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Lawns We Are Working On.......

In this section, I am going to discuss some lawns that I have had the honor to visit since I started this business.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the "after" pictures will be better than the "before" pictures.
This first lawn belongs to Mike:
We had to do some serious renovations.  As I said in my "establishment" portion of this blog, if you have stuff in, or on, or all over your lawn, that will definitely interfere with turfgrass establishment.
Mike had all sorts of stuff - pieces of a fence, rocks, wood.  We went in and removed all that stuff.  Well, as much as we could.  That took a long time...about seven trips to the dump.  Not Mike's fault.  We blame the previous occupants of the home.
Mike's front yard has some exisitng grass but it is either dormant or dead.  In the rear, where that deck is, there is more dirt than grass.  We will have to work through all this.  I am waiting for his soil sample to come back.  So, we will see what he has to do to make this a great lawn. 
On the sides of the house, you will see some old fence posts sticking out of the ground.  As with many projects these days, funding is a key issue.  Removing each of the fence posts would have required more man hours.  Soon, we will only be focusing on growing turfgrass.
One final thing, Mike's backyard has about a 6 to 1 slope (meaning it drops about one foot every six feet).  As I said in another post, this is not ideal, but, we're going to give it a shot anyway.  If Mike doesn't get good results in the next few growing seasons, we may have to recommend a different ground cover.
 
 
Here, below, we have Jay's lawn.  A beautiful tall fescue lawn.  He's taken great care of it.  Jay has some old growth trees in the area.  That tends to make the soil more acid.
Around back, where the lawn does not get a whole bunch of sun all day, he has some moss.
Now, Jay got a letter of reprimand (locally filed, of course) because he got too excited.  When I did a site visit of Jay's quarters on 02 MAR, I did one of my on site soil samples.  His pH was @ 5.5 - you know; the "ball park figure".  I thought I advised this warrior to wait and see what the lab says.  Well, on Monday, I get an email from Jay.
Jay proceeds to tell me the next day he put down 200 lbs of lime and 2 bags of Moss Out.  I maintained my military bearing.  Great initiative but poor timing.  But, I did reprimand the warrior for not waiting for the final results.
I don't think he did any damage.  But, if he did the application correctly, I'm sure he exceeded his lime requirement.  It shouldn't hurt.  I hope that the snow and rain we just got will help move it into the soil.  Maybe he won't have to do lime again for a while.
Troops, do not do an unauthorized application until you have the go ahead from the this Turfgrass Warrior.  Definitely, wait for the final analysis.  Any UCMJ action from me can put your turfgrass career at risk.
We are waiting for the soil sample results.  I'll post my findings and recommendations when the results are in.  It will be interesting to do another sample in a couple months and see what that 200 pounds of lime did!
 
 
Below we have Todd's lawn.  Warriors, I'm telling you, this lawn is HUGE!!!  Todd is another great Soldier.
Todd has about 4.5 acres.  He also lives near the Potomac River. 
He has done some great work.  Last year, he did core aerating and seeding.  This Spring I've recommended he do the same thing.  Except, this year we need to do something about the soil.
Soil test results are not back yet.  But, because of the size of his yard, I had to do a couple of separate samples.  Sorry, but that costs more money.  It is money well spent.
The first two pics above are just his front yard.  The one to the left is his backyard.  Todd could land the Goodyear blimp back there.
When I get the results back from the lab, we will soon have some recommendations for Todd.  He will comply.  He is a good Turfgrass Warrior.
 
Here, we have Jack's lawn.  Jack is another outstanding Warrior...well, an aviator, really.  But, they can be warriors too!
Besides having a really cool replica of a barn for a garage (Jack gave me a personal tour.), Jack has a well manicured, small, easily managed lawn.  Jack can do most of the work himself.
Jack has mostly tall fescue.  Excellent choice for where he lives.  Jack has done a lot of good work with his lawn.  His trees and shrubs also look to be in pretty good shape.  But, some of the trees could use some pruning.  You may know how much that costs.  Don't get on a ladder w/ a chainsaw, troops.  Get on the net and call in for arborist support.  I can refer you to some awesome specialists.
My initial, mobile lab test said that Jack's soil is very acid.  I advised Jack to stand by and wait for the "official" lab results.  He too will comply...although he gets rather excited about his turfgrass.  We'll see what the lab says.
 
This is Joel's lawn.  Joel just had the inside of his house renovated.  So, now its time to start working on the outside.  Joel has a lawn of Zoysiagrass.  Its very thick.  In these pistures, it is totally brown because Zoysia is a warm weather turfgrass and these pics were taken in March.
Joel's soil sample did not recommend any lime because his pH is at 6.1.  We put a little down anyway, but, Zoysia is okay with a range of 6.0 to 6.5.  We applied a couple bags of lime just to be sure.
Joel needs to de-thatch and core aerate.  That will encourage deeper roots and a thicker stand.  A thicker stand will choke out the little bit of weeds he has.  Zoysia is very competitive with weeds.
However, winter annuals, such as chickweed and henbit, can be a problem when the grass is dormant.  Weeds will also invade turf after it has been damaged or weakened by insects, disease or intense dethatching.  Winter annual weeds are best controlled in the fall rather than the spring, when they bloom and set seed.
Established zoysiagrass should be fertilized from May through August.  Early spring (March/April) fertilization benefits weeds and promotes premature top growth before roots begin to grow.  Late fertilization (September) may interfere with the natural hardening process before winter.  We will put down some fertilizer soon.
 
 
Below is Vince's lawn.  Vince is an outstanding turfgrass warrior - well, actually he's a turfgrass sailor; c'mon, they're warriors too!  As you can see from the pics, Vince works his tail off in his yard.  I was there when he was putting down a truck load of mulch - just him and a buddy of his.
Vince has a small yard but that makes life a little easier.  He's got tall fescue.  His soil sample results show his dedication and determination.  Vince's pH is 6.8 - just about perfect.  I recommended he have me come back for another soil test in the fall to see if that pH is steady.
Vince needs to put down 3.0 to 4.5 pounds of nitrogen, seasonally.  That should do the trick.  He also should core aerate this spring and next fall.  With the fall aeration, he should over seed, and fertilize again.
I advised Vince to make sure he gets the debris out of his soil and out of his yard.  He did it that day!
Vince also had some huge, old growth trees around his yard.  The more he trims them back, the more sun will get to his lawn.  I'm quite confident Vince will be very successful.  I've never known the Navy to fail at anything.  "Non Sibi Sed Patriae!" (Not for self, but country!)
 
 
Gerry's lawn is another work of art.  His pics (below) reflect a great deal of committment - what I'd expect from a great logistician.
Gerry is a farmer, so, he knows soil and climate rather well, and their impacts on plant growth.  As I said, that is evident in his yard.
Gerry's got a cool season mix in his yard.  His pH was 6.3.  Maybe a little low but nothing a little lime can't help.  The sample results also said he should apply a multiple of 3-0-1 NPK on a seasonal basis.  He has high P and low K levels in his soil as well.
Just like Gerry, even if you know what you are doing, it is a good thing to have the turfgrass warrior come by your lawn and make sure everything is in line.  My agronomy services can do just that.
Gerry doesn't have much to do this spring except what I advised and then sit back and enjoy his yard.
 
Shari's yard is next.  Shari is a great warrior, another logistician.  Good thing we can have women in combat now - Shari could definitely help the infantry schwack some more bad guys.  Shari has had multiple deployments.  Now we need her to deploy to her yard.  This first picture is her front yard.
Shari also has a huge yard with a mix of so much different species - I don't know where to start.  Like I do with a yard that size, I have to take multiple samples.  The report says her soil is at 5.2 pH for your front, which is not good; and, 5.0 for her backyard, which is worse.  She needs to apply 15 pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet.  That's not cheap for a yard that size.  She also needs to apply @ 3.5 pounds of N, 2.5 pounds of P and 1.0 pounds of K per 1,000 square feet too.  That's not cheap either.  Here's when I start talking to warriors about "prioritizing" parts of their yard.  The next two shots are of her backyard.
Besides the lime and fertilizer, Shari needs to work the soil.  She needs to de-thatch and core aerate.  But, I had what might be a cost saving idea (in the long run).  Shari has a pretty good size John Deere tractor.  She aleady has a huge spreader that she can tow behind it.  She should invest in a thatch rake attachment and a core aerating attachment she can also tow behind that tractor.  I think its a wise investment.
The thatch removal will be tough.  But, she has some woods where that stuff can be dumped.  (And she has some indentured servants for labor - children.)  Core aerating, over seeding and fertilizing will be much easier after the thatch is removed, and she has those attachments.
Shari can do this.  She is only limited by her will and/or her wallet.  Without those restrictions, and I've served with Shari, I know she will be victorious.
 
 
 
Here we have Curtis' yard:
Curtis is another warrior; retired, but still helping Soldiers.  Works hard on his lawn too.  Its tough because he has so many old growth trees in and around his yard.  he does a great job getting rid of the leaves and branches that come down.
Curtis has a cool season mix of turfgrass.  He also has a pH level of @ 5.2 - like many lawns that are in the northern Virginia region.  He needs to put down @ 50 pounds (per 1,000 square feet) of lime on his front yard and @ 80 in his back yard.
Curtis also has a pretty high nitrogen requirement as well.  He's got to do @ 5 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.  He needs to do that seasonally - which means at least twice a year, during our two growing seasons.
Now, I recently got word that Curtis is going to be moving.  So, we may not see "after" pictures here.  But, the good news is, Curtis probably needs his turfgrass consultant to come around the new quarters once he gets settled in.  Thankfully, he's not moving far away.  A new category now on the blog - Curtis is a true turfgrass GENTLEMAN.
 
 
Duane is also a turfgrass warrior and gentleman.  Duane is a former Soldier, and still helps former Soldiers in the VA.  He's also a dear friend and classmate of mine.  He has a very interesting yard.
Duane's lawn in these pictures is all brown.  Why?  Because Duane has a warm season turfgrass that is still in its winter dormancy.  Duane has perennial ryegrass (Lolium Perenne) - with some fine fescue and onion grass popping through.
Duane's soil is at 6.2 pH for his front, which is pretty good (close); and, 5.5 for his backyard, which is not good.  He also has a fairly high NPK requirement - @ 6 pounds of N, 4 pounds of P and 2 pounds of K per 1,000 square feet.  He's got some work to do.
 
You'll see in the second picture, his back yard, he has the warm weather grass up towards the house, then it starts to thin out and be more like a cool season grass as it goes out toward the rear and the trees.  I told Duane that the line there needs to be his demarcation line (Like in the Korean DMZ.).  He needs to literally draw the line there.  He will not have much success growing quality turfgrass beyond that area because of shade and other debris in the yard.  Duane did not like to hear that.  But, in an earlier post, I discussed "prioritization" of areas in your yard - either due to funding or time or other resources.  This kind of goes along those lines.  But, this also means cutting your losses, living to fight another day.  Perhaps losing the battle but winning the war.  Duane can put in some other decorative ground covers...maybe a nice pathway.  Perhaps layer some garden works.  There are many options.
 
 
This is Meghan & Nick's yard and landscape.  I did the initial analysis and recommendations in early summer 2014.  Nick has already made some incredible progress with his turf.  But, he still has pretty far to go.  This fall will be a busy time for Nick.  Meghan & Nick recently renovated their home, so most of the immediate landscape was damaged and/or removed.  Now, they have asked me to devise a plan for their landscape; some shrubs and woody ornamentals.  I'm working that now.  This was their current status a couple days ago:
 
 
It was kinda windy that day and it was tough navigating around all the obstacles.  But, you should get an idea of what I'm gonna be working with in the front yard.  We are only doing the front yard and one side this year.  They are still having a deck being put in around back.  We'll deal with that area next year.

10 Comments to Lawns We Are Working On.......:

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Marc Meador on Wednesday, March 06, 2013 4:27 PM
Lawn Lorde -- So once we get the turf growing, how do I protect it from "Varmets?" I speaking of moles. My neighbor's yard looks like crap and moles dig in each summer from his yard, into my back yard. I have tried several things to get rid of them but I have pets and my non-NRA friendly HOA frowns on me blasting away with my 12-gauge. A local nursery told me I needed to hit the ground hard with grub-x to destroy the mole's food supply, but by the time I get it down, the burrows are already in place and I don't know if I have eradicated the varmets or not. Any ideas on what to do and when? Do you have a silenced 12-gauge I could borrow?
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Turfgrass Warrior on Wednesday, March 06, 2013 6:24 PM
Marc, Check out the pics in the new insect section of the blog. I was going to get to insects eventually.... TW


termites long island on Thursday, May 02, 2013 8:44 AM
Maintaining lawns really need a lots of efforts,your post is having some nice points regarding this.keep posting nice ones.


Turfgrass Warrior on Wednesday, March 06, 2013 6:15 PM
Marc, Thanks for your continued interest. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, you may already be too late for effective treatment. But, I'll get to that in a minute. You are certainly tracking with the food source for moles. A sign of increased pest presence is increased activity of birds, skunks and moles. There are fewer than 100 insects that attack turfgrass. But, there are over 150 species of beetles in CONUS that have an immature or larval stage called grub, white grub or grubworm. Fully grown larvae are white or cream colored, with three pairs of legs, a brown head, and a dark areaat the posterior end of the body. They are usually found curled in a "C" shaped position in the soil. Identification is usually based on the pattern of spines found on the underside of the tip of the abdomen. This is called the raster. I'll see if I can find a picture and post it. Grubs damage turfgrasses by feeding on the grass roots about one inch below the soil surface. As for other detection, damaged areas can be easily pulled back - almost like the turf is similar to a rug or carpet. Since the roots are cut, you can almost just peel it back. Grub damage includes patches of wilted, dead or dying turf visible @ APR/MAY and SEP/NOV. If you find 5 to 10 grubs per square foot in an un-irrigated area, or 15 to 20 grubs per square foot in an irrigated area, you got a problem. Insecticide treatment is most effective in late summer/early fall when the larvae have recently hatched and are most susceptable. As grubs mature, they are less susceptable to insecticides. Also, you got to use LOTS of water to ensure the treatment is moved well into the soil. And, make sure your lawn is mowed and de-thatched (if applicable) before treatment. I can't stress enough how important it is to ensure the insecticide gets down deep into the soil. Most grubs/beetles have an annual life cycle. They lay eggs midsummer. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the roots. When winter comes, they move deep into the soil. Then they come back up to feed on the roots in the spring. The adults become beetles, emerge from the soil, feed on above ground plants, mate and it starts all over again. You've got to catch them as larvae when they are in the first inch or so in the soil...no later than late summer...early fall. Preventive products containing imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, or halofenozide, when irrigated into the ground and applied between June 1st and mid-July, will consistently give 75%-100% reduction of grubs. Just make sure you do what I typed above. I know the label on Grubex says "spring/early summer", but the manufacturer likes it when you keep buying their product. Follow my recommendations. See how that works and then perhaps an early fall application like I said. If you get rid of the grubs, the moles may relocate. But, if they don't, killing moles is normally the most effective long-term control. Killing moles can be done either by traps or baits. Both scissor-type and harpoon-type traps are available in most garden centers. To use these, locate active runs by tamping down tunnels and then watching to see where the tunnels are raised back up a day or two later. These are good spots to insert traps. When the mole comes swimming through, it trips the mechanism that administers the fatal blow. Professional pest-control companies may be able to help too. The kinder, gentler trap approach is to sink a glass jar in the floor of one of the active runs. When the mole comes by, it drops into the jar and can’t climb up the slippery sides. Havahart or similar cage traps also can be used in runs to capture moles instead of kill them. The live animal then can be relocated to a site where it won’t cause trouble. Numerous poison and anticoagulant baits also are available, but these must be applied with extreme caution so they don’t harm unintended targets or run off into waterways. It’s usually best to hire a pro if you go this route. Pros have access to more effective ingredients that homeowners can’t buy anyway. Another method of mole control is to repel them. The most widely used repellent is castor oil – whether it’s in a commercial product such as "Mole-Med" or mixed as a homemade treatment. To mix your own, combine 6 ounces of castor oil and 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent in 1 gallon of water. Mix well. Then dilute to spray on the entire lawn at a rate of 1 ounce per gallon of water applied per each 300 square feet of lawn. This may work for awhile, but when the scent goes away, Mr. Mole may well move back to familiar and already-mined territory. Finally, if none of this works, you can borrow my semi-automatic Ithaca 10-gauge.
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Turfgrass Warrior on Friday, March 08, 2013 8:51 PM
Okay. I got the soil sample results back on Mike's lawn. Mike's soil is acidic. His soil has a pH of 5.7. The pH is important because it affects the availability of nutrients in the soil that are essential for plant growth. The availability of most nutrients is best at a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. His soil really needs to be @ 6.8 to 7.0. We need to add lime (CaCO3) to Mike's soil. Do not expect a long-term change in pH, since a soil will tend to return to its native pH over time. Lime treatment is a regular activity. Sorry. Then there is "Buffer pH". Soil pH measures active acidity or alkalinity, while the buffer pH or lime test index, measures total soil acidity, and determines the actual lime requirement. The lower the lime test index, the more the soil will resist a change in pH. Therefore, more lime will be required to raise the pH to the desirable level. The acceptable lime test index range is 6.8-7.0. Mike's is 6.77. Not bad. So, it will not take hundreds of pounds of lime to move his pH to the right some. The rest of the essential macro-nutrients are in the high to medium range, which is good. Mike's "Cation Exchange Capacity" (CEC) for his soil is a measure of the capacity of the soil to hold exchangeable nutrients that have a positive electrical charge (cat-ions), such as hydrogen (H+), calcium (Ca++), magnesium (Mg++), and potassium (K+). Soils with a high CEC can supply large amounts of nutrients. However, they also require large amounts of fertilizer to be considered "fertile". Low CEC soils, such as sand, have low nutrient holding and supplying power. Therefore, more frequent applications of low rates of fertilizer are normally preferred. Both clay and organic matter serve as potential sources of nutrients by attracting cat-ions. Soils with large amounts of clay or organic matter have higher exchange capacities than sandy soils, which are usually low in organic matter. Much more exchange capacity, however, is provided by the presence of even moderate amounts of organic matter, which also benefits the soil in other ways, such as improving soil tilth. (Tilth is the physical structure of soil as it influences plant growth. A soil with good tilth is porous, allowing water to infiltrate easily, and permitting roots to grow without obstruction.) Mike's CEC is 11.9. It should be at least above 20 - maybe close to or above 40. Aerating and fertilizing will help with that. Now we go to "Fertilizer Recommendations" that were revealed in the sample analysis. Application recommendations are made in X number of pounds per 1,000 square feet. You know the dimensions of your lot? That's how you do total square feet...then subtract the area taken up by the house, driveway, beds....an estimate works just as well.... Anyway, in Mike's analysis the lab is recommending 25 lbs of lime per 1,000 square feet. Example - If Mike's yard is 2,000 square feet he'd need 50 pounds of CaCO3. Same with the fertilizer data. The lab is recommending 4.5 to 6.0 pounds of nitrogen, 0.25 pounds of phosphorous and 0.5 pounds of potassium per thousand square feet. So, he would need a fertilizer with a NPK ratio of something like 5-1-1, or any multiple of that. We will have the core aeration done in the next couple weeks. I'll probably put some lime down this weekend. Then I'll fertilize and seed after the aeration.
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Turfgrass Warrior on Monday, March 25, 2013 3:57 PM
Just a follow up on Mike's yard... Two weeks ago, I put down 600 pounds of lime in Mike's yard. Yeah; that was tougher than a PT test when you're over 50 years old. That was some good PT. This past weekend, Mike's yard was core aerated. The next day I put down some ryegrass seed and some high nitrogen fertilizer. MORE GOOD PT! Then today, it snowed a couple inches. I was worried about the lime and some heavy rain we got shortly after the lime application because Mike lives on that pretty good slope. When I checked the core aeration, luckily, it looked like there was not too much run-off of the lime. I'm thinking (and hoping) the core aeration helped mix up some of that lime and made little places to hold that seed and fertilizer. A late season snow is damp and heavy. The water should percolate into the soil better as the snow melts than if it were a heavy rain. But, remember, "hope" is not a valid course of action! Hooah!


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Turfgrass Warrior on Monday, March 25, 2013 3:23 PM
I got the soil test results back for Jay's lawn. Not bad at all. But, Jay has a soil pH of 5.9 (Remember, this was before his "unauthorized applications".). That needs to come up. Jay said he actually put down @ 145 pounds of lime right after I departed. And, he has close to 2k square feet of lawn. The sample results recommended 85 pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet. So, Jay maybe missed the requirement a little, with about 72.5 pounds per 1k square feet. Close guess on his part. I recommended parhaps another 30 pounds of lime per 1k square feet in the next 30 days. His results also had NO recommendations for Phosphorous or Potassium. He currently has a surplus of Phosphorous (at about a 200+ pounds per acre) and a high level of Potassium (at about 417 pounds per acre). But, he needs about 3.0 to 4.5 pounds of Nitrogen per 1k square feet. So, I recommended a high nitrogen fertilizer. I also advised Jay to use some iron sulfate on his moss. If the weather here ever gets nice, we'll see where Jay is at with his lawn. I also recommended he core aerate and overseed before the soil gets too warm.
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Turfgrass Warrior on Monday, March 25, 2013 3:42 PM
I got Todd's SAMPLES back too. I'm emphasizing the plural because I had to take at least two sets of samples for Todd's yard because its so huge. I took a front yard sample and a back yard sample. I'm patting myself on the back, because that decision revealed some interesting results. The pH for Todd's front yard is 6.0, and for his rear yard is 6.3. The lab results made NO recommendation for lime treatment for his rear yard(because it was pretty close to the desired pH level). That's a good thing since that is a huge part of the yard and could be rather expensive to treat. The lime recommendation for his front yard is 25 pounds per 1k square feet. I think he can handle that. The fertilizer recommendations for the entire yard were the same - 2.5 to 2.5 pounds of Nitrogen, 1.5 pounds of Phosphorous and 0.5 pounds of Potassium per 1k square feet. Todd's got the equipment to do it. He's just figuring out when and how. The last time I talked to Todd, he said he's going to core aerate and over seed too. We'll see how that goes.
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Turfgrass Warrior on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 6:58 PM
I got the soil sample results back from Jack’s lawn. His lawn is in pretty good shape. Except, his pH level is at 5.0. That’s pretty low for tall fescue. He needs to get that up some. The lab results recommend that Jack put down 145 pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet. I believe Jack has MAYBE 1,000 square feet, if that, probably a little less. So, he should put down about three 30 pound bags of lime now and then another three bags in about 30/45 days – and water it in a little. His buffer pH is 6.22. His soil may be a little “resistant” to a change in pH. A buffer pH number is usually on the report when the pH is below 6.3. That’s why I recommended 6 bags – actually @ 180 pounds total, instead of 4.8 bags. The test also reveals that Jack has a surplus of Phosphorous (200+ pounds per acre) and a surplus of Potassium (657 pounds per acre). Jack’s results say he should put down 3.0 to 4.5 pounds of Nitrogen and it recommends a “seasonal” application. Meaning, Jack should split that Nitrogen application to a few times a year at least 2 times; maybe 4. Jack doesn’t need to apply a “complete” fertilizer – which contains N, P & K because he has plenty of P & K already. He needs to focus on a fertilizer with just N. Jack is also thinking about my recommendation to core aerate and over seed.
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