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Making the Switch to an Electric Lawn Mower

Electric mowers require significantly less maintenance in comparison with gas mowers.

With the onset of spring, many of us have been pulling out our lawnmowers and beginning to get them prepped for the mowing season. Traditional gas mowers require routine maintenance, from changing spark plugs and oil to regular trips to the gas station before you can begin mowing. There’s a new solution that requires significantly less maintenance, is quieter, more eco friendly, and significantly cheaper over time. Electric cordless lawn mowers come in a plethora of styles and cover a wide range of needs making them accessible to almost anyone. If you’ve been thinking about making the switch, now is the time.

Electric Lawn Mowers are Essentially Maintenance Free

Electric mowers require significantly less maintenance in comparison with gas mowers. Gas mowers need spark plugs, oil changes, fresh gas, and have a pull start that can be tricky to get going. Mowing your yard can go from being a quick endeavor to a day’s project. Electric mowers, in comparison, are much easier to operate. Cordless mowers require a charge before you can get going, and depending on the size of your lawn and the battery, may require more than one charge to complete the job. Corded mowers, however, don’t need a charge — just plug and go! Both electric and gas mowers require the blades be sharpened once or twice a season so that they don’t harm your grass as you’re mowing.

Electric cordless lawn mowers are easy to store.

Easier operation

Gone are the days of fighting with your mower to get it to turn on. Electric mowers turn on with a button, making them much more manageable than gas mowers with their pull-cord starts. Many electric mowers come equipped with rear-wheel drive and make it easier to maneuver your lawn as you mow. Electric mowers are also significantly lighter than gas mowers, which can eliminate the stress and strain that comes from pushing a heavy mower around your lawn.

Easier storage and cleaning

Traditional mowers can be bulky, taking up lots of room in your garage, especially with all the equipment required to maintain them. We love electric mowers because they fold up in their charging docks and take up significantly less room. They are also easier to clean. All they require is sharpening the blade, removing caked-on debris, and a quick vacuum around the motor. This can be done once a year at the beginning of the mowing season.

Electric Lawn Mowers are significantly quieter.

Nothing is more disruptive to a peaceful morning or evening than the roar of a mower. Gas mowers can be quite disturbing, especially in the summer when it’s much better to mow in the morning or late evening to beat the heat. Another huge perk to electric mowers is that they are virtually silent. By eradicating the need for an engine, electric mowers cut way down on the sound they produce. This means mowing on a Sunday morning is no longer a nuisance to your neighbors! It’s also a big perk for golf courses or parks because it doesn’t disrupt the quiet serenity of the setting.

Electric Lawn Mowers are more Cost-Effective.

Corded electric lawn mowers are the most inexpensive choice and cost less than a gas mower would upfront. Cordless mowers can be a bit more expensive but are significantly cheaper over time. As we discussed earlier, gas mowers require gas, oil, and repairs from time to time. Over the lifetime of the mower, that can add up. Electric mowers save hundreds of dollars over their lifetime in comparison to gas mowers.

Electric Lawn Mowers are better for the environment!

Going electric is better for the environment, plain and simple. While lawns can be criticized for not being eco friendly, a big part of that critique often points to the maintenance they require — specifically the gas intake and emissions from mowing. While we’ve debunked this idea that grass is bad for the environment, read more, switching to an electric mower is a huge part of making lawns greener! Anything we can do to reduce our emissions is significant for the earth. In many areas, you also have the option to source your electricity from a more sustainable option. If you haven’t yet, call your electricity provider and ask about using renewable energy to power your home.

While gas mowers do have some advantages, like being a bit more durable and being able to go for much longer than a cordless mower, electric mowers are great for the homeowner. They have plenty of power to keep your yard in tip-top shape. They are much easier to operate and maintain, save you money, and are much better for the environment. There’s never been a better time to switch to an electric mower!

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Mowing Your Lawn In Spring

Lawn mowing in the spring plays a vital role in creating a healthy and productive growing season.

Tackling that first mow of the year is a perfect way to get moving, enjoy some fresh air and bask in that Colorado sunshine! Mowing is an important part of spring lawn maintenance and plays a vital role in creating a healthy and productive growing season. Mowing helps to remove the dead grass left over from winter, stimulates new growth, and thickens your lawn up to have a strong base before summer heat kicks in. By being proactive in the spring, you set your lawn up for success all year long!

When to Mow

It can be difficult to tell when to start mowing as your grass slowly begins to start greening up. As regions vary on when they tend to warm up, there’s no set date on when to start. However, a general rule of thumb is to let the temperature rise consistently above 40 degrees Fahrenheit so that the grass and soil have completely thawed. It’s also wise to allow at least 2-3 inches of new growth to occur so that it doesn’t shock the lawn.

Mower Maintenance

Another important step in spring lawn care is maintaining your mower. Change the oil, air filter, and spark plug. Clean off excess dirt and dried grass clippings (unplug the spark plug before working near the blade of course!) And finally, make sure that the blades are extra sharp. Mowing with dull blades tears the leaves of grass and can leave your lawn more prone to insect damage and disease.

Follow The Rule of Thirds

You never want to cut more than 1/3rd the length of the blade off when mowing. Doing so severely stresses the turf and can lead to scalping and yellowing. Even when your lawn is very overgrown, you don’t want to mow more than 1/3 of the blade off. Instead, change the height of the mower and then lower it every 2-3 days until the grass reaches the desired height. For bluegrass, you want it to be between 2-3″ and for tall fescue, you’ll want to keep it between 2.5-3.5”.

Frequency of Mowing

In early spring, when the grass is still growing more slowly, you can mow once every week or two. But once spring kicks into high gear and your grass really starts to grow, it’s a good idea to mow every 4 to 6 days to keep your lawn manicured. By keeping blades short, it allows more sunlight to come in and heat up the soil, which in turn promotes growth and causes the sod to thicken up. So if there are any patches or your lawn is a bit sparse, try mowing more frequently and maintaining a regular watering schedule to get it back on track.

In summary, by being mindful of your lawn and mowing it properly in spring, you can set it up for success all year long. By taking good care of your mower and paying attention to the length of your grass, you can help your lawn grow thick, resilient, and brilliantly green. So go get outside and make your lawn look beautiful as we enjoy spring here in the front range!

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Sodding In The Winter

A Firefly automated sod harvest cuts sod in the winter snow in Platteville, Colorado in January, 2020.

Winter is a great time to sod

In Denver we’ve been having a fairly mild winter, between snow storms there’s been beautiful weather and sunshine! With spring right around the corner, some of you may have started to think about redoing your lawn. Winter is actually a great time to sod! Although grass is mostly dormant, installing sod this time of year is actually completely doable. While its green color fades for the winter months, its stored energy is working hard to push new roots in search of deeper moisture in the winter. The lawn may not root as quickly this time of year, but once the temperatures start to rise your sod will take off!

The root system is still growing in winter

A huge advantage of laying sod in the winter is the fact that sod requires less water to keep it damp due to cooler temperatures. Even though the grass can look “dead”, it’s just dormant! The root system is still active and growing very slowly even in the winter months under a blanket of snow. As long as the grade is set, you can lay sod on frozen ground. With Colorado’s exceptional combination of sunshine and heavy, wet snow in the late winter months your yard will receive plenty of water, which is imperative during the first few weeks while it’s establishing. If you install sod in the spring you could be battling with mud and rainy weather, which can be a logistical nightmare. Installing sod while the ground is still frozen can avoid huge mess and a scheduling and rescheduling disaster.

Use the sun to thaw out frozen sod

Sod does need to be unfrozen before installation, so pick a mild sunny day, and warm the frozen sod up in the garage or the sun. This will make it easier to install. Frozen sod is like trying to cut through concrete! But once it’s warmed up, it’s much easier to work with.

Prep your lawn for sodding

Installing sod in the winter is very similar to installing it any other time of year. Make sure the ground is prepared and graded the way you’d like it to be. Apply starter fertilizer on the ground prior to laying the sod. We recommend our 20-20-10, but anything with a similar blend of Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potash and Iron will work! Next, lay the sod and pull the seams of the slabs tight. Water your new lawn anytime temperatures are over 40 degrees for as long as you can. Nothing helps a root system establish like a good soak! If the sod freezes after installation, don’t worry — the freeze will not harm your lawn.

Take Advantage of Natural Precipitation to Use Less water

It’s not necessary to fully turn on sprinkler systems until the end of March. Watering new sod this time of year requires less water. If you do turn on sprinklers, blow them out or drain them to avoid freezing pipes. The amount of water needed varies, but due to cooler temperatures and natural precipitation you will likely go a week or so in between watering. Once covered in snow, there’s no need to water. On dry or warm days give the sod a little water. Use a garden hose until you can turn on your irrigation system. It’s best to keep your lawn very damp for the first few weeks while the root system is establishing. That way it can grow deep into the ground and create the most efficient lawn possible! This will ultimately help you save water down the road when the temperature starts heating up again.

What are you waiting for? Cover up that dirt and get a jump on establishing a new lawn!

Go to www.gvt.net and watch our video on how to install sod.

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The Cup Test

Rain gauges are the best way to test your sprinkler system.
In the Cup lawn watering test

Test your sprinkler system

If you’ve been noticing brown spots in your yard, it is almost always because it’s not getting enough water. The odds of brown spots being caused by anything other than lack of water are very slim. So if you want to check the efficiency of your sprinkler system, the cup test is a great solution! The cup test allows you to test the spread of water over your lawn. Is my sprinkler system distributing water evenly? Are all of my sprinkler heads working as they should be? Should certain irrigation zones be getting more or less water than others? The cup test can help answer all of these questions.

What is the Cup Test?

The cup test entails setting out containers of the same size — plastic cups or rain gauges will work — in different locations around the yard. Place two cups in each sprinkler zone, one closer to the sprinkler head and one farther away, and run the sprinklers. This will determine how much water the sprinkler is putting out and how evenly. Often brown spots appear because sprinklers are clogged or not properly adjusted and are watering your yard unevenly.

How to perform the cup test

You can calculate the amount of water your sprinkler system is applying by running your sprinklers for approximately 15 minutes. Then, observe how much water is in each container and multiply that by 4. That will give you an idea of how much water is applied per hour. Calculating the hourly amount of water is useful for determining if your sprinkler system is distributing too much, too little, or just enough water to keep your yard healthy.

Understanding your findings

The cup test helps determine how much water is being laid down by your sprinklers. So, for example, if you run your sprinklers for 15 minutes, and each cup receives a quarter-inch of water, that means your sprinklers are distributing 1 inch of irrigation per hour. Kentucky Bluegrass traditionally needs about .25 to .5 inches of water per week in the cooler spring and fall months, and about 1 to 1.25 inches per week in the hotter summer months. So, knowing how much water your sprinkler system is distributing per hour is useful information to prevent over or underwatering.

Common Sprinkler Problems

Different sprinkler problems cause dry or brown spots in your lawn. Low pressure in your sprinkler heads can cause the water stream to be thin and not reach far enough. Alternatively, high water pressure can cause sprinklers to spray too far and miss the grass immediately surrounding the sprinkler head. Pop-up sprinklers can sometimes get caught in the ground and not emerge fully, only watering a portion of the area they should be. The cup test allows you to discern which sprinkler system problem could be causing issues in your lawn.

In Conclusion

The cup test is pivotal in making sure your sprinkler system is running as efficiently and effectively as it can be. By performing regular sprinkler maintenance and consistently checking that everything is running correctly, you can cut down on your water usage while still making sure your lawn is getting enough water to keep it thriving. For any questions on proper lawn maintenance and even a free rain gauge of your own, stop by our office or call us to chat with a professional!

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Four Steps to Success With Your Spring Lawn

Aeration is an important part of spring lawn maintenance because it opens up the soil and reduces thatch.

Happy Spring! The sun is starting to come out, everything is beginning to green up, and we’re starting to get those beautiful fleeting days of perfect weather — in between the record breaking blizzards of course! Spring is the perfect time to start waking up your lawn and giving it a little extra love before the heat of the summer really kicks in. By spending a little more energy on your lawn in the spring, you can set it up for success in the coming months. Here are our 4 steps to success with your spring lawn!

1. Aerate

Aeration is an important part of spring lawn maintenance because it opens up the soil. This allows your lawn to get more of the essential nutrients it needs to thrive. Aeration also helps to reduce thatch. Thatch is the layer of decomposing organic matter that settles just above the ground. The combo of thatch and hard, compact soil are especially prevalent after winter when your lawn has been dormant and packed with snow for several months. This combo of thatch and hard soil can suffocate the grass and prohibit oxygen and water from penetrating into the soil if it’s not managed regularly.

You never want to aerate a dormant lawn, but aerating during the spring months when there is active growth helps your lawn recover more quickly and strengthen itself. Aeration allows an easy flow of oxygen, water, and nutrients to the root system to create a happier, healthier and more resilient lawn. Afterall, your lawn is a living organism and it needs fresh air just like we do!

2. Mow

After you’ve aerated, it’s a good idea to mow your lawn. Mowing helps to thicken your lawn by promoting new growth. It cuts off the dead layer leftover from the winter months of dormancy and gives the new, green grass sprouting room to grow. Plants rely on their leaves to soak up the sunlight in order to perform photosynthesis. They grow much better when there is lots of leafy, green surface area to absorb that light. Cutting your lawn also allows more sunlight to reach the ground, which heats up the soil and stimulates growth.

 After you aerate, you are left with dirt plugs in your lawn. By mowing, it helps to dissipate those plugs and can act like a top dressing for your lawn. Top dressing is when you put soil or sand over your existing sod to mix in with the organic matter, or thatch as we discussed above, and dilute that matter so more light can shine through. By breaking up those plugs you are doing just that, which ultimately leads to a thick, healthy, and beautiful lawn.

3. Fertilize

Next, you should fertilize. Fertilizing is a great way to give your lawn the tools it needs to grow stronger, thicker, and root more deeply. Overtime, soil loses its natural nutrients, so fertilizing is really important! By feeding your lawn in the spring, it can flourish and have the strength to withstand the hot and dry summer months. Fertilizer also makes your grass grow more quickly, which helps to thicken your lawn. We recommend our 20-20-10 fertilizer with iron. It covers all of the essential nutrients for plants — nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium to ensure that your lawn gets everything it needs. The added iron helps to maintain that lush green color. 

Timing is imperative here as you want to be sure to fertilize when the grass is completely dry. If the blades are wet, the fertilizer can stick to them and will actually burn your lawn instead of nourish it. Make sure to time your fertilizing just before a storm (or turn on your irrigation system afterwards) so that the nutrients melt right into the soil and infiltrate deeply into the ground. By watering after fertilizing, it activates the fertilizer and pushes it into the soil where it can start nourishing your lawn.

4. Water, naturally!

Spring is an amazing time to take advantage of natural precipitation. Rain and snow storms are common and can really help you save on your water bill while making sure your lawn is getting properly watered. When your lawn is waking up it needs to be watered roughly twice a week, so it’s pretty easy to let mother nature do the work here. Make sure you keep your irrigation system off of a timer and only turn them on as needed. You would never want your sprinklers to be on during or around a rain or snowstorm — that’s wasting one of the world’s most valuable resources! Plus, as an added bonus, the water from rain and snow has a lower pH that is actually better for your plants than the city water. So be sure to take advantage of our wet springs!

 

In summary, by putting in a little extra work with your lawn in the spring, you can help set it up for success in the summer. Aerating and mowing to alleviate compacted soil and reduce thatch helps your lawn breathe and allows an easy exchange of nutrients to the root system. After you’ve opened up the soil, feed your lawn with our 20-20-10 plus iron fertilizer to make sure it has all of the nutrients it needs to grow thick and lush before the stress of hot, dry summer. Then, let mother nature do the rest by giving your lawn plenty of water as it wakes up from its long winter nap. By following these four easy steps, you will help your lawn grow stronger and deeper roots, which ultimately allows it to use less water and grow more resiliently in times of stress. And once again, happy spring!

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Wet Spring Lawn Care

Keep your lawn mowed down during cool, wet spring weather.

Record rain in Colorado this Spring

Spring in Colorado often brings heavy precipitation and cooler temperatures. Under these conditions, spring lawn care can be a little bit trickier. However, a little lawn maintenance can go a long way in the spring. Turning off sprinklers, keeping your lawn mowed, and removing clippings are all important to maintain the health of your grass. With all this natural moisture, there’s no need to water.

Turn Off Your Sprinklers

In times of heavy precipitation, the first thing to do is turn off your sprinklers! Let Mother Nature do her thing and keep your lawn nice and watered. There is no reason to be one of those people who has their sprinklers going in a rainstorm. It’s wasteful, and it’s not very good for your lawn. Overwatering, while fairly difficult to do, can lead to problems in your lawn. Patches may start dying, weeds can become overgrown and start crowding your grass, and fungi can start growing in overwatered lawns as well. By simply turning off your sprinklers during weeks of heavy precipitation, you can save your lawn a whole lot of trouble!

Keep your lawn mowed

With all this wet, cool weather, grass grows tall very quickly. However — your lawn is healthiest when it’s shorter. Mowing tall grass down allows it to grow thicker and filled in more. When grass grows tall, it becomes sparse, and the root system doesn’t dig down into the earth as deeply, causing it to be less efficient in the hot summer months looming ahead.

When mowing, wait for a break in the rain and get out there. Adjust your mower up so it will only mow off a third of the grass blades at a time. If you cut too much off at a time, it will shock the grass and cause it to die. For especially tall lawns, you should mow every 2 to 3 days, cutting off about a third of the length of the grass blades until it stands about 2-3 inches tall.

Remove excess clippings

After mowing, make sure that excess clippings get raked off of the sod. Lawn clippings can end up smothering the grass, or add to the thatch layer (the organic matter at the bottom of the grass leaf before the dirt and roots start). If the thatch layer gets too thick, it can end up blocking water and air movement to the roots and lead to excess water runoff. When this happens, it makes it very difficult for your lawns root system to access water no matter how much you are watering. By simply removing excess clippings in the wet season, you can keep your lawn from literally blocking itself from receiving water.

Utilizing the Wet Season

Following these three simple tips in the spring can make a huge difference in your lawn. Turning off sprinklers during times of heavy precipitation helps prevent overwatering. Mowing encourages grass to grow thicker instead of tall and stringy — creating a strong root system that will withstand the heat of the summer. Removing clippings allows the healthy flow of air and water to the root system instead of creating a wall of decomposing matter that prohibits water from reaching roots and can cause your yard to dry out. Keeping up with your yard in the spring will set you up for huge success when the summer heat kicks up.

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Brown Spots in New Sod

Brown spots in new sod is very common due to lack of water.

What causes brown spots

As cooler spring days fade into the heat of summer, new lawns are plagued with brown spots. This is an easy fix! Typically, brown spots are caused by a lack of watering. New sod is especially prone to drying out because of its shallow root system. Brown spots occur when sod dries out and experiences drought shock. Sod will go into dormancy to combat the lack of water it’s experiencing. Once dormant, it needs water or it will die. Oftentimes, edges of sod dry out first because they are exposed to the moist air. Spotting in sod occurs for a variety of reasons, but it mostly depends on how water is dispersed around the yard. If the grade of your lawn has dips and valleys, it can cause uneven watering patterns. If certain spots get less water, even a tiny bit less, it could be enough to turn them brown.

Why is new sod more prone to brown spots?

New sod has a very shallow and underdeveloped root system that’s only about ¾ of an inch deep. Wind or hot air can cause the plant to dry out. A lot of times the ground below new sod will be wet but the sod itself is drying out. The root system needs a chance to establish deeper into the ground before it can access that water. Without a more mature root system, new sod relies on you to keep it watered. It takes 6-8 weeks for the sod to establish a strong enough root system to take in water from the ground. In the meantime, it’s up to you to keep it well watered while it grows!

How do I fix brown spots in my lawn?

Now that you know a little more about why brown spots are caused, you’re probably wondering how to fix them. The answer is water. Especially with the hot summer weather. Oftentimes watering every day is not enough for new lawns! If the grass is dry, it needs water. Especially in the first 8 weeks after it’s installed. Watering your lawn for a longer period at night is a great idea. It gives the sod a thorough drink that won’t evaporate right away with the heat of the day. It’s still important to periodically water throughout the day.

Will Fertilizer fix brown spots?

Fertilizer won’t help your grass until it’s green and healthy again. If the sod is dying, the fertilizer won’t take. Wait to fertilize until it has greened back up. Once your sod is healthy, fertilizer helps it grow and establish the deeper root system it needs. So what it comes down to is more frequent irrigation cycles and hand watering the brown spots until that root system becomes established.

Although brown spots in new lawns can be frustrating, it’s sod’s way of asking for a drink. So keep your brand new lawn happy and healthy by making sure it gets plenty of water when brown spots appear!

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Rabbit Damage in Your Lawn

Rabbit damage can create big problems for yards.

Why are there so many rabbits this year?

The rabbit population seems to be running rampant this year! It could be due to the extra precipitation we’ve been having. More water leads to more growth in vegetation and creates more food for these furry little guys. If their food is abundant, the number of litters will increase. On average, rabbits have about 2-6 litters per year, each containing up to 6 babies. Rabbits use grass and weeds not only to provide food, but also as shelter for themselves and their young. These furry friends spend the entirety of their life on less than 10 acres total, so there’s a good chance that once they’ve made a home out of your lawn, without deterrent, they’re here to stay.

How Rabbits damage your lawn

Typically, rabbit damage can create big problems for yards. They gnaw plants down to the root and concentration of urine can create brown spots in lawns. If you’ve been noticing spots in your yard that have been suspiciously mowed down and are beginning to brown, our furry friends are likely the culprit. Rabbits love to eat grass, and will munch it all the way down to the crown. This puts a lot of stress on the plant. If areas of your lawn have been damaged, the best thing to do is to fence off the area and keep it well watered and fertilized to help it grow back. The rabbits don’t eat the root system, so your lawn has a great chance of coming back.

Getting rid of Rabbits in your lawn

Although getting rid of established rabbit families is difficult, it isn’t impossible. Rabbits love anything that provides shelter, like low-to-the-ground shrubs, bushes, and taller grass. By eliminating areas they can hide, it makes their lives more difficult. Trim shrubs and bushes, put chicken wire below porches and elevate any decorative garden pieces that may be offering them refuge. You can also cut off their food supply. Fence off gardens, making sure fence openings are smaller than a rabbit’s head and dug 6 inches into the ground so they can’t go underneath. Spraying different odors on your plants, like capsaicin (pepper extract), castor oil, ammonium salts, or predator urine can also help! However, it must be reapplied after every watering or rain. It’s also smart to utilize your pets. Get your dogs to chase the rabbits, or let your cat outside to be the fearsome predator they are!

Rabbit damage can be very frustrating. It creates brown spots in your lawn and can ruin a garden if it goes unchecked. However, with the right prevention and proper lawn care, you can get the furry nuisances to leave your lawn alone!

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Dog Gone Dog Spots

Blue heelers love to resting on bluegrass lawns. High concentrations of nitrogen present in the ammonia component of your dog’s urine damages your lawn and create dog spots.

No more of those pesky dog spots! Are you a proud owner of a furry friend? Then, you may be noticing some brown spots forming in your lawn where your dog likes to relieve itself.

High concentrations of nitrogen

This phenomenon is caused by the acidic nature of urine, which contains high concentrations of nitrogen present in the ammonia component of your pup’s potty. Female dogs cause more damage because they squat to do their business in one concentrated area. This nitrogen can be good for your lawn when diluted. You may notice around the brown spot there is a green ring. The nitrogen in the dog’s urine causes this dark, green ring of accelerated growth. A dramatic contrast of color between the lawn and the dog spot is a visual indicator of the need to fertilize the lawn.

Keep your yard healthy

Not to worry. There is a quick fix to solve this vexing issue! After Fido has gone to the bathroom, water that portion of the lawn for a few minutes or dump a bucket of water on the area. This causes the nitrogen to dilute and has a positive effect on your lawn.  Another trick is to fertilize often. Use less fertilizer, but increase the frequency that you fertilize to once every 4-6 weeks. Fertilizing keeps your yard healthy and allows the injured grass to bounce back quicker, giving your lawn that lovely green color! When you start implementing these lawn care strategies, you will quickly see a difference in the lawn.

How to fix

If your lawn is already plagued with these dog spots, cut out the brown area and patch with new sod. Re-sodding the brown areas is the quickest way to fix this issue. You can also take a 4-6 inch knife and slice into the brown spot multiple times, targeting the areas close to the green section. By cutting into the ground you will be breaking up the root system, specifically the rhizomes from which new plants grow. This allows the healthy rhizomes to reproduce and create new, green grass where Fido browns it.

Now that you know what to do, go tackle those blasted dog spots!

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Save Water, Soil Prep

Soil preparation is the best way to use less water in your lawn before sodding.

Soil preparation or soil amendment is the most important step in growing a healthy lawn. Without the proper conditions in place, even the finest sod will have a tough time establishing a good root system.

Till in compost before sodding

Soil prep is essentially tilling compost into the ground. Compost is important because it helps the soil already present hold water, be it sandy or clay. In Colorado, our soils are more clay based, meaning that they are very tight and compacted. By putting in compost you are breaking up the solids and infusing organic matter into the ground. By creating space in the soil, there is more room for root growth, gas exchange, and water movement. This allows the plant to get water and essential nutrients more easily. If the root system can grow to its maximum potential, the grass can fight off disease, insects, and be more efficient overall.

How to prepare the soil

You may be wondering how one performs proper soil prep. Well it all begins with the grade! Level the soil to the point where there are no low areas that may collect water to avoid puddles. After you have tackled the grade, evenly spread 3 to 5 yards per 1,000 sq. ft. of the compost over the desired area. This makes the next step, rototilling the compost 6-8 inches deep much easier. It’s important to maintain that depth so the grass can establish a deep and efficient root system. After tilling in the compost, pack the soil back down and fine grade your lawn. The last step before final sod installation is to spread some fertilizer on the soil to add nutrients and give your sod a kick-start in developing strong roots.

Open up clay soil

Don’t forget that the most important part of the plant lives underground! Soil prep opens up clay soils and allows the water to flow into the soil more easily and closes up sandy soils preventing water from draining away too quickly. By giving the soil some attention you can create an environment that will allow the lawn to effectively access the water and nutrients and have a healthy yard.

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Dinner and a Drink, (fertilizer + precipitation)

Rain and snow have a lower pH and makes it easier for your lawn to get the nutrients it needs from fertilizer.

Even plants deserve a special treat every now and then; indulge your lawn to a night out on the town by fertilizing right before a rain or snow storm!

Snow perks up your lawn

Although you might view these spring snow storms we’ve been experiencing as a drag, your lawn could not be more grateful for the free drink! All the natural precipitation helps your lawn’s root system grow deeper into the ground. A strong and deep root system allows your lawn to withstand higher temperatures and drought conditions with much more ease. If you want to see even better results in the months to come, let your lawn have the full fine dining experience by fertilizing right before a precipitation event. Fertilizer contains all of the essential nutrients your lawn needs to thrive, and water actually activates the fertilizer and allows it to penetrate into the soil. So by fertilizing right before a storm, you allow mother nature to help those added nutrients really soak in.

Snow has a lower pH than most water

Not only does the extra precipitation help your water bill, but the rain and snow is better for your lawn than treated water. Natural precipitation has a lower pH, which helps release nutrients into the soil. This makes it easier for your lawn to absorb nutrients from the fertilizer you put down before the storm. Rain water also has a higher level of nitrogen than treated water. Nitrogen is one of the main ingredients in fertilizer. So it gives the sod an extra kick! Precipitation also provides an extremely even watering and makes sure that the entirety of your lawn is taken care of and no spots have been left out.

Create a healthy lawn

It’s important to thicken up your lawn in the spring instead of during the heat of the summer. This really helps the root system grow deep into the ground. That way, the sod has better access to ground water and nutrients further into the soil and can withstand drought conditions more easily. A thicker and healthier lawn also crowds out weeds, meaning less lawn work in the long run! Creating an extremely healthy and durable lawn starts right now — with Mother Nature’s help. For a healthy lawn all summer long, treat your lawn to dinner and a drink!

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Growing Roots this Spring

Cool-season turf grasses grow roots in the spring.

Underneath the radiant green of your lawn lies a thriving ecosystem of its own teeming with life, the root system! Every type of grass is unique, with different seasonal growth habits that affect the top growth, or leaves, that you see above ground.  Root systems vary just as much as the top growth, allowing some to be more efficient at extracting water than others. Cool-season turf grass, such as our Kentucky bluegrass, Tall Fescue and Texas hybrid bluegrasses, grow roots in the spring, making this the best time to push root growth. With some well-timed lawn care in the early spring, you can help your yard grow a deep root system that will help save water in the hotter months to come.

Stimulates root growth in your lawn

Begin the season by applying a well balanced fertilizer that contains near equal amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. Nitrogen drives overall plant growth and phosphorus stimulates root growth and devolvement. Both of these nutrients are important in helping thicken your lawn and grow deep roots. As with all fertilizers, read the label and apply the appropriate amount. Too much fertilizer will over stimulate the top growth and divert the plant’s energy from the roots.

Aerate in the Spring

Spring is also the ideal time to aerate your lawn.  Aeration helps loosen the soil, which increases the rate and depth that water can move through the soil. Additionally, aeration helps to reduce thatch. Thatch is a tightly intermingled layer of living and dead stems, leaves, and roots which accumulates between the layer of actively growing grass and the soil underneath. Excessive thatch forms a spongy mat layer at the surface of the soil, which can make it hard for water and air to get through to the roots, resulting in weak grass.

Root Development cool season grasses

A little water goes a long way

Proper watering during the spring months also encourages a strong and healthy root system.  The goal of watering is to get the water deep into the soil and then allow the soil surface to dry before watering again. Irrigation requirements are much less in the spring so you can spread out the frequency of your watering. Be sure to keep your sprinkler clock off when you are not watering and to turn it on only when another irrigation cycle is needed.

By fertilizing, aerating, and watering in an efficient manner, you can create a healthy lawn with a deep root system that can stand up to even the harshest of Colorado’s conditions!

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CONTROL SPRING CRABGRASS

Combat grassy weeds in your yard with a spring application of pre-emergent herbicides.

Pre-emergent herbicides form a barrier against crabgrass germination

Pre-emergent herbicides can be useful in maintaining a healthy lawn. Herbicides can be categorized as either pre-emergent or post emergent. Post emergent herbicides are applied to the foliage of weeds that are already growing and are visible in your lawn. Pre-emergent herbicides form a barrier in the top inch of the soil and prevent emerging seedlings.

Crabgrass likes heat

Pre-emergent herbicides are most effective on annual grassy weeds like crabgrass, barnyard grass, and goosegrass. Crabgrass creeps in where the soil heats up earlier in the year and where the edges of the lawn are exposed. Colorado homeowners often experience crabgrass infestation adjacent to sidewalks, patios and hardscapes.

Stop crabgrass from germinating

A great way to combat these grassy weeds is to apply a spring application of pre-emergent. Pre-emergent herbicides can be purchased in liquid or granular form. In granular form, many pre-emergent products are combined with fertilizer. In Colorado, the best time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide is March to early April before grassy weeds germinate. It is best to aerate prior to applying pre-emergent so the chemical barrier is not broken. Due to large swings in temperature during late winter and early spring in Colorado, grassy weeds start appearing in March and April. When conditions favor earlier than normal crabgrass germination and you have missed pre-emergent application, use a post emergent herbicide to eradicate crabgrass. Post emergent applications for crabgrass are most effective in the early or juvenile stage of weed growth. Be sure to spray when the temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

When your grassy weed problem is limited to border areas of your lawn, consider a 3 foot band application of pre-emergent as an alternative to a blanket application over your entire lawn.

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Thanks for the Snow

Spring snow blankets Green Valley Turf Co. in Littleton, Colorado.

Welcome the moisture

The last two weeks of February have finally ushered in snow along the Front Range; you remember the white stuff. While many bemoan the shoveling and icy roads, winter enthusiasts invoke images of powder days on the slopes. No matter what your perspective is on snow, it is a much needed welcome shot of moisture.

Snow insulates your lawn

Snow cover on your lawn is very beneficial during the winter months. Snow not only provides much needed moisture for grass and plants, but also forms a protective insulating shield from damaging cold, dry conditions.  Snow cover can be particularly beneficial on sun exposed, south facing areas. The absence of snow cover may necessitate winter watering of grass, trees, and shrubs to insure a healthy landscape come spring.

Snow stops mite damage to your lawn

Weakened drought stressed grass is particularly susceptible to damage from mites. These tiny insects can often be seen in mass numbers in late winter through spring on south facing structures like the side wall of a house. Treatment for both banks grass and clover mites can be as simple as keeping areas prone to drought stress watered or covered with snow. Enjoy the white stuff; it does more than cause slippery roads. Snow is exactly what your lawn needs.

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Spring Sodding

Spring is the best time to sod because the root systems of grasses start growing activity.

Beat the summer heat

Spring is a terrific time to sod! Beat the summer heat and install sod now when the temperatures are cooler. In spring, the root systems of Bluegrass and other cool season grasses will come alive and will root quickly. The warm days and cool nights create a perfect environment for growing and knitting new sod together; ideal conditions for developing a root system before the summer heat hits. New sod uses less water this time of year. Irrigation cycles in spring will be shorter, and it will be easier to keep your new sod damp during its first critical two weeks.  During summer, watering becomes a critical issue as new sod can dry out quickly.

Frost or snow will not harm new sod.

Don’t worry about snow or freezing temperatures. Once the ground is unfrozen and soil temperatures are above 32 degrees, Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescues, Texas Hybrids, and Fine Fescues start to grow. Frost or snow will not harm new sod. Colorado spring snowstorms will actually insulate new sod and help it grow. If we do get a cold snap, it will be short lived. So, if you are considering installing new sod this year, spring is one of the best times to establish your new lawn from sod.

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Sodding in the Winter

Dormant sod roots slowly over the winter.

Winter sod roots

Yes, you can sod in the winter! Dormant sod roots slowly this time of year but once the temperatures warm up, the grass will take off. So, cover up that dirt and get a jump on establishing a new lawn.

Get a jump on you new lawn

The advantages of sodding in winter are that you get a jump on establishing your lawn and you will use less water. As long as your grade is set, you can lay sod on frozen ground. As we move into spring, we get a lot of wet snow and rain that really helps establish your new yard. If you wait until spring, you may have to work around wet weather and mud. Sod needs to be unfrozen to install, making it possible to work with and cut. Frozen sod is like trying to cut through concrete. On a warm day, if the sod is frozen, warm it up in the garage or the sun.

Hand water if nessessary

All the steps are the same when you sod in the winter. Apply starter fertilizer before sodding, pull seams tight and water the sod. It might freeze after you install it but this will not harm the grass. If the weather is warm and dry, water the new sod enough that that the water soaks through. A garden hose is the preferred method of winter watering because it is easy to drain and you will not be applying that much water.  If you need to water with your sprinkler system, be sure to drain and blow out the system when you are finished. Wait until late March to turn on your sprinkler system for the season. Be sure to cover the back flow preventor and drain it if the temperatures get below freezing.

Get a jump on you new lawn this winter and allow your lawn extra time to root before summer heat hits. Take advantage of the spring snow and rain and save money on your water bill. Winter sod that gets installed while dormant and brown will root in slowly this winter and green up in the spring.

Check out our how-to videos on how to Install Sod

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BROWN SPOTS?

Brown spots appear in newly sodded yards due to a lack of water.

Brown spots appear due to lack of water

One of the most common problems we see in lawns during the heat of the summer are brown spots. Most of the time, these mysterious spots appear due to a lack of water. Hot windy afternoons and lack of rain dry out grass, and these spots show where your lawn is drying out first. It is not a bad thing to see a few brown spots here and there because it lets you know you are not over watering. In new sod, even if the soil is damp, the top can dry out and the grass blades can wilt, thus creating brown spots. New sod does not have an established root system, so more frequent waterings are necessary.

Clogged sprinkler nozzles

Brown spots often result from a poor irrigation system. If brown spots start to appear, check your sprinkler heads for clogged nozzles and even coverage. You can test your sprinkler system by placing the same size cans, bowls or rain gauges in the good lawn area and in the area with the brown spots. Run your system and compare the collected amounts of water to see if the areas are receiving the same amount of coverage. You may find that specific zones need to run for different lengths due to shade, sun, slope and exposure.

How to water fix

To revive brown spots, hand water these areas in the afternoon and increase the watering time in this area of the lawn. Be sure not to over water. Flooding the area will not make it recover any quicker. Remember, that the most effective time for summer watering will be in the early morning or later evening when temperatures are cooler and less of your water will evaporate. Watering adequately this summer may mean watering 2-3 times each week and long enough to penetrate 2-3 inches into the ground. Your goal in watering should be to reach as far into the root zone as possible. Avoid runoff by not watering too much, too quickly. To do this, water your lawn for half of the usual time and let it soak in for an hour before running the second half of the cycle. Make sure to take advantage of the rain we have been getting in Colorado and skip watering until your lawn needs it.

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DANDELION TIME

Dandelions and other broad leaf weeds are in full bloom in spring due to warmer soil temperatures.

Ground temperatures warming up

Dandelions and other broad leaf weeds are in full bloom this spring. When we see these colorful yellow weeds all over the place, we know summer is just around the corner. Ground temperatures are warming up and there is enough moisture in the ground for broad leaf weeds to start growing. Dandelions are found all around the world and like full sun to partial shade and moist conditions. The best way to keep them out of your lawn is through good spring cultural practices of water, fertilization, aeration and mowing. A thick healthy lawn will crowd them out due to too much competition. Never fear, dandelions are easy to control!

Where do they come from

Broad leaf weed seed comes from all over the place. Weed seeds can be transported several miles by wind, water, birds, etc… Broad leaf weed seed can also lay dormant in the soil for 30 years or more and take advantage of a thin lawn when conditions are favorable or if they are brought to the surface by traffic, pets or digging. Cheap grass seed is another source of weed seed. Always check the seed label to see what you are really getting. Dandelions, which have a flowerhead made up of many small flowers, spread their seeds with tiny parachutes that can travel many, many miles. So if a few Dandelions sprout up in your yard, don’t panic.

How to control Dandelions

Dandelions and other broad leaf weeds can be controlled by pulling or digging them up or by spraying them with herbicides. If you want to remove them the old fashion way or are concerned about using herbicides, simply pull them or use a weed digger and try to get as much of the root as possible. Even if you do not get the entire root, this will set the dandelion back and your grass can take over and crowd it out. Spot spraying with a broad leaf herbicide is the easiest way to get dandelions out of your yard. Products like Weed-Be-Gone, Trimec and Speedzone do a great job killing dandelions and other broad leaf weeds. I suggest spot spraying just the weeds and not the entire yard. The turf herbicides listed above only kill weeds that are growing so if you see it, spray it. The best time to spray is in the morning when there is no rain in the forecast for 24 hours and no wind. At this time of day, the plant is open and can absorb the weed killers better than when it’s hot during the middle of the day. Follow the directions on the bottle and do not over spray. If you do not kill the weeds the first time, spray again in 5 to 7 days and they will die off.

If your yard has a history of a lot of weeds or crabgrass, this is a sign you need to thicken up your yard. Water, fertilizer, aerate and mow. You may also want to use a preemergence or a crabgrass preventer to keep weeds and grassy weeds from moving in. Keep you yard healthy and dandelions and other broad leaf weeds will come and go quickly.