Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sun lovin' Bugs

Chinch bugs like the warm sunny, weather. Give them shade and they stay away.

This photo shows a lawn with an east-west fence. The fence provides shade along the lawn that is to the north of the fence. That area will rarely get much sun, except early or late in the day. Most of the day, then, that part of the lawn in shaded by the fence.

The lawn beyond the shade of the fence is infested with chinch bugs. Notice how they have stayed away from the shady strip of lawn.

How can this information help you? A little bit of shade will decrease your chances of getting chinch bugs. Patio umbrellas, anyone?

But one sure way to help is to make sure you mow the lawn nice and high. We recommend a mowing height of 3 inches. That little bit extra length of grass blade that you leave behind, may be just enough to discourage the chinch bugs from attacking your lawn. The longer length provides more shade. The extra shade keeps the lawn soil surface a touch cooler.

It may not work completely in every case, but I am sure that by mowing long, your risk of your grass getting chinch bugs is going to be less than if you cut the lawn short.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More mower stripes

Now here is another lawn with stripes- 

This is in a narrow part of the lawn near the driveway. Although this part of the lawn abuts the neighbour's lawn, the part belonging to this customer is only about 4 feet wide. So the lawn cutters always go up and down this strip in the same pattern each week. 

This repetitive mowing pattern has created grooves in the soil surface that make it uneven. Normally this may not be a problem.

In this case, the lawn is being mowed too short. However, the grass growing in the wheel tracks is not being mowed as short as the lawn in between. 

So that narrow strip of grass is enjoying the benefits of a longer mowing height. It is staying greener. The longer grass blades provide just a little more shade. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces water evaporation. This results in a healthier lawn in that narrow strip.

Another benefit that is a little harder to see- there is less crabgrass growing in the deeper grooves. The cooler soil temperatures may be just enough to reduce the crabgrass germination in that strip of grass.

At another lawn I was looking at, I noticed that there was crabgrass growing along the edge. It is normally along the edges of drives and walks that crabgrass grows. I always assumed this was due to the warmer soil conditions due to heat transference from the heat-absorbing pavement adjacent to the lawn.

But I also noticed that the lawn in this case was an inch or so higher than the adjacent sidewalk. So this meant that each time the edge was mowed, the wheel of the mower was on the walk. In turn the strip of lawn adjacent to the walkway ended up being cut just a bit lower and closer than the lawn one strip away.
Which then leads me to wonder- is the crabgrass there because of the warming effect of the pavement or is it due to the fact the lawn is cut slightly lower along the edge?

Mowing Stripes

On the ball diamonds and soccer fields, mowing stripes are a visual pattern used to enhance the aesthetics of the lawn. 

Sometimes the stripes are not so desirable.
Visited this lawn, noticed stripes in the front. These lines are definitely caused by the lawn mower wheels.

Could be due to the spread of a disease such as pythium.
Or a simpler answer, could simply be that the lawn was mown when the lawn was under stress. That stress could have been from the high temperatures we have been getting or it could have been drought stressed. The weight of the lawn mower on the thin strip of grass is enough to cause the lawn to suffer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What can I do with crabgrass in my lawn?

Some suggestions and tips-

Unfortunately, there is no longer a post-emergent product that can be used on crabgrass at this time of year.
Any top killers that will kill crabgrass will burn the lawn grasses as well, which tends to make the lawn with temporary dead spots. This can look even worse than the lawn with crabgrass.

The good thing about crabgrass is that it will die when we get cold weather in October. The bad part is that they can produce a lot of seeds for next year.

This year- Hand pull as much as possible
Make sure mowing height is at least 3" high. Crabgrass likes warm soil temperatures. The extra blade length provides a little more shade to keep the soil cooler. Going from a 2" mowing height to a 3" mowing height may not seem like much, but that extra 1" is 50% more grass blade.
The extra shade also reduces water evaporation, reduces the chance of chinch bug problems, and helps reduce weed germination.

Crabgrass tends to grow in the weaker and warm areas. The warm areas are along pavement and patios where the hard surface transfers heat to the soil adjacent. Make sure when trimming that the lawn along the edges is not trimmed too short.

Weak and thin areas- Thin areas do allow the soil to get warm. Warm enough to allow crabgrass to get a foothold. When the lawn is thicker, there will be less crabgrass.

Fall is a good time to thicken your lawn with overseeding. Mid-August through September is the ideal time to increase density of lawns. The night temperatures are cooler and water does not evaporate as quickly. This is Mother Nature's grass seeding season (and when the sod farmers do their seeding, too)

Of course, regular and professional applications of a high quality granular fertilizer three or four times per season helps to increase tillering in Kentucky bluegrass. A fancy way to say it increases density and thickness.

Next spring, consider using a crabgrass preventer to reduce crabgrass germination. The old crabgrass preventer is now banned. There is an organic alternative. Not as effective, and more costly. The pesticide product lasted for 12-16 weeks, the organic one lasts about 4 weeks. It will hopefully reduce crabgrass germination, but is not always fool proof.


Turf King Hamilton
95 Hempstead Dr Unit 14, Hamilton ON L8W 2Y6

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lawn Mower Blade Speed

Ever wonder why the rotary lawn mower can cause the lawn to be damaged. Here on this lawn, this spot is obviously caused by the mower itself. Harder to see in the photo, but the grass blades are bent in a circular direction. Why is it that the centre is green? Then an area with the most damage and then areas that seem okay.

Rotary mower engines are made to spin at 3,600 revolutions per minute when not under load. During cutting, the rpm drops to between 2800 and 3300. 

The centre of the blade is spinning at 3600 rpm, but the velocity of blade itself will vary depending on the length of the blade.  An 18 inch blade tip will travel through the air at one speed, a 21 inch blade at a faster speed and so on. This also means that the centre of the blade is travelling slower than the tip.

Does the speed of the mower affect how well the grass is cut? Often if the grass is thick, I find there is a strip of grass that does not get cut very well. If the riding mower is set at a lower speed, this strip in the centre get cut better than if the speed of the mower is faster. In this case, the grass in the middle does get the mower blade passing over it, but at some times, the centre of the blade is also over this area and not cutting is done. At the side, the cutting edge which is at the end of the blade is over the lawn longer -therefore that area gets cut better.

So now in the case of the circle in the picture, did the brown area get cut more by the centre of the blade, that part that is not sharpened. So that there was more tearing of the blades, rather than cutting with the sharpened part? Tearing of the blades would cause more stress and more damage to the lawn than being cut by the sharper part of the blades at its ends.

The cente didn't get cut at all when the mower was sitting over this spot. It got cut when the mower moved on. Then it was cut by the sharper part of the blade -hence very little damage.

I don't know if I am 100% right, but that's my theory.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Even the weeds are thirsty

With this sultry hot weather, the lawns are dry. Usually the weeds seem to manage somehow.
But these plantains are drooping in the heat.
Avoid stressing your lawn in this heat. Avoid mowing when it is warm. Water judiciously. Even excessive foot traffic can cause unwanted results
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Friday, July 2, 2010

Plantain-Sign of a weak lawn

Plantain is a weed we don't see in well-maintained lawns.

Most often it is found where the soil is compacted and the turf is thin. Here's another case where the plaintain is not the problem but it is really a symptom.

Fix the problem- improve the health of the lawn by improving soil conditions, and increase turf density, then the symptoms will disappear.
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Pets peeve lawns

High nitrogren in dog urine will damage lawns especially with the warmer summer weather.

Urea burns lawns. Urea is also a component of some fertilizers as it does contain nitrogen. Nitrogen is the first number on a bag of fertilizer. It helps turf to grow and be green. But too much is harmful. As the urea starts to dissipate, you may see the lawn become greener in spots.

How to reduce dog urine damage?
The best way is to train your dog to do its business off the lawn. My son's dog uses a patch of gravel. No harm done to the lawn.

One pet store owner claimed that with the right dog food, lawn damage was eliminated. She did not specify which type of diet worked.

Failing that or during the training process, dilute the urine as soon as possible with water. Easier said than done, but there will be less urea in one spot.

Some people have had sucess with gypsum. Gypsum counteracts the excessive "salts" in urine that cause the lawn burn. Gypsum needs to be applied about every 4-6 weeks.

Keeping your lawn healthy-while not a cure or prevention per se, does reduce the damage- in that a healthy lawn with a strong root system will suffer less and recover faster.

I keep telling people that "regular, professional applications of our Turf King 75% slow release, top quality, granular, lawn fertilizer will greatly improve and then maintain your lawn's health, density and greenness. Call Turf King, The King of Green.

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