Fall 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.
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.
It’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:
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.
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!
It’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.