Fairway Green, Inc
9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14 Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone: (908) 281-7888

Watering the Plants in your Landscape

Homeowners are quick to water the lawn when it begins to turn brown. What many homeowners forget to do is water their plants as well. Trees and shrubs are living things, and like all living things, they need water for survival.

Watering Methods

The big questions are, how much water do your trees and shrubs need, and what is the proper way to water them? There are many variations of ways to watering plants: using a bucket or plant waterer, with a hose, and utilizing an underground sprinkler system are a few methods.

The easiest way to water your plants is by using an underground lawn irrigation system with a timer on it. Set it and forget it, right? The only problem is that your lawn irrigation system function is to water your lawn, not your landscape plants. For example, an automated lawn irrigation system in hot and dry seasons is not going to provide enough water when watering your plants. A specialized irrigation system can be installed for your landscape plants through your irrigation company.

There are also hoses that you can buy at your local garden supply store that you can lay on the ground around the plants, they are normally referred to as soaker hoses. These hoses have tiny holes in them that allows water to seep out of it and into the soil. Additionally, external timers can be purchased at garden centers to turn the water on and off at your discretion. These hoses are handy because once you set them around the plants, all you have to do is to turn on the water. The other option with hoses is to water with a conventional hose without a nozzle attachment. With this type of hose you should place the hose at the base of each plant. With a hose running half of the maximum flow rate, trees can be watered around 30 minutes and shrubs for about five minutes. Depending on the size of your landscape, watering the plants could take quite some time.

Finally, watering with a watering can or bucket is another option. There are pros and cons to this method. Let’s start with the pros. First, you can control the amount of water that is being applied. For instance, you may know how many gallons said bucket is, and you could use that knowledge and to see how much water you are applying. Also, you can better control the rate at which the water is coming out. As for cons, there is one major one, it could be a lot of physical work! The watering can could be heavy and require multiple trips to the spigot for filling.

How much water do you need?

Now that we have watering methods out of the way, how much water is needed for your plants? The general rule is when you water shrubs, soak the soil approximately 12 inches deep. Keep in mind that the roots from the plants can extend out about 3 times the canopy spread. For example, if the canopy spread is about 2 feet, then the root spread would be about 6 feet. These root spreads are vital in taking up water. So, how do you know when you’ve reached the watering depth of 12 inches? A soil probe. This is an apparatus that you insert into the soil and it pulls out a plug. If you can get the probe 12 inches into the soil, you’re fine. As for how often, you should water the plants when the soil probe cannot get past 3-4 inches.

How often should you water your flowers and perennials? They do not need as much water as trees and shrubs because their root zone is closer to the soil. During hot, dry periods, you should water every day to where the soil is moist. These types of plants can dry out quickly if not watered frequently enough. You should also water early in the morning because it would allow the foliage of flowers to dry out. Leaving the foliage wet for too long can allow the plants to be more susceptible to diseases.

Finally, newly transplanted trees and shrubs require more water than established plants. Keep in mind that these plants are planted with a root zone that is much smaller than that of an established plant. So, for new transplants, watering as close to the base of the plants is best to allow the water to seep into the root zone. Water these plants every other day for the first couple months to promote establishment. It can take 2 to 3 years before a newly transplanted tree or shrub becomes firmly established.

Conclusion

Being vigilant with watering your plants allows you to enjoy the beauty of the landscape you are trying to create. If you are in our service area or have any questions, feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888 or visit our website at www.fairwaygreeninc.com.

 

11 Summer Lawn Care Tips

When thinking of summer we often think of relaxing and enjoying our home and lawn. The summer however, is the most stressful time of year for a lawn, it is brutally hot and very tough on your turf. Below are our 11 lawn care tips for the summer to keep your lawn healthy and green all season long.

Mow properly

Mowing at the proper height is essential. Mowing the turf high is best for the health of your grass and it is recommended to keep the grass cut at 3 – 3 ½ inches throughout the season. By keeping the grass taller, the lawn obtains more sunlight during the day which helps the grass produce food and energy. Keeping the grass tall also helps to shade the soil under the turf canopy, helping to keep the soil moist and reduce weed growth. Mowing too short weakens the turf which causes stress to the grass plant leading to drought stress, disease activity and permanent injury.

Sharpen mower blades

Have the mower blades sharpened regularly throughout the season. Keeping the blades razor sharp ensures that the grass is getting cut cleanly. When the blades are dull they rip or shred the grass blades which is harmful to the grass. This weakening of the turf can lead to drought stress, disease activity and even permanent injury. It is best to wash off your lawn equipment to avoid spreading disease to the turf the next time the lawn is mowed.

Leave grass clippings

Leave your grass clippings behind. By bagging your grass clippings, you are robbing your lawn of any extra nutrients that it can use throughout the summer months. Also leaving the clippings behind shades the soil, helping to maintain moisture.

Fertilize your lawn

Applying fertilizer in the summer gives your lawn nutrients on a regular basis and helps to keep it growing and healthy.

Properly water your lawn

It is recommended that a lawn be watered between 12 am and 6 am. An underground irrigation system should be run 1- 1 ½ hours per zone twice per week. Hose-end sprinklers should be run for 4 hours per zone once per week, both resulting in 1 inch of water on the lawn per week. Watering in the early evening (6 pm – 12 am) keeps the lawn wetter longer, which increases disease activity. Watering during the early morning hours reduces the amount of time your lawn is wet which minimizes disease activity. It also reduces water evaporation. Watering during the day (12 pm – 6 pm) is not beneficial to your lawn because most of the water being applied during the day evaporates by the sun and will not be utilized by the plant. Frequent and short watering causes a shallow root system which weakens the grass plants. Watering properly helps create a deeper, stronger root system which creates a healthier, greener lawn. Check out our blog article to learn more about watering your lawn.

Control lawn disease

If a disease outbreak does occur, a fungicide can be applied. A fungicide stops the further spreading of a disease to uninfected areas of the lawn for about 20-30 days depending on site conditions. If environmental conditions do not improve, multiple fungicides will be needed until the disease is in-active.

Control surface feeding insects

Surface feeding insects can cause substantial damage during the season. If the turf is struggling or weak, insects exploit that weakness and cause damage. Insect damage starts out looking like drought stress then gradually the turf thins and turns yellow. Insect controls should be applied when the insects are present. Additionally, insect damage can be permanent and seeding to repair the damage may be needed.

Apply a grub preventer

A grub preventer protects your lawn against grubs and the damage associated with them, which can be quite extensive. Grubs are the larva of beetles, and they chew off the roots close to the soil surface severing the plant from the roots. Signs of grub damage include; gradual thinning, yellowing, wilting and the appearance of scattered, irregular dead patches. The patches can increase in size and may join together to form larger areas of dead grass. Grub damage can be permanent and seeding to repair the damage may be needed. If interested in learning more about grubs and how to control them, check out a more indepth description here.

Control the weeds

Throughout the summer, weeds can become a major problem. They can be hand pulled or controlled using a more traditional method way, applying herbicide. Whatever method of control you choose, keeping the lawn weed free results in a healthy and great looking lawn. If you want to learn more about weed control, more information can be found here.

Clean up after your pet

Pet damage can kill off small portions of lawn wherever your pet relieves itself. Rinse the areas with water to flush out the pet’s urine in the soil. It is best to have your pet go onto a mulched area or a non-conspicuous area of the lawn. Pet damage at the end of the season needs to be repaired by seeding.

Seed the lawn

If at the end of the season your lawn is thin or bare from disease, insect, grub or pet damage, it is best to seed from the middle of August through the end of September. Seeding is the only way to reestablish grass in an area that has no grass or to fix any damage that has happened from the summer months. Make sure to purchase grass types appropriate to the location where the seeding is taking place, meaning if it is a shady area use shade tolerant grass types, if it’s in a sunny area use sun tolerant grass types.

These four steps below can help to make any seeding a successful seeding:

Step 1. Loosen the soil or add a layer of top soil to a 1 – 1 ½ inch depth.

Step 2. Apply the appropriate amount of grass seed. To find out what that may be, we recommend reading the label on the bag and consulting online research.

Step 3. Spread the grass seed and lightly mix the seed and loosened soil together (the more seed to soil contact the better the germination rate).

Step 4. Water, 20 minutes per zone twice per day for 6 – 8 weeks after seeding is completed to keep the soil moist.

Conclusion

There is nothing more important than good cultural practices. Summer lawn treatments can include proper watering, mowing, fertilizing and weed and insect control. These steps can keep your lawn healthy and beautiful all season long.

If you are looking for lawn service or have questions and are in our service area, give Fairway Green Inc. a call at 908-281-7888, we are happy to help.

Treating Summer Patch and Dollar Spot in the Summer Months

There are many diseases during the summer that can cause significant damage to lawns in New Jersey. The impact of these diseases can produce devastating effects and costly repairs to your lawn.

Summer Patch

One of the worst diseases is summer patch disease. Summer patch is a root disease that primarily affects Kentucky bluegrass; it can also cause damage to creeping red fescues and hard fescues, while tall fescues, creeping bentgrasses and perennial rye grasses are not impacted by this disease. Because this is a root disease, it is very hard to diagnose summer patch early.

Summer patch is a disease of hot weather conditions and usually the signs and symptoms present themselves between July and September. That being said, infection happens early in the spring when soil temperatures get above 65 degrees. After infection, small patches of turf form and turn a brown/orange color with green colored turf in the center. These small patches can expand to 1 – 3 feet in diameter and resembles a “frog eye” pattern. Multiple rings coalesce to form a larger blighted area.

The best way to avoid or reduce summer patch is to improve cultural practices, and/or apply fungicide applications. Most fungicide applications are for foliar diseases and require no watering. Since summer patch is a root disease, any fungicide applied needs to be watered into the root zone to be effective. Fungicides for summer patch are applied prior to seeing the effects of the disease. We at Fairway Green Inc. recommend three fungicide applications annually, once per month starting in May and ending in July as a preventative. After the disease symptoms are present, the damage has been done to the lawn and fungicides are less beneficial.

Summer patch is most severe in lawns that have poor drainage and are under drought stress. Other factors include thick thatch, soil compaction, improper mowing and improper watering. First, we recommend managing thatch and soil compaction in the lawn. Thatch is the loose organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems and roots that develop between the root zone of the grass blades and the soil surface. Ideally, this layer should be no more than 1/2 inch in thickness. An excessive layer of thatch inhibits the growth of the roots deeper into the soil, which limits access to water as well as many other nutrients. The thatch layer is also the location for the fungi to live, overwinter, grow and infect the root system in the spring. Core aeration is the most common way to help reduce the thatch layer, because it works by mechanically removing plugs of soil from the lawn. This immediately improves water and nutrient flow deeper into the soil, as well as promotes root growth for a healthier, more stress tolerant plant. Other benefits include increased oxygen levels to the soil, improved soil pore space, reduction in thatch build up, and enhanced response to fertilizers. After a core aeration is done, it would also be a great time to overseed the lawn. Core aeration gives the new seed contact with the soil which produces better germination.

Damaged areas caused from summer patch need to be seeded to repair the lawn. We recommend overseeding the lawn with perennial ryegrass. Ryegrass is not affected by summer patch disease and looks similar to Kentucky bluegrass. Rye grass helps mask the symptoms of summer patch disease in the future. To have any success at incorporating enough ryegrass types into the existing turf stand, summer patch lawns need to be core aerated and overseeded annually.

Water properly. Avoid light, frequent irrigation in the early morning while surface moisture is present. Deep, infrequent watering that occurs between 12 am – 6 am is best way and time to water a lawn. Underground irrigation systems should be run 1 – 1 ½ hours per zone every third or fourth day, while hose-end sprinklers should be run 3 – 4 hours per zone once per week. The goal is to get 1 inch of water on the lawn per week. It is also beneficial to not let your lawn become drought stressed in the first place. Keeping to a regular watering schedule has more benefits for your lawn in the long run. If you would like a more in-depth description about watering properly, read our blog article on lawn watering techniques.

Another cultural practice that helps reduce and avoid summer patch is proper mowing. Because this disease is a root disease, it favors low cut turf. When the grass is cut short it promotes a weak, shallow root system. Keep the grass cut high 3 – 3 ½ inches and only take off the top 1/3 of the grass blade at a time while mowing. Leaving the grass clippings behind also adds beneficial nutrients into the soil and will not contribute to the development of excess thatch buildup.

Finally keep the pH of the soil in a summer patch lawn slightly acidic. We recommend for lawns that have a history of summer patch disease, to be in a pH range between 5.8 – 6.0 just under the optimum range (6.3 – 6.5). When the pH is in the optimum range or higher, the effects of summer patch disease tend to be worse for a lawn. Conversely it is not recommended to let the pH of the soil get too low either. If the pH falls too low, the grass plants do not fully utilize the nutrients from fertilizers and suffer from nutrient deficiencies. To know the pH level of a lawn’s soil, a soil test needs to be performed and lime should only be considered and applied based on the results of the soil test. Check out our blog article to learn more about the pH of your lawn.

Dollar Spot

The next summer lawn disease is Dollar spot. Dollar spot is a foliar disease which is characterized by small “silver dollar-sized” spots of bleached turf. This disease can occur on any type of grass variety throughout our area annually. The affected grasses show white to straw-colored lesions that progress from the leaf tip downward or straight across the leaf blades. A brown border surrounds each lesion and appear in an hourglass shape. The individual leaf blades may contain many small lesions or one large one. Infected leaves become blighted, turning white to straw-colored as lesions expand and coalesce.

Dollar spot is most active July through August each year. Temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees and long periods of leaf wetness from dew, rain, or sprinkler irrigation favor the growth of this disease. Prolonged wet foliage is a key factor to this disease. However if conditions are favorable, activity can start early in June and continue into September. Activity can become widespread very quickly within a few days, and spots sometimes coalesce forming larger areas of bleached turf several feet in diameter. However, injury to established turf is almost never permanent.

Grass plants grow off the affected portions of the leaves allowing the disease to be mowed away. However, because dollar spot occurs in the summer when turf growth is slow, this can take weeks. Deep, infrequent watering occurring between 12am and 6am every third or fourth day is the best course of action. Underground irrigation systems should be run 1 – 1 ½ hours per zone, while hose-end sprinklers should be run 3-4 hours per zone. It is important to avoid frequent, light irrigation as this only promotes further spreading of the disease.

Maintaining an adequate nitrogen fertility in the soil is also important when treating dollar spot. Dollar spot disease favors lawns with low nitrogen, so applying a regular fertilizer throughout the season helps increase the nitrogen in the soil and reduce dollar spot activity.

Keep the grass cut high 3 – 3 ½ inches and take off 1/3 of the grass blade at a time while mowing.

Core Aerate regularly to reduce the thatch layer and reduce soil compaction. Keep the thatch layer at 1/2 inch in thickness. Further, core aeration immediately improves water and nutrient flow deeper into the soil, as well as promotes root growth for a healthier, more stress tolerant plant.

Apply a fungicide. A fungicide is meant to stop the further spreading of the disease to uninfected areas of the lawn. A fungicide gives about 20-30 days of control depending on site conditions allowing the lawn some time to grow out the disease and recover without it spreading further. If the environmental conditions remain favorable after the 20-30 day period, another fungicide may need to be applied to continue control of the disease.

Conclusion

If you are in our service area, and your lawn is showing signs of summer patch or dollar spot disease, feel free to give our office a call at 908-281-7888. If you are in our service area or a current customer, Fairway Green Inc. is happy to come out and take a look.

Controlling Summer Broadleaf Weeds

During the summer, there are many broadleaf weeds in home lawns.  Some look similar to each other and often times these weeds are confused with each other.  What are broadleaf weeds?  Broadleaf weeds are dicots characterized by their broad leaves and network of veins. Whichever weed your lawn has, broadleaf weed control can help get the results you desire.

Black Medic

The black medic weed is often confused with clover and oxalis.  While black medic, clover and oxalis all grow similarly and have common features, there are many differences that distinguish the three apart from each other.

Black medic is found in mostly dry and compacted soils, it will grow along the edges of walkways, patios, driveways, etc., or in thin areas of the lawn.  It germinates from seeds in the spring and grows throughout June, July and August.  This weed can tolerate low mowing heights because of its (low, flat, stretched out) growing pattern, and it is able to grow out to 2 feet in length.  While this weed does not fully root into the ground, it does have a very deep taproot that anchors it into the soil.  Also, black medic weeds have the ability to make their own nitrogen, which is why they can outcompete turf in low nitrogen soils.

The foliage has a trifoliate leaflet arrangement at the end of the stem, similar to clover and oxalis.  The leaves have a mid-vein with pronounced rib-like veins running off vertically with a notch at the tip of the leaf.  One distinguishing characteristic is that the leaf stem on the center leaf is slightly longer than on clover and oxalis.  Black medic also produces small yellow flowers.  Once the flowers get to maturity, they form tightly coiled black seedpods, hence the name “black medic”. Like many weeds that are problem some in the summer months, broadleaf weed control can be used to control black medic in your lawn.

 

 

White Clover

White clover begins to grow in the fall when the soil temperatures are between 50 and 60 degrees and remains present annually.  Similarly to black medic, white clover is able to tolerate low mowing heights and can produce its own nitrogen making it thrive in low nitrogen soils and therefore out compete turf.  White clover forms into a mat-like pattern, meaning the leaves are arranged in threes and occasionally fours (four leaf clover or the classic shamrock shape). Further, the leaves have a white ring towards the bottom of the leaf, which distinguishes it from black medic and oxalis.  The root system is similar to

Further, the leaves have a white ring towards the bottom of the leaf, which distinguishes it from black medic and oxalis.  The root system is similar to black medic in that it has a deep taproot and spreads by stolons.  The flowers that are produced are white with a pink hue formed into a rounded head.

Oxalis

The final summer weed to note is Oxalis.  Oxalis can go by many names, but is commonly referred to as “woodsorrel” or “sourgrass”.  Their leaves are made up of 3 heart shaped leaves that are attached to the top of a stem and the leaf color ranges from green to purple.  Additionally, the oxalis weed produces a small 5 petal yellow flower at the end of its short stem.  Under intense heat this weed’s foliage often reddens, wilts and turns downward towards the ground.  The seeds germinate when air temperatures reach 60 to 80 degrees and have a similar root system to that of clover and black medic.  The plant produces seed pods which can expel the seeds out to 10 feet in all directions.  One seed pod can produce between 10-50 seeds and one plant can produce up to 5000 seeds per year.

Broadleaf Weed Control

There is a type of preventative treatment for broadleaf weeds; however it is cost prohibited in a residential lawn setting.  To control these types of broadleaf weeds, a post-emergent herbicide is used, and there are many different herbicides to choose from.  Be sure to follow the directions provided on the label about application.

Other ways to help control broadleaf weeds is through cultural practices.  Proper watering, mowing and fertilizating helps keep the lawn vigorously growing and outcompeting the weeds.

Water deeply and infrequently to improve growth of the lawn.  To start (underground irrigation systems) water your lawn 1 hour per zone twice per week.  For hose-end sprinklers water 2 hours per zone twice per week.  Water your lawn between midnight and 6 am.  Avoid early evening watering. For a more in-depth description of watering properly, check out this blog article.

Mowing your lawn regularly at a reasonable height is another important practice. We recommend keeping the grass at 3-3 ½ inches in length and only taking 1/3 of the grass blade off at a time.  Mowing below recommended grass height aids in depleting the grass of its energy reserves, and also thins the lawn’s canopy and encourages weed growth.

Regularly fertilizing your lawn helps stimulate the growth of the grass plants and outcompete the broadleaf weeds.

Also, regularly seeding bare or thin spots in the lawn will help keep those sections thick and dense to reduce weeds.

Conclusion

Even the best manicured and professionally maintained lawns eventually get some type of weeds.  At the end of the day, all three of these weeds can be controlled with good cultural practices and herbicides.  If you are unsure on how to treat these types of weeds on your own with a herbicide, choose a professional lawn care company to help.  A professional lawn care company like Fairway Green Inc. has access to state-of-the-art tools, techniques and the best products available to produce the highest quality results.

If you are in our service area or have any questions about controlling broadleaf weeds, feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888 or visit our website at www.fairwaygreeninc.com

Brown Patch Disease and Effective Treatments

What is Brown Patch Disease?

Brown patch disease is a very destructive summer lawn disease that causes damage to lawns in the New Jersey area annually. Typically, this disease infects perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, bentgrass, and Kentucky bluegrass varieties of turf grasses. Although this disease is destructive, there are brown patch treatments that will help stop the spreading of the disease

Signs and symptoms

In the early morning hours when the lawn is wet from dew you will notice white spider web like structures on the surface of the turf. This is called mycelium, which is the growth of the fungus. The turf in the surrounding area will look sunken-in and have a “smoke ring” pattern. On the individual blades of grass, lesions can be seen clearly and appear as tan or light brown spots surrounded by a dark brown border, which creates the look of brown spots in your lawn during the summer.

Conditions

This disease lives in the thatch and soil, and can live there for many years even without desirable grass types to infect. Brown patch is prevalent when surface moisture and humidity are high with nighttime temperatures above 68 degrees and daytime temperatures at 80 degrees or above. Rainy weather and high humidity will accelerate the severity of this disease. This disease can form and spread almost overnight; luckily with brown patch treatments you can control the disease.

Treatment

When brown patch disease is active and the environmental conditions are favorable, spreading of the disease continues.  We recommend that a fungicide be applied to the lawn for brown patch treatment; a fungicide is meant to stop the further spreading of the disease to uninfected areas of the lawn. A fungicide will give about 20-30 days of control depending on site conditions. This gives the lawn some time to grow out the disease without it spreading further and for the infected blades of the turf to recover. If the environmental conditions remain favorable after the 20-30 day period, another fungicide may need to be applied to continue control of the disease.  Preventative treatments are possible but need to be applied monthly throughout the summer.

Cultural practices

The best way to prevent or reduce the spreading of brown patch disease in a lawn is to follow good cultural practices. 

Water properly.  Avoid light, frequent irrigation in the early morning while surface moisture is present.  Deep, infrequent watering that occurs between 12 am – 6 am is the best way to water a lawn properly. Underground irrigation systems should be run 1 – 1 ½ hours per zone every third or fourth day and hose-end sprinklers should be run 3 – 4 hours per zone once per week. The goal is to get 1 inch of water on the lawn per week regardless of what type of watering application is used.

Proper mowing.  Do not mow in the early morning when the lawn is still wet from dew or watering because this spreads the disease further. Mow the lawn when the surface moisture has evaporated. Keep the lawn height at 3 – 3 ½ inches in length. Mow off only the top third of the grass plant at a time. Mowing lower than the recommended height increases stress on the plant and can increase the severity of the disease. Also, we recommend removing the grass clippings after mowing until the disease is grown out, because this will help reduce further spreading. Rinse off lawn equipment after each use and keep your mower blades sharp.  Dull mower blades can rip or shred the grass blades which will cause the grass to weaken and be more susceptible to disease.

Regular fertilization. Having a regular fertilization program will help the grass be strong and healthy.  During the summer months it is best to avoid high amounts of nitrogen.  Small amounts of nitrogen are okay in the summer to help regulate color and growth of the lawn.

Core aeration. Reduce the thatch layer and soil compaction by having the lawn core aerated regularly, at a minimum of every other year. Thatch (where disease harbors) is a loose organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems and roots that develop between the root zone of the grass blades and the soil surface. Ideally, this layer should be no more than 1/2 inch in thickness. Excessive thatch can be removed mechanically by core aeration or dethatching. The core aeration process has other benefits as well, such as providing a deeper, stronger root system and better movement of water, air and nutrients into the soil.

Conclusion

Brown patch disease can be very destructive if left unchecked. Being vigilant with good cultural practices helps to prevent or reduce the effects of this disease on your lawn. If all else fails a fungicide should be applied to defend your lawn until the environmental conditions improve. With the brown patch treatments described above, the spreading of the disease can be lessened or controlled.

If you have brown patch in your lawn and are in our service area, feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888 or visit our website at www.fairwaygreeninc.com for a free estimate to go over potential brown patch treatments.

 

How to Get Rid of Nutsedge

Nutsedge has become one of the most problematic weeds in home lawns and landscape beds throughout New Jersey, but there are ways to help you get rid of nutsedge on your property.

What is Nutsedge?

Nutsedge, or sometimes called “Nutgrass”, is a perennial weed from the “sedge” family. A “sedge” is a plant that looks like grass but is not a grass at all. A nutsedge plant spreads underground through rhizomes and tubers. Nutsedge survives from one season to the next by producing nutlets, which are small underground bulb-like seeds.The roots and rhizomes can produce several hundred of these nutlets during the active growing months. A nutsedge plant also produces seeds above the soil surface, which can aid in spreading nutsedge even further. Once the region gets its first frost of the season, it dies off on its own; however, the nutlets under the soil survives over the winter and regrow the next year. They have the ability to live under the soil for multiple years at a time. Getting rid of nutgrass or nutsedge may be difficult, but there are ways to help control the weed.

What does Nutsedge look like?

A surefire sign your lawn has nutsedge is that the rapidly growing plant grows faster than the rest of the lawn. During the summer when your lawn is not growing as fast, the taller upright green plant that looks like grass is probably nutsedge. The blades of nutsedge are yellow or light green in color and have a narrow linear folded midrib and the blades have a slick, shiny or waxy appearance. The blades are arranged in groups of three which also distinguishes itself from regular grass types. Nutsedge has a triangle shaped stem that can be felt when rolled between your fingertips. When nutsedge gets tall enough it forms a cluster of seed heads that radiate out from the top of the flower’s stalk.

Nutsedge control

Nutsedge mostly grows in areas of high moisture, which normally include low lying areas of the lawn, poor drainage areas or next to a broken/leaky sprinkler head. Once it is established, it can tolerate normal levels of moisture and thrive throughout the hot dry summer months.

This most common and effective approach to getting rid of nutsedge is with a chemical application; however, there is no preventative treatment available for nutsedge. It can only be controlled by a post-emergent herbicide. The key to controlling nutsedge is to kill off the nutlet with a herbicide product, most control products take about 10-14 days to completely kill off the plant. It is difficult to get rid of nutsedge and it may require multiple treatments.

The main cause of nutsedge is poor soil that holds water for extended periods of time. If the lawn has drainage problems a professional may need to be called in to regrade the property with fresh soil and add drain pipes to redirect the water that sits for long periods of time. Core aeration is also recommended annually to help reduce the soil compaction. Once the compaction is reduced the water is able to infiltrate the soill more effectively.

Cultural controls are a good defense against nutsedge. A thick dense lawn helps to out compete nutsedge and weeds; therefore to encourage a thick lawn, fertilize regularly to promote growth.
Hand weeding is not an option, because pulling out the plants individually leaves part of the root, rhizomes, and nutlets in the ground only to regrow in a few weeks.

The final cultural practice that helps your fight against nutsedge is proper watering. Most irrigation systems are set up 20 minutes per zone every day and this only makes the nutsedge problem worse. Nutsedge loves to be in very moist soil. Watering every day in short spurts keeps your soil moist for longer periods of time causing the nutsedge plants to thrive. Proper watering for underground irrigation is 1 – 1 ½ hours per zone twice per week and for hose-end sprinklers it is 4 hours per zone once per week. Watering for longer periods of time but infrequently helps the water trickle down through the soil and promotes deep root growth.

If you have nutsedge and are located in our service area, give us a call at 908-281-7888 for a free estimate, and we can help you plan the best course of action to get rid of nutsedge in your lawn.

How to Water Your Lawn in the Summer Months

Prior to the summer heat setting in, deciding whether or not to spend the time during the season on watering your lawn is an important decision to be made. A lawn’s self-defense against summer drought is to go dormant, similar to what a lawn does over the winter. The lawn stops top growth, turns brown and as a result, puts all its energy to keeping the roots alive. If you decide that spending the time and money on keeping your lawn green and growing during the summer months, watering your lawn on a regular basis and before the summer heat hits is imperative. Once a lawn goes under drought stress and turns brown (its dormant state) it takes a longer time to “green” back up. Also, it is recommended that you do not rotate between watering and not watering. We recommend to choose one and stick with it. By rotating, the grass plant is actually using up a lot of its food reserves and weakens the turf even further.

Methods

There are many methods for maintaining a watered lawn; Mother Nature, hose-end sprinklers, and a lot of people also have underground irrigation systems that do all of the work for them. All that needs to be done is to assure that the timer is set to the appropriate day and interval. The image below demonstrates the difference between correctly watering a lawn and one that does not receive water during the hot summer months.

Your irrigation company is hired to check the functioning of the system and does some basic scheduling; however, the schedule they set up may not be what is best for your lawn. Some irrigation companies still go by the outdated recommendation of watering your lawn for 20 minutes every-other day. This scheduling produces inadequate water and promotes shallow root systems, all of which are not good for your lawn. Watering too frequently promotes disease issues as well.

To start, all lawns in our area should receive at least 1 inch of water per week. Our starting recommendation for underground irrigation systems is to run each zone for 1 hour, twice per week. Hose-end sprinklers should run for 4 hours per zone, once per week. It is important to remember that each sprinkler system is different and has varying water pressures; therefore our recommendations are a good starting point, but each system may need adjustments. Additionally, as the temperatures get higher and when/if the color of the lawn is starting to diminish, add more time by half hour increments to the watering schedule; do not add more days.

Early evening watering, between 6 pm to midnight, keeps the lawn wet for a longer period of time. This creates disease issues that can be widespread on the lawn and can cause permanent damage to the turf. The optimal time to water your lawn is between midnight and 6am. Watering your lawn during this time ensures the lawn is not wet for longer than it needs to be and by drying out early enough reduces the spread of disease and evaporation from direct sunlight.

Watering your lawn in the early morning presents a challenge for those who do not have underground irrigation and use hose-end sprinklers. Fortunately, now you can purchase battery operated timers from any home improvement store or co-op. These timers hook up directly to the spigot and turn on and off the flow of water after setting the desired times into this helpful piece of equipment.

Further, when watering your lawn be sure to check on the spray pattern no matter what type of irrigation system is used. It’s very important to make sure that the sprinkler heads are adjusted and working properly to have even coverage and that enough water is being applied to the lawn. Make sure the spray patterns are overlapping and not missing any spots. There are tests that can be performed for the amount of water that is being put out from the sprinkler heads. You can take a coffee can, any flat sided container or rain gauge, and set it out while the irrigation system runs. After the cycle is complete, see if the amount of water equals a ½ inch, and then make appropriate adjustments. To learn more about adjusting sprinkler heads for an accurate spray pattern, check out our blog. Further, modern control panels with irrigation systems have built in rain gauges and soil moisture sensors to help you water appropriately for your lawn.

Finally, if rain is expected there is no need to water your lawn in addition, but make sure to keep track of the amount of rainfall. It’s not necessary to apply more water to the lawn than is needed because too much water is also not good for the lawn. Disease issues and ponding are two common problems created by over watering your lawn. If the lawn collects too much water in poorly drained areas the water is not able to filter it down into the soil causing the grass a loss of oxygen that suffocates and kills the turf.

Conclusion

Consequently, watering your lawn has more components than most may imagine, but with some helpful tips provided above, we have confidence that everyone can achieve a green lawn through the summer months.
If you are in our service area and want more information about watering your lawn, please feel free to contact Fairway Green Inc. at 908-281-7888.

Why Weeds Grow and How to Control Them

What is a weed?

A weed is defined as any plant growing in locations that are not desired, like in a lawn or landscape.

Why do weeds grow?

Weeds are considered opportunistic and grow when conditions are favorable, such as specific temperatures, lawn moisture levels, bare or thin turf areas, and can even grow in cracks in the roads, sidewalks or driveways.  Weeds have the ability to grow anywhere there’s room. Weed seeds come in abundance and from many sources while also having the ability to lay dormant in the soil for years before germinating. When actively growing, weeds produce thousands of seeds per plant and disperse them throughout the season. Some weeds like dandelions are spread with a little help from the wind. Other sources of weeds include poor quality grass seed purchased from the store and soils brought in for new plantings.

Types of weeds

There are three different types of weeds in every lawn and landscape bed. All can be controlled; however, some are easier than others.

  1. Annual Weeds. These types of weeds spread by setting seed, germinating and growing for one season then dying off on their own at the end of their life cycle. These would include hairy bittercress, oxalis, groundsel and chickweed.
  2. Biennial Weeds. Biennial weeds have a two-year life cycle. In the first year a seed germinates and produces a leafy plant. The following year, the plant flowers to produce seeds that then restart the new life cycle of the plant seed. These would include clover, wild carrot and prickly lettuce.
  3. Perennial Weeds. These types of weeds grow for multiple seasons and spread by both setting seed and/or through their root system. These include dandelion, thistle and ground ivy.

How to kill weeds in the lawn

There are many ways to control or reduce weeds in a lawn. One option is to apply a preventative pre-emergent control; however, there is currently no single product that covers the entire spectrum of broadleaf weeds. Most commonly used are post-emergent herbicides when controlling weeds in a lawn or landscape.

Selective herbicides are another way to get rid of weeds in a lawn. The most widely used selective herbicides work by disrupting chemical processes happening inside the weeds. The herbicide mimics a natural plant chemical that stimulates uncontrollable growth. The weeds’ growth happens quicker than the plant can handle and dies.

Other selective herbicides target photosynthesis; the process in which plants produce energy/food from the sunlight it receives. By blocking the photosynthesis process, the weed basically starves to death.

There are also non-selective herbicides that target enzymes in the plant’s cells. The herbicide disrupts the sequence of chemical reactions and produces toxic compounds within the plant causing it to die off. A type of non-selective herbicide is the chemical called glyphosate, commonly known as “Round-Up.” A non-selective herbicide kills off any foliage that was sprayed. This type of product should be used with caution to reduce damaging desirable turf species and ornamental plants and grasses.

The natural way to get rid of weeds in your lawn is to hand pick them out. On smaller size lawns and mulch beds this is an effective way to control a small number of weeds. If you can pick the annual weeds before they flower and produce seed, you can aid in reducing the number of weeds that regrow. Keep in mind, weeds have roots that grow underground, hand pulling tears off the top foliage but the plant’s roots are left behind which can then regrow the plant. You need to remove all the roots to be successful and this is a difficult way to achieve it.

Cultural practices also play a key role in creating a more weed free lawn. Following these simple steps helps your lawn to be the healthiest it can be.

  1. Keep your lawn dense. By having a thick, full lawn you essentially help “crowd out” the weeds. Weeds grow when there is space for them and a thick lawn reduces available space for the weeds to grow in. Any bare or thin areas at the end of the season should be seeded in the early fall (September) of each year to thicken up the turf density.
  2. Fertilize regularly. Proper fertilization helps feed the lawn and keep it growing and healthy throughout the year.
  3. Mow regularly and keep the grass blades high. It is recommended that the grass be kept at 3 – 3 ½ inches in length. Remove the top 1/3 of the grass blade at a time per mowing. This helps shade the soil underneath the grass canopy, which in turn helps reduce weed growth. Mow when the lawn needs to be mowed. Do not mow just because the lawn gets cut every Wednesday. Also, avoid scalping of the lawn by driveways, walkways, patios etc. with a weed wacker or trimmer. If the edges get cut too short they die off, causing the grass to thin back creating bare soil and an opportunity for the weeds to grow in that area.
  4. Water properly. It is recommended a lawn with underground irrigation be watered 1- 1 ½ hours per zone twice per week. Hose-end sprinklers should be run for 4 hours per zone once per week both resulting in 1 inch of water on the lawn per week. Frequent and short watering causes a shallow root system that weakens the plants. Watering properly helps create a deeper, stronger root system in the lawn, which in turn creates a healthier lawn. To learn more about watering your lawn correctly, check out our watering blog.
  5. Core aerate every year. Core Aeration is a great process that can be done; however, it is a costly process, which is why we recommend at least every other year. Core aeration helps improve the root system of the grass plant which creates a stronger plant overall. It also helps reduce the thatch layer and keep it at an optimal level which aids in better air circulation, water and nutrient infiltration to the root zone. For more benefits on core aeration, see our core aeration blog post.
  6. Apply lime when the pH of the soil is low. Keeping the pH within the proper range (6.3 – 6.5) improves the availability of the nutrients in the soil making them more readily available to the grass plants. Here’s a great article on the benefits of applying lime to your lawn and having optimal pH levels.

Conclusion

Weeds are extremely opportunistic plants that can enter your lawn from a variety of different sources. The best way to reduce weeds is to have a healthy and dense lawn. That being said, not everyone has the perfect lawn and herbicides may be necessary to get rid of your weeds. Herbicides are a cost effective and not very labor-intensive way to keep your lawn and landscape weed free. If you are in our service area and have any questions about controlling weeds, please give our office a call.

Tick Control: Important Facts You Must Know About Ticks

It seems that ticks are getting a lot of press coverage lately due to their potential to transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Powassan.  2017 is forecasted to have higher than normal tick populations leaving many people wondering what options they have for tick control.  In this blog, we are going to provide a broad overview on ticks and discuss methods of tick control.

What is a Tick?

Ticks are parasites that attach themselves to a host and feed on the host’s blood.  They are part of the arachnid family, meaning they have eight legs, like spiders.  Ticks are vectors of several tick-borne illnesses that affect both humans and animals.

What is the Life Cycle of a Tick?

Ticks have a four-stage life cycle.  It’s important to understand the time of year each stage occurs so that optimal tick control methods can be used to target the predominate life cycle stage.

The first stage is the egg stage.  An adult female tick will typically breed while on a host animal and then drop to the ground to lay eggs.  A female tick can lay several thousand eggs at a time, which will eventually hatch into the second stage.

The second stage is the larval stage.  At this stage a tick will be very small, less than an eighth of an inch and will only have six legs.  It will look for a host, typically mice at this stage, and feed for several days before falling off and molting into the third stage.

The third stage is the nymph stage.  At this stage a nymph tick will molt from the larval stage (having six legs) to the nymph stage (having eight legs.)  After this molting occurs it will then start looking for its next meal.  A nymph tick will prefer animals like racoons and possums, but will also attached to larger hosts, such as humans, when given the opportunity.  Like the larval stage, after it has fed for a few days, it will fall off, molt and advance to the final stage of its life.

The final stage: Adult.  At this stage the adult tick will feed for the third time on even larger animals such as deer, dogs, or humans.  This is where they will feed and breed before dropping off and laying eggs to start the cycle over again.

Where do ticks live?

Ticks prefer shady and damp areas such as wooded areas, brushy fields with tall grass, ornamental landscaping beds and leaf or wood piles around your property.  Any type of tick control application should target these areas.  Ticks do not run, jump, fly, blow through the wind or travel great distances on their own.  They travel on host animals, mainly mice and small rodents.  They are very slow moving, patient and have an incredible ability to locate their hosts/prey.  They select sites that warm-blooded mammals travel regularly to provide a better opportunity for contact with prey.  Typically, on the end of low lying branches or the tips of ornamental shrubs and plants where they can grab onto an unsuspecting host walking by.

You may occasionally find ticks in your lawn as they drop off a host, but they do not prefer to be there.  Maintained lawns typically get direct sunlight to the soil, making the habitat too dry for ticks.

What happens when a tick bites me?

You will not feel the tick actually bite you.  After they bite they can secrete anesthetic properties from their saliva resulting in the person or animal not feeling it.  Depending on the species of tick, it can take anywhere from ten minutes to two hours before it feeds.  A tick will cut into the skin and then embed themselves in to the flesh. They will stay attached for several days feeding on your blood.  Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host during the feeding process.  If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host in this way.  If the tick has fed and falls off, you may notice a small red mark and it may also itch.

How do I remove a tick safely?

Ticks that are attached to the skin should be removed as soon as possible.  Follow these tips for safe removal of a tick.

  1. Take a clean set of finely tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick by its head as close to the surface of the skin as possible.
  2. Once grasped pull the tick upwards with a steady even pressure. Do not jerk or twist the tick. This can break the mouth parts off and remain in the skin.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and wash your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

What kind of diseases can ticks carry and pass on to me?

Most people are very familiar with the fact that Lyme disease can be transmitted by ticks, but over the last few months the Powassan virus has been in the spotlight.  We will start by discussing Lyme disease.

A tick must have taken an initial blood meal to transmit Lyme disease.  At least thirty-six to forty-eight hours of feeding is required to have transmitted the bacterium that causes Lyme disease to a human.  After this amount of time passes, the tick will be engorged (full of blood).  After a tick bite, monitor the area closely, if the Lyme disease was passed on from the tick to the host, a “bullseye” pattern will appear at the site of the bite.  This is a clear indication of Lyme disease and it is best to seek medical help.

Powassan virus is a rare disease that can also be transmitted by ticks.  In the past ten years, there’s been approximately 75 confirmed cases in the Northeast, three of which were in New Jersey.  The disease can cause neurological damage and even death in some cases.  Given that this year is predicted to have higher tick populations, there has been increased emphasis on tick control to reduce your chances of getting bit.

There are many other types of diseases spread by ticks.  If you are bitten by a tick, become sick soon after and you believe you or your pet has contracted an illness, you should seek professional care immediately.

Tick Control

Fairway Green Inc. offers a four-step tick control program starting in the spring and ending in the fall.  We time our tick control applications with the various stages of a tick’s life cycle to help reduce the population around your property.  The first application is a liquid treatment targeting adult ticks.  The timing of our second tick control application is in conjunction with the nymph life cycle, which is why we utilize a granular application that targets both adults and nymphs.  The third treatment is a liquid treatment that covers low lying nymphs as well as adults.  The last tick control treatment in the fall is also liquid and targets adult ticks, which is the fourth and final life stage in a tick’s life cycle.

In conjunction with regular tick control applications from a professional lawn or tree care company there are several other steps you can take in your fight against ticks.  Keep your family pets tick free with the use of tick control collars, dips or powders.  Check your animals regularly and remove any ticks you may find.  Check children and yourself thoroughly after outdoor activities.  You can also contact your local health department or a cooperative extension service in your county for more information on ticks and any health hazards associated with them.

Conclusion

Tick populations are predicted to be higher than normal this year so be sure to monitor regularly, especially if you were outside in favorable tick habitat.  If you’re interested in tick control and are in our service area, please feel free to call us at 908-281-7888 for more information.

Mulching Your Landscape

To mulch or not to mulch: that is the question.  Simply put, mulching your landscape is a good thing.  But…having too much of a good thing (mulch) can be bad.

Mulching Recommendations

There are a few common reasons we mulch our landscape beds, it makes our yard look great, it helps reduce weeds, and proper mulching can benefit landscape plants.  Regardless of the reason, you want to follow a few recommendations to avoid negative impacts on your landscape plants.  In general, mulch should be maintained at a depth of 3 inches.  If you already exceed 3 inches and are planning to add another layer this year, we recommend removing some of the existing mulch before adding another layer to help maintain the 3-inch depth level.  Avoid piling mulch high on plant trunks and stems, keep the mulch away from the bases and be sure the root flare is visible.  Piling mulch too high on plants is a very common mistake that has serious consequences to the health of your plants.  We discuss this in more detail later in the blog.

Types of Mulch

There are two types of mulch for landscapes.  Organic and inorganic.  Organic mulch is what we are all probably used to seeing landscape professionals apply to the landscape beds.  You know, the brown, black, and sometimes red stuff.  These types of mulch are basically ground up trees and shrubs and other organic matter. Some people may elect to use chopped up leaves or grass from the lawn mower, and others may use wood chips. The inorganic mulch would be plastic or rubber mulch, stones and rocks, etc.

Benefits of Mulching your Landscape Beds

There are many benefits to having organic mulch applied to your landscape.  One benefit is keeping the weeds in the beds to a minimum.  However, the key here is to be sure that the areas being mulched are free of weeds before applying, otherwise they will keep growing until they poke through.  You may have a nicely mulched landscape today, and if the weeds were not taken care of prior to the installation, next week you will have beds dotted with weeds.  The weeds will likely be more noticeable coming up through the new mulch so you may feel like you wasted your money.  To help reduce weeds, you can apply a pre-emergent control to your landscape beds, learn more by following this link to our landscape bed pre-emergent blog.

Another benefit is mulch helps retain moisture.  This is especially helpful if you do not have irrigation in your landscape beds.  If the beds were bare and it rained, the water would penetrate the ground very quickly or run off before the ground can take it in.  Mulch absorbs that moisture and slowly seeps into the soil, allowing the plants to take it in.  It acts kind of like a sponge.  In addition, to retaining moisture, mulch also helps regulate temperature in the summer and winter.

One more benefit to mulching your landscape is that when the mulch breaks down, it is putting nutrient-rich organic matter back into the soil.  This is especially true if you elect to use chopped up leaves for mulch.  Leaves contain natural nitrogen and other beneficial nutrients that can be recycled back into the soil.

Finally, a freshly mulched landscape is very appealing to look at.  It is like laying down new carpeting or a floor.  If you’re looking to sell your home, it might not be a bad idea to put down a fresh layer of mulch.  Same thing if you’re having a graduation party, wedding, or a big birthday party.

Problems with Over-Mulching

Now, let’s talk about what NOT to do when mulching your landscape beds.  The first would be what the industry calls ‘volcano mulching’.  This is when mulch is piled so high and tight up against a tree that it looks like a volcano.  Literally.  This is very bad for the tree!

 

Trees exchange oxygen at the base, and if the mulch is piled too high, the tree will suffocate.  You may not see results from that suffocation early, but over the years the tree will slowly decline.  At that point, the damage is done.  Trees have a natural flare at the bottom, almost resembling a bell-bottom.  This is that area that needs to be exposed.  If your tree looks like a telephone pole sticking out of the ground, you have too much mulch (see photo above).  In addition to the lack of oxygen exchanged, mulch piled high on tree bark can also promote disease and cause the bark to rot.  For more information on the potential harms of over-mulching, here is a link to an article by Rutgers University titled Problems with Over-Mulching Trees and Shrubs.

The same rule of thumb applies to woody shrubs, such as hollies, boxwoods, rhododendrons, and laurels.  Woody plants have a single stem that comes out of the ground and then it branches out to its form.  That stem needs to be visible.  In other words, if you cannot see the stem or if some of the lower branches are covered, you might have too much mulch.  Not only will it likely suffocate the plants, but the continued moisture that is on the bark will cause it to rot, and possibly girdle it and die.

Conclusion

Mulch is a beautiful thing when applied correctly but can also kill your plants when done the wrong way.  If you have any questions about mulching your landscape, please feel free to contact us if you live in our service area.

9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 United States | (908) 281-7888
Phone: (908) 281-7888