All posts by Lawn Guru

Overseeding – Cool Season Grass in the fall

BACKGROUND: Overseeding is the action of adding grass seed to an existing lawn. This may be considered by people for spots where bare areas show, or even better over the whole yard! Overseeding is a great way to improve the density of grass that has become thin while introducing new innovative grass that is likely more resistant to disease, drought, and bugs.

THE RULE (KIND OF): if 50% or more of you lawn is in good condition, overseeding can be a positive effort worth trying. If more than 50 percent of the area is in poor condition (weeds, dog spots, etc), you will want to consider a new lawn from sod or seed (bigger project).

NOTE: Pick seed that is appropriate for your lawn type and area. You probably want to make sure you are buying perennial not annual grass so that it comes back the next year. It will say right on the label of the bag.

Best Practices:

MOW LOW: We don’t typically advise this…. but because you are trying to grow grass from seed take into consideration that the seed will be competing with that existing (taller) grass and its nutrients (sunlight, water, fertilizer, etc). To give the seed a better chance MOW LOW in gradual steps. Normally, you should cut grass to a height of 3 to 3.5 inches. In this case, reduce that height to 1.5 to 2 inches. Also, bag or rake up the clippings in preparation for overseeding lawns, even if normally you do not. You want to give seeds the best chance of making good contact with the soil, and clippings would just get in the way.

RAKE TO LOOSEN SOIL: You will need good seed-to-soil contact for the new seed to germinate. Prepare areas by raking. Use a light touch, so you break up the soil surface without raking out the existing grass.

RAKE TO HELP SEED SOIL CONTACT: We recommend applying seed with a spreader to get more even coverage. Use the recommended rate for your selected seed when overseeding. Rake the area again lightly with an upside down rake after you overseed to improve the seed-to-soil contact.

APPLY STARTER FERTILIZER: apply a starter fertilizer for improved and faster results. We think going half application rate 2 weeks apart is a real pro move if you have the time.

WATER, WATER: The grass seed must be wet in order to germinate. The soil should be kept evenly moist, which may mean several water applications per day for a few weeks. Try not to over do the watering leading to flooding the area and making the seed move.

After the grass blades sprout, you’ll still need to water a couple of times per day and try to take it easy on the lawn for the first couple mows. Definitely don’t go heavy traffic, it will die. Keep up with your regular fertilizer applications and enjoy!

The best time for overseeding lawns that have cool-season grasses is in September in northern climates. You are looking for that not too hot, not going to frost too soon time frame.

How to Manage MOss In the Lawn

Moss in and around lawns is a common occurrence for the average home owner, don’t sweat it! We’ll try to explain how this happens and how to manage the next steps.

HOW THIS HAPPENS: Moss typically tells you that grass is weak and the environment (in the soil) is better for the moss than the grass itself. Moss can also be prevalent in conditions of excessive shade, compacted soils, poorly drained soils, low soil fertility, high or low soil pH, and poor air circulation. Poor lawn care practices are another source of moss problems. General lack of care, including irregular mowing and little or no fertilizer applications are common problems leading to poor soil conditions and therefor bad lawns.

FIXES: 1.)Amending the soil with lime is a common go to for homeowners to balance pH which is a typical sign when moss is around. However, this shouldn’t be done unless a soil test has shown the pH needs to be raised (which is what lime will do).

Lawn Serv’s DIY Lawn Care Subscription Box includes the management of pH after we test the soil which is included in the subscription plan too! Making this first fix super easy!

2.)IRON sulfate / Ferrous ammonium sulfate / ferric sulfate can be used to control moss and another plus is that this product will give a really deep green color to your lawn where it is applied. AN EXAMPLE PRODUCT HERE

1.) + 2.) Should also include raking out moss or using a spade shovel in 100% moss areas to remove it and allow product to get to the soil more easily. All of this should be followed by reseeding as these areas are usually thin with grass.

3.) Too much shade for acceptable grass growth is a common underlying cause for moss invasion. Pruning trees and shrubs to improve air circulation and light penetration is a good idea.

4.) Reduce soil compaction by aerating the lawn to help correct drainage problems.

Start there! Those correct 99% of the moss problems in the lawn world. If the problem persists really take a look at how the area is different than the other areas in your yard without moss and try to understand the underlying differences and work back from there.

Typical Lawn Disease & How to Fix IT

Maintaining a healthy, vigorously growing lawn is the best way to prevent a severe disease outbreak in turfgrass. Executing the lawn game plan with optimum amounts of water and fertilizer along side the right mowing regime is a solid start. Not forgetting to aerate and setup for well-drained soil is next level. If any of these factors are missing or in excess, the grass may become stressed and more susceptible to disease. NOT GOOD!

Many common diseases are active only under specific environmental conditions and with some lawn love can be put back on track in a short period of time. The key is taking action quickly when you see it! Getting down an appropriate fungicide might be needed to stop the spread and start to cure the disease. Bagging clippings when mowing will also help to stop the spread. Understanding the disease’s favorable conditions and doing your best to counteract those is going to be necessary. If excess water is a problem… turn off the irrigation, or try to regularly aerate your lawn annually as an example. We cannot control the weather so doing our best to react will keep us on our toes.

Red Tread Lawn

Red Thread. 
This disease is common under conditions of rising air temperatures 60°–75°F in spring with extended periods of leaf wetness and is likely prevalent where there are low levels of nitrogen in the soil. Red thread is a relatively harmless disease that can be used as a good indicator that it’s time to fertilize the lawn. Cool season grasses like fescue, ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and bentgrass are most susceptible.

Brown Patch.
Brown patch appears as circular patches in the lawn that are brownish yellow in color and range from 6 inches to several feet in diameter. It affects all cool-season lawn grasses but is especially harmful to ryegrass and tall Fescue. Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues can occasionally be affected, but the damage is usually minimal in these species. Brown patch also affects a variety of warm season grasses including St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass. Brown patch is most likely to occur during extended periods of heat and humidity when night-time temperatures remain above 68° F.

Powdery Mildew
This fungal disease is common to many plants beyond grass even, each with its own species of the disease. Powdery mildew on lawns is most common on cool season grasses, Kentucky bluegrass specifically. Powdery mildew can appear quickly on a lawn, mainly in shady areas and more frequently during cloudy or overcast periods. The presence of powdery mildew is evident by a white dust appearance on the leaf blades.

Grey Leaf Spot

The conditions favoring this disease start with daytime temperatures of 85°–95°F along with high humidity or rainfall. The symptoms as seen in the picture below include irregular blighted patches of turf with bleached spots with dark edges to the spotting on the blades of grass.

Snow Mold
Will appear in the early spring as the snow melts. There are two types of snow mold. Grey snow mold and pink snow mold. Pink snow mold infects the crown of the plant and can cause more severe injury than gray snow mold which only infects the leaf tissue. Snow mold is caused when there is an extended period of snow cover on the ground that is not completely frozen. Snow mold more easily under leaves that have not been cleaned up before winter or with long grass that should have been mowed once more before winter set in.

HOW TO TREAT:

This Bayer BioAdvance product can help to stop the spread in a diseased lawn while also aiding in the cure. Additionally, applications to help prevent turf damaging diseases could be necessary if you see favorable disease conditions helping to stop the disease before they become very noticeable. This rainproof formula provides up to 1-month protection against most common lawn diseases including Anthracnose, Brown Patch, Dollar Spot, Fusarium Patch, Powdery Mildew, Red Thread, Rusts, Stripe Smut, Summer Patch, and Snow Mold. VIEW PRODUCT HERE

Don’t forget that disease and fungus are normal parts of maintaining a lawn. You might see these problems every year or every few years depending on where you live in the country. Not your fault, just do what you can to try to maintain it and have fun working on solving the problems!

Continue to amend and manage your lawn ecosystem appropriately with LAWN SERV!

Father’s Day Gift Guide

While you may groan at his jokes, or question his fashion choices, Dad is deserving of something special this Father’s Day.  So skip the necktie, coffee mug, or any of the “worlds greatest dad” items and consult our curated dad’s day gift guide for ideas that expresses how awesome you think he is.

Lawn Serv

Does your dad love his lawn?  This year save him some serious time and aggravation with that green oasis of a lawn by signing him up for a monthly subscription to Lawn Serv.  Along with a free soil analysis, Lawn Serv will send Dad just the right amount of fertilizer, for exactly what his lawn needs. No more going to a big box store to pick out fertilizer and no more confusion as to what to put down and in what quantities, Lawn Serv has him covered for each month of the season.  

https://lawnserv.com/pages/pick-your-product

Murphy’s Naturals

This mosquito repellant bundle is the perfect gift for any outdoor or backyard patio enthusiast.  Each kit comes with multiple all natural ways to ward off pesky mosquitoes, with incense sticks, sprays, balms, and candles and they are natural also.  They even have a bite relief balm in the event one sneaks through the defense system. Show dad you’ve got him covered this year, at least from mosquitoes.

https://www.murphysnaturals.net/shop/mosquito-repellent-bundle

Mystery Tackle Box

This is the original monthly lure subscription service, which has featured over a hundred different brands in their boxes and introduced tens of thousands of anglers to new products they have come to love. They ship out over 2 million baits a year and continue to grow as customers love getting their boxes every month.  As and added bonus, if you enjoy fishing, this will give you a great opportunity to spend a little casting time with Dad while also trying out some new tackle.

https://shopkarls.com/subscribe

Bacon Buff

If Bacon wasn’t good enough on its own, how about having it delivered to Dad’s doorstep each month.  The Bacon of the Month Club shipment features the most artisanal bacon from around the country and not the stuff you can easily find at your supermarket. Each month Dad can also expect a few extra treats along with some super-excellent bacon. Bacon Buff is the only bacon club that features a variety of diverse bacon makers, to really help you taste the Bacon Rainbow.  Set dad up with a steady supply of bacon and then make sure your around to sample the Rainbow.

https://www.baconbuff.com

GSI Outdoors

If Dad is the type of guy that loves nature and likes to get away from it all, this cooking set from GSI outdoors will make his trip.  The Halulite Ketalist combines an integrated cooking and eating solution with an ultra-durable hard anodized aluminum 1 liter camping kettle. Efficient and ultra-light hard anodized camping kettle set integrates a Folding spoon, insulated mug with sip-it top and nesting bowl into a 33 fl oz (1 liter) tea kettle with insulated handle and enough room to store a 110g fuel canister and all in a convenient, half-mesh storage bag.

https://gsioutdoors.com/halulite-ketalist-ii.html

Farm to People

What fathers day gift guide would be complete without something for the grill.  The Burger Wardrobe is that something, and it is what your burger would bring home if it went “clothes” shopping.  Even if Dad is not big on upgrading his wardrobe, at least he’ll have the most stylish looking burgers on the block. Help dad up his burger game with this offering from Farm to People.  

Whether it’s saving Dad time caring for his lawn, setting him up with a continual supply of bacon, or any of the other options on our list, you can’t go wrong when you show dad how much he means to with just the right Father’s Day gift.     


Managing Weeds In your Yard While keeping the grass

Everyone wants a weed free yard. Understanding where to start and setting realistic expectations is going to save you the frustration though as managing weeds in a lawn is an ongoing battle.

1.) Hand pulling weeds is going to help whenever you have established mature weeds already.

2.) Using a spot treatment is going to help on any weeds that are less mature or that are really hard to hand pull

3.) Preventing weeds is going to save you time on step 1 and 2, so be sure to apply your pre-emergent weed control religiously and using a broad post-emergent early is going to be more effective against less mature weeds.

We talk about attacking weeds in a bunch of ongoing mini-battles a lot here at Lawn Serv. We personally like to try to spend 5-10 minutes before mowing the lawn to walk the area, pick up sticks, and pull any mature weeds. After the mow take another 5-10 minutes pulling any mature weeds you saw while mowing while walking around with the spot treatment spraying anything too hard to pull.

After a few weeks of repeating that process you will have made a lot of great progress!

Enjoy the lawn!

Lawn Serv Team

https://lawnserv.com/

How to fix bald spots in a lawn

Bald spots on a lawn are something every homeowner experiences at one point or another in their pursuit of the perfect lawn.  Typically these spots can be fixed with a few easy steps, some water, and a little patience.

Cause of Problem

Most important is to determine what caused the spot to develop in the first place.  Without determining the underlying issue there is the potential the spot could return regardless of how well of a repair was completed.  The following is a fairly extensive list of potential culprits, some of which may require a little detective work with a shovel.

Excessive foot traffic

Animal urine

Dull lawn mower blades

Scalping by cutting your grass too short

Chemical spills

Poor soil condition caused by thatched grass

Lack of fertilization

Buried rocks or other debris

Erosion from water runoff

Tree or shrub roots

Drought

Dormancy due to the type of grass planted

Grub infestation

Chinch bugs and other insects

Fungal disease

Once you’ve determined the underlying issue and corrected as necessary the area is now ready for  some prep work.

Prepare Soil

Just sprinkling seeds and hoping for the best is not recommended for best results.  If there is a thatch layer or any debris over the spot, remove it with an aggressive raking to expose the topsoil below.  Once the soil is exposed, loosen up the top inch or so and then spread evenly so the entire surface is level with the surrounding soil.  It the spot is lower than necessary, add some quality top soil to bring it up to the correct level. Keep in mind loosen soil will compact a bit over time, so if the area is up to a ½ higher than its surrounding, that is ok.  

Spread Seed

With the soil prepared properly it’s time to spread some grass seed.  Remember to choose a seed that is appropriate for your climate and sunlight exposure of the area you are repairing.  Typically spots are repaired when needed, but keep in mind, cool season grasses do best when planted in late summer to early fall, while warm season grasses perform best when the seed is sown in spring or early summer. Once seed is spread, lightly rake the area to work the seed into the soil, paying careful attention to keeping the seeds spread evenly.  

Cover

Covering the seed is not necessary, but can be beneficial for a few reasons.  A light cover of peat moss will help retain moisture until the grass is established, which is especially important when performing repairs during the more humid times of the season. Covering with a bit of compost or enriched soil will give the seeds a bit of a nutrient boost, but be careful not to bury the seeds to deep or there is a chance they will not germinate.  In the absence of covering with soil, peat, etc. it is a good idea to cover the area with some straw, which helps a bit with moisture retention, but more importantly keeps the newly strewn seed from becoming a hungry birds snack.

Water

Of course no how-to dealing with grass goes without mentioning watering.  Water the seeds in the early morning and evening until they germinate, but also check throughout the day to ensure the area never dries out.  When watering, water well, but not hard. A gentle spray, like raindrops, or even a mist, is necessary so the seeds do not get pushed around by an aggressive water stream.

Final Steps

Hold off on mowing until the grass blades are over 3 inches tall, and even after the first mowing,  let the area grow slightly longer than the rest of the lawn until the colors of the two match. There is no need to fertilize immediately, as experts tend to agree that starter fertilizers are not useful until after the grass is established. Within a few weeks the spot will barely be noticeable from the rest of your lawn, and within a month, the trouble area with be just a memory.  

Growing Grass in the Shade


Can you picture the perfect yard in your mind?   Beautiful stately trees, trimmed out by deep chocolate colored mulch, all being surrounded by thick, luscious, dark green grass.  Perhaps even a hammock strung between two trees. Sounds beautiful right? I agree, but when trying to achieve growing thick grass in shady conditions, there are a few key elements to consider, which can have a significant impact on the ultimate success or failure of your efforts.

Lawn Plan

Evaluate the Sunlight

There is no magic shade seed. Grass needs sunlight to grow, typically 3-4 hours of direct sun or 4-6 hours of dappled sunlight per day.  Even shade grasses will need some sun, so understanding what an area is receiving for sunlight is important. Before implementing some of the other techniques detailed below, pick a sunny day to monitor the area and get an idea of just how much sunlight, and what type, it’s receiving.  Knowing the ultimate amount of sun an area receives will help avoid frustration and wasted effort. You may ultimately find that the area is just not a good fit for grass.

Type of Grass

There are a multitude of grass seed options available for all types of locations and environments.  Depending on where you live and how much sunlight you’ve determined the area receives on a given day, will dictate the type of grass that gives you the best chance for success. For the North or cool-season grasses, ryegrass, and fine and tall fescues tend to be the most shade tolerant.  For the South or warm season grasses, Zoysia and St. Augustine tend to perform better. A good seed blend should include a mixture of different shade tolerant grasses, this way if one grass type fails to succeed another will take its place. Finally, spend a little extra for quality grass seed, it is worth the extra expense and ultimately performs better, which saves you overall.  

Pruning

Sometimes an area just needs a little extra sunlight that a good pruning can offer. Removing lower limbs, or raising the canopy, allows early morning and late afternoon sunlight to get to the grass.  Pruning interior branches opens up the tree canopy and permits dappled sunlight to reach the ground beneath. Either pruning option may be just what is needed to allow that extra bit of sunlight in for grass to grow.  

The type of trees creating shade also plays a part in how well grass ultimately grows.  Maples typically have dense canopies and shallow roots that create sub optimal grass growing conditions.  Dogwoods, Oaks, and Pines are also tough on grass as well. However, locust, sycamore, ornamental crabapples, and elms are great hosts to luscious lawns below.  

Watering

Of course watering is still necessary even in the shade, but not at the same levels for the rest of the lawn.  If the shade is caused by a building then watering less frequently is necessary. However if the shade is due to trees, extra water may be required due to the tree roots absorbing available moisture, or the rainfall may not be reaching the ground due to a thick canopy above.  Overall keep an eye on the dampness of the area, as continually wet conditions can cause diseases and inhibit growing grass.

Fertilizing

Typically shade tolerant grass needs less fertilizer than the rest of your lawn. It is still imprint to apply fertilizer on the same schedule as the rest of the lawn, so simply adjust the amount.  A good rule is shade areas need only 1/2 the amount of nitrogen compared to sunny areas. Weeds typically aren’t as big a problem in shade, so limit herbicides to these areas only when needed.

Minimize Stress

Try to limit traffic on the area and vary the direction you mow, both of which helps reduce the overall stress on the grass at any one time.  Also, keeping shady area grasses 1/2 to 1 inch taller than sunny parts allows each blade that much more surface area to conduct photosynthesis, which in turn fuels growth and greater resiliency.

Even after following all of the recommendations above, you may be faced with an area that is just not hospitable to grass.  In those instances, to save your time, budget, and your sanity, consider planting shade loving ground covers, or creating an oasis of some kind with pavers, benches, stones, shade loving plants etc.  As welcoming as shady grass is under a big tree, sometimes mother nature has other plans.

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!