landscape

August Lawn & Landscape Tips

August Lawn & Landscape Tips.jpg

July was tough on lawns and landscapes.  Most of the metro went the entire month without receiving even a ¼” of rainfall.  Unless you are doing a good job of infrequent, deep watering, the soil moisture your landscape needs to survive the summer heat is missing. 

And…now comes August! 

Late July through August is typically the most difficult time of the year for your lawn and landscape.   August usually brings over 20 days of temperatures in the 90’s and 5 days over 100.  Nighttime temperatures don’t offer much escape from the heat either with lows that often don’t get below 80 degrees.

July’s lack of moisture followed by the thoughts of a typical August is enough to make anyone want to give up on having a great lawn and landscape the rest of the year.  But, don’t give up!  We are only a few short weeks from the cooler days of September.   

August is the month to stay focused so you will have an enjoyable landscape when outdoor weather returns.   

 

Mowing – Both warm season turf (Bermuda and Zoyia) and cool season turf (Fescue) should be mowed at the highest level this month, warm season 2-2.5” and cool season up to 3-3.5”.  At the higher level the lawn will have more leaf space resulting in more heat and drought tolerance. Continue to mow often enough that you are removing only 1/3 of the grass each time you cut.  If you are cutting frequently enough to pass the 1/3 test, don’t catch the clippings.  Allowing the clippings to decompose on the lawn will return moisture and nitrogen to the soil. Give no bagging a try.  You will be surprised at how much more color your lawn will retain even in the heat.  When you bag your clippings you are tossing out nitrogen and water your lawn could really use this month.

IMG_0714.JPG
AfterlightImage 13.JPG
 

Watering – Make sure your lawn and landscape are receiving at least 1 ½” of moisture per week.  All the soil moisture from the abundant April through June rainfall has vanished.  Your turf and plants need deep soakings to avoid showing signs of stress. Water in the early morning.  To learn how long and how often you need to water to get 1 ½” of moisture, place small cups or cans around your lawn.  Water a typical cycle and then check the cups.  Adjust watering times and frequency accordingly to insure 1 ½” is applied each week.  Trees planted in the last year will benefit from having a hose placed on a slow trickle for a few hours once per week. 

The number one problem we are seeing in the lawn and landscape is short, too frequent, watering cycles!

If you are unsure about your watering practices, let us help.  We can schedule an Irrigation Audit/Check to make sure your system is operating at its peak efficiency during the summer heat. 

Fertilizer – Apply fertilizer to warm season turf this month.  This time of the year, Bermuda and Zoyia benefit from a high nitrogen fertilizer that is low in phosphorus and potassium.  DO NOT fertilize cool season lawns until we reach the cooler temperatures of September.   Warm and cool season turfs react differently to the heat of July and August.  Bermuda and Zoyia, when well maintained and properly watered, will thrive.  Cool season lawns, although still green, are in their off season.  

 
IMG_0715.JPG

Weed Control – Spring pre-emergent herbicides are reaching the end of their effectiveness in your soils.  Should an occasional weed show up in your turf this month, it is best to go easy on weed control.  We have reached the time of the year that damaged turf may not have a chance to fully recover before fall.  Great weed control is about 80% the result of thick turf.  August is the month to focus on turf development going into the fall.

 

Inspect Shady Lawn Areas - September and October is the best time of the year to establish fescue in the shady areas of your lawn.  This month, assess the areas of the lawn where Bermuda has become thin due to increasing shade (Bermuda needs 6-8 hours of direct sunlight), areas of the lawn where fescue did not perform well because of very dense shade (Fescue needs at least some dappled sun), and areas of fescue that have been damaged by brown patch this summer (June’s moisture and warm temperatures were the perfect conditions for brown patch).   Because fescue does not spread you should plan on adding some seed every fall.

IMG_0857.jpeg

Insect Watch – If grubs have been a problem in your lawn, now is the time to apply an insecticide.  Remember, the insecticide will kill desirable insects also.  Only treat for grubs if there is evidence of a problem.   Continue to inspect shrubs for aphids and treat as needed.  If you have experience bagworm problems this summer and treated for them, it is a good idea to also remove as many of the old bags as possible.  Watch for webworm in your trees in late August.  The second generation of webworm is the one that causes damage.  If noticed early when the webbing is small, simply cutting the branch out is the best control.  If spraying is required, you most penetrate the webbing to gain control.

 
AfterlightImage 17.JPG
AfterlightImage 10.JPG

Landscape Color – Take pictures, make notes, of the plants that are doing the best in your landscape during the most stressful time of the year. 

·       Black-eyed Susan’s are the perfect perennial to add color to the landscape during July and August. 

·       Crape Myrtles are loving the warm days and rewarding us with abundant summer color this year. 

·       Lantana, Penta and Periwinkle are at their best now. 

Go ahead, knock on the door of the house with great summer color and ask them about their plants.  Pick a nice summer evening just too slowly stroll around a public garden for the purpose of seeing what plants are loving the summer warmth. 

If you need assistance or have questions concerning your lawn and landscape, give us call.  (405) 367-3873. 

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart

Summertime = water time!

Summer Time - Water Time.jpg

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.

AfterlightImage 22.JPG

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.

AfterlightImage 23.JPG

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.

unnamed (17).jpg

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.

unnamed (18).jpg

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

Is your lawn good or great?

Aeration Header.jpg

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

IMG_9749.jpeg

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. 

image (2).png

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.  

IMG_9824.jpeg

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

The Epic Summer Battle: Outdoor Fun vs The Mosquitoes. Coming Soon to Your Backyard!

Epic Summer Battle.jpg

We want your days to be full of outdoor enjoyment and safety this year.

The key to more outdoor time is winning the battle with the all so annoying, potential Zika, and West Nile Virus carrying mosquito. 

Hall | Stewart believes in an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to mosquito control.  Success is the result of focusing on prevention and reduction.

IMG_8378.JPG

What you can do to win the battle  

Mosquito control is everyone’s responsibility when it comes to removing and eliminating larval breeding sites.  Standing water is a desirable breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes spend 3 of their 4 stages of life dependent on standing water.  This makes anywhere water accumulates from bird baths, flower pots, toys, poor draining gutters, a perfect playground for the insect.    

Mosquito eggs won’t hatch without water.  The newly hatched larva live in water and develop into pupae all before they emerge as an adult. Simply reducing standing water around your residence will have a significant impact on mosquito population. Even pet bowls can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Any object containing 5-7 day old water during the summer and fall is a potential playground for the pest.  Drain and refill pet bowls and bird baths every 5 days at the minimum. 

IMG_0190.JPG

Adult females are the only mosquitoes that bite. They typically attack in the evening, but occasionally are out during the day. Most afternoons you will find them resting in shrubs, trees and other shady areas. After they obtain blood meal from a person or animal they lay their eggs in water or a place where it will get wet. They prefer dark colored containers and shaded areas for egg laying.

The entire life cycle of the mosquito takes only 4-5 weeks.

What Hall | Stewart can do to help you win the battle

Barrier treatments are the most effective and proven method for managing the pest.  A barrier can be made by treating all vegetation, shrubs and trees, from the ground up to a height of 10 feet.

IMG_4416.JPG

Insecticides must be applied to both the top and bottom of plant leaves which is difficult to achieve with a traditional pump-up, handheld spray can.

Power backpack misters are the ideal equipment for barrier treatments as they force droplets into the vegetation and underneath leaves.  Other common resting sites, such as under decks, gutters, and other moist shady areas are included in the treatment areas. 

Hall | Stewart uses the Syngenta mosquito management program Secure Choice Assurance.  The program uses two control methods:

·       Demand CS is used to provide an initial quick kill and residual control of adult mosquitoes.

·       Archer, a growth regulator, adversely affects the reproductive cycle of the mosquitoes by preventing larval development resulting in fewer adult mosquitoes.  

IMG_8475.jpeg

Due to the short life cycle of mosquitoes, regularly scheduled monthly barrier treatments will provide significant reduction in the number of insects.

The battle is a team effort. You can win by reducing the breeding grounds for mosquitoes and by subscribing to the Hall | Stewart Mosquito Control Program.

We want you to have peace of mind when it comes to outdoor enjoyment this summer.    

If you have not already subscribed to our mosquito control program, call or respond to this email. 

Now is the time to start!

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape

(405)367-3873