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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

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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!


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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!


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Monday, December 10, 2018

What happens to the lawn in Winter?



                                                           Melting snow reveals green grass still not dormant

As the temperatures and snowflakes begin to drop on the area in late fall, many things are happening to the lawn that are often ignored.  As attention turns to gift buying, cooking and holiday festivities, the lawn is doing things most people don't realize and that can help answer many misconceptions about lawn care and lawns by most homeowners.  Lawns in the area are primarily cool season grass types which will actually thrive until the soil freezes.    Early snow cover will blanket the lawn and act as a heat trapping blanket, while extended snow cover between now and spring may cause severe snow mold and vole damage that will need to be repaired in spring.  Snow shoveling will begin to cause severe compaction and damage to the lawn.  Winter dormancy creates a reset for the lawn which may or may not be complicated by these additional issues.

                                 Snow shoveled onto landscapsing and lawn creates growing complications in spring

Late fall brings cooler air temperatures and lower sun angles reducing the soil temperatures across the area.   Cool season grasses thrive between soil temperatures of just above freezing to 80 degrees.  Soil temperatures will lag air temperatures as the ground is slower to heat and cool than air.  So even though it may be too cold to go outside for recreational activities, the grass will actually thrive until the soil freezes.  Rains and snow melt from early season snowfall will help maintain the health and life of cool season grasses in conjunction with the late fall fertilizer well into December on average.  Even though many homeowners have forgotten about the lawn at this point fall lawn fertilizer is getting utilized and stored by the lawn roots until soils freeze and will contribute to green-up in spring as lawn come out of winter dormancy.

                                        Compaction from extended snow cover on shaded part of lawn

Snow cover can come early or late as proven the last few years across the Northern Illinois area.  Early snow cover before the ground freezes will actually act as a blanket and keep soil from freezing.  This will also allow for the grass to continue to stay green and awake.  As early snow cover melts we see the grass come back through as emerald green as it has not yet gone dormant.  Once the ground freezes the lawn will turn brown as desiccation and dormancy take over the grass.  This will cause the grass blades to turn brown as the plant shuts down for winter.  But don't worry a properly fertilized lawn in late fall will bounce back in spring.  Extended snow cover in late winter will create opportunities for snow mold to take over and voles to begin tunneling under the canopy.  Tunneling from voles and severe snow mold damage will need to be seeded in spring to help repair.

             Snow mold and vole damage in spring

Shoveling snow in winter may have an impact on the lawn come from spring.  Large piles of snow along sidewalks, driveways and patios will cause compaction.  Compaction of the lawn can cause slow green up or thinning of the lawn come spring.  Carefully planning out snow piles from shoveling and plowing in winter can prevent this damage. Shovel and plow damage can also damage the lawn as snow removal is n process.  Marking driveway and sidewalk edges can help prevent this damage.  Otherwise, seeding in spring may be needed to help repair these areas as well.  There are many reasons lawns come out of winter damaged but these are some of the main examples.  Hopefully careful planning can help eliminate or minimize some of the damage.  Keep an eye on conditions this winter and pay attention to these issues which will help explain the damage come spring.


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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 hit 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 this blog.  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.

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


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