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Dollar Spot

Dollar Spot

Dollar Spot is a common disease deriving its name from the size and shape the infection that centers on short-cut bent grass. On longer-cut turf grass, infected centers of completely killed turf grass may be several inches in diameter.

Viewed from a distance, Dollar Spot resembles various other turf problems, especially on higher-cut grass species. Closer inspection, however, reveals the characteristic hourglass symptoms on the individual blades of grass. Regardless of grass variety or species, the disease is first evident as yellow or yellow-green blotches. These will soon appear water-soaked, and within 24 hours the blotches will bleach to a light-tan or straw color. In the early morning, a white cobwebby growth of fungal thread is often visible in the infected center. Overall, the most reliable symptom for diagnosis includes the presence of constricted straw-colored areas with reddish-brown margins on the leaf blade.

Avoid mowing wet turfgrass, which only spreads the fungus pathogen, creating extensive damage by smearing spores throughout your lawn and opening its vascular system to further disease that can damage the health of your lawn.

Avoid watering in the evening or at night.

Anthracnose

Anthracnose

Anthracnose occurs both as a foliar blight and a rot of the crown, stem base, and roots. Anthracnose typically occurs in the mid-summer, attacking the leaves and stems of most cool-season turfgrass species. Anthracnose basal rot can occur during the spring, summer, and fall, developing in the crowns, stem bases and roots.

Anthracnose appears in irregular yellow or bronze patches of diseased turf. Symptoms on individual plants first appear as yellow or red lesions on the oldest leaves, and then progress to blight the younger leaves and shoots. These lesions can enlarge and merge to kill the entire leaf blade. The fungi commonly infect grass blades from the tip down, especially infecting grass that has been freshly mowed. During cool, wet periods- or during hot weather on closely cut lawns- water-soaked lesions will rot the stems. The lesions will become bleached, girdling the tiller, scattering individual or small patches of plants to turn yellow and die. This can especially occur during warm to hot weather, especially on dry soil when the turf and atmosphere are wet or very humid.

Brown Patch

Brown Patch

Brown patch appears as irregularly shaped enlarging patches of blighted turf grass, a few inches to 2 feet in diameter. At first, it's purplish-gray, but then fades to light brown as the withered leaves of your lawn dry out and die. During periods of warm, humid weather, dark purplish rings bordering the diseased area can be seen early in the morning.

The fungus begins to be active when the average daily air temperature is 73°F. When temperatures reach 80° to 85°F, particularly in a moisture-saturated atmosphere, Brown Patch symptoms can become quite severe within hours.

The disease may even occur under conditions of low soil-moisture content, but a moisture-saturated atmosphere will cause a Brown Patch outbreak in epidemic proportions, threatening large areas of your lawn. On leaves that are already infected, the disease will have an active growth in the 80° to 85° temperature range.

Copper Spot

Copper Spot

This fungus was initially reported as a disease of sorghum, but has since been found to also cause a problem on bent grasses. It is relatively rare in Pennsylvania.

On the leaves of turf grass plants, the disease first appears as small reddish lesions, which soon enlarge and becomes dark red. Blighting of the entire leaf soon results as these lesions merge.

The disease, seen from a distance, first appears as a copper-colored patch, 1 to 3 inches in diameter. Intensity of this coloration increases during wet weather, due to the pink spore masses which are produced. Cooper spot is often confused with dollar spot; the latter has a bleached, straw-colored appearance. Both diseases may occur simultaneously in the same stand of turf grass.

Cooper spot is primarily a warm, wet, weather disease; active growth begins when temperatures reach the 70 to 75 range. The fungus spores are spread by splashing water, germinate rapidly, and cause new leaf lesions to appear within a relatively short period of time.

Fairy Rings

Fairy Rings

Myths and superstitions about the origins of fairy rings have persisted for centuries. In Holland, the rings mark places where the devil churns his butter. In France, entrance into a fairy ring might mean an encounter with a giant toad. In England, building a house on land scattered with fairy rings was considered a good omen.

But despite their charming mythology, they will litter your lawn. Many soil-inhabiting fungi can cause fairy rings. Although the rings vary in size and shape, they are usually distinct circles or semi-circles of turf grass that are darker green and faster growing than the surrounding grass. These stimulated grass bands may range from 4 to 12 inches wide, with a diameter of 3 to 200 feet. Characteristically, mushrooms or toadstools can appear in the rings in later summer during periods of high soil moisture.

Fairy rings are classified in three main types. Some fairy rings are detected only by the presence of the ring of mushrooms or puffballs. Another type of ring exists where the grass is stimulated by the release of methane gas created by the decomposition of organic matter within the soil. The most devastating type of fairy rings kill the turf, leaving a circle of expose soil with stimulated grass sprouting on the inside and outside margins.

Gray Snow Mold

Gray Snow Mold

This disease usually first appears when snow thaws in the spring, commonly found in lawn areas of greatest snow accumulation. The most noticeable symptoms include bleached, white crusted areas of grass, leaving the blades dead, bleached and matted together. These bleached areas can range in size from several inches to several feet in diameter.

The chief diagnostic feature of gray snow mold is grass stained with hard, dark-brown to light-brown pinhead-sized fungus bodies. These are embedded in the leaves and crowns of infected grass plants as patches of disease, threatening the health of your lawn. In most cases the fungus does not kill the grass or the roots, but it causes death to the grass blades and weakens the plant structure making your lawn susceptible to problems later in the year.

The fungus will survive in the thatch, clippings and crown area of the turf until the following winter. Under the cover of snow, these bodies germinate, growing a fungus that induces infection. Gray Snow Mold seldom occurs, except under snow cover when the soil is not frozen. Of course, this is typical in areas where snow falls on unfrozen soil and melts gradually, trickling water down the turf, feeding diseases and fungi that will litter the blades of your grass.

Mowing

Mowing

Mowing at a proper height is essential to quality lawn treatment. Mow high, at a height of 3" or greater. Keeping the lawn cut tall encourages a deep hardy root system, maximizing its health and shine. Taller grass shades the soil from ugly weed germination and drying out. Mow at a lush, thick length. Your lawn will be healthier for it.

Improper mowing, at too short a height, is the single biggest cause of unsatisfactory lawn service. Mowing at the right height adds to the health and appearance of your lawn, maximizing your satisfaction with your lawn treatment. Mow too short, and your lawn will suffer. Cut too close to the roots, and you'll be unhappy with ours or anyone else's lawn service. Cut at a healthy height, and you'll enjoy a vibrant, healthy lawn, perfect for relaxing summer evenings with the family.

Mow at the highest height setting possible throughout the entire growing season. Only during the last few mowings of the season (late October and early November) is it acceptable to lower the mowing height to 1 ½.". Give your lawn the height it needs to be healthy. Let it grow thick and vibrant, at a height that will add lush to your lawn.

Leaf Spot

Leaf Spot

Leaf spots are circular to elongate, straw-colored, and surrounded by reddish-brown borders. During long periods of wet weather, many of the spots may be surrounded by a margin of water-soaked tissue.

Severe infection often causes the leaves to wither. A diseased stand of bent grass may give a drought- injured appearance, even though soil moisture is adequate.

Red Leaf Spot is a warm, wet weather disease, usually first seen in late May or early June and reaching it speak in late July and August. The leaf blighting and "droughtstricken" phase of the disease usually occurs during this period, particularly after longs periods of wet weather.

On bent grass, the disease is first seen as smoky-blue, irregularly shaped turf areas, varying from 1 to 4 feet in diameter. Soon after, the grass plants yellow and die. Finally, these areas appear water-soaked and matted down. This disease may appear in the spring on home lawns as well as on bent grass greens and fairways.

On the leaves, the first symptoms are minute yellow flecks, which soon progress to irregularly shaped, water-soaked blotches.

Moss

Moss

Although it may seem odd to find a discussion of mosses included with turf grass diseases, it is true that mosses can be a turf problem and they do spread by means of spores. Thus, there is logic to this placement. Mosses are plants that are usually only a few inches tall, but may reach a height of two feet. Most of them possess leaves and stems, although some are scale-like and result only in flat growth on rocks or trees. Unlike the fungi, all mosses contain chlorophyll and produce their own food through photosynthesis. There are three general types of mosses: the true mosses (Musci), the liverworts (Hepaticae) and the hornworts (Anthocertae).

The liverworts were so-named because they were believed to be beneficial for liver malfunctions. However, the liverworts have no known medicinal value and no mosses have any such value. As a matter of fact, there are probably very few groups of plants that have a lower economic value than the mosses. Only the sphagnum peat mosses show any significant worth. Although mosses grow in nearly every kind of agronomic circumstance, most of the time that they constitute a problem in turf they are found in moist, heavily shaded situations. Furthermore, any additional pressure that makes it difficult for grass to be the major species encourages takeover by moss.

A lack of proper fertilization practices is a good example. The result of damage by moss is very simply displacement of turf. It is usually very difficult to get turf established in areas that have been infested with moss. This is due to the fact that the environmental conditions are more favorable to moss than to turf.

 

Mole Maintenance

Mole Maintenance

Moles can tear up the surface of your lawn with their tunnels. They dig through the soil of your lawn, making tunnels and forming mounds as they look for food. Moles can cause extensive damage to your lawn, ruining all you've invested into your lawn service. If not handled properly, moles can quickly colonize across your lawn, spreading their devastation through adjacent residential properties.

Trapping is the most effective method for mole control. You'll have the greatest trapping success in the spring and fall, especially after a good rain. Overwatering your lawn can bring the insects and moles closer to the ground surface, making the tunnels more visible and easy to spot. Harpoon, scissor-jaw and chocker loop traps are especially effective.

A mole problem should be handled quickly. A professional critter control company can stop the problem before it gets out of hand, ruining the smooth beauty of your lawn.

Pink Snow Mold

Pink Snow Mold

This disease occurs when temperatures are in the 40 to 50 F range. Pink fungus spores accumulate on the leaves of infected grass plants under snow cover. Individual grass blades may seem nearly red or sickly pink. Another diagnostic feature is the absence of the pinhead brown sclerotia, common with Gray Snow Mold. It usually attacks only the leaves. However, under conditions ideal for disease development, the fungus can kill the crowns and roots as well.

Pink Snow Mold is a much more severe disease than Gray Snow Mold, especially when cold wet weather in the fall results in the development of the disease prior to snow cover. The fungus will continue its activity from winter into spring. Under these conditions, damage to the turf is likely to be severe and long-lasting. Snow mold damaged areas are prone to later growing season disease issues, threatening your lawn's health later in the season.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildews generally present more serious problems to cereals and forage grasses than turf grass. At times, however, powdery mildew can damage your turfs density and aesthetic beauty, especially on shaded areas of susceptible Merion Kentucky bluegrass.

The disease appears first as small, superficial patches of ugly white to gray-white fungus growth on the leaves and sheaths. The growth occurs mainly on the upper surface of the leaf, but it may eventually engulf the entire leaf. Once the fungus penetrates your grass, a yellow lesion develops, later turning tan or brown as the vitality of your lawn is killed. In advance stages, older, lower leaves are often completely covered by mildew. In severely infected areas, the turf is a dull, pale white, as if dusted with lime.

Powdery mildew prefers cool, humid, cloudy weather, with temperatures about 65 F. The mildew occurs in severe form during the late fall and early spring.

Watering

Watering

Turfgrass is a living breathing plant that contains 93% water by weight. Your lawn needs at least one inch of water per week from a combination of rain and sprinkling. When rainfall fails to meet the one inch requirement, you can determine how long to run your sprinkler by placing a tin can underneath your sprinkling pattern and time how long it takes to fill the can a depth of one inch. You can use this measurement, or fraction thereof, to deliver the desired amount each time you water. Proper watering will give your lawn that lush shine you desire, even in the driest, hottest months of the summer.

Soak Your Lawn!

Single, deep waterings in early summer will stimulate the growth of your lawn, allowing for more time between waterings. Water deeply versus too ofter.

Early Morning Timing

Watering after sundown can damage your lawn, as the evening's moist environment and lack of light provide ideal conditions for the growth of lawn diseases (fungus) that can threaten your lawn treatment. It's best to water early in the morning.

Note: Never set your 'Sprinkler System' to automatically turn on. Run your system as needed and 'Soak' the lawn deeply.

Sprinkler Overlap

You should check your sprinklers and irrigation systems regularly to make sure all lawn areas are getting an equal amount of water. The most important technique to remember is to overlap. At each new position, the spray should reach to the previous position. Overlapping ensures that all of your lawn is getting a healthy amount of water. Proper watering techniques will bring out the lushness of your lawn and prevent ugly 'Dry Spots' no matter the weather.

If you follow our advice and you're still not perfectly happy with the vibrancy of your lawn, call us. We'll keep working with you until you are satisfied and content with your quality lawn, or your last treatment will be free. Guaranteed.

Edging

Use your power edger or weed wacker primarily around sidewalks and footpaths. When you edge your lawn, you have two options for which tool to use: You can use an electric or gas-powered edging tool, or you can use a manual edging tool. (We'll explain about the manual edging tool later.) Because you don't have the space to dig out extra mulch or dirt around sidewalks and footpaths, it's best to use a power edger in these situations. Power edgers will make short work of these borders.

  • Which should power edging tool you get? Opt for a power edger that is cheap, light, and straight. You can get power edgers relatively inexpensively, and you should — because who wants to spend a bunch of money on an edger? Opt for a light edger because you could spend longer amounts of time holding it up. And finally, unless you feel you need the "ergonomic" option, go for an edger with a straight body; it'll be easier to define a straight edge with one of these tools.
Use your power edger along straight lines and right angles. A power edger is much more efficient than a manual edger, but that doesn't mean that it always gets the job done better. A power edger is great around straight lines, or lines where a raised footpath can guide you. A power edger is not so great around lines where the boundaries aren't so well defined; in these areas, where you want the edge to flow, it's best to use a manual edging tool if you can afford to.
 
Walk holding the edging tool completely level and rigid. You want your body to move, not your arms. So turn the edging tool on, give it a little bit of power, and start slowly walking with the tool, holding your arms steady. Moving your body instead of your arms will ultimately make the cut on the grass much straighter.
 
If you can walk on the sidewalk or footpath as you edge. Instead of walking on the grass itself when you edge, walk on the sidewalk or footpath. Here's why. When you hold the edger out with your arms, your body naturally wants to bring your arms back closer to your body. If this happens when you're standing on the lawn itself, you start cutting into the lawn instead of merely lopping off the farthest edge. Over time, you'll find yourself redefining the edge each time (farther into your lawn) instead of using the same edge as a guide.
  • If you're standing on the sidewalk while edging, however, your body's impulse to bring in your arms as you move along the border means much less damage, because you'll be edging air when your body autocorrects. This is an easy problem to fix because it's not a problem at all.

Edge slowly but surely, taking time so that you don't have to rehash the same territory too many times. Power edgers are, well, powerful, so it's tempting to blaze through your lawn in record time. Too often, however, lazy execution produces lazy results. Take your time when you edge using a power tool. You'll find that you won't have to re-edge the same spot over and over again to achieve a clean look. Re-edging the same spot over and over again is likely to lead to a sloppy look.

Get familiar with your half-moon manual edging tool. Your half-moon edger has a large blade in the shape of a half moon with an overhanging lip in the middle of the circle. This lip hits against soil at a uniform level every time you drive the half-moon into the ground, producing an even depth with each edge.
  • Simply drive the edging tool into the ground as you would a shovel, down until the lip hits soil, and then pull the handle back gently to dig soil and define your edge. Once you've defined your edges, take a shovel and shovel up any loose soil or mulch into a wheelbarrow.
  • When using a manual edging tool, drive the half-moon into the ground completely straight (vertically), not at an angle. Not only will this help define your edge more clearly, but it will also inhibit the growth of rhizomes from growing into the edges of your lawn.
  • Maintain your edging tool. Clean off any dirt or debris after each use. File away the edges of the half moon periodically to keep them sharp. There's nothing better than a sharp tool, and nothing worse than a dull one.

Use your manual edging tool to create fluid or flowing edges. Against the slight curve of a planting bed, the edging tool works fantastically. Simply spray paint your curved edge or lay down a garden hose onto the edge you want to create, and edge away. Of course, if you decide to use a garden hose as your guide, be extremely careful not to accidentally cut into it with your edging tool.

Be careful of electrical wires, plumbing pipes, and other subterranean hazards as you edge. Although they may be covered with PVC pipe that's difficult to cut into with an edger, it's better to be safe than sorry. Talk to your utilities company before edging out any large stretch of lawn and remember to edge gingerly.

Edge around flower beds and planters with a manual edge. Flower beds and planters are perfect for using a manual edge because you can afford to take away a little soil or mulch when you edge. The process is the same. Just remember not to take away too much lawn when you edge; try to achieve the balance of taking away just enough to clearly define the edge but not so much that you've significantly reduced your lawn space.

Decide how you want to tackle trees and shrubs. The lawn around trees and shrubs can be edged either with a power edger or a half-moon. When using a half-moon, however, be especially careful of root growth. If the tree or shrub is older or has an extensive root system, consider edging with a power edger instead of actually digging into the soil and potentially cutting up roots.

Pests

Pests

We can help identify if you need our assistance. All of the recommendations to this point in the book have been designed to make your lawn healthy enough to resist pests naturally. Each practice you follow will reduce the amount of pesticides that might be necessary as a last resort.

Before resorting to pesticide use, be sure the problem is not simply a function of poor soil conditions, tree roots, bad drainage, foot traffic shade or other causes that can be corrected in other ways.

Basic Principles:

When you've determined that pesticides are required, you still can significantly reduce their environmental impact by following these basic rules:

1. Accurately identify the weed, insect, or disease condition. If in doubt, make a sketch or take a sample to show your garden store salesperson or county extension office.

2. Purchase the right product for the problem you've identified. Avoid "all purpose" products that contain ingredients your lawn and the environment do not need.

3. Use only commercially packaged branded products. By law, all commercial pesticides have to be tested and EPA registered.

4. Use only the amounts specified in the directions. Exceeding label amounts in an attempt to increase your success hurts your lawn and the environment, wastes money, and is against the law.

5. Target the applications only to the areas that require them.

6. Keep notes on when and where problems recur, so that preventive measures can be applied at the ideal time, and only where needed.

Identifying Pests:

The presence of weeds is obvious, and the varieties are easily identified. Insects and animals, on the other hand, require more careful observation and identification. The following is a list of common pests and their observable symptoms:

Armyworms

Armyworms have plump segmented bodies that range from ¾ to 1 ½ inches. Their color is dull and varies from greenish – gray to brown. A yellowish – white mid-strip runs the length of its back and ends in an inverted "v" on the head. Three light-colored longitudinal stripes run along the length of each side. The Armyworm had three pairs of prominent legs and additional prolegs or unjointed projections.

The adult moth is dull brown and had a wing span of nearly 1 ½ inches. Eggs are laid on grass, shrubs and other low-growing plants. Larvae hatch in about a week and start eating immediately. Thousand of Armyworms may be produced within small areas. Damage first occurs in bright, warm sunlight. As the name implies, Armyworms move in "hordes" destroying most vegetation in their path. Attacks by Armyworms leaves the turf ragged and bare in a very short time.

Armyworms are unpredictable. One year they may go unnoticed, while the following year they might do extensive damage. However, when they do appear it is usually in great numbers.

Japanese Beetle

The beetles appear in June and are abundant during July and August. They feed on the fruit, blossoms, and foliage of fruit trees, shade trees, and ornamentals. The beetles are about ½ inch long with metallic green bodies, coppery-brown wing covers, and 6 small patches of white hairs along the sides and back of the body. The Japanese beetle has a complete generation each year and spends about 10 months of the year in the soil as a grub.

The adult beetles start emerging from the soil during the last week of June and increases in numbers until they reach their peak in July. Emergence drops off sharply about mid-August, but a few beetles may still be around through September.

The female beetles deposit their eggs in moist soil. The eggs need ample moisture to promote hatching. Dry soil conditions during July and early August are not attractive to the females for egg deposition and hinder hatching of the eggs. Eggs normnewally hatch in about 10 days.

The tiny grubs start feeding on humus immediately. As they increase in size, they move close to the soil surface and start feeding on grass roots. They grow rapidly and will be about 1 inch long by late September. Most injury occurs during the fall and early spring as the mature grubs feed near the surface. The Japanese beetle grub can be distinguished from other grubs by the arrangement of hairs on the raster.

When the soil temperature starts to drop in the fall, they move down 6 to 12 inches in the soil where they over winter. In April, they move back up to the root zone and continue feeding. In late May and June, they change to the pupal stage and start emerging as adult beetles in late June.

Symptoms of grass damaged by grubs are dead, brown patches which can usually be rolled back like a carpet. The roots are severed by the grubs and there is nothing to anchor the turf to the soil. Such areas are often spongy when walked on. Damaged areas may be noticeable anytime from Spring until the grass browns off for Winter.

Those aren't 'Dragon Flies' … They're Crane Flies!

Yuck… what is that big bug? Well, it's not a dragon fly or a mosquito, it's a Crane Fly.

Crane Flies can either lay their eggs in water or in the soil. The females tend to find areas for their eggs near wet or moist areas, such as mud, wet moss, or under dead leaves. The female will place her abdomen just below the water's surface and the eggs sink to the bottom. Other females will place their abdomens right below the surface of the soil to lay their eggs.

From an egg form they become larvae (worm-like) that can be brownish, grayish, or even cream colored and their length varies from ½" to 3" inches. During the larvae stage Crane Flies are also known as "leatherjackets". The larvae stage is where the Crane Fly does most of its damage by eating on the roots and crowns of turfgrass. The damage will become noticeable during March and April. It can also be damaging to one's lawn if the larvae are present, because the moles and skunks will tear up a lawn looking to eat the larvae.

Next is the pupae stage what is also known as the "resting period". This is when the larvae hatch from the "leatherjackets" and transform into the Crane Fly. This resting period occurs during the winter months so come Spring, the Crane Fly is out and flying again.

The adult Crane Fly abdomen is about 2 ½" inches long and the wing span is about 3" inches wide. The adults' main purpose is to mate and lay eggs. The adults only live a few days and the females will lay their eggs within 3 to 17 days. The adults are basically harmless; they don't eat, bite or sting. The adults are essentially just a huge nuisance.

If you would like to add this protective service to your lawn service treatments, please contact our office today.

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