Lawn Care: What’s Causing Yellow Spots on Your Lawn & How to Fix It

Lawn Care: What’s Causing Yellow Spots on Your Lawn & How to Fix It

Has your vibrant green lawn suddenly become tainted with yellow spots? These yellow patches on your lawn can be the result of several different factors. If you’re wondering what’s causing yellow spots on your lawn, wonder no more! Whether you have a small yellow patch or a large swath of yellow, here are a few reasons why, along with some ways to fix them.

Dryness

Excessively hot weather or having areas of your lawn completely exposed to full sun all day can dehydrate the grass pretty quickly. This heat stresses your lawn, causing damage and discoloration.

One solution to dryness is to water the turf more frequently and deeply, early in the morning if possible to allow the water time to dry over the course of the day. You can also consider reseeding in the fall to repair significant damage.

Excess Nitrogen

Your lawn can get excess nitrogen from two sources: overfertilizing and dog urine. Nitrogen is a chemical that enhances green leafy growth and is a necessary nutrient for a lush, healthy lawn. Too much nitrogen, however, can cause chemical burns to grass roots and a change in the pH of soil, leading to yellowing grass.

Dog urine also contains a high concentration of nitrogen and can cause burn spots on your lawn. Urine spots are often yellow bordered by greener grass because the diluted edges of the urine actually feed the grass (like fertilizer) while the more concentrated center of the urine spot burns the roots and causes the discoloration.

The best way to minimize damage from excess nitrogen is to prevent it in the first place. Use caution when fertilizing and make sure to water it in deeply when applied. If damage has already occurred, water the patch immediately to drain it and then water everyday for a week. Put in compost to replenish any lost minerals. If the grass is already dead, put sod over the area and reseed it the following season. Train your pet to urinate in other places and not go to the same spot repeatedly. Water any urine off your lawn immediately to minimize damage.

Disease

Most turf diseases that cause your lawn to have yellow spots are fungal. Temperature, thatch, and moisture levels all affect your lawn’s susceptibility to fungus. Some of the most common fungal diseases include fairy rings, snow mold, fusarium, and smut.

To help prevent fungal disease, make sure your lawn is dethatched and aerated. Try to water in the early morning hours so the moisture has time to evaporate throughout the day and not sit overnight. Make sure to also rake up any clippings, debris, and leaves to prevent moisture from being trapped underneath.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies can lead to discoloration of your lawn. Nitrogen and iron are two of the most common deficiencies that cause yellow spots on your lawn. Nitrogen deficiencies cause leaves to turn yellow-green or yellow and your lawn will have stunted growth. Large collections of clover are also common in nitrogen-deficient lawns. Iron deficiencies will often cause the younger grass blades to turn yellow but don’t usually cause stunted growth. A soil test can indicate the deficiencies.

Once the nutrient deficiency has been identified, treat it with a nutrient specific plant food or fertilizer.

Pests

Discoloration of your lawn can also be caused by small insects chewing on grass roots causing damage. One way to check for this is to get a magnifying glass, part the grass blades, and thoroughly inspect the thatch for larvae or insects. Pest damage to grass is usually caused by younger pests and not adults.

Once you have identified the pests that are damaging your lawn, use an insecticide formulated for that pest to treat. Reducing thatch, irrigation, and proper fertilization can also help reduce pest populations.

Soil Compaction

Physical damage from frequent walking on the lawn can cause soil compaction where the soil gets packed so close together that the pores are too small. This restricts the roots and keeps them from spreading. Water and other nutrients also can’t penetrate the densely packed soil.

To help loosen the soil, aerate your lawn with either a core aerator or a rake. Follow the aeration with grass seed, fertilizer, and a layer of loam. Try to keep heavy traffic off the lawn. If that’s not possible, consider installing a walkway or stepping stones in high traffic areas.

RESTORATION

Now that we’ve identified some of the reasons your lawn has yellow spots and ways to fix them, how can you restore the vibrant green color? Here are some other tips to bring your lawn back to life.

  • Thin out trees so plenty of sunlight can get to the area (without allowing full sunlight exposure all day)
  • Maintain sharp mower blades and only mow when the grass is dry
  • Improve drainage of your lawn
  • Rake up any excess grass clippings and fallen leaves
  • Fertilize as recommended and watch for weed competitors which can deplete resources from your lawn
  • Utilize a professional lawn care service that can provide you with a free lawn analysis and lawn care plan

 

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A Step-By-Step Lawn Care Guide

A Step-By-Step Lawn Care Guide

Spring can be a busy time for lawn care. The weather is highly unpredictable, plants are just emerging after the winter cold and can be tender and delicate, and the soil is thawing from the winter freeze. Taking the appropriate steps early in the season can help ensure a lush, green lawn throughout the rest of the year. Check out this step-by-step lawn care guide to help get your lawn ready this spring.

1. Get Rid of Weeds

A few weeds in your lawn are inevitable. These can be pulled by hand or with a handheld weeder or hoe. Make sure to pull them out completely, roots and all. If you have an abundance of weeds, use an herbicide directly on the offenders or apply a weed and feed product to the entire lawn. If dandelions are a problem, they can be sprayed with diluted vinegar. Crabgrass can be treated by raising the mower blades higher and watering less frequently.

2. Dethatch

Thatch is the matted accumulation of organic debris that collects between grass blades and roots. Thatch can cause dead patches in your lawn and open spaces for weeds to proliferate. Inspect your lawn for signs of thatch. Thatch can be removed with a thatching rake or a power dethatcher. Recovery from dethatching takes about 3 to 4 weeks.

3. Aerate

Inspect your lawn to see if aeration is needed. Dig a 1 square foot section of your lawn and examine the roots. If the roots don’t extend deeper than 2 inches, your lawn needs to be aerated. Make sure to water the lawn for 1 to 2 days before you aerate. Use a core aerator over the lawn once. After aeration is done, apply compost or sand over the entire lawn.

4. Reseed and Overseed

Before applying any seed, check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to make sure what seed works best for your lawn. In early spring or fall, overseed with a cool season grass (rye, fescue, Kentucky bluegrass) and overseed with a warm season grass (Bermuda or Zoysia) early in the summer. To get an even application apply the seed with a broadcast seeder. Water the seed to help it establish.

5. Mow

A healthy lawn is denser, making it better able to resist weeds. When mowing, only remove about 1/3″ off the top of the grass. Set your mower deck height so that the grass is about 2-1/2″ to 3″ tall. Taller grass helps shade out weed seeds and prevents them from germinating. Try alternating your mowing pattern by mowing at a 45 to 90 degree angle from your last mow. This helps prevent soil impaction and helps grass grow upright. Also make sure to keep your mower blades sharp.

6. Water and Fertilize

Watering provides adequate moisture to grass, especially during times of heat or drought. If possible, try to water early in the morning when the air is cooler so there is less evaporation. For warm season grasses, spring is the ideal time to apply fertilizer when the lawn is actively growing (approximately 6 weeks after the last frost). Cool season grasses benefit from fall fertilization.

7. Mulch and Clean

Spring is the best time to clean up any leaves, twigs, and other debris left over from winter. Edge your beds, trim back dried branches on shrubs, and replace the mulch.

8. Call a Pro

You always have the option of calling a professional lawn care service to help with your lawn maintenance throughout the year. Proper analysis, treatment, and timing are critical in achieving a green, healthy lawn. Lawn care professionals are experts in all aspects of lawn care and use technologically advanced products for your lawn. Click here to request a free lawn care analysis and get started with your professional lawn service today.

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8 Steps to a Healthier Lawn

How To Keep Your Grass Green In The Summer

How To Keep Your Grass Green In The Summer

Summer is a very stressful time for your lawn. The combination of the beating sun and heat, increased foot traffic, water deprivation, weeds, and pests can be detrimental to the health of your lawn. Because of this, Americans spend about $8.5 billion on lawn care services each year. No matter how much you spend, these factors can combine to leave you with yellow patches or even turn your grass brown under the heat and stress of summer. A brown lawn doesn’t necessarily mean dead grass, though; cool season grasses go dormant in the summer, turning brown as a defense mechanism against the heat and turning green again when they are revitalized in the cooler weather of fall. Nonetheless, there are some things you can do to ensure a lush green lawn despite the heat. Check out these lawn care tips to keep your grass green this summer.

MOWING

Mow high in the summer months. Grass should be left about 3 inches tall as this provides more shade for the root system and keeps it cooler in the summer. Leaving the blades taller also encourages the grass to develop stronger, deeper root systems. Mowing should be done in the early morning or early evening to avoid the peak daytime heat. Make sure your mower is kept in good repair, as well. A poorly maintained mower can do more damage than good to your yard. Make sure mower blades are sharpened – dull blades tear the grass versus cutting it which can leave brown tips on the grass blades. Make sure the oil, filters, and spark plugs are changed, as well.

WATERING

Know when your lawn needs watering. You can usually tell grass is ready for a drink when it turns a bluish-gray color or if it stays matted down when you step on it rather than springing back up. Be mindful of how often you water, as well. Be mindful of any drought restrictions in your area before you water. Watering should be done consistently and deeply once or twice per week rather than a shallow watering daily.. Your lawn only needs 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water  per week to keep its green color. Water early in the morning so that your lawn has time to dry out over the course of the day. Watering in the evening leaves dampness in the soil overnight that can lead to fungal disease. Don’t water your lawn with hot water. Don’t leave your garden hose out with water in it as this water can get hot enough to scald the grass blades in your lawn. Always empty your garden hose after each use; if you forget, make sure you flush the hot water out before you start watering.

FERTILIZING

Cool season grasses go dormant in the summer so you should wait to fertilize those in the fall. Fertilizing in the summer can trigger new growth which will ultimately turn brown. Warm season grasses should be fertilized every 6 weeks. If this causes your lawn to grow too quickly, switch to a fertilizer with a lower nitrogen content to slow the growth. Using a mulching mower can also help to naturally fertilize your lawn by recycling the nutrients in grass clippings back into the soil. Fertilizer should be applied evenly and judiciously. Too much fertilizer can also turn your lawn brown.

MAINTAINING

Maintaining your lawn can also help preserve its green color in the summer. When your pets do their business on the grass, they are essentially over-fertilizing that area with the additional nitrogen in their urine. If you notice yellow or bare patches where your pets often go, overseed them to keep them in good repair. Summer also brings extra foot traffic on your grass. Heavy foot traffic, especially on wet soil, can lead to soil compaction which prevents air from getting to the grass roots. Try to avoid walking on the grass as much as possible.

CALLING THE PROS

While the tips above can help keep your lawn green in the summer heat, sometimes assistance is still needed. Proper analysis, treatment, and timing are critical in achieving a green, healthy lawn. A professional lawn service like Northwest can provide you with a free analysis of your lawn’s current condition to determine an effective treatment plan; lawn fertilization; treatment for insects that cause damage to your lawn, including grubs, chinch bugs, and army worms; existing and preventative weed control with post emergent and pre emergent herbicides; a year-round service schedule for the healthiest, greenest lawn possible; and a service guarantee to come back in between regular scheduled visits, if needed, at no additional cost to you. Contact us today for a free lawn care analysis.

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8 Tips For Winter Lawn Care

8 Tips For Winter Lawn Care

Although the cold of winter has set in and your lawnmower is stored away for the year, don’t relax just yet! Lawn care services don’t end just because the weather has turned cold. While your lawn requires more maintenance in spring, summer, and fall, there are things you can do in the winter months to make sure you have a healthy, green lawn when the weather warms in the spring. Check out these 8 tips for winter lawn care.

1. Clean Up The Yard

Beginning in the fall, clear away any debris that has accumulated in your yard and do periodic sweeps throughout the winter. Early winter is the perfect time to rake up any matted areas as these can lead to old. Raking and mowing the debris in winter also encourages better air flow throughout the grass in your yard to prevent both disease and insect infestation. When new grass starts to grow in the spring, having the debris cleared away will allow them to grow without a struggle.

2. Control The Weeds

Although it’s a little early now, start thinking about how you want to control weeds as winter moves into spring. Pre-emergent crabgrass control should be applied in early spring before the soil temperatures reach 55-60 degrees. Once the temps warm up above 60 degrees, weed seeds have already begun to germinate and the pre-emergent weed control won’t be effective.

3. Core Aerate

Another thing to start thinking about is core aeration which should also be done in late winter/early spring before the soil temperatures warm up above 60 degrees. Once temperatures are above 60 degrees, the voids that are left in your yard from the aeration will only serve as an open invitation for aggressive weed seeds to grow. Core aeration is important because it allows air to reach the root zone faster which leads to new growth and improved root development.

4. Repair Your Lawn

Winter can do a number on your yard with its harsh weather and cold temperatures. When spring comes around, you may need to make some much needed repairs to your lawn. Spring is a great time to reseed any damaged areas that developed over the winter months.

5. Fertilize

Applying fertilizer in the late winter/early spring can jump start your lawn from its dormant winter state. Fertilizer provides a build up of nutrients that will provide it with the strength it needs to withstand heat stress and drought throughout the warmer summer months.

6. Clear The Clutter

Before winter sets in, clear your lawn of any clutter and do periodic sweeps throughout the winter season. Remove any debris, lawn furniture, logs from around your fire pit, toys, etc. If an object is left on the grass during cold weather or snowfall, it can cause large dead spots on your lawn because of the weight of the object. In spring, the grass in these dead areas will be stunted and thinner than the rest of your yard.

7. Keep Off The Lawn

Try to avoid lawn traffic as much as possible in the winter months; walking on your lawn too much can weaken even the strongest grass, if the same path is walked over too many times. Make use of sidewalks and never allow anyone to park a car or truck on your lawn, as this will leave impressions in the soil and kill grass that’s underneath the tires.

8. Professional Lawn Care Services

If winter lawn care seems like a daunting task, don’t stress! Call a professional lawn care company who can come out and provide you with a free lawn care analysis. The Lawn Care team at Northwest can provide you with expert lawn care services and a customized program that includes lawn fertilization, weed control, lawn pest control, aeration and overseeding, tree and shrub care, and even disease control. Fill out the form below or give us a call to schedule your free lawn care analysis today!

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Getting Your Lawn Ready For Fall

Getting Your Lawn Ready For Fall

It’s a common myth that grass grows slower in the fall and doesn’t require as much maintenance when actually the opposite is true! In the fall your lawn is busy absorbing moisture, nutrients, and energy as it prepares for the long, hard winter that’s around the corner. Whether you live in an area where the winters are mild or an area where your yard stays covered in a blanket of snow, preparing now will help you reap a lush, green lawn in the spring. Check out these 10 tips for fall lawn care.

Get Rid Of The Leaves

Leaves are no good for grass. They not only block the light from reaching your grass blades, they also trap moisture underneath them which can lead to fungus. Blow or rake your leaves as often as you can. Don’t wait until all the leaves have fallen before you get rid of them. It might be too late as fungus may have already set in.

Don’t Stop Mowing

Grass will continue to grow until the first hard frost of the year. The ideal height for your grass is 2-1/2″ to 3″ tall. If your grass is too long it can mat and leave your lawn vulnerable to fungus. If your grass is cut too short it can damage the roots and leave your lawn unable to tolerate the winter cold and dryness. Mowing will also get rid of any leaves that may have fallen and they can even be left behind as a nutritious mulch for your yard. Make sure to drop your mower blade to the lowest setting for the last 2 cuttings of the year.

Don’t Stop Watering

Even though fall storms bring more rain and the cooler temperature means more dew on the ground in the mornings, this is still not enough moisture to maintain the hydration your lawn needs to prepare for winter. Grass needs at least 1″ of water per week. You can measure this with a simple rain gauge. Make sure to keep your sprinklers or irrigation system running until the end of October to make sure your lawn gets the hydration it needs.

Aerate The Soil

Aeration should be done on a regular basis – once every couple of years. This prevents the soil from becoming too compacted and helps prevent thatch. Fall is the perfect time to aerate if your lawn needs it, especially before you fertilize. Aeration allows oxygen, water, and fertilizer to penetrate the soil and easily reach the grass roots, helping build up its energy and nutrient supply before the harsh conditions of winter.

Apply A Fertilizer

If you only fertilize once a year, fall is the perfect time to do it. Fertilizer protects your grass’s roots from freezing and gives it the energy it needs to bounce back in the spring. Fertilizer should be applied in late fall, preferably after you aerate your lawn. Make sure you leave a 5′ buffer between your fertilizer and any water sources nearby.

Seed Your Lawn

Fall is a great time to overseed your existing lawn. Overseeding not only helps protect against weeds but also fills in any thin spots or bare patches you may have. Fall is ideal for overseeding because the ground is still warm, there is plenty of moisture, the temperatures are cool at night, and the temperatures aren’t as hot during the day.

Control The Weeds

Fall is also a good time to fight back against any weeds that may have taken over your yard. Weeds go into energy absorbing mode in the fall just like grass does. Apply an herbicide in the fall so the weeds will absorb it and won’t return in the spring.

Keep Off The Lawn

Fall often brings more rain so your yard may be oversaturated with moisture. Walking on wet lawns can compact the soil, keeping the roots from getting important oxygen and nutrients. Stay off the wet lawn as much as possible. Don’t rake leaves when your lawn is too wet as you run the risk of pulling up the grass by its roots.

Clean Up For Spring

Before you put your tools away for the winter, make sure to clean them to prevent rust. Perform any winter maintenance that’s needed on your mowers and other lawn care machines. Put away your patio furniture, cushions, and grills, making sure to clean them before storing them. Fall is also a good time to check your gutters. Clean out any debris to prevent clogs before the fall rains. Consider installing gutter guards so you don’t have to climb a ladder to clean your gutters.

Call A Pro

It can be hard to get each one of these tips done at the right time in the fall. Consider calling a professional that you can delegate some or all of these tasks to. A lawn care professional can provide you with a free lawn care analysis, set you up on a lawn care service schedule, fertilize, control weeds, and even provide pest control.

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