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Fall Leaf Removal Tips

Raking

Fall leaf removalIt may not be as fun as it use to be to rake leaves in your lawn. But it is necessary to get the leaves off your lawn as soon as possible. If you wait until all the trees in your yard are bare, it could be too late. The leaves will become wet from rain and morning dew, stick together, and form an impenetrable mat that will suffocate the grass below and possibly breed fungal diseases. An alternative to raking leaves is to use a lawnmower fitted with a collection bag or vacuum system.  Regardless of whether you use a rake or a lawnmower, just be sure to remove the leaves before they turn into a soggy, suffocating mess. Another alternative is to mulch the leaves into the lawn.

Mulching

If you’ve got a large yard and you use a riding lawn mower, try leaf mulching. When the leaves are dry, drive over them with your lawn mower. The mower chops them up and returns the smaller leaf pieces to the lawn. Leaf mulching with a mower doesn’t negatively affect turf performance, and it is a time-efficient way to get rid of those leaves, which can damage your lawn. Maintaining a leaf-free yard this fall can help assure a healthy lawn come spring.  It may seem like a thankless task, the leaves just continue to fall, littering your lawn with more leaves. But come Spring, your lawn will be thanking you!

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Fall Lawn Care Tips

Taking care of your lawn doesn’t stop when the weather cools and the leaves begin to change color. Fall is an important time for turf to “heal” after a stressful summer, especially if it has been worn down by traffic or suffered from disease or insect problems. Not only can you repair summer damage to the lawn in the fall and over the winter, but you can also improve the turf so it will be healthier in the spring. Here are some fall tips to improve the health of your lawn.

iStock_000003021437XSmallLawn watering

Lawn watering is often stopped in early fall. Conventional thinking is that because evapo-transpiration (ET) rates are low and the turf isn’t growing much, it is OK to stop watering. While mowing isn’t needed as frequently during fall, the turf DOES continue to grow – but in ways that differ from spring and summer. Turfgrasses form tillers (side shoots) and rhizomes that increase the density of fall turf.  Fall watering is essential for late season nitrogen applications to work most effectively. Fertilizer applied to dry turf is less likely to enhance fall rooting and increase energy storage.

Rake Leaves

It may not be fun but it is necessary to rake leaves from your lawn as soon as possible. If you wait until all the trees in your yard are bare, it may be too late. The leaves will become wet from rain and morning dew, stick together, and form an impenetrable mat that if left unmoved will suffocate the grass and breed fungal diseases.  An alternative to raking leaves is to use a lawnmower fitted with a collection bag or vacuum system. These methods are particularly effective if you have a very large yard with many deciduous trees. Regardless of whether you use a rake or a lawnmower, just be sure to remove the leaves before they turn into a soggy, suffocating mess.

Fertilize

According to turfgrass scientists, the best time to fertilize lawns in Maryland is the fall. This is the time of the year when the grass recovers from summer heat and drought stress. Fertilizer applied from late August through early October promotes increased density of the turf without promoting excess shoot growth. Late fall fertilization from mid-October through early December promotes increased root growth.  It also increases carbohydrate storage for the grass to survive the winter and prepare for the following spring’s new growth.

Weed Control

Fall is also the best time of year to control perennial broadleaf weeds – dandelion, clover,  plantain, and thistle, to name a few. Fall herbicide applications are more effective when applied to healthy, green, actively growing weeds. The herbicide is more easily absorbed and translocated to weed roots resulting in better control.

LawnAeration

Aerate

In most home lawns, fertile topsoil may have been removed or buried during excavation of the basement or footings, forcing grass to grow in subsoil that is more compact, higher in clay content, and less likely to sustain a healthy lawn. Aeration can help relieve soil compaction and increase the air circulation needed to help your grass to grow deeper roots and make more efficient use of water and fertilizer.

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Contact Pro-Lawn Plus today to get your FREE no obligation estimate.  Let us help your lawn get the start it needs today, to be the lawn you’ve always wanted tomorrow. Pro-Lawn Plus is a local lawn care company. We  provide lawn care as well as tree and shrub services for Maryland residents in Baltimore, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, in addition to portions of Harford County and Carroll Counties.

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Early Fall Grub Information

Grubs can cause severe damage to turfgrass in Maryland. They are the larvae of several species of beetles but the most common here in Maryland is the Japanese Beetle grub. Their life cycle takes one year to complete. The beetles emerge from the soil in late June/early July and feed on trees and shrubs. During July and into early August, they mate and lay eggs in the soil. The eggs hatch in August and begin feeding on turfgrass roots, especially when there is adequate soil moisture.

Most grub damage occurs in September and early October. The optimal time to prevent grubs is from late April through mid-July. Curative treatments in August through October are less effective and require immediate irrigation for effective results.

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Lawn Seeding

425babygrassIf you are frustrated with a thin and bare lawn, you should consider late-season lawn seeding! Late summer is the ideal time to decide if your lawn needs seeding work for the upcoming year. Careful advanced planning and follow-up of lawn seeding  can determine the success or failure of your lawn seeding. We have a limited time window to do proper seeding.  Current customers, contact Pro-Lawn Plus NOW to ensure we can schedule you this year. If you’re not yet a customer, now is a great time to start service and prepare your lawn for next year.

 

Lawn Conditions That Require Lawn Seeding

• Thin Lawns: Can you see the soil or thatch layer when you look down at your grass? Lawn thinness permits weeds to easily grow in the lawn and causes the grass to dry out much faster. Thin lawns need lawn seeding to grow and be healthy.
• Heavy Thatch: The thatch layer can become so heavy that the primary root system is growing more in the thatch than in the soil below. Shallow, thatch-rooted lawns are much more susceptible to drought damage.
• Poor Turf Variety: Do you want to develop a more disease-,insect-, or drought-tolerant lawn? Pro Lawn Plus’s lawn seeding experts can help. There are grass varieties that bugs, diseases, and hot weather don’t bother as much as others.

When Lawn Seeding Works Best

Many of our customers don’t understand why late summer and fall are usually the best times for lawn seeding. Here’s why the lawn growing process works best at this time of year:

• Grass seed planted late in the season has two good growing periods (fall and spring) to “harden off” before going through the drought and heat stress often associated with summer weather.
• In the fall, most fast-growing weeds like crabgrass weeds won’t be sprouting and choking out the new grass turf’s slower-growing permanent grass.
• Soil temperatures are higher in the late summer, making it ideal for lawn growing. The increased soil warmth results in faster germination of the lawn seeds.
• Late-summer lawn seeding need not disturb the proper timing of weed control as spring seeding almost always does.

Planting Successful Grass Seed

There are many lawn seeding methods and specific lawn conditions that call for each. Below is an overview of how to properly plant seed for optimum lawn growing:

• Aeration plus Overseeding: The big advantage of this lawn seeding method is that aeration opens the soil and provides a better germinating area for the new turf by improving seed-to-soil contact.
• Slice-Seeding (also known as Verti-Cut Seeding): For badly damaged or very thin and thatchy lawns, this lawn growing technique is an excellent way to get your lawn back on the road to health and beauty. This lawn seeding method actually plants the grass seed into the soil while helping to destroy thatch. This is accomplished with slicing blades that cut through thatch and create furrows in the soil. Small tubes drop the lawn seed into these soil furrows, and rollers close the soil back over the seed.

After Lawn Seed is Planted

iStock_000003021437XSmallWithin the first year of lawn growing, the care given to your grass turf is crucial. The following lawn seeding pointers will ensure that your grass grows healthy and remains durable:

• Water, water, water! Frequent and light watering is ideal until the lawn seed sprouts. After this occurs, you may give your grass longer soakings.
• It is okay to mow when the grass reaches a reasonable height.
• Avoid weed controls and be sure that the new grass turf has a steady supply of lawn fertilizer to speed up establishment

• It takes a few years to fully establish a healthy lawn. Give your new lawn seeding extra care throughout the whole first season.

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Difficult to Control Summer Weeds

Weeds that appear in hot summer weather are some of the toughest to control. They germinate when your lawn is under stress from heat, humidity and drought and thrive under these conditions. Some summer weeds are grass like and are not susceptible to ‘normal’ weed control measures.  Here are some of the weeds you will be seeing during these hot summer months.

Nutsedge

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Nutsedge
Click to enlarge.

If a bright, yellow-green, grass-like weed is detracting from your lawn’s beauty, there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with nutsedge.  Nutsedge is a yellow-green warm season perennial. It has upright, grass-like leaves with a glossy upper surface and dull lower surface that emerge from the base of the plant. The leaves are 1/8 to 1/2 inch wide, up to 3 feet long, and have parallel veins with a prominent midvein.  Its flat topped, burr-like flowers occur July to September and are affixed to the end of a stout triangular stem. It grows in all soil types, especially moist ones, but does not tolerate shade.

Nutsedge is a perennial weed that is hard to eliminate, mainly because it reproduces itself from tubers beneath the soil. If you hand-pull nutsedge, the tuber is usually left behind and will regerminate. Nutsedge grows quickly in low, wet soil. Left unchecked, it will grow as tall as 2-3 feet! Pro-Lawn-Plus’s 5 Treatment program includes a summer weed spray, that helps control  nutsedge.  But in lawns with an abundance of nutsedge, it is usually necessary to add one or two supplemental treatments.

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Dallisgrass

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Dallasgrass
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Dallisgrass is a light green warm season perennial. It spreads upright forming clumps with leaves that are about 1/2 inch wide. It germinates in 60 to 65 degree soils, and although it thrives in the hot and humid south, it can be found all the way up to Maryland. The best way to remove this plant is by pulling out the clumps with your hands or a small garden tool since no herbicide is currently labeled to selectively control it.

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Spotted Spurge

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Spotted Spurge
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Spotted Spurge is a summer annual that produces seeds in 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. From a central taproot, it grows a flat, extensively-branched mat up to 2 feet in diameter. The stems leak a milky sap when broken. Its leaves are small, oval and up to 3/5 inch long. They can be purple spotted and hairy. Flowers occur June to October and are small and cup shaped. It is found in thin, drought-stressed soil in hot climates and closely mowed grass. This weed is resistant to many weed control products. To minimize Spotted Spurge, water deeply, aerate your lawn, fertilize in autumn and avoid close mowing.

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For information about these and other weeds, visit the Difficult to control weeds section of our website .

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Seedheads in Lawns

If you look closely at your lawn this time of year, you may think it is full of weeds. But in reality it could be a natural phenomenon that occurs in many turfgrasses in the spring called inflorescence – or flowering and seedhead production. Unfortunately, an abundance of seedheads can make a lawn look unattractive and the physiological effects on turf plants may temporarily reduce overall turf quality. And if you are sneezing a lot after walking on your lawn, you could be allergic to grass pollen, which comes from these and other grass seedheads in May.

seedheads

Seed production takes energy away from the plant and may cause turf blades to become sparse and off-colored.  The seed stalks have fewer leaf blades and their woody structure resists mowing which adds to the eyesore.  Sharpening mower blades can help. The seed production is seldom consistent throughout a home lawn and it sometimes occurs in patches.  Thus, the problem is often made more obvious by patches of seedheads occurring in an otherwise smooth, dark green lawn.

seedheadscustomerTurfgrass seed heads usually begin to form below the recommended mowing height of 3″ – 3 1/2″  for home lawns. The seed heads will still develop despite frequent mowing.  However, you should NOT lower the mowing height in an attempt to remove all of them as they are a short-live aesthetic problem; they do not cause long-term damage to turf plants.   The stress produced by low-mowing can cause long-term injury to turf plants.

Frequent mowing will not prevent seed development, however, infrequent mowing will allow seed heads to fully develop and make the problem worse.  Note that the seeds that would develop on hybrid turfgrasses  used in home lawn would not be viable seed. Thankfully, the unsightly seedheads and stalks will eventually disappear on their own by early June allowing Maryland lawns to return to an aesthetically appealing uniformly green carpet.

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Tree & Shrub Salt Damage

Injury due to salt is most common on landscape plants growing adjacent to highways, streets, sidewalks, and driveways that are regularly salted during the winter for ice control. Most of the salt used for deicing purposes is sodium chloride, ordinary rock salt or table salt. On highways, the major problem to plants is caused by salt spray kicked up by fast moving traffic on wet, salted roads. The salt spray is deposited on adjacent plants causing dehydration of evergreen leaves. In the city, the major problem is salt runoff washing into the soil. Salt in the soil may be absorbed by the roots and cause direct toxic effects.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Tree Salt

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Salt spray causes bud death and twig dieback. Subsequent shoot growth at the branch base produces clusters of twigs known as “witches’ brooms.” Symptoms typically become evident in the spring. In evergreens and conifers, salt spray causes leaf browning or yellowing, needle tip flecking, and twig dieback. Salt in the soil is slower acting and may not affect plants for several years. Symptoms include an initial blue green cast to the foliage, marginal leaf burn or needle tip burn, reduction in leaf, flower and fruit size, premature fall coloration and defoliation, stunting, and a general lack of vigor. The symptoms often become evident in late summer or during periods of hot dry weather.

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