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Fire Yourself! Hire A Professional!

womanmoneyWelcome back to the Wonderful World of Weed Man!  This week, we finish up our ‘The Grass IS Greener Over There!’ series.  It has been a great journey.  The first of many!  We wanted to finish up the series by discussing the hiring of a professional lawn care company.

If you feel that you would like better results with your lawn, or just don’t have enough time to take care of it yourself, a professional can help.  Before you hire a company there is a check list of questions you should answer to see which company would be best for you.  We of course humbly submit our Weed Man hat into the ring.  We previously posted 10 Reasons to Choose Weed Man, for just a FEW of the MYRIAD of reasons why Weed Man is the best company.  But of course, you must decide this for yourself.

Questions you should be asking when considering hiring a professional lawn care company

What are the Pros?

A Pro Will Make the Complex Simple – It makes sense to have an expert help you on your lawn.  If you do it yourself, you have to ask:

  • What do you put down?
  • Which product is best for my lawn?
  • Do I need a license for a specific product?
  • Is a product that requires a license a better option for my lawn?
  • How much do I put down?
  • Where should I NOT put product down?
  • How do I calibrate the spreader or sprayer so I don’t put too much down?

It can quickly get confusing and one can see how easily it would be to make a costly mistake.  A licensed expert will help simplify matters and do the work for you!

Regular Service – We run into many customers who previously took care of the lawn, and found that they would miss needed applications.  They did not have enough time, or just didn’t realize the lawn needed a regular application program.  With a company you will receive all the needed treatments for your lawn within a consistent program

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A Healthier Lawn – a
professional service will help you achieve a level of health and beauty in your lawn you may not have thought possible.  I know from personal experience that my lawn surprises me year after year when it keeps improving.
Slow, subtle improvements show up in my lawn making it easier to maintain and more resistant to problems.  Not only is it healthier, it just looks better.

 

 

Professional Knowledge and Experience – This is HUGE!

I want to stop right here so I can stand up on my soapbox for a moment:

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You’d be hard pressed to find a more knowledgeable person about lawns than someone who visits multiple lawns every day.  Day in and day out – week in and week out – month in and month out – year after year.  It takes experience and knowledge to understand how your lawn lives/dies.  That experience and knowledge can go to work for you!  Lawn technicians are vital to help diagnose issues when they occur and help prevent them in the first place.

The alternative?  Well, most DIY’s are subject to the confusing maze of misinformation on the interwebs!  Hopefully you stumbled upon a knowledgeable website such as ours.

If you are unsure of the information on the internet, you can go visit a local retailer who may or may not specialize in your lawn.  We often hear commercials for local establishments who tell you to dig up a piece of your lawn and bring it in to their store to diagnose the problem.  They mean well, and can definitely offer products to help you with your lawn.  However, the disconnect occurs when the retail establishment offers products without the necessary knowledge/experience.  This type of interaction is great for the retailer but poor for the homeowner.

Think about it:  You now have a pothole in your lawn, you brought a damaged area of your lawn into a young retail professional who may or may not really know anything about lawns.  (Are they licensed?  How many lawns have they treated professionally or personally?)  They don’t treat lawns for a living!  They do however sell things for a living!  You may end up buying a product for a damaged area in your lawn that possibly would have been resolved with a change in watering.

Had you had a professional come and look at the lawn in its environment and context you would get a correct diagnosis without the potholes, and the extra cost for a product that many times is not needed.  Not to mention the time you spent digging the hole, driving to the store, disposing of the dug up sod, cleaning of your vehicle, and application of the product (needed or not).  If you insist on digging your lawn up to seek professional lawn advice from the dog food salesman, then I have a real estate proposition to tell you about….

I will pause again to now step down from my soapbox.  I appreciate the patience while I displayed a little more candor and sarcasm than usual. 

The advantages of a professional lawn care service can go on and on, but let us continue to other questions you need to answer when considering hiring a professional service.

What are the Cons?

There really are only a few disadvantages to hiring a professional lawn care company:

Cost – some might consider a professional service to be expensive.  However, in our experience, if you do a full program by yourself, many find that the cost is similar to having a professional service do it for you.  Usually the gap in value comes when a homeowner takes care of the lawn themselves and only does one or two applications a year.

Timeliness – With some professional services you may not have perfectly timed applications or come out as quickly as you need them to.  At Weed Man Boise, we work really hard to visit existing customers’ lawns within 2 business days when they call regarding a reapplication, next application, or just need an inspection.

DIY – Some homeowners just really enjoy working on their lawn.  We can’t fault you there.  We suggest let us help you with the heavy lifting and you can focus on the more enjoyable aspects!

What type of company should I look for?

Reputable – Are they registered with the BBB?  Are they on Angie’s List?  Are they associated with organizations that promote professionalism and environmental responsibility?  Do they offer a guarantee?  Will they be around in the future?  Look for online reviews.  Take a look at their social media.  A reputable company should have a good history and a good amount of reviews.

Licensed and Insured – Does the company have technicians who are licensed to apply products on the lawn?  An applicators license is required in the State of Idaho for a professional company to apply pesticides on your lawn.  If they do not have a licensed technician, I would run the other way.

Do They Partner with Me? –  A good company will help you with suggestions on mowing and watering.  To have a great lawn, it does take a partnership between the homeowner and the lawn care company.  As a homeowner, you see your lawn every day, and have more involvement with watering and mowing.  Your company should help educate on best practices.

If you have considered or are currently considering hiring a professional lawn care service, our hope is this article will help direct you in making the right decision.  Consider firing yourself, and hiring a lawn care company.  Better yet, hire Weed Man!   For further information visit www.weedmanboise.com or call 208-888-9911.

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Mulch Much?

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Welcome back to the Wonderful World of Weed Man!  We are nearing the end of our ‘The Grass IS Greener Over There!’ series.  We have journeyed through the instrumental practices of a healthy and beautiful lawn and have a few remaining stops.  This week’s adventure stop will help answer the question of mulching or bagging the lawn clippings!  Unbeknownst to the average homeowner there is a raging debate within the industry regarding this topic.  OK!, perhaps it really isn’t raging, nor is there a real debate – I just wanted to create some drama to capture your interest!  Let us move forward with a little less ‘creative license’ on our subject.

Mulch or Bag?  While the question is not overly complicated, it definitely can be too simplified in reasoning what to choose.  Before I was educated on the topic, I would choose based on how lazy I felt.  Unfortunately, I was doing myself a disservice by thinking it was that simple.

Mulch – what is it?  As it pertains to your lawn, simply stated, it consists of grass clippings from the mowed lawn.  The cut blades can be sliced into fine pieces that fall easily onto the top surface of the soil.  Soil microorganism will help break the mulch down and reintroduce nutrients back into the soil.

Don’t grass clippings cause thatch buildup? No – It’s a common misconception that thatch is just grass clippings that do not get broken down in the lawn.  Thatch is actually a matting of stems and roots that form just below the surface of the lawn.  For more info on thatch, our last blog article touches on the subject when we wrote about aeration.

Do I need a mulching mower?  Not necessarily.  A mulching mower will help break the grass blade down into smaller pieces than a regular mower. Mulching mowers are specifically designed to limit grass clumps in the lawn.  Nevertheless, a regular mower will do the trick as well, if you mow often enough, or are only cutting a small amount at a time.

So when should I mulch?

  • When you want to provide extra nutrients back into the soil. Some experts will tell you that if you mulch all year, it is equivalent to an extra application of fertilizer on the lawn.
  • Increase organic matter in your soil
  • Save time and effort! When you mulch you don’t have to spend extra time collecting and disposing of clippings.
  • If you prefer not to add to landfills with grass that can be easily broken down naturally in your own lawn.

When should I bag clippings?

  • When you prefer the look of a ‘clean’ lawn. Typically mulching, when done properly, will not leave much of a visible footprint.  Whatever is left behind breaks down fairly quickly though.  Grass is 85% water, it won’t take much for it to dry up and disappear.
  • Bag, when your lawn is overrun with weeds. You don’t want to run the risk of putting more weed seeds down into your lawn.
  • Bag your lawn when the grass is wet or too long, as it won’t break down quickly and will leave piles of grass or clumps on the lawn. This will also make it difficult for existing grass to grow, breath, or get sunshine.
  • Bag if you want to start a compost pile that can be used in other areas of your garden.

If you are like me, there are appropriate times to bag and appropriate times to mulch.  I really like to bag my lawn during the seasons that I want to add mulch to my garden areas.  Sometimes it’s just quicker to mulch the lawn if I need to get it done before an incoming rainstorm!   Bagging during the fall is also a great way to cleanup leaves in your lawn with minimal effort.  I also like to bag my lawn clippings, when my lovely wife tells me to!

Really whether you bag or mulch, the choice is up to you.  Doing one practice over the other will not cause death and destruction to your lawn.  If you have a preference and it is working for you, great!  Now you may have further reason to stick with it, or consider changing your particular practice.  Either way, in the immortal words of G.I.JOE, ‘now you know, and knowing is half the battle.’

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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

I Found An Alien In My Lawn!

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White Grub

Welcome back to the Wonderful World of Weed Man!  After last week’s departure, we have returned to “The Grass IS Greener Over There!” series.  I hope you are ready for crabgrass after our previous twopart article detour.   We are picking back up this week with bugs!  In fact, we will spin off from this article into a separate series on bugs later in  the year.  This week will be a brief description about each lawn bug we generally encounter.  However, as the series becomes available, you can click on the hyperlink of each lawn insect to learn further details!

For those parents with little children who might be interested in dirt and bugs this will be a great article!  My son recently has displayed a talent for finding unusual bugs.  If your child has the same talent, you might be handed an unusual lawn bug in the coming weeks.  Hopefully, the insect you are presented with will not be one that feeds on your lawn.  If it is, you will now be educated to identify the insects that will cause damage to your lawn.

Bugs!  What’s the big deal?  If you have never had the misfortune of insect damage in your lawn, you might be questioning the concern.  Well plainly stated, you spend all this energy and resources on creating and maintaining a beautiful lawn, it would be heartbreaking to have it destroyed by something so tiny.  If not caught early or dealt with preventatively, the damage can be very severe, and very costly to fix.

In your lawn right now are a variety of insect species that live within its ecosystem.  Most insects are beneficial for your lawn.  However, there are some insects that might be in your lawn that love making dinner out of your grass.  They can chew on the grass roots (most subsurface insects, i.e. grubs), or even treat your grass blade like a giant straw and suck out the juices within its root system (surface level insects, i.e. chinch bugs).  So how do you know if you have them?

I would like to begin, frankly, with where the average homeowner begins when they encounter insect damage – yellowing in the lawn.

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The first reaction to seeing this type of yellowing in the lawn, generally, would be to add more water.  It looks like it might not be getting enough water.  Sometimes dry spots might look like this, but generally they will be more uniform in the discoloration.  Insect damage is more sporadic in its discoloration.

The very best thing you can do as a homeowner when you see yellowing in your lawn is to investigate.  Assume nothing.  If it is in fact damage by insects and you assume it is lack of water, you will waste precious days needed in treating the insects.  The damage you are seeing currently is where the insects WERE.  They have already chewed out the roots of the grass and it takes time for it discolor.  So they have already moved on from the discolored area and are feasting on new areas.  If you wait 3 or 4 days or 2 or 3 weeks before figuring out that extra watering isn’t helping you can have some serious real estate destroyed!

Some other telltale signs that you have insects feasting upon your lawn:  You might have lots of birds dive bombing your lawn trying to get at the larvae.  Though rare, you could even see skunks or raccoons digging up racoonareas of your lawn trying to feed on the bugs.  One easy way to test if your lawn has insect damage is to pull up on the damage grass area.  If it rolls up like sod or a carpet, then it most likely is insect damage.  Great!  Now that you know you have insect damage, what do you do?  We need to identify, if possible, the actual bug that is doing the damage.

 

In southwest Idaho, we tend to see white grubs as the main culprit of many insect damaged lawns.  We do however get some cooler season insects in fall that will cause problems as well.  Most of these bugs may overwinter as adults and lay eggs in the spring or summer.   I wanted to list each type of insect we commonly run into as well as a brief rundown of their behaviors.

White Grubs – White grubs are the larvae of Billbugs.  Billbugs themselves will eat leaves and grass blades, but when they lay eggs, and those eggs hatch, the larvae are the real instigators of the damage.  The billbug will lay it’s eggs just below the surface of the grass.  Grubs are subsurface larvae.  The grub, as it is growing and morphing into an adult bill bug, will chew on the grass roots for its main source of nutrition.  As the grass roots disappear, the plant itself will die.  Grubs are particularly terrible because they can have 3 hatchings in each season.  Early June, Mid July, and Late August.

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Japanese BeetlesJapanese Beetles have been a recent problem in the Boise area.  They were not found in Boise until 2012.  They behave very similarly to the Billbug.  They lay eggs just like the billbug and the larvae damage the lawn in the same way as the grub.  The Boise Parks and Recreation website https://parks.cityofboise.org/community-forestry/tree-care/japanese-beetle-information/  has some great information on the Japanese Beetle.  If you think you have found one, it will give you directions on contacting the Idaho Department of Agriculture, as they are working to eradicate this bug from our area entirely.

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chinch-bug-control1Chinch Bugs – Chinch bugs are significantly less common in our area, but they still show up every year.  We have noticed an uptick in how many times we see them over the last few years as well.  Chinch bugs are a very tiny insect that exists at the surface level of the lawn.  So looking for them deep in the soil won’t work.  You have to catch them before they scatter!  They are quick and tiny and when you start looking for them they tend to run away when the grass is disturbed.  They like sunny areas and may be as numerous as 200 insects per square foot.

 

Cranberry GirdlersWe run into this critter a few times every year.   Cranberry girdlers get their name from the plant they like to eat.  Cranberries!  Unfortunately, they also like to feast on grasses and even fir trees.  They are a subterranean larva.  As adults they show in the form of a moth. We usually see them towards the end of summer and into the fall.

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Sod WebwormThough sod-webworm-control1.jpgless common, we do run into sod webworms every year as well.  They are a surface level larva.  They will feed on the grass at the crown level of the plant.  Sod webworm are in moth form as adults and are more commonly known as lawn moths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have identified the type of insect having thanksgiving dinner on your lawn, you can now deal with it!  The type of insect may determine the method you use to treat.  There are a variety of methods to deal with lawn insects.  Some are more effective than others.

  1. Let nature deal with it – There are some DIY and non-chemical methods to dealing with lawn insects. Unfortunately, the ‘natural’ way is doing nothing as lawn damaging insects ‘naturally’ eat grass.
  2. Bacteria in your lawn – Milky Spore is bacteria you can introduce into your lawn that will kill the insect potentially within 21 days. Unfortunately, 21 days after finding damage in your lawn will still result in 3 weeks of continued feeding on the lawn.  Not a quick or good method.
  3. Nematodes – nematodes are a parasite that feed on grubs – You can introduce nematodes into your lawn as well to fight grubs, however, you may need multiple applications.
  4. Home remedies – I have seen recipes such as 1 cup of mouthwash, liquid dish soap, and water. Add 2 cups of lemon juice and put in a spray bottle.  Seriously inefficient – But it gets better!  You can pour 1 cup of boiling water over a teaspoon of chewing tobacco and add it to the mouthwash solution!  That is a lot of work for something that may not work very well, plus how much coverage on your lawn are really getting with a spray bottle.  Think about this very carefully.  You would be using a spray bottle on your 4000 sq. ft. lawn.  You will be making a lot of this mixture to get enough down on the lawn to be effective.  I don’t even know if this even works!  Sorry for wasting your time on this suggestion. (I don’t have a lot of patience for some diy home remedies.  They often are suggested to avoid chemicals, yet use chemicals.)
  5. Chemical – (as if the last one was not a chemical.) There are great products that are SAFE when applied correctly. Really the best way to deal with grubs is preventatively.  80% of grubs, as adults will lay their eggs in the areas they were hatched in.  If you have had grubs in your lawn in the recent past, you will likely get them again.  June is a perfect time to get that preventative application down.  You can treat them after the fact but it is better to take care of them before they damage the lawn.

There has been a lot of concern about safety when it comes to insecticides.  We take safety very seriously when applying treatments on the lawn.  Weed Man uses only products for use on home lawns. They are most safely applied in the capable hands of a trained professional like Weed Man.

Studies done by the University of Guelph show that insect control products tend to stay in the thatch layer of the lawn, where harmful turf insects feed. After 24 hours, less than .3% of the product can be dislodged from the lawn. According to the University, there is little movement of insect control products into the root and soil zones.

Your health and safety come first!

If you think you have insect damage on your lawn, or have found any of these damaging creatures, please give Weed Man a call.  We would love to help protect your lawn investment.  208-888-9911  www.weedmanboise.com  #wecareforyourlawn