Lawn Care Watering Tips

Watering Tips For a Healthy Lawn

Irrigating properly is crucial to maintaining a healthy lawn.  Too much or too little water can cause harm to your lawn.  Over watering can create the right conditions for fungus and disease, and watering too little promotes shallow roots and sets your lawn up for trouble in the summer heat.  

A general guideline to follow is to water to a depth of 6 inches, once a week.  This includes rain we get naturally, so as April showers arrive account for any rain accumulation in your weekly watering.  

You can easily measure the depth of your water application by pressing a screwdriver into the ground in various areas of your lawn.  Once the soil comes up wet to the top of the handle you can stop watering.  This will be achieved with about 30 minutes of watering per section, on average.  Make sure to measure low, high and shady spots and adjust accordingly.  

Winter Lawn Care: Pro Tips

As Raleigh dips into frigid temperatures this week, probably the last thing on your mind is caring for your lawn and landscape. But now is the time to consider a few essential action items for your Raleigh lawn maintenance program.

Our area reaches very high temperatures in the summer, and with that comes one of our most pesky weeds, crabgrass. Once crabgrass germinates, it is difficult to control. One way to combat crabgrass is applying at least 2 rounds of pre-emergent weed control. Pre-emergent prevents spring and summer weeds from germinating, so now is the time to schedule those applications.

Even though grass may be dormant or slow growing, root health for your turf is still important. A winter fertilizer as well as a an additional fertilizer application in early spring can produce great results as temperatures begin to warm up.

Winter mulching is also a great consideration as part of your Raleigh lawn maintenance program. Mulching in the winter can have a number of benefits. Mulch will help prevent root damage from frost, help curb weed growth in the spring, and provide a nice clean contrast in color to your landscape.

Fall and Winter Lawn Preparation

As the grass growing season winds down and your Raleigh lawn maintenance program starts to come to an end, it is important to take the proper steps in winterizing your yard so you can have a beautiful lawn in Spring.

One of the most beneficial services you can perform on a lawn is aeration. Aerating pulls cores of compacted dirt out of your lawn to allow air, water and nutrients feed the roots of your lawn. A perfect compliment to aerating, if you have fescue grass is to overseed at the same time. Overseeding repairs your fescue lawn after a long, hot and dry summer. This service is typically done in the fall, usually beginning in September and through the end of October. This is also a great time to fertilizer using an 18-24-12 starter fertilizer to really give your new grass a kick start.

With the change in weather, we will soon start to see our beautiful trees drop their leaves. It is very important to keep your lawn clear of leaves and debris during the winter. Even if the grass isn’t growing much, leaves that sit on your lawn for too lawn with decompose, and with that also kill your lawn. The city of Raleigh offers curbside leaf collection during the fall and winter. Pro tip: cut your grass short going into the winter and your leaf cleanup will be much easier!

Winter is also a great time to prune and cut back your perennials. Without leaves, it will be easier to see what you are doing. Trim back dead, crossing, and unwanted branches. Proper pruning also encourages new growth for the spring. Perennials at this time will be wilted, and they can also be cut back to promote and encourage new growth.

Lawn Mowing in Wet Conditions

Raleigh has had quite the rainy summer, which has been great for our lawn and landscapes, but has proven to be difficult when managing service for our valued clients.  One thing we have struggled with as a company is trying to determine if we have received too much rain to mow lawns, and how to adjust our schedule.  We always want to balance keeping up with our schedule, but also make sure we are not putting large equipment on lawns and causing damage and making a mess.  

PROS

There are not a lot of pros to mowing when it is wet, but sometimes you just have to get it done.  The only real advantage to mowing when it is wet is the lawn mower can knock off morning dew or precipitation from a light overnight rain.  This will help speed up the drying process, slowing down the potential for fungus or disease to develop. 

CONS

Never mow your lawn with an electric mower if it is wet.  A good way to test if your lawn is too wet is to walk the property.  If it feels spongy or water pools around your feet, it will be best to wait.  If your lawn does not dry out after a few sunny days, you may want to consider a drainage system as part of your Raleigh Lawn Care program.  

 

Raleigh Bermudagrass Lawn Maintenance Tips

Bermuda is a warm season grass that thrive's in Raleigh's hot summers.  In the next few weeks, you should start seeing the brown (dormant) bermuda lawns green up.  This variety of grass is extra tough, and can withstand heavy foot and pet traffic.  Another advantage of bermuda is it's drought resistance, so it will stay healthy with less watering. 

Bermuda performs best when cut short, which is why it is often used for putting greens around the southern United States.  If you are deciding on a new variety of grass to install in your lawn, an important consideration is the amount of shade you have on your property.  Most types of bermuda need at least 6 hours of continuous direct sunlight.  Another consideration when choosing bermuda is the regular mowing required for proper upkeep.  Bermuda ideally should be cut at 1-2 inches.  This is best achieved with a reel mower, which protects your grass from being scalped.  A typical wheeled mower will dip into small holes and ruts in your lawn and scalp the grass, delivering an uneven appearance.  If you have to use a wheeled mower, set it at 2 inches and mow every 5 to 7 days throughout the summer.  

Even though bermuda is naturally drought resistant, water your lawn once a week to a depth of 6 inches if you have not received any natural rainfall.  If you ever have questions, reach out to Wake Pro Lawn Care for your free Raleigh lawn care consultation.     

Why Does My Grass Look Like It's Dead?

Raleigh lies in a transitional zone, so we see a number of varieties of grass do well in our area.  As we get through the final stretch of cool weather and approach spring, Fescue grass will thrive in the mild temperatures.  As you drive around your neighborhood, you will see that a lot of lawns are still brown.  These brown lawns are likely warm season grasses such as bermuda and zoysia, which are still in dormancy.  

As temperatures rise, these warm season grasses will begin to "wake up" and turn green again.  In the next few weeks, it is a good idea to get in an early mow even if the grass is still dormant.  Bermuda and zoysia perform best when cut short and often, around 2.5 inches.  

Now is also a great time to start applying your pre-emergent and spring fertilizers.  Pre emergent will help control crabgrass that becomes abundant in our long and hot summers.  Give Wake Pro Lawn Care a call now if you have any questions about your warm season grass.

Grass Varieties in Raleigh

Most of North Carolina lies in a transition zone, so you will notice that we grow all kinds of grass in the Raleigh area.  There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when either selecting or identifying the kind of grass you would like for your Raleigh lawn care program.  

Warm Season Grass

The most common types of warm season grasses we see in Raleigh are bermuda and zoysia.  Both types thrive in full, hot sun which make them great to grown in our region.  They also are great because they grow by sending out runners (stolons) can when properly maintained can stay thick and choke out weeds naturally.  This "alpha" characteristic though can be troublesome as bermuda can quickly invade beds and landscaped areas where you do not want grass growing.  

Bermuda is also very drought tolerant compared to fescue and does not need as much watering.  Bermuda performs best when cut short and often.  Bermuda goes dormant in our Raleigh winter and after the first frost will start to turn brown until Spring.    

Cool Season Grass

The most common cool season grass seen in Raleigh is fescue.  Fescue is a great choice for shadier lawns.  While a healthy fescue lawn can keep a nice dark green color all year round, it does come with its challenges.  Cool season grass like fescue is susceptible to disease during the hot and humid months we see during summer.  A common disease called brown patch often damages fescue due to overwatering in the summer, when moisture stays too long on the grass.  

Fescue also needs more frequent and deeper irrigation than its warm season cousins.  Fescue should be cut on the higher side, typically 3-4".  Fescue grass also needs to be overseeded every fall to repair damage incurred from the summer

Tips For Preparing Your Raleigh Lawn This Spring

Spring is right around the corner, and now is a great time to start thinking about the proper steps to take in order to prepare your lawn for a hot Raleigh summer.  Here are a few tips you can take to ensure you have a healthy beautiful lawn. 

1.  Aeration

Aerating your lawn is something typically done in the fall, because it compliments planting new grass, also called overseeding.  If you have not aerated in a few years, consider doing it this spring.  Aeration is the process of poking holes in your lawn and removing dirt plugs.  The new holes in your lawn allow water, air and nutrients to freely flow to the root bed of your Raleigh lawn.  You can rent an aerator for your local equipment rental shop for about $75 / day, or give us a call to set up an appointment.  

2.  Take a Soil Test

A beautiful Raleigh lawn starts with proper soil.  You can test your soil by picking up a test kit from the North Carolina Department of agriculture found here:  http://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/pdffiles/stflyer.pdf 

Soil tests are typically free, but during peak times there may be a $4 charge.  The test results reveal a number of different metrics and will reveal nutrient levels that need to be corrected.  A typical problem we face in Raleigh is low acidity, which can be corrected with an annual lime application.  Lime can be find at your local big box store.  

3.  Pre Emergent  

Crabgrass is one of the most common weeds we see in Raleigh.  Crabgrass thrives in our hot climate, typically germinating in late May and continues to grow and spread through September.  A properly timed pre-emergent application and prevent most crabgrass from ever forming.  Thankfully, crabgrass does go away in cooler temperatures, but will return year after year if not properly treated. 

4.  Spring Seeding

If you have a lot of bare areas in your lawn, you may want to consider overseeding your Raleigh lawn in early Spring.  Keep in mind that pre-emergent applications will stunt or completely prevent new grass from growing, so you will have to choose one or the other for your Spring lawn maintenance plan.  

5. Service Your Equipment

Properly maintained equipment can take a lot of the frustration out of caring for your Raleigh lawn.  If your lawn mower sat all winter with a full gas tank and it won't start up, drain all of the fuel and replace with fresh gas.  Also check and replace all filters if necessary.  It is always a good idea to start the season with new or sharpened blades.  Most hardware stores will be able to sharpen your blades for you.  Replace or sharpen a few times throughout the season.  A dull blade shreds your grass and can cause the tips to turn brown and invite disease.  

Aeration and Overseeding

Aerating and overseeding your lawn is one of the most important steps in your Raleigh lawn care program to achieve a healthy, thick and weed free lawn.  Aerating is the process of punching holes and pulling out plugs of dirt in your lawn, most often done with a walk behind machine that looks similar to a lawn mower.  There are also large ride on aerators and separate units that can be towed behind another machine such as a tractor. 

Aerating has numerous benefits that include loosening compacted soil so air, water and nutrients can freely flow to the grass roots.  Aerating also provides a desirable seed bed for growing new grass, increasing seed to soil contact.  

For cool season grass such as fescue, aerating should be done annually in the fall, and overseeding at this time is the perfect complimentary service.  Warm season grasses such as bermuda and zoysia are typically aerated in the spring, but not usually overseeded, as these types of grasses grow differently than fescue and do not benefit much from the overseeding process.  

Overseeding your fescue lawn in Raleigh is crucial to the health of your grass.  The hot and humid weather in Raleigh can really damage a fescue lawn, and typically by fall, your fescue lawn will have taken a beating from drought, crabgrass and disease. Seeding your lawn is a simple process and can be done by any home owner.  Any big box store will carry seed and a spreader.  Just read the label on the grass seed and match the settings on the spreader of your choice.  Keep in mind that a common mistake is putting down too much seed.  Grass seeds need space to take root, and over crowded seeds with choke each other out.  

Remember to water immediately after seeding.  Regular light watering for 2-4 weeks will achieve optimal results.   

Got Mulch?

All mulch is not created equal, and before you decide to install your mulch this spring, you may want to consider the different styles that are offered here in Raleigh.  

Mulch is generally used a ground cover as an accent to your landscaped areas around your property.  It adds a nice contrast to your colorful plants and green grass.  Other benefits include the addition of beneficial nutrients back into the soil, and mulch can act as a weed barrier.  

HARDWOOD

Hardwood, or shredded mulch is one of the most popular varieties used in Raleigh.  Shredded mulch is typically triple shredded, so the smaller pieces lock in really well and are great for sloped ares as it does not run off as easily as larger kinds.  

PINE BARK

Pine bark mulch are sold as nuggets are larger chips and have a unique looks.  Because of their large size they are susceptible to washing away and should only be used in flat spaces away from possible erosion.  

DESIGNER MULCH

Designer mulch is a popular request because the product is dyed so it retains its color for long periods.  Something to keep in mind is that it is actually made up of ground up wooden pallets, so although it will have consistent color and shape, designer mulch will not add beneficial nutrients back into the soil

 

Winter Lawn and Landscape Care

As we are hopefully through the worst of our winter weather in Raleigh, you may be wondering if there is anything that can be done now to improve your lawn or landscape.  Now is a great time to prune the ever popular crape myrtle.  Proper pruning of crape myrtles not only improves the overall aesthetic of the tree, but can stimulate new growth and healthy blossoms.  Best practices for pruning crape myrtles are as follows:

  • Eliminate all crossing branches, keep the branches that grow outward from the trunk to achieve a vase-like shape
  • Eliminate all dead branches, aka "deadwood"
  • Remove suckers from the lower branches and trunk
  • Avoid over pruning or topping, aka "crape murder"      

Crape murder is an industry term used to describe over pruning or topping the entire tree.  This is usually unnecessary, can stimulate stunted growth and is just plain bad practice.  Topping off a crape usually will not kill the tree, but should only be done if absolutely necessary, i.e. the tree has become a hazard to the home, powerlines, etc.  

Now is a great time to prep beds for spring plantings with mulch or pine straw.  At Wake Pro we will be working on some hardscape features and garden beds in anticipation of spring. 

Timing Your Pre-Emergent

Most home owners in the Raleigh area are likely aware of the prevalence of weeds in their lawn, particularly crabgrass.  Taking the proper steps in advance of weeds forming later in the summer is necessary in combating these pesky plants.  At Wake Pro, we split your pre-emergent treatments for a few different reasons.  Pre-emergent herbicides create and maintain a barrier that prevents weed seeds from germinating.  Splitting the applications allows for a longer time frame of effectiveness, as well as accounts for any susceptibility to the elements such as rain run off.  With our often varying spring weather in Raleigh, splitting applications also allows the herbicide to combat early sprouting weeds vs later spring weeds.

The effectiveness of your pre-emergent can be increased by lightly watering in the product prior to the application, which activates the product and allows it to absorb into the soil.  

 

Grass Mowing Height Tips

 

Mowing your grass at the proper frequency and height are an important part of maintaining the health and appearance of your lawn.  

The first step in determining your mowing height is identifying the type of grass you have.  Most lawns in the Raleigh area are either fescue, bermuda or zoysia.  Fescue is a cool season grass that stays green year round.  Bermuda and zoysia are warm weather grasses that go dormant (turn brown) in the cooler winter months.  

Fescue grass grows rapidly in the spring and fall when the temperatures are warmer during the day with about a 20 degree drop in temperature at night.  Growth slows down in the heat of the summer.  Fescue grass performs best when cut at about 3 inches.  Cut as frequently as needed to keep the grass at 3 inches without taking more than a third of the grass blade off at a time.  

Zoysia and bermuda perform best when cut shorter, at about 1 inch.  These warm season grasses thrive in full sun during the hot Raleigh summers.  Mowing bermuda and zoysia often during the summer (every 5-7 days), will actually promote growth and thicken your lawn as these grasses have rhizomes that grow sideways to fill in bare areas. 

Always "grasscycle" the clippings when you mow, leaving the clippings in the lawn.  Grass decomposes quickly and restores vital nutrients back into your lawn.  

Lawn Care Watering Tips

Watering Tips For a Healthy Lawn

Irrigating properly is crucial to maintaining a healthy lawn.  Too much or too little water can cause harm to your lawn.  Over watering can create the right conditions for fungus and disease, and watering too little promotes shallow roots and sets your lawn up for trouble in the summer heat.  

A general guideline to follow is to water to a depth of 6 inches, once a week.  This includes rain we get naturally, so as April showers arrive account for any rain accumulation in your weekly watering.  

You can easily measure the depth of your water application by pressing a screwdriver into the ground in various areas of your lawn.  Once the soil comes up wet to the top of the handle you can stop watering.  This will be achieved with about 30 minutes of watering per section, on average.  Make sure to measure low, high and shady spots and adjust accordingly.