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How to Make your Lawn Thicker and Greener

When it comes to the old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side” it is always better to be the one whose grass is on the other side. Green, lush lawns  are great to look at and even better to enjoy for cookouts, parties, games, and other summer activities. By following a few basic guidelines outlined below, that each build on the other, you can be on your way to the green grass on the other side.   

Soil Test

What makes your grass look good above ground is dependent on what happens in the soil below ground. So, the foundation of a great lawn starts with knowing your current soil conditions, and a good soil test will reveal the specific nutrients your soil needs.  Based on the testing results you can then tailor your fertilization and amendment program to give the soil what it can use without guesswork or wasted product. If you are looking for a good testing option, lawnserv.com offers a great test for all new and existing customers.  

Fertilize

Just like the human body, your lawn needs food to be healthy and strong.  Regular fertilization, in the correct amounts and nutrient makeup for a given time of year, provide your grass the food it needs when it needs it.  In order to avoid wasting your time, and fertilizer, it is important to be on a program that is tailored to your lawns specific needs. Also, consider using a mulching blade on your mower to return clippings back to the ground and into nutrients that benefit the soil.  

Weed Control

Because weeds compete with grass for sunlight, water, and nutrients, the best weed control is a thick healthy lawn.  Early spring is a good time to kill potential weeds with a quality Pre-Emergent herbicide. If you are noticing weeds have already established a foothold in your lawn, there are both blanket post emergent and spot treatment options available.  You can even tackle weeds by hand, if they are not to overwhelming. A good trick is to pull weeds after a rainfall or watering, when the soil is looser.

Grass Cutting

Proper mowing is an often overlooked part of an overall lawn care plan.  Set your mower height so you don’t remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade, otherwise you risk stressing the lawn. Ideally grass should be kept at a length of 3-3.5” for the season. This height lets the grass block weed seeds, shades the soil, and reduces evaporation. Also, keeping your mower blades sharp will ensure the grass is cut by shearing rather than tearing.  A torn end will usually turn brown after a few days and become more susceptible to pests and diseases.

Water

Once you have your soil tested, fertilized, controlled for weeds, and the mowing is dialed in, following good watering practices will keep you on track for the thicker green lawn desired.  Germinating grass seeds need consistent moisture and should not be allowed to dry out. For established lawns it is generally accepted grass needs about 1” of water per week, either from nature or irrigation.  Less frequent watering, but in higher doses (to reach the one inch goal) has been proven to encourage deep root growth and an overall stronger more resilient lawn. Investing is a rain gauge or an electronic soil tester is also a helpful way to keep track of moisture levels.  

By following the plan outlined above, your lawn will look great for the entire growing season, despite the parties, barefoot traffic, and other summer fun it endures.  If you are looking for some more comprehensive help with several of the steps above, check out lawnserv.com for a DIY lawn service that takes the guesswork out of lawn care and delivers it to your door.  

Lawn Plan

3 Steps to Getting Rid of Those Weeds

Crabgrass! Dandelions! Chickweed! Oh my!  Without prevention and proper control, weeds can germinate and spread very quickly.  The best way to prevent weeds in the first place is to grow a thick, healthy lawn, which will crowd out and block weeds and weed seeds from getting access to your lawn’s nutrients and even the sun.  But, once weeds have taken hold, they can be difficult to rid from your yard. Luckily, though, there are a few relatively simple things you can do to prevent those pesky weeds from ruining your beautiful lawn.  We’ve included our recommended approach–the weed-eliminating trilogy–below. Just remember, like lawn care in general, getting rid of weeds is a marathon, not a sprint!

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions–we’re here to help!

STEP 1:  PULL, PULL, PULL!

Many types of weeds (like crabgrass, chickweed, etc.) can be hand-pulled relatively easily, so it’s definitely worth trying to make a dent manually.  Earlier in the season is usually better, as the weed roots are still relatively shallow. Similarly, hand-pulling when the soil is moist is usually most effective.

STEP 2:  SPOT, SPOT, SPOT!

Once you’ve taken a few passes through your yard hand-pulling as many weeds as you can, you may want to use a targeted spot treatment for weeds.  These usually come in a spray bottle, or jug with a wand attached.

Spot treatment is usually most effective when you can target the center/base of the weed, as well as the major weed leaves.  When applying spot treatment, it should not harm the lawn, but you should try to avoid overspraying your weeds anyway–you’ll use less product overall, and your grass will be under less stress!

STEP 3:  PREVENT, PREVENT, PREVENT!

The Spring and Fall are key times for getting ahead of weed growth.  Once weeds become more mature during the summer, your grass is often too stressed to be able to fight back!  So, don’t forget your pre-emergent weed preventer in the Spring, and if you’re not planning to overseed in the Fall, you may choose to apply another round of pre-emergent.  

But, don’t forget that growing a healthy lawn is the best prevention there is! So, don’t forget to mow a little higher, water your lawn at least once a week, and take the time to walk through your lawn each week to spot potential weed germination and other lawn stresses before they start to spread!

Spring Lawn care checklist

It is that time of year again when the daylight last a little longer, temperatures are getting warmer, and winter is in the rear view mirror.  Spring has officially arrived and it is time to venture outside and get the lawn looking great. However, as eager as you may be to begin improving the look of your lawn, patience is an important part of the process. See our top 5 checklist of time tested spring lawn care tips.    

Get your soil tested

Just like our bodies need various vitamins and minerals to be healthy and strong, so does your lawn. But not just any nutrients will do. Having your soil tested annually (as is provided with every Lawn Serv account) will tell you what specific nutrients are needed to achieve optimal results and obtain a healthy and lush lawn.  

Debris Cleanup & Mowing

No doubt your lawn has experienced the effects of winter with twigs, sticks, leaves, ect. littering the yard along with dead grass.  Definitely pick up the major debris as time allows, but hold off on any vigorous raking or mowing until the grass is mostly green and the ground is fairly dry, otherwise you risk doing more damage than good to your lawn. Raking or detaching can tear up roots if the soil is to damp for roots to hold.  When appropriate give the entire lawn a coarse raking to pull off any dead grass and debris. dethatching is also an option at this time of year, but is a more involved process and will be covered in a separate article. One trick you can use to save some time is to give you lawn a “short cut”. Setting the mower blades a little lower will help pull up some of the dead grass, without the added step of raking. Don’t go to low however, or you’ll risk damaging the crowns of the grass.  Having a shorter first cut before applying any products will also help facilitate getting the fertilizer down to the roots where it’s needed and getting the pre-emergent to the seeds.

Pre-Emergent

If your lawn is prone to weeds, early spring can be a good time to apply herbicides to prevent the weeds from developing. Crabgrass is the most common as it is a prolific seeder and the bane of many homeowners seeking a better lawn. If you had a crabgrass issue last year (or even multiple years back) expect to see it again this year, so consider using a pre-emergent herbicide. It may be tempting to use the more is better method for controlling weeds, but avoid this mentality or you may damage the young grass that is starting to grow.  For ideal results you will want to apply the weed control as soon as the soil temperature consistently reaches 55 degrees.

Fertilize

A green lawn is great, but keep in mind the goal of your spring lawn care is to encourage maximum root volume and depth to prepare the grass for summer heat and drought. During springtime green will happen on its own.  Similar to weed control, don’t overdue the fertilizer in the spring. Too much will cause a flush of growth at the expense of the roots. Lawn Serv customers, no need to worry about how much is too much, you will receive just the right amount of fertilizer for your lawn size and time of year.

Reseed

Overseeding in the spring is not ideal, as it will be tough for the young grass to develop enough strength to survive the tough summer months.  However, you’ll want to fix any bald spots so try to get the seeding done early so the new grass will have enough time to develop before the summer stress. Watering will be key to helping young grass survive the entire season.  Grass seed will start to germinate when soil temperatures reach 50°F, so as soon as your seeing soil temperatures in this range, get the seed down. For the same reason pre-emergents work on crabgrass and other weed seeds, they also work on grass seed, so be careful not to use pre-emergents over new grass seed.

A  little extra effort in the spring will pay big dividends all year long, and help make the entire lawn care season much more manageable.  By following the above steps you’ll be on your way to a thicker, fuller, more healthy lawn that will be the envy of all your neighbors. Now if I could just get the same results with my hair.  

Spring Lawn Care Tips

Common Lawn Bugs That May Be Hurting Your Lawn: See Any of These? Let’s Chat! (Part 1)

Contrary to popular belief, not all bugs are bad bugs!  In fact, there are TONS of beneficial insects for your lawn.  Healthy lawns are actually packed with a wide variety of insects–those that you can see, and many that you never will.  These insects serve as tiny little grass protectors, helping to fend off invasive and damaging pests, and promoting a living, breathing lawn ecosystem.


But, there are several types of insects that, if left uncontrolled, may cause significant damage to your beautiful grass.  We’ve shown some of these below, and provided some tips on how to identify these, but as always, feel free to reach out if you suspect certain insects are harming your grass.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs typically like hot, dry conditions, basically using your grass as tiny little water taps.  As they rob your grass of its valuable moisture in the summer heat, large brown patches–often with clear “boundaries”–will quickly emerge as the grass dies off.  Chinch bugs reproduce very quickly, and in very large numbers, so acting quickly is very important!

Treating grubs in lawn

Grubs

Grubs are one of the more easily-identified lawn pests due to their distinct white, curled-up appearance (like a letter “C”).  But, grubs are actually the larval form of several different beetles, including Japanese beetles, “June” beetles, and chafer beetles.

When grubs are active in your lawn, you can usually find them a few inches down into the soil, right where your grass’ roots are.  In fact, that’s where they love to be–grubs love to eat grass roots! Although grubs are typically inactive during the winter months, younger grubs have a big appetite during the Summer and Fall months, where they do the most damage (grubs will feed in the Spring when they “wake up”, but typically much of the damage done is seen in the Fall).

Some of the symptoms of grub activity?  Spongy soil, random dead/brown patches that do not green up, and birds/skunks/moles digging into your lawn (looking for snacks!).  One way to confirm you have grubs is to pull back a section of your grass. If it peels up like carpet and/or you see numerous small/white grubs underneath, you may need to treat for grubs.  Typically, fewer than ~5 grubs per square foot is not a problem for healthy lawns, but more than 6-10 per square foot could result in significant damage over time.

Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of this blog series for additional bug identification, as well as tips and tricks for getting rid of unwanted pests!

Treat Bugs in lawn



How to Prepare for Effective Overseeding

Overseeding Lawn

Here at Lawn Serv, we get a lot of questions about overseeding–what is it? When is the best time to do it?  How does this change my strategy for applying nutrients, weed products, etc. throughout the season? Well, the answer is … it depends!  But, the good news is that overseeding is one of the best things you can do for your lawn to help improve the density of grass, fix bare spots, crowd out weeds, and keep your lawn healthy.  Read on to find out more!

What is “Overseeding”?

Overseeding is pretty simple.  It’s the process of laying down new grass seed to (mostly) already seeded areas of lawn.  Overseeding is ideal for thin lawns; if your lawn is mostly bare in spots, but generally in good shape, you may want to consider a seeding program that is more focused on those spots.

When should I overseed my lawn?

Fall is generally the best time to introduce new seed to your lawn, particularly in cool grass areas (think roughly the top half of the U.S., where cool season grasses are most prevalent). While there are also benefits to overseeding in the Spring, this tends to be a “pickier” time to do it.  If you seed too early in the Spring, late freezes and frosts–and snow!–can still hurt your seed’s chances of germinating. If you seed too late in the Spring, your grass may not have enough time to develop deep enough roots to survive the summer’s heat.

What should I do before Overseeding?

How to prep for seeding

In general, you cannot just open the bag of seed and throw it down!  The sun will cook your seed, the wind will take it away (if the birds don’t!), and the seed is unlikely to make the contact with the soil that it needs to sprout healthy roots.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for overseeding is aeration.  This involves pulling small cores of soil from your lawn using an aeration machine.  There are manual aeration devices (ever seen those spikey shoes that you strap on?), but we don’t recommend these–they’re a lot of work, and might actually compress the soil more!  Aerators can generally be rented at your local hardware or rental store and are very effective.

By aerating your lawn, you’re allowing water, air, nutrients, fertilizer and seed to reach deeper down into the soil ecosystem, providing a much greater environment for your grass to grow deep, healthy roots. In particular, aeration greatly improves the soil-to-seed contact that will allow the best chance at seed germination and seedling growth.

Wait, why should I overseed again?

In addition to promoting a more dense, beautiful lawn, overseeding also introduces new and improved types of grass to your yard.  This diversity protects your lawn from disease, bugs and drought, and generally improves your lawn’s ability to resist the harsh stresses of summer!

But, in order to do all of this, you need to make sure you’re applying the highest-quality grass seed, as well as addressing any underlying challenges that your lawn may be facing.  The best way to do this? A Lawn Serv subscription, of course! Our plans are all tailored specifically to your lawn by using the most advanced soil testing available. And, we work directly with some of the leading grass seed suppliers–including those that supply professional sod farms with their seed!–so we can offer our customers the highest quality seed and best advice along the way.

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions–we’re here to help along the way!

Lawn Serv

How to Prep Soil for Grass Seed

The key to grass seed really taking to a new area is getting great soil seed contact. You want to take the time up front getting the area prepped so the seed has the highest likelihood of success to maintain moisture during germination. Some quick tips and a HowCast video below should get you there…

  • Loosen up the soil with rakes
  • Level the area to be even
  • Remove debris like stones or twigs
Lawn Serv

How to Revive a Dead Lawn

You lawn is likely not dead.  It is likely dormant waiting to be revived.  If you have bare patches (not a dormant lawn) think about seeding not reviving.

Check out this HowCast video below and be sure to read the bullets below that with additional helpful hints…

  • Try to stay off of it
  • Water it – please use a sprinkler (but be committed to continued watering)
  • Provide the lawn with a boost of food. Try an All Natural fertilizer to start with that has Nitrogen and make it a hose-end application product as that has great absorption
How to revive a lawn
Visit LawnServ.com for additional details on our subscription Lawn Box

What to Consider When Choosing Organic Fertilizer

At Lawn Serv, we love our organic products.  When used correctly, organic products can be a fantastic, effective–and very safe–way to give your lawn the nutrients it needs to thrive.  But, what are the differences between organic fertilizers and traditional? And, what do these differences mean for how you should be using organic fertilizers to maximize the benefit?  

Let’s take a look!

First, what do we mean when we say “organic fertilizer”?

Organic fertilizers are usually made by processing waste from plants or animals (e.g., compost, or manures).  Organic fertilizer components are often found in non-organic products, but because those contain synthetic ingredients, they cannot be called “organic”.  Keep an eye out for clear labeling that says “organic”, or “approved for organic gardening” when choosing an organic fertilizer.

Are there any benefits to using organic fertilizer?

Yes!  To name just a few:

  1. Organic fertilizers also promote the activity of healthy microbes, by providing rich sources of carbon to the soil ecosystem.
  2. Organic fertilizers contain organic matter, which enhance soil structure, and as a result, greatly improve the soil’s ability to hold onto water and nutrients.
  3. Organic fertilizers are also sustainable and environmentally friendly!  According to the Organic Trade Association, organic fertilizer increases species biodiversity by 30% compared to other fertilizers. That’s a lot of healthy activity in your yard’s ecosystem!
Fertilizer How To

But, there must be disadvantages, right?  Well, sort of.

Although the organic fertilizer market is well-controlled and regulated, the quality of some products on the market may vary.  And, since organic fertilizers often contain more natural and complex nutrients, they may be naturally slower to release; you may not see overnight results–it’s a marathon, not a sprint!  

So, what’s the best way to use organic fertilizers?

Well, the easiest way is a Lawn Serv All-Natural Subscription Box, of course!  Lawn Serv only works with the highest-quality organic fertilizer suppliers to ensure quality products and great results!  Your subscription deliveries are timed throughout the season–and are targeted to your specific lawn through soil testing–to ensure effective use of organic fertilizers.  If you’d rather choose your own organic fertilizers, that’s ok too! Just be be sure you’re choosing well-known products that have been reviewed by trade associations, universities, or other experts, as these will be the safest, most effective products for your yard.

As always, reach out with any questions–we’re here to help!

See you out in the yard!

-Lawn Serv

How to use organic products
Learn more about managing your lawn here ^

Should I Be Following a Lawn Program?

Lawn Care Plan

Many lawn products and programs are focused on short-term bursts of green in your lawn, and do not address the issues that result in unhealthy grass plants.  If left unaddressed, these problems will get worse each year, leaving your lawn vulnerable to bugs, and allowing brown/bare spots and weeds to overtake your yard!

Lawn Plan

But, there is good news: by following a consistent, tailored program, you can greatly improve the health of the underlying soil ecosystem, fortifying your soil and nourishing your lawn to build a beautiful landscape!

Benefits of following a consistent lawn plan (like ours here at Lawn Serv!) include:

  • Less fertilizer:  consistent application of the right fertilizers at the right time boosts your lawn’s ability to absorb the nutrients it needs to grow naturally.  As a result, you can drastically reduce the need for large amounts of fertilizer to get the same results!
  • Less pesticides:  consistency in your lawn program will build stronger, more resilient plants, crowding out weeds and bugs, and allowing you to reduce overall pesticide use.
  • Less water:  a consistent lawn program grows thicker, stronger, healthier root systems that access water and nutrients deeper in the soil.  These healthier plants are also able to retain more water, leading to much more efficient use of water.
  • Eliminate runoff:  by applying smaller, more consistent amounts of nutrients for your lawn—focusing only on the nutrients that your lawn actually needs, identified through a comprehensive soil test—you are greatly reducing any potential runoff.

The even better news?  Following a lawn plan is not difficult!  There are some basic steps that you can take that will really make a big difference, including finding out how big your lawn actually is right here!  And, get your soil tested.  By the way, <–that soil test is free with all of our Lawn Serv plans!

Feel free to reach out anytime with questions, we’re here to help!


Lawn Care Advice
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