Archive for June, 2010


Chinch BUGS!!

Chinch bugs are the main problem here in Florida with St. Augustine grass. Chinch bug damage first appears as irregularly shaped yellow patches that are two to three feet in diameter. If these areas are left unchecked, these patches will eventually turn brown and die. But remember the bugs are not in the brown patches they have all ready moved to the good stuff, which is the healthy green grass.

Adult Chinch bugs emerge from overwintering sites in the early spring. These adults will find mates and start reproducing as the temperatures begin to rise during the spring. As the adults and nymphs begin to feed, they insert their piercing/sucking mouth parts into the sensitive plant tissue areas of the crown or stems. The feeding chinch bugs inject toxic saliva into the turf grass, which hinders the uptake of water and nutrients. Chinch bug feeding is less noticeable in the spring when the turf grasses are actively growing. However, when environmental stresses begin to emerge as the season progresses, then chinch bug feeding quickly becomes evident.

Controlling chinch bugs with cultural practices is a viable option. Chinch bugs prefer hot and dry conditions and frequent irrigation can destroy the nymphs and reduce the damage. Planting improved turf grass varieties is another option for avoiding chinch bug damage. Turf grasses that are enhanced with endophyte seem to be more resistant to chinch bug populations.

Removing excess thatch is another cultural practice to consider. Removing the adult chinch bugs overwintering site will help reduce the current populations and egg laying. A chemical application applied in early summer (June) is another method that is used to destroy chinch bug populations.

To determine if chinch bugs are a problem in your lawn, take a coffee can and cut out both ends so that the can is hollow. Place the can two or three inches into the turf. Fill the can up with water. If chinch bugs are present, they will float to the surface in five to ten minutes. Repeat this procedure in several areas in the lawn. Chinch bugs can also be detected by sprinkling ΒΌ cup of lemon-scented household detergent mixed in two gallons of water over one square yard of turf and counting the insects as they crawl to the surface. Population of 25-30 individuals per square feet warrants a chemical treatment.

Ok this is good information but as we all know if your not watching what your spray man is doing or how much chemical he is putting down on your lawn, remember that old saying “kiss it good bye”. In other words be cautious about your lawn spraying company. I have personally seen several of my lawns dye off due to lack of chemical. Its a good idea if you can watch every couple of sprays to see just what goes on when he is at your house. Don’t be surprised if you see Mr. Speed Demon at your house… I hope this information was useful to you all. Please comment..

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Ok, this is a problem I have been running into for almost the whole ten years I have been in business. I found this article, please read and comment. I think this says what I would say to some of my recent customers…

Question: Why does my lawn care service cost so much?

Answer: Lawn care service companies are faced with ever increasing costs just to keep their business going. Licenses, fuel, labor, materials, and tools all cost money. These costs keep going up every year with many of then being directly related to the cost of oil. A top quality lawn care company is not going to come cheap.

A lawn care company is often doing more work to your lawn than you ever could. They have licensed professionals applying commercial grade products, safely and effectively. They use machinery that is newer, larger or more complex than regular homeowner equipment. Lawn care companies are also able to perform yearly tasks like aerating, dethatching, over seeding and fertilizing, so you don’t have to own or rent all that extra equipment.

Cheaper lawn care companies often cut corners on jobs, looking for any opportunity to trim costs. Many companies take on more work than they can handle, hire undocumented workers, rush their work or skip important procedures. A budget lawn care company may not have licensed applicators or anyone with formal education. Be skeptical of cheap prices that seem too good to be true.

Thought I would put some pic I found around the web, these are good humor… have a look hope you like. Comment please , and thank you.

Hello, to everyone, just a real quick tip for the one who cut’s the lawn. Do you hate cleaning your lawn mower deck, well don’t worry it’s easy when you take my tip and apply it to that deck, it’s simple just take some cooking oil and spray directly onto the bottom of your mower deck, then when it comes to cleaning. The grass comes right off. Try it, you will thank me later… don’t forget to comment…. thanks again for reading my blog.. see you soon.

Mowing
1. Mow frequently with sharp blades
If your hopes include a green lawn, the key is frequent cutting, which forces it to grow thick and keep out weeds. Keep mower blades sharp so the grass isn’t beat up and made vulnerable to disease. You might want to ask you lawn service just how often he sharpens his blades.

2. Don’t go too short
“The lower you mow, the more herbicides and water you need, and then it becomes an intensive management system,” says Pete Landschoot, professor of turf grass science at Penn State University. You will then see what I call ” Burning the grass “

So how high to cut? That depends largely on your type of grass, but Euel Coats, retired professor of weed science at Mississippi State University, preaches the “one-third rule”: Never cut more than a third of the grass’ height at a time. If your grass is three inches tall, cut an inch or less. Any deeper and you’re “scalping” the plants, which can take two or three mowing cycles to recover.

Mowing high forces grass roots to grow deep, says Roch Gaussoin, Extension turf grass specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The deeper the roots, the better it will resist disease and the less water it will require. Your lawnmower’s owner’s manual will explain how to change the blade height. Talk to your lawn service about the height of his mower.

3. Don’t mow a wet lawn
Mowing when the lawn is saturated with water will compact the soil so the roots can’t breathe. When that happens, the grass dies and you’ll see bald spots in your lawn. Remember bald spots also come from bugs, so don’t go blaming your lawn man just yet, make sure you rule out you don’t have a bug problem first.

4. Mulch clippings into the lawn
Leave the clippings where they fall. Not only do you eliminate all the bagging and dump trips, but the clippings fertilize the soil. If you’re cutting often, the clippings are short and few and work their way back into the soil without becoming brown and messy. Also the clippings hold a great percentage of the water you are putting on the grass.

Irrigation
5. Water deeply — and infrequently

“The No. 1 thing I see homeowners do is overwater, which builds up excess thatch (an unsightly thick mat of tangled roots between the grass blades and soil),” says Brooks. Daily watering encourages shallow roots and wastes water. Instead, water deeply, watching closely to see when more is needed.

Here are signs it’s time to water, according to Gaussoin:

The soil resists when you push a screwdriver or steel rod into the ground;

Your grass gets a slightly blue tinge; and

Footprints across the lawn remain compressed.
If you don’t have in-ground irrigation, a sprinkler works fine. Landschoot suggests giving the lawn an inch of water each time you irrigate. Measure by putting an empty tuna can on the grass. When it’s full, move the sprinkler to another spot and start measuring again. Once you know your lawn’s needs, you can put the sprinkler on a timer (they cost $10 to $60).

Poor soil — composed of too much clay or compacted from heavy traffic — won’t absorb moisture easily. If water pools up and runs onto the street or sidewalk before your tuna can’s full, try Plan B: Water just one third of an inch each night for three nights running, then hold off until it needs it again.

6. Avoid nighttime watering
Don’t put the lawn to sleep with wet feet. That means to let the grass dry out before the dew falls, since prolonged moisture invites disease. The best time to water is pre-dawn or early morning. You’ll lose water to evaporation by sprinkling in midday.

Fertilizer
7. Don’t overdo it

Over-fertilizing stimulates very fast growth, thatch and the need for more mowing — and you don’t want that. Homeowners use far more fertilizer and pesticides than golf courses do, says Brooks. “It’s overkill.” (Excess fertilizer also is bad for the environment: It washes into streams and lakes, clogging them with algae. Sweep or blow any type of spilled fertilizer into the grass.)

To find out your lawn’s particular needs, test the soil every three or four years by sending a sample to a local lab. A test costs $20 or less and reveals the contents, including salts, organic matter, phosphorus, nitrates and nitrogen, lime and texture. Then take the results to your local garden shop for help deciding which fertilizers and amendments to apply.

Most fertilizer comes in dry grains or pellets. Distribute it evenly using a hand-held fertilizer spreader (roughly $13 to $80) for small areas, or a wheeled spreader ($90 and up).

Natural fertilizers — sometimes called “organic” — work slowly because they need heat and water to break down so grass can absorb them. The USDA doesn’t regulate the term “organic” as it does with food, so ignore label claims and identify products by reading the key ingredients. Ingredient names you’d recognize from a chemistry book — ammonium nitrate, say — are a clue the product is probably synthetic. Organics use stuff in the forms found in nature — dried manure, kelp, blood and bone meal, feather meal or poultry waste, for instance. Both types are applied in spring and again in fall. (You can learn more about natural lawn management from the Maine-based organization SafeLawns.)

Synthetics can cost a bit less. For example, two 40-pound bags of Milorganite, an organic brand, will cover the average 5,000-square-foot lawn for around $18.40 purchased online. You get three times that much coverage from Scotts Lawn Pro fertilizer for about $30.

8. Don’t mix your fertilizers
Regardless of which type of fertilizer you choose, stick with only one. Mixing natural and synthetic gives poor results, says Scott Meyer, editor of Organic Gardening magazine.

Pest control
9. Grow thick grass — and stay on top of your weeds

The best defense against pests — weeds and diseases — is to grow thick, vigorous turf. If you’ve only got a few weeds, pull them by hand or use a dandelion weeder ($8-$10), a tool with a forked metal end.

By observing your lawn closely, you may let a problem resolve itself or stay contained without treatment, just as golf-course professionals do. “If we have a little bit of disease on a green, we let it go unless we get to the point where we could lose some serious putting quality,” says Brooks.

10. Choose the right herbicide
If you decide you need extra help with weeds, there are two types of herbicides to choose from:

Preemergents” prevent weed seeds from germinating and are often applied once a year.

“Post-emergents” are used after the weed is visible to control broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions and chickweed, or grassy pests such as crab grass, quack grass or even wild varieties of rye or bluegrass that aren’t controlled by mowing or hand-pulling.
Most herbicides are synthetic. Natural approaches mostly involve beefing up the soil to prevent infestation, although corn gluten does both fertilize and stop seed germination and is used as a natural pre-emergent.

“Weed-and-feed” mixes of fertilizer and synthetic herbicides are popular post-emergents because they seem like an efficient way to get two jobs done at once. But Gaussoin recommends against them because they spread herbicides over the entire lawn instead of just on problem spots.

“Most of these products, when used properly, are not as toxic as some of the press would have you believe. But there’s no reason to overapply them or apply them where there is no pest. That’s just not reasonable from an environmental standpoint,” says Gaussoin.

If you’ve decided on synthetic herbicides, first try the least-toxic product recommended for the problem you’re treating. Look up each product’s MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) online before purchasing and compare its LD50 (lethal dose for 50% of test animals) rating with that of other similar products. According to the EPA, the lower the LD50 rating, the more toxic the pesticide.

Use a small tank sprayer, mix up the minimum amount and walk around the lawn, spot spraying only on the trouble areas.

If you’ve followed all these tips and your yard is brown, dying or not thriving, you could have a disease or insect infestation. Treating diseases and insects is a complex task requiring accurate identification before taking action. Cut a sample of the affected grass, including plenty of roots and some healthy plant tissue, too. Put it in a sandwich bag and take the evidence to a local Extension service or garden center for help in identifying the culprit and choosing an approach

So if this seems to much, you might want to just order a whole lot of gravel!! I hope this article helps out with all your needs…

Welcome to my blog. I will be updating frequently and will provide the best information that is available for your lawn to be the very best in the neighborhood… Please come back and check out the latest updates. Thanks for visiting.