Repair

Defeating the Great and Mighty Billbug!

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Welcome back to the Wonderful World of Weed Man!  This week we are continuing our bugs series, I Found an Alien in My Lawn!”  Last week we began our series with an article about chinch bugs, “Treat Chinch Bugs with a Shop Vac!”  This week we will be writing about grubs.

Grubs, aka White Grubs, aka Billbugs – are the #1 cause of insect damage on lawns in the Treasure Valley.  Grubs are small, plump, white larvae which chew on grass roots.  They are the offspring of billbugs – a type of beetle.  Although the billbug itself as an adult won’t damage the lawn, their offspring will.  If you are seeing a lot of billbug beetles in the spring, you can be sure of potential problems in the summer.

The life cycle of a grub will depend on the time of year it hatches.  A late hatching in the year, will often overwinter in the soil as larvae.  In the spring it will emerge, continue to feed again, then become an adult beetle.  The adult will repeat the cycle.  There can be up to 3 hatchings each summer.

As grubs continue to grow and feed the damaged area becomes larger.  Once the roots are destroyed the lawn will have patches of yellow appear.  It looks like the beginnings of a lawn drying out.  Unfortunately, the grubs are actively feeding on the lawn during the warmer parts of the year.  The combination of time of year and how the damage presents results in many homeowners assuming that their lawn just needs more water.

By assuming it needs more water, you will up your watering times or the number of times you water – which could result in a whole host of other lawn problems.  Your lawn will begin to look worse by allowing the grubs to continue to damage the lawn and potentially introducing fungus/disease in your lawn by over-watering.  You can see the quandary you will have on your hands that needs to be remedied.

Here are some examples of grub damaged lawns:

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Diagnosing

So how can you tell that you have grubs?  One of the signs you have an issue would be animals!  Your friendly neighborhood raccoon might be visiting your lawn for what they would consider a tasty treat!  Skunks, raccoons, and birds will show up to your lawn looking for a meal.  Grubs are a natural food source for these critters.  Although it is nice that animals will eat the grubs, but they will damage the lawn in the process – so the natural way to treat grubs isn’t the best option for your lawn.

Another way you can tell you have grubs is from the damaged area itself.  When you begin to see the yellowing in the lawn, you want to inspect the damaged area.  If you can pull up on the damaged area and it peels up like freshly rolled sod, something has been chewing on the roots.  The roots are no longer there to connect it into the soil.  A good way to compare if it pulls up easier than normal is to go to a healthy part of the lawn and pull with the same force to see how different it feels.

Typically, if you inspect the damage area where it meets the healthy part of the lawn you will have a greater likelihood of seeing the grubs when you roll up the grass.  This is an example of what you might see when you look:

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Treatment

So you found grubs, now what?  Well, the best option is to treat preventatively.  There are preventative grub controls available.  This is ALWAYS the best option.  Think of it as an immunization for the lawn.  It won’t prevent billbugs from entering your lawn.  It won’t prevent billbugs from laying their eggs in your lawn.  It won’t prevent the eggs even from hatching.  However, it will take out the grubs once they start feasting on your lawn.  It will knock them out quickly as well.  Preventative Grub Control is a preemptive first strike on grubs!  If you can take care of them before they damage the lawn you will save yourself a lot of time and headache fixing the damage they could have caused.

It is important to know that If you have had grubs in the past you have an 80% chance of having grubs again in the future.  Many grubs will return to the same area they were hatched in to lay their eggs.  Even if you have never had grubs in the past, it is still important to get a preventative treatment.  Your neighbor may have had grubs.  Grubs are no respecter of property lines.  In fact, the adult billbug can travel up to ¼ mile in a day.  You never know when they might show up.

If you failed to do a preventative treatment for grubs, or if some still slipped through the preventative treatment you will begin to see damage on your lawn.  At this point you want to take care of the cause of the damage before it spreads or becomes worse.  A curative treatment will be needed to take care of the grubs.

It is very important to realize that a curative treatment for grubs will do nothing for the lawn other than kill the grubs so they do not continue to feed on the lawn.  IT will not repair the damage.  If your grass is healthy and the damage is limited, it may fully recover on its own.  If the damage is severe, you will need to think about over-seeding your lawn in the fall.  We have a great article on how to repair your lawn: “Lawn Repair or Replace”.

If you think you have a grub problem on your lawn, give us a call!  www.weedmanboise.com 208-888-9911 #wecareforyourlawn

MY Grass ISN’T Greener Over HERE!

 

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Welcome back to the Wonderful World of Weed Man!  This week we have an addendum to our ‘The Grass IS Greener Over There!’ series.  We thought we said all we could say on the subject, and we thought wrong.  It became apparent to me, that we sometimes will get questions on why a homeowner’s lawn just isn’t greening up like they hoped.

Though, uncommon, we do hear a customer say, “My lawn looks worse than my neighbors!  We do exactly what they do!”  Or, “My lawn was WAY better last year, and I’m not doing anything differently than before.”  The frustration is audible, and understandable.  Time, effort, money go into making your lawn beautiful and the results are less than expected.  The bottom line is that you just want your lawn to be healthy and look great!

So what happens when you do everything the same year in and year out and the lawn just isn’t as good as you remember it from its glory days?  What do you do when you do everything right and the grass just isn’t greener?  It’s easy to question the product you are using on the lawn, or even the professional service being used on the lawn.  That’s natural, and even warranted in some instances.  However, not all lawns are the same.  There are also, MANY, MANY variables that play are part in the overall health of your lawn, it may not be the product or professional service that is causing the problem.

It’s important to ask yourself what might be different this year?  Are the kids playing in the sprinklers more or less this year?  Are there any new pets in the household?  Any new animals in the neighborhood?  Have you seen an abundance of wild bunnies in your neighborhood recently?  What is different this year versus last year?

The question being asked may not have a quick or simple answer.  In fact, more often than not – ‘doing the same thing as last year’ turns out to not be as similar as one might think.  Many factors that affect the lawn are rarely the same year in and year out.  To better understand why a lawn might not be up to par, I wanted to talk about some of the outside influences that can affect the health and beauty of your lawn.

Neatly cut grass

Neatly cut grass. Full frame short with wide depth of field.

Fertilizer

Some products are not designed for long term results.  They are designed for color over health.  They will make your lawn green, but not necessarily healthy.  Are you using the exact same product you used in the past or did you switch products?  Is your neighbor using the same product? Not all fertilizers are equal.  Timing is important as well.  Some fertilizers will only last a few weeks, some 6-8 weeks, and others 8-12 weeks.  Watering, soil temperatures, and coating are all factors in the breakdown process of fertilizers.  A fertilizer that lasts 8-12 weeks will tend to run out towards the 8-week mark during the heat of the summer due to the warmer soil temps and increase in watering.  Is your lawn a little overdue for fertilizer?

Soil Type/Conditions

It’s easy to see on the surface if a lawn is doing well or not, however the soil under the surface has an important role in the life of your lawn.  Like fertilizer, not all soils are the same.  Your neighbor might have a claylike soil.  You could have a sandy soil.  Clay soils hold nutrients better, but drain poorly.  Sandy soils are the exact opposite.  Even year to year your soil conditions can change.  Clay soils, since they drain poorly become compact more often.  Did you aerate last year?  This year?  Never aerated?

Mowing

Are you using a mowing company or doing it yourself? Did you sharpen the mower blade this year?  Are you mowing more often when sunlight is on the lawn 16 hours a day which causes it to grow like crazy?  Or letting it grow crazy and then cutting it down really short, stressing your lawn out.

Are you mowing at the same time of day? I have different schedules for work throughout the year so it affects when I can mow my lawn sometimes.  Mowing in the early morning when the lawn is wet is not recommended.  Mowing later in the evening when it is cool is not a good option either.  Your lawn is more susceptible to disease and fungus at night.  When you mow the lawn, it basically has an open wound.  Just what disease and fungus like!

If you are hiring a mowing company, are you using the same one?  Are they mowing at the same time?  Are they mowing at the correct height and frequency for your lawn and the time of year?  Are they sharpening their mower blades regularly?  Do they have a new mowing technician?  Do they regularly clean their equipment?  It’s important to keep in mind that a mower can unknowingly bring in disease from another lawn as well.

Watering

Watering your lawn, is not as simple as turning the timer to the ‘ON’ position and letting it be.  In fact, if you are doing that assuming that last years’ times were adequate, then you have just pinpointed the problem.  How you water in September/October will be different than how you water in March/April and different still for July.

Assuming you have the correct length of time and frequency for the time of year in which you are watering.  You need to consider whether or not others in the neighborhood are watering at the same time.  Are more neighbors watering at the same time this year vs last year resulting in lower pressure. Lower pressure means less water on the lawn in the same length of watering time.

Are you watering during the heat of the day when the water can evaporate up 50% before penetrating into the soil?  Are all your areas getting adequate coverage when the sprinklers are on?  Do you need a sprinkler system tune-up?  Have you checked out the sprinkler system yourself or are you trusting that the watering at 3 am when you are sleeping is working like it’s supposed to.

Weather – This is a variable that is completely out of everyone’s control.  Weather affects your lawn SIGNIFICANTLY.  In fact, it is probably the largest contributing factor for a lawn looking great one year, and not so great the next.  The Treasure Valley, last year, had the hottest June on record since 1869.  We saw temps in June we normally see in July.  That is stressful for the lawn.

This year it is drastically different.  We did have some warm days this month, but lots of cooler than normal days too. We went from a high of 101 to a high of 62 in 7 days.  7 days with a 40-degree variance in the high!  When you extend the highest high to the lowest low that week you went from 101 to 37 in a 7-day period.  Almost a 65-degree variant.  Plants do not like that much of a variance.  It can drastically affect them.   Watering for 100-degree weather is vastly different than watering for 62-degree weather.  Without any effort on your part you may have went from under watering to overwatering within a week, just from not noticing the weather.

Just taking temperature into account it affects how you need to water, and if you aren’t watering to the weather/season you can easily run into lawn issues.  This doesn’t factor in wind, humidity, dew point, or rainfall.

InsectsLawn damaging insects do not respect property lines or lawn history.  Unfortunately, grubs do not care if they have never visited your lawn before.  You don’t have a lot of control in this circumstance other than applying a preventative grub control.  This might be the difference you are seeing in your lawn this year.

Education – What you know about lawn care definitely affects how well your lawn looks.  If you are not very knowledgeable, it can be easy to assume that you are doing everything correct, and there has been no change, therefore the results should be the same.  The exact opposite can be true as well.  Perhaps you know quite a bit about lawn care.  Perhaps you have been doing the same thing for years and it always looks ok, except this year.  Sometimes doing the same thing might be slowly, slightly, damaging your lawn over time.  Perhaps you break a watering rule or a mowing rule.  Just one rule, but it’s broken continually because it never caused a problem in the past.  Shallow frequent watering and short mowing will train your grass roots to sit near the surface and one day your lawn will struggle to grow.

 

If your lawn is not looking the way it used to, you need to figure out what is different.  We bring these variants up, not to shift blame from us a service provider.  We are extremely confident in our products, training, and technicians.   We bring these variables up, because as the expert, we understand what affects your lawn.  It may be something little and easy to fix.

Asking and answering these questions will show you where your lawn might need a little extra help.  Remember, your lawn is a living organism.  It’s easy to talk about on paper, not as easy to treat in real life.  The best question you can ask is:  Did I follow all of Weed Man’s recommendations to have an amazingly beautiful lawn?  If you did, then you would have hired us, in which all you have to do is call us!  We will do a free lawn inspection to determine what is going on with your lawn, so you don’t have to figure it out yourself!

www.weedmanboise.com 208-888-9911 #wecareforyourlawn

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What Is That Dirt Plug On Your Lawn?

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Welcome back to the Wonderful World of Weed Man.  Again, my name is Brian, and I will be your guide!  This week is our 9th installment of our ‘The Grass IS Greener Over There!’ series.  We appreciate your continued readership.  It is important to us that we provide value in educating our customers, or to the average homeowner who loves taking care of their own lawn.  As always, if you have questions or would like to make a suggestion on a topic you would like to learn about, let us know in the comment section.

This week will be a primer on Aeration!  Mechanical Core Aeration is pretty straight forward; however, we do get frequently asked questions about the service.  Here are the top FAQ we answer.

What is it?  Mechanical Core Aeration is the process of removing plugs of grass and soil (cores) from your lawn so air, water, and nutrients are able to settle deeper into the soil.  Most homeowners who are familiar with aeration recognize the thousands of little soil plugs that are left on the lawn after the service has been completed.  This can be somewhat unsightly, but it is best to leave the plugs on the top of the lawn.  The good news is they won’t stay very long on your lawn.  When they dry out they will be pulverized by your mower and will break back down into the soil and become a top dressing for the lawn.

Why do I need to do it? Simply stated, it can vastly improve the health and beauty of your lawn.  The grass root system that is present in your lawn needs several things to survive and thrive.  Water, nutrients, and air.  Over time, the soil can begin to compact.  The more compact the soil is, the more difficult it is for water, fertilizer, and air to get to the root system.  Aeration will relieve that compaction resulting in a lawn that is more resistant to diseases, insects, drought and heat stress.  Pulling out core plugs will also improve drainage, air circulation, and fertilizer movement in the soil.  As a result, you have less water runoff – which in turn generally means less water usage over the summer.  All around, a more beautiful lawn!

Can I do it myself?  Yes, you can.  We do have some customers who own an aerator.  However, if you don’t have the budget or space for an aerator, you can rent them from a local equipment rental store.  Some considerations you want to address before renting an aerator is the cost and hassle associated with it.  There generally is a per hour fee, or an all-day fee.  Either option can be costly.  You will also need a vehicle that can tow a small trailer, as aerators tend to be a large piece of equipment.  It’s not something you can stuff into a van or small car.  IF you pick it up by yourself, you would be hard pressed to get the aerator in the back of a truck.  They are larger than a lawn mower, and are significantly heavier.  Aerators are typically self-propelled as well.  With such a heavy machine it can be very difficult to handle, and can be dangerous if you do not know what you are doing.   Usually with all the time, effort, and cost associated with renting and aerator, it can be comparable to hiring someone to do it for you.

If you do hire someone keep in mind a few factors when making your decision.  Do they own their own equipment or is it rented?  Are they maintaining their own equipment and investing in quality equipment?  What kind of guarantee do they offer in regards to broken sprinkler heads?  All good questions to consider when looking to hire someone to aerate your lawn.

When should I do it?  Spring or Fall.  Aerating your lawn can be stressful for it.  Spring or Fall is a great time to do this as the temperatures and weather are conducive to help it deal with the stress of aeration.  The summer is definitely a time to avoid aerating as the lawn is already trying to deal with the stresses of heat, drought, disease and insects.  It would not be good to add more difficulty to the mix.

I like to dethatch, is that ok?  We are not big fans of dethatching.  If you ask us if we recommend it, we will say no.  Is there a time and place for dethatching?  Yes, however we won’t offer the service, and it is very limited circumstances when it would be needed.  Dethatching is the process of removing and excess buildup of thatch in the lawn.  Thatch is the layer of dead and living grass shoots.  It’s a layer that is decaying, but there are circumstances that can contribute and excess buildup of thatch.  If the thatch layer is too thick it can restrict the flow of water, air, and nutrients much like the soil being too compact.  Basically the thatch layer gets built up quicker than it can decay and be broken down naturally.

The reason we do not recommend dethatching is that it is VERY VERY VERY stressful for your lawn.  It also does not resolve the root cause of the thatch buildup in the first place.  If that doesn’t get addressed you will have to continually do it, and over time you will have a thin unhealthy lawn from the stress of the application and from the root cause of thatch buildup not being corrected.  Generally speaking, aeration will provide the same benefits of dethatching and more, with a lower level of stress to your lawn.  Aerating will also be significantly cheaper than dethatching as well.  It will also help to resolve the root cause of the thatch buildup occurring in the first place.

The only time we would recommend a dethatching is if the layer of thatch is so thick an aeration would not help resolve it.  By aerating you are helping to restore an imbalance to the decay process of the grass roots.  Sometimes even with an aeration there will still be too much thatch to try and break down naturally.

So where does the excess thatch come from?  It can occur for a variety of reasons, but essentially when you water the lawn, the water stays at the root level instead of moving down deeper into the soil.  This can be caused by a compact soil.  This can also be caused by watering for a shorter period of time frequently vs a longer time less frequently.  So if you water 30 minutes every day vs 60 minutes 2-3 times a week.  Both a compact soil and short frequent watering result in the water just sitting at the root level, which forces the roots to grow and fill in at that top surface level of the soil.  They won’t be broken down very quickly and this causes the thatch to buildup.

Whether you aerate your lawn yourself, or you have someone do it for you, make sure it happens consistently.  We recommend every year or every other year depending on the lawn.

If you have more questions about aerating or want someone to do it for you, give us a call.  Let us help you. 208-888-9911 www.weedmanboise.com #wecareforyourlawn.

Lawn-Care-Minneapolis

Lawn Repair or Replace?

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Welcome back the Wonderful World of Weed Man!  We are on Part 4 of our ‘The Grass IS Greener Over There!‘ Series.  If you are joining us you can find last week’s blog post here.  We are excited that you have joined us for another adventure in the lawn world.  Our hope is you learn something about your lawn to help make it more enjoyable part of your home!

This week, I wanted to discuss repairing areas in your lawn.  Whether you are new to the lawn world, or have been dealing with lawns for many years, you will eventually run into an issue that needs fixing.  Lawns can get damaged or have areas die off for a variety of reasons:

  • Insects – this is usually the quickest and most destructive cause of lawn damage.  Several insects like to feed on the lawn and can damage or chew away the root system.  Essentially, without the root system, the lawn is dead – it just doesn’t know it yet.  Many times the damage you see on your lawn from insects is an area where they WERE recently.  It takes a bit of time for the damage to show.  Without a root system, grass cannot repair itself.  This is generally the most severe form of lawn damage.
  • Drought Damage – just not getting the water it needs.  Lawns can generally recover from drought damage depending on how severe it is and how long it has been since it was watered.
  • Disease – many type of fungi are present in the soil waiting for the right conditions to attack!  It’s a slow death as well – again not as severe and quick as drought or insects, but it still can lead to a lawn that needs fixing if the damage is severe enough.
  • Animal – In my instance it is my dogs – not necessarily urine spots.  Most lawns can recover from that.  My damaged areas from my dogs are from digging or a running path they constantly go over.  Again some healthy lawns can recover from running paths over time, but digging usually  needs a bit of training for the dog and repair work for the lawn.  It could be another type of animal as well, like voles or gophers.dog dug.jpg

 

Whatever the cause – the lawn looks terrible!  At this point we run into many people who feel it would be better to just start over.  I think what surprises me most is the amount of money someone would put into completely replacing the lawn and then disregard correcting the root cause.  Above and beyond that one will spend a large amount of money, but not utilize any type of lawn program to maintain/improve on the large investment they made!

(Insert soapbox for me to stand on) –

Please, I implore you.  Make no hasty decisions about replacing your entire lawn!

And for goodness sake, if you spend the thousands of dollars needed to replace your lawn, fix the root cause.  On top of that, PLEASE HAVE SOME TYPE OF ANNUAL LAWN PROGRAM TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR INVESTMENT!  It does not have to be with us, but please protect your investment.

(I will now step down from the soapbox.)

It may be hasty to replace the whole thing!  Your lawn is a living organism and most times it just needs minor repair work and some tlc.

Don’t go crazy – save yourself some time/headache/money – focus on a repair.

To properly repair your lawn it is important to know what caused the damage in the first place.  It would be terrible to spend the time and money repairing your lawn to only have it happen again.  Once you have identified the root cause of the damage and taken steps to make certain it doesn’t happen again, you are ready to repair!

The steps for repairing your lawn are as follows:

  1. Remove the old dead areas with a shovel.  You can trim up the areas being removed so they are straight.
  2. Check soil conditions and level.  You may needs to till up the soil a bit or add some top soil to make sure that the level matches the surrounding grass area.  This will also ensure that whatever replacement method you use the soil will be ready for it.
  3. Replace the grass.  You can seed this area, or if you want to spend the money for quicker results you can lay down sod in the damaged area.  For more information on seeding you can take a look at a previous blog post on over seeding.  For those who are utilizing sod:  Make certain that you cut the sod to fit the damaged area as close as you can.  Try and find a sod grass type that matches your existing lawn.  A majority of lawns in our area use a Kentucky Blue Grass.
  4. Water the new grass area.  Depending on sod or grass seed your repair will need more water than the main part of the lawn.  You can use a sprinkler attached to a hose to water that specific area more often than your automated system will do.
  5. Restrict traffic in new areas.  This will help ensure all your hard work is not undone by a neighborhood lawn bully walking in your lawn!
  6. Watch it grow!  Soon your new grass will fill in and blend with the rest of the lawn.  Usually within 3 weeks both sod and seed will be coming in nicely and will be ready to be cut with a mower.

6 simple steps to repairing your lawn, saving you lots of hassle and embarrassment!  If you are unsure your lawn capabilities or need help diagnosing the root cause of the damage in the first place, keep us in mind and give us a call!  www.weedmanboise.com