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What a difference a year makes, or even a month! After years of dealing with drought, now we are wrapping up the wettest month ever for rainfall in Oklahoma. So while it’s good that the subsoil now has moisture, the ponds and lakes are full, and we can save money on our water bills, there are also negative effects of excessive rainfall on plants and turf in the landscape. As with most things, too much of something good can often be just as bad as not enough.

Remember learning about photosynthesis and respiration in science class way back when? I’m actually a science teacher by trade, as I was a teacher for 8 years before becoming a lawn care operator. So allow me to pull out my old overhead projector and give a brief lesson on how this excessive rainfall can affect your lawns and landscapes.

Plants need oxygen to live, since it is a component of the respiration process in combining with sugars (produced from photosynthesis) to produce water and energy the plant needs for growth. The root system of plants absorbs that oxygen from tiny pore spaces found in the soil. However, when the soil is constantly saturated with water from rainfall, or excessive irrigation, these pores are filled with water and not oxygen. Therefore, this lack of oxygen uptake from the roots can result in death of some of the root system, leading to dis-coloration of foliage, wilting, and sometimes even death of the plant.

Certain plants, and plants planted in poorly-drained soil are more susceptible to damage. If you lose plants during this rainy time, you may consider improving the drainage, or changing to a more hardy plant. Certain trees can show a color change in leaves, and/or have leaves drop. It’s no cause for concern usually, and with drier weather will go away.

We have a good article posted on our website with information about how this excessive rainfall affects the turf at http://www.lawnamerica.com/documents/Rainfall-and-Lawn-Treatments.pdf In this, you’ll see that with our unique 70% slow-release nitrogen fertilizer applied back before all this rain hit, our customer’s turf really should be fine, since most of the nitrogen is water-insoluble and not as prone to leaching or washing away as water-soluble quick-release N sources. When the soil stays completely saturated for weeks on end, the turf roots will be damaged, so we’ll need some drier and warmer weather to help the roots recover. And until that happens, most turf will just not look as good as it normally would at this time of the season. And when the soil stays saturated, the pre-emergent in the soil will break down sooner, so we do expect to be dealing with more weed issues this summer. However, as LawnAmerica customer, we’ll be there to treat with a post-emergent herbicide on into the summer as they come up.

For more good information on the effects of this record-breaking month of rainfall in our area, the University of Arkansas Turf Department has a good article here: http://turf.uark.edu/turfhelp/archives/052511%20Rain.html

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With all the rainy weather in Oklahoma this May, we are seeing more turf disease, more weeds, and even mushrooms sprout up in lawns. These mushrooms are interesting, but don’t usually harm turf or plants. Most mushrooms are mycorrhizal (symbiotic association with tree roots) or saprophytic (live on dead organic matter such as wood, etc.) in the soil. When it is warm and very moist as the soil is now, mushrooms are simply the fruiting structure of fungi that is usually just decomposing dead organic material in the soil, such as old wood or tree roots. Don’t worry about spraying with a fungicide, as it’s not needed nor would it do any good, as the fungus is below the soil. If mushrooms are a nuisance, pick them and dispose of them as soon as they appear. Remove sources of large organic debris from the soil, such as old tree roots and decomposing wood. Mushrooms tend to go away as soil dries, so they will be gone once this wet weather pattern goes away and it gets hot and dry this summer.

There are some mushrooms associated with arc-like or circular patterns in turfgrass called fairy
rings. The ring pattern is caused by the outward growth of fungal mycelium, which forms a dense, mat-like structure in the soil that decomposes organic matter. This decomposition releases nitrate into the soil, which in turn stimulates the growth of dark green grass at the outer
portion of the ring. The fungus also may release certain byproducts that are toxic to the turf, leading to brown or dead turf next to the ring.

Fairy rings are difficult to control, other than digging out the areas affected and replacing with new soil and sod. A turf fungicide may be applied, but we recommend to just wait for hotter and drier weather, and the problem seems to go away. If the problem is severe, we can apply a fungicide labelled for fairy ring disease, but remember that this is only when the mushrooms are found in an arc pattern, associated with the turf disease.

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As a nation we take today to honor the sacrifice of countless men and women that have bravely given their lives to protect this country and the freedom that America represents.

Today is much more than a Federal holiday. It is a day to remember the soldiers that sacrificed everything. It is a day to decorate graves of the fallen with flags and flowers as a symbol of respect. It is a day to remember the families left behind and the sacrifice they continue to make.

Folds of Honor is a tremendous organization that does just that. Its mission is to honor the sacrifice of these brave men and women by helping to educate their legacy. Since its founding in 2007, Folds of Honor has awarded over 7,500 scholarships to children and spouses of soldiers who have been killed or disabled while in active duty. You can learn more about Folds of Honor and ways you can become involved at www.foldsofhonor.org or www.facebook.com/FoldsOfHonor

May we as nation never become so engrossed in the noisy world around us that we forget the individuals and the families that have sacrificed it all.

God Bless America!

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It seems that just yesterday, we had surpassed the 13,000 customer mark back in early March. Now that we are finishing up the big spring influx of new lawn care customers, we’ve grown even more with over 14,000 customers now at LawnAmerica. For that we are very thankful. Most new customers start in the spring, when weeds are sprouting and lawns turning green. Although early spring is a great time to start a lawn service, fall is also a great time to start. And for that matter, we’ll take on new customers anytime in the season, and can usually make a big difference on a lawn taking it over even in the late spring or summer. We’ve worked hard, and will continue to work hard to deliver great service and results, giving our customers a green, healthy, more weed-free lawn, while allowing them to focus on things they really want to do.

Growing great lawns is not magic. We don’t use magic juice on our lawns, just the best weed-control and fertilization products available. We try to have the most professional service people, and treat them well so that they will treat our customers well. Our lawn care programs are the best, and very unique for our industry. We really try to educate our customers also, as there are many things, such as proper watering and mowing, which have a huge impact on how the turf performs. One way we do this is though sending a follow-up e-mail after each treatment with good information on what we did and what the customer needs to do, along with our monthly e-Newsletter, The American Lawn. So if we don’t have your e-mail address, please provide that and we will be able to communicate to you even better.

Our customers and their beautiful lawns are the best advertising we have, so THANK YOU for the opportunity to serve you! Our Mission is to please you so much that you’ll tell others about us, and when you do, we’ll send you a $25 Restaurant Gift Card as our way of saying thanks when your referral signs up with LawnAmerica service.

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Now that we are out of the long-term drought in Oklahoma, some areas have been inundated with up to 11” of rain over the past 11 days. Most lawn treatments we provide at LawnAmerica consist of a pre-emergent herbicide and/or a fertilizer, usually granular. These need to be watered into the soil within a few days with about ½” of moisture in order to be effective, so rainfall after a treatment is usually a good thing. However, when it’s this much rainfall, with almost daily rain events, turf and the products applied can be affected. We are basically farmers, growing healthy turf as our crop, and we’re subject to the whims of Mother Nature just as farmers are. We can’t control the weather, but we do some things at LawnAmerica which help lessen the impact that things such as excessive rainfall can have on the turf.

We use Barricade pre-emergent in early spring, which has the lowest water solubility of any product on the market. This means that once it’s watered in, it binds to the soil particles, and really does not leach through the soil profile much at all. We apply it at the high end of the label rate with one solid application, unlike many competitors who break it up into two light treatments. For our full program 6 and 7-step customers, we then apply a booster half rate of Barricade, which is one of the herbicides in our Round 3 Echelon Treatment during May and early June. Barricade, like all pre-emergents, will break down in the soil with time, as they are not designed to last forever, which is great from an environmental standpoint. When the soil is constantly saturated due to constant rainfall or excessive irrigation, it will break down and degrade faster, leading to weed germination later in the summer. All we can do is have the highest possible rate of product in the soil, which we do, and if Mother Nature throws too much rainfall at us, we’ll just treat the crabgrass and other weeds with a post-emergent later in the season.

Fertilizers also need watering into the soil before the soil nutrients can be taken up by the turfgrass roots. Nitrogen, the main ingredient in lawn fertilizers, can be either water soluble (quick-release) or water insoluble (slow-release). At LawnAmerica, we apply a high quality 50%-70% slow-release Nitrogen (N) fertilizer with our Round 2 treatment. So while there is plenty of N to green-up the turf quickly, there is also plenty to stay in the soil, even under excessive rainfall, and provide N for continued release up to about 11 weeks. One reason we use this fertilizer with much more slow-release N than our competitors is we want it to stand up to spring rains, and not leach all out of the topsoil. Quick-release soluble N sources such as Urea are good, and will green-up the turf within a week of treatment. But the Urea is either utilized or dissipates after a few weeks, especially with excessive rainfall or irrigation. So think of the slow-release N component of our fertilizer as being “backup” for the quick-release N.

Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) are other nutrients found in turf fertilizers. We use very little P, as it is usually abundant in soils, unless a soil test shows a deficiency. It is very insoluble in soil and tends to stay put. Potassium is important for the root system, with an average of about 22% of our fertilizer nutrients being K (most is N). Potassium is not as water soluble as N, so it does tend to stay in the soil longer. We also apply much of our K in early fall, when the chances for excessive rainfall are much less.

Organic Nitrogen sources are also water insoluble, and will hold up to excessive rainfall and don’t really leach through the soil. At LawnAmerica, most of our fertilizer blends also contain a small amount of organic content, especially when we treat fescue turf in the summer. And, we do have an all organic option for customers, if they prefer a fertilization program with all organic-based fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are much more expensive and are slower to work. Your lawn will not be as green, but organic nitrogen and soil amendments do help soil biology, and lead to a stronger root system and turf.

In summary, yes, weather events such as excessive rainfall can affect what we do and the performance of some of our products and the turf. All we can do is use the very best products, which we do, such as slow-release fertilizers and Barricade pre-emergent. We apply them properly at the proper times. Sometimes in spite of that, the control of weeds and performance of fertilizers will not be perfect. We always ask that if it does rain excessively or too soon after a lawn treatment, give it some time to see how the turf responds and if the existing weeds are controlled. It can take from 1 to 2 weeks generally to make that determination. We can’t just assume that rainfall “washed away” the treatment, because in reality it probably had minimal effect on it. And if we came out and just applied the same treatment again, it could do more harm than good.

Contact us then at that point if things just don’t look good, if too many weeds are present, if the turf does not green-up well, etc. and we’ll come out again promptly at that point for a free service call and do whatever needs to be done to make things right.