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10-9-16

To Rake or not to Rake? Common Myth Exposed!

Autumn is quickly approaching, leaves are beginning to change colors and fall; so it’s time to bust out that rake again, right? Maybe not, the practice we know as “raking leaves” to prevent them from smothering and killing your lawn may be actually inhibiting the overall health of your lawn.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Leaves must be raked or mulched off your lawn prior to applying winterizer fertilizer. 

MYTH: Leaves Kill Your Lawn


Even though you have been told that leaving leaves on your lawn can smother and kill your grass, that’s not 100% true. Fall leaves actually are beneficial to your lawn because they provide a natural form of nutrients that can help assist with improving the health of your lawn. Trees draw up nutrients and minerals from your soil converting them to leaves and branches. Once the leaves fall in Autumn and decompose, all the nutrients are then returned back to the soil. When you rake up all the leaves you are missing out on this natural process. Years of this can cause your soil to lose its fertility and ultimately affect the overall health of your lawn.

When its Time to Remove Leaves

Even though leaves have proved to have healthy benefits to your lawn there is such thing as too much coverage. Generally, you should manage leaf piles when you can’t see the top half of the grass blades or it covers a third of your lawn. If a frost comes and leaves start falling quickly, don’t panic, you can wait until the lawn is nearly covered before taking action. Don’t allow leaves to obscure grass for more than a few days because excessive piles of leaves on your lawn can cause turf diseases, limited circulation, block sunlight, cause roots to rot from excessive moisture.

Ditch the Rake and Leaf-Mulch Instead

Once your lawn has significant leaf coverage, its best to ditch the rake and bags and mow over leaves to make them smaller and easier to decompose. A good rule of thumb is: after mowing your lawn and breaking down fallen leaves, the more grass you see the faster the leaves will break down. The leaf bits that settle between the grass blades will eventually be broken down by microbes, enhancing your soil by putting nitrogen back into your lawn and reintroducing organic matter that will lead to a healthier, thicker lawn in the spring. If you notice that after mowing, these smaller bits are still piled up, take a rake to evenly disperse bits throughout your yard.

Credit to The Turf Care Supply Company - Taken from the TurfCare Newsletter, October 2016 Issue


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10-2-16

A SHORTENED SOWING PERIOD REQUIRES A SEED THAT GERMINATES QUICKLY

We've had considerable rain in the mid-Atlantic over the past week but as we come closer to leaf fall it's important to complete over-seeding over the next two weeks.  With the shortened planting window it's vital to sow a premium grass seed that germinates quickly.  groSMART seed is just such a product.  You'll see germination within 3-5 days with establishment (2"-3") in 2-3 weeks.

In addition, groSMART seed produces an extremely deep and dense root system that aids in the plant's ability to deal with future low water conditions.  We recommend applying a time release starter fertilizer (14-20-14) at the time of planting and again about 4-6 weeks following germination.

 

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9-29-16

WHEN BUYING GRASS SEED - KNOW WHAT'S IN THE BAG

bluetagMyTurfandGarden.com has put a tremendous amount of research and effort into selecting new grass varieties.  These new varieties in our private label blends and mixes are developed to be finer textured, greener, and more tolerant of shade, drought, or punishing sun.

We purchase only the best premium seed and take the steps required to insure our seed carries university field trial proven performance.

How Can You Be Sure?

Look at the grass seed bag; it has information about the contents. That information tells you what types and varieties of grass seed are in the package, what percentage will sprout, the percent noxious weed seeds, and the percent inert matter like fillers.

Empty seed hulls, stems, and fillers can make up a significant amount of the material in a bag of bargain grass seed.  Why? Cheap grass seed is often not properly cleaned after harvesting it, leaving you with the dirt and other stuff that fill up the bag.

This information is documented on the Blue Tag Certification Certificate attached to all our premium seed bags.  This certification is given by an independent company guaranteeing that what we say is in the bag is actually there.

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9-28-16

TREATED vs. COATED SEED - WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

The answers is you should expect value and doing so requires knowing what's in the seed bag you purchase.  Simply put a treated seed does not add volume or weight to the product.  On the other hand a coated seed consumes space in the bag and adds weight.

The Result

When purchasing a treated seed you are actually getting the amount of seed specified on the bag -- 40 pounds translates into 40 pounds of seed.  With treated seed you'll be getting 5-10% less seed.

Buying Value

So if you want to get the most for your hard earned dollar we recommend purchasing a treated seed.  All of the groSMART and southernLAWN MAXX seed sold at My Turf and Garden.com is treated.  You are getting exactly what's posted on the bag.

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9-27 to 28 2016

PRAISE GOD - WE HAVE RAIN

At long last we have received much needed rain here in the Mid-Atlantic.  In fact, between all that's fallen to date and taking the weather person as his/her word we should get another 1-2 inches before sunshine returns this weekend.  And, the temperatures have fallen with highs only reaching the low 70s which certainly is appreciated by the grass and those working in the yard.

Shorter Seeding Window

But we are still facing a reduced seeding window which may be a concern, especially to those with lots to trees on the property who fight leaf and acorn fall.

The Answer - Super Fast Germinating Premium Grass Seed

The answer is groSMART Technology Turf Type Tall Fescue grass seed.  Why?  Because it it treated with bio-stimulants and other nutrients that foster VERY fast germination and establishment.  In fact, we see 3-5 day germination in our test plots and full establishment in 3-4 weeks (2.5-3").

So, if Mother Nature has caused you to postpone over-seeding your lawn consider groSMART seed.

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9-23-16

IT’s TIME TO FEED YOUR LAWN

Fall is when cool-season grasses (turf type tall fescue, perennial rye, bluegrass etc.) focus on their roots so this is the time to fertilize and plant new seed. The cooler temperatures make food production easier after the hot summer and turfgrass takes this time to grow longer, more extensive roots and to store extra energy in those roots. This easy growth also does wonders for newly germinating grasses. Whether seeding in to an established turf or completely renovating your lawn MyTurfandGarden.com has several fantastic fertilizers ready for you take advantage of this high-growth time period.

Nutrient Requirements

Did you know....your turf type tall fescue grass needs 50% of its required nutrients to be made available between Halloween and mid December.  Don't worry about top growth.  As the temperatures cool the plant starts to redirect its attention to storing nutrients for the winter.  Feed nitrogen to your lawn to help the plant withstand the winter and emerge lush and green next spring. 

We recommend a premium time release fertilizer (25-0-15) in mid-fall, say around Halloween.  And a second application using 32-0-7 in early winter, somewhere between Thanksgiving and mid-December.

REMEMBER: Do not apply any nutrient / soil amendment if the ground is frozen.

It’s time for Fall Fertilization

Your Fescue loves the fall! All cool-season grasses are so happy to leave the stress of summer heat behind they’re hungry to replenish the stores lost over the summer. Fertilizing cool season lawns in the fall encourages strong and healthy root growth and storage of nutrients for the grass to use in the spring. Healthy roots make healthy lawns (with fewer weeds) so the best thing to do for your lawn right now is keep it fed and watered.

Apply Nutrients in Early Fall and Early Winter

NutriScape Early Fall Fertilizer 25-0-15 has both readily available Nitrogen (17%) and slow release Nitrogen (8%) to feed that hungry grass now and throughout the fall season (2-3 months). Plan to apply 4 pounds of fertilizer per 1000ft2 to feed 1lb. of Nitrogen. We recommend applying the Early Fall Fertilizer around Halloween.

If you’re recovering from a harsh summer, or want to bring your lawn to the next level another 1lb. of N can be applied around Thanksgiving. We recommend an application of NutriScape 32-0-7. A 50 lb. bag will cover approximately 15,000 sq. ft.

For homeowners who prefer to treat organically MyTurfandGarden.com carries several options but for a heavy fall feeding Replenish 8-2-2 is best suited for maximizing coverage with less product. Apply at about -1/4 lbs./1000ft2 to get .5lb Nitrogen. Organic fertilizers are also a great source of micro-nutrients if your Think-Soil™ Soil Test result shows your soil is running a little low.

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9-21-16

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN RENOVATING YOUR LAWN

If you’re considering renovating your lawn then one of two things is true. Either the summer has really taken a toll on your lawn or you’ve simply decided to invest in new beginnings as a way to insure having the best yard in the neighborhood. And come to think about it maybe there’s a third – you need to fix summer damage and want to have the best lawn on the street.

No matter the reason, there are three key considerations you must factor when starting a lawn over from scratch. The first is soil preparation, the second involves insuring optimal levels of soil nutrients and last, but certainly not least, is the use of high quality seed with excellent germination rates and optimized for the area in which you live.

Preparation

This first phase of your renovation project is really pretty straight forward. You’re simply going to kill everything that survived the summer. This is best done by applying a product like Quik-Pro Grass & Bush Killer, which contains a high percentage of active ingredient (AI). We’ve found Quik-Pro, with 73% AI, to be the most effective product on the market for this purpose.

Quik-Pro comes in the form of water soluble granules and is best applied using a pump sprayer, either hand-held or backpack. Simply fill your sprayer to the appropriate level as marked on the side and mix in 1.5 ounces of Quik-Pro per gallon of water. Mix by giving the sprayer a few good shakes. A gallon of mix should cover approximately 1,000 square feet.

Oh yes, please be very, very careful not to spray Quik-Pro (or any other pesticide for that matter) when the wind is blowing even slightly. We don’t want the herbicide to find its way to any of your prized ornamentals.

Also be very sure to build some led-time into your renovation project schedule. It’s important to apply the Quik-Pro at least ten (10) days two (2) weeks prior to the scheduled sowing of the grass seed. Once that time has passed the herbicide will have no negative impact on your newly sown seed.

The next preparation task is to open the soil down to the root zone by either rototilling or heavy plug aeration. The key is to address compaction and to provide direct seed to soil contact. As you open the soil to a depth of at least 4-6 inches you enable water, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate to a depth that can be used by the plant’s roots.

Achieving Optimal Soil Nutrition

The first task is to know what your soil contains and the only sure method is to do a Think Soil On-line Soil Test. We strongly encourage not guessing and applying nutrients in accordance with test results.

However, the reality is that if you’re reading this and haven’t done a test…well the ship has probably sailed. Certainly do the soil test but you won’t have time to mount a corrective program should one be indicated by the test.

Not to worry. When renovating you can safely and effectively apply two critical ingredients without the benefit of a soil test report; starter fertilizer and calcitic lime.

We recommend the use of a time-release professional grade fertilizer with a relatively high phosphorous percentage as displayed in the analysis on the bag (the middle number). The phosphorous is critical for germination and overall root development.

The best bet is to apply NutriScape 14-20-14 Starter Fertilizer at a rate of 1lb. of nitrogen (the first of the three numbers ) per 1,000 square feet. At this rate of nitrogen application a 50 pound bag will cover approximately 10,000 square feet of lawn area.

The next soil amendment to apply is calcitic lime. As a general rule this type of lime is recommended because soils in the area don’t require the addition of magnesium, which is prevalent in dolomitic lime. If pH test results are not available, we recommend applying Solu-Cal calcitic lime at a curative rate of 50 pounds per 4,000 square feet.

Should you have recent soil test results showing a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 we still recommend a Solu-Cal application but at a maintenance rate of 50 lbs. per 8,000 square feet.

What Seed to Apply

All steps in the renovation program are key and it’s hard to say one is more important than another. However, if you don’t apply the seed designed for the area where you live and if the bag’s contents are not certified you run the very real risk of buying a seed that’s out of date or not optimized for your geography.

Unless you live on the coast the best grass type for listeners to In The Garden is turf type tall fescue. If you live at higher elevations Kentucky Bluegrass may be more to your liking and of course on the coast a warm season grass like Bermuda or Zoysia may be the best choice.

Generally, we recommend Turf Type Tall Fescue and always recommend a product with a blend of different seed types. With a mix you are better protected against a lawn disease from impacting your entire lawn as each member of the mix offers different disease tolerances.

Always check the tag normally attached at the top of the bag. The certification will show germination rates, the percentage of weed seeds and the amount of noxious weeds present. Just be aware that you get what you pay for. A less expensive seed with low germination rates is no bargain. Look for germination rates at 90% with “Other Weeds” and “Other Crop” showing as “None” and of course “Noxious Weed Seeds” displayed as “None Found”.

Our recommendation is to sow groSMART Blue Tag Certified Turf Type Tall Fescue. We have developed this seed by having it treated with a proprietary collection of naturally occurring nutrients. The treated groSMART Turf Type Tall Fescue Grass Seed is field proven to germinate within 3-5 days and be at mowing height within three weeks. And of equal importance the roots of the groSMART seed grow deeper and are denser they non-treated seed resulting in a grass that’s more drought resistant and maintainable.

So if you’re going to renovate your lawn it’s important to have a plan. And that plan should address soil preparation, the application of nutrients to achieve optimal levels and the use of a premium treated and certified turf type tall fescue such as groSMART Grass Seed.

 

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9-20-16

Don't Forget to Divide and Plant

  • Now is a good time to divide spring-blooming perennials like Iris and Day lilies
  • It’s time to plant fall vegetables. Set out transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, and collards. Sow seeds of beets, lettuce, English peas, spinach, turnips, and mustard.

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9-18-16

A Beautiful Day in Central Virginia

A beautiful Sunday morning in Central Virginia.   Time to start preparing to over-seed your lawn.  But until we get some God given rain you'll need to consider a heavy watering to soften the ground.  Otherwise the core aeration machine will not penetrate the ground and pull the necessary plugs. 

Remember....if renting the machine call now to reserve yours.  For most of us the task will only take a few hours so consider splitting the cost/use with a neighbor.

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9-17-16

On the air with Mark Viette - "In the Garden Radio"

Participated on "In the Garden" radio show with Mark Viette this morning.  Discussed the implications of the drought on lawn care; specifically the ever shortening window within which to over-seed or renovate this fall.  Presented groSMART seed as a potential solution due to its vert fast germination.  Talked about "best practices" for lawn care -watering, cutting length and keeping mower blades sharp.  Also answered call in questions concerning aeration and how to best address re-seeding in shady areas.

Visit to Viette Nurseries following the show.  Spent the afternoon with about two dozen gardeners gathered to learn about plant propagation.  Great learning experience and all those attending left with bags full of clippings from Andre Viette's garden.

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WILL YOU BE RENOVATING YOUR LAWN THIS FALL?

The fall is the best time to renovate a cool-season <link to post on different grasses> lawn, whether you have a few “bad patches,” a thinning lawn, or just want to start over fresh planning your renovation now can prevent a lot of headaches.

When does a lawn need renovating?

If “most” of the lawn is in poor shape, either the grass is dead or dying, there is no grass or more weeds than turf it’s time to consider a full renovation.

This can be a very large job. If the lawn is particularly large, has rough terrain, large hills or lots of slopes then it may be better to consider professional help. If you’re up to the DIY challenge expect the full process to take several weekends to complete since there are a few steps that require a bit of waiting between them and some which are time consuming to complete properly.

Scheduling

Planning is key to a good renovation. Start early, in the mid-Atlantic August is perfect, and expect to be watering your new seed in mid-late September. Go with the weather – cooler regions can start earlier (depending on the weather) but will have less time to complete the project – warmer climates may wait to begin renovation until the beginning of September but will have a larger window of proper weather for finishing.

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PREPARATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS

Just like painting your home the ultimate success of the job is determined by how well you prepare the surface. Hours of sanding, scraping and chalking go into a quality paint job. Your lawn is no different and any planting this fall will certainly require a commitment to seed-bed preparation.

Machine Rental

Decide early if you’d like to use a vertical mower, aerator or both. These can easily be rented from equipment rental services. To find one in your area just enter “equipment rental” and your town or city into your favorite search engine.

Call early – fall is a busy time for these machines. See seed-bed preparation (below) to determine which machine is best for you.

If you decide to use an aerator you want to also schedule in pre-watering. Soak the soil in the renovation area so that it is wet down to around 4- 6” a week or so before using the aerator. Dry soil does not aerate.

Soil Testing

Get a Think-SoilTM if you haven’t had one already. Renovating the lawn doesn’t do much good if there are more severe problems that have caused the issue. From a soil and nutrient perspective there are two key variables to review from your soil test results, the phosphorous level and the percentage of organic matter.

Generally, we recommend the application of NutriSmart 14-20-14 Starter Fertilizer to aid in germination and strong root development. If you find you have a compaction problem or a low organic matter level we recommend a top-dressing of Turface MVP and McGill Soil Builder Compost.

Buy your fertilizer early so it’s ready to go when you are. Along with your soil test recommendations for phosphorus and potassium look for a fertilizer to apply that will provide you with around ½ a pound of nitrogen per 1,000ft2.

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SEED SELECTION

In the mid-Atlantic and more northern climates, it’s tough to go wrong with Turf-Type Tall Fescue. Dark green in color these tall fescue varieties have a thinner, softer leaf blade that provides a lovely, dense lawn that’s nothing like the old, bunchy Tall Fescues. Check out our groSMART Turf Type Tall Fescue Blend or Southern Lawn Turf Type Tall Fescue Blend.

No irrigation? Little to no shade? Want a virtually “hands-off” lawn?” Turf-Type Tall Fescue blended with enhanced hybrid Kentucky Bluegrass like Southern Lawn X-treme or groSMART Blazing Blues stand up great to kids and dogs, has an extensive root system for surviving drought and hot summers.

Our groSMART Seed selections all include specially selected turf varieties that perform exceptionally well in the mid-Atlantic states and work great in many other climate zones. Plus, they include groSMART Technologies, a seed treatment (not a coating) that speeds up germination and enhances nutrition for young turf to help it grow faster and improve rooting for a stronger lawn, sooner.

Be sure to purchase seed with a Blue Tag certifying that the contents stated on the bag are, in fact, what’s being bought. Also, check on seed harvest dates, germination rates (90% or higher) and NO Noxious Weed Content. You’ll pay a bit more for certified seed. When buying your seed cheaper at the time of purchase may result in having to redo all your hard work.

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ATTRACTING POLLINATORS TO YOUR GARDEN

Autumn is a great time to complete home gardening projects and a great one is planning a new pollinator garden

Pollinator gardens are a great addition to the home landscape. Not only do they support wildlife through most seasons, but they are typically very beautiful with flowers of all kinds blooming in the sun. Fall is such a great time of year to plant trees, shrubs and perennials due to cooler temperatures, increased rainfall and active root growth in plants, which also makes it an exceptional time to plan and implement a garden specifically for the wildlife in your area.

A popular pollinator garden that is easy to design and install is a butterfly island. These islands can be whatever size fits in your landscape and are not designed to connect to other gardens areas in the yard, making it a perfect stand-alone project.