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Healthy Newsletters

 

Early Spring Newsletter

The Best Offense is a Good Defense
CRABGRASS CONTROL IS A MATTER OF PREVENTION

Crabgrass just can’t take a hint. No matter how much work we put into keeping it out of our lawns, you can be sure that it will stage a comeback every year. This is a very aggressive annual weed, and just one crabgrass plant can produce thousands of seeds in a season.

The seeds germinate in the late spring and early summer. Once crabgrass plants start growing, they expand outward in circles that can reach 12" in diameter. The plants eventually die off in the fall, leaving behind dead areas in the lawn where new crabgrass seeds are likely to germinate again during the next growing season.

Crabgrass can make a mess of your lawn as it out-competes the good grass you want to have growing on your property. It is lighter green in color and coarser in texture than desirable lawn grasses, so it can seriously detract from the uniformity of your lawn if it's allowed to gain a foothold.

DEFENDING YOUR LAWN

Crabgrass has a harder time getting established in a thick, healthy lawn. In fact, lawns that are under-watered, under-fertilized and growing thinly provide ideal growing conditions for this opportunistic weed. That's why proper lawn care practices are especially important.

Regular fertilization and sufficient watering (1" to 1 1⁄2" per week) will encourage a denser, more vigorous lawn that is less prone to crabgrass invasion. Mowing the lawn high (removing no more than 1⁄3 of the grass blade each time) will be helpful too. This works against crabgrass by keeping the soil shaded (crabgrass seeds germinate more successfully in sunny conditions).

For an extra measure of protection, pre-emergent herbicides can be used to hinder crabgrass seed germination. By interfering with a key enzyme during the germination process, preemergents make it much more difficult for crabgrass plants to grow. For best results, preemergents should be applied in the early spring before crabgrass seeds start sprouting. And if you're planning on seeding your lawn, it's a good idea to wait six to eight weeks after pre-emergents have been applied. Otherwise, they can prevent your new grass seed from sprouting as well.

Trees Hate Dieting

YOUNG AND OLD, TREES AND SHRUBS NEED NUTRIENTS Your trees and other ornamental plants may not need to be fertilized as often as your lawn, but don't put them on a forced diet.

Over the last several years, we've had both too much water and too little at different times.We've also seen some severe temperatures. All of these things take their toll on your landscape. On large (and more valuable) landscape plants, you won't see a quick, immediate response to these kinds of stress. The effects are slower and can stretch out over several years. If a tree or shrub goes through enough of this "rough weather" without help, you'll start seeing a general decline of the plant's vigor and growth. Plants under stress (or in decline) also fall prey to disease infestations much more easily. Healthy trees and shrubs are far better able to get through all sorts of difficulties.

Regular root injections of balanced fertilizers and micro-nutrients help plants recover more quickly and completely from any kind of stress or disease damage. Your trees and shrubs represent a large investment that will keep adding value to your property if you keep them in good shape. Annual or semi-annual feeding goes hand-in-hand with regular disease and insect management.

Give us a call with any questions about what your landscape needs for good growth.

Giving Back to Your Lawn

Grasscycling, or returning grass clippings to the lawn, is a great way to provide your turf with valuable nutrients in the form of organic matter. You don't want to go overboard, though. Proper grasscycling requires that you mow often enough so that no more than 1⁄3 of the grass blade is removed each time. A sharp mower blade is important too, and you should only mow when the grass is dry. Wet grass clumps up on turf and has a harder time filtering through to the soil to add nutrients to it.

A mulching mower makes grasscycling easy by chopping grass clippings into fine pieces for easier breakdown. However, a standard mower will work just as well if you follow the "1⁄3 rule."

Proper grasscycling will lead to improved soil fertility and water-holding capacity. In the long run, you'll be rewarded with a lawn that requires less time and money spent on fertilizer and water!

 

Spring Newsletter

"Just Say No" to Broadleaf Weeds
CONTROL THEM WITH OUR REGULAR MAINTENANCE AND POST-EMERGENTS

We'd all like to have a thick carpet of beautiful, green grass without a weed in sight, but the reality of the situation is that broadleaf weeds are very determined pests. No lawn is immune to them, their seeds are always present in the soil, and they germinate throughout the growing season.

Dandelions are probably the most familiar to you, but others such as chickweed, ground ivy, henbit, knotweed, plantain and thistle can all make an appearance in your turf when you least expect it.

Broadleaf weeds have trouble growing in dense, healthy lawns. Therefore, the first step in "Saying No" to them is to develop a hearty stand of grass through mutual ongoing care and maintenance. This should include regular fertilization, insect and disease control as necessary, adequate irrigation in the absence of rainfall (1" to 11⁄2" per week), and proper mowing (removing no more than 1⁄3 of the grass blade at a time).

WHAT IF THAT'S NOT ENOUGH?

Despite our best efforts to maintain a beautiful lawn, broadleaf weeds can still show up in your turf from time to time.When this happens, they need to be treated with a post-emergent herbicide. Post-emergents must be used when the weeds are actively growing (many broadleaf weeds can't be treated with pre-emergents like those used to prevent crabgrass seeds from sprouting).

Once applied, it can take up to three weeks for the weeds to die off completely. Repeated applications may also be necessary, since broadleaf weed seeds germinate continuously. If this is the case, call our office to schedule a free service call.

Remember, when it comes to broadleaf weeds, don't concede. It's easy to "Say No" to these annoying pests with good lawn care practices and post-emergents.

The Allure of Roses

Who can resist the attraction of a rose? The beauty and fragrance of this flower have made it a garden favorite for thousands of years.

Today, over 5,000 varieties of roses are available, and new cultivars are patented (yes, patented!) every year.

WHICH ROSE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Roses have been bred over time for certain characteristics such as color, flower size, hardiness and growing habit. There are many types of roses, including floribundas, grandifloras, miniatures and climbing plants. The most popular, though, is probably the hybrid tea rose.

Hybrid tea roses grow about 4' to 5' tall and produce beautifully shaped flowers on single stems. They come in an exceptional range of colors, they're fragrant, and they bloom intermittently throughout the growing season.

CARING FOR YOUR ROSES

Rose bushes don't compete well with other perennials or tree roots. As a result, they'll perform best in a separate bed prepared especially for them. Good drainage is essential, so the bed should have ample organic matter worked into the soil, preferably several months before planting.

Roses need plenty of sunshine, so plant them where they'll get at least five to six hours per day. Early-morning sun is best because dew will dry sooner, reducing moisture-induced leaf diseases.

The best line of defense against insects and diseases is good health. But if faced with pests, call the office for a free estimate. Our systemic insecticide treatment, applied once a year, protects against aphids and white flies.

Are You Watering Correctly?

HERE'S HOW TO DO IT:

There's no magic to watering properly. It's really just a matter of ensuring that the water you do supply to your lawn, trees and shrubs is used efficiently.

During the hotter summer months, your lawn will need from 1" to 11⁄2" of water per week either by rainfall or sprinkling. You can use a rain gauge to determine how much extra water will be needed each week. By soaking your soil to a depth of 6", you'll help your turf 's roots to grow deeper and stronger.

Your trees and shrubs will also benefit from weekly irrigation when rainfall is scarce. Since their roots are much deeper than those of your lawn, it's a good idea to soak each area thoroughly with each watering.

AVOIDING WATER WASTE

When setting up sprinklers, try to avoid letting water run down your driveway, the sidewalk or the street. It's also important to avoid watering during hotter, windier parts of the day when chances of evaporation are high (early morning is best).

 

Summer Newsletter

Don't Get Bugged

With a dozen or so insects that feed on turf, keeping the bugs from bugging you offers us a lot of challenges. Insect damage can be severe on most grass varieties, so a little prevention may save major renovation costs later. As temperatures go up, the number of insects lunching on your landscape will be increasing too. Here are a few facts that will help us work together to keep your lawn healthy and pest-free.

WHERE THE ACTION IS

Your lawn, and the soil in which it grows, are like a high-rise apartment building to insects. Some (like grubs) live in the basement below the soil line. Others stay on the ground floor and occupy the thatch layer, while still others prefer crowns, stems, leaves and other above-ground parts. Knowing where the offenders feed helps us locate and identify them. The type of insect and where it lives within the turf profile also determines what kind of control material is needed.

What all insects have in common is that they become active with an increase in temperature. Insect damage may begin to appear either early or late depending on the temperatures in a particular year. If unexplained areas of torn-up sod appear in your lawn, it's possible that raccoons or skunks have been digging through your yard during the wee hours, making a snack of the insects there. And if you see a large number of birds milling around or come home to see holes pecked through the thatch, it's a good sign your lawn has become a fast-food restaurant for the neighborhood birds.

During the hotter months, insect damage is often dismissed as hot-weather dormancy. To avoid this confusion, it's important to keep your lawn in good growing condition. Follow these tips to help keep your lawn from getting bugged:

  • Keep it well irrigated.
  • Maintain a good fertility program.
  • Evaluate your current insect control program and consider the addition of grub control if it's not now included.
  • Carefully follow our instructions after any insect control treatments to ensure maximum control.
  • Inspect your lawn regularly. If you see patches of damaged, torn-up or browning turf, give us a call. A small problem is much easier and less expensive to solve than one that spreads through the whole lawn.


A LIST OF THE LEADING LAWN-EATERS

Grubs: Larval state of many types of beetles. Sub-surface, feed on roots. Control in spring or fall.

Billbugs: Adult form of the billbug grub, which feeds on grass stems. Overwinters in the lawn as adults.

Chinch Bugs: Suck juices from grass plants while injecting a toxin that further damages the lawn.

Webworms: Chew blades off and pull them into tunnels in the thatch. Larval state of "lawn moths."

Greenbug Aphids: Extremely small (dozens may be found on a single grass blade). Damage appears as orange-brown patches, often under the drip line of trees.

Lawn Fungus Diseases

HOW THEY SPREAD AND HOW TO CONTROL THEM

Whether we like it or not, fungus spores are constantly surrounding us, infiltrating our air, water and soil while waiting for just the right moment to attack.

Fungus disease organisms exist in all lawns, traveling from lawn to lawn on our feet, in the water and through the air. In the spring, when cool, moist conditions are the norm, fungus organisms tend to thrive especially well.

Unfortunately, if your lawn isn't in top shape, its chances of contracting a fungus disease are much greater.

A healthy lawn will be better able to fight off many fungus disease attacks. Even if you have a variety of fungus diseases present in your turf, those diseases will have a lot more trouble infecting your lawn if it's strong, well-fed and unstressed. Here are a few easy ways to keep many fungus varieties at bay:

CONTROL WATERING

The best time to water is when the sun rises and the turf can dry more quickly.

FERTILIZATION

Stay with our regular, scheduled fertilizer program throughout the season to promote steady growth and discourage unhealthy growth spurts that encourage disease.

MOW WITH SHARP BLADES

Dull mower blades shred grass blades, leaving an open wound through which spores can enter. This increases the chances of fungus disease by 20%. SOIL

CONDITIONER

Ask your technician or call the office for a free estimate on Aquaduct soil conditioner. This soil conditioner helps fight off stress that leads to several types of fungus. It also helps with localized dry spots by enabling the soil to retain moisture where it's needed.

By maintaining a carefully timed fertilization program and sparing your lawn the problems that can arise from careless mowing and overwatering, your lawn will be better equipped to stand up to fungus disease attacks.

In addition to the above cultural practices, we can apply a fungicide treatment to improve your lawn's chances of recovery from a fungus attack.When needed, fungicide treatments are applied in two treatments 14 to 21 days apart (according to all labels). Call us right away if you suspect a fungus outbreak.

 

Fall Newsletter

Lawn Giving You Trouble? Punch It!

FULL OF HOLES, THAT IS.

Soil compaction, which results from heavy lawn use over time, can lead to decreased top growth and overall turf deterioration if steps aren't taken to correct it.When soil is compacted, the pore spaces that hold oxygen are reduced in size. Roots need this oxygen to grow, and they're literally starved of it in compacted soil.

The best way to relieve soil compaction is to have your lawn aerated yearly, and fall is a great time to do it. This process uses a machine known as a core aerator to remove cores of soil ½" to ¾" in diameter from your lawn. The holes that are made in your lawn will be anywhere from 1" to 6" deep, and the soil cores that are left behind will eventually dissolve back into the turf through rainfall or sprinkling.

Fall core aeration is one of the best things we can do for your lawn, and it will provide your turf withmultiple benefits, including:

  • Better rooting
  • Increased flow of water, nutrients and oxygen to the roots
  • Breakdown of the thatch layer, which can become harmful if it gets too thick
  • Prevention of fertilizer and/or pesticide run-off in severely compacted areas


Be sure to send in your aeration slip or call the office to schedule. You, and your lawn, will be glad you did!

Fall Repairs to Rejuvenate Your Turf

ALL LAWNS CAN USE A LITTLE HELP

Fall is the perfect time for lawn repairs. Even if your turf looks like it doesn't need any help, there are certain things we can do to ensure continued healthy growth next spring.

Depending on the condition of your turfgrass this fall, wemay recommend one of the following:

Core aeration with overseeding: By combining core aeration with overseeding, we can thicken up a thin lawn or add a more hardy, drought-resistant variety of grass to your property.

Slice seeding: Slice seeding deposits seed directly into the soil rather than spreading it out over the thatch layer (where it may not get a chance to sprout). This results in excellent germination rates and thicker growth. This service is especially beneficial in excessive Bermuda grass areas that go dormant in the winter.

Renovation: This includes killing off all existing turf or undesirable grasses, followed by aeration and slice seeding.

Any of these choices can lead to a thicker and healthier lawn next spring. For more information, or to schedule lawn repairs, call Rx Lawn Care Solutions today.

Falling Into Garden Color

Fall may be fast approaching, but your flowering colors are far from finished. Of course, many summer flowers continue to bloom into fall, at least until the first hard frost. But here are a few specific fall favorites:

Chrysanthemums – No plants are more associated with autumn than chrysanthemums, better known as mums. Thousands of cultivars offer varying sizes and styles, from button mums to single or daisy mums. These perennials come in all colors, except blue. They're easy to care for and can be transplanted in bud or in full bloom.

Care: Mums need full sun and rich, well-drained soil. Feed them weekly during the growing season. Begin to pinch back at 5" tall to keep plants bushy. Divide plants every year.

Japanese Anemone – The popularity of these graceful flowers, which grow 2' to 21⁄2' tall, is still increasing. Flowers come in pink, lavender,mauve and white with silken-looking petals that are perfect for cutting. They're tough, once established.

Care: Japanese anemones grow well in average soil, in full sun or partial shade. They need lots of water and a good winter mulch. Plant them in the spring, spaced 8" to 12" apart, for strong fall blooms.

Asters – The dark lavender and purple tones of these flowers, also known as Michaelmas daisies, bring a nice balance to the warm tones of mums. Grown widely by English gardeners, some flowers can stand 3' to 5' high. There are many cultivars available.

Care: Asters bloom from late summer into fall. They grow in almost any soil. Either stake flowers to support stems or pinch plants back to keep them compact. Try your hand at these fall-flowering colors today, or make some autumn discoveries of your own. The colors are there, just waiting to bloom!

Avoiding Landscape Decline

A scorching month of summer weather shows its results pretty fast on lawns and flowers. But did you know that your more deeply rooted trees and shrubs can suffer long-term (or even permanent) damage from weather extremes, too?

It's natural not to notice the changes happening to your larger landscape plants, because they appear more slowly, sometimes evolving over several years. Extremes in temperature, moisture and wind all take their toll.

For instance, a series of very dry winters, followed by hot and dry summers, can begin a process known as plant decline. Plants in decline begin to thin and produce smaller leaves. They may lose an excessive number of branches and generate more dead wood. Flowers decrease in size and number, and pests tend to increase due to weakened resistance.

Because these symptoms show up so slowly, they're often overlooked completely.

Nutrition is key

Regular feeding of your landscape plants will help to overcome some forms of decline and strengthen plants' resistance to disease and pests. Root feeding will stimulate recovery of the roots and will promote new, vigorous growth. The process of feeding puts nutrients into the soil so that they can be easily picked up by the roots.

Your landscape is growing and changing all the time. It's affected by good and bad weather and can be very expensive to replace. Regular care should start with inspections and feeding. Let us know if you have any questions, or if you'd like a free estimate on our deep-root fertilization program.

 

Winter Newsletter

Don't ignore the lawn just because it's winter

In most parts of the country, lawn grass goes dormant in the winter. In the south, cool season ryegrass is often overseeded into the turf to maintain a green lawn. In the north, it's too cold for any grass to grow so we wait patiently for spring - sometimes under snow cover, sometimes not. Lawn care doesn't quite end in the winter though.
There are still some considerations and concerns that one should be aware of even in the winter.

  • Clean it up. It is extremely important not to leave debris, leaves, or toys out on the lawn. These things can smother the grass, create disease conditions, and invite insects, mice and other damaging pests.
  • Lower the height of your mower by a notch or two (.5" - 1.0") the last couple of times you mow. Excessively long grass can smother itself, cause disease, and is at risk of damage from freezing and thawing conditions. However, do not cut the grass too short and scalp it thus exposing the crown of the plant to extreme conditions.
  • Be aware of traffic. Under snow cover, or exposed to the elements, dormant grass will tolerate a moderate amount of traffic but a heavily worn path will be slower to green up in the spring and cause compaction.
  • Monitor weather conditions. Turf is very resilient and can tolerate an extreme winter but certain conditions can be harmful in the long term. It might be worthwhile to chip away a little exposed ice in a low spot if you know a winter storm or deep freeze is approaching.

Winters can often be unpredictable and may put your lawn through some extreme conditions during the course of a winter. The best thing to do is make sure the grass has hardened off, you've "put the lawn to bed" properly, monitor the weather, and focus on keeping your sidewalks clear and building.