Finally the warm weather is here and we can all enjoy the backyard, patio, lawn or garden. Are you backyard ready? Preparing your property including the lawn, hedges, trees, and garden takes lots of work and time. Growing lush, thick, pest-free grass is not an easy thing to do. Keeping ticks and mosquitoes at bay is also a struggle from the spring all the way through the first frost of fall. Here are a few tips to make sure you are ready for backyard season.
- Clean it Up – Remove any debris that has accumulated. Raking up areas that have been matted down by snow can help bring the grass back to life.
- Seeding and Hydroseeding – Consider employing professionals to seed your yard, especially if you have large bare patches. Pro-Tech Lawn Care can help you fill in brown spots and get your lawn back!
- Aeration – This allows water, air and nutrients to reach the root zone faster. This can result in new growth and increased root development.
- Repair – Salt and snow can really damage a yard, so do the needed repair work to make the entire yard look like new again.
- Pests – Don’t forget that while all flowers and trees are waking up again this spring, so are pests! Grass, plantings and tree pests can damage, if not destroy, the lawn. Have a thorough inspection done by our expert technicians to ensure that your lawn and garden is protected this season.
- Mulch and Prune – As you inspect your yard take note of areas that need pruning and re-mulching. Keep branches away from your home as they become a “bridge” for pests to enter the structure.
- Soil Check – When was the last time you has a soil analysis? Ask our team to test your soil so you know how and when to fertilize, feed and water your lawn.
- Protect Against Mosquitoes and Ticks – Do you tend to find ticks on your skin or clothes or get eaten alive by mosquitoes when you step outside? Talk to our professionals about treatment options for your property.
Feels like this time would never come right? This long cold winter had us all feeling like the warm spring weather would never get here. The first mowing of the lawn is a much anticipated event for so many homeowners just as a baby’s first haircut is for new parents. For those of us who “baby” our lawn, there are things you should do to have that first cut be a successful one. This is a brief checklist of how to prepare your mower for the first mowing of Spring.
- Mower Blades – Make sure the blades of your mower are sharp and clean. If not the will dull blades will rip off the tops of the grass blades instead of giving them a clean cut.
- Tune Up the Mower – Have a professional check out your mower and install new spark plugs. A tune up can also check that the motor is working well and will not break down in mid season.
- Use Fresh Gas – Hopefully at the end of last season you drained the gas from the tank or ran it until the gas was low. Gas that’s been left to sit over the winter can accumulate moisture that harms small engines. This is especially true for fuel containing ethanol. A fresh tank of gas is a good way to start the season.
- Change the Oil – A fresh can of oil is also a good idea to start the mowing season off right. Be sure to check the mower instructions so that you are using the right type of oil.
- Inspect the Lawn – It is always a good idea to check the lawn before you mow to be sure that branches, twigs or items are not in the way of the mow path. This is especially important after a long winter where frost heaves, sprinkler heads and other items can be in the way of the mower blade.
- Rule of Thirds – Mow height tends to be a personal choice but most experts recommend not cutting off more than one third of the height at a time.
Nurturing our yards is something that New Englanders do not take for granted. After long, cold, harsh winters, we are ready and excited to plant and cultivate our lawn and gardens. That’s why it is especially painful to see weeks and months of hard work in our yards get ruined by weeds taking over the landscaping. It is very disheartening to watch as just a few weeks can begin to take control over entire sections of your grass and invade your planting areas.
There are hundreds of varieties of weeds that can make a mess of your lawn from broadleaf varieties, to grassy all the way to woody weeds. Identifying the type that has invaded your yard is always the first step in eradicating and preventing a recurrence. Contacting the experts at Pro-Tech Lawn Care is a great first step in stopping the weed problem in your yard. They can not only identify the weed variety but make recommendations as to how to get rid of them and follow up to make sure your lawn is growing in a healthy manner. They will also be able to help you cultivate a healthy lawn by showing you steps to keep your grass well watered, fed and aerated. Lawns that have the right amount of nutrients, sunlight and water are less likely to be invaded by weeds in the first place.
Weeds tend to be obnoxious and are tough to get rid of but with guidance from Pro-Tech we can help you get on the right path to a healthy lawn. Here are a few resources to look at that can help you identify if you have a weed issue as well as what type of weed.
Better Home and Gardens Weed Identification
UMass Amherst Weed Emporium
Spring is such a great time for being outdoors and enjoying nature. Everything is coming back to life after a hard, cold winter and it is a time that we relish working in our yards. The birds, the bees, yard critters and flowers all seem to be growing and active. Spring is a time of year that many homeowners decide to replace or repair the grass in their yard either due to pest damage, water issues or weather damage. Establishing a lush and healthy grass takes time and diligence. It also means choosing the right type of grass for your region and yard.
Our Northeast Region is unique in that we have cold winters and moderate summers. We also battle with high humidity. These conditions can be a challenge for many plants and grasses. Therefore, cool-season grasses, such as bluegrasses, ryegrasses and fescues, prevail in the Northeast region of the United States. Northeast lawns need grasses that prefer cool temperatures and naturally resist diseases prevalent in this region.
For many homeowners Kentucky Bluegrass has been idea for growing in the climate we experience her in the Northeast. This cool-season, perennial grass delivers finely textured, deep-emerald-green blades and the hardiness needed for cold northern winters. Kentucky bluegrass spreads aggressively, but its root system remains relatively shallow compared to many other grasses. Drought induces dormancy in Kentucky bluegrass, but the grass rebounds strong with watering. Though some are slow to green in spring, Kentucky bluegrass blends well with ryegrass for faster greening. However, perennial ryegrasses can sometimes overtake Kentucky bluegrass, so minimize mixing.
Pro-Tech Lawn Care offers many lawn care packages to help homeowners maintain the health of their turf. We take a comprehensive approach offering: soil testing, fertilizing, weed and pest control, disease mitigation, and aeration and overseeding. We want your lawn to look beautiful! One service that we don’t provide but that we are commonly asked about is something you may see at ball parks or at famous locations – lawn striping.
Professionals who care for ball parks, golf courses and national landmarks have been using lawn striping systems for years. For the regular property owner mowing in different directions can do the trick. By changing mowing directions the light reflecting off blades of grass at different angles and create light and dark patterns. For example, baseball lovers probably saw the intricate design that the grounds crew at Fenway Park created in honor of David Ortiz for his retirement. They took lawn striping to the ultimate level with a full portrait of Big Papi in the outfield. Wrigley Field In Chicago is also known for its pinstriping, checkerboard and wave designs. If you are not a professional but would like to learn the basics of lawn striping you may find that it not only adds an aesthetic appeal to your lawn but can actually make it healthier!
There are several benefits to changing the direction of mowing. Homeowners that always mow in the same direction tend to create ruts, edges or even grooves in the soil caused by the weight of the lawn mower. Changing directions actually encourages healthy grass growth. Mowing in one direction can often cause the taller grass to bend and shield the grass below from the sun light. This could eventually kill that sheltered grass. If you want to have your grass look like a mowing masterpiece, or at least want to impress your neighbors, try these links for how directions for lawn mowing design patterns.
Kkokk in Sculpture – Making your Landscaping Beautiful
Scag Lawn Striping How Tos
YouTube Lawn Striping How to
We all learned in grade school that for things to grow they need food, water and sunshine for photosynthesis to occur. What they probably didn’t teach you in school was the amount and way that plants and grasses should be watered! Our Lawn Care professionals want you to understand the best practices when it comes to watering your lawn. So here is our back-to-the-basics Lawn Watering 101 tips and suggestions for you to follow.
- How often your lawn needs a drink depends on a host of factors, including things like soil type, sunlight, grass type and regional climate.
- The majority of lawns need around one inch of water each week. Put out containers or rain gauges to collect water to ensure your lawn in getting enough. You’ll find gauges at most lawn and garden centers.
- Water deeply instead of frequently. The best times to water are between 6-10 AM. There’s less wind, less hot sun, and your lawn has a full day to dry. Watering mid-day and the water will evaporate too quickly. Water in the evening and it may invite mildew.
- Allow dormancy if needed. In times of great stress and drought it may be best to allow your lawn to turn brown and go dormant. Grass will bounce back when rainfall and cooler temperatures return in the fall, especially if it was well fed in the spring.
- Research your soil type. If you notice puddling each time you water your soil may have a high clay content. Take a soil test to learn what kind of soil is hosting your grass, and adjust irrigation cycles accordingly.
- Avoid common mistake including: running automatic sprinklers right after or before a rainfall is predicted, watering the street and walkways by mistake, or watering when the sun is blazing and the wind is briskly blowing.
In the final part of our series on lawn disease we look at the disease known as Leaf Spot. Leaf Spot – or “melting out” in severe cases – is a common turfgrass disease in the United States, affecting a wide range of different grass plants. In northern climates such as ours, Leaf Spot damage occurs first in the spring and again in late summer to early fall. Let’s explore more about this common lawn disease.
Common Aspects of Leaf Spot
- Leaf Spot can be identified by purplish-brown to black colored spots with tan centers on the leaf blades and sheaths of your turfgrass. As these dark spots or lesions expand, the center becomes lighter in color with a dark brown to black border. The “lesions” may also be surrounded by a yellow halo and the lower leaves can eventually become shriveled and wilted.
- Conditions needed for Leaf Spot to occur include: the pathogen Bipolaris spp., or Drechslera spp., a host includieng Bluegrasses, bermudagrass, fescues or perennial ryegrass, and environmental factors such as: moist to wet climates with temperatures ranging from 40-80 degrees Fahrenheit and soils with high nitrogen levels.
- Tips for controlling Leaf Spot include: increasing the mowing height of your lawn, avoiding excessive application of fertilizers with water-soluble nitrogen in the spring,
minimizing the amount of shade and increase air flow, and
irrigate as infrequently as possible (when irrigation is performed, irrigate turf deeply).
- Management techniques can also include: removal of the area of grass that is infected, keeping foliage dry, and use fungicides only when needed. If you are questioning the proper treatment of your lawn disease call Pro-Tech Lawn Care to schedule and appointment today. We can inspect the are and determine a proper course of treatment to manage your lawn disease issue.
In today’s part four of our series on lawn disease we examine the damage of the lawn disease known as Fairy Ring. Centuries ago people thought that mushrooms appeared where “fairies” had danced the night before-hence, the name, “Fairy Ring”. Fairy Rings may sound magical and mysterious and somewhat romantic but the reality is that these circular rings of mushrooms are, in fact, disease.
Fairy Rings commonly appear in any lawn, golf course or other turf areas during spring and summer months. The rings appear as either dark green or brown circular bands ranging in size from a few inches to 50 feet in diameter. The fairy ring fungus grows outward from a central point at a rate varying from a few inches to as much as several feet a year.
Common Aspects of Fairy Ring Disease
- There are three kinds of fairy rings. One type has no mushrooms. Another has mushrooms and stimulated grass growth and still, the third type contains only a ring of mushrooms, with no evidence of unusual grass growth.
- Fairy ring fungi do not attack grass directly, but break down organic matter in the soil. As a result, nitrogen is released, which the grass uses, causing it to grow and develop a contrasting green ring.
- The mushrooms of a Fairy Ring can be poisonous to young children so, immediate elimination is needed to protect both children and pets.
- Dark green circles, arcs, or rings of thick, fast-growing grass develop anytime from green-up in the spring (most common) until the first hard frost in the fall.
- Management strategies include: proper fertilizing, aeration, and seeding. Other strategies also include removal or destruction of the disease. Removing the ring area may include digging up the area and feeding the grass appropriately. In addition, eliminate thatch buildup with a de-thatching program. Finally a fungicides may be needed to suppress a Fairy Ring outbreak.
- Call Pro-Tech Lawn Care to schedule and appointment. Experience technicians can inspect your lawn and make appropriate recommendations.
As we continue our series on Lawn Disease, we take a look at a common and destructive disease called Plythium Blight. This particular disease is also known as grease spot, cottony blight, or Pythium Root Rot. It can affect a variety of turfgrass species throughout the United States and is most common in our region during the humid summer months.
Identifying Plythium Blight
Pythium Blight causes greasy, brown, circular spots that are 3/4 of an inch to 2 inches in size, and grow rapidly. These spots are water soaked and dark colored early in the morning. Diseased patches then fade to a light brown or gray color. With high humidity in early morning or throughout the day, diseased leaves may be covered with the white, cobwebby, mold-like growth of the causal fungus. Severe outbreaks can completely destroy the turfgrass within a few days if weather conditions favor disease development.
Aspects of Plythium Blight
- Plythium Blight can lead to an infection in your lawn if all of the following conditions are present: the pathogen Pythium aphanidermatum, a host grass such as Host – Annual bluegrass, bentgrass, bermudagrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, and environmental factors such as: Environment – hot, humid climates with temperatures in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime, 68 degrees nighttime.
- Plythium Blight controls can include cultural control tips such as: avoiding mowing wet, infected turf where mycelium is present to avoid spreading spores with the mower blades.
Reduce thatch and improve drainage with core aeration. Water infrequently but deeply, and avoid watering at night. Homeowners can control these aspects of lessening the damage and spread of the disease.
- Call in lawn experts for best results such as Pro-Tech Lawn Care who can examine the lawn and decide on a proper course of treatment.
As we continue our series this month on lawn diseases we would like to examine one disease that is fairly common to this region – Red Thread. If you have noticed circular patches that are tan, red or pink in color and about 4-8 inches in diameter then you may have Red Thread (also known as Pink Patch). Red Thread symptoms create an undesirable appearance, but crowns and roots are not infected. Red Thread will catch your attention as you mow or care for your lawn.
Common Aspects of Red Thread-
- Red thread most commonly affects Kentucky blue- grass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue. Outbreaks usually occur in low maintenance turf stands such as residential lawns, golf course roughs, and some low budget athletic fields. Red Thread also is common in damp, slow-growing, nitrogen-deficient turfgrass.
- Red Thread is often associated with malnourished, low-quality, slow-growing turf.
- One of the biggest contributing factors in the appearance and spread of red thread lawn disease is low soil fertility.
- Poor watering habits and drainage can also be a contributing factor to this lawn fungus.
- Overseeding or replacing susceptible grasses with resistant varieties is helpful in controlling this disease.
Disease development occurs over a relatively wide range of cool conditions (40-70° F), typically in the spring and fall, especially during long evening dew periods.
Control Methods for Red Thread
Professional technicians can inspect your lawn and help you with specific watering habits and balanced fertilization programs. The most important non-chemical (cultural) control option involves implementing an adequate nitrogen fertility program. Chemical control is also an option but not always needed. Fungicides may be used to control Red Thread if outbreaks occur on high maintenance turf or high value properties.