The Weed That Can Grow Just About Anywhere.

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If you live in the northern part of the US, this is the time of year when your grasses begin to turn green, spring bulbs begin to pop-up, early spring flowers are blooming and everyone is anxious for the warmer weather to return in earnest. You look across your lawn and are dismayed when you see large patches of brown grass in your otherwise green lawn. What’s going on?

If your lawn looks somewhat like the lawn in the picture below, then you have a grassy weed known as Nimblewill. This grassy weed is native to areas where warm-season grasses survive, but has adapted to grow in the northern parts of the US as well. In fact, this grass can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. You can find it growing in full sun or deep shade, on highly fertile soils or on compacted sites. It will thrive in both wet areas or during a drought.

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Nimblewill resembles Bermuda grass or bent grass in growth and appearance, but in the northern areas, it acts more like zoysia grass in that it does not turn green until the weather is consistently warm, usually into May or June and then begin to go dormant in September.

The fact that it can form large patches of grass in a lawn that is green for only a short time in the northern parts of the US make it a hated grass for many homeowners, similar to those who may have planted zoysia grass in their lawns and are having a hard time attempting to control it.

Nimblewill spreads by seeds and by short above ground roots called stolons. The seed heads will form from mid-summer until it goes dormant.

The stolons are short, wiry and very tough. There are small swellings on the stolons called nodes and it is from these sites that roots and new shoots will grow as it spreads out. Despite the extensive rooting, Nimblewill can easily be pulled from the ground.

Some people think that they can remove it by raking it up, but it will soon grow back from any little piece of stolon that is left behind.

Controlling Nimblewill can be accomplished in one of two ways. Once the grass has totally exited dormancy, it can be sprayed with a non-selective weed control containing the active ingredient, glyphosate. Two or three applications may be required to totally control it. Then the area will have to be reseeded once it has died off.

The other method is to use a specialized weed control product called Tenacity. This product can be used on Nimblewill or bentgrass and will control those plants in cool-season turfgrasses without damaging the desired grass. Since this is a specialized product, it is usually better to have a professional lawn care company apply the product. Once the grass has been controlled, the site needs reseeding as well.

Nimblewill will blend in with your existing lawn when it is fully active, but will be unsightly for the better part of a year while it is dormant. Your lawn will look much nicer without this plant growing out of place.

Do you have issues Nimblewill? Contact your local Spring-Green office for control options to remove Nimblewill from your lawn.

Lawn Care 101- Are You Up for the Task?

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Pushing a spreader across a lawn is not all that difficult and spraying a few weeds doesn’t take an advanced degree. Here are some things to take into consideration when deciding between taking care of your lawn yourself or hiring a lawn care company to do the work for you.

No offense to my friends who own lawn maintenance companies, but it does not take much expertise to mow a lawn or use a weed whacker. Most homeowners hire a maintenance company because they are tired of doing the work themselves. However caring for your lawn requires more technical knowledge and knowledge of which products to apply and when to apply them.

When I visit my local hardware store in the spring and I see homeowners looking at all of the different weed control products, wondering which one is the best to use, I feel like I should hold an impromptu training session on which product should be used on which plants and on what turfgrasses.

We have all seen the homeowner who picked the wrong product and ended up with lots of dead spots in their lawn because he used a non-selective herbicide, like Round-Up, on his weeds.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself before performing your own lawn care: 

  1. Do lawns in your area have a problem with diseases or insects?
  2. What diseases and what insects are causing the problems?
  3. Are annual white grubs a problem in your lawn or is it chinch bugs or army worms?
  4. Does your lawn suffer from Red Thread, Rust, Brown Patch, Large Patch or Leaf Spot?
  5. What are the correct products to use to treat these insects or diseases?
  6. At what time of the year should they be applied?

Besides buying the right products, you also have to purchase the correct application equipment for the products you plan to use. Make sure to consider these things before heading to the store:

  1. Do you want to use a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader?
  2. Should you purchase a 1-gallon or 2-gallon handheld sprayer or use a hose end sprayer?
  3. What amount do you apply? Most products have labels that provide the application rates, but sometimes the rates are listed as a range, like 4 to 8 ounces per 1,000 sq. ft.
  4. What does a 1,000 sq. ft. look like?
  5. Do you know how big your lawn is so that you can purchase and apply the right amount?

Caring for a lawn may seem like an easy task, but there is a lot more to it than most people realize.  If you want a nice looking lawn, hire a lawn care professional.  It will actually save you money in the long run.

Interested in having your lawn cared for by professionals this spring? Contact your local Spring-Green for more information.

Who Is Tired Of Mowing Their Lawn Every Four Days?

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With all the rain that many parts of the country have received so far this year, mowing once a week is pretty much out of the question. I live in the Chicagoland area and it seems like we have received rain about every other day since March. This is making my lawn grow so fast that I am mowing almost every four days. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to get all the rain. In my 35 plus years in lawn care service, I have been through enough droughts that I never complain about rain, even when we receive excess amounts.

Many people don’t have the opportunity to mow but once a week. This can be a problem when the grass grows higher than normal. The key to having a green lawn, above anything else, is to mow high. Even when your lawn gets real long, if you mow high, it will retain most of its green color. You will notice from the picture to the right that the area that was just mowed still has a nice green color.

What about all the clippings that remain behind after mowing? Hopefully, you are not bagging the clippings. By bagging the clippings, you are robbing beneficial nutrients from your lawn. Most modern-day mowers do a fairly good job chopping up the grass blades, but occasionally, there may be some clipping clumps left behind. This is especially true if the grass was a little wet when you mowed and the clippings seem to stick to the wheels of the mower until a point when they will slough off. What I do is try to throw those clumps on to an area that has not been mowed yet and chop them up. If there are a lot of clipping clumps left behind after mowing, you may have to mow in a perpendicular direction to chop them up even more.  Your other choice is to rake them up, which does not seem like much of a choice to me.

Think about it this way; mowing your lawn gives you some exercise, so it is to your benefit to mow a little more often. Your lawn will also appreciate it as well.

Active Grubs in June?

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A co-worker, Dave Dawson, sent me a picture of a grub that he found in his brother’s lawn while putting in a French drain.

The grub was buried about three or four inches into the soil. He thought it was amazing to see not one, but five or six grubs, while digging a trench about 2 feet long.
The life cycle of an annual white grub is considered a complete metamorphosis. It starts off as an egg, laid from May through July, depending on the species and location. The eggs hatch into larva or grubs and they feed on basically whatever is in front of their mouth. They will feed on soil, roots and other organic matter. After feeding for 6 to 8 weeks, they will dig themselves down into the soil to avoid the cold water.

Once it warms up again in the spring, they will rise just up into the root zone, continue feeding for a while, but not enough to cause any real damage to the growing grass. Then, the grubs will burrow down into the ground, pupate, and turn into an adult. The adult flies around for 4 to 6 weeks, laying eggs during the summer and then the whole process starts again.

We occasionally get lawn care service calls from customers in the spring saying they have grubs and want us to apply an insect control application. The feeding they do in the spring is very light, so they generally do not eat enough of the insect control product to be controlled. Plus, the grass is growing rapidly in the spring, so any roots that are eaten are quickly replaced.

The grubs Dave found were getting ready to pupate into adults. He did find one that was emerging from the pupal case as an adult as well, but before he could get a picture of it, his daughter decided to control it naturally, by squishing it with a rock.