weather hits in March and April, new fescue turf will quickly develop maturity, thicken up, and develop a stronger root system, increasing the chances for surviving the summer heat and disease pressures. Using a blend of quality fescue seed is very important, especially in keeping other weeds and foreign grass types out of the turf. Proper soil preparation is vital, in making sure that the seed comes into contact with the soil to germinate. The most important factor though is keeping the seed bed moist for at least 10 days, and not allowing it to dry out.
At LawnAmerica, we recommend watering 3 times daily if possible for about 15 minutes per watering if possible. If you don’t have an irrigation system, that will be tougher to do. So you can water once a day for longer, and then go out by hand and lightly sprinkle once or twice daily. And, if we are lucky enough to get one of those nice fall soaking rains, then that is ideal, so you can cut back on some of your irrigation. It’s been a dry fall though, after a dry summer, so you’ll need to help out a bunch, since Mother Nature does not seem to be helping much. After about 10 days, new seedlings should be popping up through the soil, so you can cut back to about once per day watering, but for a longer duration, to get the soil wet at deeper levels and stimulate the new roots to grow deep. As the seedlings reach about 3-4″ in height in a few weeks, you can carefully mow for the first time. And by then, you should be able to cut back even more on the irrigation frequency, while watering longer (up to 30 minutes per cycle) for deeper wetting of the soil.
The bottom line is that it is hard to over-water your fescue seedlings in the fall. Better for too much water than not enough. We’ve seen too many cases where we use the best seed, do a great job of seeding, only to have a homeowner neglect the discipline of watering the new seed and it just does not come up, or dies soon after germinating. So we need your help! And, when leaves start falling soon, it’s important to keep those raked up, so the tender seedlings will not be smothered. When you mow, remove your leaves by using a bagger to keep your fescue turf free of leaves later in the fall.
It’s been a hot and dry summer overall in the Carolina’s, so our fescue turf has struggled to do well. Since fescue is a cool-season grass, it does not do as well with hot temperatures and when soil moisture is lacking, so it may thin out during the summer. Fall is then the ideal time to overseed with fescue and thicken up the turf with new grass plants.
Even with the best seed possible used, and with good soil preparation, it’s all for naught if not irrigated properly during germination. For the first 10 days or so, the seed bed needs to stay consistently moist for best germination. So homeowners will need to provide irrigation, since Mother Nature cannot be depended upon to do that. One should see some seedlings germinate and pop up through the soil after about 10 days, but watering still needs to continue. These are very small grass plants with a weak root system still, so soil moisture still needs to be consistent. We’ve seen cases where the seeds germinate just fine, only to wilt and even die from a lack of moisture weeks later. So this falls on the homeowner to continue to supply good amounts of irrigation on the new seedlings.
As the seedlings grow and develop a stronger root system later in fall, irrigation can be cut down to 3-4 times per week, depending upon what normal rainfall is received. Even during the winter, do not let the turf dry out completely, so irrigation may be needed if we go over 10 days without rainfall. The seeded fescue will not really mature until the following spring, which by then, should be a thick turf with a solid root system. Normal irrigation schedules of 2-3 times weekly then should suffice.
Now is the time of the season to set up your fall fescue seeding, so contact the professionals at LawnAmerica for information and a price quote.
LawnAmerica seed with ZERO weed or other crop seed.
Now that fall is in sight, it’s time to be thinking and scheduling your fall fescue overseeding. Tall Fescue is a cool-season grass, that will grow in semi-shade areas where bermudagrass and zoysiagrass will not do well and in full sun. It is the predominate turf in North Carolina, and stays green pretty much all season. However, especially when we experience hot and dry summers as we have the past few years, fescue will thin out over the summer, and hence the need for fall seeding to help keep the turf thick and healthy.
There is a big difference in the quality of fescue seed out on the market. Here is a copy of our seed label for the product we are using this year at LawnAmerica. It’s a blend of three different solid types of fescue, Firenza, Virtuoso, and Sunset Gold. It’s preferable to blend different varieties, as each one has strengths that others may be weaker in, so you’ll be getting a stronger and healthier stand of turf. There are hundreds of varieties of tall fescue, with the majority of them being good. There are some though that one wants to avoid, including the old variety K-31. This is a forage grass used in pastures, very course blades, and not desirable for a home lawn. The vast majority of seed is grown and produced in Oregon, where pretty much perfect conditions are present for growing tall fescue. And it’s certified, meaning that it is tested for quality and purity.
The biggest thing to look out for on fescue seed is the amount of “other crop seed” and “weed seeds” present. That should be listed on seed bags, and it should be ZERO on each! Our LawnAmerica seed is certified, with zero other crop and weed seed, so you can be assured that your lawn is receiving the best pure quality seed. Most of the seed you find at that big box stores will show small percentages of “other crop seed”, and even some weed seeds. The problem is that there are about 200,000 actual seeds in a pound of fescue. So even if the number seems small, like .05%, that’s 100 weeds per pound of seed you are planting, or over 1000 per 1,000 square feet. And most of these weeds and other crop seeds are pereneal grassy weeds, so it’s impossible to control them other then just pulling them up. We can’t spray them with anything to kill them without harming the existing fescue.
Using a quality seed is the first step towards success with fescue seeding, so compare apples to apples when it comes to seed. Don’t be fooled by the cheap price or fancy name and bag. Look at the seed label, and if not showing zero on both weed and other crop seed, don’t buy it. While our staff does a great job with preparation of the soil with aeration, fertilize, and even come back to check on seed germination three weeks later, you may want to do your own seeding. If so, you can even purchase our LawnAmerica seed from us in either 25 or 50 lb bags, so you’ll be assured of having the best quality seed on your lawn.
Every year around this time, we start see little glimmers of fall on the horizon. You start to notice mornings being a little bit cooler or the sight of kids in their new clothes waiting on the school bus each morning. Football begins to take over weekend schedules and inevitably the question about whether I should seed my fescue lawn again pops up.
The answer is… Yes.
North Carolina is located in what is called the transition zone. Basically what that means is growing turf around here will require a little extra effort because we are sometimes too hot for cool-season turf and too cold for warm-season grasses.
Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass are best suited for North Carolina’s hot summer weather, but neither of these turf types perform very well in shaded areas. That is where Fescue comes into play.
Fescue is a cool-season, clump type turfgrass. It does not spread out and develop density with underground rhizomes or stolons on the surface as warm-season turf does. Instead it has to be seeded every year to help repair any damage from drought, disease, insects or heavy traffic. Re-seeding introduces new plants into the turf, which as they grow and mature, will develop into a thick, healthy turf.
Fall is the best time of the season for fescue seeding. By seeding in the fall, seeds germinate and grow some before winter sets in. As the warmth of spring sets in, these seedlings continue to mature and develop into a dense turf. By the time summer heat and stress hits, your turf should be mature and be able to better stand up to the stresses of summer. This is especially important if you are trying to maintain fescue turf in full sun conditions.
Your Route Manager will be leaving behind information over the coming weeks for fescue seeding. Our seeding operation consists of using a top-quality blend of fescue seed, with zero weed seed. We aerate the soil, rake bare areas, apply a starter fertilizer, and leave detailed watering instructions. We then return in 3 weeks to overseed any thin areas and check on the progress. Now is the time to plan for seeding and secure your place in our busy schedule, so contact LawnAmerica today.
I can hear everyone thinking, “How in the world can you be talking about Christmas in August when our temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees!”
Well, it’s pretty easy after spending several days at our annual Christmas Décor Conference last week.
It was a busy time in downtown Dallas. We were able to see the latest Christmas bulbs that are able to be changed to any color you can imagine using a simple smartphone. There were new permanent lighting options that utilize LED bulbs to create an elegant look at night, but almost totally disappear from view during the day. There were 20 foot tall trees with 10,000 individual bulbs. There were toy soldiers, nutcrackers and Santa Claus was even hanging out on a bench, ready to have his picture taken with whoever would sit with him. It was easy to get excited about Christmas coming soon.
For the last 20 seasons we have attended the Christmas Décor conference in the middle of the summer with more than 200 other Christmas Décor franchises. We spend several days in trainings and breakout sessions discussing everything from the newest products to the best practices in safety techniques as well as the best installation practices to provide dazzling displays for our customers.
We believe this investment in training and education is one of the many things that sets us apart from our competition. I challenge you to find another decorating company that invests the time and effort to improve that we do, especially in the middle of the summer.
Besides all the training and education going on, we are busy preparing our schedule for the season. All of our current Christmas Décor customers should have already received a letter a few weeks ago with the ability to prepay for 2016 Décor services and save 7% off of the total cost. But even more importantly the prepayment guarantees that the displays will be installed and ready to light up by Thanksgiving weekend, which by the way is only 15 weeks away!
Our schedule does fill up quickly, so make sure you get your spot reserved soon. As with all of our services, estimates are free. So if you are ready to let a professional take over your lighting responsibilities be sure to give us a call.
Fescue is not very green during our hot summers.
It’s July, it’s hot, and it’s pretty dry also. With temperatures in the 90’s for the past several weeks, it’s pretty rough not only on outdoor workers such as the LawnAmerica guys treating lawns, it’ tough on your fescue turf also. Fescue is a cool-season grass, which is obviously not the case now in Carolina. So no matter what a homeowner does, fescue is just not going to look real great in July and August in the Carolinas It’s just too hot, and it just sits there, and doesn’t even grow much, while fading to a brownish color if it’s dry. I actually wish more folks in Charlotte would go with Bermudagrass or Zoysiagrass, both warm-season turf which does well here in full sun. But with shade areas, Fescue is your best bet. And up in the higher elevations of Asheville, it is not quite as hot, so Fescue does better there.
Good irrigation will help, so supply about 1.5” per week of water if Mother Nature does not help us. Water early in the mornings about 3-4 times per week, not every day. Raise your mowing height on Fescue now, which will help the root system grow deeper and pick up that deep soil moisture, if it’s there.
At LawnAmerica, we treat fescue lawns totally different in the heat of summer. Applying the same type of fertilizer to Fescue in summer as we use on warm-season turf such as bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass could burn and damage the Fescue. Therefore, we use either a granular fertilizer product with mainly organic material and a bio-stimulate named Humic DG, or in most cases, will apply our liquid Soilbuilder to the lawn. This will not burn the turf in summer and can be safely applied. Both products will supply very small amounts of slow-release nitrogen, some iron, and mainly organic soil ammendments which help to feed and improve the soil. This helps Fescue to remain as healthy as possible during the heat of summer, while helping the turf to utilize soil nutrients more effectively in fall as the Fescue recovers from summer stress, and new Fescue plants are added with seeding in the fall.
So rest assured that LawnAmerica knows the drill on caring for Fescue properly and using the right materials at the right time. With our 32 years of experience in caring for turf, and by keeping up with the latest innovations on lawn care products, your Fescue will survive this hot summer just fine, as long as you do your part with proper watering and mowing.
We can control weeds in beds with our Optional Bed Weed Program.
Our lawn care service in the Charlotte and Asheville areas controls weeds in your home lawn, with applications of fertilizers and weed-control products to your lawn. We don’t apply these same products into the landscape beds where flowers and shrubs are located. Some of the granular fertilizer pellets will shoot into adjoining beds close to the turf, and that can help the plants some that are growing there. But much of the herbicides that we apply to the lawn cannot be sprayed into the beds, as they could harm desirable plants growing there. So we are always very careful when spraying lawn areas which have adjoining flowers and shrubs.
We do have a special optional program, our Weed-Control in Beds Program, which specifically targets weeds that growing in ornamental beds. This is not only an eyesore, these weeds will compete for water and nutrients needed by the plants you are trying to grow. With this, we apply a special granular pre-emergent herbicide named Snapshot, which safely prevents many grassy and some broadleaf weeds from germinating. We apply this in early spring with our Round 1 Treatment, and again in early fall with our Round 6 treatment. It’s not 100%, and it does not stop nutgrass from coming up, which just has to be pulled up by hand during the season.
During one or more of our summer treatments, we then go in and apply another special herbicide named Fusilade. It can be sprayed over the top of most flowers and ornamentals to control grassy weeds such as crabgrass and even bermudagrass which sometimes can creep into the lawn from the turf and take over a bed if left un-checked. It does not harm ornamentals, and yet will control any grassy plant, including bermudagrass.
Another cultural practice to help keep weeds from taking over a shrub bed is to apply mulch to your beds. It not only looks better and helps preserve soil moisture, it also makes it more difficult for weed seeds to reach the soil and germinate. Now is a good time to add some fresh mulch to your ornamental beds.
For more information on our Bed Weed-Control Program, CLICK HERE: