Have You Seen These Bees Flying Around Your Lawn?

grass

Franchise owners from both Charlotte, NC area and the Birmingham, AL area both sent in pictures of small earthen mounds of soil that resemble ant hills, but the openings are much larger. The mounds are the result of Ground Nesting Bees making burrows in thin or bare areas of lawns and landscape beds.

ground bees

There are numerous species of solitary bees that make single nests or burrows in the lawns in March into early April.  These loner bees include: Membrane Bees, Digger Bees, Sweat Bees and Mason Bees. However, all these bees make similar type of burrows in which they will lay eggs. But the females from some species will make several burrows in the same area.

burrow Ground 1

Most of the excavation work is done in the evening hours and the burrows can be as deep as six inches in length. The females produce a waterproof secretion with which to line the burrows to protect the eggs from too much moisture.

Pollen and nectar are collected by the females and taken back into the burrow and formed into small ball shapes that are placed on the side of the burrow.

A single egg is laid into the ball. When the egg hatches, it feeds and develops within the cell. It will emerge the following spring as an adult and a new generation is born the following March or April.

ground bees

Ground Nesting Bees feed on nectar, they do not store honey like their honey bee relatives. They are important pollinators of crops and wild plants and chemical control is generally not required. They are not aggressive and generally do not sting unless threatened. The lawn can even be mowed without worrying about getting stung.

There are some aggressive species, like Yellow Jackets, that are often confused with the more docile Ground Bees. If you see numerous “bees” flying in and out of the hole, than you are probably looking at Yellow Jackets.

Ground Bees usually do not build their burrows in thick, well maintained lawns. If a lawn is consistently being watered, it will discourage the females from choosing the lawn when making burrows. She prefers dry soil and an easy access to the burrow. Following a good fertilization program to ensure a thick, dense stand of grass will go a long way in keeping Ground Bees from choosing your lawn as a home.

Having trouble with bees in your lawn this spring? Contact your local Spring-Green for more information.

Tall Fescue Lawn Care

spring lawn care tips

A reader sent in this latest question about his Tall Fescue grass not looking its best. Harold gives him some great advice on how to care for Tall Fescue, a common transition zone grass type.

“Harold, I have a tall fescue grass in southern California, and cannot get it to stay a deep green. I have a few dead spots that even reseeding won’t cure, and my entire lawn is starting to turn a light brown. Any suggestions on getting my lawn normal? I water once a day for 4 min, also. Thanks!”

Dear reader,

Thank you for sending in your question. First of all, I have the deepest sympathy for anyone trying to grow grass or any other plant for that matter during the long drought California is enduring. Of course it is hard to say exactly what is happening with your lawn without actually seeing it, but I can provide you with some basic steps to follow.

First Step: Soil Test

Based on your comment, the first suggestion I have is to have your soil tested to determine if the pH is at the proper level. It should be between 6.5 and 7.0. Having the soil tested is always a good starting point when developing a treatment plan for your Tall Fescue grass.

Second Step: Change How You Water

The second thing I recommend is to change your watering schedule to 30 minutes a week, but provide the water all at the same time. The turf in your lawn, Tall Fescue, is a drought tolerant grass, but it can still thin out if it does not receive enough water. By watering once a day, you are only penetrating the top inch of soil, which causes the roots to grow closer to the service. Tall Fescue is a deep rooted turf, but if the water is only at the surface, that is where the roots will grow instead of going deep to look for more water. Your goal should be to supply 1 inch of water per week to your turf. To properly care for Tall Fescue, it’s much better to water for a longer time and less frequently.

Third Step: Core Aeration

The third thing I suggest is to core aerate your lawn by using a machine called a core aerator. These are available to rent at many hardware stores, rental agencies and home improvement centers. You can also employ a certified professional to do the service for you. A core aerator, as it is runs across your turf, will take out cores of soil and thatch and leave them back on the top of the lawn. This will open up your lawn to allow more air, water and nutrients to reach the root zone. The cores that remain on the lawn will break down with normal irrigation and melt back into the lawn. The microorganisms in the soil will work to break down the thatch. Your lawn does need to be moist to allow the core aerator tines to penetrate into the soil, so try to schedule this for a day after you water or, hopefully, after it rains.

Fourth Step: Reseed

Reseeding your turf after it is core aerated is a very good practice. Tall Fescue has a “bunch-type” growth habit and does not spread out to cover bare areas quickly. The core aeration holes provide a great place for the seed to germinate. You should spread 5 to 6 pounds of good quality Tall Fescue seed per 1,000 sq. ft. I suggest seeding this time of year as traditionally winter is a wetter time for California. I also suggest you reseed every year in the fall to early winter.

Fertilizing Your Lawn

Once you’ve received the results from your soil test, it will be much easier to determine the amount of fertilizer your lawn needs. Tall Fescue does not require an abundance of nitrogen to stay green. Generally, 2 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year is what Tall Fescue requires. The most nitrogen should be applied in the fall and less in the summer. The soil test will provide recommendations on the amount of Phosphorus and Potassium your turf will require.

I am confident that by following these basic steps, your lawn will respond and look better. If your lawn has Tall Fescue turf that needs some TLC, contact your local Spring-Green professional today!

Deep Root Feeding Your Trees and Shrubs in Fall

deep root feeding

We often forget that our landscape plants need to be fed the same as our lawns. In most cases, the plants that we purchase at the local garden center or home improvement center are not native to where we live and where we decide to plant them. To make sure the plants will continue to grow and prosper, they need deep root feeding at least once a year, and fall is a good time to do so.

Why Is Fall a Good Time for Deep Root Feeding?

As long as the ground is not frozen, there is still time to root feed your trees and shrubs with fertilizer injections. Tree and shrub roots will continue to grow into winter. The roots will absorb a good deal of the fertilizer that is applied at that time. What fertilizer is left will be available for the plant the following spring. Deep root feeding is best accomplished by injecting a fertilizer solution into the top 3 to 9 inches of soil around the base of the tree. To make sure you apply an adequate amount of fertilizer to each plant, you should make the injections in a grid pattern.

What’s the Best Way to Deep Root Feed My Trees and Shrubs?

Deep root feeding works best if you start your fertilizer injections about 1 foot out from the base of the tree and make an injection about every two feet and six inches deep in a circular pattern. Move out to about half way from the trunk to the outer edge of the tree and make another circle of injections. Finally, make another circle of injections around the outer perimeter, or drip line, of the tree branches. For smaller shrubs, make one injection for every foot of shrub height or width. These fertilizer injections should be made as close to the base of the shrub in equal spacing around the perimeter.

How Much Fertilizer Do I Need?

The basic formula for the amount of fertilizer you should provide to your plants is about .2 pounds of nitrogen per inch of trunk diameter or one foot of shrub height or width. If you are using a commercial root feeder, follow the manufacturer’s directions. The same is true if you plan to use fertilizer tree food stakes.

Of course, the easiest way is to contact your local Spring-Green office and have us do the job for you. Your trees and shrubs will appreciate it. We also offer specialty injections directly into the trunk, which provide crucial nutrients and work to protect against disease, as well as a cost-effective two-step tree program. Learn more about how we make your landscape as healthy as possible!

Dormant Seeding: Is There Still Time To Seed Cool-Season Turfgrasses?

soil plugs from core aeration

Even though much of the northern US has been enjoying a warmer than normal fall, it will soon be turning cooler in the next couple of weeks. If you are still planning to seed, you may want to consider dormant seeding at this time of year.

When Can I Begin Dormant Seeding?

Dormant seeding works best when the soil temperature drops below 50°F or when the ground is frozen, providing that snow is not covering the lawn. If soil temperatures are too high, it can result in the seed germinating too soon. This causes the germinated seed to succumb to frost or freezing temperatures in the coming weeks.

The easiest way to check the temperature of the soil is to use a digital meat thermometer. Stick it in the ground to a depth of about two inches to take the reading. (Be sure to wipe it off before using it in your Thanksgiving turkey.)

What Is the Process for Dormant Seeding?

Another important aspect of dormant seeding (really, overseeding in general) is having good “seed to soil” contact. If you sow seed across an established area without much exposed soil, only a small portion will germinate. The easiest way to achieve good seed to soil contact on an existing lawn is to core aerate it first. Be sure to do so before the ground freezes. The more you aerate, the more places for the seed to germinate, both from within the core holes and from the plugs that remain on the lawn.

What Kind of Seed Is Best for Dormant Seeding?

Purchase good seed that is free from weed seeds. Cheap seed will provide poor results. Here is a table that will help you decide how much seed you will need to buy based on the size of your lawn:

Seed Type Table

Can I Fertilize the Grass Seed Before Dormancy?

As long as the ground is not frozen, fertilizer can be applied, even in states that have a ban on the use of fertilizers that contain phosphorus. A balanced fertilizer with phosphorus can be applied on newly seeded areas. Phosphorus aids in the development of roots. Therefore, it is a beneficial nutrient to apply after seeding.

What Do I Do in the Spring?

Once you have spread your seed there is not much else to do until the following spring. Here are a couple of other considerations to keep in mind for the following spring:

• Delay applying crabgrass preventer until the middle of May or as late as possible. The product that inhibits the growth of crabgrass will also inhibit the new grass seed from germinating.
• Delay applying a broadleaf weed control application until the new seed has started to germinate and has been mowed at least two times.
• Applying an additional balanced fertilizer application will help the new seed germinate faster.
• Mow your lawn during the spring. It is important that as much sun as possible reach the seed you planted the previous fall. The soil has to reach above 50 degrees for the seed to germinate.

Dormant seeding will work, but you have to be patient. You will see the results by the following summer. And if you want the results without the work, we offer all of the services to get your lawn in shape—contact the Spring-Green nearest you for a free estimate.

Spring Lawn Care Tips: Your Guide to Mowing, Seeding & Fertilizing

spring lawn care tips

Now that lawns are beginning to become green throughout the country, many people start to get anxious to seed and fertilize and, believe it or not, mow their lawns—and they’re looking for the spring lawn care tips to get them on the right track. (For me, having to start mowing my lawn again is a chore, although not a difficult one. Maybe this is the year I hire an outside service to handle this work for me… On second thought, maybe not, as no one can mow my lawn better than what I can do.)

Tip #1: Mow High

I have written on the subject of mowing many times in the past, but it bears repeating. Proper mowing is the key to having a green, healthy, and more weed-free lawn, and it’s the #1 spring lawn care tip I consistently tell people. Unless your lawn turned completely brown during the winter, start mowing at the highest recommended height for the type of grass growing in your lawn. Bermuda and Zoysia should be mowed shorter—around 1 ½ to 2 inches. Centipede lawns should be mowed at about 2 inches, and St. Augustine at 2 ½ inches. Bluegrass and perennial Ryegrass should be mowed at 2/12 to 3 inches and Tall Fescue at 3 to 4 inches high. Set your mower at the appropriate height at the first mowing and leave it at that level for the rest of the summer. If your area experiences drought-like weather, it is better to mow a notch even higher.

Tip #2: Seed Smart

Many people want to seed in the spring. This is an okay practice as long as you take into account a couple of important lawn care tips. First, for those in the warm-season turfgrass areas, the availability and success rate for growing new grass from seed is usually low. If your lawn has cool-season grasses, you may end up battling weeds for a good part of the summer as you wait until the plants are mature enough to apply weed control products.

Pro spring lawn care tip: If you seed in the spring, you cannot apply any commercially available crabgrass control materials for as long as 4 months after seeding. If crabgrass has been a problem in your lawn in the past, it would be better to get that under control first and seed at the best time for cool-season grasses: late summer to early fall.

Tip #3: Fertilize Carefully

Finally, spring is a great time to fertilize your lawn. As the plants start growing in the spring, they are using up the food that was stored in the roots during last summer and fall. Pushing out new plants will use up a lot of that stored food and it needs to be replaced. Just don’t overdo it – too much fertilizer can either damage the lawn with fertilizer burns or push out too much top growth instead of helping the roots grow better and deeper.

It is great to see lawns and landscapes beginning to wake up from their long winter’s nap. By following a few basic practices, your lawn and landscape will improve and provide you with a pleasant outdoor environment.

Your local Spring-Green owner has countless other spring lawn care tips—and recommendations for summer, fall, and winter. Get in touch today!

Fall Lawn Care: Our Top 5 Tips

frost on lawn in the fall

It’s that time of year again… time for some fall lawn care to-dos. The leaves are dropping, the air is getting colder and it is time to start putting your lawn and landscape to bed for the winter. In northern Illinois, we’ve already had frost form in some low-lying areas. Can you believe it? I also got word from a franchise owner in northern Wisconsin that they’ve already gotten a hard frost in his area. Brr… I hope this winter isn’t as cold and horrible as the last one! Regardless of what Mother Nature brings us, following these top fall yard care tips will ensure your lawn weathers the winter in preparation for a healthy, green spring.

Fall Lawn Care Tip #1 – Leaves

For those of you in the north, dealing with leaves is the biggest challenge you face in the fall. There are numerous articles, including a recent blog post by yours truly, that explain it’s better to mulch your leaves than spend all the time and effort to rake them. I still remove leaves from the flower beds and gardens at my home.

Fall Lawn Care Tip #2 – Core Aeration

Another good fall activity for your lawn is core aeration. Fall is the best time for active root and rhizome growth in cool-season grasses. Aeration opens up the lawn to allow for better water, oxygen and nutrient penetration into the root zone. Roots will continue to develop as long as the soil temperatures are ideal for growth. Outside of fertilizing your lawn, core aeration is one of the best practices to ensure a healthy lawn.

Fall Lawn Care Tip #3 – Fall Fertilization

Fall is an excellent time to fertilize your lawn. You may not see any top growth, but the fertilizer will be stored by the plant as carbohydrates. This will allow for an earlier green-up next spring and will aid in root development, especially if the lawn has been aerated prior to applying the fertilizer.

Fall Lawn Care Tip #4 – To Mow or Not to Mow!

We used to say that you should mow your lawn short for the winter. University research has started to show us that this isn’t necessary anymore. The idea isn’t to just stop mowing and let your lawn grow 6 inches high, but you don’t need to scalp it either. A good rule of thumb is to drop the mowing height by one or two notches on your mower for your last few cuts. Just remember to raise it back up to the highest or second highest setting next spring.

Fall Lawn Care Tip #5 – Give Your Mower Some TLC

Now is the perfect time to service your lawn mower so it’s in perfect running shape for next spring! To start, it’s a great idea to take a hose to it and wash off the top. Cleaning the underside of the deck is also a good idea. Take the mower blade off and have it sharpened over the winter. Add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank or run it until all the gas is used up. Changing the oil and cleaning the air filter can also be completed in the fall. Doing these things now will mean that your lawn mower is ready to go next spring.

Need a little help with your fall lawn and landscape care? Spring-Green has been giving homeowners extra time and peace of mind since 1977. Contact us to see what we can do for your yard!