Nutsedge

Mr. Peanut Goes to War…On Your Lawn!

Mr._Peanut_Goes_to_War.jpgIt is another great week at The Wonderful World of Weed Man.  We hope you are enjoying your summer in spite of the terribly weird weather temps.  Alas, that is Idaho.  The weather has already improved since I started writing this article.

Last week we touched on a perennial weed we find very difficult, but possible to treat – Canadian Thistle.  This week, we wanted to talk about another lawn weed we come across quite often – Nutsedge.  Below is a picture of nutsedge in a lawn via the University of Minnesota.

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Every time I am on the lawn and diagnose a ‘grassy weed’ someone is curious about as Nutsedge, I get a look like I’m teasing them.  Peanuts in my grass?  Yes, and no…  This sedge gets its name because in some cultures it is actually a crop that is edible.  Nutsedge is cultivated for its tubers, called earth almonds.  Apparently all parts of the plant development are edible and the tubers taste like almonds.  Who knew?  Mr. Peanut is wreaking havoc on your lawn!

Nutsedge is actually somewhat easy to treat.  It has its own set of difficulties, but in comparison to thistle or crabgrass it is easier to deal with.  It is referred to as swamp grass, sometimes called water grass.  Other names include Nutgrass, or Peanutgrass.  Nutsedge, though it looks like grass, it is actually a sedge.  They look similar but are distinctly different plant types.  Nutsedge has three long blades that protrude from the base of the plant.  They grow very quickly and are slightly yellow/light green in color.  Because of the growth and color of the plant it generally stands out in your lawn, especially if you haven’t mowed in a few days.  Standing out so easily in your lawn will quickly disrupt your beautiful uniform colored lawn.

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This particular plant can reproduce itself in a variety of ways: through seed, rhizomes, and tubers.  Nutsedge is a perennial plant that will typically emerge in May in our area when it begins to really warm up.  It will continue to grow and develop until the first frost in the fall.  The cold weather will kill the above ground portion of the plant, but the tubers will survive underground over the winter.  The dormant tubers will germinate and emerge throughout the next year or remain dormant in the soil for longer.

Let’s take a moment and analyze Nutsedge by the numbers:  1 seed can turn into a basel clump (the base of the plant) which produces umbels (3 blades).  The umbel can produce 1500 seeds in one season.  In addition, the plant will reproduce itself via tubers that can spread out rhizomes.  The tuber will produce the rhizome which can produce 1900 new plants which can multiply to 7000 new tubers in one season.  Each tuber can have up to 7 buds/rhizomes with the reserves to sprout them all.  Essentially via rhizome, tuber and seeding, 1 seedling can create a whole plant system capable of producing 90,000 seeds within one year.

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Great, now you know what Nutsedge is and that it multiplies like rabbits, what do you do?  Well Howard Garrett, the ‘Dirt Doctor’, states “There is only one guaranteed, foolproof method to completely kill Nutgrass,” he recounts: “First, dig out every tiny piece of the plant including the seeds and nutlets (tubers). Make sure you sift the soil through a mesh screen. Dump the collected material on the driveway and burn it. Sweep up all the ashes and seal in a concrete box. Drive to the coast and dump the sealed box 20 miles off shore.”

That is one labor intensive surefire way to eliminate Nutsedge.  Barring the drastic, what does the average homeowner need to do.

Cultural Practices:  Remove the cause of your waterlogged soil.  Aerate, change your watering habits, or fix your leaky sprinkler pipe. 

I referred to Nutsedge as a swamp grass or a water grass earlier in this article.  Nutsedge will show up in soils that are waterlogged

The reason I bring it up, is that the Treasure Valley climate is considered a semi-arid or steppe region.  However, we are on the low rainfall side of the spectrum.  To be classified as a desert the area needs to have 10 inches or less of rainfall every year.  We get 11 inches.  So for all intents and purposes we are a desert.  All the responsibility without the cool title or benefits!

Yet even in our climate, Nutsedge can grow if it has a constant source of water.  This can be from poor drainage in the soil, watering too frequently, or you have a sprinkler pipe leaking.  Leaky pipes are easy enough to fix.  Poor drainage can be a result from a compact soil.  An aeration will help relieve this issue.  However, a vast majority of the time that we see Nutsedge, it is on a lawn that is being overwatered.  Unfortunately, some homeowners’ lawns have become a main tributary for the Boise River via their ever flowing sprinkler system.   Without that constant source of water, Nutsedge, would have a hard time growing naturally.

The modern sprinkler system has done wonders for moving water in an efficient way to help with lawns, but it has taken away our ability to think like a farmer or remember our 3rd grade botanical lessons.  When summer rolls around and temps get about 100, we think our lawns need constant watering.  Your lawn does not like that often of a watering.  But you know what does?  Insects, fungus, disease….and certain weeds like NUTSEDGE.  It’s easy to get carried away with the watering and slowly bad things will begin to happen to your lawn.

Avoid overwatering your lawn.  We live in a desert, but if you water strategically, your lawn will get the moisture it needs, and unwanted non-desert swamp plants will not.  3 times a week for a good period of time is all you need even when it is REALLY, REALLY HOT.  Not 4 times a week, nor 5 times a week. Not daily, NOT TWICE DAILY!  You get the point…

If you have questions about watering, please refer to an earlier article we published.

If you don’t get the waterlogged soil resolved, you will be fighting a losing battle.  You have to solve this before any other resolution will be effective.  Nutsedge will come back over and over and over again, worse each time.

Mechanical Practices:  Pulling Nutsedge can become an exercise in futility unless you catch the plant early.  When you pull on the Nutsedge blade, they will just detach from the tuber.   The plant is still alive and has the reserves to produce more shoots.  The key catching the plant at an early stage where it has to use up its reserves to produce new shoots before it can reproduce more tubers.  Usually you can do this when it only has 3-4 blades coming up.  Be warned:  This is a very slow and arduous process.

You can also dig up the tubers and remove the plant through tillage.  Again, not the best option for a lawn.  Great advice for a garden area where digging up the weed will not disturb the surrounding plants that are wanted.

Another digging option exists that we are aware of:  PIGS!  Pigs love to eat the tubers of Nutsedge.  They are very quick to find the buried tubers and will dig them up and eat them.  This is probably not the best option for you finely manicured lawn though.  If you happen to have a Nutsedge problem in a field though….

Chemical Practices:  Really the most effective and quickest way to deal with Nutsedge is through herbicides.  Currently, there are preemergents available to help reduce Nutsedge, but they do require a professional pesticide applicator.  Unfortunately, preemergents for Nutsedge are not safe to use on turf grass….so post emergent is the best option for Nutsedge in the lawn.

You can kill Nutsedge with Round up, however, Roundup will kill everything else around it as well, unless you can spray the Nutsedge with surgical precision.  Selective herbicides labeled for Nutsedge will work to kill it without killing your lawn!  Selective herbicide is the way to go.

Always be careful when applying herbicides, and please read the label and follow directions accordingly.  Better yet, hire Weed Man to take care of the issue for you.  We can also help diagnose and advise on watering habits to prevent re-occurrences.  Give us a call!  208-888-9911, www.weedmanboise.com #wecareforyourlawn

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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.

Lawn-Care-Minneapolis

 

The Grass IS Greener Over There!

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Welcome to the wonderful world of Weed Man!  I’m Brian and I will be your guide!  We started this blog to help inform and educate our customers so they will get the most out of their lawns.  Whether you are a Weed Man customer or not, you are welcome here, and we hope you gain something by your visits.  This week I would like to overview where we are headed in the near future – lawn care tips!

It happens…you work hard on your lawn.  You spend countless hours and untold amounts of money to get the results you want to no avail.  Your neighbors lawn looks amazing and you just can’t seem to match the deep green lawn that he has.  On the other hand your other neighbor has a black thumb with a degree in growing weeds…that like to invade your lawn.

Just before you give in and give up let us offer some advice!  Sure you could hire a professional – Weed Man Boise, in particular.  We would love that!  Nevertheless, even Weed Man customers are given the expectation that achieving and maintaining a great lawn is really a partnership.  So whether you take the professional lawn guide approach or DIY approach we would like to help you have an amazing lawn.

Over the next weeks, we will be detailing how you can have an AMAZING lawn your neighbors will be joyously talking about.  (They may talk anyways, but lets be honest, nobody wants to be the black thumb homeowner who specializes in weeds.)

We have 11 tips for lawn care that every homeowner should be aware of:

  1. Mower Startup
  2. Fertilization
  3. Sprinkler Startup/Maintenance
  4. Over seeding/Lawn Repair
  5. Weed Control
  6. Watering Practices
  7. Mowing to the Season
  8. Bug Care
  9. Aerating
  10. Mulching
  11. Hire Weed Man!
  12. Addendum: I did everything you said, MY Grass ISN’T Greener Over HERE!

Each tip will have a separate posting unpacking the details of how to take advantage of each practice.  Please check back often to get updated!  We would also love to hear from you about any lawn care questions or subjects you would like discussed.  Feel free to leave a comment below and we will incorporate it in our 11 tips!