turf

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

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

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