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.

4 Ways to Make Your Lawn Work for You This Year

make your lawn work for you

“I’m tired, I’m thirsty, these weeds are bothering me, I don’t feel like growing in this spot—it’s too shady, hot, wet….” Do you ever feel like you’re a full time employee for your lawn? You work hard, you spend time and money to control the constant nagging of your turf, and sometimes there’s nothing to show for the service you give to your lawn.

We’ve compiled a list to turn the turf in your favor. Stop working for your lawn; below are four ways to make your lawn work for you, so you can sit back and relax.

Replace the M with a B

Be the boss of your moss, not the employee. Many people spend lots of time and energy trying to control moss on their lawns. Try to work with your lawn, not against it. Instead of worrying about how to control moss, replace it with mulch, hostas, or another shade-loving plant. Be wary when you spread fertilizer—moss loves to grow in the cracks and crevices where fertilizer collects on hardscapes.

Let The Weather Do The Watering

make your lawn work for you

Installing a rain barrel can save you money and take care of your flowers at the same time. Rain water can also help stabilize the pH in soil, creating better growing conditions for your plants. In addition, collecting it can divert water away from your foundation and prevent unwanted runoff. It’s a win-win-win.

*Be sure to check your local laws and regulations; some governments/municipalities claim rainwater belongs to them, not your 50 gallon drum.

*Don’t use rainwater on edible plants if your roof has been treated with zinc or anti-algae chemicals.

Mow the Right Way

make you lawn work for you

You may think that mowing shorter means you have to do it less often, but that’s just asking for trouble. Don’t ever take off more than a third of the total grass length. Mowing regularly is a great way to ensure your turf grows thicker. Keep the mower deck high to keep your grass healthy and the weeds at bay. You can get away with mowing shorter in autumn, when there is less sunlight available for your lawn. You should also vary your mowing pattern: mow east to west one week, north to south the next.

Let It Reign

make your lawn work for you

Exercise your newfound power over your lawn to take matters into your own hands. By following a specific water regime—letting it rain—you can encourage healthy lawn growth. Watering longer and infrequently is preferred over light and frequent watering. A good soaking encourages deep penetration and saturation. This watering method also encourages roots to reach deeper for a drink when they need it, which leads to a healthier lawn. If the lawn gets a small sip every day, the roots won’t penetrate to get the water since it’s on the surface, resulting in a shallow root structure and a lawn less likely to recover from damage. Don’t water during the peak sunlight hours, stick to early morning if you can.

If you have any questions about how to follow these tips or would like some help beautifying your lawn, make sure to contact your local Spring-Green —our lawn care professionals will give you the peace of mind that your lawn is in good hands. We’ll become the full-time employee for your lawn, and we know just what the boss wants. Now you can relax and laze away your Sundays!

Don’t Let Drought Stress Overtake Your Lawn!

drought stress

With high temperatures and humidity during the summer months, drought will have most visible impact on lawns and landscapes. Lawns will often turn brown and without proper mowing and watering, your lawn may suffer from heat stress. Learning how you can green up your grass and tips to recover your lawn from drought will help it survive in time for fall and winter dormancy.

Symptoms of Drought Damage On Lawn

Purpling, also known as moisture stress, are the beginning stages of drought which causes the grass to turn a slight purple-like hue. The most noticeable impact of heat stress on a lawn is the brown appearance. The brown area becomes almost straw-like, entering a state of dormancy and will remain so until it gets a sufficient amount of water.  It’s also important avoid walking over the damaged area as the grass plant will not spring back up from any foot traffic on the lawn. Excess thatch layers in the lawn will experience drought stress quicker. Core Aeration will help in the fall to rejuvenate and get the lawn healthy again.

Treatment for Drought Stressed Grass

Watering

If mother nature does not bring any rain, watering the lawn will be beneficial. It’s important to replace lost moisture in a lawn, as water
weakness gives lawn diseases an easy entry. Lawns need at least 1 inch of water per week. If you cannot water your lawn one inch or more per week, you may consider getting an irrigation system to make sure your lawn and landscape is getting the necessary amounts of water at a time.

A grass plant will enter into dormancy as a defense mechanism. It shuts down all of the essential process, which is mainly the top growth, in an effort to keep the crown and root system alive. As long as the crown is alive, the plant will survive (up to 3 weeks) even if the top growth has all turned brown. You can water less if you mow high. It may take a little while to get used to, but your lawn will look better and you will use less water keeping it looking its best.

Mowing

Hot temperatures will often result in people wanting to mow short to avoid having to mow it frequently. Mowing short will actually remove the food producing part of the grass plant and will make your lawn turn brown. During the summer you want to mow high to conserve water and shade the soil.

Cool-season grasses should be mowed at 2 ½ to 3 inches from the first mowing in the spring until the end of the year. The lawn will be greener, healthier and more weed free. If this rule is followed. If you have been mowing your lawn short, by all means raise it up to the highest or second highest setting. For those who live in the Transition Zone, you should be mowing your Tall Fescue at a minimum of 3 inches. For those in the warm-season areas, Bermuda, Zoysia and Centipede may be mowed at around 1 ½, but Centipede grass grows much better when it is mowed high, at least 3 inches in height.

Adding lawn treatment and fertilizer should be pushed back if your lawn is suffering from heat stress. Although drought damage is unsightly, it is temporary until temperatures begin to cool down approaching fall. Keeping in mind best practices for mowing and watering will help your lawn recover and avoid further damage. Your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green can provide further information and recommendations to keep your lawn green and healthy during the hot summer months.

4 Reasons Why You Should Keep Your Grass Length Long

mow lawn

You may have heard the axiom, WIIFM, or “What’s In It For Me”.  In regards to mowing your lawn, what is in it for your lawn that dictates the need to mow  high?  If mowed short, it doesn’t need to be mowed as often, right?

Lawns are not a natural system. They were created by people, so they need to be maintained by people. Sure, the grass will still grow if it is not maintained, but in order to get the most out of your lawn, extra steps should be taken. An attractive healthy growing system needs supplemental feeding, proper mowing and watering and thatch control.

The most misunderstood practice is mowing. If there is a “key” to having a great lawn, it is proper mowing.

4 reasons to keep the length of your lawn longer

  1. The grass blade is the food producing part of the grass plant. This is where photosynthesis takes place and where the plant produces the necessary food for good root and shoot growth.  The shorter it is, the less food that will be produced by the plant.
  2. A longer grass blade will shade the ground underneath, keeping it cooler, meaning it won’t dry our as quickly as when the lawn is mowed short.  In other words, the lawn does not have to receive as much supplemental water.
  3. Reduces weed growth. There are 100s of weed seeds in every lawn, just waiting for the right conditions to germinate. One of those conditions is having enough sunlight to warm the seed to help it germinate. If the sun cannot get down to the seed, it will be much less likely to germinate. Mowing high is one of the best weed control methods.
  4. Finally, when the grass plant is mowed short, the plant has no choice but to do whatever it takes to grow a new leaf blade. In order to do so, the plant uses its food reserves to produce new shoots. These reserves are often stored in the roots, so by forcing the grass plant to always grow new shoots reduces the food storage capacity of the plant. When the lawn is mowed high, there are plenty of leaf surfaces available to keep the plant healthy. This allows the grass to build up its food reserves and grow better roots, which means that the lawn will be greener and healthier.

As I have told countless customers over the last 38 years, the most important aspect in order to have a nice lawn is to mow high. Your lawn will be greener, healthier and less weed-ridden.

Here are the recommended mowing heights for the most common turfgrasses in the US:

grass length

With All This Rain, How Should I Be Mowing My Wet Lawn?

lawn mowing

Everyone has heard the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”  This may be because spring is often the time of year when most of the country receives plenty of rain. Mowing can be a real challenge when it seems like it rains every weekend.

For those of you who use a maintenance service, your normal mowing day is often pushed back due to rain delays.  Since these companies are in the business to mow lawns, sometimes they have to “push it” to make sure that each client is serviced in a timely schedule. Still, they have to take precautions to avoid damaging lawns. For those of us who still mow our own lawns, the weekend is usually the only time we have sunlight and the spare time to mow. Here are some best practices for mowing wet grass.

Take Precaution

If you have to mow your lawn when it is wet follow these 2 precautionary steps.

  1. Make sure you have a sharp blade on your mower, it is always a good idea, but even more so when the grass is wet.
  2. Be sure to clean the underside of the deck as the grass will stick to the underside of the deck. Use extra caution when performing this task and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for accessing the underside of the deck.  If nothing else, be sure to disconnect the spark plug wire.

Potential Risks

If possible, wait for the grass to dry off before mowing. Mowing when the turf and soil are wet can lead to other problems:

  • If you are using a mulching mower or a bagger attachment, they will often get clogged with wet grass and not function properly.
  • Wet soil will compact easier than dry soil, which can lead to poor rooting of the turf.
  • If you use a riding mower, you could tear out sections of grass when:
    • making turns
    • mowing on sloped areas
    • Starting a new pass from a dead stop.

Length Matters

Ideally, you should set your mower so that you do not remove more than one-third of the leaf blade at any time.  However, that is not always possible in the spring when it seems to rain all of the time.

Lawn Mowing

As long as you are mowing high and not leaving behind large clipping clumps it won’t be detrimental, if you do cut more than one-third of the leaf blade off. When this happens on my own lawn, I will set the mower at the highest setting and mow in one direction and then I lower it one notch and mow in a perpendicular direction.

Summer will arrive soon enough and mowing will turn into a normal weekly event. There may even come a time later in the summer when it becomes dry and you may not even need to mow your lawn. Just remember to mow your lawn high and it is always a good idea to leave the clippings behind to recycle the nutrients back into your lawn.

The Forsythia Are Blooming! What Does That Mean For You?

Forsythia

There are a number of old sayings when it comes to gardening, such as “the corn should be knee high by the 4th of July” or “you have to add lime to sweeten the soil”.  However there are not too many old sayings when it comes to lawn care, but one that often gets thrown around at this time of year is “apply your crabgrass preventer when the forsythia bloom.” As we often find out, these old sayings are not usually based on scientific evidence and, for the most part, cause more confusion than necessary.

For the most part, the corn in my area is always taller than my knees by the 4th of July, with the exception of a severe drought. Lime should only be added to soil if the pH is well below 6.5, which is determined by a soil test. As much as lawn care companies try, there is no way that all of the lawns we service can have their crabgrass preventer applied by the time the forsythia bloom.

The crabgrass statement is not really based on any hard and fast rule. I am sure some turf professor was asked as to when the best time to apply a pre-emergent weed control product and he picked a plant that was popular and one that everyone knew the name and that bloomed early. It can be used as a reference point, but it is more important to understand that crabgrass will germinate when soil temperatures are greater than 55 to 60F degrees for 7-10 consecutive days. Depending on the year, this may not occur until mid-May in the Midwest.

For those in the south, your soil may never drop below 55 degrees, so crabgrass can be a problem for you from the fall until soil temperatures climb above 95 degrees, which is when crabgrass stops germinating.

It is similar to the mowing rule of not removing more than one-third of a grass blade when mowing. This is not based on any studies, but it was an observation made by a Department of Agriculture employee who thought the grass looked best after mowing if not more than one-third was removed.

We have all been faced with mowing grass that is very long because of rain or other outside commitments that prevented us from getting to that task. As long as the lawn is mowed tall, it will be fine.

One final word about crabgrass germination and mowing. Mowing high will help prevent crabgrass and many other weeds from germinating by shading the ground and prevent the sun from heating up the weed seeds that already exist in your lawn. Of all the cultural practices, mowing has the most impact on the health and quality of your lawn.

Do you have question about your lawn and how to best take care of it? Contact your local Spring-Green for more information.

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!

Who Is Tired Of Mowing Their Lawn Every Four Days?

FreshCutGrass_416x200

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.

Mow High For A Good Looking Lawn

Too many homeowners don’t understand the need to mow their lawn at the proper height.  How high a lawn is mowed is dependent on the grass type.  Here is a quick reference guide:

Turfgrass Species Height in inches
Kentucky Bluegrass 2.5 to 3
Perennial Ryegrass 2.5 to 3
Fine Fescues 2.5 to 3
Tall Fescue 2.5 to 4
Bermudagrass .75 to 2(Raise in fall before 1st frost)
Centipede 1 to 1.5(Raise in fall before 1st frost)
St. Augustine 2.5 to 4
Zoysiagrass Minimum – 0.75 to 2

 

 

 

 

 

In this picture we received from Tom Addington, our franchisee for lawn care services in Springfield, MO, you can easily see why you need to mow high.  Tom services the lawn on the right and it is mowed at the correct height.  The lawn on the left is mowed too short, has lots of crabgrass and is in bad shape.  Here are the reasons why you want to mow at the correct height:

  • The leaf blade is where the plant produces food through photosynthesis.  The less leaf surface available means less food production.
  • The longer grass blade will shade the ground underneath, keeping it cooler and therefore moister for a longer time.  That means you have to water less often.
  • The longer grass blades, by shading the ground underneath, will reduce the amount of sunlight that filters through to weed seeds, keeping them from germinating.  Therefore, your lawn will have fewer weeds.
  • It is a natural balance of nature that the roots will correspond in depth to the height of the plant.  Mowing higher will allow the plant to develop longer, deeper roots.

Raise your mowing height.  Your lawn will look better if you do.

Why Isn’t My Lawn Turning Green?

One of the common questions we receive is why one person’s lawn not as green as some of the neighbors’ lawns. Not all lawns will turn green at the same time. Different cultivars within the same species of turfgrass have different green-up rates. Sodded lawns almost always green-up slower than seeded lawns. It is still early, so don’t panic if your lawn is not turning green as quickly as your neighbor’s lawn.

In cool-season turfgrass zones, it may take some time for the new grass to show through. This is especially true if snow cover was minimal and lawns were exposed to very cold temperatures without the protection of snow. If your lawn is showing a lot of brown grass, you may want to mow short the first time to remove the old growth. This will allow the new grass to show through much faster and turn green sooner. After that, raise your mower to the highest or second highest setting for the remainder of the year.

Warm season turf should be mostly green by now. Fortunately, there was not a late cold snap this year that prevented lawns from greening up. Proper mowing is also critical for warm-season turf as well. Here are the recommended mowing heights for warm-season grasses:

Bermuda .75” to 2”

Centipede 1” to 1.5”

St. Augustine 2.5” to 4”

Zoysia .75” to 2”

Tall Fescue 3” to 5”