lawn tips

August Lawn & Landscape Tips

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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.

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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.  

 
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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.

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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.

 
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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

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

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

March Lawn & Landscape Tips

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The below average temperatures have me longing for spring!

Our current early March cold snap is sure to slow the arrival of spring.  Usually by now you can expect to see a few shrubs, bulbs and trees to start bursting with color, but this year we are going to have to wait a few more days, maybe weeks, for the first signs of spring. 

Even though there is a delay, it is time to get up to speed with your March lawn and landscape activities.

Spring Lawn Maintenance – If you have not cut your lawn for the first time, please do so at soon as the weather starts to warm.  It is much easier to remove the winter damaged leaf blades before the turf begins to green-up.  Remember, scalping on the lowest setting isn’t required and actually isn’t recommended.  Simply mow the lawn at the height you plan to start the mowing season.  For most Bermuda lawns, the second setting is recommended.  For fescue, start on the second or third notch on your mower.  Many still inquire about dethatching at this time of year.  Dethatching is the removal of excessive thatch that builds up on the soil surface by using a vertical power rake.  But, unless you have a thick layer of ½-1” or more of thatch, dethatching causes more damage to the crown of the plants than it does good.  So, with only a few exceptions, the best method for reducing thatch is an initial spring lawn maintenance followed by aeration after spring green-up.

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Fescue lawn one day after Spring Lawn Maintenance

Lawn Maintenance – If you have a fescue lawn as soon as we string together a few 60+ degree days it will be time to start mowing on a regular basis.  Start your cool season lawn off right by maintaining it at 2 ½ - 3”.  Mow frequently enough that you are never removing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade per cutting.  So, if you plan on maintaining a 3” level, don’t allow the lawn to grow past 4.5” without giving it a trim.  If you have warm season turf, Bermuda or zoyia, you can put off regularly scheduled lawn mowing until April.

Lawn Weed Control – If you have not applied a spring pre-emergent to your lawn yet, do so immediately.  Summer annual weeds begin germinating when soil temperatures consistently reach 55 degrees.  On the average, this occurs by mid-March in central Oklahoma.  But, often weed germination will occur before around concrete edges and next to structures where the soil warms sooner.  So, for the best control, don’t procrastinate.  Always follow instructions.  Watering in the product within a few days is best as the herbicide needs to move into the top ½” of soil to be effective.

Bed Weed Control – March is an excellent month to apply a plant safe pre-emergent to your landscape plantings.  Use caution in selecting the product to make sure it is safe for your plants.  When possible, select a granular pre-emergent mixed with a fertilizer containing approximately 20% nitrogen. Doing so will give your plants a good spring feeding while preventing weeds at the same time.

Lawn Fertilization – This month is a good time to start fertilizing your cool season lawns.  Use a fertilizer with 25-30% nitrogen.  Cool season lawns need to be feed more in the spring and fall when they are actively growing, and less in the summer.  If you have a warm season lawn, timing the first fertilizer application with spring green-up in March to early April is best. 

Mulch – Spring is a great time to mulch your landscape plantings.  Maintaining a 2” layer of organic mulch will reduce weed population, retain soil moisture, and provide a more consistent soil temperature for plant roots.  I find adding mulch an easier task in the spring when I am cleaning my landscape plantings for the first time.

Irrigation – Start monitoring your landscape moisture weekly.  Anytime we have received less than ½-1” of rainfall in the previous 7 days, run your irrigation through a cycle or string out the water hoses.  Dormant lawns don’t require as much moisture, but they shouldn’t be left dry either.  For the best spring color, do not allow plants to become too dry when they are putting on buds.  As for your evergreen plant materials, a late spring cold spell could cause damage if your landscape is allowed to remain dry.  It is too early to leave your system on automatic and forget about it.  Monitoring and watering as needed is the best practice for March.

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Flowering Quince will be one of the first shrubs to announce the arrival of spring later this month


Spring Seasonal Color – Bedding plants will begin arriving in garden centers this month.  Resist the temptation to plant summer annuals too early. If you do, there is a good chance you will be replacing them. Later this month will be a good time to plant annuals that enjoy early summer – impatient, begonia, geranium, etc.  Avoid planting lantana, penta, periwinkle, etc. until late April or early May as they need much warmer soil temperatures to flourish.  Remember, most plants will do much better in well drained, organic soil.  So, add compost when planting.  A good way to avoid the temptation to plant too early is to plant pansies and bulbs in the fall. 

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Creeping phlox puts on a brilliant show in March

Seeding Fescue – March is the second best time to overseed fescue. But, it is a very distant second to seeding in the fall.  Spring seeded fescue will come up very well and look very good till the summer heat arrives - then it fades quickly.  Fescue, being a cool season grass, will not establish a sustainable root system when planted in the spring.  So, if you have bare areas in your turf that need to be addressed now, go ahead and seed this month and make plans to redo it in the fall.  Do not apply a pre-emergent this spring if you are going to seed as it will prevent the fescue from germinating.  Whenever possible wait until fall to seed.  Fall seeding allows you to focus on weed prevention and turf development in the spring and turf establishment in the fall when it is best.

Pruning – Early March is the time to do heavy pruning on your roses just before growth begins. Early March is also the best time to make major reduction in the size of hollies.  Before spring growth arrives, you can successfully remove all the foliage taking the holly back to the central leader if needed.

Wow!  There are a lot to tackle in your landscape during March.

If you need help with any of your lawn and landscape task, or just have a few questions, please don’t hesitate to give Hall|Stewart Lawn + Landscape a call at (405)367-3873.

Lorne Hall