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Friday, August 17, 2018

Importance of late summer fertilizer application

The summer of 2018 has had many differences than last year however many of the issues of summer remained the same for this season.  Every summer brings challenges to the lawn care industry mostly due to extended sunny days bringing high soil temperatures, high evapo-transpiration rates and limited soil moisture.  Heat and drought stress cause the lawn to brown, expose minor issues and bring many curve balls to those trying to keep a green lawn all summer long.  August has brought some much needed rain however more is needed for most lawn to make a full recovery.  A late summer fertilizer is needed at this time so when rains do come, the lawn has adequate nutrients available for a quick                                                                                      green up and rebound.


We have received many questions over the last few summers at this time regarding the necessity for a late summer fertilizer application when the lawn is brown from dormancy or "dead".  I wanted to write this post today as I was out checking on lawns in the area and noticed that lawns that have received the late summer fertilizer application have already begun greening up and rebounding from summer stress.  Granular fertilizer needs a few days and moisture to be taken up by the roots of the plant.  The plant also has to be in an active state, not dormant to begin greening up and or putting out new leaf tissue.  This is exactly why we fertilize in late summer weather the current state of the lawn is dormant or active.  The applications we do today will produce results in the coming weeks as plants begin to rebound from lower temperatures and rains.


A well fertilized and healthy lawn is also able to quickly rebound from summer stresses.  Many people think that a lawn has to be green and active to be healthy.  That isn't necessarily true in summer where it is natural and healthy for a lawn to bonce in and out of dormancy as temperatures and moisture levels swing abruptly.  Lawns that are under fertilized or full of weeds do not bounce back and begin growing when rain returns as they have been under maintained.  Just like a healthy person still gets sick but bounces back quicker than an unhealthy person the lawn will rebound quickly when properly fertilized in late summer.  Lawns need fertilization all season long in addition to regular precipitation in order to maintain a healthy stand of grass.


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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Summer 2018 has left its tracks on lawns


The summer lawn season of 2018 has literally left many tracks across the lawns in Northern Lake County.    As we had numerous rain days and service delays in June, July started off with a bang.  We then witnessed and are still investigating a heat tracking event that occurred July 13.


 Beautiful Lake Villa lawn watered in summer



 The difference between watering regularly adn not watering- notice the heat stress on right

Warmer temperatures hit around the holiday week and have continued along with minimal rain for the rest of the month.  This has left a lot of lawns turning brown form heat and moisture (lack of) stress.  Once again this year the heat tracking phenomenon has hot the area hard.  On Friday July 13 many instances of heat tracking occurred across the area.  As I have posted heat tracking in previous year’s blogs, this year the damage was even worse.  Since the event took place on Friday July 13, most of the damage was done by lawn mowers as many lawn care service providers mow on Friday afternoon in a dry week.  Therefore most of the damage occurred from both commercial and residential lawn mowers that mowed in the afternoon that eerie Friday the 13th.


                           
Heat tracking on Lake Villa lawns by lawnmowers

  



 More heat tracking from lawn mowers in Lake Villa

As previously posted in years past, heat tracking on lawns appears as a fertilizer or herbicide burn from tires across the lawn.  The damage occurs from heavy compaction on the lawn leaf tissue at the peak heat of the early afternoon on heat stressed lawns that are at a wilting point.  Some other common traits that we saw this year was that occurred on mostly bluegrass and fine fescue and heavy clay soils that get direct sun at midday.  Although this phenomenon is rare it has occurred each year the last 3 seasons as I have been writing blogs.  If your lawn is browning and showing signs of heat stress - bluish or purplish color, leaf tissue not bouncing back after foot traffic then we highly suggest minimizing any contact with the lawn during peak sun times of the day.  This would be between Noon and 3 P.M. on a very dry day with temperatures at or above 90 and no rain for 3-5 days in a row.  

We would highly suggest watering during the morning hours every other day for a good hour or two to help lower soil temps and prevent heat tracking on the lawn.  If you have any other questions about heat tracking on your lawn or think that this may have happened to your lawn on July 13 this season please contact the lawn professionals at Lawn Doctor of Antioch for a free evaluation.  


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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Spring 2018 Lawn Services have had great success




Spring 2018 has had it ups and downs this season for the lawn care service industry.  However it has mostly produced many "ups" or positive results across the Antioch- Gurnee area.   A very slow to warm up spring kept lawns brown and with no growth through early April followed by a nearly two week cold and snow on the ground period of early to mid-April.  Although the cooler temps and snow cover  were a little abnormal, the moisture left behind allowed for good green up and new leaf tissue growth in the warmer weeks that followed.   
Late April 2018


















Snow cover on April 15, 2018





May brought many additional challenges as it was warm but very wet.  This caused some delays again including many spring seeding services.  Seeding in spring is a great opportunity to thicken up some shady areas however the moisture and temperature swings can create a lot of difficulties in scheduling and performing these services on time.  With that being said the seeding and fertilization services have performed with great success as the temperatures, sunlight availability and rain has been very helpful towards the end of the month and through Memorial Day Weekend.






May 2018 Lawns in Lake Villa


The cool and wet spring has also contributed to a heavy outbreak of mosquitoes so far this season.  These populations will continue to grow and multiply every several weeks through summer as there is a lot of standing water and moisture in wooded and shaded areas right now.  Mosquitoes continue to be a nuisance in the Midwest as their bites result in many uncomfortable allergic reactions and can also spread serious and fatal diseases.  If you have not tried or have our Yard Armour mosquito control service, this year would be a great time to get started so that you can enjoy the warm weather outside.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Another Lawn Season is Completed

2017 Lawn care season


Every lawn season is unique and contains a new set of challenges each year.  Some seasons are hot and dry presenting insect issues while others are wet and cool and more prone to disease development.  2017 was no different in its own set of unique conditions it brought to the lawns across northenr Illinois including Antioch, Lake Villa, Lindenhurst, Gurnee and the surrounding areas.  A warm start to the summer was flipped over to a cooler and very wet (including many flooded areas) mid-summer followed by a dry and warmer early fall.  While these conditions are fall within averages for the most part the timing and scheduling of them was quite unique.  With all challenges in mind, Lawn Doctor of Antioch maintained and provided a very consistent return of results with our lawn program this season.



Early summer is normally the beginning of heat and drought stress to the lawn.  The 2017 season was very different however, with lawns looking great through June with extended leaf tissue growth from cool soil temperatures and adequate rains.  July took a turn for the worse but not for usual July heat and drought stress but from flooded retention ponds, lakes, streams and rivers.  While grass is usaully able to cope with short lived flooding, a lot of lawns were under water for a week or more due to the heavy rains in the area.  Most grass that was only covered for a day or two at the peak of water levels did not show any damage however areas that were under water for more than 5 to 7 days were completely destroyed from suffocation.

Flood damaged lawn


Areas that were destroyed by lack of oxygen from the water cover and were replanted by Lawn Doctor all came back and popped due to the sufficient moisture left behind in the soil for weeks after the waters receded.  The higher temperatures of late summer in September did not extend the damage any further for the lawns that were seeded and watered in properly in early September.  Most of these lawns came in better than in previous years due to the saturated soils and sunny conditions that followed.

Power seeded lawn after damage


Although the 2017 season brought many hurtles to the lawn care industry, Lawn Doctor maintained a great lawn service program for most of our customers.  Our 2 spring, 2 summer, and 2 fall application schedule allowed us the neccesary flexibility to adjust fertilizers and rates in order to stay ahead of stresses and changing weed conditions this season.  Please feel free to check out our service reviews online or leave us one at: Lawn Doctor of Antioch Reviews


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Friday, August 4, 2017

Flood Damaged Lawns





Beautiful summer lawn in July 2017

This summer has been a roller coaster ride of weather and growing conditions for lawns across Northern Illinois.  From a wet spring we jumped right into heat and drought stress in early June resulting in some heat tracking and stressed out lawns.  July followed with cool temperatures and weekly rains followed by record breaking flooding.  As a result lawns have performed well with the exception of those close to waterways that were covered in water for several days after the flood.  Lawns that were flooded will need some extra care and attention in the coming weeks.


Heat stressed lawn early June

Lawns that are covered with flood water generally suffer from several different types of damage.  Most turf grass species are able to withstand a few days of flooding.  However after a few days of being submersed under water, grasses can begin to die from a lack of oxygen and or light.  Other factors that can lead to grass dying after flooding include heavy soil and sediment deposits,  water contamination from petroleum or oils, algae scum, and increased weed pressure from weeds seed left behind.

Flood damaged lawn

The best thing to do to a lawn that was covered with flood waters is to remove any debris left behind once the water recedes.  This could be gravel, limbs, stumps, dead fish or animals, garbage or any other debris left behind on the lawn.  These items could smother the grass or prevent it from growing back if not removed.  After removing any physical debris, rake up any muck or damaged leaf tissue to increase oxygen availability to the grass and roots.  Hosing off any muck or debris may also be needed but make sure not to use too much pressure as this could damage roots and crowns of the grass plant.  Once the area is initially dried out and raked, watering may be needed to prevent it from additional stress if rains are not sufficient.  About 1-2 inches per week is ideal for grass.

The grass plant will generate new leaf tissue in the weeks after the flood water has receded if it was able to survive.  After a few weeks you should begin to see this new leaf tissue emerge.  This is a good indication that the plant was able to survive and will continue to grow.  During this time the best thing to do is nothing.  Try to stay off of the damaged areas as they come back for a few weeks with the exception of watering if needed.  During this recovery time other seeds and weeds will probably germinate as well.  Be patient with this process as it will take some time.  After a few weeks of regrowth you should be able to tell if the grass is coming back or not.  Early fall is the best time to seed any areas that do not come back and to weed spray any unwanted weeds that may grow as well.


Flood damaged lawn 

Even though the lawns on Northern Illinois were damaged from flooding this summer most lawns would grow back before late fall.  If areas do not come back in the coming weeks, power seeding or aeration with over seeding may be needed in early fall to get these lawns back in shape before winter dormancy.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Turf Alert - Heat stress is coming to a lawn near you!



 100 plus soil temperatures in the sunny areas have already been reached 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.  There are several cultural practises that can help maintain a healthy green lawn through these periods of stress.  Proper mowing height and watering practises are two of the most important things to do properly as summer begins.

Watered lawn area next to non-watered lawn - 2016

With the forecast of multiple 90 degree days ahead and no rain in the forecast, begin watering now to prevent or assist with heat stress on the lawn.   A bluegrass-based lawn needs about 1 inch of irrigation per week to keep adequate moisture levels and to prevent the 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 stay green during heat stress.

When soil temperatures get above 90 degrees bluegrass can begin survival mode which consists of opening stomata (cells that release moisture in an effort to cool the plant) making the lawn look thinner as the leaf tissue dries out.  Next it will begin to draw moisture back into the crown of the turf leaving the grass blades to turn brown.  This doesn't mean the grass is dead, just beginning to show signs of dormancy which helps it survive summer stress.  A well planned watering program will help keep the lawn healthy and green as the stress begins.  Watering before or at the beginning of a dry spell can delay the effects of heat and lack of moisture.  When the forecast doesn't call for rain for more than 5 days, begin a deep and infrequent watering schedule for the dry spell.  With summer temps in the upper 80's, windy days and longer periods of direct sun rays the evapotranspiration rates of the lawn escalate quickly, which can leave your lawn with inadequate moisture for ideal plant health in just a few days.

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.

Non-watered lawn that is dormant - 2016

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

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

April showers should bring plenty of beautiful flowers and lawns in May!


April showers have produced an amazing amount of precipitation across the Antioch- Gurnee -Waukegan area this spring.  Antioch received over 6" of rain throughout the month of April, well over the historical average of 3.5" for the month.  Although temperatures were slightly above normal in the early part of the month the last weeks of the month were mostly cloudy, cool and slightly below normal or at normal.  The result was a cool, wet month leaving many lawns soggy, saturated but green and growing.  Wet springs encourage growth of all plants including grasses, perennials and even weeds.  As we dry out and warm up a lot of weeds will begin to pop up as temperatures raise.  Late spring should bring a lot of leaf tissue growth from all plants and flowers should produce full vibrant blooms in May just as the old saying goes.

Wet springs are great for turning grass green and germinating new seed.



A wet and cool spring has brought many delays to outdoor activities including all lawn care and landscape projects for all outdoor contractors across the area.  Many lawn mowing services, aeration's and seeding projects have been delayed as the ground has been too wet and soft for heavy equipment.  Lawn Doctor of Antioch has been trying to keep up with the demand for these services as dry days present themselves but have been a little behind in completing these services by early to mid spring.  A wet spring will be beneficial for seeding projects as the extra moisture will greatly help new seed germinate.  The extra moisture will also help grass generate new and green leaf tissue as we begin mowing lawns.

Dollar spot on a golf course

Along with green lawns, germinating seeds and blooming plants extra spring rains can also produce some problems for lawn care this year.  More weed seeds will germinate as a result of the saturating rain.  More insects later in spring and summer can also be a result of a wet spring, so we will have to monitor that as the season continues.  Mosquitoes and other insects that lay eggs that last over winter will also have a healthy population rate as well.  Some lawn diseases also like the cool wet cloudy conditions that this spring is offering.  Dollar spot is common disease found in the area when cool wet conditions exist in the spring.  It is a little early to see anything as of now but a keen eye should be looking out for this later in spring.


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