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Category Archives: Lawn Care and Maintenance

From choosing the right plant or turf grass for the right space, to the limited and proper use of lawn fertilizers and pesticides, the experts at Pro-Lawn-Plus can ensure your lawn care program works with the environment, and not against it.

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
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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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Japanese Beetles and Grubs

We are seeing high numbers of Japanese Beetle adults emerging now. They are flying around, feeding on trees, shrubs and certain perennials; mating then laying eggs in the lawn. Those eggs can turn into grubs if there is adequate soil moisture. In the summer of 2013, soil moisture is certainly abundant. So we expect a large grub population later this summer and into early fall.

The adult beetles can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. See this link  from University of Maryland Extension for control strategies. We do NOT recommend those yellow beetle traps because they tend to bring more beetles to your property. Insecticide sprays can help but generally rain will wash it off so in a year like 2013, multiple sprays would be necessary.

If you are on a lawn care program and you are not on the grub prevention option, you might want to consider it for 2013. The worst case scenario is that we have continue to have a wet July (so the grubs hatch and survive) then the turf dries out in August. At that time the turf has drought stress in combination with a reduced root system from the feeding of the grubs. That combination can cause damage that looks like this.

Grubs in the soil.
Grub damage in lawn.

Grub damage in lawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To reiterate, if you have beetles you can expect to start seeing the grubs starting in late July and damage occurring from early August through early October. To prevent this type of damage to your property, we strongly recommend that you consider a grub preventive application as soon as possible.

 

 

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Brown Patch Disease on Lawns

Brown Patch disease (Rhizoctonia spp.) occurs in Maryland in warm, humid weather. The combination of daytime temperatures that are over 85°F and nighttime temperatures that stay above 65° F  with little air flow leaving the grass moist  for over eight hours are the perfect conditions for this turf disease.  You can identify Brown Patch by its symptoms.  Light tan lesions with dark brown edges across the middle or tips of the grass blades are signs you might have Brown Patch. On mornings with abundant dew, you will actually be able to see the signs of the fungal mycelium which look like cottony structures.

 

Brown Patch
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It is mainly a problem on improved varieties of Tall Fescue. If you have a variety that is especially susceptible to Brown Patch disease and the ideal environmental conditions are expected for an extended period of time, you might need to have your lawn treated with a fungicide to avoid having to reseed the lawn in the fall. However, if a cold front is expected within a few days to lower the humidity and nighttime temperatures, it may not be necessary to spray.

If you suspect you have brown patch, avoid nighttime watering if you can. Afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms on a humid night set up the ideal conditions for Brown Patch disease.  More information on Brown Patch UMD

Please let us know if you have any questions about this disease.

 

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Summer Update

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Slime mold
© Pro-Lawn-Plus

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Mushrooms
© Colorado State University Extension

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does your lawn have either of these things?

Whenever we have a period of rainfall, warm temperatures, and high humidity, we always receive calls about mushrooms. We also receive calls about bluish-gray fungus on the lawn. The good news is that both of these are called saprophytic fungi, meaning they are not feeding on the grass itself. Therefore, neither lawn fungus needs to be treated with a lawn fungicide.  Mushrooms are the fruiting body of fungi that feed on rotting wood underground and they may be a symptom of a lawn disease called ‘Fairy Ring’; but it does NOT need to be treated. You can just kick the mushrooms over and they will dry out within a day or so. And with slime mold, you can either wash the particles (technically called pustules) off or kick it off of the grass blades it attaches itself to. Generally, when the lawns dry out and the humidity diminishes, the mushrooms and slime mold will disappear.

Here is the link to our website that describes mushrooms

https://prolawnplus.com/education/mushrooms/

Finally, here is a link from Ohio State University that describes slime mold in more detail

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/pdf/3074.pdf

 

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Red Thread, fungus lawn diseases.

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Top view of Red Thread
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Red thread disease and it’s associated lawn disease Pink Patch (Laetisaria spp) are both turf diseases that like cool, wet spring weather. It likes temperatures in the 60’s and low 70’s with high humidity and in soils with high moisture content. It is an interesting lawn disease because of the red fungal mycelium (strands) that are visible to the naked eye.

The disease develops in circular or irregular patches from 4 inches to 2 feet in diameter. Affected leaves within these patches are tan or bleached-white in color. From a distance, the patches usually have that reddish appearance, due to the presence of thick, red strands of fungal growth emanating from the affected leaves. It is through production of these “red threads” that the fungus spreads to healthy plants and survives unfavorable conditions. Small tufts of pink, fuzzy mycelium may also be present in or around the patches when the leaves are wet or humidity is high. After prolonged periods of disease development, the patches may merge to produce large irregularly shaped areas of damaged turf.

Red thread most commonly affects Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and sometimes tall fescue. Outbreaks usually occur in lower maintenance turf stands such as residential lawns, golf course roughs, and some low budget athletic fields. Red thread development is most common where turfgrass nutrition is poor but that is not always the case. Soils that have little or no topsoil and organic matter and don’t hold nutrients are susceptible to Red Thread and Pink Patch as well.

Generally, only in the worst cases of these two lawn diseases is it necessary to spray fungicides. There would need to be a prolonged period of cool weather to necessitate control products. A few hot, dry days usually will eliminate the symptoms.

Here is a fact sheet from the University of Maryland that explains the disease in more detail – http://hgic.umd.edu/content/documents/TT-24.pdf

 

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Difficult Summer Weeds

Wild violets

Flowering Wild Violets

Flowering Wild Violets

Wild violet, is a cool season, perennial, broadleaf weed. It is one of the first plants to flower in spring, growing well during cool parts of the growing season, and is usually found in shaded, moist areas.  The heart-shaped leaves have scalloped edges with a waxy coating.

The  waxy coating on violet leaves tend to repel weed control materials, with little chemical being taken in by the plant. Violets tend to be resistant to most herbicides but are most susceptible in the spring while they are flower.

Controlling wild violets in a lawn or landscape can be a difficult challenge, and will certainly require more than one herbicide application before it is accomplished. As with any lawn weed, the best control practice is to promote a dense and healthy turf through soil testing to mointor pH, proper mowing, fertilizing and irrigation.

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Purple Oxalis

Woodsorrel 01Creeping woodsorrel is a spreading perennial weed with a reddish-purple color that frequently roots at the nodes. The three heart-shaped leaves of creeping woodsorrel is nearly identical to yellow woodsorrel. Creeping woodsorrel is most commonly introduced to the landscape through nursery container-grown landscape plants. Once transplanted and established it will quickly escaped the landscape beds and invade the surrounding turf. Established creeping woodsorrel is difficult to manage and control because it is also resistant to most weed control products.

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Japanese Stiltgrass

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Spring Germination

Japanese Stilt Grass, or Nepalese Browntop, is a pale green annual plant that grows up to 3 1/2 feet in height. The leaves are asymmetrical and lanced-shaped with a distinctive midrib and range from 1 to 3 inches long. Late summer yields flowers, and soon after fruits mature on the plant. It is found mostly in shady locations in moist or dry soil. It can be pulled from moist soil or mowed in late summer before the seeds are produced. The best way to control Japanese Stiltgrass is with very early spring pre-emergence herbicides. It can also be managed in the summer with certain post-emergence herbicides that are labeled for the control of summer annual grassy weeds.

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Weedy Bluegrasses Found in Lawns.

Annual bluegrass and roughstalk bluegrass are both very obvious in many lawns right now. Both of these grassy weeds are very common in residential and commercial turfgrass and are a problem because there is no adequate control for them in the Kentucky bluegrass/Tall Fescue lawns that comprise most Baltimore area lawns.

Annual bluegrass

Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is a cool season annual grassy weed that starts germinating in late summer or fall, as temperatures fall, and continues to germinate throughout the winter into early spring.  Because of this growth habit, it is more competitive than other turf cultivars during the cool season, accounting for the spring annual bluegrass invasion.

Annual bluegrass has light green flattened stems and silvery-colored seed heads that cause yellow or light green patches in lawns.  It is especially noticeable in April and May. Annual bluegrass is able to survive low mowing heights of less than 1 inch and still reseed. It tends to die out in hot summer weather.

Bluegrass with seed head.

Roughstalk bluegrass

Roughstalk bluegrass (Poa trivialis) is an undesirable perennial turf species that do well in moist, shaded areas but lacks heat and drought tolerance.  It is considered short-lived but can persist in Baltimore area lawns.  It is characterized by a mid/light-green leaf coloration that browns out quickly above 80 degrees, resulting in distinct dense, patchy growth where other grasses tend to be absent.   Roughstalk bluegrass is noticeable in the spring with its lime-green color and in the summer when it goes brown and dormant under heat stress.   Rough bluegrass favors light, frequent irrigation, moist/wet soils, low mowing heights and/or high fertility. Dormant Roughstalk bluegrass is sometimes misdiagnosed as grub injury in late summer, because of its shallow root system.

Roughstalk bluegrass in a lawn in the spring

No Easy Control Procedure

A thick, healthy lawn is the best defense against these invaders. Open spots should be overseeded to establish a vigorous turfgrass. Pro-Lawn-Plus’s 5 treatment program ensures the health of your lawn is at its peak to compete with these ‘weed’ grasses and will slow down their spread.  In addition to our regular program, maintaining proper growing conditions including adequate sunshine, good drainage, proper mowing height and relieving compaction (aerating compacted lawns), will help. There is no easy control procedure successful in controlling either species in Kentucky/Tall fescue lawns.  But early removal or spot spraying with a non-selective herbicide; then reseeding can be successful if you are able to change the conditions that caused it (shade and moisture).

 

 

 

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Weed Control Basics

 

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WHY WEED OUT WEEDS?

dandelionsEveryone knows that weeds make your well-manicured lawn look unappealing. But weeds cause bigger problems than looks from the neighbors. They are in direct competition with your beautiful lawn! They steal sunlight, water and nutrients from your lawn. Eventually they muscle in and take over. It is important for the health of your lawn to limit the overall number of weeds it’s competing against. There are millions of weed seeds throughout your lawn lying dormant, waiting to be ‘activated’. They are brought by wind, rain, animals, even your mowing service. Mother Nature is resilient; she makes it hard to eliminate weeds completely. But with Pro-Lawn-Plus’s 5 treatment program and some good mowing practices you’ll, be on your way.

MOWING MUST HAVE’S!

Raising the height of your mower is one of the simplest and most important things you can do for your lawn’s health. Adjust your mower so that it cuts your grass at 3 to 3.5 inches high. The basic rule is: the hotter the weather, the higher you should mow. Higher mowing promotes deeper roots, prevents water loss by shading the soil, and reduces weeds by preventing sunlight from warming seeds. Taller grass also cools the soil and reduces heat stress.

Mowing frequency is also important. Be sure that no more than one-third of the total grass blade is removed in any one mowing. Once per week is sufficient when your grass is actively growing. During late April and May, many lawn weed grasses go into flower and will seem to grow even faster. It is even more important at this time NOT to let the grass get too tall between mowing.Grass close up

Instead of bagging your grass clippings, leave them on the lawn. Unless they are exceptionally long, grass clippings won’t cause any problems. In fact, they can provide about one-third of your lawn’s nutrient needs and are a valuable source of organic matter. Furthermore, this environmentally friendly practice will reduce the amount of grass clippings clogging up our landfills!

 

 

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Best methods for controlling crabgrass and other annual grassy weeds.

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Germinating Crabgrass

Early spring is the best time to control summer annual grassy weeds like crabgrass (Digitaria spp), foxtail (Setaria spp), goosegrass (Elusineindica), and others like Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum). Being annuals, these weeds die each fall and winter then re-germinate from seed in the spring when the soil temperatures approach 55° F. The best method of controlling summer annual grassy weeds is with a pre-emergent herbicide because once crabgrass,  foxtail and other annual grassy weeds germinate and get established, they are extremely difficult to control. This is an essential part of our Early Spring Lawn Treatment.

There are several management practices you can utilize to help minimize crabgrass and other annual grassy weed “pressure” in your lawn. The first is good mowing practices. We find that poor mowing is the primary reason for heavy crabgrass infestations. Avoid scalping the lawn. Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade off at any one mowing and never mow shorter than 3” after the grass starts growing in the spring. Second, avoid spring aeration, dethatching or any other activity that disturbs the soil during peak crabgrass season. Also avoid seeding in the spring as well. The pre-emergent herbicide inhibits turfgrass seed as well as annual grassy weed seeds.

Very rarely will we see 100% preventative control of crabgrass. Usually some will break through, especially in thin and bare spots. In those cases, you can hand-pull it if it is just a few plants, otherwise you can use post-emergent herbicides.

Some might say, “What’s wrong with having crabgrass and foxtail in my lawn? At least it is green during the summer.”

Click to see full crabgrass damage.

Crabgrass in Fall. Click to enlarge picture

While the weeds may be green during the summer, they will die out and brown in the fall. Worse yet,  the areas that were overrun with crabgrass then become bare spots. Those areas would also be subject to soil erosion during the winter and thus potentially harming the Chesapeake Bay. A thick lawn promoted by a responsible lawn care program with the proper use of fertilizer and weed control products is a great way for you to contribute to helping the Bay.  More information about the environmental benefits of turf.

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What about our Pets? Pets and your lawn.

Hello Mike Pusateri, Operations Manager of Pro-Lawn-Plus, here. I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years and get a lot of questions from customers. One of the most common is about pets and lawn treatments.

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Some people think that if they have pets they cannot use our service. Pets can absorb material through the pads of their feet. So a liquid herbicide is something pet owners should think about but not be overly concerned with. The spray can only cause a reaction while wet. Once the spray dries, it will not cause any harm. On sunny days, the materials dry in an hour or less.

Pro-Lawn-Plus has a few ways to help in servicing your lawn and reduce exposure to your pets. First, we only spot spray for weeds in most cases. We try not to “blanket” your lawn unless the lawn is overrun with weeds. If our techs see animal toys or water bowls in the lawn, they will remove them from the spray area. Also, we can set up your account to be a ‘call ahead’, which lets you know ahead of time when we’ll be out, so you can have your pet inside prior to our visit. We recommend keeping them off of the lawn for one to two hours after an application, to allow drying time. Pro-Lawn-Plus will not do herbicide applications if pets are on the lawn. We will attempt to call and knock on the door to get pets inside during treatments. If we don’t make any contact, we will call to reschedule. We are committed to providing you with a beautiful, environmentally beneficial lawn to enjoy with your whole family, including your pets.

 

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