With the recent spring rains, be on the lookout for Brown Patch turf disease soon in Carolina lawns. High humidities, excessive rainfall, and warm temperatures are the perfect ingredients for turf disease such as Brown Patch to develop.
There are three things that must be present for turf disease to occur…..a susceptible host, fungi present, and the right weather conditions. Fescue is a good host for Brown Patch, with some varieties more succeptable than others. Even bermduagrass can get Brown Patch in severe cases, along with Large Patch that is often found on zoysiagrass lawns. Fungi are present just about everywhere, waiting for the right conditions to grow. Fungi love warm, wet, humid weather, which is what we’ve been experiencing a lot of here lately, and will probably continue on into June.
We’ve had many of our lawncare customers, especially with fescue, experience Brown Patch problems in their turf, with yellow to brown splotchy areas developing and wilting of the turf. We can’t control the rainfall and humidity, so disease is going to happen under certain conditions. A turf fungicide can be applied on a preventative and curative basis, but these typically have about a 2-4 week residual. So repeat treatments are often needed for best results. Turf off your irrigation system and let the turf dry out some. When mowing, remove the grass clippings, to help remove some of the fungi present and allow better air circulation within the turf.
When it typically becomes hotter and drier in July, the disease pressure will go away usually. Fescue overseeding season is just a few months away in September, so damaged turf can be renovated with new seeding done then.
Fescue, along with some zoysiagrass and some bermudagrass are the three main grass types found in Charlotte and Asheville area lawns. And for these turf types to grow into a thick, green, and healthy turf, fertilization is a key component. Bermudagrass especially loves nitrogen, the main component in fertilizer, so it needs to be applied several times during the growing season for best results. Nitrogen requirements for fescue are less, and in fact can harm fescue if applied too much during the summer. This is why we apply an organic-based soil amendment to fescue turf during the summer.
There are all types of fertilizer for turf, with different timing of applications and rates. LawnAmerica fertilzer is the best, with from 25%-75% quality slow-release nitrogen in all blends. While many competitors just use cheaper quick-release nitrogen, we invest more into a fertilizer that is safer, more efficient, and better for the turf and environment.
So for more information on proper lawn fertilization, READ MORE.
At $59 for this bag, a professional can do it all for about the same price.
Many homeowners who try to do their own lawn care are subject to the weed-n-feed woes. They don’t realize it, or they would not purchase this product at the big box stores. When one pays $59 to purchase a bag of stuff that is supposed to “feed” your lawn and eliminate all weeds (it won’t), it’s just not a good deal at all when compared to hiring a professional such as LawnAmerica.
This particular product, with a well-known brand and a nice, fancy bag, says it will fertilize a 15,000′ lawn area. However, there is only about 13 pounds of actual nitrogen in this 47 pound bag. While this is enough for Fescue, Bermudagrass needs at least one pound of nitrogen per 1000′ of turf every month to perform well. With this, you’ll be applying less than a pound of nitrogen.
These weed-n-feed products have a herbicide applied on a light carrier, so that when it’s applied to the turf, the little granules are supposed to stick to the weeds with the herbicide then absorbed by the weed leaves. So you must water the lawn first so that the weeds are wet, the product is absorbed, and the weeds are killed. It’s not that easy. In reality, few of the herbicide-laced granules actually stick to weeds, with most being wasted dropping off into the turf and soil. Many weeds are more vertical than horizontal, so it’s almost impossible for any of the product to adhere to weeds. The only herbicide in this mix is a broadleaf herbicide, so grassy weeds and sedges are not affected at all with this product. And if a lawn just has a few areas of weeds, there is alot of herbicide that is applied over the whole lawn and wasted, let alone the unnecessary herbicide input into the environment.
When we treat a lawn at this time of the season, we’ll apply a granular fertilizer with more nitrogen in the bag, since having a percentage of slow-release nitrogen allows us to safely apply more at one time. Then our technicians will spot-treat with different liquid herbicides only where they are needed, using Integrated Pesticide Management techniques, or IPM. A typical lawn that has had our service for at least a year or so will only have a few weeds present, so we may only spray about a gallon or two of mixed product, with just a few ounces of actual herbicide applied. The key is that it’s only applied where it’s needed, and at the proper rates and products. This is a much better method of caring for lawns, with better results and less input of herbicides. And the best part is that a professional lawn service can do this for about the same cost as the price of that pretty bag at the box store! Plus, it’s guaranteed, or we’ll come back to spot treat any persisting weeds. Try taking your empty Scott’s bag back to the box store and telling them it did not work and you want another bag for free.
So don’t get the weed-n-feed woes this summer, just call a pro!
The reason they call it Nutgrass is not because it drives homeowners and lawn care operators nuts trying to control it, but rather the little nutlets in the soil from which it germinates. Nutgrass is actually a sedge and not a true grass. The main species we deal with in Charlotte and Asheville is Yellow Nutsedge. Purple Nutsedge and Green Kylinga are other species that we see in certain areas. Sedges love to grow in moist soil conditions, especially after times of rainy weather. Yellow Nutsedge has tall triangular stems, with narrow light green blades. After mowing, it is hard to notice. However it grows much quicker than existing turf, so a few days after mowing, it’s sticking up tall and scraggly looking. If left un-mowed for over a week, it can produce a spikelet seedhead, which is even more obnoxious looking! Each nutsedge plant produces hundreds of nutlets underground, which spread out along underground roots. This is one reason why it has exploded in populating many lawns in Carolina lawns and other areas. There are thousands of nutlets in a typical lawn just waiting to produce nutsedge plants. Once established in a lawn, it often forms larger areas of plants clumped together. Since it is a sedge, conventional pre-emergent herbicides do not stop it from germinating. It will come up starting in April, and continues to grow and take over lawns on into late summer.
At LawnAmerica, we have used a unique product named Echelon for the past few years for customers on our very best 6 and 7-Step Showcase Care Program for bermudagrass and zoysiagrass lawns. Echelon is a unique, and somewhat expensive product (as most new chemistries are), which is a combination of Barricade pre-emergent for crabgrass control and Dismiss Herbicide for nutgrass control. It’s the Dismiss that will not only control nutgrass that is up and growing, but will actually kill the nutlets in the ground also. Plus, Dismiss will control many summer broadleaf weeds, such as dandelion oxalis, spurge, and others. We have timed this special blanket treatment of Echelon to be applied from early May though late June, when Nutgrass is up and growing, along with other summer annual weeds. We also mix a small amount of our Soilbuilder Organic Soil Ammendment into the mix, giving these lawns a slightly deeper green color response. After an Echelon treatment, these lawns are pretty clean and free of nutgrass and other weeds. Plus, the extra Barricade pre-emergent herbicide applied with this helps prolong your crabgrass control longer into the summer. We also have seen that with this product being applied annually, there is a decrease in the number of nutlets in the soil, leading to less pressure from new Nutgrass germinating.
Echelon cannot be safely applied to fescue turf. So if Nugrass does come up in Fescue, we apply Dismiss only to knock it back. If you have experienced a bad nutgrass problem, as many customers have, this new product really works well! If you are not currently on our 6 or 7-Step Program, you can still upgrade to this service level if you contact us now. We can apply Echelon to warm season turf up until late June and obtain good results.
Photenia is a beautiful shrub for Carolina landscapes. It’s easy to establish and grows quickly, reaching heights of over 6′ within just a few years. If left un-pruned or with minor pruning, it can reach heights of almost 20′. It can serve as a nice wind or privacy block if planted in rows or groupings. They are evergreens, maintaining their leaves all season long. During the spring and summer growing season their leaves are a nice purple or red color, hence the variety named Red-tipped Photinia.
These tender leaves are susceptible to a common disease called Leaf Spot. Some photenias will have this every year, and others seem to be more resistant to it. It usually begins in early April as the new foliage blooms out, with small dark brown spots on the leaves. These can merge together to dis-color the entire leaf, and prevent photosynthesis from occuring, leading to plant health problems and even death if left un-treated. We recommend our Photenia Program for plants with a history of Leaf Spot Disease, with 3-4 treatments of fungicide sprayed on the foliage from mid-spring through early summer, when the disease pressure is at it’s peak. Warm, wet, and humid weather brings on higher disease pressure, so once we get into the hot and dry summer, it typically will not be an issue.
Do not water foliage of shrubs if at all possible, and do not irrigate in the evening causing the leaves to stay damp all night. Contact us for more information on how LawnAmerica can protect the health of your photenias by preventing this disease. We also recommend good pruning done a few times during the summer to help shape the shrub and prevent it from becoming too tall.
Every year at this time of the season we’ll have some customers contact us about all of these weeds in their lawns in Carolina. So with service calls being free in-between regular treatments for full program customers, our Route Managers will go out to spot-treat only to discover they are not really weeds, but small tree saplings that have germinated in the lawn.
Well technically they are weeds, as a weed is simply a plant growing out of place. And homeowners expect a lawn that is 100% berumudagrass, zoysiagrass, or sometimes fescue. Trees in the landscape and in the area are trying to reproduce like any other living thing, so they’ll produce thousands upon thousands of little tree seeds every year, and emit them into the environment where the wind, water, animals, etc. will disperse them. And some of them end up germinating in your lawn and landscape.
It’s really not even practical to try to spray it, as once it’s mowed, the little sapling doesn’t have a chance to re-generate and grow. It’s not like a tree is going to grow in the middle of your lawn, unless you don’t mow it down and you want it there. Pre-emergent herbicides do not stop tree saplings from germinating in your lawn, so they will always pop up during this time of the season in late spring. These saplings don’t put any pressure on the turf, and will die out naturally after a few weeks. So if you have certain trees that are heavy seed producers in your neighborhood, expect an annual invasion of these little plants every spring.
We’ve enjoyed some much-needed spring rains in April and now into May, which is nice for the lawns and landscapes in Charlotte and Asheville. But weeds are flowers also, which is the way they naturally reproduce and do this by going to flower first. The best defense against weeds is always a thick, healthy, growing lawn, which makes it more difficult for weed seeds to get to the soil and helps choke out existing weeds. And even with a nice turf, and with spring pre-emergent herbicides applied, one will still have a few weeds pop up, especially in mid to late spring.
This is where post-emergent herbicides come into play, which are mixed with water and sprayed on existing weeds to take them out. Weeds are generally classified into two main groups…..broadleaf and grassy weeds, or dicots and monocots for those who paid attention in science class. Different types of herbicides are applied according to the main types of weeds they are. So other than a product such as Round-up or Glyphosate, the common chemical name, which kills anything that is green, good or bad, it pays to have a professional such as LawnAmerica make those decisions as to what to use and how to use it.
Spot-treatment for weeds present, and they usually are, is a part of our regular lawn care service programs. We practice something called Integrated Pest Management, or IPM at LawnAmerica. This basically means we treat only for weeds if there is a weed on a spot-treatment basis for most of our applications. We do this mainly with a backpack sprayer with specific products intended to control certain weeds. So during the main part of the growing season, after applying a granular fertilizer or a liquid organic-based soil amendment to a lawn, we’ll go over it and spot-treat any existing weeds present.
Service calls are also free for full program customers, as long as it’s been less than 30 days from one of these regular lawn treatments. So we encourage our customers to contact us if weeds are persisting, as they sometimes can during rainy spells in May or June.
It’s early May in North Carolina and we’ve had some good rains to perk up our fescue and other grasses. So lawns should be mowed consistently now. It always amazes me that we have some customers who put off that first spring mowing for as long as they can, letting the turf get really tall before whacking it down. Lawns not only will look nicer if they are mowed, it will also help stimulate new and denser turf growth sooner, which helps to choke out any weeds present. And weeds that have been sprayed need to be mowed down in order to complete their kill and to remove the dying vegetation. Weeds don’t just disappear after they are sprayed. It does take time, and the dying plant material needs to be removed in order to look nice.
Three keys to proper mowing now that we are into the mowing season are:
- Mow with a sharp blade
- Mow at proper heights
- Never take off more than 1/3rd of the leaf blade
For more information on proper mowing, visit our website Here
As with any service business such as LawnAmerica, we could not serve our Carolina customers and our employees could not do their jobs without the great work of folks behind the scenes at the office. Today we want to express a special Thank You to our office staff and administrative professionals for the great job that you do.
We’ll receive thousands of phone calls or e-mails during 2016 in our main office. Our office staff is the first person to address the needs of our customers, and serve as a liaison between them and our field staff. When things go wrong, as they sometimes will in the field, it’s our office staff taking the brunt of the call. When a homeowner calls for an estimate or a customer has a question, they take the calls. They make the deposits, pay the bills, and handle the vast amounts of paperwork and records needed in a business like LawnAmerica. They serve both our customers, and our team members, which can be somewhat challenging at times.
So we want to say a big Thank You to our administrative professionals, as we think they’re the best! From Sharon Cowles with over 11 years of experience, to our “newbie” Terri Dershem as a receptionist, when you call LawnAmerica, you get a real person answering the phone, not a machine full of options to choose from. Our Office Mananger, Jeremy Borrer oversees it all, with 10 years of experience in the field, with sales, and in the office. In addition to answering phones, Brian Haden is a spreadsheet genius, Mike Bennett does the inventory, and Tami Jacobs pays the bills.
So take some time to show your appreciation today to the people who selflessly serve both employees and customers not only here at LawnAmerica, but in all businesses.
Happy Earth Day, a celebration of this earth we live on. It’s an amazing place, this planet, created by God for us to live on and enjoy. Too bad we humans seem to mess it up at times.
For most homeowners in the Carolinas, our part of the earth we’re most responsible for is our home lawn and landscape. A well-cared for lawn not only looks good, it also adds value to our homes and provides real environmental benefits to urban cities such as the Charlotte and Asheville areas. A healthy green lawn and landscaping will cool our cities, lessening the heat trapping effect of concrete. The air temperature over grass can be up to 30 degrees cooler than the air over a blacktop driveway or parking lot. Lawns and landscapes help buffer sound pollution, trap dirt, and prevent soil erosion, all of which help make our cities more livable. A small 50×50 foot lawn area will supply enough oxygen generation for a family of four, while absorbing harmful carbon dioxide and other gasses. Lawns in our county can store up to 37 billion tons of carbon, lessening the impact of global warming on the atmosphere.
According to a recent Harris Poll, most homeowners love their lawns, with over 88% of Americans saying that having a nice lawn and landscape is important. A well cared for lawn and landscape has solid economic value, adding up to 15% to the value of a home most experts agree. Add the aesthetic and psychological benefits of enjoying a nice-looking lawn, and it just makes sense to do what we can to appreciate and care for our lawns and landscapes.
The products and the processes that professionals such as LawnAmerica use to provide the results of a healthy green lawn are safe and pose very little risk to people, pets, and the environment. It’s important to follow label instructions, and practice Integrated Pest Management, which basically means treating for weeds and pests only if there is a problem that justifies that treatment. Using organic-based and slow-release fertilizers at the proper times and using correct rates is important. And cultural practices such as proper mowing and irrigation also go a long way towards growing a healthy lawn in conjunction with environmentally responsible application of fertilizers and weed-control products.
For more information on the benefits and care of lawns, visit www.loveyourlandscape.org or www.thelawninstitute.org.