10810 Southern Loop Blvd. Pineville, NC 28134
Mon-Sat: 08:00AM - 6:00PM
06 Aug 2019

Disease Update

The summer of 2019 has seen an explosion in disease activity on area lawns. The high temps and high humidity along with heavy downpours have created the perfect environment for lawn fungus development.

The worst hit grasses this summer are the hybrid Bermudas. First seen in 2017,  a lawn disease called Bipolaris is doing extensive damage to area residential lawns and golf courses. It was not until we sent samples to NC State that we got a definitive identification. The initial infection looks a lot like Dollar Spot fungus with small brown circles. Examination under magnification does not show the hour glass shaped lesion on the leaf associated with Dollar Spot, but shows tan leaf spot lesions very similar to Helmenthasporium on Blue Grass. The initial browning occurs after mowing. It is especially bad when the grass is long and cut down short. Based on our research, there are contributing factors. The lawns infected the worst have low PH (acidic soil). Lawns with a PH of 6.0 or lower are the hardest hit. Lawns with a thatch layer greater than 1/2″ will see extensive damage as the fungal spores reside, over-winter and reproduce in the thatch layer. The third common denominator is low available Potassium in the soil. The shorter mown Bermudas (1″) resist the disease better because the surface soil can dry out quicker.

NC State, Clemson and Georgia Have given recommendations on fungicide treatment for this disease. We have tried every combination of the recommended products over the last two summers, We are getting acceptable results with a systemic/contact combo treatment. Once applied the spread of the disease stops and allows the damaged turf to fill in. It takes two treatments 21 days apart for efficacy. The results are not great and the treatments are very expensive. Over fertilizing with quick release Nitrogen to stimulate growth is the worst thing you can do for this disease. Controlled release, organic based fertilizer high in Potassium is what is required.

We recommend an aggressive lime treatment plan to get the soil PH up quickly. Aerate the Bermuda twice per year if you can and address the thatch layer with verti-cutting. Years ago (many) it was legal to burn off your Bermuda lawn in the spring. It eliminated thatch, disease spores and added carbon to the soil. Please cut the lawn at the proper frequency and height. If you have the lawn cut every other week versus weekly your lawn will be infected under current weather conditions. Once this pathogen infects a Bermuda lawn, we will fight it basically forever.

18 Apr 2019

POAA Gone WILD

Annual Bluegrass (poa annua) is a winter annual grassy weed found from Florida to New England and west to California. It is considered a weed in Charlotte’s Fescue and Bermuda lawns, but is actually planted on some lawns and golf courses in other parts of the country.. In our area PoaA germinates in early November, matures over the winter, sets seed and dies in the spring. Right now the weed is very noticeable with it’s white seed heads and bunch type growth. This weed grows everywhere in shade and sun. You’ll see it on roadsides, open fields, golf courses and residential lawns. Once we hit the 80 degree mark on a consistent basis, the PoaA plants will begin to turn brown and die.

The PoaA has gone absolutely crazy this spring. Weather conditions have been perfect for this weed invasion. We just went through the wettest fall and winter on record. This Spring has also seen above average precipitation. The Winter was relatively mild and recent cool nights have kept the PoaA growing and seeding rapidly. There is no viable way to spray out PoaA in Fescue lawns. Several Ag Companies have new products claiming control in Fescue. We have field tested all of the newer products and saw less than acceptable results. These products are very expensive and have to be applied 3 times within 30 days at costs exceeding $200 per acre. We can not justify asking our customers to spend several hundred dollars on a treatment program for PoaA with no guarantee for control.

The vast majority of the PoaA seed comes from the soil itself. Seeds can lay dormant in the soil for years and are brought to the surface through aeration and heavy rainfall. Birds, insects, wind and rain run-off can spread seeds from lawn to lawn. Unless you use blue tag certified, 0% weed content grass seed in the fall you run the risk of spreading the problem.

Right now the best thing you can do to mitigate the issue in Fescue lawns is to mow it at the highest setting (3 3/4-4 inches.). Cutting the grass short will increase PoaA seed production and force the plant to thicken. There are a couple of viable options to alleviate the PoaA problem next spring. Early aeration/seeding (Aug-Sep) and late fall pre-emergent is one option. Foregoing aeration and just seeding the lawn is another option that worked for me.

04 Oct 2018

Weed Control In The Fall

When battling weeds, you must know thy enemy. Weeds are generally defined as any unwanted plant growing in the lawn or landscape. Weeds are categorized first as broadleaf or grassy. Next one must determine if it’s an annual or perennial. The next step in classification is to whether the weed is a summer or winter cycle. The weed elimination plan depends on what we are dealing with.

Perennial Grassy Weeds- these are the most difficult type of weeds to get a handle on. Dallisgrass, orchardgrass , poa trivialis, nutsedge, and bahaia are the ones we face here in the Piedmont area of North and South Carolina.

Annual Weeds- These weeds are relatively easy to control before they germinate with a pre-emergent program. Crabgrass, lespedeza, spurge, poa annua and henbit are quite common in Fescue and Bermuda turf

The biggest issues many face right now are the annual grassy (crabgrass) and annual broadleaf weeds (spurge/lespedeza). These weeds germinate in the spring, mature over the summer, sets seed and dies in the fall. Lawns that did not receive pre-emergent treatments in the spring, are right now loaded with annual weeds. I saw the first annual weed germination in late March this year. So unless that first pre-emergent was applied before that date, expect to see issues now. In this case an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Once we hit Mid September, all of the plants energy is geared towards seed production because of its annual nature. The weeds will not absorb any herbicide. They can not be effectively controlled. These weeds are basically dying on their own at this time of year. The cooler it gets at night, the quicker they die. There is absolutely no sense in even trying to use herbicide now.

For Fescue lawns requiring seeding this fall all you need to do is “scalp” the lawn down with the mower on the lowest setting. This will effectively stop any re-growth and allow for good seeding results.

19 Jun 2018

June Agronomic Update

WINTER INJURY UPDATE

Now that warm season turf (Bermuda/Zoysia) are fully out of dormancy, please refer back to my January update. The harsh winter conditions I described in January did have a major impact on lawns. We are seeing a host of issues. Winter kill on the fine leafed Zoysia varieties was widespread. There are large areas of dead turf. This damage is permanent. Bermuda turf was affected with winter injury but the damage was not as extensive. Elevated areas and low spots were hit the hardest. We are also seeing extensive spring dead spot in many Bermuda lawns. Recommended actions for remediation would be a double pass aeration with Lime, heavy fertility and fall fungicides. Damaged areas in Zoysia will need to be re-sodded.

FUNGUS AMONG US

Early May brought us hot, dry weather conditions. Later in May and into early June we saw warm, humid weather with near daily rainfall. My rain gauge recorded 5.6″ of rain in a 12 day span. These conditions set up a perfect environment for fungus activity on Fescue and Bermuda lawns. Brown patch fungus on Fescue turf started in earnest around May 21st and has continued into the 3rd week of June. It is very early in the season to see this much brown patch. We strongly recommend a fungicide program to stop the spread and help with recovery. The best fungicides only give us 30 days of control, so multiple treatments may be needed. Constantly wet soil is the number one ingredient for this fungus. Please limit watering to 2 days per week to allow the surface soil to dry out in between watering.. Daily watering of fescue is an invitation for fungus and shallow roots. Turn off the irrigation when we have rain. Mowing at the highest setting on the mower will really help with controlling permanent damage.

The weather conditions have also created a great environment for dollar spot fungus on Bermuda lawns. There are fungicides that can help with this disease, but the best remedy is proper mowing. Lawns with heavy thatch contract this disease easily. Regular core aeration can help with reducing thatch.

Please refer to our sections on diseases, watering and mowing on the main website and as always please give us a call if you need any more information.

 

 

 

07 May 2018

Summer’s Here!

Summer arrived the first week of May with higher temps (85+) and declining rainfall. Make sure you follow the summer watering and mowing protocol to keep your lawn healthy and growing.

FESCUE Lawns

Fescue is a cool season turf that flourishes in the cooler, wetter months (Feb-May) and (Oct-Nov). Once we consistently see temps rise into the mid 80’s with reduced rainfall, it’s time to fire up the irrigation system. We recommend heavy, infrequent watering on Fescue during the summer. Water twice per week for 35 minutes (depending on the output of your irrigation system). By placing a flat bottomed can out in my lawn and running the system for 30 minutes, I determined output at 20 gallons per minute. Fescue needs a minimum of 1/2″ of water per week in the absence of rainfall. It takes 300gallons of water per 1000 square feet to get the 1/2″. I have 5000 square feet of Fescue which would be 1500 gallons of H2O. Based on my system output, I have to run my system for 75 minutes (twice per week for 38 minutes). Once we see continuous temps in the 90’s the watering requirement goes up to 3/4″ per week and even then may not be enough to keep the Fescue lush. Do not water every day as this practice promotes fungus activity. Mow at the highest setting for best results.

 BERMUDA Lawns

Bermuda is a warm season turf that flourishes in the warmer months (May-Sep). Once we see the mid 80’s and reduced rainfall Bermuda will need watering as well as it emerges from dormancy and starts to grow. Bermuda requires less than half the water as Fescue. We recommend once per week for 35 minutes. Do not water every day as Bermuda is also prone to fungus during this time of year. Mow a minimum of once per week at 1 1/2″ to 2″.

If you have any questions about proper mowing and watering, please give us a call at 704-583-9595.

20 Jan 2018

January 2018

The Charlotte area has just experienced some extreme weather conditions. Extended below freezing temps, wind chills in the single digits followed up with 4-5″ of snow on the 17th will have an impact on Fescue and Bermuda turf. The thawing/freezing cycles during snow melt can harm the root system/crown of the individual grass plants. Most damage will occur in low areas of the lawn and on the shade side.

The wind and frost extract moisture from the plants which is not a problem on Bermuda (dormant) but will cause the actively growing Fescue plants to shut down, turn brown and begin wilting.

I would expect to see moderate spring dead spot and winterkill on some varieties of Bermuda and Zoysia. We will not know the extent until May green-up. The green-up could be delayed as a result of the weather over the last 3-4 weeks. Keep an eye on May night time lows. We need to see lows in the 50’s for a week or two to start the transition.

Over the next 8-10 weeks it will be important to get additional Phosphorous and Potassium to the root systems. The first mowing of the spring for Fescue (usually Feb-Mar) will need to be shorter than normal to remove the winter injury and jump start the root system. Aeration for Bermuda lawns is highly recommended in June-Jul this season.

The last few winters have been relatively mild. As a result, we have seen exploding populations of Aphids (crape myrtles), White Fly (gardenia/privet) and Scale Insects (on just about everything). This was especially true for 2017. The hard, prolonged freeze will reduce the population of over-wintering insects reducing pressure in the spring.

The forecast is for warmer than normal temps and average rain over the next 10 days which will hopefully mitigate the effects of the recent severe weather extremes.

14 Dec 2017

2017 Agronomic Review

In general terms 2017 weather was cooler and a little wetter than normal. Although the area realized a couple inch surplus for the year, rainfall during Apr-Aug was excessive. During that 5 month window we saw 7.5″ more than average (44%) and 13.5″ more than 2016. Spring night time low temps were way below normal and summer highs were also below normal. Very few prolonged periods of 90’s.

Both Fescue and Bermuda lawns were hit extremely hard with disease issues. The excessive rainfall beginning in April sparked Brown Patch Fungus on the Fescues and Dollar Spot Fungus on Bermuda. These diseases were active through September. Typically we see Fescue turf damaged from high heat and drought. There was more permanent damage from disease in 2017 than drought. The cool nights in May /June coupled with the rainfall caused widespread damage to Bermuda. We haven’t seen Dollar Spot issues like this since 2002. The most important factor with disease management is mowing practices. Proper height of cut and frequency of cut will reduce the likelihood of major damage.(Please review past articles on proper mowing.)

We highly recommend a preventative fungicide program for Fescue Turf for 2018. Preventatives are less expensive and more effective than a curative approach. For those with Bermuda, we do not anticipate a repeat of 2017 with the Dollar Spot and do not recommend a preventative fungicide program for 2018 unless your technicians have advised it based on severity last year.

20 Sep 2017

Watering Fall 2017

It looks like Ma Nature has shut off the spigot just in time for fall Fescue seeding! Through the end of August, rainfall was +10 inches versus normal and some 15″ above 2016 totals. We have seen no rain since being brushed by Irma on September 12th. With 80 degree temps, it won’t take long for the clay soil to dry out.

Tall Fescue seed takes 14-21 days to germinate. Proper watering is the key to good germination. Once the seed is down it must kept wet on a daily basis. If you have an irrigation system, I recommend 3X per day (9AM, 3PM, 8PM) for 15-20 minutes. If you are watering by hand, twice per day for 25 minutes is minimum. (AM,PM) If the seed is allowed to dry out, germination rates can decrease by 75%. Waiting for natural rainfall only will delay germination by weeks. Municipal and county watering restrictions will dictate how often you can water.

Once you see a good stand of young seedlings (3/4″) you can cut back to once per day for 5 days and then 3X per week for 5 days. You will see germination in aeration holes first. Surface germination will occur about a week later. Don’t expect a full stand of grass this fall. We are aiming for root development through the winter. Fescue will not start tillering and thickening until the spring. Not seeding this year…I recommend normal 2X per week 35-40 minutes per area during periods of no precipitation and 80 degree temps.

Try not to cut the grass for 3 weeks after seeding. That is one of the reasons we ask you to cut short prior to seeding. Keep leaves off of new seedlings using a blower at low speed. Call or e-mail with any questions….Mike

30 Aug 2017

Preparing a fescue lawn for Aeration and Seeding

Proper Preparation Pays

We recommend cutting the lawn shorter than normal before aeration and seeding. Take it down to 2-2 1/2 inches. This is the only time we will ask you to cut this short. By cutting short, you can skip a mowing or two. We like to see no traffic on the lawn for 14 days to allow the seed a chance to germinate before you cut again. Cutting it shorter also allows the seed to get down to the soil and more sunlight on the seed.

If you started lawn service later in the season and have an abundance of annual weeds like crabgrass, lespedeza and spurge, take your mower down to the lowest setting. “Scalping” and bagging the clippings in this type of situation is the only way to insure good germination.

The most important aspect of your preparation is watering before the service is performed. The deeper the core pulled the better. We want to encourage the deepest root system possible. Even the best equipment and operators can not extract a deep (2-3 inches) core in dry soil. It is very important to have an adequate base soil moisture before the seed is applied. You will never be able to keep the new seed moist on a daily basis without starting with wet soil. Frequent, light watering is required for good germination. Without that base to start, all of your water will be sucked down into the dry soil and the seed will dry out. We ask you to please mark irrigation heads before we arrive. Aeration and Seeding is a big investment in your lawn so get the best results with proper preparation. If you have any questions, please call us.

10 May 2017

Article: Proper Mowing

There are 4 basis rules for proper mowing:

  1. Mow at the proper cutting height (3 ½” for Fescue, 1” for Bermuda)
  2. Mow often- never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at any one mowing.
  3. Leave the clippings –if you follow rule #2, leaving the clippings returns nutrients and moisture back to the lawn.
  4. Always cut with a sharp blade. (a dull blade will tear the grass blades giving a ragged appearance and allowing an entry point for disease)