What can I do for my waterlogged lawn?

Will anything ever grow here?

I stood in shock this morning viewing my yet to be landscaped “lawn” and wondered once again, “what can I do for my waterlogged lawn”? The muddy holes and ruts left from this newly built home appear to be at least a foot deep. It’s really hard to imagine that one day, anything at all will grow here. For most folks with established yards, you may wonder the same thing.

You want the bad news first?

Let’s say you do have an established lawn, even if it is brown and looks dead, it is still a living, growing plant. In fact, this is an important time for the root system to grow and expand, but it needs oxygen to survive. Brace yourself for a really disturbing comparison. The roots are so saturated by this non-stop rain, it’s as if they were being held underwater and drowning. Don’t shoot the messenger, but if temperatures dip into the low twenties or below, that’s even more stress on your grass.

Hang on, there’s more bad news.

There are some weeds that thrive in these water-saturated conditions. Heavy and frequent rain plays a big role in what types of weeds pop up and how fast they grow. So don’t get too happy when something, anything pops up in a few weeks. This is probably not what you were hoping for.

Let’s see. We covered the rain, cold, and weeds. What else? Wind!

What more can we drop on our exhausted and drenched lawn? Oh yes, wind. When you are left with wet, soft soil, and spring winds come into play, tree roots don’t anchor very well. If you have an older tree in your yard, or a tree that leans over or toward your home, now is a great time to contact a tree surgeon for advice.

Finally, some good news.

While you have all of this standing water in your yard, walk around and take notice, pull out your phone and take photos. The good news is that these notes and photos can tell you (and your lawn care professional) lots about problem areas. You may not remember as much in a few weeks when the sun is shining and the “ponds” have dried up. Look for specific problem areas that are holding water. These areas are going to become thinner and produce more weeds, some could even seep under your foundation. While Lawn and Pest Solutions doesn’t offer drainage services, please contact us and we’ll be happy to consult with you and help you find a reputable contractor.

It’s going to be ok. Aeration and LPS can help.

You can’t stop the rain, so stop worrying. Grass is a resilient plant and it will break dormancy soon, making this an excellent time for aeration. The aeration process will fight the damage from so much rain and help it access the oxygen it needs to grow. If you haven’t aerated your lawn in the last year or two, you should definitely consider lawn aeration this year. You don’t have to ask anymore, “what can I do for my waterlogged lawn”? Our licensed lawn care professionals at Lawn and Pest Solutions can very quickly respond to your call and give you a free quote.

Good news, the murder rate of crape myrtles is declining

No longer victims to “crape murder”, North Mississippi crape myrtles are thriving more than ever!

Kudos to the person who first coined the term “crape murder”…it worked. Today, I drove around my beautiful small town in North Mississippi looking for photo opportunities of crape murder. As small towns and gossip go,  I knew better than to post a picture of my neighbor’s lawn (yikes, they really committed a heinous crime). So, I changed my search for a public property, one where the crape myrtles have been hacked off by chainsaws and look like scary stumps with big knots at the top. To my surprise, people have been listening! Our crape myrtles along the main street area are in lovely condition for this time of year. The canopies of crape myrtles in our parks have been lovingly and appropriately trimmed. Even those in neighborhoods throughout town look like they are going to blossom out and be strong for the season. Though there were plenty of knotted, gnarled and shrunken “victims”, it looks like people are getting the message!

Am I a murderer?

Many crape murders are committted by cutting back on the main trunks, on the same location every year and often to a height of around 4-5’.  Yes, some of these practices will lead to many new shoots and lots of blossoms, but these new shoots will be very weak. The weak shoots can’t support the heavy blooms and they will droop and weep from the strain. Each year, as the pruning occurs in the same spots, knots will develop on the trunks.  These knots are not only unattractive, but they also contribute to weakness in our trees. This is crape murder.

I don’t want to be a murderer!

First of all, timing is everything! WHEN you prune your crepe myrtle is of utmost importance! In North Mississippi, the ideal time to prune is late January through February. You can still make corrective pruning as late as March or April, though.  If you missed your chance already this year, just mark your calendar for next year, and make notes….

Repeat after me, “it’s a tree, not a bush”

Don’t prune far down onto the main trunks; allow your crape myrtle to look like a tree. Ideally, your crape myrtle should look like an umbrella from a distance. 

Don’t cut out large sections, just remove branches that cross one another. If there are seed pods from last year, remove those, too! If your tree is too tall, you can prune it back down to a more appropriate height, but don’t do this every year. 

Ok, I want to plant a crape myrtle…

If you are considering planting crape myrtles, consult with a professional, or at the very least, do a little research first. Here are a few big ideas:

Where you plant your crape myrtle will either contribute to the successful life or the untimely death of your beautiful ornamental tree. 

Crape myrtles need lots of sun but not a lot of water to live in our area. 

Pruning and long-term care is just as important to the lifespan of a crape myrtle. 

 For more reading on crape murder,proper care and planting*, read this great article in Southern Living.

While Lawn and Pest Solutions does not offer a pruning service, we want to help you maintain a beautiful lawn. We have customers all over North Mississippi and our licensed technicians are ready to assist you. You can contact us here for a quote. 

Get the Jump on Spring Weeds

Right now, dormant weed seeds in your lawn are waiting to grow. Thanks to the ways weeds have evolved, they’ll germinate and start growing before your grass does. That’s why it’s important to consider an application of pre-emergent now. It’ll save you a lot of grief and a lot of mowing.

In Mississippi and Tennessee, Crabgrass is our number one summer weed, typically germinating in mid-March. Pre-emergent herbicides are designed to target seeds before the weed germinates. Also known as “crabgrass preventer,” pre-emergents don’t kill established plants, but they prevent new weeds from growing by establishing a barrier around the seeds. This protective barrier breaks down over time.

If you’re enrolled in our Lawn 360 program, you have nothing to worry about. Our technicians know the exact timing to apply our pre-emergent and set your yard up for weed-free success in the spring.

If you’re tackling this project yourself, there are a few things you should know.

  • Always read the label instructions before you apply your pre-emergent. Respect what you’re applying and wear proper clothing, abide by the package’s safety precautions, and so forth.
  • It’s about timing, not volume. Applying twice the prescribed dose of herbicide is not twice as good. It’s irresponsible. Remember, pre-emergent is preventative. It won’t kill weeds, it will simply keep new ones from growing. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t apply pre-emergent later, it just means you’ll have more work to do to in eliminating established weeds.
  • Many popular lawn care products at home improvement stores advertise themselves as “weed and feed,” because they contain both fertilizer and weed killer. Don’t waste your money! Our warm-season grasses don’t need fertilizer this time of year.

Pre-emergents form the backbone of most weed control systems, but no system is perfect on its own. Our Lawn 360 program handles your pre-emergent applications, and our lawn care professionals will spot-treat weeds at no cost to you. What’s more, they’ll work with you to plan for the spring and achieve the deep green lawn of your dreams.

Reach out to us through our contact form to set up your free assessment today.

Did Frost Really Cause That?

We experienced our first significant frost overnight last night.  Frost forms when the temperature of the grass surface cools to a temperature that is below freezing, and is colder than the dewpoint of the air. Water vapor in the air provides the moisture needed for the frost to form.  The thickest coating of frost typically occurs when temperatures are closer to 32 degrees, because colder air cannot hold as much moisture.

Tender plants need to be protected from the frost, particularly any of your summer blooming plants that you may be attempting to keep through the winter.  What about your lawn?  Is there a danger to our warm season grasses such as bermuda, zoysia, centipede and St. Augustine?  Our impending frost is not a danger to your grass, but it will leave a lasting effect.

 

Photo courtesy lsuagcenter.com

Depending on the severity of the frost, you will notice either a leopard print coloration, or most of your turf will be brown following the frost.  This is normal for our warm season grasses.  During colder weather, our lawns go dormant which we notice as a brown color.  When the first frost is light, you sometimes see a leopard print across your turf, which may make you think some strange disease  has attacked your lawn.  Do not be alarmed as the pattern is normal.

As an extra precaution, it is good to stay off your lawn until the frost dissipates.  Following a heavy frost, the grass blades can become frozen and brittle.  Walking across the lawn or driving any sort of equipment across it can break off the leaf blades. That is extra stress that your turf does not need. Hopefully, you have allowed your grass to grow a little bit taller as the temperatures have dropped. The extra leaf blades can have an insulating effect for your grass and its root system.

Interested in having your lawn treated?  Check out our Lawn 360 program, contact us here for an estimate.

Grubs and Armadillos Can Be a Destructive Combination

Have you encountered an area in your lawn like the one pictured below and wondered what is going on?  The presence of grubs in the top layer of your soil can provide a buffet for armadillos.

What caused this?

Armadillos did the damage to the lawn pictured above, but they were hunting a food source.  One of their most likely food sources is white grubs, the immature stage of different types of beetles.  In North Mississippi, we often see billbugs and their larvae attacking lawns in late summer.  Billbugs, their larvae and other grubs can extensively damage you lawn if left alone to feed.  In this lawn, armadillos realized they could feed on the grubs and they then caused secondary damage.

How can this be remedied?

Rely on a professional to help you assess the damage to your lawn.  Our technicians are trained to spot grub activity and offer treatment if it is warranted.  The presence of one or two grubs in your lawn is not enough to require treatment, but when grubs are found in high enough numbers, we recommend treatment.  For billbugs and their larvae specifically, applying the correct product at the correct rate makes all the difference.

  Grubs

Billbug

Armadillos

Armadillos as stated above feed on some type of insect in your lawn.  Their activity can cause extensive damage to your grass.  If you notice armadillo activity in your lawn, you need to do two things: (1) have a professional assess your lawn for insect activity-contact us; (2) be sure the armadillo is not attempting to make himself at home on your property.  When armadillos find a good food source, they often make an attempt to stay around.  If you’ve ever seen an armadillo burrow, it is unmistakable.  Look along the foundation of your home-they like to dig burrows against and sometimes underneath home foundations.  Another popular location is under air conditioner units.  The concrete pad on which these sit offers protection for the armadillo.

Lawn & Pest Solutions’ trained technicians have the knowledge and experience to help manage lawns and their pests in North Mississippi.   Whether you are in Tupelo, New Albany, Oxford, Hernando, Olive Branch, or points in between, we will be glad to help you.

Mowing Your Lawn — Mulch or Bag the Clippings?

As the weather warms, your attention is probably turning towards mowing your lawn. Depending on the type lawn mower you own, you have different options for disposing of the clippings. For those that are serious about their lawn and its health, it usually comes down to mulching the clippings or bagging them. Mowing height is another important consideration. Check our earlier blog post for advice on proper spring mowing height.

The most popular way of dealing with grass clippings is probably mulching, but you need the proper equipment on your mower to be successful. To properly mulch your grass clippings, you need a lawn mower that is designed with this in mind, and many models come equipped for the job. These mowers include a plate to block of the side discharge port, and often have baffles installed on the underside of the deck along with specially designed mulching blades. The benefit of mulching is the grass clippings are returned to the lawn which helps retain moisture and nutrients. As long as you mow your lawn on a regular basis (once a week May-August), the clippings will benefit your lawn and will not cause a thatch issue. If you do not like to mow your lawn on a regular basis, mulching is not for you.

Bagging your lawn clippings is another option to consider. If you do not mow regularly, bagging the clippings will help eliminate thatch build up.  It is also hard to beat the look of a freshly mown lawn when the clippings have been collected. Grass clippings can be a great addition to a compost pile as well. Remember the more often you sharpen your mower blades, the better your lawn will look and mowing will be easier. If you choose to bag the clippings, utilize  a compost pile instead of sending the clippings to the landfill. A downside to bagging is you are removing a great source of nutrients for your lawn.

Keeping a lawn weed free and dark green is a partnership-fertilizer and weed control play a part in this—the other part is how and when you mow your lawn. Proper mowing can make all the difference in the look of your lawn and set it apart from the rest. We would love to help you with your lawn! Call us at 662-534-4535 or visit lawnandpest.net/estimate.

Mow Your Way to a Beautiful Lawn

Proper mowing makes an impact on the appearance of your lawn-more of an impact than you might think.  Follow these guidelines and your lawn will be a cut above the rest.

  • Sharpen your mower blades 3-4 times per year. A dull blade leaves a less attractive ragged edge that can also leave your grass susceptible to insect & disease problems.
  • Mow you lawn often enough that you only remove 1/3 of the leaf surface at each mowing. This will eliminate the discoloration you see after mowing.
  • Mulch your grass clippings, as long as you follow the 1/3 rule.
  • Change the direction of your cut every mowing.
  • You may have an area of your lawn that suffered damage and is thin.  Remember the more often you cut, the thicker your grass will be.  If you leave your lawn uncut, it will grow up but will not spread as much.
  • Start at a low cutting height in the spring to encourage thicker turf.  As the season progresses, you can gradually raise your cutting height.

Scalping Cut

Early spring is a great time to mow your lawn lower to remove the dormant, brown grass blades, particularly if you have bermuda grass or zoysia grass.  Some people will perform this lower cut, sometimes referred to as scalping, as early as January.  If you have not mowed your lawn at a lower height alreday, now is the time to do that.

When you are ready to scalp your lawn, these are the guidelines you should follow:

  • Sharpen your mower blades first.  You want a clean, even cut.
  • Cut the lawn slightly lower than the last cut you made in the fall.
  • If you have bermuda grass, you can be radical with your scalping cut.  If you have zoysia grass, be more conservative with how low you cut.
  • Be sure to bag the clippings so you don’t have all of that thatch piled on your lawn.

If we can help you with your lawn, please contact us!         [cta_button link=”http://lawnandpest.net/contact/” color=”cyan|red|blue|grey”]Contact us[/cta_button]

Lawn & Pest Solutions provides pest control, weed control and fertilization services to customers in New Albany, Oxford, Tupelo, Amory, Hernando, Olive Branch, Fulton, Houston, Mooreville, Pontotoc, Southaven, Saltillo and beyond.  Lawn & Pest technicians can be seen all over northeast Mississippi in their clean, white trucks.  If you have not already spotted us in Desoto County, be on the lookout!  We would love to meet you.

Why is my grass yellow?

If your lawn had started greening up prior to our freezing temperatures last week, odds are your lawn is now yellow.  In some cases, lawns have returned to their tan, dormant color.  Mother Nature just did a course correction for us.  With the warm days we have experienced earlier in March, plants, trees and grasses had sprung to life a slight bit ahead of schedule.  The good news for the majority of lawns is there is no long term concern about the yellowing.  The discoloration is an indication of the freezing temperatures and frost.  The picture below is the turf in front of our office.  It was nice and green a couple of weeks ago.

2016-03-25 14.07.20

The frost and freezing temperatures caused it to go back into dormancy.  Notice the tips of the grass blades are a tan color.  Keep in mind that you can help your grass recover from this discoloration more quickly if you will mow your lawn to get rid of the discolored leaf blades.  Also, any new growth that springs forth will be green which will improve the appearance of your lawn.

It appears that most of our landscape plants escaped any serious setbacks from the frost.  Pear, cherry and redbud trees are all in bloom right now and they all seemed to have held their blooms despite the cold.

If you are concerned about any areas of your lawn right now, give us a call.  We would be glad to come by and check on it for you.  [cta_button link=”http://lawnandpest.net/contact/” color=”cyan|red|blue|grey”]Contact us[/cta_button]

For the greenest lawn in the neighborhood, consider our Lawn 360 program.