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.


Posted by & filed under fertilization, fescue seeding, lawn care, post-emergent, Tree and Shrub Care, Weed-Control.

20150424_092206_resizedThe last days of summer have faded away, so now is the time to fertilize cool-season tall fescue to strengthen plant and turf roots so that it comes out strong next spring. Late fall is the most important fertilization of the season for fescue. So with the R7 Late Fall Treatment on fescue, we provide a good granular fertilization. For warm-season turf, we are applying something totally different, a liquid pre and post-emergent herbicide. So as just about always, we are treating fescue differently compared to warm-season bermudagrass or zoysiagrass.

For fescue turf that has been seeded earlier this fall, this granular fertilization provides a nice boost of nitrogen for growth, along with other soil nutrients for plant health. After not growing much during the winter, early spring warmth will then stimulate earlier spring green-up with the nutrition provided from the fall fertilization. “Fall fertilization is the foundation for a successful turfgrass fertility program,” says John S. Kruse, Ph.D, a research agronomist with Koch Agronomic Services, LLC. “Winter survival and spring green-up depend, to a significant degree, on a sound fall fertilizer application, particularly when combined with timely cultural practices.”  We also will carefully spot-treat any existing winter annual broadleaf weeds with a liquid post-emergent herbicide at this time of year. There usually are not many braodleaf weeds now, and we have to be careful not to harm any new fescue seedlings.

We DO NOT apply a fall pre-emergent to fescue turf in the fall, as this would harm fescue seeding. We assume that homeowners will at least overseed in the fall, so we do not apply pre-emergent to fescue as we do on bermudagrass or zoysiagrass. About the only grassy weed that comes up in the fall may be some annual bluegrass. It usually blends in OK or is not much of an issue in healthy fescue turf. If it is, then we do offer a supplemental treatment of Prograss Weed-Control, which can be safely applied in early December without harming new fescue seedlings.

Fall is not only an ideal time to fertilize turf, it’s also an ideal time to give trees and shrubs that important boost as the winter months near. Late Fall is the ideal time for deep-root fertilization, so we’ll start this service sometime in late November and on into December.

Posted by & filed under fescue seeding, irrigation, lawn care, seed.

IrrigationWe are about to wrap up the window of opportunity for seeding tall fescue in Oklahoma lawns now that we are into October. It’s best to seed fescue from mid-September to about mid-October, allowing for the seed to germinate and grow some before winter sets in. Then as the warm spring weather hits in March and April, the new fescue turf quickly develops maturity, thickens up, and develops a stronger root system, increasing the chances for surviving the summer heat. Using a blend of quality fescue seed is very important, especially in keeping other weeds and foreign grass types out of the turf. Proper soil preparation is vital, in making sure that the seed comes into contact with the soil to germinate. The most important factor though is keeping the seed bed moist for at least 10 days, and not allowing it to dry out.

At LawnAmerica, we recommend watering 3 times daily if possible for about 15 minutes per watering if possible. If you don’t have an irrigation system, that may be tougher to do. So one can water once a day for longer, and then go out by hand and lightly sprinkle once or twice daily. And, if we are lucky enough to get one of those nice fall soaking rains, then that is ideal, so you can cut back on some of your irrigation. It’s been a dry fall though, so you’ll need to help out a bunch, since Mother Nature does not seem to be helping much. After about 10 days, new seedlings should be popping up through the soil, so you can cut back to about once per day watering, but for a longer duration, to get the soil wet at deeper levels and stimulate the new roots to grow deep. As the seedlings reach about 3-4″ in height in a few weeks, you can carefully mow for the first time. And by then, you should be able to cut back even more on the irrigation frequency, while watering longer (up to 30 minutes per cycle) for deeper wetting of the soil.

The bottom line is that it is hard to over-water your fescue seedlings in the fall. Better for too much water than not enough. We’ve seen too many cases where we use the best seed, do a great job of seeding, only to have a homeowner neglect the discipline of watering the new seed and it just does not come up, or dies soon after germinating. So we need your help! And, when leaves start falling soon, it’s important to keep those raked up, so the tender seedlings will not be smothered. Using a bagger on your mower to remove the leaves is a good way to keep your fescue turf free of leaves later in the fall.



Posted by & filed under Armyworms, fescue seeding, Insect Control, lawn care.


These small Armyworms can grow to become quite large in about 3 days.

For the past few weeks, we’ve had sporadic Armyworm problems in the Tulsa area. The Fall Armyworm can be a devastating insect problem during some years, usually in late summer to early fall. Several years ago we had a significant problem in late August, but nothing like the “Great Armyworm invasion” of 2002 I believe it was. During a severe invasion, Armyworms can march in almost overnight, and invade home lawns like an army, munching and chewing a lawn down to the ground. This so far in 2016 though has not been the case in most areas. The damage seems to be spotty at best. However, that can change quickly, so be on the lookout.

On a bermudagrass lawn, Armyworms are not going to kill it. Even if they chew off the blades down to the stem, the turf will recover before winter sets in. It’s like getting a bad haircut….looks bad, but it will grow out! So at this point, unless it’s a severe problem, we’d not recommend treating with an insecticide unless you insist. Fescue turf, however, is a different story. If Armyworms eat fescue down to the ground, which they certainly can, then new grass seedlings that are just coming up from fescue seeding will die. Even mature fescue could die, or be severely stunted, with a high population of Armyworms present. So if a homewoner sees a large number of these small green to brownish worms in their turf, we recommend to treat with an insecticide.

The good news is that they are fairly easy to kill, with many common insecticides. A quick and simple way to do it is to purchase a bottle of insecticide from the box stores and spray them yourself. It’s one of the few lawn care chores that is actually simple to do. More can be learned on our YouTube channel here: How to Control Armyworms Yourself.





Posted by & filed under fescue seeding, seed.

Fescue Seed Label

Our LawnAmerica Seed…No weeds or other crop seed!

Now that fall is in sight, it’s time to be thinking and scheduling your fall fescue overseeding. Tall Fescue is a cool-season grass, that will grow in semi-shade areas where bermudagrass and zoysiagrass will not do well. It stays green pretty much all season, so some folks like to have it in full sun also, which if watered well will do fine. However, especially in the Oklahoma heat, fescue will thin out over the summer, and hence the need for fall seeding to help keep the turf thick and healthy.

There is a big difference in the quality of fescue seed out on the market, so don’t be fooled by the fancy names or packages. Here is a copy of our seed label for the product we are using this year at LawnAmerica. It’s a blend of three different types of fescue, Firenza, Virtuoso, and Sunset Gold. It’s preferable to blend different varieties, as each one has certain strengths that others may be weaker in, so you’ll be getting a stronger and healthier stand of turf. There are hundreds of varieties of tall fescue, with most of them good. There are some though that one wants to avoid, including the old variety K-31. This is a forage grass used in pastures, very course blades, and not desirable for a home lawn. The vast majority of seed is grown and produced in Oregon, where pretty much perfect conditions are present for growing fescue. And it’s certified, meaning that it is tested for quality and purity.

The biggest thing to look out for on fescue seed is the amount of “other crop seed” and “weed seeds” present. That should be listed on seed bags, and it should be ZERO on each! Our LawnAmerica seed is certified, and with zero other crop and weed seed, so you can be assured that your lawn is receiving the best pure quality seed. Most of the stuff you find at that big box stores will show small percentages of “other crop seed”, and even some weed seeds. The problem is that there are about 200,000 actual seeds in a pound of fescue. So even if the number seems small, like .05%, that’s 100 weeds per pound of seed you are planting, or over 1000 per 1,000 square feet. And most of these weeds and other crop seeds are pereneal grassy weeds, so there is no way to control them other then just pulling them up. We can’t spray them with anything to kill them without harming the existing fescue.

Using a quality seed is the first step towards success with fescue seeding, so compare apples to apples when it comes to seed. Don’t be fooled by the cheap price or fancy name. Look at the seed label, and if not showing zero on both weed and other crop seed, don’t use it. While our guys do a great job with preparation of the soil with aeration, fertilize, and even come back to check on seed germination three weeks later, you may want to do your own seeding. If so, you can even purchase our LawnAmerica seed from us in either 25 or 50 lb bags, so you’ll be assured of having the best quality seed on your lawn.



Posted by & filed under Gardens, Landscaping, Uncategorized.

Vegetable GardenSummer is winding down, with fall right around the corner. So now is a good time to think about planting a fall garden. Crops that can be planted now include lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas, spinach, and similar crops. There still is time to raise another crop of green beans along with some summer squash. And if you can find plants, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower can also mature during the fall season.

Fall gardens can have advantages over spring gardens in some ways. Weed pressure is typically  much less and insect problems may be far fewer than in a spring garden. With the warmer soil temperatures, seeds will germinate rapidly, so you will have crops up and growing in just a few days – compared to several weeks in the spring.

There are a few challenges fall gardening, and one of those is that you must provide regular, frequent watering (possibly daily) until the crops are up and growing. It’s best to plant the seeds deeper than you do for a spring garden because soil is cooler and moister down a little deeper. With soil preparation, you don’t need to till and break up the soil a whole lot. Just lightly work the soil enough to establish a seedbed, and save the deep tillage for later in the fall after the crops are harvested. Also, don’t concentrate on adding a lot of organic matter and fertilizer for the fall garden. The organic matter can be added later in the fall with the deeper tillage. Just a light fertilization should suffice as the plants get growing.

Most vegetables will need about 50-65 days to harvest, so don’t delay in getting your seeds into the ground so that you can enjoy fresh veggies before the first killing frost later in fall.

Posted by & filed under Insect Control, Uncategorized.

Fall ArmywormOver the last few days we have started getting a few calls from customers with Fall Armyworms eating away at their turf.  While the cases we have seen are isolated so far, we are keeping an eye out for more.  So with that in mind we wanted to reshare a blog post from a couple of years ago when the Fall Armyworm did do some damage in Tulsa.  Take a few minutes to learn what to be on the look out for and be sure to let us know if you start seeing them in your lawn!

The Fall Armyworm is the larva stage of a small gray moth, which migrates up from Mexico and Texas during the summer. Remember learning about complete metamorphosis in Science class years ago? Well, it starts when the female moth flies in and lays up to 2000 eggs in grass, shrubs, fences, tree, etc. at night, with hatching occurring a few days later into tiny larvae. They are very small and hidden down in the thatch layers of the turf. You won’t see them unless you get down on your hands and knees and look carefully into the turf. They are pretty harmless at this point as they are so small. But over a week or so, as they eat more and more grass foliage, they become much larger, over an inch long; mainly green, with brown stripes down the side. About 80% of the damage caused by Armyworms occurs during the final two days of their feeding, before they burrow into the ground to change to the pupa stage. Then a weak or so later, the pupa hatches into, you guessed it, the adult moth, and the process starts all over again. Several generations occur from August up until frost in late October or November.

These devastating insect pests can destroy turf almost overnight, as they typically invade the lawns as an army marching over the turf. In 2000 with the last big invasion, I remember actually seeing the lawns move as thousands of caterpillars moved across the turf eating grass blades down to the dirt. You could actually hear the chomping of the insects eating the turf, at least I could back then when my hearing was better. So the key to controlling Armyworms is to treat them with an insecticide when they are smaller and before they do damage to the turf.

Fescue turf is the main concern, because if they eat Fescue down to the dirt, it will probably just die, especially when it is hot. We never recommend scalping Fescue, and an Armyworm invasion is like a super scalp job. If your Fescue dies, then you’ll be re-seeding your lawn this fall, which is much more expensive than an insecticide treatment (same cost as your regular lawn treatment). They also love to feed on Bermudagrass, and can take it down to the stems and dirt. However, Bermudagrass is pretty tough, and it will recover in most cases with good irrigation and fertilization. Your lawn will look awful though for several weeks before it recovers. If you have a Zoysiagrass lawn, you’re in luck, as typically they won’t touch it.

There are several common liquid insecticides that control Armyworm larvae, but that needs to happen soon before they get much larger. Scout your lawn, and if you see them, we recommend contacting LawnAmerica promptly, or just treat it yourself. It’s actually a fairly easy treatment for the homeowner if they can buy a hose end sprayer and drench the lawn with the insecticide. Sevin and Permethrin are two common products you’ll find, but just read the label to make sure Armyworms are on it. Granular insecticides are OK, but don’t work as well as a liquid drench for Armyworm control. If we experience a major invasion of Armyworms in Tulsa, we’ll be hard pressed to be able to treat everyone who calls that day. We’ll be ready and do the best we can. But they can explode almost overnight, so I would recommend scouting your lawn and treating when they are small. It will be first come—first served when people call or contact us on our website, so I’d get with us sooner than later.10628307_10152410762428925_9189857543917194484_n

Posted by & filed under fescue seeding.

20150424_092206_resizedEvery year around this time, we start see little glimmers of fall on the horizon.  You start to notice mornings being a little bit cooler or the sight of kids in their new clothes waiting on the school bus each morning.  Football begins to take over weekend schedules and inevitably the question about whether I should seed my fescue lawn pops up again.

The answer is… Yes.

Oklahoma is located in what is called the transition zone.  Basically what that means is growing turf around here will require a little extra effort because we are sometimes too hot for cool-season turf and too cold for warm-season grasses.

Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass are best suited for Oklahoma weather conditions, but neither of these turf types perform very well in shaded areas.  That is where Fescue comes into play.

Fescue is a cool-season, clump type turfgrass.  It does not spread out and develop density with underground rhizomes or stolons on the surface as warm-season turf does.  Instead it has to be seeded every year to help repair any damage from drought, disease, insects or heavy traffic.  Re-seeding introduces new plants into the turf, which as they grow and mature, will develop into a thick, healthy turf.

Fall is the best time of the season for fescue seeding.  By seeding in the fall, seeds germinate and grow some before winter sets in.  As the warmth of spring sets in, these seedlings continue to mature and develop into a dense turf.  By the time summer heat and stress hits, your turf should be mature and be able to better stand up to the stresses of summer.

Your Route Manager will be leaving behind information over the coming weeks for fescue seeding.  Our seeding operation consists of using a top-quality blend of fescue seed, with zero weed seed.  We aerate the soil, rake bare areas, apply a starter fertilizer, and leave detailed watering instructions.  We then return in 3 weeks to overseed any thin areas and check on the progress.  Now is the time to plan for seeding and secure your place in our busy schedule, so contact LawnAmerica today.

Posted by & filed under Christmas Decor.

IMG_2453I can hear everyone thinking, “How in the world can you be talking about Christmas in August when our temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees!”

Well, it’s pretty easy after spending several days at our annual Christmas Décor Conference last week.

It was a busy time in downtown Dallas.  We were able to see the latest Christmas bulbs that are able to be changed to any color you can imagine using a simple smartphone.  There were new permanent lighting options that utilize LED bulbs to create an elegant look at night, but almost totally disappear from view during the day.  There were 20 foot tall trees with 10,000 individual bulbs.  There were toy soldiers, nutcrackers and Santa Claus was even hanging out on a bench, ready to have his picture taken with whoever would sit with him.  It was easy to get excited about Christmas coming soon.

For the last 20 seasons we have attended the Christmas Décor conference in the middle of the summer with more than 200 other Christmas Décor franchises.  We spend several days in trainings and breakout sessions discussing everything from the newest products to the best practices in safety techniques as well as the best installation practices to provide dazzling displays for our customers.

We believe this investment in training and education is one of the many things that sets us apart from our competition.  I challenge you to find another decorating company that invests the time and effort to improve that we do, especially in the middle of the summer.

Besides all the training and education going on, we are busy preparing our schedule for the season.  All of our current Christmas Décor customers should have already received a letter a few weeks ago with the ability to prepay for 2016 Décor services and save 7% off of the total cost.  But even more importantly the prepayment guarantees that the displays will be installed and ready to light up by Thanksgiving weekend, which by the way is only 15 weeks away!

Our schedule does fill up quickly, so make sure you get your spot reserved soon.  As with all of our services, estimates are free. So if you are ready to let a professional take over your lighting responsibilities be sure to give us a call. IMG_2450