Posted by & filed under fescue seeding, lawn care, Soil.

fall-leavesFall is finally here in Oklahoma, and the changing leaves have been nice, but can be a real chore for homeowners when they start piling up on the ground. Clearing leaves off the lawn prevents suffocation, letting the turf breathe in preparation for spring. Newly seeded fescue especially can be damaged from heavy leaves piling up the turf. And while leaving fallen foliage on beds and borders can eventually generate useful mulch, this creates a slippery mess on driveways, pavements, patios and paths.

So with no saturday football on now, no excuses for not getting out for leaf duty on the lawn now. So what is the best way to clear dead leaves out of your high-use areas?

  • Mowing the leaves and mulching the clippings is a great way to take care of the leaves, as long as they are not too heavy. Leaf clippings will decompose and actually add valuable organic material back into the soil with time.
  • If leaves are heavy, use a leaf blower to blow onto a plastic tarp into a pile, which can then be carried off the lawn for disposal. We recommend making a compost pile with dead leaves, grass clippings, and other organic material.
  • One can go “old school” and just carefully rake the leaves. But do so without causing any damage to tender fescue seedlings that may be growing in the turf.
  • If leaves need to be hauled off to a re-cycling landfill, put into paper bags if possible.

So give your lawn a chance to breath, and it looks much nicer, by clearing the lawn of leaves. Most have fallen by now and it’s a great time to do so, before the cold winter weather and snow make an appearance.

 

 

Posted by & filed under bermudagrass, drought, lawn care, mowing, winterkill.

Dormant turf

Expect bermudagrass to look like this after a freeze.

We finally experienced our first hard freeze of the fall on November 19th, which is really late in the season for us here in Oklahoma. So you can finally put your mower to bed for the season! Fescue may need a trim into late fall though, especially to help remove and chop up leaves on the turf. This is a good way to remove leaves, rather than raking and hauling away. If your leaves are heavy and too much to mulch, then try to take them to a local place such as Gem Dirt, which composts those leaves into their soil mixes.

We are still very dry in Oklahoma, which puts our turf under stress, making it even more susceptible to winterkill. Winter-kill simply means that part or all of the turfgrass plant died during the winter season. Winter-kill can occur from either acute or extended exposure to low temperatures. It can also be due to complications from the interaction of low temperatures and any number of stressing factors such as insufficient or excessive soil moisture, shade, excessive traffic, soil compaction, drought, low mowing height, insufficient or excessive nutrients, or any number of other predisposing stressful physical, chemical, or biological factors.

Even during the mildest of winters in Oklahoma, which have been plentiful lately, several node and internode segments of the aerial shoot system of bermudagrsss are killed by freezing temperatures. Sunlight then bleaches the dead tissue to a straw colored appearance. Following these events and while temperatures remain too low for sustained regrowth, people refer to the bermudagrass as “being dormant.” During the 2009/2010 winter, many strands of bermudagrass had most or all of their above ground aerial shoot system killed back to or slightly below the soil surface. In the most severe case, shallow rhizomes (below ground horizontal stems) may have been killed. Each turfgrass stand is unique due to the cultivars or varieties being used as well as the soils, exposure and management programs.

At this point in the season, we recommend keeping the turf mowed high with the final mowing of the season, and to keep turf from drying out too much with an irrigation every week. These practices will help decrease the chances for winter damage to your bermudagrass.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Christmas Decor.

Christmas LightsIt’s hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner, as the bermudagrass is still green and we’re still having to mow our lawns! Here at LawnAmerica, many of our staff have transformed into Christmas elves and busy installing Christmas lights for our customers. We’ve been installing lights for over 20 years now, and have seen substantial changes in how homes and businesses are lit.  Icicle lights were the big fad a few years ago, but their glitter faded away soon, as I knew it would. And, they were a real pain to install and keep running with the old incandescent bulbs.

Lighting homes with c9 bulbs by outlining the facia, along with mini-lights in the shrubs and around windows just seems to be the traditional way to light and the preference for most. The introduction of new LED lighting has changed Christmas lighting, and for the better we think. While the bulbs cost much more compared to the old incandescent bulbs, they offer many advantages:

  • LED bulbs use about 90% less energy, saving money on energy bills.

  • With less energy used, more LED lights can be strung together and used without blowing fuses and tripping breakers.

  • LED bulbs last much longer and are more durable, providing up to 5-9 years of bulb life.

At LawnAmerica, we use only LED bulbs and provide complete design, setup, service, takedown, and storage, for one simple lease price. We provide everything, so that our customers can enjoy the Christmas season without the hassle of dealing with lights.

 

We are currently offering SAVINGS of $100 off your 2016 Christmas Decor light display, so CLICK HERE for more information and to ask for your free quote.

 

For those who may desire to install their own lights, here are some links to information on doing your own display:

http://www.christmaslightsetc.com/pages/Hanging-Christmas-Lights.htm

http://www.bhg.com/christmas/outdoor-decorations/outdoor-christmas-lights-tips/

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under lawn care, mowing.

With the warm fall we’ve had in Oklahoma, we’ve been mowing lawns a lot deeper into the season.  The grass will be slowing down soon though with bermudagrass and zoysiagrass going into winter dormancy.  If you are done mowing for the year, it’s a good idea to service your mower before putting it away for the season. Make sure you drain the gas tank of gasoline-powered engines or use a gasoline stabilizer. Untreated gasoline can become thick and gummy, causing damage to the engine. A few drops of oil squirted inside the spark plug hole (after you remove the spark plug) will help lubricate the cylinder. While you have the spark plug removed, go ahead and replace it with a new one. If your equipment has a battery, clean the battery terminals with a wire brush.

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Now is also an excellent time to sharpen mower blades so they’ll be ready next spring. Sharpening rotary mower blades is fairly easy, and really should be done several times per season. A good, sharp blade is really important for a proper cut on the grass, and helps with the health of your turf.

The following steps will guide you through this process:
* Check the blade for major damage. If you can’t fix it, it should be replaced.
* Remove nicks from the cutting edge, using a grinding wheel or hand-file.
* If using a grinding wheel, match the existing edge angle to the wheel. If hand-filing, file at the same angle as the existing edge.
* Grind or file until the edge is 1/32 inch, about the size of a period.
* With a grinding wheel, avoid overheating the blade as this may warp it.
* Clean the blade with solvent or oil, much like if you were cleaning a gun, for optimum winter storage. Do not use water because it will promote rust.

And if you don’t want to mess with any of this yourself, just take your mower to one of our good local equipment dealers, such as Smith Farm & Garden or BA Lawn & Garden, and they’ll do it for you!

 

 

Posted by & filed under bermudagrass, drought, spring-flowering, weather.

AzaleasIt’s early November in Tulsa, and our azaleas in our front landscape are in full bloom! What’s up with that? With such a long stretch of warm weather into mid and now late fall, some plants such as my azaleas think it’s springtime I guess. It can be normal for some varieties to show a few blooms in fall, but my bushes appear to have about 50% of the buds in bloom. Therefore next spring, since these buds are spent, I’ll have a less than stellar show of color on our azaleas.

Can’t say if it’s a sign of global warming, or just another very warm fall with signs of a warm winter. I do know that it affects plants, trees, and turf in the landscape and is tricking them to do wierd things. Our bermudagrass is as green as ever, at least in lawns that are irrigated well. It’s very dry also, so some turf is under drought stress sending it into dormancy in a stressful state, which can be a problem next spring. Rain is finally in the forecast today, but if that does not come, then we recommend to irrigate your lawn some to help alleviate stress on your turf.

And where is our fall color on trees? The hot and dry fall has sure affected that also, with many tree leaves just turning brown. And without those crisp, cool nighttime temperatures, the bright yellow, orange, and red pigments of tree leaves are still being masked by the green chlorophyll that still seems to be hanging on. But as Will Rogers once said….”If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma just wait a minute and it’ll change.” Will, we’re still waiting! We may be digging out from snow next month though, so buy your snow shovels while they are still in stock.

 

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

689e0d9c-1560-45ce-ba69-8b62f281eb59Next week can’t come soon enough for many of us, as this long and nasty presidential race mercifully comes to an end. There are many important state and regional races and state questions to decide upon also, but it’s the presidential race that has dominated the headlines, with many of us scratching our heads as to what to do. While there are some folks in our area that strongly support one or the other candidate, there are more people that have a lot of mistrust, dissatisfaction, and even downright anger directed at  both candidates, causing many to ask, “Is this the best we can do?”

Many in the business world may be concerned about the consequences of one party gaining control, while other people from different walks of life may be concerned about the other party. We’ve heard all the negative things that the other candidate will bring to the table if they win, with impending doom and gloom, along with promises of nirvana if the person speaking is elected.

But our democratic system works, and next week, we’ll have a newly elected President and leader for our country. The sun will still rise on November 9th, and I’ll bet it will be another beautiful Oklahoma sunrise. We’ll still have families to love, and people who love us. Some of us will still have businesses to run and employees to take care of. And for people of faith, we’ll have the assurance that our God will still be in control.

Some people in Oklahoma thought the world was coming to an end eight years ago. And sure, it’s a challenge for a business owner to deal with all the government regulations, taxes, changes in the marketplace and such. However, it’s not seemed to slow us down much here at LawnAmerica. We’ve more than doubled in size over that time, employing over 60 people now with great jobs, serving thousands more Oklahoma customers, paying more taxes, doing more good in our community, while making a bunch of lawns look really nice!

So does it really matter all that much as to who is in the Oval Office for the next four years? It does, so hence the need to vote. But WE can have so much more influence in our families, schools, businesses, communities, and hence our world if WE just focus on our own individual responsiblity in being the best person we can be and in serving the people around us. Whoever turns out to be our next President will have a tough trail to hike on, with over half of the country critical of them before they even take the oath of office. I say let’s support them, give them a little grace (which both could really use), and work hard in doing what we can do to have influence in for our families, our community, our businesses, and individually to make our next President look good.

So go vote next week, get past this election, and let’s roll. WE can then just concentrate on being stronger together, and our country will become even greater…..playing to both candidates vision for our country!

Posted by & filed under gophers, professional trappers.

It’s that time of the season again, when it appears that there are little volcanoes exploding in the turf in the Tulsa and OKC areas. These little cone-shaped piles of dirt about 6” high in lawns are actually signs of pocket gophers in most cases. The dirt is from the excavation of their tunnels, which are generally about 4”-18” below the surface, covering up to an acre for just one gopher. Gophers are rodents, which have strong front claws for digging, causing much damage to home lawns and landscapes in spring and fall especially it seems.

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They can sometimes be confused with moles, which are smaller and make tunnels right on the surface. Gophers are herbivores, feeding mainly on plant roots and bulbs. Moles feed mainly on soil insects and earthworms. Both can cause extensive damage to lawns, making it difficult to mow with unsightly mounds of dirt everywhere. And gophers can actually damage landscape plants, flowers, and trees by eating roots.

There are various types of control for gophers, many of which either don’t work at all or are very inconsistent.  They are subject to natural predators such as hawks, but those are not found too often in the urban environment. We’ve found that trapping the gopher is the best way to effectively control them. I’ve spoken with several homeowners who’ve had success with their self-trapping methods, assuming they have the time to do so. It does take some knowledge and experience though.

In the Tulsa area, we have two professional trappers that we recommend to trap both gophers and moles, or both in some cases. They have a base charge plus charge per critter that they trap. It could be just one gopher, or could be several of them plus even moles mixed into the situation.  Their contact information can be found on our website at: http://www.okrangelandswest.okstate.edu/files/wildlife%20pdfs/NREM-9001.pdf

For information on trapping them yourself, Oklahoma State University has a good information sheet at: http://www.lawnamerica.com/client-corner/preferred-providers.php

Posted by & filed under bulbs, spring-flowering.

Generally, it is recommended to plant hardy bulbs (especially daffodils) and tulips in October to give them enough time to root before winter. But it is certainly not too late to plant them now, as the temperatures have been warm, leading to a warm soil temperature.  As long as the soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F, the bulbs should continue root development. Most garden centers still have a good selection, and they can be purchased on-line also. Try to select large, firm bulbs that have not begun to sprout. While many bulbs can adapt to a wide range of soil types, none can tolerate poorly drained soil.  Prepare the planting bed by adding organic matter such as peat moss, well-rotted manure, or compost and mix into the soil.

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Good fertility is essential.  Use a fertilizer relatively high in nitrogen such as a 29-5-4, 27-3-3, or something similar. Apply these fertilizers at the rate of 2/3 pound per 100 square feet.  Organic sources of fertilizers low in phosphorus include blood meal (12-0-0) applied at 5 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet, cottonseed meal (6-0.4-1.5) applied at the rate of 10 pounds per 100 square feet and soybean meal (7-2-1) applied at the rate of 8 pounds per 100 square feet. Mix all fertilizers and amendments thoroughly with the soil before planting the bulbs.

The size and species of the bulb determine how deep to plant. In general, the depth to the bottom of the bulb should be about 2 to 3 times the size of the bulb, but check the planting instructions specific to each particular flower.  We recommend planting in bare or open areas in the landscape bed, to compliment shrubs and other plants growing there.  Plant in

bunches, with at least 6 in each bunch. Don’t plant out in the lawn, as it not only looks weird, they will also be harmed when applying turf weed-control products during the spring.

Posted by & filed under bermudagrass, mowing, winterkill.

It’s late October, and many bermudagrass lawns are still pretty green, as long as the turf is being irrigated. It’s been another dry month, and a hot one, so warm-season turf such as bermudagrass and zoysiagrass think it’s still September in many areas of Oklahoma. I for one am ready for it to turn cool for various reasons, including shutting down the growth and color of bermudagrass, so I can stop mowing it!

Now if your turf is turninglawnamerica-ok brown due to a lack of irrigation, we’d still recommend that you irrigate some, to keep the soil from becoming too dry. We don’t want to send the turf into winter dormancy, whenever that comes, in a weak condition for any reason, including water stress.

One concern is that with many lawns so green still, if we do receive one of those sudden cold snaps in November or early December here in Oklahoma, as we sometimes do, it could cause some winter damage to warm-season turf. The grass needs time to “harden off” and slowly go into winter dormancy by shutting down top growth and turning brown. If the turf plant does not fully go into a state of dormancy, sudden hard freezes can cause winterkill or turf damage. One of the worst times I’ve experienced with winterkill was exactly that, caused by a sudden hard freeze in early December of 1989 I believe it was. Then that following spring, turf managers, homeowners, golf course superintendents, you name it……we all “enjoyed” brown bermudagrass in May with large areas of winterkill.

Not much can be done to prevent this at this point, other that keep soil moisture levels adequate, and mow your bermudagrass fairly high with your final mowing of the season, hopefully coming soon.

Posted by & filed under fertilization, lawn care, pH, Soil.

urlThough we often think of soil testing as a spring chore, fall is actually a better time. At LawnAmerica, we offer soil testing for a $20 fee, working with a laboratory in Ohio, and can send you results within a few weeks. We can test your lawn, or if you have a garden, are happy to do that also.

With lawns, we are mainly looking at what your soil pH is. The acidity or alkalinity of a substance is measured in pH units, a scale running from 0 to 14, with a pH of 7 being neutral. As numbers decrease from 7, the acidity increases. As numbers increase from 7 so does the alkalinity. Soils generally range from an extremely acidic pH of 4 to a very alkaline pH of 8. This range is a result of many factors, including a soil’s parent material and the amount of yearly rainfall an area receives. Most cultivated plants and turf enjoy slightly acidic conditions with a pH of about 6.5.

If a soil test shows the pH not being in the preferred range from about 5.8-7.2, we’ll recommend several treatments of either lime or sulfur to amend the soil. At very acidic or very alkaline levels, certain soil nutrients are tied up in the soil and not available. So, the nutrients, such as Iron for example, may be in the soil, but the plant cannot utilize it if the pH is too alkaline. With acidic soils, nutrients such as Phosphorus and Potassium are tied up and not available. So with low pH soils, we’ll apply granular lime to raise the pH gradually. On alkaline soils, we apply granular sulfur to help lower the pH. No more than two treatments per season should be applied, and late fall is a great time to do so if needed.

If your soil test suggests more organic matter, and most soils in the urban areas of Oklahoma are short of this, fall is a much better season to add organic matter to gardens or lawns. Materials are more available than in the spring, and fresher materials can be used without harming young tender spring-planted plants. Generally, the more organic matter in the soil, the better for your plants.

Most Oklahoma soils have adequate levels of Potassium and Phosphorus, and Nitrogen is always going to be needed, as it’s utilized by plants or is lost in other ways. If a soil test shows low levels of these primary nutrients, we can adjust our fertilizers used on your lawn and/or apply a supplemental treatment during the late fall, winter, or early spring. So contact us now for a soil test, and if the soil chemistry is not ideal, it’s a good time to begin applying amendments to correct.