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faqs

What are the benefits of core aeration and when is the best time to do it?

Core aeration (plugging) is best done in the fall. Aeration can be done prior or just following the application of lime, starter fertilizer and premium grass seed. The benefits of deep core aeration is the loosing of the soil profile better enabling the movement of air, nutrients and water into the root zone.

When is the best time and most effective way to treat for grubs?

The determining factor is soil temperature. Most grubs winter at depths where insecticides will not penetrate. So wait until the soil temps rise to approximately 60 degrees before applying a grubicide such as Grub Free Zone III  or Criterion .

Note: Unless you see damage and upon investigation below the dead areas and find 6-10 insects per square foot then the grubicide is not really necessary. Of course if you have mole infestation one way to discourage this tunneling pests is to kill off one of their primary foods – grubs.

 

What's the best way to control crabgrass and when should product be applied?

Spring is the time to focus on weed control. Crabgrass is best controlled before seeds dropped the previous growing season germinate. Again, soil temperature is the key variable but as a general guide when the forsythia are blooming you are in a very narrow time window and should apply granular weed control such as NutriScape 14-0-2 with Barricade.

How do I control moles in my lawn, landscape and garden?

These pests can be very difficult to control. Several measures are available: 1) kill the moles using a product such as Talpirid Mole Bait, 2) a granular organic repellent such as Repellex’s Mole Control doing so in conjunction with the application of a grubicide intended to remove the mole’s food source.

What is the best cultivar of grass to grow where I live?

Turfgrass breeders throughout the U.S. have worked very hard to develop cultivars of the common turfgrass species that are well adapted to different regions of the country. In addition there is an excellent program, called the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP), partially sponsored by the USDA that tests new and old standard cultivars of the most common turfgrass species at locations throughout the U.S. The results of these tests are available at the NTEP web site (www.ntep.org).

Seed quality is one of the most often overlooked aspects of turfgrass establishment. If poor quality seed is selected, even the most intensive management efforts may not result in an acceptable turf.

The Turf and Gardening Store On-line only stocks high quality, premium seed of well-adapted cultivars. The best way to determine if seed you are buying is high quality is to see if it has a state seed certification tag. The tag will indicate the level of germination of a selected sample and tell the relative percentage of important weeds and contaminating species.

Some seed bags say 'mixture" others "blend". Explain?

A mixture is comprised of more than one species of grass. It is often advantageous to plant a mixture because of the increased range in genetic diversity and adaptive potential that is achieved. For example, in a lawn situation some areas may be shaded and others may receive full sun. Additionally, some areas may have a dry, course-textured sandy soil and others may have a fine-textured poorly drained clay.

A mixture containing Kentucky bluegrass and red fescue contains species that can adapt and become dominant in these different environmental conditions. Red fescue will dominate in shaded areas and on infertile droughty soils, while Kentucky bluegrass will do well in full sunlight and on imperfectly drained, moist, fertile soils. The two species may also complement each other if one of the species is seriously damaged due to injury or disease.

A blend is when more than one cultivar within a species are blended together. Blends can be useful in habitats where the environment is variable and a number of different disease and/or insect problems exist. Blends are valid where no one cultivar is resistant to all the major diseases within a habitat. If one cultivar is available that is resistant to all of the major disease and pest problems, then the use of a blend is not necessary.

What are the important things to consider when establishing a lawn from seed?

Successful establishment of a lawn from seed is a critical component of creating a healthy lawn. The potential of successfully establishing a healthy turf can be increased by paying attention to a few basic principles.

Soil testing should be the first step in any soil preparation for turf establishment. A soil test should be done well in advance of planting to allow time for adding any soil amendments that may be needed.

Once the rough grading process has been completed, a starter fertilizer should be placed on the surface and not worked into the soil. A good choice for relatively fertile soils is a 14-20-14 fertilizer applied at a rate of 5 to 8 lbs of fertilizer per 1000 ft².

The time of seed application depends upon whether the grass is a cool-season or a warm-season species. Warm-season grasses established in temperate zones should be seeded in the spring as soon as soil temperatures are high enough to achieve germination.

Cool-season grasses are best established in the early fall. It is important to apply the seed using the correct seeding rate. The appropriate seeding rate is generally listed on the bag of seed. The grass seed is generally seeded on the surface and then lightly raked into the soil.

The smaller the seed, the shallower it should be planted. Very small seeds like creeping bentgrass will need to be very close to the surface, whereas larger seeds like tall fescue can emerge from depths of 0.5 to 1.0 inch.

One of the keys to successful establishment is proper irrigation. The critical time is just after germination when the root system is not developed well enough to obtain sufficient moisture from the soil. Frequent irrigation is particularly important on warm windy days when the soil surface can dry out in a few hours. The use of mulch such as straw can also help maintain adequate soil moisture during establishment. The key is to keep the seeded area moist. Do not allow that area to completely dry.

How often should I fertilize my lawn?

The general guideline for fertilizer application is to apply fertilizer when the turf is actively growing, therefore, the timing will be different for warm and cool-season species. Cool-season species are most actively growing during the spring and fall of the year.

However, high spring fertility treatments may be detrimental to the survival of the turf through the high stress periods of mid-summer. The general recommendation would be to apply 0.5 to 0.75 lb. Nitrogen/1,000 ft² in March/April and May/June and 1.0 lb. Nitrogen/1,000 ft² in late August and September and again in the late fall. Total nitrogen applications to cool-season turf in temperate regions will generally range from 3 to 5 lb. N/1,000 ft² per year.

The general recommendation for warm-season turf species is 1.0 lb. nitrogen/1,000 ft² per growing month. This is only a guideline. On heavier soils in drier conditions this will be too much. On sandy soils during periods of heavy rainfall, this will not be enough.

 

How short can I mow my lawn?

It is important to remember that turfgrasses do not thrive on mowing; they tolerate it. It may seem that mowing is good for the grass, but mowing is always a stress. The cutting of leaf tissue may allow disease organisms to enter the plant, and it reduces the photosynthetic area, lowering the production of carbohydrates that the plant needs to grow.

Turfgrasses are the best-equipped plants on earth to tolerate this type of defoliation. If there were better-adapted species, they would be used in the place of grasses.

The mowing height that a turf will tolerate is dependent on the species that are present. The cool-season species primarily used in lawn situations are Kentucky bluegrass, turf type tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass. These three species will do best at heights of 1.5 to 3.0 inches, with higher mowing heights used during the high-temperature stress periods.

Warm-season species such as Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass can tolerate heights of 0.5 inches or less, while Bahiagrass, carpetgrass, and centipedegrass do best at heights from 1.0 to 3.0 inches, and St. Augustinegrass should be mowed in the 3.0 to 4.0 inch range.

How can I grow grass under my trees?

It can be very difficult to maintain a turf under shade conditions. However, a few management practices can improve the overall turf condition in these areas. Shade in home lawn situations is generally provided by trees, therefore, the pruning of limbs below 10 feet from the ground and selective pruning of limbs in the crown of the tree will allow more light to reach the turf and improve turf quality.

The choice of the correct turf species can also enhance the odds of a high quality shaded turf. Red fescue is the cool-season species with the best shade tolerance and tall fescue will also do well in the shade. St. Augustine grass is the warm-season species with the best shade tolerance, but Zoysia grass will also perform well under shaded conditions.

Why do see different grass performance issues in by front yeard vs. the back?

Generally because of widely different growing conditions in the various areas of your lawn. There are many variables causing wide disparity in the health of plants in various parts of your property. Chief among them include: amount of sunlight the plant receives, drainage (constantly wet areas, soil properties, i.e., clay vs. sand, compaction and pH. All of these varying conditions can be best assessed via a professional Think Soil - soil test and consultation with a My Turf and Garden.com CustomerCare Turf Pro.

Why is fertilizer so important for my lawn and garden?

In short because nutrients, such as nitrogen, are volatilized in the air and quickly leach out of the soil making repeat application necessary. The other ingredients in the fertilizer bag, phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) are required for effective germination and root development.  

However, before applying any fertilizer have a Think Soil - soil test done which will provide the information needed to know how much of a particular nutrient is needed in your soil.

How and when do I control weeds in my lawn?

Generally spring is the time to control weeds. As a rule of thumb we advise using granular products that prevent the resident weed seeds from germinating. However, once up it is necessary to use a selective herbicide engineered to kill the weed while not harming the healthy grass.

In most instances a concentrated product mixed in a portable pump sprayer is best use to spot spray when weeds appear. Note: It will be necessary to repeat application of the herbicide since the product must come in contact and be absorbed by the plants leaves.

Why are sharp lawnmower blades important?

Sharp blades result in a clean cut across the top of the blade and in so doing the surface area available for disease to enter the plant is reduced.

How do I get rid of wiregrass without killing my good grass?

By using a selective herbicide which if applied in accordance with label instructions will not harm your established lawn. However, wiregrass is difficult to eradicate. We recommend the use of a the Wiregrass Cocktail comprised of three products, Acclaim, Turflon Ester and Spreader Sticker. This combination applied in May, June, July and August is field proved to effectively control wiregrass

How much water does my lawn need? In Spring in Summer?

The basic rule of thumb for an established lawn is 1” of water per week. It is much preferred to water longer but with less frequency so the water is dispersed throughout the soil profile.

When will I receive my soil analysis results?

Once your sample is received at the Stewardship Labs it will take us 36 hours to complete our analysis and to post your results on the thinkSOIL webpage. You can search for your results by entering the order number or searching by your name and address.

How long will it take to correct my soil's condition and get it back into proper balance?

  • Correcting soil deficiencies is dependent on your starting point and how well you follow the recommendations given in your Think Soil Analysis Report.  In some cases we’ve seen it take as many as 5 years to bring soils up to maximum fertility.
  • In most instances we see reasonably good balance occurring within 3 years.  You should begin to see significant improvements the first year and continued improvement thereafter.  The bottom-line is to not expect your soil issues to be corrected in a single year. You many well see improvement in the first growing season but set your expectations for a longer period.

Is trace mineral analysis necessary for growing healthy crops?

Yes.  It is not uncommon for most soils to be deficient in one or more of the essential micro-nutrients, such as boron, iron, or zinc.  Trace mineral deficiencies can restrict the availability to plants of certain major nutrients, even when a sufficient supply of those nutrients is present in the soil.

What are the critical variables shown in the soil analysis results report?

Well the most accurate answer is all of them. But from our vantage point there are a few to really pay attention to. Those variables include:

  • pH
  • Percentage of Organic Matter
  • Amounts of phosphorous (P) and potash (K) in the soil

When these nutrients exist in proper amounts and ratios you have only to add about 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per year per 1,000 square feet of turf. Of those three to four pounds 1/3 should be applied in the early spring and the remainder in two applications, one in mid-fall and the last in early winter.

Why don't you analyze for nitrogen in my soil?

  • The problem with analyzing soil for nitrogen is that the chemical is so changeable. It evaporates readily in one form and it easily forms many different compounds with other chemicals. A simple chemical test simply cannot identify and measure all of the nitrogenous compounds in the soil.
  • Most off-the-shelf test kits only measure the amount of nitrogen available in the soil at that exact time. Just be aware that the nitrogen levels fluctuate throughout the year. Also, once the soil warms in late spring and early summer microbial activity increases causing release of nitrogen making for widely different readings.

If my soil is acidic how long will it take to correct the pH?

Bringing your soil’s pH back into the optimal range may take multiple years and lime applications depending on your soil’s condition at the outset. If your soil’s pH is highly acidic correction may take up to 5 years.

The key is to not apply all that’s recommended in one application. Doing so is wasteful and may harm your turf. Spread out your applications over several months and be prepared for additional applications throughout the year and perhaps for some time to come. Never apply over 50 lbs. of lime per 1,000 sq. ft. at any given time or season.

What's the best method to correct my soil's pH?

  • If your soil is below 6.0 (for turf type tall fescue) lime must be added to correct the pH. There are two primary types of lime, calcitic or dolomitic. Dolomitic lime contains naturally occurring magnesium that may well not be required for your soil. Also dolomitic lime will take several weeks to months to affect the pH. Calcitic lime does not contain magnesium and it also begins to raise the pH within a matter of weeks. Either way be sure to apply the granular variety.
  • If your soil tests alkaline, i.e., above 7.0 for turf type tall fescue it may be necessary to apply sulfur.  Again, correction of a high pH will take months, if not years and many applications. NOTE: Sulfur is best absorbed into the ground when temperatures are high and in those seasons when we receive plenty of rainfall.

Is it important for pH to be in a specific range to grow turf?

The pH of the soil impacts the plants ability to absorb nutrients. Turf Type Tall Fescue grows best in a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. However, we recommend narrowing that down to between 6.2 and 6.8.

But other grass types require a different pH to thrive. Centipede grass, for example, does best in more acidic soil in a range between 5.0 and 5.5. Bermuda grass on the other hand is best grown in a wider pH range between 6.5 and 8.0. Perennial Rye grass does best in a pH range between 5.75 and 7.5.

What exactly is pH?

A numerical measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, usually measured on a scale of 0 to 14. Neutral solutions (such as pure water) have a pH of 7, acidic solutions have a pH lower than 7, and alkaline solutions have a pH higher than 7.

The pH of lemon juice is 2.4; that of household ammonia is 11.5. The letters pH stands for potential of hydrogen, since pH is effectively a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions (that is, protons) in a substance.

Bottom-line, you must adjust your pH such that it is kept in a range optimal for the plant being grown.  For example, turf type tall fescue grass can best up-take nutrients when the pH is between 6.2 and 6.8.

Is soil analysis necessary to have a healthy lawn or garden?

Soil analysis is simply a tool that will assist you in knowing what nutrients and organic matter your soil contains. Based on those results we can advise you on what soil attribute is required to enable optimal growth of the chosen plant type.

You can certainly grow a nice lawn or garden without a soil analysis but you’ll be guessing on what to apply for the best production. When you guess the chances are high that you’ll either put too much down and potentially harm the environment or too little and see marginal results.

If you follow our recommendations you should see a noticeable improvement in your lawn or garden. As you implement the program we suggest you will improve your soil’s health to the point that maintaining a green and lush lawn and highly productive garden can be accomplished using far less nutrient additives.

When should I treat my lawn for grubs?

In the mid-Atlantic grub treatment should be applied starting in May when the grubs are close to the surface. Generally, monitor soil temperatures and as the soil warms the grubs will move up to a point that the insecticide can be effective.  Imidacloprid can be applied for year-long control.

How do I control crabgrass if I'm going to overseed?

Use Tupersan Pre-emergent with Starter Fertilizer. This is the only pre-emergent herbicide that you can use during seeding.

How important is it to analyze the soil's pH?

pH is the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. Nutrients become unavailable to your grass if the pH is not within a certain range. Turf Type Tall fescue and Bluegrass prefer pH values in the 6.2 to 6.8 range.

How can I keep seed on a bank so it doesn't wash away?

Banks need stability to keep seed in place. Use erosion blankets, such as S75 or DS75 straw blackets. They are made of sterilized straw and have bio-degradable netting already attached.

What are the benefits of core or plug aeration?

Core or plug aeration relieves soil compaction and increases water flow and air circulation to the root zone. It also helps the microbes in the soil to become more active.

How much seed to use for overseeding?

For over-seeding with turf type tall fescue grass seed, use 3-5 lbs. of seed per 1,000 sq. ft.

When to start treatments for wiregrass?

  • Treat for wiregrass at the beginning of May, when it comes out of dormancy. It will require four treatments four weeks apart for two years to get wiregrass under control.

When is the best time of year to overseed?

  • Fall is considered the prime time for over-seeding because there is competition with weeds, the nights are cooler, and there is more rainfall. Spring is the second best time, but you will have to maintain watering if Mother Nature doesn't help you.