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Turf Matters

Proper Mowing


Proper mowing of your lawn is critical to keeping your lawn healthy and looking good. It is by far the most important and, quite frankly, the easiest thing you can do for the overall health & beauty of your lawn. Unfortunately, many lawns are not properly mowed.

  • Mow high enough. The basic rule is: the hotter the weather, the higher you should mow. Maintaining a mowing height of 3 inches minimum is critical in the summer. High mowing promotes deeper roots, prevents water loss by shading the soil, and reduces weeds by preventing sunlight from warming weed seeds. Taller grass cools the soil and reduces heat stress.
  • Mow often enough. Be sure that no more than 1/3 of the grass blade is removed in any single mowing. Mowing too short removes too much of the green part of the plant, leaving stalky-looking crowns and stems. This greatly weakens the grass and gives the lawn a brown, scalped appearance. The grass plant is "shocked" using far too much energy trying to regrow itself.
  • Keep mower blades sharp. Dull mower blades can rip and shred the grass blades, turning them a bleached, tan color. Also, a ragged cut lawn can encourage disease pathogens to latch on to the blades causing fungus activity.
  • Mulch or leave grass clippings on the lawn. Grass clippings re-fertilize and water the lawn. By bagging the clippings, you are removing nutrients and water that are beneficial to the lawn's health. Grass clippings do not contribute to thatch buildup.

Special Note: Most home lawns are mowed far too short. Do your lawn a favor and MOW HIGH! Maintaining a mowing height of at least 3 inches is critical in the summer months.

Proper Watering


In general, in the hot, dry months of summer, your lawn will need as much as 2 inches of water per week. This would be to keep your lawn lush and green throughout the summertime when we usually do not receive adequate rainfall. In order to achieve this, we recommend watering 2-4 times - 1 hour each area, on a weekly basis.

  • Do NOT water frequently & lightly. This causes shallow rooting and can encourage disease activity.
  • DO water heavily, wetting down to the entire rootzone. This will promote deep, healthy rooting.
  • Allow lawn to dry out between watering (every other day is a good practice). Try to irrigate in the morning hours. This will cool the grass plant down for the hot afternoons and minimize evaporation.
  • Try NOT to water at night. When grass stays wet for a long time, disease development can occur. However, do not avoid evening irrigation if it is the only time you can water. Avoiding night watering is secondary to not watering at all.

Special Note: If you cannot water or choose not to, your lawn will get brown and can go into a state of dormancy. This is fine unless a severe drought occurs. The important point to remember is it is critical to receive the Summer Service Step to provide your lawn with the essential nutrients for continual turfgrass health.

Lawn Insects


Grubs

The larval stage of many different beetles, including the Japanese beetle. The grub lives below ground and feeds on the roots of tender grass plants that soon kills the plant. They are most destructive mid-late summer, but the damage they cause may not show up until early fall and by then, it's too late. Curatively, the best time to control grubs is in early summer, just after they hatch. At this time they are very susceptible to treatment and just before they start causing extensive damage to your lawn. At TurfMasters we apply a preventative grub treatment, providing you with guaranteed season-long control.


Chinch Bugs

Chinch Bugs are surface-feeding insects. Adult Chinch Bugs are about 1/4 of an inch long and black with white wings folded over their backs. The insect mates early in the season when the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The female lays eggs on roots, stems, leaves, leaf sheaths or crevices in nodes and other protected places. Eggs are laid over a 2 to 3 week period, with one female laying as many as 500 eggs. Chinch Bugs feed on turfgrass by sucking out plant juices and injecting salivary fluids into the leaves and stems, causing the plant to turn yellow before it becomes brown. Hot, dry, sunny conditions favor Chinch Bug activity. Regular moisture increases levels of naturally occurring fungi that help keep Chinch Bugs in check.


Sod Webworm

Small, beige adult webworm moths start flying over lawn areas during early summer. If lots of sod webworm moths are observed in the evening, watch for damage in about 10 to 14 days. This is when their eggs begin to hatch into caterpillars. These caterpillars chew off the grass blades close to the soil surface leaving brown stubble as damage. Early August is typically when we see the heaviest damage, although sometimes damage is also heavy in June. Insecticides should be applied to the surface of damaged areas.


Does your lawn contain any of the unwanted critters above?

Contact us today to learn how TurfMasters can help restore your lawn's health and beauty!

Lawn Diseases


Leaf Spot

Leaf Spot is name given to several fungal diseases that form brown to purple lesions or spots on grass blades. These spots usually form in cool spring and fall weather. As warm weather arrives, irregular dying areas form. Can be caused by excess nitrogen fertility, excess thatch buildup, over-watering or combinations of these conditions. Fungicides may be needed to prevent the serious melt-out stages of the disease.


Red Thread

Read Thread is most serious on fine fescue lawns and perennial rye grasses, but may also effect Kentucky Bluegrass. Usually not serious enough to kill a lawn completely. Cool, wet conditions favor disease activity. In serious infestations, a fungicide may be required. Also a change in the fertilizer mix may be called for.


Lawn Diseases: Dollar Spot

Dollar Spot

Dollar Spot is caused by a fungus that causes a light brown or straw colored circular area about the size of a softball. Patches may combine to form large irregular patches several feet wide. Upon close inspection of the infected areas you'll notice on individual leaf blades and hourglass shaped brown area. Most severe on Kentucky Bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass. Lawns under stress are more likely candidates for contracting Dollar Spot. Fungicides may be required if infestation persists.


Brown Patch

Brown Patch is caused by a fungus that creates scattered dead areas about 4 - 8 inches across that may grow to as large as 1 - 2 feet across. All types of grass are susceptible to brown patch. Hot, humid summer conditions favor this disease. Fungicides are required as soon as the disease becomes visible and repeated every 7 - 10 days for at least 3 treatments after the first.


Snow Mold

Snow Mold is a fungus that develops during cool wet weather especially after snow has been on the ground for extended periods. In most cases it will clear up after warm weather returns, but in extreme cases a fungicide treatment may be required. For newly seeded lawns in the fall, we highly recommend a preventive fungicide for snow mold just before 1st snow fall (early December).


Does your lawn show any of the symptoms shown above?

Contact us today to learn how TurfMasters can help restore your lawn's health and beauty!

Special Problems


Drought Conditions

Once your geographic area is in the midst of a drought, it's too late to apply preventative measures. It's now time to take damage control measures. Here are the tips:If you're already in a restricted water use condition:

  • Don't over-fertilize your lawn. Studies have shown that lawns on regularly scheduled fertilizer applications recover faster than those that aren't. Don't apply fertilizer to your brown lawn in hopes of turning it green like your neighbor down the street that is secretly watering his lawn during the night.
  • Avoid all excessive foot traffic on the lawn.
  • As the weather heats up, mowing your lawn at a higher than normal height, that is if it's still growing. This increased height will help shade the roots and slow down soil evaporation. It also helps trap any dew that may form during the night.
  • As the lawn turns brown, weeds will continue to thrive as green patches. Now is a good time to apply spot applications of weed-killer to these areas. Avoid spraying it on the lawn as best you can, even for lawn-friendly weed-killers.
  • Don't water a little here and there or now and then—it just makes the lawn worse. Lawns are designed by nature to shut down (go dormant) under extreme conditions. Putting a little water on the lawn fools it into thinking, "hey, maybe things aren't so bad" instead of preparing itself for a continued period of no water.
  • If you're allowed a little watering, concentrate on making certain your important trees and shrubs have an adequate water supply. These costly investments won't die right away from a drought and you may not see the damage for a year or so. Weakened woody plants are more susceptible to insect damage that may go unnoticed until it's too late.
  • Don't over-seed or try to rejuvenate the lawn until fall when rainfall is usually more plentiful.


Mushrooms

Mushrooms, also called toadstools or puffballs, are fruiting bodies of soil fungi. They appear in lawns during wet weather in spring and summer. Mushrooms live on organic matter such as roots, stumps and boards in the soil. Most don't harm the lawn but are unsightly. Mushrooms that grow in arcs or circles of dark green grass are called fairy rings. The arcs or rings enlarge from 3 inches to 2 feet each season as the fungi grows outward. The fairy ring fungus may interfere with water flow through the soil and stress the lawn.


Moss

Moss does not develop in healthy lawns. Lack of fertility, soil compaction, poor drainage, shade and poor soil aeration are the most common cause of moss in lawns. Moss is not directly harmful to grass, but moves into bare spots in the lawn as the grass thins out. Lime has often been suggested for moss control. Lime will raise the soil pH but will do little or nothing to prevent moss growth. The fact that the soil is acidic has little to do with the growth of moss. In fact, we see moss growing on limestone and concrete. If your lawn area is moist and shady, you will have difficulty controlling moss because you have an ideal environment for moss growth. Moss is often troublesome in spring when temperature are cool and soil moisture high.


Soil Compaction

Soil Compaction is dense, compacted soil and thick layers of thatch restrict rooting and in turn impair the health of the lawn. Compacted soil has no more space for oxygen, moisture, or roots to move through. Thatch forms a physical barrier between the grass and the soil preventing nutrients from reaching the roots. Aeration eases soil compaction and helps reduce thatch.


Thatch

Thatch is often misunderstood; both its cause and control. Some lawns have serious thatch problems while others do not. Thatch is a layer of living and dead organic matter that occurs between the green matter and the soil surface. Excessive thatch (over 1/2 inch thick) creates an environment favorable for pests and disease and an unfavorable growing environment for grass roots plus can interfere with some lawn care practices.


Does your lawn show any of the conditions shown above?

Contact us today to learn how TurfMasters can help restore your lawn's health and beauty!

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