Fescue in the off season!

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All turf grasses have an offseason.  A season when they are not at their prime.  For warm season grasses, it is the winter.  No one expects their bermuda lawn to be green and actively growing in January.  Everyone understands that it is dormant.

What about a cool season turf?  When is fescue’s off season?  

Fescue is at its best in the spring and fall, often has greenish-brown freeze burnt leaves in the dead of winter but goes through an off season during July and August when temperatures average 90 plus.

One of the advantages of fescue, when best practices are followed, is it will keep good color during its off season, unlike bermuda.  Bermuda will always have more color than fescue in July and August, but March through early June and September into December, you can’t beat the greens of a fescue lawn.  

Bermuda is the dominate turf in our region, but it doesn’t grow in shade.  Fescue is the preferred turf for shady areas.  Gracefully aging neighborhoods in the Oklahoma City area are full of mature trees and lawns that have transitioned from bermuda to fescue.  Every homeowner eventually must face the need for fescue in their landscape. 

How do you keep a fescue lawn looking its best in the summer heat? 

Let’s run through a list of best and worst practices for fescue during its off season.

Best practices for keeping fescue looking good during July and August:

  • Mow fescue at 3” – 3 ½”.  The more leaf space the better color and the more draught tolerant the lawn will be.

  • Water deep.  Water infrequent.  Water in the early morning.  Fescue lawns that are receiving 1 ½” of moisture per week, on an every other day schedule, only in the early morning, look the best in the heat of summer. 

  • Fescue lawns that receive at least some dappled sunlight look the best during the summer heat.

 
Fescue lawn with dappled sunshine.

Fescue lawn with dappled sunshine.

 
  • Fescue lawns that are aerated in the fall have stronger root systems and can better withstand hot, dry days.

 
Fescue when watered and mowed properly in full sun in the heat of the summer.

Fescue when watered and mowed properly in full sun in the heat of the summer.

 

Worst practices for fescue during the summer heat:

  • Fescue cut too short.  Remember leaf blades store moisture the plant needs to withstand the summer heat.

  • Stop watering twice per day, morning and evening, every day.  Short and frequent watering does far more harm than good.  It is a myth that fescue needs to be kept wet during the summer heat.  When temperatures are hot and fescue stays consistently wet for more than 6 hours at a time, brown patch will damage the turf.  When brown patch starts spreading in a fescue lawn it looks like the lawn needs more water.  The natural response is to water more which makes the problem worse.  On most site visits I made in the past two weeks where customers were concerned about their fescue, I discovered brown patch was the problem.  In each case the homeowner had increased watering to two times per day, morning and evening, every day.

 
Brown patch in fescue.

Brown patch in fescue.

Fescue with a mild case of brown patch.

Fescue with a mild case of brown patch.

 
  • Heavy shade and low air circulation.  Fescue performs best if it receives some light every day.  Fescue will tolerate more sun than most realize and does well in full sun when it is watered and mowed properly.  Air circulation plays the important role of drying the leaf blades between watering cycles.  Small backyards, with wood fences, and heavy shade are the hardest on fescue in July and August.

 
Drought stressed fescue.

Drought stressed fescue.

 
  • Tight clay soil that has never been aerated result in shallow rooted fescue that will struggle in the heat.

 
Fescue seeded over Bermuda in full sun in the heat of the year.

Fescue seeded over Bermuda in full sun in the heat of the year.

Fescue in full to dappled sun in July.

Fescue in full to dappled sun in July.

 

During fescue’s offseason take a stroll around your lawn and start planning for the fall.  The cooler days of September will be here soon.

Do you need to make some changes to how you are mowing and watering your fescue?

Are you trying to grow fescue in full shade, in a location where there is little wind movement?  If so, can you improve the conditions, or should you consider transitioning to a shade tolerant ground cover?

If your fescue didn’t perform well due to the excessive moisture and high humidity of the early summer, or if it has struggled with brown patch in the heat, start making plans to overseed this fall. 

Do you have areas of the lawn that are becoming too shady for bermuda?  Bermuda starts to thin anywhere it does not get at least 8 hours of direct sunlight every day.   Is this the fall to start establishing fescue in those areas?

Whether you have a full fescue lawn or just some fescue in shady areas, don’t fret, fescue’s best season is just a few weeks away!

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

(405)367-3873

   

What can your lawn do for you?

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In the race to reduce carbon output and conserve water, many have forgotten the long list of benefits of a healthy lawn.  Concerns over water supplies, herbicides, pollutants, and your carbon footprint have caused some to race toward a more minimalist approach to landscapes and lawns. 

Over the past few years the media joined the war against the landscape with articles such as “The Life and Death of the American Lawn.  Grasses – green, neatly trimmed, symbols of civic virtue – shaped the national landscape. They have now outlived their purpose.” 

One of the hottest trends is the replacement of natural grass with landscape gravel or artificial turf.  Both have their place, but not at the expense of a healthy landscape of plants, trees, and turf.   

Is it good for the environment when living plants are replaced with artificial materials? Yes, water will be saved.  Yes, there will be less fertilizer used.  But, is there more to consider?

Can replacing a living plants with artificial materials really be a net positive for the environment?  

When it comes to the benefits of turf grass most people don’t give it much thought.  The environmental benefits of a healthy lawn are seldom considered. Most would have a hard time answering the question, “What is your lawn doing for you?” 

Let’s explore a few reasons why a healthy landscape is important to our environment:

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Turfgrass captures carbon.

Healthy lawns absorb carbon dioxide and replace it with oxygen.

The average, managed lawn, captures more carbon than a lawnmower produces. The average lawn captures 300 lbs. of carbon per year and has a net positive impact on our environment. 


A 2,500 sq. ft lawn, half the size of the average lawn, provides enough oxygen for a family of four. 


What is a managed lawn?  A lawn that receives regular mowing, and some fertilizer and weed control applications.  Maintaining a healthy turfgrass environment provides us with a critical component of a healthy world – less carbon.  An Ohio State study found lawns that received only an occasional mowing and no fertilizer or weed control captured far less carbon.   

Maintenance habits have a big influence on whether turfgrass helps or hurts the environment. Lawns cut too short typically create a negative carbon exchange.  Weedy lawns, nutrient deficient lawns, and drought stress lawns result in thin lawns that have a negative impact on the environment.    

 

Actively growing and healthy landscapes can provide benefits of heat reduction.

Trees, shrubs, and lawn areas around homes can reduce air temperatures on the average 15 degrees compared to concrete, asphalt or gravel.

Studies estimate that improved planting and maintenance of lawns and landscapes could reduce total US air conditioning requires by 25%.  Grass cools the air by absorbing solar radiation and through evapotranspiration.

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A healthy turf slows water runoff reducing erosion and therefore reducing sediment build up and improves the quality of streams, ponds, and lakes.

Less runoff increases infiltration of water into the groundwater supply.  A dense root system traps and removes pollutants moving through the soil and into the water supply.  The natural filtration system of healthy turfgrass improves water quality.

Turfgrass is more effective at stopping erosion than any other plant.  Grass naturally slows runoff and allows more water to be absorbed.  Also, grass is a natural water purifier.

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Lawns are a major component of higher home values.

Smart Money reported consumers value a home with a well maintained lawn and landscape on the average 11.3% over the base value. 

Healthy lawns improve air quality by trapping dust and allergens.   

Dense turf reduces the blowing of soil particles.  Also, it only takes 25 sq. ft. of turfgrass to provide enough oxygen for one adult for one day.

Great lawns benefit the community and human health.

Green areas enhance community pride, provide places for people to come together and promotes outdoor activity.  Research shows the result is improved physical and mental health and reduced stress.

The belief that well maintained lawns are an environmental liability are short-sighted.  Water concerns are legitimate.  Overwatering lawns and excessive use of fertilizers and herbicides drive much of the concern.  Education on proper watering, maintenance, fertilizer, and herbicide use is important.

A scientific study “The Role of Turfgrasses in Environmental Protection and Their Benefits to Humans” concluded that there is no valid scientific basis for water restrictions of turfgrass.  The report stated, “the main cause for excessive landscape water use in most situations is the human factor.”

James Beard, Professor Emeritus of Texas A&M, said, “The environmental benefits of turfgrass are the most sensible and economically feasible approach to counter the greenhouse effect.”

So, what has your lawn done for you lately?  “More than you can imagine!”

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn & Landscape

Summertime = water time!

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The forecast is beginning to look like a typical July – temps in the 90’s, lots of sunshine, and only slight chances of scattered showers.     

All the abundant moisture this year is fading quickly from the soils.  In the last 10 days the soil moisture content has gone from 1.0 (saturated) to .2 (dry).  Other than a few scattered showers, it has now been two weeks since we received a 1” of rainfall.  


Good watering practices need to be your number one focus in the landscape for the next few weeks.

Good watering practices will have the biggest influence in the health and appearance of your landscape the rest of the summer.

Best Watering Practices…

Apply 1” to 1.5” of water per week.  

Your lawn and landscape need 1” to 1.5” of moisture per week when temperatures are consistently 85 degrees or higher. 

A common question is “How long should I water?”  Every irrigation system is different – different head types, different size nozzles, different head spacing, different areas, etc.  

The best way to know how long you should water is to measure the amount of water your system puts out in each zone. Take a few cans and place them around your lawn in a random pattern. Run your sprinklers through a cycle and measure the amount of water in the cans. If the sprinklers ran for 15 minutes and you had .25” of water, you need 60 to 90 minutes per week.

Next determine how long you can run your irrigation before you there is excessive runoff. This will tell you how many times per week you need to water. If you can get away with watering every 4th day, you will have a healthier, stronger landscape. Unfortunately, with our tight soils, watering every other day on the required ODD/EVEN system during the hottest times is needed to get the correct amount of water on the lawn without excessive runoff.

If you don’t have the time to audit the amount of water your system puts out, start with these settings, monitor, and adjust: Fixed spray pattern heads with 10-15’ spacings – 15 mins per time. Larger rotor type heads on 10-30’ spacings – 40 mins per time.

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Set your controller to water with back to back run times. 

For most of our landscapes, if we run our sprinklers long enough to get the recommended amount of water, we end up with a lot of water running down the street.  Split your zone run time in half and set your controller to run through the zones back to back. 

Example:  Set the controller to run at 4:00 AM and 4:30 AM.  When the 4:00 cycle completes, even if it past 4:30, the controller will start the second cycle. 

I know from experience that moist soil will absorb more water than dry soil.  Soil is just like the sponge in your sink. A dried sponge repels water before it starts absorbing water.  Your landscape is the same.  The first cycle moistens the soil and the second cycle soaks in. 

Split, back to back, irrigation cycles are an old golf course trick.  In fact, large commercial irrigation controllers have a run/soak cycle setting that waters a short time, delays, and then waters a longer time.

I started this a few years ago on lawns with slopes and gradually have incorporated the concept to all lawns.  It makes a difference in watering efficiency.

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Water in the early morning. 

Evaporation is at the lowest point in the pre-dawn hours.  Also, wind is usually at the lowest point of the day in the pre-dawn hours.  I prefer to set most irrigation controllers to start at 4:00 AM with the goal of having the cycle completed by 8:00 AM. 

Avoid watering in the heat of the day when much of the water will be lost to evaporation.  Also, avoid watering in the evening. Watering in the evening promotes many turf diseases because the lawn stays wet too long.

This is critical for fescue lawns.  If fescue stays wet for more than 6 hours at a time and temperatures are in the upper 80’s or higher, brown patch is unavoidable.  Fescue performs best in the heat if it is watered deeply and grass blades are dry by noon. 

Earlier this week I reset a system on a fescue lawn that had brown patch starting in several areas.  The system was set to run at 4:00 AM, noon, and 9:00 PM every day.  They were creating the perfect breeding and spreading conditions for their lawn’s worst enemy.

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Daily watering is not needed.  

Unless you are trying to get newly planted seed to germinate or new sod to take root, there is not a good reason to water every day.  Always water deep and infrequent.  Daily, shallow watering creates a landscape that is shallow rooted and more dependent on constant moisture for survival. 

Fescue will benefit from a deep soaking, every other day, during the summer months just like Bermuda. Shallow, daily watering in the summer heat is very damaging to fescue. Remember - Brown patch symptoms look very similar to draught stress. Typically, the more you water, the worse the fescue looks, so you add more water, and the cycle of decline continues.

A common myth I would love to dispel is that fescue requires a lot more water than bermuda.  Yes, it does for a couple of weeks in the fall when you are trying to get newly seeded fescue to germinate, but mature fescue doesn’t require more moisture than bermuda

I water my fescue the same way I water bermuda – deep, infrequent cycles.

Aeration improves moisture absorption. 

You can’t beat aeration for improving your soil structure. A key benefit of improved soil structure is better water absorption.  Lawns that receive annual aeration (or at least every other year) do not experience as much runoff. 

Always pay attention to water need. 

If we receive .5” of rain or more, turn your controller off for a few days.  Install a rain sensor if you are not good at remembering.  A rain sensor will pay for itself easily in one season.  Just because it is summer, don’t assume you can leave your controller in automatic and forget it. 

Don’t stress if your lawn and landscape gets a little dry, it will rebound quickly once water is applied.  Remember, just as we have experienced this spring and early summer, too much water is more damaging than not enough. 

A good indicator that your lawn is needing water is the foot print test.  If the grass retains your foot prints instead of quickly springing back, it is time to resume watering.

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Watch for uneven water patterns. 

If you notice areas where the lawn color is fading, you may have uneven moisture patterns.  This could be the result of a broken head, clogged nozzle, or a head that is out of adjustment.  

Even if you don’t have an irrigation system, the concepts of good watering apply.  

It is important to learn how long you need to water when you are using a hose end sprinkler.  Next time you water, set out a few cans.  You will be surprised how long you need to water to get the proper amount of water on your lawn.  Invest in a digital hose water timer, such as the ones made by Orbit.  It will make it easier for you to control the timing and frequency of watering. 
 

If you need help in determining your lawn and landscape’s water needs, let us know. 

We can schedule an irrigation audit for your lawn and landscape.  We will inspect for even water distribution, measure water rates, adjust heads, make recommended irrigation changes, and set the controller for optimal operation. 

Give us a call if we can help – (405)367-3873. 

A healthy landscape is an important part of our environment.  A healthy turf helps clean the air, trap carbon dioxide, reduce erosion, improve groundwater quality, absorb noise, reduces temperatures, as well as, adds cub appeal and value to your home.  A key component to a healthy landscape is proper water usage. 

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

Introducing... the world's worst weed!

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If I asked you what weed gives you most difficulty, most would respond without hesitation: NUTSEDGE! 

Wikipedia claims nutsedge is the “the world’s worst weed!”  It is a problem in over 90 countries.  No other weed comes even close. 

Nutsedge is fast growing, has an upright growth habit and light green in color. Because it grows nearly twice as fast as your turf and is lighter, it ruins the best maintained lawns within a couple days of mowing.    

Nutsedge starts growing as soil temperatures warm up in May, and because it thrives in moist, tight soils, nutsedge is showing up with a vengeance in Oklahoma lawns this year.   

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What does nutsedge look like?

Commonly called nutgrass but is a sedge with a triangular leaf blade. It grows upright and is light green in color. 

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What are the best growing conditions for nutsedge?

Nutsedge thrives in moist, tight soils.  It is common to find it growing in areas of poor drainage, around irrigation leaks, and in lawns that are watered too frequent.  Once nutsedge is established, it thrives with normal irrigation and periods of drought.  Nutsedge prefers full sun and doesn’t grow well in shade.

Why is nutsedge so difficult to control?   Nutsedge is a perennial weed. Perennial weeds are always more difficult to control. But, nutsedge is one of the toughest because it spreads by underground tubers. The tubers grow 6-12” deep and are referred to as nuts - thus the common name of nutgrass. Nutsedge spreads by growing rhizomes which produces more nuts. Weeds that propagate through tubers and rhizomes are very difficult to control because unless you get control of the rhizome and tuber, the plant will sprout new growth within a few days. Also, tubers can remain dormant in soil for three seasons.

Why is nutsedge so difficult to control?

Nutsedge is a perennial weed. Perennial weeds are always more difficult to control. But, nutsedge is one of the toughest because it spreads by underground tubers. The tubers grow 6-12” deep and are referred to as nuts - thus the common name of nutgrass. Nutsedge spreads by growing rhizomes which produces more nuts. Weeds that propagate through tubers and rhizomes are very difficult to control because unless you get control of the rhizome and tuber, the plant will sprout new growth within a few days. Also, tubers can remain dormant in soil for three seasons.

What is the best way to control nutsedge?

Be proactive.  With the first sign of nutsedge, take action. Nutsedge is much harder to control once it has been allowed to spread and mature.  Weed killers labeled for use on nutsedge will be either a contact killer or a systemic.  A contact herbicide will kill only the leaves and the tubers and rhizomes will remain active if you make only a single application. Systemic products will translocate through the plant to the tubers and rhizomes. 

Remember, single applications of most herbicides labeled for nutsedge will kill the plant leaves but leave the nut ineffective.

Is pulling nutsedge a good idea?   Pulling nutsedge is only recommended when the plant is very small before nuts start to develop on the rhizomes. Once nuts start to develop, you must remove the nut when pulling the weed, which is typically 6-12” below the surface. If you pull the weed and leave the nut behind, new plants will emerge very quickly.  Research suggest that anytime the tuber is stressed, by either pulling the top off or by killing the top without killing the tuber itself (the result of a single application of an herbicide), the tuber multiples. Therefore, many people experience more nutsedge after they have pulled or sprayed.  Cultivating nutgrass, such as in landscape beds, is ineffective. All you are doing is redistributing the tubers and rhizomes.

Is pulling nutsedge a good idea?

Pulling nutsedge is only recommended when the plant is very small before nuts start to develop on the rhizomes. Once nuts start to develop, you must remove the nut when pulling the weed, which is typically 6-12” below the surface. If you pull the weed and leave the nut behind, new plants will emerge very quickly.

Research suggest that anytime the tuber is stressed, by either pulling the top off or by killing the top without killing the tuber itself (the result of a single application of an herbicide), the tuber multiples. Therefore, many people experience more nutsedge after they have pulled or sprayed.

Cultivating nutgrass, such as in landscape beds, is ineffective. All you are doing is redistributing the tubers and rhizomes.

What else can I do to be proactive in preventing nutsedge?

Aeration is a great way to reduce the chances of nutsedge starting and spreading.  Aeration reduces soil compaction and reduces the best growing conditions for nutsedge.  Our experience is that lawns which are aerated annually rarely have significant nutsedge problems. 

Water only based on need and infrequently.  Overwatering, keeping your lawn too wet, promotes the best growing conditions for nutsedge.

Correct water leaks in your sprinkler system promptly.  Nutsedge will stake a claim to any areas that become waterlogged.  

Along the same line of thinking, correct poor drainage areas.  Often patches of nutsedge is an indicator of poor drainage. 

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If you find yourself struggling with nutsedge, give Hall|Stewart a call, (405) 367-3873.  Our 7-Step Lawn Care Program includes nutsedge control.  One of the benefits of subscribing to our full program is we do not charge extra for nutsedge control.  Because we know the presence of nutsedge can quickly tarnish a great looking lawn, we use the most advanced nutsedge control herbicides available to the industry.

Lorne Hall

May Lawn & Landscape Tips

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In all the years I’ve been in the lawn and landscape industry I don’t believe I have experienced two identical springs.  Everything we do is based on air and soil temperatures, as well as soil moisture. So, we make are spring service plans and schedule services all based on the average spring weather.    

But, does average ever happen when it comes to weather? 

This spring has been almost perfect when it comes to a good gradual warm up without the usual extreme temperature swings. We didn’t experience the typical above normal temperatures followed by a late freeze.  The result was an April with some of the best spring color I can remember.   All the spring blooming trees, shrubs and flowers put on a show! 

With one exception, this has been a perfect spring.  Both air and soil temperatures have lagged behind.  This has been a slow-to-get-here spring resulting in slow turf development.  Fescue was slower than normal to regain full color.  I mowed my fescue lawn less in March than I can ever remember.  Finally, fescue color and development came around in April.  Even warm season turf has also lagged a couple of weeks behind in green up and development. 

Now with the arrival of May and the abundant moisture we are receiving, your lawn and landscape is positioned to take off for the summer.   

Here are a few tips for May:

Pre-Emergent Application – Between late April and the end of May, it is critical you receive your second pre-emergent application of the year.  A pre-emergent creates a barrier over the soil that prevents weeds from germinating.  Routine activity, such as mowing and play, as well as heavy rains, all break down the barrier we created with our first application of the year.  Application #3 is a key step in strengthening the barrier and giving you season long control.  The effectiveness of all pre-emergent herbicides is increased when the product is watered into the top ½’-1” of the soil Please make sure you do your best to follow the watering instructions we leave when making your application.

Post-Emergent Application – Weeds that are not prevented, both grasses and broadleaf, require additional treatment to control.  Now that the warm season turf is coming completely out of dormancy, control of weeds can be stepped up.  Application #3 contains broadleaf weed control mixed with the pre-emergent for additional control.  Grassy weed control will continue on an as needed basis in a safe manner to limit turf damage. 

Nutsedge  often begins to show up in lawns in late May.  The pre-emergent herbicide we use will help with prevention, but it isn’t 100% and some spot treatments can be expected.  But, since Nutsedge is a result of tight, wet soils, annual aeration is the best practice.    

Nutsedge often begins to show up in lawns in late May.  The pre-emergent herbicide we use will help with prevention, but it isn’t 100% and some spot treatments can be expected.  But, since Nutsedge is a result of tight, wet soils, annual aeration is the best practice.    

Turf Fertilizer – Bermuda lawns need a good feeding as they start into their prime growing season.  For fescue lawns May is the last month to strengthen fescue before going into the most stressful time of the year for a cool season turf.  After May, excessive nitrogen can harm fescue and often results in disease issues. 

Anytime we make an application of weed control or fertilizer, please let us know if you have any concerns 10-14 days after our visit. If the turf isn’t greening up properly, or if weeds are not wilting, we want to know. If you are new to our program, we know it will take time to get your lawn to the healthy condition you desire. But we expect to make progress with each visit. We know this may require additional visits and if you are on our full 7- Step Program, we will make the needed extra visits.

Anytime we make an application of weed control or fertilizer, please let us know if you have any concerns 10-14 days after our visit. If the turf isn’t greening up properly, or if weeds are not wilting, we want to know. If you are new to our program, we know it will take time to get your lawn to the healthy condition you desire. But we expect to make progress with each visit. We know this may require additional visits and if you are on our full 7- Step Program, we will make the needed extra visits.

Tree & Shrub Care –  May is the month to watch for bagworms on needle evergreens. We subscribe to an integrated pest management approach.  With our Tree & Shrub Program, we inspect for bagworms and treat as needed.  Bagworms are very easy to control when they are small.  But, they are very hard to see when they first start to develop.  If you notice bagworms, or have a concern about your plants, please let us know

Tree & Shrub Care – May is the month to watch for bagworms on needle evergreens. We subscribe to an integrated pest management approach.  With our Tree & Shrub Program, we inspect for bagworms and treat as needed.  Bagworms are very easy to control when they are small.  But, they are very hard to see when they first start to develop.  If you notice bagworms, or have a concern about your plants, please let us know

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Lawn Maintenance – Both warm and cool season turf grasses need frequent mowing now.  One of the most important things for good turf health is to avoid removing more than 1/3 of the grass in one mowing.  Not only does it not yield you the best looking lawn when you cut below the leaf and into the stem of the grass, it also weakens the root system.  Try to maintain your Bermuda on the middle setting or just below the middle setting in May.  For fescue, raise the setting one notch this month and cut around 2.5”.  At the end of the month it is best to have fescue at a maximum height going into the summer. 

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Seasonal Color – Now time to install your summer annual color.  Most landscapes look best with a splash of bright color creating a welcoming environment near the front door.  Impatiens and Caladiums are great choices for full shade areas.  Begonias, petunias, and geraniums do well in sun to part shade.  Periwinkle, lantana, and penta are good at handling the heat and full sun.

Irrigation  – The average rainfall in the Oklahoma City area in the last 7 days is over 2 ½”.  All the Mesonet sites in the area are all reporting ample soil moisture.  Please conserve water and leave your irrigation off or put it on a rain delay for the next 5-7 days.  If you have subscribed to our Irrigation Management program with the Rainbird Wi-Fi Link, we have been delaying your irrigation the last few weeks based on rainfall and soil moisture measurements.   During May your lawn and landscape needs 1 -1 ½” of moisture per week as temperatures start reaching into the 90s. Remember to always water based on need.  

Irrigation – The average rainfall in the Oklahoma City area in the last 7 days is over 2 ½”.  All the Mesonet sites in the area are all reporting ample soil moisture.  Please conserve water and leave your irrigation off or put it on a rain delay for the next 5-7 days.  If you have subscribed to our Irrigation Management program with the Rainbird Wi-Fi Link, we have been delaying your irrigation the last few weeks based on rainfall and soil moisture measurements.   During May your lawn and landscape needs 1 -1 ½” of moisture per week as temperatures start reaching into the 90s. Remember to always water based on need.  

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Azalea Care  – Wow!  What a show they put on this year.  After Azalea’s bloom it is time to fertilize and prune.  Prune between bloom drop and the end of June.  Pruning after mid-summer will result in less blooms next year.  Azaleas look best when minimally pruned and allowed to retain their natural shape.  Prune by removing longer shoots by reaching down and making cuts where they come off a larger branch.  This will improve air moment and promote healthy growth.  Avoid shearing azaleas. Fertilize now with a controlled release azalea food.  Now is also the best time to add a fresh layer of mulch.  As temperatures rise the mulch will keep the soil cooler and retain moisture.  The best mulch for azaleas is pecan hulls or pine bark.  

Azalea Care – Wow!  What a show they put on this year.  After Azalea’s bloom it is time to fertilize and prune.  Prune between bloom drop and the end of June.  Pruning after mid-summer will result in less blooms next year.  Azaleas look best when minimally pruned and allowed to retain their natural shape.  Prune by removing longer shoots by reaching down and making cuts where they come off a larger branch.  This will improve air moment and promote healthy growth.  Avoid shearing azaleas. Fertilize now with a controlled release azalea food.  Now is also the best time to add a fresh layer of mulch.  As temperatures rise the mulch will keep the soil cooler and retain moisture.  The best mulch for azaleas is pecan hulls or pine bark.  

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If you have any questions, please drop us an email or give us a call at (405)367-3873.

Our mission is to make sure you have a lawn and landscape that improves the appearance, enjoyment and value of your surroundings.

Lorne Hall

Is your lawn good or great?

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A good lawn is a result of several key activities:

  1. Correctly timed pre-emergent applications to prevent weeds before they germinate.

  2. Applying the right amount of fertilizer to insure you have a thick and healthy turf.

  3. Regularly scheduled mowing that only removes the top 1/3 of the leaf blade each time.

  4. Infrequent deep watering based on seasonal need.

But, there is a 5th activity that will move a good lawn to a great lawn:

AERATION

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What is aeration? 

Aeration is the process of mechanically removing 2”-3” cores of soil, 4”-6” apart, from your lawn.

What are the benefits of aeration? 

  • Soil compaction is reduced. 

  • Air movement into the soil is improved.

  • Fertilizer can quickly reach the root zone.  

  • Water runoff and puddling is reduced. 

  • Roots grow stronger and deeper. 

  • Thatch is reduced.

  • Reduction of weeds that love compacted soils.

Compact soils prevent grass from establishing a healthy root system and prevents air, water and nutrients from reaching the root zone. Walking, playing, mowing (in other words everything you do on your lawn) increases soil compaction.

As Oklahomans, we are all use to having tight clay, compacted soils.  Our clay soils make growing a great lawn a challenge.

Have we accepted compaction as the status quo? 

Stop accepting the norm.  You don’t have to have tight, compacted soil.

Golf courses typically aerate their turf at least two times per season.  No wonder the fairways always have better turf than most home lawns.

Lawns with compacted soil also are more susceptible to weed development.  Many weeds thrive in tight compacted soil. 

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Nutsedge, one of the most difficult to control summer weeds, thrives in tight soils.  Our experience has shown that annually aerated lawns have far less problems with nutsedge.  

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When should you aerate?

  • Warm season lawns (Bermuda and zoyia) should be aerated any time after spring green-up and before the end of July.

  • Cool season lawns (fescue) should be aerated in the fall, September through October.  Aeration in conjunction with overseeding will not only improve the soil structure, but it will also improve seed soil contact resulting in better seed germination.

Should the cores be removed or left on the lawn?   Leave the cores on the lawn. As they breakdown and dissolve, they will refill the holes with loose soil resulting in improved soil structure. The cores will break up and settle back into the lawn within 2-3 weeks.

Should the cores be removed or left on the lawn?

Leave the cores on the lawn. As they breakdown and dissolve, they will refill the holes with loose soil resulting in improved soil structure. The cores will break up and settle back into the lawn within 2-3 weeks.

Nothing will take your lawn from good to great more than an annual aeration! 

Aeration, the most overlooked lawn practice, will give you a healthier, more vigorous, less weedy lawn. 

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

(405)367-3873

April Lawn & Landscape Tips

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April may be my favorite month in the landscape.  (I say that about a lot of months!)  April is the month the landscape finally comes all the way alive.  Cool season lawns are stunning and warm season lawns are turning greener every day.  By the end of the month, everything will be green!

April is the month that so many perennials, shrubs and trees add splashes of colors to the landscape.  Everyday, I notice something new bursting to life.

April is also a critical month for lawn and landscape activities.  It is a transition month between cool weather and warm weather and so many important tasks need our attention.

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Turf Fertilizer – Bermuda and Fescue lawns both need a good feeding between mid-March and the end of April.  If you subscribe to the full 7-step Hall | Stewart program, you will receive an application of fertilizer during this window of time.  If you subscribe to our 4-step weed control only program, it is time for you to fertilize.  Look for a fertilizer with 25-30% nitrogen and a small amount of phosphorus and potassium. 

Turf Weed Control – Application #2 not only focuses on feeding the lawn, but it also contains post-emergent weed control.  Our goal on Fescue is to clean out the broadleaf weeds and slow the development of Bermuda.  For Bermuda lawns, we want to suppress broadleaf weeds and get control of some grassy weeds.  But, while Bermuda is coming out of dormancy we have to be careful with herbicide applications.  We are limited in what we can do without damaging Bermuda.  Good turf development now is the key to a healthy lawn all summer and we don’t want to cause any harm while warm season turf is coming out of dormancy. 

Our promise to you is to take all the steps we can to remedy weed issues in a way that is safe for your lawn and the environment.

Our request is that you always let us know how your lawn is doing 10-14 days after an application. If the lawn needs to be retreated, results will be better if it occurs within 2-3 weeks of the initial application.

Irrigation – As the weather warms in April, your lawn and landscape will start needing more water.  This is the month you need start watering on a regular basis, if we are not getting sufficient rainfall.  Remember to follow the odd/even watering restrictions.  If you have a rain sensor, it will interrupt the cycle when we receive rain.  If you don’t, please remember to turn your system off when we get a good rainfall. 

If you don’t have a rain sensor, consider having one installed.  A sensor will pay for itself in water savings very quickly.

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Rain Bird Rain Sensor — they claim it will save 35% on your water bill!

Lawn Maintenance – If you have a Fescue lawn, April is the month that you will need to start mowing regularly. Remember the rule of 1/3 – never cut more than 1/3 of the turf off in a single mowing. Anytime you cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off you are keeping your lawn from looking its absolute best. Start mowing the Fescue taller in April. It needs to have as much leaf space as possible going into the summer months.

If you have a warm season lawn, you should have already cut the lawn short for the spring and can expect to cut the lawn every 10-14 days this month. Try to keep your Bermuda lawns cut short early in the season. You need to be in a position to gradually increase the mowing height later in the season.

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Seasonal Color – We all have the tendency to get a little antsy and want to plant annuals a little too early.  Who can blame you?  With all the colorful plants already in the garden centers, it is really hard to resist.  But, wait until after the danger of the last frost passes in mid-April.  Start with annuals that tolerate a few cool nights, such as begonia and impatient — wait until May to plant heat loving annuals, such as periwinkle, lantana, penta.   If you planted pansies last fall, they have come alive the past few weeks and will bridge the gap until time to plant.

April may be my favorite month in the landscape.  (I say that about a lot of months!)  April is the month the landscape finally comes all the way alive.  Cool season lawns are stunning and warm season lawns are turning greener every day.  By the end of the month, everything will be green!

April is the month that so many perennials, shrubs and trees add splashes of colors to the landscape.  Everyday, I notice something new bursting to life.

April is also a critical month for lawn and landscape activities.  It is a transition month between cool weather and warm weather and so many important tasks need our attention.

Turf Fertilizer – Bermuda and Fescue lawns both need a good feeding between mid-March and the end of April.  If you subscribe to the full 7-step Hall | Stewart program, you will receive an application of fertilizer during this window of time.  If you subscribe to our 4-step weed control only program, it is time for you to fertilize.  Look for a fertilizer with 25-30% nitrogen and a small amount of phosphorus and potassium. 

Turf Weed Control – Application #2 not only focuses on feeding the lawn, but it also contains post-emergent weed control.  Our goal on Fescue is to clean out the broadleaf weeds and slow the development of Bermuda.  For Bermuda lawns, we want to suppress broadleaf weeds and get control of some grassy weeds.  But, while Bermuda is coming out of dormancy we have to be careful with herbicide applications.  We are limited in what we can do without damaging Bermuda.  Good turf development now is the key to a healthy lawn all summer and we don’t want to cause any harm while warm season turf is coming out of dormancy. 

Our promise to you is to take all the steps we can to remedy weed issues in a way that is safe for your lawn and the environment. 

Our request is that you always let us know how your lawn is doing 10-14 days after an application.  If the lawn needs to be retreated, results will be better if it occurs within 2-3 weeks of the initial application.

Irrigation – As the weather warms in April, your lawn and landscape will start needing more water.  This is the month you need start watering on a regular basis, if we are not getting sufficient rainfall.  Remember to follow the odd/even watering restrictions.  If you have a rain sensor, it will interrupt the cycle when we receive rain.  If you don’t, please remember to turn your system off when we get a good rainfall. 

If you don’t have a rain sensor, consider having one installed.  A sensor will pay for itself in water savings very quickly.

Rain Bird Rain Sensor — they claim it will save 35% on your water bill!

Lawn Maintenance – If you have a Fescue lawn, April is the month that you will need to start mowing regularly.  Remember the rule of 1/3 – never cut more than 1/3 of the turf off in a single mowing. Anytime you cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off you are keeping your lawn from looking its absolute best. Start mowing the Fescue taller in April. It needs to have as much leaf space as possible going into the summer months. 

If you have a warm season lawn, you should have already cut the lawn short for the spring and can expect to cut the lawn every 10-14 days this month.  Try to keep your Bermuda lawns cut short early in the season.  You need to be in a position to gradually increase the mowing height later in the season.

Seasonal Color – We all have the tendency to get a little antsy and want to plant annuals a little too early.  Who can blame you?  With all the colorful plants already in the garden centers, it is really hard to resist.  But, wait until after the danger of the last frost passes in mid-April.  Start with annuals that tolerate a few cool nights, such as begonia and impatient — wait until May to plant heat loving annuals, such as periwinkle, lantana, penta.   If you planted pansies last fall, they have come alive the past few weeks and will bridge the gap until time to plant.

We look forward to every opportunity to visit about your lawn and landscape!

If you have any questions, please send us an email or call (405)367-3873.

Lorne Hal

It's time to dust off the lawn mower!

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It is the first ritual of spring – firing up the lawn mower. 

Let’s cover a few of the questions we get asked every year at this time.

 

How low do I need to cut the lawn the first time?

Probably the most asked question we will get over the next few weeks.

The old rule was to cut the lawn as short as the mower would go.  Homeowners would brag about getting the lawn shorter than their neighbor.  The more dirt exposed, the better. 

But why?  What is the purpose of scalping your lawn?  Is it the best thing for your lawn?  Or, are you doing it just because you have always done it?  Or, since everyone is doing it, it must be the right thing?

Actually scalping your lawn in the spring on the lowest setting isn’t need.  And, it really isn’t beneficial for your lawn. 

But, there is something you should do every spring – the initial spring lawn maintenance

 
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It is common for Fescue to end up over 3” tall.

1.5-2” is a good starting height in the spring.

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Often Bermuda lawns end the season at 2-3” tall.

Cutting it down to 1” is a good place to start the season.

 

What is the difference?  Lawn scalping is setting your mower on the lowest setting.  Many use scalping to take the lawn as low as possible, often exposing some soil.  But, anytime you expose dirt in your lawn you are opening up the opportunity for more weeds to germinate.  Also, when you scalp as low as possible you run the risk of damaging the plant crown.  Damage to the crown will result in a weaker root system and a stressed lawn in the early spring. 

 

Spring Lawn Maintenance is the practice of setting your mower cutting height at or just below the height you plan to start mowing for the season. Common practice when mowing is to gradually increase the cutting height of your lawn through the spring and summer with your lawn reaching its maximum height during late summer. If you plan on starting your lawn off for the season on the second notch on your mower, then do the initial spring lawn maintenance at that same height.

Warm season turfs, Bermuda and Zoyia, go completely dormant during the winter, so removing the brown leaf blades is necessary.  The leaf blades (grass shoots) are actually damaged by the winter freezes and will not green back up.  In most winters, the crown, stolons, and tillers will green back up.  So, only leaf blades need to be removed, not the crown or stolons.

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Fescue lawn before Spring Lawn Maintenance has removed the freeze damaged grass tips.

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Fescue lawn after Spring Lawn Maintenance.

 

What is the right time for spring lawn maintenance?  The best time is between late February and the end of March as the temperatures start to warm.  The goal is to do it after the last chance for extended cold weather and before spring green up.  Use the bag on your mower or rake up the clippings.  Removing the clippings is always a good practice anytime you are removing more than 1/3 of the grass blade in one mowing whether it is dormant or green.

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Fescue lawn 3 weeks after Spring Lawn Maintenance

 

If I have a cool season lawn (fescue or rye), is spring lawn maintenance needed?  For the best spring green up, I would recommend mowing the lawn a little shorter than you left it at the end of last season.  Fescue leaf blades have brown tips left over from the winter cold.  If you remove the brown leaf tips soon, your lawn will develop better color quicker as soil temperatures warm.

 
Do I ever need to dethatch the lawn?  Dethatching is the process of removing excess thatch. Thatch is the layer of under-composed grass clippings that builds up on the soil surface. When your lawn is healthy and you are mowing often enough, you should not have thatch build up. This is even true if you do not catch your clippings during the growing season. But, if you have a layer of more than 1” of thatch, dethatching is recommended. Use a verti-cutter, also known as a power rake, to remove the thatch before spring green up. Excessive thatch stops air, nutrients, and water from reaching the root zone and results in a shallow rooted turf.  Aeration, after spring green up, is also an effective way of removing thatch and also has the added benefit of reducing soil compaction.  In most cases, spring lawn maintenance followed by aeration after spring green up will cure the thatch on most lawns. In over 30 years in the lawn and landscape industry, I have only seen a handful of lawns with excessive thatch problems to the point that dethatching was required.

Do I ever need to dethatch the lawn?  Dethatching is the process of removing excess thatch.  Thatch is the layer of under-composed grass clippings that builds up on the soil surface.  When your lawn is healthy and you are mowing often enough, you should not have thatch build up.  This is even true if you do not catch your clippings during the growing season.  But, if you have a layer of more than 1” of thatch, dethatching is recommended.  Use a verti-cutter, also known as a power rake, to remove the thatch before spring green up.  Excessive thatch stops air, nutrients, and water from reaching the root zone and results in a shallow rooted turf. 

Aeration, after spring green up, is also an effective way of removing thatch and also has the added benefit of reducing soil compaction.

In most cases, spring lawn maintenance followed by aeration after spring green up will cure the thatch on most lawns.  In over 30 years in the lawn and landscape industry, I have only seen a handful of lawns with excessive thatch problems to the point that dethatching was required.

 

If you have any questions concerning the practice of spring lawn maintenance verses scalping, please give us a call. (405)367-3873.  

We would love to hear from you. 

Lorne Hall