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Friday, June 11, 2021

9 tips to save or protect your lawn from the 2021 drought

 The spring of 2021 will go down in history as the driest spring season on record for most of the Northern Illinois and Southeast Wisconsin counites.  As of mid-June, our local service area has only received about 2.5 inches of precipitation since March resulting in a severe drought distinction for the area.  We usually average around 9 inches of rain during this time for most of our service area.  In a typical year, our area turns dry, and lawns start suffering drought and heat stress in Mid-June, however this has already been happening since early May.  

Lawn on left suffering from drought stress 2021

Watering is already needed for most lawns, and some have already gone dormant.  With summer yet to start and another 90 days of typical dry and high soil temperatures, many lawns will be on the verge of serious damage this summer.  Here are some ways that you can save or limit the damage to your lawn this summer:

Large droplet sprinkler

1. Begin watering regularly.  Morning hours are the most ideal, however any moisture is better than ideal moisture in a drought.  Avoid watering mid-day due to higher evaporation rates and loss.

2.  Water to get 1 to 2 inches of precipitation per week.  1-2 inches to prevent dormancy and keep lawn from browning, 2-3 inches to revive a lawn if already dormant.  

3. To get the 1-2 inches, water deeply for 30 to 60 minutes per area, twice a week.  This time may need to be adjusted to generate a half inch to 1 inch per run time.  Place a flat and wide pan or cup to measure how long it takes to accumlate for your specific sprinkler and water pressure.  

4. For the grass, use a sprinkler that produces a larger, heavier droplet, not a misting or fine droplet sprinkler.  Misting sprinklers evaporate faster and only wet the leaf tissue.  The goal is to get the soil wet from root absorption.  

5.   Only mow if the lawn is over 4 inches tall.  When mowing, don't mow to less than 3 inches.  Keeping the lawn long will help retain more moisture and keep the lawn green.

6. Make sure mowing blades are sharp and only mow dry grass.  Water as soon as possible after mowing to prevent stressing the lawn any further. 

7. Minimize use of the lawn unless mowing or watering to prevent compaction.  If using the lawn, water after traffic use.  

8. Use only slow-release fertilizers and minimize Nitrogen rates during high heat and dry conditions. 

9. Consider Hydra-Guard from Lawn Doctor.  This service applies a hygroscopic and humectant compound that absorbs and retains more moisture from soil and air vapor, typically not available for the grass to absorb.

Lawn with Hydra-guard on left, nothing applied to lawn on right.



More Hydra-guard pictures.  Lawn on right treated with Hydra-guard in May.

                              



Contact Lawn Doctor for any additional concerns for your lawn during the 2021 drought or for additional watering and mowing tips to keep your lawn green and healthy this summer.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

What damage will all this snow cause to my lawn in Spring?



                                                                                  gray snow mold on lawn

Every winter causes some extent of snow cover to the lawns in the local Antioch, Illinois area.  Snow cover generally melts away after a week or two allowing oxygen and some sunlight to return to the lawn before the next storm throughout winter.  However, this winter we have had an extended snow cover that is setting up for some potentially damaging effects to the lawn come Spring when the snow will eventually melt.  

Snow cover can be a positive for lawns as it helps insulate grass from exposure to sub-freezing temperatures and wind which can lead to desiccation and severe root damage.   It can also be very beneficial in eliminating damaging insect populations in the lawn as spring nears.  

So why is snow cover damaging?  Here are some negative effects of the extended snow cover we have seen this winter.

Heavy piling up of snow from shoveling leads to massive compression and snow piles that take a long time to melt, extending the cover even longer.  

Snow is heavy and can compress the grass damaging crowns and roots and preventing spring growth.  Compressed soil also acts as a barrier for root development and limits the lawn's ability to generate new growth in spring, leading to more room for weed development in highly compacted areas.  

                                         snow compacted lawn causing leaf tissue damage and snow mold development
 

Snow molds are also a result of extended snow cover and can ruin a lawn come spring as the snow melts away.  There are two types of fungi that trigger snow mold and are present in virtually all soil types, but the damage they cause is slightly different.
  • Gray snow mold, (Typhulia incanata) identified by dead patches of grass and a whitish appearance, can be seen as the snow melts away form the heavier piles of snow.  The taller piles take longer to melt than some of the surrounding snow, leaving the grass below soggy and wet, promoting mold growth.  The patches of gray snow mold are irregularly shaped and are usually a couple of inches in diameter.  Gray snow mold can kill the roots of the grass when severe but in most cases it only kills the leaf blades on the surface.  New leaf tissue and the roots of the affected grass will often regrow as the weather warms.   


  • Pink snow mold (Microdochium nivale) kills not just blades of grass but also its roots, resulting in circular dead patches with pinkish or rust-colored borders. Pink snow mold can begin to grow any time the grass is cold and wet (around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or lower), either during a long, wet spring or an especially wet fall. When pink snow mold starts to grow in the fall, it can thrive all winter under a layer of snow, resulting in widespread damage to the grass. Patches caused by pink snow mold are typically less than 12 inches in diameter, but numerous patches may appear across the lawn. The grass will not regrow in patches caused by pink snow mold.


Some factors to look for next fall that may trigger or increase chances of snow mold development include;


  • When an early snow occurs, it melts quickly because the before the ground is still relatively warm. This traps moisture at the soil’s surface, keeping grass soggy and cold and creating the perfect environment for snow mold to start growing.
  • Dry fallen leaves on the ground create a soggy blanket of organic matter as they begin to decompose. This allows snow mold fungi to get a foothold.
  • Like fallen leaves, grass left long in fall provides a blanket of organic matter on the surface of the soil, keeping it soggy and creating a breeding ground where fungi can thrive.
  • Low areas in the lawn that hold water are prime locations for snow mold. Constant wetness is one of the ingredients snow molds need to develop.
  • High Nitrogen fast-release fertilizers in late fall spurs grass growth, but if applied in the six weeks before a heavy snow or freeze, grass may still be green when it should be dormant. When green grass freezes or is blanketed with snow, the blades become soft and mushy, increasing the risk of mold development.

Lawn Doctor has been identifying and repairing lawns for nearly 20 years from the devastating effect of snow molds and winter damage.  Here are Lawn Doctor's recommendations for restoring a lawn damaged from snow mold and soil compaction form heavy snow cover.

  • Once the temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, rake away dead grass from the patches.

  • Aerate if possible areas of compacted soil to soften the ground for spring growth
  • Power seed the areas with new disease- resistant grass blends
  • Apply a soil enrichment product at this time is also recommended—the new grass and damaged lawn will need plenty of micro-nutrients to develop new growth in spring.
                                                                                 Newly power-seeded lawn

If you would like to learn more about repairing your lawn in spring form winter damage or get an estimate to power seed, aeration and soil enrichment contact us by phone or online and get your lawn green, thick and weed-free starting this spring.

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Friday, August 28, 2020

Lawn diseases have been very active this summer


Lawn diseases have been very active this summer

 Lawn diseases are an annual threat and a frustrating problem to many lawns across the Northern Illinois area during the summer months.  With over twenty years of experience in analyzing lawns in the local area, we have seen the most widespread disease damage to leaf tissue in lawns this summer compared to past seasons.  Record-setting May rains have led to significantly large amounts of summer lawn disease development.  While a lot of lawns go dormant during the months of July and August as the leaf tissue shuts down to protect the grass roots, a dormant lawn does generally not show the damaging effects of lawn disease as the turf is already brown so the damage is disguised as simply a brown lawn.    



Lawn in summer beginning to show some disease areas (circles)


We get a lot of questions regarding brown spots in the lawn every season, most of which is heat and moisture related, however this season diseases like summer patch, red thread and rust have spread very aggressively.  Fertilized and watered lawns show the most significant damage as the non-affected areas stay green while the disease damaged areas become very contrast in brown spotting.  Most lawn diseases like red thread, dollar spot and rust only affect the leaf tissue and do not cause long-term damage to the grass once cooler temperatures return in early Fall and adequate moisture is applied.    There are a few patch and Pythium lawn diseases that can cause long term damage to a lawn if left unrepaired but are very less common.  


                                           

                                              Some red thread and diseased spots mid-summer

So how can we repair, fix or cure lawns damaged by lawn diseases?  Fungicides can be applied to help prevent or stop the spread of a disease in the lawn once it is identified.  These applications are generally not performed unless requested at the initial onset of the disease in early summer or if we know a lawn has a history of lawn diseases every summer.  Fungicide applications are not included in most lawn programs as with any disease, over-use of fungicides can lead to diseases becoming resilient to general-use fungicides.  Therefore, most applications are performed sparingly once the disease has been diagnosed.  At this point leaf tissue has already been damaged and only cooler temperatures of fall will encourage new leaf tissue development.  



In severe cases of lawn disease damage, power-seeding is highly recommended to help repair the lawn.  Not only does power-seeding these areas fix the damage quickly, it also replaces the weaker grasses (usually fine fescues and ryegrasses) that were affected by the turf disease with newer and  more disease and heat-resistant varieties of cool-season grasses like turf-type fescues and bluegrasses.  Early Fall is the best time of the year to repair summer damaged lawns with beneficial growing services like aerating, power-seeding and soil enrichment to improve the lawn and prepare it for winter and the following growing season.  


 For more watering and mowing suggestions please visit us online or feel free to contact us at Lawn Doctor of Antioch-Waukegan

Looking for a better lawn this year or help controlling mosquitoes?


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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Do I have grub damage in my lawn?


Do I have Grub Damage in my Lawn this summer?


We receive many calls this time of year (mid-summer) for curing brown spots in the lawn.  Many homeowners assume that the brown spots are a result of grub damage.  However, this 
is not the case as grub damage will not show up for another several weeks after the eggs hatch and begin feeding on grass roots in August and September.  The brown spots are more commonly a result of heat stress on the lawn which often results in additional damage form diseases and insects in the lawn as the grass slows down growth due to the higher soil temperatures and less frequent heavy rainfall.  

Most lawns across the Northern Illinois area are suffering from heat related stresses this summer.  With more sunny days above 80 degrees in June and early July, soil temperatures jumped quickly resulting in stressed out lawns by mid-July.  Once a lawn begins to weaken or go dormant the disease and insects can quickly take over.  Grass blades stop growing and turn brown to save moisture loss for cool season grasses like fescues, ryegrass, and bluegrasses.  Once this process starts it takes a few weeks of cooler cloudy days and nearly 2 inches of irrigation or rainfall to correct.  

Watering will help deter the onset of dormancy as once the plant begins going dormant it only takes a few days to set in.  Keeping an eye on the weather and forecast will often help plan for proper irrigation needs.  Once the temperature breaks 80 degrees with 3 days of dry and sunny weather the lawn begins struggling to maintain adequate moisture levels.  If watering begins in this early stage of dormancy the grass can maintain a greener color through the stressful period.  Also, different grasses react at different temperatures and moisture levels as well.  Lawn Doctor has been providing a new service this summer called HydraGuard to help lawns maintain moisture in their root systems.  This service consists of an organic humic nutrient spray to the lawn which attaches to the roots of the lawn and draws moisture to the root hairs from air and soil humidity.  This process helps lawns prevent the early stage of dormancy and give more time to begin watering once the temperatures and weather begin slowing plant growth.



Grubs are turf damaging insects that begin hatching from eggs left behind in the lawn from many types of beetles.  June beetles, Japanese beetles and masked chafers are most common beetles in the local area leaving behind eggs in the lawn during the month of July.  The thousands of hatching eggs then chew on grass roots resulting in extensive damage to the lawn.  This will result in large dead turf areas that can easily be picked up like sod from the lawn in late August through early October.  In severe cases grubs can devour thousands of square feet of lush green lawn in just a couple of weeks.




  For more watering and mowing suggestions please visit us online or feel free to contact us at Lawn Doctor of Antioch-Waukegan

Looking for a better lawn this year or help controlling mosquitoes?


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Friday, July 19, 2019

Why is my lawn turning brown so quickly this summer?

Summer Heat Stress is hitting lawns across the Northern Illinois hard this week. 



Summer months bring warm temperatures and sometimes periods of dry weather to the lawns of Northern Illinois.  Grass lawns across Antioch-Gurnee-Waukegan and Lake Forest enter survival mode to withstand the stress associated with this time of year.  Even after a great spring of cool temperatures and excess rain made lawns green and grow fast, they are quickly turning to mid-summer appearance of splotchy brown and dormant patches in just a few short hot days this summer.  Proper mowing height and watering practices are two of the most important things to do properly as summer begins.

With the forecast of multiple 90 degree days ahead and no significant rain in well over a week, begin watering now to prevent or assist with heat stress on the lawn.   A bluegrass-based lawn needs about 1-2 inches of irrigation per week to keep adequate moisture levels and to prevent the full onset of browning and dormancy.   Although this amount of irrigation is adequate for moisture needs it doesn't always keep a lawn from going dormant, but it does give it the best chance to maintain some green during heat stress.  Soil temperatures will cause the stress and irrigation will help but not eliminate this on hot sunny days.


  


Remember we have cool season grasses that thrive between 60 and 80 degree soil temperatures and 1-2 inches of irrigation weekly.  Right now we are seeing soil temps in the 130’s in sunny areas and no rain at all.   Shade areas stay green as they are only as warm as air temperatures in the upper 80's. 


Monitor current lawn conditions as they are changing drastically right now due to the high heat and dry conditions.  Lawns become stressed when we get temps above 85 and full sunny days.  A beautiful green lawn can turn brown quickly in conditions that we are currently experiencing.  It is not necessarily a bad thing as the plant is extracting moisture from the leaf tissue to protect the crown and roots.  Grass goes into dormancy to protect itself and will return to normal when conditions reverse for a few days.  Right now conditions are extreme as the temperatures are too high and rain has been absent.  This combination causes many challenges to maintaining grass in late July and August.  We often refer to this time frame as the “danger zone” as our experiences have always taught us that this time of year is when heat stress occurs.  After August 20 lawn return to lower soil temps as the intensity of sunlight is diminished to the lowering angle of the sun.

Some lawns are greener than others even though they are under similar conditions, but there are reasons why.  Lawns are made up of several different grass types and some are more reactive to higher temperatures than others.  Fescue grasses stay greener longer into heat and drought stress compared to bluegrass.  Bluegrass is probably the most sensitive to higher temps as the leaf blades actually fold up like a sail making it look much thinner and weaker compared to other grasses.   Lawns are also made up of different consistencies of clay, gravel sand, etc.  The more clay the soil has, the more it radiates the heat back into the grass unlike thick layers of rich topsoil.  This is the biggest cause of “spots” as areas of the lawn contain various amounts of clay, sand etc. underneath causing some of the spots.




Along with watering regularly during hot and dry summer months the lawn should also be mowed properly.  Less frequent and at a taller height will keep activity on the grass to a minimum and allow for full shading of the soil below with longer leaf tissue.  Also be sure that when you do mow the lawn, never remove more than a third of the leaf tissue height or else additional stress and moisture removal will be unnecessarily added to the lawn that is already stressed out.  Keep in mind, lawns will return to their beautiful green and thick appearance as soon as cooler and rain returns to the forecast, usually in late August. 



For more watering and mowing suggestions please visit us online or feel free to contact us at Lawn Doctor of Antioch-Waukegan

Looking for a better lawn this year or help controlling mosquitoes?


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Contact us today at:  847-395-0940 or at: group593@lawndoctor.com



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Friday, June 21, 2019

Will Mosquitoes be really bad this year from all of the rain?




April showers bring May showers?  Yes, in the case this year, a wet and snowy April led to one of the wettest Mays on record for most of the Northern Illinois area.  The rain was great for any seeding jobs performed in Spring, at least the ones that were able to get performed due to the soft and wet ground conditions all Spring.  The rain in May was great for germinating grass seed, making grass grow and keeping weeds under control for the most part.  However, the worst scenario for too much rain is yet to come.  Excess Spring rain will most likely lead to a mosquito population explosion once the temperatures rise into the 70's and 80's.  High water levels allow for eggs left from previous high water levels to hatch along with providing plenty of nesting opportunities for mosquitoes this year.




Mosquitoes have been hindered so far this season due to the lower than average temperatures.  Mosquitoes generally don't like sub 70 degree weather and tend to stay less active in this temperature range.  As the temperatures rise in the coming weeks this will change drastically.   As the daily average temperatures rise so will the mosquito activity.  Lawn Doctor of Antioch-Gurnee-Kenosha has a terrific service to help reduce and even eliminate the mosquito population from your property.  Yard Armour is a flea, tick and mosquito service provided by Lawn Doctor to help control the populations of these pesky insects on your property.  For those already active on the program several applications have been performed already this year with many more to come in order to provide your property with the best defense against these harmful and painful insect bites.



Yard Armour mosquito control is a multi-application service program that is very effective for controlling these insects by applying a combination of products to control insect populations and maturity.  The products are mixed to help stick to all outdoor surfaces and are encapsulated to last for 3 weeks even when rain and wind occur after the applications.  This mixture has been developed from over 15 years of trial and error in the local area to determine the best combination of product to keep you and your family safe from biting insects while staying within recommended application rates to ensure the safety of people and pets also actively using the lawn.  Our Yard Armour service runs on 3 week service windows from before Memorial Day through mid-October.  Contact us at Lawn Doctor for any questions or to get started on Yard Armour flea, tick and mosquito control for your property.  Over 500 customers in the local area currently benefit from the service and so can you.

To get an instant quote for lawn care for your property this season visit us at Lawndoctor.com or visit our instant quote at lawndoctorinstantquote.com/yardarmour and get started today!


Looking for a better lawn this year or help controlling mosquitoes?


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Friday, May 3, 2019

How much does lawn care cost for my property?

The phone begins ringing in Spring as little yellow flowers emerge from the lawn, with one question, "How much does lawn care cost for my property?".




Well the answer depends on a lot of various factors like the size of the lawn, the problems present in the lawn and how well do you want to maintain the appearance of the lawn.  These are all questions we ask at Lawn Doctor in determining the scheduling and pricing for customers calling to get lawn care quotes in Spring.  Lawn care defined as fertilization and weed and pest control for the lawn is generally about twenty to thirty percent of the total annual landscaping cost for residential properties in the Antioch, IL and surrounding area.   Mowing, trimming and general landscape maintenance makes up the majority of annual costs as these require weekly visits and manual removal of clippings and trimmings from the property. 





So "How much does lawn care cost for most average size lawns"?  Again the answer is determined by exact square footage or shape of the property, but a one quarter acre lot averages about eight thousand square feet of serviceable lawn area.  This generally costs about $65 per application for lawn services.  At Lawn Doctor, we sell service program packages designed to fertilize the lawn making it healthy and green with organic-based fertilizers and weed- controls.  We create a service plan for your property based on over 16 years of local experience in treating lawns.  The plans consist of various fertilizers as each season requires different nutrients for cool-season turf grass and unique herbicides for seasonal weeds germinating as soil temperatures range from spring to fall.   Insecticides and fungicides may also need to be added to combat against insects, grubs and lawn diseases throughout the season as well.



Lawn care costs can vary from service providers in the lawn care industry.  Many fertilization companies utilize synthetic fertilizers for their ease of use and low costs.  Synthetic fertilizers have a good use in a fertilization program, but heavy or over-use can lead to sterile soils, unwanted runoff and mis-use.  Lawn Doctor utilizes organic-based fertilizer sources that not only provide the needed Nitrogen, but come form a source that will also benefit the natural soil microbes and promote healthier soil nutrient values with each application.  This process increase soil conditions over time rather than depleting soil nutrients and crating weak soils. 

To get an instant quote for lawn care for your property this season visit us at Lawndoctor.com or visit our instant quote at lawndoctorinstantquote.com and get started today!


Looking for a better lawn this year or help controlling mosquitoes?


Please share or follow us on Facebook for more helpful lawn care updates.

Contact us today at:  847-395-0940 or at: group593@lawndoctor.com



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