Striped Lawns: How to Make it Look Like a Sports Field

striped lawn

As you watch a baseball game or golf tournament on television, you may wonder how beautiful the turf looks and how you can make your own lawn look as great as they do. We all need goals in life and wanting a perfect lawn is something one can strive to attain, albeit it is a challenge for the average homeowner.

The first thing to understand is that the people who manage sports fields and golf courses have spent years learning their trade as well as usually earning a degree in Sports Field Management, Golf Course Management, Turf Management or other advanced degrees in the Green Industry. The turfgrasses that are used have been specifically chosen as they have certain attributes that are desired, such as color, growth, and resistance to disease and insect pressures on the grass.

Turf on a Sports Field

The care these turf areas receive is far beyond an occasional fertilizer application. These venues care for the turf on a daily basis and employ many people to care for the turf. Fertilizer may be applied on a weekly basis instead of once every 4 to 6 weeks. Scouting for insect and disease problems occurs every day to make sure damage is prevented or minimized if something does occur.

The cost to maintain golf courses range from a low of $700.000 to in excess of $1,750,000, according to Club Benchmarking website. The cost to maintain a professional baseball or football field is much less, about $60,000 per year, but there is much less turf to maintain. Still, it is not uncommon for a professional sports team to replace the turf, which can cost $100,000 to $250,000 depending on the type of turfgrass used.

Tips to keep in mind

Even after all of these facts and figures, you may still want to achieve that striped look and pattern of a baseball field or golf course on your lawn. Actually, that pattern on the grass is due to the reflection of light coming off the direction that the grass blades lay, causing light and dark grass blades. You can create this effect when you mow your lawn in alternating or opposite directions, but the pattern can be more pronounced by using a roller or lawn striping kit that is attached to a lawn mower. If you use a normal walk behind mower, you can purchase a roller attachment that costs $100 to $200. There are even models that can be used behind larger ride-on or commercial grade mowers that cost about the same. The striping kit is a flat piece of metal that is pulled behind the mower that lays the grass down and bends in alternating directions as you mow or cut.

The constant use of a larger drum style roller is not advisable. Often times these drums are filled with water to provide weight. A gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds, so if the drum can hold 25 gallons of water, 200 pounds of weigh repeated rolled across a lawn will compact the soil, leading to root damage on your yard.

A home lawn is something we enjoy. We encourage our pets and children to play and frolic across the yard, all while the lawn looks nice and freshly cut. Keep in mind that the striping effect only lasts a couple of days before the grass returns to its normal growth patterns, and you would have to continue mowing in opposite directions again.

Consider Spring-Green for all your lawn care needs this year and contact your local Spring-Green Lawn Care professional to help create a great, healthy lawn.

Control And Treat Damaging Grubs On Your Lawn

grubs

Going to the hardware store on the weekend is something many homeowners do, especially in the spring. People stock up on fertilizers, weed control products as well as controlling insect pests in and around the home, and in landscape, gardens and lawns.

In regards to insects, it is estimated that there are over 1 million identified species of insects and probably several times that number is yet to be discovered. Fortunately, there are only about 2 dozen species of insects that feed on lawns. It is hard to say which of these insects are the most damaging, but the species that seems to be the most discussed are white grubs.

What Are Grubs?

Grubs are the larval stage of a scarab beetle. There are several different species of beetles that produce grubs that damage lawns. In the Midwest, Japanese Beetles and Northern Masked Chafers are the most common. The Japanese beetle causes the most damage as the adults feed on many trees and flowering plants and the female adult lays her eggs in turf areas, which then hatch into lawn-damaging grubs.

In the South, Japanese Beetles, Green June Beetles and Southern Masked Chafers are the most common species. In the Northeast, Asiatic Garden Beetles, European Chafers, Oriental Beetles, Northern Masked Chafers and Japanese Beetles are the most common.

Most grub species feed on the roots of turfgrasses in the late summer into early fall. They act like little sod cutters feeding on the roots of the turf grasses. If a lawn is being watered and fertilized on a regular basis, the damage may not even be noticed unless the population of grubs is above 20 per square foot.

The bigger problem is damage that is caused by skunks, raccoons, armadillos and other foraging animals, who rip up a lawn in search of a late-night snack. It is not clear as to why these animals know that grubs are present in a lawn, but most speculation points to either their ability to hear their feeding or smell grubs. Unfortunately, there is no product that will prevent the skunks, racoons, and armadillos from tearing up a lawn.

Treatment for Grubs

Good grub control requires the material be applied at the appropriate time. Most grub control products are insect growth regulators that prevent grubs from getting larger. Therefore, it is critical that the material is applied before the eggs hatch.

Look for products that contain certain active ingredients to control grubs. Chlorantraniliprole, Imidacloprid, or Trichlorfon will help control grubs and surface insects, prevent grubs from growing after they hatch or will control existing grubs if its actively feeding in a lawn. Products with these ingredients need to be watered in to move the solution into the soil where the grubs are active. Note that grubs will still be present for several weeks before they are completely gone.

Applying an insect or pest control in the spring is usually not recommended as the grubs are not feeding enough to ingest enough of the material to kill them. The best thing to do is to make sure you apply a grub preventative in early summer to avoid a problem with grubs later on. The solution will prevent the eggs from hatching or growing in your lawn.

Contact your local neighborhood Spring-Green lawn care professional to assist with grub damage on your lawn areas. They will provide you with the program and products to help keep your lawn free from grubs.

How to Avoid Green Slimy Ooze From Growing On Your Lawn.

nostoc algae

What is this Green Slimy Ooze?

During the last couple of years, I’ve received several questions about a strange green slimy ooze growing in lawns. So after doing some research, I learned that it is a type of cyanobacterium, formerly called blue-green algae. This green slimy ooze has been called many colorful names over the years, including witches, butter and star jelly, which is based on the belief that the ooze was indeed the remnants of shooting stars.

Why do I have it?

Nostoc Algae will occasionally appear after excessive rain falls and will not only develop on lawns, but also on sidewalks, driveways and other paved surfaces where it can even become a slippery hazard. If it is developing in a lawn, it usually does so in areas where the turf is growing poorly, soil is compacted, area retains moisture or if fertilizers used  are high in phosphorus. The important thing to understand is that the Nostoc Algae is not the cause of the decline in the lawn. It develops in areas that provide the ideal conditions for its growth.

How do I get a rid of it?

Once the Nostoc Algae develops in a lawn, it can be very difficult to remove. The gelatinous mass will dry up into a black crust that reforms when favorable conditions return. If you have seen this grow in your lawn, the best solution is to improve the growing conditions where the algae developed. This may include improving the drainage in the area.  Core aeration is a great process to help reduce compaction. Unfortunately, there is a risk that the algae will be distributed to other parts of the lawn during the aeration process. This may require applying a moss and algae control product to your lawn as a supplement to core aeration.

There are several commercially available moss and algae control products available at hardware stores and garden centers.  Be sure to follow all label directions when using these products. If the algae forms on paved surfaces, use a shovel to scoop it up and throw it away.

Nostoc is not a very common problem. I have never actually seen it on a lawn and have only seen pictures of it.  Normally this problem develops in late spring. But the picture above was sent to me by a manager of our Baton Rouge, LA office from when he observed it in December. As mentioned in a previous blog post, if the conditions are right for a disease to develop, and algae could be included in the disease family, it will develop.

Do you think you might have Nostoc Algae in your yard? Let us know by either commenting below or asking your local Spring-Green.

Do You Really Want to Do This Yourself? (Winterize Your Sprinkler System)

Irrigation_700x200

Sadly, summer is officially over. Fall is upon us and that means there are a number of projects that need to be taken care of before winter arrives. Even those people that live in the southern states, there are a few winter projects that need attention. For the rest of us, fall is the time to take stock of the successes and failures in regards to the plants in your yard. It is also the time when we have to winterize equipment. If your yard includes a sprinkler system, a very big project to complete before freezing temperatures arrive is to drain the water from the lines to winterize your sprinkler system.

Maybe I Can Do This Myself . . .

I often do a little Internet research before writing most of my blog posts and looked up the subject of winterizing a sprinkler system. One do-it-yourself website provided three options of how to do so – draining the system manually, using an automatic system and using an air compressor to “blow out” the system. Each method had its good points, but after reading the procedures, it was clear to me that winterizing a sprinkler system is a job better suited to a professional.

sprinkler system valves

As with any number of do-it-yourself websites, the authors assume you have a working knowledge of the system you are trying to work on. For example, on one site the directions were to open the boiler drain valve or the drain cap on the stop and waste valve. Unless you are a licensed plumber, you may not have any idea where those valves are located. I know I don’t have any idea where they may be located.

Since reading the directions posed some problems, I looked on YouTube and found several videos that went through the winterizing process. The main problem I found with the videos was where the filming was taking place. A number of them focused on temporary winterizing for people who live in Texas, which generally does not get as cold as in the Midwest. Following that procedure in Minnesota would not prevent your sprinkler system from being damaged. I did look at a few, but the procedure did seem a good deal more complicated and required more time than what most homeowners have available to devote to this process.

Maybe Not . . .

Considering how much a sprinkler system costs to have installed, and how much expert knowledge it takes to work through any issues with an irrigation system, having a licensed professional winterize your sprinkler system the right way makes the most sense.

If you do plan to hire someone, do it quickly as their schedules fill up. Contact your local Spring-Green office to determine if this service is offered near you.

Salt on Grass and Plants: How to Prevent Salt Damage to Your Landscape

salt damage on landscape

To put it simply, the best way to prevent salt damage to your lawn and landscape is to not use it. Unfortunately, that is not always an option, and you can sometimes find yourself with salt on your grass and plants. There are products out there that claim not to damage grass or plants (like calcium chloride or magnesium chloride), but if you use too much, it can still cause damage. In reality, most people end up using plain old rock salt since it is generally cheaper to use. Some of the pet-friendly, environmentally-safe products work, but they cost a lot more. For example, you can find a 50-pound bag of rock salt for about $8 while the “safer” products cost as much as $75 for a 35-pound bucket.

Try Sand Instead

As an alternative to rock salt that ends up on your grass and plants, you can use sand to help prevent slipping on the ice. The one thing to keep in mind is that the sand that you purchase at the store may be moist. When you get it home and put it in the garage, you may end up with a big frozen sand block, which is not very useful, so be sure to thaw it out before you attempt to use it.

Put Up Burlap Barriers or Pavers

You can control the type and amount of salt you spread on your property, but you usually don’t have much control of what your city spreads on the streets. Try as they may, some of the salt ends up on lawns. If your landscape is close to the street, it will also be doused with a healthy coating of salt. One way to prevent salt damage to your landscape is to erect a barrier. Burlap is a good choice to make a screen to keep the salt away from the landscape beds.

There isn’t much you can do to prevent the salt from getting onto your lawn, however. The best thing you can hope for is that there will be lots of rain in the spring to wash the salt down into the soil. In most cases, this is enough to prevent too much damage. If it is a reoccurring problem year after year, especially along the edges, one alternative is to install pavers along the curb.

Dealing with snow and ice is a fact of life for those of us that live in the northern parts of the US, but even the southern folks get an occasional ice storm. Trying to remove it from your driveway and sidewalks can be a challenge. If you do some planning and use products that are less damaging and not overdo the use of these products, you can limit or eliminate the amount of salt on your grass and landscape, and the damage you have to deal with next spring. Keep us posted and good luck!

At Spring-Green, we’re passionate about lawns—all year long. Learn about some of the winter lawn care services we offer, like sprinkler system blowouts. And don’t forget to Ask the Expert your own questions!

How to Get Rid of Grubs: Identification and Treatment

A Spring-Green reader, concerned with which treatment options work best for which grub species, sent in the following question on grub control:

“Do I need to be sure what species of grub is in my lawn before I treat it? If so, how do I identify which grub it is? I was told that milky spore powder only works for the Japanese beetle grub? Is this true? I suspect a moth grub but can’t be sure. We are in Sedona, Arizona. Thank you for your time and expertise.”

Mr. Griffin,
Thank you for sending in your question on how to get rid of grubs. No, you don’t need to know what species of grub is in your lawn to treat for it with conventional methods. Grubs are the larval stage of adult beetles. You are correct that Milky Spore, Paenibacillus papillae, will only control Japanese beetle larvae. Identifying grubs is a little more complicated. This is done by looking at the pattern of hairs on their raster, or backside, such as you see in this picture. Japanese beetles have a v-shaped pattern of hairs. The trick is getting them to hold still long enough to examine them with a 10X hand lens. There are about 15 species of grubs that can attack a lawn. If you want to check, you can either place them in a formaldehyde solution or you can cut off the back half of the grub to inspect it. Suffice it to say that if you have grubs and they are damaging your lawn, the fastest way to get rid of grubs is to apply an insect control application. The product that works best on active grubs is called Dylox. Be sure to read and follow all label directions before using the product. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions on how to get rid of grubs.

grub identification

Want to ask Spring-Green expert Harold Enger a question about your unique lawn care situation? Submit your question to the blog today!

The Importance of Regular Lawn Care Service

End Of Season

It’s a relatively common misconception that after several years of yard service, a lawn can become “numb” to the care and results become stagnant. It’s not necessarily a question of a lawn becoming unresponsive after several years with a professional lawn care service. Rather, it may be that results are not as dramatic or impressive as they were when service first started.

Our goal as a lawn care service is to get your lawn to a point where it is green, healthy and consistently looks good. We’ve done our job if the lawn’s appearance is healthy and doesn’t change much from month to month.

Lawns respond to whatever inputs you provide. Lawns themselves are not naturally occurring by default. So they need to be maintained to thrive and stay alive. If you choose to stop lawn service to let your lawn “rest” a year, the density will start to decline and the root system will diminish. Also, weeds, damaging insects, and lawn diseases can increase.

Turfgrasses grow best in well-drained soils that are rich in nutrients and organic content. Most home lawns do not have the best soil for turf to grow and thrive. Lawns need additional food, water and proper maintenance practices to make up for the poor soil on which they are expected to grow. That is why we recommend such additional services as core aeration to help root systems expand.

Careful fertilization, mowing, watering and reseeding decisions need to be made in order to maintain a lawn, and are determined by the type of turf you have and the weather conditions your particular lawn faces.

A healthy lawn, well-maintained by a lawn care service, will recover faster from the effects of adverse weather conditions as well as attacks from insect and disease infestations. If a lawn remains fallow for a year, it is less likely to have the ability to come back from these pressures. Therefore, you should continue with regularly scheduled applications of fertilizer on your lawn every year.

Contact your local Spring-Green lawn care service provider to discuss which lawn care services are right for your yard.

How to Get Rid of Virginia Buttonweed

virginia-buttonweed_2_20_14

Virginia Buttonweed is a flowering broad-leafed perennial native to the South and Southeast. Some consider it a natural wildflower and others a tormenting, aggressive lawn weed that’s difficult to control, even with weed control products.

Lawn care message boards across the web are filled with threads of frustrated homeowners struggling to get the plant out of their lawns.That’s because controlling Virginia Buttonweed can be a daunting task for reasons that have to do with the plant’s robust nature and the different ways it reproduces. In fact, The University of Georgia and The University of Tennessee have even conducted research to find the best combinations of herbicides to manage Virginia Buttonweed in different types of Southern turf grass. Mississippi State also has recommendations.

Controlling Virginia Buttonweed – Lawn Care Tips & Weed Prevention

Homeowners and lawn care professionals have also developed a combination of tactics to manage the plant that include:

  • Hand removal. (Small patches can be hand-pulled, but care must be taken to remove all the above-ground stems and below-ground roots. This plant can re-establish from small plant parts that remain in the lawn. If you see this weed start to flower, remove it as fast as possible.)
  • Keeping your lawn tall and lush to help crowd out seeds.
  • Being careful not to overwater (Virginia Buttonweed likes moist, wet conditions).
  • Applying herbicide (Caution: be sure to read the label of any herbicide product to ensure it is safe to use on the type of grass you have)

For the best combination of Virginia Buttonweed control measures, treatments and tactics for your lawn, contact your local Spring-Green professionals.