Category Archives: Soil

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!

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.  

10 Things We Love About Soil!

Why Test Soil

Let’s face it: not everyone wakes up thinking about soil and how amazing it is.  But, the reality is that soil is very much alive, so there is a lot to love! Soil contains vast amounts of living matter, including a wide variety of organisms that are beneficial to your grass.  Ultimately, maintaining a great lawn begins with maintaining a healthy soil base. Don’t worry, though, we’ll take care of all of the science behind it. For now, we’d love to share some of the amazing things we love about soil!  

10.  There are 70,000 different types of soil in the U.S.!

9.  1 Tablespoon of soil has more organisms in it than there are people on earth!

8.   1.4M earthworms can be found in an acre of cropland …

7.  … And each of these worms pass 15 TONS of dry soil through them each year!

6.  10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are stored in the soil.

5.  The top 6 inches of an acre of top soil contains 20,000 pounds of living matter.

4.  Soil acts as a filter for underground water, filtering out pollutants.

3.  0.01% of Earth’s water is held in soil

2.  Soil plays a huge part in supporting planet’s biodiversity

1 .  At least 500 years(!) is needed to form one inch of top soil!

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NPK – The Science, What They Are and What They Do

Lawn Fertilizer Numbers

Quick Pro-Tip’s:

  • Nitrogen (N): nitrogen is the food that aids a lawn to grow quickly, taller, and develop a darker green color.
  • Phosphorus (P): phosphorus is responsible for root growth and helps aid new lawn development
  • Potassium (K): potassium is a nutrient responsible guards the plant against diseases and aids in drought protection and cold tolerance.


You look outside and notice your grass is brown, patchy, and generally dry looking.  So, you decide to head to the store to get some fertilizer. But, what do all those fertilizer numbers mean?? And, what do you need for your lawn??  Well, the short answer is that it heavily depends on a professional soil test (free with the Lawn Serv program). But, more on that later. For now, let’s take a quick look at those fertilizer numbers, what they are, and what they mean for your lawn.

how to test soil

What The “Fertilizer Numbers” Are:

  • Nitrogen (N), the first number: nitrogen is the food that helps a lawn to grow quickly, taller, and to develop a darker green color.
  • Phosphorus (P), the second number: phosphorus is responsible for root growth and helps aid new lawn development; phosphorus is often “0”, or very low, as there are restrictions around when and where phosphorus can be applied.
  • Potassium (K), the third number: potassium is a nutrient responsible for guarding the plant against diseases and aids in drought protection and cold tolerance.

These are three of the core nutrients used to amend soil to grow a lush green lawn. It’s what you see on the front of a fertilizer bag when you see for example 20-10-10 (or 20N-10P-10K).  That is the percentage (by weight) of the three major nutrients required for healthy grass growth, always in the same order nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K). Why don’t the the percentages equal 100 percent? That is because there are other nutrients and filler product in fertilizer mixtures. This filler helps to apply the nutrients evenly over an area.

N-P-K Organic Fertilizers (plant-based):

If you are looking for an organic option, your best bet is to find a plant-based, manure-based, or blended version of the NPK fertilizer. This allows for a balanced fertilizer that stimulates through beneficial soil microorganisms and improves the structure of the soil providing long term benefits. Some plant-based NPK fertilizer are developed with alfalfa meal, soy meal, seaweed based, and cottonseed meal. These organic plant based fertilizers break down easier and have faster absorption than most.

So, What Do These “Fertilizer Numbers” Mean For Your Lawn?

These numbers are very important as your grass needs different percentages depending on what time of year, climate, and soil composition.  For example, your lawn may need a boost of Phosphorus if you’re applying new seed, or may need a boost of Potassium late in the season to promote deep root growth for the winter.  The best way to determine exactly what your lawn needs is through a professional soil test, which we offer free as part of our Lawn Serv subscription box! And, as always, feel free to reach out with any questions; we’re here to help!

Cheers!

The Lawn Serv Team

Best Lawn Process