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.

deadheading2

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

Round upRound up is the trade name for Glyphosate, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world.  Glyphosate was introduced into the marketplace in 1974, after a Monsanto scinetist discovering it in 1970. It is a broad spectrum herbicide that when sprayed and absorbed by the foliage, is transported to the roots systemically for complete kill.  While Glyphosate is the chemical name, most people know it as Round up.

Glyphosate is the second most used herbicide for home and landscape use, and the most widely used herbicide in the world in the agriculture market. In agriculture, many crops such as soybeans and corn, have been developed for Round up resistance.  So farmers can spray their field with Round up and control all weeds in a cost-effective way without harming the crop. At LawnAmerica, we mainly use Glyphosate in special situations, and we don’t really use it that much. When bermudagrass is dormant, we’ll spot-treat green perennial weeds such as fescue clumps and winter grassy weeds.  Since they are green, it will control them, but not harm the dormant  bermudagrass.  We only do this during the winter months.  If we are going to seed fescue in the fall, we may use Glyphosate to kill all of the existing vegetation, so we can come back and seed a pure stand of fescue a few weeks after that. I use Round up to spray grass along edges, around trees, and in non-turf areas to control weeds. In fact, spraying Glyphosate around tree trunks not only saves time, it also prevents weed-eaters from killing your trees with the constant damage caused by them around the base of the tree.

So Round up is a great product, which helps homeowners and businesses with their landscapes, helps feed the world in agriculture settings, and has a proven track record of almost 50 years. In spite of that, certain anti-pesticide advocates have tried to claim that Glyphosate was a carcinogen and needs to be be taken off the market. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) along with the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this week issued a research report which clears Glyphosate, saying it’s “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans.”  And that’s for people who ingest food that was treated in an agriculture setting. Exposure from a lawn or landscape treatment is almost nill for a homeowner.

So as with all of the products we use at LawnAmerica, rest assured that they are safe if used properly, and pose no unreasonable risk to people, pets, or the environment. If anyone should be concerned, it’s us, the people who use and are exposed to these products every day. For more information on the report from FAO/WHO, go to the following link at: http://blog.landscapeprofessionals.org/who-report-clears-glyphosate/

 

 

Posted by & filed under Lawn Care.

azalea

Walking across a lawn recently, I noticed these small burned looking or brown areas in the turf, surrounded by a darker green halo. Many may think this is some type of turf disease. Or some may think that fertilizer or something was spilled into that spot.

It is actually a burn caused by excess urine from a dog on the turf doing its business, often in the same spot time after time. Female dogs especially are notorious for this, urinating in the same marked spot every time. Males can do the same, but tend to hike their leg on a fence, tree, or if you’re not looking even your pants leg!

Dog urine does contain a fair amount of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, along with salts. Now this can be fertilizer for turf if it’s spread out over a large area and watered into the soil. But when it’s concentrated in one small area by a dog urinating, it’s too much nitrogen and salt for the grass to handle, and it burns. It’s just as if one spilled excess fertilizer into the turf and it burns. Many times there will be a darker green halo border around it. This is because the nitrogen was dispersed out and not as concentrated, acting as a fertilizer in this case. Now you may think, wouldn’t that be nice if your whole lawn was that green! Well, there’s a better way to fertilize your lawn, nor do I think you could train your dog to go out and disperse her stuff more evenly throughout the lawn!

To minimize damage from your furry friend, try to train them to go in one area only in your lawn in a less visible place. Maybe install pea gravel or mulch, and train them to go there only. You could take them for more walks, just don’t let them go then in your neighbor’s lawn or you’ll be asking for trouble. You can water in the areas well with water after they go to dilute the urine and leach the salts out of the soil. Most dietary solutions don’t work very well, nor do products that repel the dog from desirable turf.

Dogs are great, but they can make it more difficult to grow great grass. To repair damage on bermudagrass or zoysiagrass lawns, just water well, and eventually the spots will fill in with healthy grass from the sides. These are both tough grasses, and will recover with time. Fescue turf will have to be re-seeded in the fall, or a small piece of sod be placed into the burned area.