Annual Bluegrass, AKA: Poa Annua

Annual bluegrass can be unsightly in home lawns, especially when it produces seed heads. Germination typically occurs in early fall when the soil temperature dips below the 70 degree mark.

If annual bluegrass is problematic in your lawn, the best treatment is a late summer application of pre-emergence (though this herbicide will halt turf seed from germinating too). This will stop the seed heads from germinating before winter sets in.

The above images show a close up of the seed head and a germinated annual bluegrass plant.

If you have annual bluegrass in your lawn and you want to schedule a pre-emergent for summer, give us a call as so we may note your account: 419-536-4344.

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Watering tips for the lawn

It’s summer and if you want to keep the grass green, you need to water it. If you do not water your lawn, it will discolor and go dormant (this is a method the turf uses to survive drought & heat as well as winter as nutrients are pulled into the root structure).  At this point, you need to make a decision: you can water the lawn to keep it hydrated on a regular basis or you can let it go dormant – but you can’t water a couple of times a month and then let it go dormant to only water again two weeks later, that will promote a shallow root system.

If you let your lawn go dormant, count on it discoloring and thinning out. Although it looks like the turf is taking a beating, it should bounce back once favorable conditions come back into the area. If we go for 3-4 weeks with less than 1″ of moisture, then you can give your lawn a drink to help the root system stay hydrated.

There are many factors that play into how much water a lawn needs: shade, turf type, soil type, temperature, etc. Today we will talk about soil types.

Different soil types require different watering techniques.

Before we get into watering techniques, lets talk about how much water is ‘needed’. On average, your lawn will require 1 – 1.5″ of moisture a week to stay green and actively growing. Area precipitation should be noted as you do not want to or need to water if nature is doing it for you. Use a screw driver after a test run of the irrigation to see how deeply the moisture level in the soil goes, it should be between 6-8 inches (determined by how easily the screw driver can be pushed into the soil).

Ideal time frame: 7:00 am – 10:00 am (under ‘normal’ weather conditions)

Soil Type (under ideal conditions)

• Clay: Because clay is so dense, it is recommended to water every other or every third day for two 10-20 minute intervals (water for 10-20 minutes, allow the water to soak into the soil and water again for 10-20 minutes). Clay will hold more moisture, though run off might occur with one long watering cycle.
• Loam: Water every other or every third day. One run of 20-30 minutes.
• Sand: Leaching occurs in sandy soils, it is recommended to water every day or every other day for 20-30 minutes per watering or in intervals of two cycles a day (like clay) with a short break in-between. Sandy soils leach or run water through quickly, so the small break in between will help replenish moisture at the root zone if leaching is occurring.

Extreme temperatures
When the temperatures exceeds 85 degrees for a few consecutive days or more, you can relieve heat stress from the lawn (usually only needed in full sun areas) by watering in the middle or hottest part of the day. Most of the water will evaporate before penetrating the soil and it is important to note that the mid-day watering goal is to relieve stress, not hydrate the lawn. Watering for 10 minutes will help relive heat stress from the lawn.

Important notes about watering & trees:
Most conifers/pine trees prefer dry soil. Be careful not to over water the pines.
Maple trees are surface feeding trees. If you have a maple and we are in the midst of drought-like conditions, give that area additional water as the maple tree will compete with the turf for moisture.

Dollar Spot turf disease

Lots of rain followed by warm, humid weather is an ideal environment for some disease activity to start in the lawn, today we are going to highlight Dollar Spot:

Dollar Spot on Kentucky bluegrass: Image by: Kevin Mathias

Dollar Spot

Some varieties of perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass & creeping bentgrass are highly susceptible to this disease which starts as light tan lesions with darker brown borders on the leaf of the grass. As the disease continues the lesions grow, eventually spreading over the leaf turning the infected turf blades light tan or even white from the tip down. The fungus spreads to neighboring turf blades eventually creating silver dollar size patches of infected turf which discolors (this tell tale sign is where the disease name has it’s origins: dollar spot). As the disease progresses, multiple patches may eventually form so close together that a large portion of the lawn is showing signs of dollar spot.

What you can do:

  • If your lawn tends to get dollar spot every year, you may opt for a preventative fungicide. Usually the target date of this product would be after a long period of rain in late spring, right before our weather turns warm and humid.
  • Add additional nitrogen to promote leaf growth. If you are one of our customers give us a call to see how we can help your lawn.
  • Water later in the morning and do not water daily (unless you have newly seeded areas or the temperatures warrant it).
  • Mow the lawn on a regular basis and try to only take 1/3 of the blade off at a time. This will help reduce stress to the lawn so it may better recover on it’s own.
  • When the temperatures reach over 85 for a consistent number of days, you may opt to water in the middle of the day briefly. This will not hydrate your lawn but rather help to reduce heat stress. Usually this method only needs done on the full sun areas.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Lawn care: getting ready for the snow to melt and spring to come

This has been one heck of a brutal winter; from prolonged freezing temperatures to more snow than we know what to do with, it’s been long and cold! Spring is just around the corner though; in fact I saw some birds in the yard over the weekend that made me think we have 2 weeks left until melt-off. Very excited as 40 degrees sounds like an extreme warm up at the moment.

Snow mold
Image By: William M. Brown Jr., Bugwood.org

I digress, this article is focused on what we may expect to see on our lawns once the snow does melt off. If you recall (for the Greater Toledo Area) we had 6 or 8 inches of snow fall in mid/late December of 2013, followed by rain/slight thaw and then more snow on top of that. Since then, it’s been VERY COLD! Snow mold may likely  be spotted on some lawns as the snow melts away, I’m only saying this because I believe the conditions are going to be right for it in some areas. If you spot snow mold, do not panic. Once the lawn has snow mold, there is not a fungicide that will ‘cure’ it – and most lawns will likely recover anyway. Here are a couple of tips if you do spot snow mold:

  • During the last cut of the season: Mow low (about 1.5 – 2.5 inches, as low as you can go without scalping the lawn). This will help keep the blades of the grass from matting down under snow cover.
  • During the first cut of the season: Again, you want to mow low. This will help promote heat and air circulation to the plant.
  • Snow mold almost looks like the lawn sneezed on itself upon close inspection. If you notice that, rake the areas of matted down turf so you are promoting air circulation.
  • Late application of fertilizer for the season (late fall/early winter) should not contain too much nitrogen so there is little chance of surge growth.

The area should recover. If your lawn tends to be prone to snow molds in certain areas, try overseeding in late summer with a disease resistant turf type like some varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass and fescues.

Fertilization & Pet Safety

It looks like we have one more major snow storm heading our way and then we are hoping for easy riding after that. Anyway, this article is not about the snow storm but instead about fertilizer & pet safety. A frequent questions I get from customers is ‘what about my dog?’, and it’s a question I take very seriously. When it comes to pets, there are precautions that should be taken:

Granular fertilizer taste like a salt lick!

If your dog, cat or other animal tends to be a grass eater, the chances of them munching on the fertilizer is probably high.  Nitrogen is salty and your pet may go in search of it once they figure that out – If your pet eats too much nitrogen, they will get an upset stomach. There are a couple of things that we can do if you are concerned your pet may try to eat the fertilizer:

  • Place a “contact ahead” note on your account. This can be in the form of a call ahead, text ahead, or email ahead; that way you know when we are coming out.
  • You can water the lawn (in the areas your pet may be active) for a brief period after we have been out. This will start the break up process of the granular fertilizer and start moving it through the soil line.
  • Request not to have granular fertilizer in specific areas or on specific days.

If your pet eats too much fertilizer:

They may get an upset stomach, become lethargic, vomit or have diarrhea. Promote your pet to eat some pet food and drink water. This will help move the fertilizer through the system.

I have worked at Grounds Services, Inc. for nearly 10 years and have not had a customer call with the most extreme case of a pet vomiting or having diarrhea from consuming too much fertilizer – so I imagine it is a rare occurrence; however it is possible.

The season is just flying by, and so are the leaves!

If you haven’t picked up your leaves yet, there’s a good chance that your lawn has HEAVY leaf coverage.

Leaves in lawn?

Although it seems like a huge chore to rake and move a whole lawn full of leaves, it really is a necessity to get them off the lawn or at least break them up to the point of easy decay.  Allowing the leaves to remain throughout all of winter will kill-off portions of your lawn. If you have not had the chance to clean up the leaves yet, you may still try and mow them over to break them up, though depending on how thick a layer you have may only result in a bunch of tiny leaf particles still forming the original thick layer you were just trying to rid your lawn of, only now it will be a pain to rake!

One of the things I like to do:

I have a small flower bed that runs along my driveway. I like to rake my leaves about 3 feet from the flower bed (which is level with my lawn) and mow over them with the side discharge aimed at the flowers. This way, I can chop up a good amount of leaves and offer my plants a little extra protection from the coming winter as the leaves are discharged basically right on top of them. It’s a good idea to chop the leaves too instead of just straight raking because of the speed of decay, nature will naturally break up the smaller particles first and you may still be left with full-sized leaves come next spring if you simply rake them. Not only will it help protect your plants from potential salt, it will also offer insulation and return nutrients back to the soil!