Archive for January, 2014

Thicker Grass Means Less Problems

Having a thick healthy stand of turf is the best way to prevent weeds, harmful insects, diseases, and other undesirable issues for turfgrass. Thick stands of turf are generally an undesirable thriving condition for pests.  There are many ways to insure the turf reamains thick including preventative treatments, quickly reacting to issues, and cultural techniques.

Preventing weeds, both broadleaf and grassy, can be easy and inexpensive with a thick stand of turf.  Using a pre-emergent herbicide will prevent annual grassy weeds and some braodleaf weeds from germinating.  It is important to time this application according to the type of turf, geographic location, and soil temperature.  Having a thick stand of turf chokes out many broadleaf weeds.  It prevents weed seeds from getting to the soil to germinate, and if the seed does get to the soil, it is difficult for it to obtain sufficient amounts of sunlight and water to thrive.  If broadleaf weeds do germinate it is important to treat them with a selective post-emergent herbicide while the plant is young.

Generally harmful insects thrive in undesirable conditions for turf.  By creating a desirable environment for turf, creates an undesirable environment for the pest.  Although there are some insects that do thrive in healthy stands of turf under certain conditions, such as grub worms and beetles.  These insect are usually attracted to areas that receive a lot of light such as near street lights and landscape lights.  These insects can usually be discouraged with preventative insecticides.  If they do become a problem the turf will begin to yellow and become thin.  In some occasions with grub worms the turf will be easy to lift up like sod because the worms are feeding on the root system.  These insects are not usually an every year problem, but by using these preventative measures, insects will not be a problem.

Turf grass diseases are caused by a combination of three factors.  There must be a susceptible host (the turf), a causal agent (the disease), and a favorable environment for the infection of the turf and the development of the disease.  Environmental conditions may include improper pH and fertility balance, improper watering techniques, or improper cultural practices.  If one of these three factors is not present then the disease can not thrive.  Accurately diagnosing the problem is an important step in treating any issue.

There are many cultural practices that can prevent these factors for weeds, insects, diseases and other pests from aligning.  It is important to plant a turfgrass species that grows naturally in the geographic location.  Properly preparing seed beds before planting is key as well to begin healthy growth.  This can be done by clearing any unwanted matter and correcting any chemical imbalances.  Maintaining balanced fertility is important.  This can be done by checking and correcting pH levels and supplementing the soil with proper amounts of slow-release nitrogen.  Proper watering techniques are important as well.  It is important to water the turf evenly according to the needs of the soil and plants.  Watering according to time can cause shaded areas to remain too moist and sunny areas to become dry.  It is also important that the soil and atmosphere have adequate air exchange.  This can be achieved by aerating the soil, and making sure it is draining properly.  If this does not happen the soil will become compact and difficult for turfgrass roots to thrive.  Aerating also helps naturally break down thatch to healthy levels.  Finally it is important to mow properly.  The mowing height is determined by the type of turfgrass.  Tall grasses such as fescue and bluegrass should be mowed no lower than two inches during active growing seasons.  Bent grasses can be mowed as low as one inch with a rotary mower.  During drought seasons it is important to mow the grass a little higher to protect the plant.  Also the mowing frequency should be determined by the grass growth rather than a specific time.  No more than 1/3 of the grass blade should be removed when mowing.  This will prevent stress and damage to the plant and its root system.  Keeping these cultural practices in mind while creating and maintaining a thick stand of turf, or any landscape, will improve the chance of success.

Maintaining a thick stand of turf can be easy by mowing regularly, fertilizing, watering, and using cultural and preventative measures against pests whenever possible. You can also contact SK Lawn Care at www.sklawncarekc.com or (816)372-4965.