Category Archives: Spring

How to Get Started in the Spring with Your Yard Care

Your lawn is starting to wake up! Think about your lawn like a bear emerging from hibernation. It has just spent the last several months sleeping and recovering from the stress of last year’s hot summer, and is now slowly warming up. Now, your lawn is hungry (needs some high-quality food), could probably use a nice long shower (here comes the Spring rain!), and could use a nice thorough grooming to get ready for the season.

Spring lawn care can be daunting (where do I even start?!), but don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be that hard! In fact, there are a few big things to start with that will really get you set up for a great season.  Take a look below for some tips on how to get started.

1.       First up?  LOOK for signs of damage, weeds, and issues that you want to address this year.

Our first recommendation is always to take a nice long walk around your property. Do you see any signs of damage (did the snowplow dig up a part of your grass?) A few things to take note of:

  • Wet winter weather may mean that you have moss growing in your lawn.
  • See any circular spots on your lawn that look like moldy bread? If so, this might be snow mold!
  • Can you see any “tracks” in your lawn where pesky critters (moles/voles/mice) may have enjoyed your beautiful lawn this winter?
  • Are there any new weeds that are starting to pop up? Some weeds (e.g., bittercress) emerge before the grass does, so you’re likely to see these first thing in the Spring.

If so, take a couple pictures and let us know!

Spring Lawn Care
Colorful crocuses and snow

2.       Next: GET READY for the season!  Time to prepare your tools.

Mower maintenance is a big one—we usually recommend doing a mower (and other equipment) maintenance at the beginning of each summer.  This includes:

  • Changing the oil, air filter, and spark plugs
  • Giving your mower a good wash (we also recommend washing before you put it away for the winter, but just in case, give it a good wash in the Spring too!)
  • Blade sharpening
  • Fueling the tank with fresh gas!

There are many shops that offer a full maintenance (or even just a quick blade sharpening), but most of these to-dos are easily done by yourself if you’re willing to give it the time!  Most importantly, make sure to read your owner’s manual for proper maintenance safety, and never do any of this maintenance while the mower is running!

Spring Lawn Service

3.       Finally, after you’ve tackled this prep work, it’s GO TIME!

Even though the soil ecosystem has been active over the entire winter, now that your lawn is waking up it’s about to be kicked into turbo mode! This means that your grass—and potential weeds—will be pulling nutrients from your soil at a much higher rate and quickly growing the “shoots” part of the plant.  This means you’ll need to start mowing very soon! A couple of big needs at this point in the season:

  • Clear a path for sun and rain to get to your grass and its roots—make sure you pick up any sticks, trash, leftover leaves and debris that may be covering your lawn. You should also give your lawn a good raking—this will really help to promote air and water flow (my removing dead grass, etc.), boosting your lawn’s health!
  • Hand pull those weeds!  Some individual weed plants can drop tens of thousands of seeds over the course of a single season, so any weeds that you can hand pull at this point in the season will be a big help in reducing weed populations as we go.
  • Time for your pre-emergent treatment—this early-season treatment is focused on creating a weed “barrier” that will prevent weed seeds from germinating and popping out of the soil.

So, to summarize: take a nice long walk around your yard, get your tools ready to go, and then dive in!  Most importantly, have fun with it (if you have kids, now is a great time to have a competition on who can pick up the most sticks!).

As always, feel free to reach out anytime with questions and let us know what you see when you’re out there!

How big is my yard and sizing your lawn

Typically homes are bought and sold with information such as the square footage of your house and a total lot size. However that doesn’t give us great lawn care information. We as homeowners and yard maintainers really need to know the grassy area eliminating the house, driveway, shed, and other non-grassy areas. 

Fertilizer How To

The great part about technology is we can now do that measurement from ANYWHERE! Lawn Serv built a tool leveraging aerial photography built off of the Google Maps database that you can use for free here — http://www.myyardsize.com/ .  Below is a video on how it works.

It is very simple:

  • Put in your address
  • Plot points around the item you want to measure (cutting out your house, driveway, shed, etc). 
  • Read the number in the top left

Alternative Method:

  • Measuring Tape – section off areas, do a length by width calculation, add them all together
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4 Simple Spring Lawn (and Yard) Care Tips

Spring outdoor chores aren’t hard, but they do set the stage for getting your grass ready for the growing season. Plus after a cold winter getting outside provides a healthy dose of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise

  1. Tune up your lawn mower and weed wacker. 
    • Change the oil, air filter and spark plugs. 
    • Hopefully you cleaned them in the fall but if not try to remove any dirt and grass clippings-just be sure to detach the spark plug wire before working around the cutting blade. 
    • Sharpen the mower blade, or replace it if it has large nicks or gouges. Think about keeping an extra blade on hand this year. Check the string on your weed wacker and add more if gone. 
    • Fill the gas tank on the mower and if your weed wacker uses mixed gas and oil put together a fresh batch. 
  1. Clean up the yard. 
    • Walk around paying extra attention to fence or tree lines and gather any tree limbs or other debris that show up. 
    • Go the extra mile and give the yard a quick rake. Getting some of the dead grass, thatch, and blown leaves out of there. 
  1. Feed the lawn and tackle the weeds
    • Take the time to hand pull up weeds now, so the surrounding grass can get its best shot at growing tall and strong
    • Apply pre-emergent weed control. This stops weed seeds from germinating (like crabgrass) and will save your lawn down the road. Best to get this down before the soil temperatures reach 55 degrees well after the air temps do. Follow that up a month later with post-emergent weed control which knocks down weeds that might have made it through and sprouted up.
    • Apply a fertilizer. You should test your soil to know exactly how much but typically a spring fertilizer will be high in Nitrogen and Potassium. The bag or bottle might be something like 10-0-4 as an example. 
    • If you have any bare spots that need seed be sure to not apply weed control to that area or think about applying seed later in the season if it can wait. 
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  1. Edge the beds and apply fresh mulch. 
    • The spring soft soil makes edging the grass by sidewalks and driveways much easier.  Try to keep those looking fresh with a quick trimmer pass of the weed wacker each week. 
    • The winter can dull a mulch bed. Everything looks better with a quick topping off of new mulch. Think about applying a pre-emergent weed control to flower bed or shrub areas to help knock down the weeding later in the season.

Extras: 

  • Check the irrigation systems for any problems and prep for the season. 
  • Clean, sharpen, and oil your pruning shears so they are ready when the time comes
  • Trim the trees and shrubs. Be careful of limbs that will produce flowers though. 
  • Power washing the deck sure would look nice! 
  • Check the lawn for fungus and mold growth. Some details HERE
Lawn Fertilizer

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!

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

The Benefits of Soil Testing, Why & How!

Quick Pro Tip:

  • Soil can be tested at any time of the year, but for optimal results get your soil tested in fall or early spring this gives you ample time to make adjustments before you start planting.
  • Use a soil composition (soil from around your yard combined) as most amendments are going to be deployed broadly around the yard and there are not likely huge swings in nutrient levels to warrant super specific small tailoring of amendments.  
  • Test every couple years to see how the amendments you have made are affecting the soil.
What is NPK

Why:

Testing your soil is incredibly beneficial to the everyday home-owner with a lawn. Testing your soil allows you to understand the fertility of the lawn and its specific nutrient levels and what it needs in order to prosper.  You can then tailor your applications to target the specific needs of your lawn. This should save you time and money while being more effective and better for the environment.

How to test your soil:

Hands down the best way to test your soil is through either an extension school/university or through a private lab.  The prices can range from $15 if you drop it off to $100 if you ship it in. The biggest problem is knowing what to do with the results.  They will provide you with a lot of language such as 3 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft. If that doesn’t make a lot of sense to you it might make sense to use Lawn Serv.

Things you will test for:

There are many different types of nutrients or lack thereof in a yard, and they can differ city to city or state to state based on a lot of different factors.  Some of the main lawn related items you should see in a soil test result are:

  • pH level
  • Organic Matter
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium

You will see recommendations regarding nitrogen levels based on these factors and where you are located in the country also.

How to with Lawn Serv:

With Lawn Serv it is as simple as clicking a button.

Start by Clicking Get Started and we will go through the rest with you online!

Cheers!

The Lawn Serv Team

Best Practices for Lawn Care

Weed Control Pre vs Post Emergence

Quick Pro-Tips:

  • Pre-Emergent Herbicides are used in the early Spring Season to prevent weed seeds from germinating
  • Post-Emergent Herbicide is used once the Spring Season has begun to target established weeds
  • Application timing is important in the success of weed control
  • More mature weeds will need more attention – Like manual pulling
how to control weeds in lawn

Overview:

Nobody likes weeds.  They are hard on the eyes and usually end up killing the lawn by sucking up all the nutrients from the surrounding grass and eventually dying themselves making the lawn patchy and bumpy.  In order to prevent weeds from growing there are two types of product commonly used called Pre-Emergent and Post-Emergent Herbicides. It is ideal to understand the difference between the two to get the best results for your effort.  

Note: There is NO SUCH THING AS ORGANIC weed control!

Pre-Emergent Herbicides:

These products are typically meant to be applied in the early Spring season. The “Pre” in Pre-emergent is its focus on stopping weed seeds (or any seeds, grass included) from germinating. Typically that means from February to May depending on where you live or when the soil temps are getting up to 55 degrees. Based on where you are in the country and particular years climate this can change slightly.

Check your soil temps HERE

Post-Emergent Herbicides:

Post Emergent products are meant to address established weeds such as dandelions, thistle, bindweed, nutsedge and many more to kill them. The products can be applied with spot treatment for small problems, with a hose end sprayer for great leaf coverage, and as a granular product for a slower release and control. Be careful as application rates should be limited throughout the year. You can’t always get them all at once! Hence the manual process below…

Manual Weed Pulling:

Because you should really limit your weed control applications in a given year, as to not stress the good grass you want to keep. The best thing a homeowner can do is hand pull weeds or use a de-weeding tool to help in that process. You can get a mixture of seed and soil to back-fill any holes you create in the process to make sure no weeds just fill that spot again.

Lastly: No matter how much you treat your lawn, weed control is about consistency and perseverance.  Because weed seeds can travel several different ways from distance sometimes very far away you can never truly stop weed prevention and intervention. Keeping a healthy full lawn fed to crowd out weeds is the best practice.