Posted by & filed under Fescue.

Fescue seed

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.

Posted by & filed under Fescue.

20150424_092206_resizedEvery 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.

 

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

IMG_2453I 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.

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Posted by & filed under fertiliation, Fescue, Lawn Care, Organic lawn care.

Summer Fescue

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.

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

weeds in beds

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:

Posted by & filed under drought, irrigation, Lawn Care, Organic lawn care.

Brown Fescue Fescue lawn going brown and dormant

So has your beautiful green fescue lawn suddenly changed to a pale green if not brown color, and you’re wondering what’s up? If you’re a LawnAmerica customer, you’ve had plenty of good fertilizer, so that’s not the issue. The problem is the hot, dry weather and lack of adequate rainfall in Carolina. We experienced a dry summer last year, and 2016 looks to be the same.

Water is one of the most basic requirements for turfgrass, and with all other plants and animals for that matter.  And when there is a lack of water, turfgrass, like all other living things, has defense responses which help protect it from dying. In the case of grass, it can go dormant with the leaves turning a pale gray color first and then brown, basically shutting down the plant until soil conditions return to normal. Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass especially can very seldom die due to drought, but it is possible. They just turn brown, stop growing, and maintain what water and nutrients they can in the crown and root system of the plant. Fescue, being a cool-season grass, is much more likely to die during extended periods of heat and lack of soil moisture.

If you choose to not irrigate during times of drought and allow your lawn to turn brown and dormant, once good soaking rains come back, or irrigation is started, the lawn should spring back and recover with growth and green color. In Carolina however, those cool soaking rains may not come until early September, and that’s a long time to wait if your lawn is brown in late June already.

Our recommendation for irrigation is to supply about 1.5” of water per week in order to maintain a green, healthy turf. We recommend to water at least some during drought, and not to neglect turf fertilization. We switch to a more organic-based fertilizer with a humic acid  soil amendment when lawns are brown in summer, which will help the turf come back stronger once soil moisture is good again. And Fescue lawns are treated with our custom Soilbuilder organic soil amendment, which helps your lawn perform better during summer heat with a stronger root system. If we go more than two weeks without any rainfall at all, we encourage you to at least wet the top 1/4″ of soil to hydrate the crown of the plant, which is from where new grass growth originates between the roots and the stems. Without a live crown, you’ll have a dead grass plant.

We also like to see a deep, extensive root system on turf during the summer, to reach that deeper soil moisture that is available. One way to do this is to raise your mowing height, as the higher the mowing height, the deeper the roots will grow.

So whether you have a green lawn, brown lawn, or something in between is more a matter now of Mother Nature cooperating, along with some help from you with good irrigation and watering.

Posted by & filed under irrigation, Lawn Care, Turf Disease.

SprinklerSummer began this week, and it sure feels like it made an early entrance this year in Carolina. It’s been way too hot for mid-June here, and it’s getting pretty dry all of a sudden. I’m afraid that we may be in for a long, hot, and dry summer in Charlotte and Asheville, as we experienced several times over the past few years. So now is the time to start irrigation of your lawn in order to keep it looking green and healthy.

I’ve found that many people with irrigation systems do not use them correctly. Just last week I was visiting with a good customer about his lawn drying out, and he told me his system was coming on every day for about 10 minutes or so per cycle. However, the soil was very dry when I was there in the afternoon. Why? Well, only a few minutes per cycle is jsut enough water to wet just the very top layer of soil. And with temperatures in the upper 90’s and sunshine all day, it does not take long for that soil moisture to just evaporate. So no water has a chance to really get down into the deeper soil layers, where the grass roots are located.

The key to proper watering is deep, but infrequent irrigation. 

Water long enough so that you’ll be wetting the soil wet to a depth of 6″. Most people will be surprised as to how long this takes most irrigation systems to provide. Having each cycle run for at least 30 minutes and even more, running through the cycles twice, may be needed. Supply about 1/2″ of water to all areas of the turf with each time you irrigate. By getting the water deep, the root system of the turf will grow deep and be able to absorb that water. Let the top 2 or 3 inches of soil dry out…..that’s OK. Just keep the deeper soil levels moist, and that takes longer irrigation times.

Water about 3 times per week, and not every day.

If you water 3 times weekly, supplying 1/2″ of water each time, that comes to 1.5″ per week, which generally should keep turf green and healthy. And if Mother Nature helps out any at all, then you can even cut back some on that watering schedule. However if it becomes very hot and dry into July and August with drought conditions, then you’ll need to water up to 2″ per week on fescue turf especially in order to keep it healthy and green.

Water only early in the mornings.

Don’t  set your sprinkler to come on or irrigate in the evenings, as this keeps the turf damp all night and could lead to turf disease, especially with brown patch on fescue. Don’t water in the middle of the afternoon, as with the heat and sun, much of it will simply evaporate and be lost. Set your system to come on early in the morning, so that more of the water can soak into the soil, and as the sun comes up it will dry out the grass. Plus, our LawnAmerica guy won’t be in the middle of treating your lawn only to have the sprinklers come on!

For more information on watering your lawn properly, go to your website and  Visit Here.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Mowing height Mowing height way too short for fescue

Summer is here in Carolina, and it appears we may be in for a hot summer.  And, rainfall is scarce all of a sudden. So expect our cool season turf such as Tall Fescue to start looking rather stressed very soon.

From looking at a fescue lawn yesterday that was not looking good, there were many issues going on.  Dry soil, some dog damage, evidence of brown patch disease earlier in spring when we were wet and humid, and one huge problem was the short mowing height of the fescue turf. It was being mowed at the same height of the bermudagrass in other sunny parts of the lawn, a little over 1” it looked like. While bermudagrass can do well with shorter mowing heights such as 1” or 1.5”, fescue should never be mowed shorter than 2”, especially as we enter into the hot summertime. Preferred mowing height for fescue is 2.5” and even more.  So if you have some fescue and some bermudagrass or zoysiagrass, you’ll need to mow each at different heights. I know it can be a lot easier to just mow all at the same height, but it’s not the right thing to do.

Having a good sharp blade is also important. Dull blades can tear up the fescue grass blade, causing a brown irregular edge at the cut, giving the turf a brown appearance. This also increases disease issues in turf, making it easier for a fungus to enter the plant.

So raise your mowing height now on fescue turf to 3”. There is an inverse relationship between mowing height and root depth, so the higher you mow, the deeper the roots will grow. And with a hot, dry summer, we want a deep, extensive root system in order to do a good job of absorbing that deep soil moisture. Our Soilbuilder organic soil amendment we use on fescue during the summer also helps with the development of a stronger root system for summer survival of fescue.

For more information on proper mowing, visit here: PROPER MOWING

 

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

DallisgrassDallisgrass can be one of the most troubling and challenging weeds in the Carolinas. It’s a perennial grassy weed, often growing in clumps, with big broad leaves. If allowed to grow and  produce seedheads due to poor mowing, it produces tall gangly looking seedheads with spiklets shooting out at the ends. Dallisgrass has a pale green color, and really stands out as a weed in bermudgrass or fescue lawn.

Dallisgrass is a perennial, so it comes back year after year once established. Therefore, pre-emergent herbicides to not help. It can reproduce by seeds, causing even more plants to invade healthy turf. In severe cases, there can be more Dallisgrass plants then the desirable turf. If a homeowner mows properly and the turf is cared for, Dallisgrass is more often in isolated clumps dispersed throughout the turf.

Until a few years ago, MSMA herbicide was used to control it as a post-emergent spray. It was still tough then, and would take repeated treatments, but it did work. However, as is the case with several other good products, it’s been taken off the market, and the products that we have available now for controlling Dallisgrass just do not work well at all. They will stunt it, but it seems to just come back.

For the last few years, we’ve used a new product named Tribute, from Bayer. Upon their recommendations and from university research, we add special surfactants and some fertilizer to this mix and apply it in the early fall, just as the weed plant is shutting down for the season. We then follow-up with another treatment a few weeks later, and even a third after that later in fall.  We are seeing some reduction in the Dallisgrass population with this program, but it’s not 100%. It may take several years of these special treatments, or even just treating with Roundup or Glyphosate in early spring, in order to completely eradicate the weed. And since it is a perennial, once it’s gone, unless more seeds blow in, it won’t be back.

Our 6 and 7-step customers at LawnAmerica are serviced with this plan to control Dallisgrass, with their regular round 6 and 7, and with a free service call in between these regular treatments. Other customer who subscribe only to 4 or 5 treatments per year should upgrade to a complete program in order to control Dallisgrass.  Most of our competitors don’t even try to control it, or they charge extra for it. But with LawnAmerica, as long as you are on our best 6 or 7-Step program, we’ve got you covered.  Just be patient, as it may take several years to completely take care of it.

Here is information from Bayer on the Tribute herbicide we are using:

https://www.backedbybayer.com/~/media/BackedByBayer/Resource%20Library/White%20Paper/Bayer%20Solutions%20-%20Dallisgrass%20-%20Warm%20Season%20Turf.ashx

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

DeadheadingDeadheading sounds like something related to our presidential election choices we have these days or something, but is actually an important process of caring for annual and perennial flowers in Carolina landscapes. Deadheading is the removal of spent flowers that have finished putting on their color display so that more flowers can then be produced. It refreshes a plant’s appearance, controls seed dispersal, and directs energy from seed production to vegetative growth and flowering. The goal of annual plans, and for that matter weeds, is to grow, set seeds, and die. So by removing the spent flowers and stopping the seed process, many plants will then produce more flowers, providing your landscape with a continued display of color into the summer months.

Some common Types of flowers in Charlotte and Asheville which are good for deadheading are:

Phlox, Petunias, Begonias, Sage, Veronica, Daisy, Marigold, Zinnia, Geraniums, Coreopsis, Snapdragon, Salvia, and Roses to name a few. In most cases, one can take a pair of sharp scissors or shears and cut off the spent flower at the stem, just above a leaf or another stem. In some flowers, such as Day Lillys, one can cut off the flower stalk more at the base of the plant, and a new stalk will generate from the base. On some flowers such as Marigolds, the spent flowers can simply pinched off, and if you don’t want the seeds to germinate and produce more flowers, dispose of the seeds.

The following chart shows perennial flowering plants that do well with deadheading.  Most annuals do fine also. Photo courtesy of Bob LaPointe.

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