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With the nice rains this spring, bermudagrass lawns are greening up nicely now. We are actually just a little ahead of normal rainfall for the year so far, which has not been the case for many years here in Oklahoma. If you have a Bermudagrass lawn, you may notice many brown circles appearing as your grass is trying to green-up in the spring. No, it’s not crop circles, but rather a very common and troublesome turf disease called Spring Dead Spot. Spring Dead Spot is a turf disease which is unique only to Bermudagrass, especially certain cultivars. It is caused by a common fungus, which actually infects the turf during the fall. The symptoms do not actually appear until the following spring, as circular dead areas up to several feet in diameter. The surrounding grass will be green and healthy, only to be infiltrated with a few up to many round dead areas, sometimes filled with weeds, with little healthy turf to help crowd them out. If you have a severe case of Spring Dead Spot, the spots will re-appear every season, often in the same place. Certain varieties of Bermudagrass are more prone to this disease than others. Hard winters seem to increase the severity of the disease in the spring. It has nothing to do with whether you use a lawn service or not. The disease seems to be most severe in bermudagrass lawns which are from 3-12 years old. As the lawn becomes older, the severity of the disease seems to lessen.

The dead areas will eventually fill in with Bermudagrass as summer progresses. It often takes much of the summer for this to happen though, so your lawn may not look real good for much of the early summer. You can speed up the fill-in by filling the circles with a thin ½” layer of good, black topsoil. This will help the surrounding grass fill in much quicker. You could also dig out the spots, replace with some good soil, and place a fresh piece of Bermudagrass sod on top. Try to match up with the same variety of Bermudagrass you now have, which may be difficult.

Dead SpotsThere is a preventative treatment program we can do in the fall, which has Dead Spots been shown to lessen the severity of Spring Dead Spot the following spring. A special turf fungicide named Velista can be applied at a fairly specific time—at the first onset of cooler fall weather, along with a follow-up treatment 4 weeks later. This is when the fungus infects the turf. We apply two treatments, spaced about 4 weeks apart, which is the current recommendation from Oklahoma State University. In spring we will take pictures of where the dead spots are, so that in fall we can concentrate where to apply the fungicide in the lawn. At LawnAmerica, we have treated many lawns in mid-September into late October. It has shown some fairly good results, with a decrease in the number of spots and quicker fill-in the following spring. Just because we apply the fungicide, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll have no spots the following spring though. If you have a severe case of Spring Dead Spot, we would recommend you try this, and see if it works for your lawn. The fungicide cost is more than most other products we use, so our fee is 2.1 X your normal lawn treatment price for the two fall treatments. For example, if your regular treatment is $50, the fungicide service will be $105, and covers both treatments.

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Every spring we try to convince homeowners and even commercial mowing companies to resist the temptation to scalp their bermudagrass or zoysiagrass lawn in early spring. Some folks succumb to the pull of those sunny days in March and get their mower out to whack off the turf at a very low height while removing the brown stems and leaves. This practice is called scalping, and can be a useful practice for warm-season turf such as bermudagrass and zoysia.

However, timing is critical as to when to do this. Scalping can clean up the dormant turf, and expose the soil more so that the lawn will green up earlier in the spring. If this is done too early in spring, the bermudagrass will green-up too quickly and you’ll run the risk of a late spring freeze damaging that tender green grass. Scalping too early also removes that thick insulating value of the dormant leaves and stems, leaving the crown of the grass plant at the soil surface more vulnerable to a hard freeze.

Last spring, and it seems like most springs in Oklahoma, the bermudagrass will green up substantially with warm March temperatures, and then we experience one of those late spring cold fronts bringing the temperatures down into the upper 20’s in early to mid-April. When that happens, bermudagrass plants can either die, or be severely set back, especially if the grass is green when that freeze happens. By leaving the turf mowed high, there is more insulation, and the likelihood of a late freeze damaging the turf is much less.

So we always tell our customers to wait until after April 15 th to scalp your turf. At that point, chances of a hard freeze are pretty slim. And if a homeowner does scalp then, the bermudagrass or zoysia will green up substantially faster with the removal of most of the brown dead leaves and stems, stimulating new green growth of the turf. Scalping also helps remove any dying spring weeds from the turf.

If you do scalp, this is the only time we would recommend removing the grass clippings, as leaving an excess amount of brown clippings may contribute to thatch, and it will look really bad also. Removing the brown clippings gives the turf a nice clean appearance, and helps sunlight reach the soil surface to warm it up quicker for spring green-up. Never scalp a cool-season turf such as fescue, as that could damage or even kill the turf.

This spring has been nice, and the bermudagrass is about as green as I’ve seen it for mid-April in Oklahoma. And there is no prospect of a hard freeze anytime soon, so it’s safe to go ahead and scalp away if you want to, or if you just want to get outside and have some exercise, which is a good thing also!

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The lawn service industry is like any other industry. There are many to choose from and it’s sometimes difficult to really know how to choose the best. In most large markets, there are a few great ones, the majority are OK, and some cannot be trusted or will be out of business within a year or this writing. Lawn care is a service, and it’s really difficult to make a decision on service without touching and feeling it, as one would with a product. There are some key things to look for however which will usually clue you in as to who the best lawn care company is to service your lawn.

  • Are they licensed and legal? Check with the state licensing agency, the Department of Agriculture, to insure they are.
  • Are they insured properly? If they are licensed by the state, that is one of the requirements.
  • How does their equipment look? Is it old, dirty, and worn looking, or clean and new?
  • What is the appearance of their employees? Are they in uniform?
  • Are they members of professional trade organizations, such as the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the local Chamber of Commerce, and others?
  • What are their online reviews like, such as Angie’s List?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have local ownership, and do they give back to the communities they serve?
  • What type of guarantee do they have?
  • Does there website look professional, with good lawn and landscape information on it?
  • Ask them about the products they use, and their programs. How often do they come out to service the lawn?

From my 30 years of experience in caring for lawns, I really think it all boils down to three things….the People, Products, and Programs.

I can assure you that LawnAmerica has the best, most educated, most caring folks in the business, averaging over six years in lawn care experience. We pay and treat them will, so that they will then serve our customers very well. Our programs are very unique, tailored to meet the needs of the lawn, not the cash flow of the company. And nobody uses the quality slow-release Nitrogen fertilizers, and the newest in weed-control products that we do on a regular basis at LawnAmerica.

There is a reason why LawnAmerica services more homeowners than anyone in the entire state of Oklahoma, and now with expansion into North Carolina. We’ve proven ourselves to be the best, providing better service and results, keeping our loyal customers, and gaining more referrals from them.

For a recent KJRH news spot on how to choose a lawncare company, visit this link.

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Fertilizer Fertilizer + pre-emergent for $61 plus tax. Treats 15,000’, but 2 treatments needed.

I had to laugh after seeing the commercial several times recently about the homeowner having a beautiful green lawn because the guy at Lowe’s told him about the right type of fertilizer to buy. I actually have even experienced this at times, with a few folks trusting some part-time employee working the garden section at the box stores over a company like LawnAmerica, which is backed with 30 years of experience in our industry, caring for tens of thousands of lawns over that time period, with thousands of hours invested in research, reading, and learning.

So I went to the local big box store to check out what they were peddling to homeowners these days. I actually could not even find a bag of just fertilizer, as they all had either herbicide or insecticide combined with their products, which raises the price. And if I wanted to buy a granular pre-emergent to apply, I’d have to apply the fertilizer also, which unless it is a special slow-release nitrogen product such as our fertilizer, is really not efficient when applied to bermudagrass at this time in the spring. The 40 pound bag of 28-0-4 was about $61 plus tax, and stated that it would treat 15,000’ of turf. The actual pre-emergent was a product named Pendimethalin, which is not as long-lasting as Barricade, the product we use. To obtain the same results, two treatments of the Scott’s product would be needed. So we are up to $131 in product cost, and we’ve not even addressed spraying the existing weeds. So if I purchase one of those bottles of liquid herbicide, assuming I actually know which one to buy (just ask the Lowe’s guy I guess), then I’m up to about $152. And oh, I forgot, my spreader was ran over by my teenager last fall while it sat in the garage, so there’s another $50 I need to spend.

Weed Spray Is this what you need to spray on existing weeds? Read the label!

Do the math. By the time you add up all of what you have to buy at the box store, you have spent more than the $99 you would have paid LawnAmerica to treat that large 15,000’ lawn. Most homeowners have lawns about half that size, so you would then need to apply half the bag early in spring, and the other half later that spring. And again, you’d come out better if you just had paid LawnAmerica! And, you wouldn’t have to figure out what to apply, when to apply it, how much, and have to store excess products in your garage. In fact, you can go to our Lawncare Calculater on our website, enter in your lawn size and a few other entries, and you can see exactly how the “do-it-yourself” method compares to using LawnAmerica for your lawn care.

And if the Lowe’s method does not quite give you the results you like, try taking the empty bag of fertilizer back to the store or the empty herbicide container and asking for your money back, or another free bag to do the job. Don’t think you’ll get anywhere with that one. However, after a LawnAmerica treatment, we are just a phone call away from coming back out for no charge if any of our treatments don’t meet your expectations.

So who do you trust…..a company with a track record, using the best products, applied at the right time by educated technicians averaging over 6 years of experience, or the seasonal employee at the big box stores?

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Since April of 1990, our national trade organization, the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), has observed April as National Lawn Care Month. This year, we have partnered with the Turgrass Producers International and The Lawn Institute towards celebrating and promoting the tremendous positive aspects of turf and lawns in the urban environment. At LawnAmerica, we are proud to be good stewards of homeowner and commercial lawns and landscapes. We take pride in caring for landscapes in an environmentally responsible way, providing to our customers and the communities we serve some of the following benefits:

  • Well-cared-for lawns can significantly increase property values and business activity.
  • A healthy lawn is important to our urban environment. A 50-foot by 50-foot lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four.
  • Lawns cool the atmosphere. Eight healthy front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditioning, which is enough for 16 average homes.
  • Grass converts carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air.
  • Dense, healthy grass slows water runoff, removing contaminants and trapping soil. Fresh, filtered water returns to the underground water supply.

So do your part in caring for your little part of the outdoor world by caring for your lawn and landscape, allowing it to provide the positive benefits to you and our community. And to insure that your lawn is cared for in the proper manner, so that it can provide the valuable environmental benefits that it can, hire a professional member of PLANET, such as LawnAmerica.

For more information on the healthy benefits of lawns, visit the following link from loveyourlawn.com.

https://www.loveyourlandscape.com/LYL/Lawn-Landscape/National-Lawn-Care-Month/LYL/National-Lawn-Care-Month.aspx?hkey=6dac870e-0037-4c5a-b6a2-987e899db5cd