Proper Raking for St. Louis Lawns

In Winter on November 19, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Written by green-admin

Now that we have reached the late fall season, the multi-colored leaves that were once on the trees are forming a thick layer over many lawns in the St. Louis area.  Raking is one of those tasks that most people wish to avoid but it is important rake up the leaves in your yard because excess debris can be damaging to the lawn’s health.   There really is no right or wrong way to rake a lawn but following these tips will help you rake efficiently and prevent injury to the lawn and your body while also cutting down on the time spent raking.

Watch the Weather

If you are experiencing wet or windy weather, it is best to wait for another day to rake.  The wetness makes the leaves much heavier and windy conditions can make raking more troublesome by blowing the leaves around.  It is best to rake on a calm, dry day.

Use a Good Rake

Before raking your yard, make sure that the rake you use is solid and not flimsy.  A sturdier, dependable rake will perform the job quicker and more efficiently while placing less stress on the blades of grass.

Posture

Raking the leaves tends to make people feel sore afterwards, but keeping good posture can help relieve some of the pain.  When raking, make sure to stand straight up, change your hand positions to avoid blisters, and lift with your legs when picking up leaves and yard bags.

Mulch the Leaves

If you would rather not rake the leaves this year, you can use a mulching mower to mulch the leaves.  This not only saves you time and effort from raking, but also creates nutrient-rich mulch that will benefit your lawn.

Raking the leaves has many benefits for your lawn and by following these tips; you can make raking into a quicker and easier task.  It is beneficial for your lawn to rake because the layer of leaves can smother lawns by restricting the amount of nutrients and natural light that reach the root system and the moisture that builds up in the leaves can lead to turf diseases.  So make sure to rake up your leaves before the winter sets in and if you have any questions about preparing your lawn for the St. Louis winter, contact Green T Lawn Care in St. Louis for more information.

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Winterizing Your Lawn in St. Louis

In Winter on October 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Written by green-admin

As we get deeper into the fall, the temperature will continue to drop and homeowners will spend less time outside tending to their lawns.  Before the cold winter weather sets in, it is important to prepare the lawn to handle the stress it will face from the harsh winds, frost, and snow.  Effective lawn winterization will help your lawn handle the stressors that come with winter weather and give the lawn a better chance of growing back thick and healthy the next spring.  You can winterize your lawn by performing the following actions late in the fall.

Fertilize: The fall is an important time for lawn fertilization and winterizing fertilizers should be used in the late fall.  Winterizing fertilizers are made specifically for cool season grasses and contain a high amount of potassium which helps absorb nutrients and strengthen the root and crown of grass blades for a better chance of survival.

Seeding: The last chance to seed the lawn is late in the fall season before the ground freezes.  Seeding areas of a lawn with bare spots, patches, or dormant growth will help stimulate new growth the following spring.

Watering: The lawn should still be watered deep into the fall to make sure that it is getting enough moisture.  If your area has not received enough rainfall, be sure to water the lawn so that is does not dry out before the winter.

Leaves: It is important to rake all the leaves before the winter because they can block oxygen and sunlight from the surface of the lawn.  Leaves that are left on the lawn can also increase the moisture level which makes lawns more susceptible to developing turf diseases.

Mowing: When mowing the lawn for the last time of the season, the mower height should be lowered from 2.5 inches to the lowest the mower will allow.  The shortened grass will stand up straight instead of lying flat which will minimize damage from ice and snow.

Performing these actions will help winterize your lawn for the ensuing cold months and if you need professional assistance with this process, contact Green T Lawn Care in St. Louis.  Green T Lawn Care offers winterizing fertilizer applications as well as fall over seeding to prep your lawn for the winter.  Taking these steps now will go a long way in contributing to a healthy lawn for next year.

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Fall Weeds in Missouri

In Winter on October 1, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Written by green-admin

Homeowners around the St. Louis area may have noticed plenty of weeds growing in their lawns this fall.  In fact, the excessive rainfall this summer has made it one of the worst years for weeds because the rain stimulates healthy growth not just in the lawn, but in all plants including weeds and other unwanted plants.  The most common type of weeds, crabgrass, nutsedge, and clover, actually thrive in these moist conditions.  However, there is still time this fall to take control of the weed situation before the winter hits.

One way to keep weeds in check this fall is with proper watering and mowing practices.  It is important to mow your lawn at the proper height to curtail weed growth which is usually between 2.5 to 3 inches, but the height may vary depending on the grass type of the lawn.  Watering practices should be monitored carefully because of the excess rain fall to make sure that lawns are not overwatered.  If your lawn has received adequate rainfall this summer, watering may be unnecessary until next season.

Another way to combat the weeds this fall is to continue to promote a healthy root system through proper fertilization as well as aerations and over seeding.  A strong, thick root system is the lawn’s best natural defense against weeds and continued fertilization in the fall will provide the roots with the nutrients necessary to stay strong and fight off weed growth.  Performing aerations and over seeding will also contribute to a stronger root system.  The aeration process removes thatch layers and plugs of grass to open up holes in the soil that allow for better penetration of nutrients and moisture down to the root.  Over seeding is often performed with aerations so that the seeds can reach the root system and contribute to a thicker lawn capable of choking out weeds.

While proper watering, mowing, and fertilization practices can be done by the homeowner to combat weed growth this fall, Green T Lawn Care offers aerations and over seeding as well as weed control treatments to our St. Louis customers for further protection.  It is important to continue these lawn care practices late into the fall because taking proper care now is the best way to ensure a healthy, weed free lawn in the spring.  Contact Green T Lawn Care to learn more about our fall lawn care services.

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Fall Aeration and Over Seeding for St. Louis

In Winter on September 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Written by green-admin

The fall season is a very crucial time for lawn care in St. Louis and the ideal time to perform aeration and over seeding.  Aeration and over seeding are the best actions you can perform on your lawn to improve the condition of the soil and root system as well as prepare it to survive the winter and recover the next spring.  Here is an explanation of how fall aerations and over seeding can benefit St. Louis lawns.

Aeration

Fall aerations are extremely important for maintaining a healthy lawn all year round.  Aeration is the removal of small plugs of soil and thatch over the entire lawn using equipment designed to penetrate the lawn’s surface and systematically remove the plugs of soil.  This process cultivates the soil and helps improve soil conditions by allowing air, water, and nutrients to effectively reach the root system.  This results in a stronger, deeper root system that allows the grass to better overcome stress from disease, insects, and drought.  The plugs of soil are left on the lawn because they contain microorganisms that break down thatch and they disappear shortly after the aeration.  It is best to perform aerations in the spring or fall when the air is cool and the soil is moist.

Over Seeding

                Over seeding is the practice of laying seeds over existing grass to stimulate new growth for a denser lawn.  By the end of the summer, the individual grass blades become weak and die which leaves the lawn more susceptible to diseases, weeds, and insects.  Over seeding helps re-establish the lawn where the grass blades have become weak to improve its density and appearance.

Before over seeding, the weakened areas of lawn should be raked to remove dead grass and loosen the soil to better receive the seeds.  Aerations are also great for preparing a lawn for over seeding by opening up the soil.  If the seeds are exposed on the surface of the soil, they can easily be washed away, blown away, or eaten before they reach the root system.  Once the seeds penetrate the soil, the moisture in the ground during the fall and winter will help them germinate for a quick spring recovery.

Aerations and over seeding, especially when performed together in the fall, can revitalize a lawn and prepare it to survive the long winter.  The fall is a crucial time for lawn care because it is important to prepare lawns for the winter to ensure that they will recover quickly in the spring.  Green T Lawn Care offers core aeration and over seeding services to our St. Louis customers in the fall season.  These services will give your lawn the best chance to survive the Missouri winter.

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Fall Lawn Care Tips for St. Louis

In Winter on August 16, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Written by green-admin

The summer is beginning to wind down in St. Louis and when the temperature starts to drop in the fall, certain lawn care practices should be changed.  The fall season is crucial for the lawn because care in this season will affect the lawn’s health year round, making it important to follow proper watering, seeding, fertilization and mowing practices.

Mowing:

When the temperature starts to drop, the length of the grass can be shortened when mowed.  It is recommended during the summer to mow the lawn at 3 to 3½ inches but once the colder weather sets in; the height should be shortened to about 2 to 2½ inches.  Mowing any shorter could kill the grass.

Watering:

The rainfall and temperature differences in the fall season in St. Louis warrant a change in watering habits from the summer.  There is typically more rainfall in the fall which means that lawns should be watered less.  Lawns need about an inch of water a week and they should only be watered in the fall if the rainfall is less than an inch in a given week.

Fertilization:

Lawn fertilization should continue through the beginning of the fall but should be stopped by late October because lawns stop taking nutrients as the winter sets in.  Homeowners should use fertilizers high in nitrogen in the fall which will help strengthen the root system to survive the winter and recover quicker in the spring.

Seeding:

The rainfall and cooler temperatures of the fall season create the ideal condition for grass seed germination.  Fall seeding can be approached in two ways; seeds can be planted in September to germinate before the winter hits or in October so that they stay dormant until the spring which also creates ideal conditions for grass seed germination.  One of the benefits to seeding late in the fall is that birds will be hibernating so they will not be a threat to eat the grass seeds.

While these simple maintenance practices can be done by homeowners, booking a core aeration and over seeding service can also bring many benefits to a lawn in the fall season.  Green T Lawn Care offers aeration and over seeding services to our St. Louis customer and we are currently booking the services to begin administering them soon.  Contact Green T Lawn Care to book an aeration or over seeding service or click here to learn more.

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Insects and Arachnids that Threaten Missouri Lawns

In Winter on August 1, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Written by green-admin

While proper lawn fertilization and weed control will help promote a healthy root system, it will do little to prevent certain insects or arachnids that can cause significant damage to the grass or soil from invading a lawn.  The most common pests that have been discovered on lawns in the St. Louis area include white grubs, chinch bugs, and crane flies and their larvae which are known as leatherjackets.  It is important to be able to recognize the signs of an infestation of these pests and detect them early to prevent them from causing major damage.

White Grubs

White grubs are beetle larvae that may be from many species of beetle such as European chafers, May and June beetles, Japanese beetles, Asiatic beetles, and Green June beetles among others.  They are white or cream in color and range in size from ¼ inch to 1½ inches in length.  These pests can typically be found in the soil in their C-shape position where they feed on grass roots.  White grubs do the majority of their damage in the early spring and fall season.

Because grubs feed on grass roots, they are always underground and may be at work for weeks before symptoms of their damage can be seen on the surface.  The damaged areas appear as discolored turf that can be easily peeled back from the soil.  A grub infestation can also cause an additional problem because raccoons and skunks that feed on grubs may dig up parts of a lawn to get to them.  It is important to take special notice of any beetles that may be in your yard as it could suggest a future grub problem.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are small insects that live above the soil in lawns and feed on grass blades by piercing them with their mouthparts and sucking out the juices.  These insects survive through the winter by seeking shelter under shrubs and hedges and they mate in the late spring.  An adult female chinch bug can lay up to 250 eggs in a lawn and in about 3 weeks, their nymphs hatch and begin to feed.

Chinch bugs can be found in most regions of the United States and they can attack any species of grass.  When a lawn is infested with chinch bugs, small brown patches of grass will begin to appear and will continue to grow if the problem is ignored.  It is possible for chinch bugs to destroy an entire lawn in as little as three weeks if they are not properly controlled.

Crane Flies and Leatherjackets

Crane flies are often mistaken for mosquitoes because of their similar appearance.  They are about an inch in length with long slender legs and brown bodies.  They emerge as adults in the late summer or early fall and they can lay up to several hundred eggs in a lawn.  Once the crane fly larvae, or leatherjackets as they are also known, hatch, they feed aggressively on the roots and crowns of the lawn.

Leatherjackets feed mostly on decomposing organic matter and can be found near compost piles, within the top three inches of the turf, and in adjacent plant beds as well as areas of excessive moisture or shade.  The damage from leatherjackets causes minor discoloration of the turf but if an infestation is ignored, large areas of the turf will get chewed down to the soil.

Homeowners should be on the lookout for these pests in their lawn throughout the entire lawn care season so that an infestation can be identified and stopped before any significant damage is caused.  If you are concerned about an infestation in your lawn, talk to a Green T technician about how our grub control and tree and shrub treatment can help keep your lawn free of these pests.

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Protecting Your Lawn from Fairy Ring

In Winter on July 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Written by green-admin

With all the potential diseases that can develop in lawns throughout the St. Louis area, one of the most difficult to control is fairy ring.  Fairy ring is caused by different types of fungi and it attacks all turf grasses common to Missouri.  A variety of fungi live in the thatch and soil of a lawn all year long and they destroy the turf by feeding on the grass plants.  Fairy ring tends to occur near sources of decaying organic matter, such as a stump or excess thatch, and it is especially prevalent during the season’s dry months and in nutrient-deficient soil.

Identification:

Fairy ring may take on one of several different appearances.  In order to correctly identify fairy ring in your lawn, it is important to become familiar with all the warning signs.

  • Quick-growing, dark green circles or semi-circles of grass
  • Dark green rings bordered by a thin ring of dying grass
  • Rings of dying grass with a hardened layer of soil
  • Rings of mushrooms

The fungi that causes fairy ring releases nitrogen that causes the rings to have a lush, green appearance.

Effects:

Most cases of fairy ring are simply nothing more than an aesthetic issue, but further problems can occur and cause damage to the lawn if it is not handled properly.  These problems include:

  • Water repellant soil: a large presence of mycelium fungus can cause the soil to become hydrophobic, making proper irrigation impossible.
  • Enlarged rings: Some rings may spread over 100 feet in diameter and affect large areas of the lawn.
  • Fungi chemical damage: The concentration of chemicals released by the fungi can greatly weaken a lawn.

Preventing and Controlling Fairy Ring:

Fairy ring is an unpleasant and potentially damaging turf disease that can be prevented with these steps:

  • Regularly remove thatch from your lawn because fungus breeds within thick layers of thatch.
  • Heavily water affected areas for two weeks.
  • Regularly fertilize your lawn so that the root system is strong enough to fight off diseases.
  • Make sure to follow proper mowing and watering practices.
  • Set up aeration services with Green T; core aerations remove excess thatch and allow water to more easily reach the root system which helps fight fungal diseases.

It is still possible that the symptoms of fairy ring could persist despite following these preventative actions.  If your lawn has a fairy ring problem, call Green T Lawn Care to control the disease before it causes extensive damage.  Green T offers fungicide treatments as well as aeration services to their customers in St. Louis.

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Fighting Dollar Spot in St. Louis

In Winter on July 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Written by green-admin

The Missouri summer creates an ideal environment for a variety of fungal diseases to develop in a lawn such as brown patch and leaf blight.  Another fungal disease that may develop during the summer is dollar spot.  Dollar spot is a fungal turf disease that appears as small, circular brown patches throughout the lawn and it can consume an entire lawn if it is left untreated.  This post discusses how to identify dollar spot as well as the best ways to prevent or eliminate it from your lawn.

Identification:

Correctly identifying dollar spot in your lawn is the first step towards eliminating it.  Dollar spot is caused by a fungus that thrives in damp, humid conditions and feeds on grass blades.  Lawns that are affected with dollar spot show straw colored spots of dead grass throughout the lawn that are about the size of a silver dollar, giving the disease its name.  Without proper treatment, these spots will grow and expand across the entire lawn.

Dollar spot is most likely to develop in warm, moist weather with temperatures between 59 and 86 degrees F.  This disease can be especially harsh on lawns with compacted, infertile, or dry soil.  Lawns that have weakened areas or excessive thatch build up are also more likely to contract dollar spot.

Avoiding Dollar Spot

Because dollar spot is most likely to attack thinning lawns, the best defense against it and other fungal diseases is to maintain a dense, healthy lawn.  Applying regular fertilizer applications throughout the season, especially in the spring, will help keep lawns healthy enough to fight off fungal turf diseases common to the St. Louis area.

Another way to combat dollar spot is to limit the moisture level of the lawn because excess moisture leads to fungal growth.  Watering your lawn early in the day is one way to control the moisture level.  Evening watering should be avoided because it could result in standing water overnight.  The lawn should only be mowed when it is dry and it is best to mow at a high level with a sharp mower blade for a cleaner cut.  Reducing the amount of shade in your lawn can also help avoid dollar spot.  Trees and shrubs that produce a lot of shade should be pruned regularly to allow more light to reach the grass and keep it dry.

If your lawn continues to exhibit signs of dollar spot or any other fungal disease, contact Green T Lawn Care.  We can help eliminate any fungal disease that attacks turf grasses in Missouri.

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Preventing Brown Patch in Your Lawn

In Winter on June 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Written by green-admin

The summer weather is heating up around St. Louis which means that your lawn is more susceptible to brown patch.  Brown patch, or Rhizoctonia blight, is a lawn disease caused by the Rhizoctonia solani fungus that attacks turf in hot weather.  It can attack any type of grass but most commonly affects tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, creeping bentgrass, and annual bluegrass.

Brown patch appears on lawns as brown, circular patches that can vary in size from just a few inches to a few feet in diameter.  Affected areas may also show a fungal growth of mycelium that resembles strands of cobweb in the morning dew.  Areas affected by brown patch will discolor and if no action is taken and the grass will die.  Brown patch is most active when the temperature and humidity are at relatively high levels with the highest activity occurring once the temperature reaches 85 degrees during the day and remains above 60 degrees over night.  Periods of high moisture, rain, or overcast skies in combination with high temperatures form favorable conditions for brown patch.

While the weather is a major determinant in the formation of brown patch, these other factors can also contribute to its occurrence:

  • Overwatering
  • Late afternoon watering
  • Mowing in the evening, when the lawn is wet, or with a dull blade
  • Poor drainage and air movement in the soil
  • Thatch build up
  • Shaded areas

Brown patch can effectively be prevented by a healthy lawn with a strong root system.  The slow release, granular fertilizer applied by Green T contributes to a strong root system that can fight off common lawn diseases when healthy.  Spring and fall aeration can also help as it loosens the soil to improve drainage and reduce thatch.  However, if your lawn shows symptoms of brown patch, the following actions can help:

  • Do not water affected areas until the soil is dry
  • Water thoroughly and infrequently rather than watering lightly more frequently
  • Only water in the mornings so that the soil and grass can dry before sun down
  • Mow frequently with a sharp blade at the highest setting

If brown patch persists in your lawn after trying these techniques, notify a Green T technician.  We offer fungicide applications that can help eliminate fungal lawn diseases like brown patch.  We also offer granular fertilizer applications throughout the season to promote a healthy root system as well as fall and spring aerations.  Enjoy your lawn this summer by keeping it free from brown patch.

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Controlling Leaf Blight in Your Lawn

In Winter on June 10, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Written by green-admin

The weather in the St. Louis area is warming up but the wet conditions along with the heat create the right environment for leaf blight.  This fungal disease attacks Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue during warm, damp or humid weather that is typical of late spring and late summer.  Leaf blight causes large patches of a lawn to become discolored which many homeowners wrongly diagnose as chemical burn or heat stress.  It is important to be able to identify leaf blight damage in order to control the situation.

Identification:

The main warning sign of leaf blight is bleached, straw-colored turf in uniform patches that can vary greatly in size.  Damage from leaf blight can be distinguished from heat stress or chemical burn by the bleached leaf tips of the grass blades.  Leaf blight causes grass blades to die or wilt from the tip down and can even leave hour glass shaped lesions on the blades.

Causes:

Leaf blight thrives in warm, moist weather typical of the late spring and early fall, but it can also be a problem through the summer as well if humidity levels are high.  The fungus that causes leaf blight is the most active at temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees.  While the weather is undoubtedly a factor in the occurrence of leaf blight, these actions may also contribute to its development:

  • Excessive watering
  • Mowing when the lawn is wet
  • Mowing with dull blades which tears the grass

Control:

Dry weather conditions are usually enough to cause leaf blight to disappear but it will leave the lawn substantially thinner.  If prolonged periods of humidity or wet conditions persist, then leaf blight may last further into the summer and require action to alleviate the problem.  Here are the three best strategies for controlling leaf blight:

  • Aeration: Removing excess thatch and reducing soil compaction through aerations can help prevent the disease.
  • Fertilization: A healthy, strong root system is a lawn’s best defense against all diseases and proper fertilization is the best way to maintain a strong root system.  Fertilizer with adequate nitrogen levels can help damaged lawns recover from thinning caused by leaf blight.
  • Proper Mowing and Watering: Practicing good mowing and watering techniques will minimize turf stress and leave your lawn less vulnerable to diseases.  Watering should only be done in the morning hours if the rain fall is insufficient and mowing should be done when the grass is dry with a sharp mower blade.
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