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When Should You Fertilize Your Lawn, Chester County, PA?

Fertilize your lawn periodically, following and respecting the growth cycle of your turf. 

Does it seem easy to put like that?

It certainly is! 

So, let’s dig deeper now into the subject.

Most people we meet think spring is the season when you have to boost your turf.

They are right. 

However, beyond spring, it is unclear what to do next in most people’s minds. Most questions we receive are: 

  • Should I focus during springtime only?
  • Do I have to fertilize every month?
  • If we have a hot summer, should I increase the number of fertilization?
  • Should I schedule fertilization for spring and fall only?

The truth is that there are multiple applications for a year. In fact, keep three distinct periods in mind:

  • Easter
  • Labor Day
  • Halloween

In other words, fertilize your lawn mid-spring, late summer, and late fall. 

Here’s why.

The Sacred Rules to Fertilize Your Lawn

If you remember the movie Gremlins from 1984, there were a few rules that the hero was supposed to observe to avoid his little mogwai multiplying into many horrible creatures. 

There are rules for lawns too. 

If you observe them, you will avoid wreaking havoc on your property.

So let’s highlight two simple rules to keep in mind:

  • Avoid fertilizing your lawn when it’s too hot or dry to avoid the spread of diseases.

 

  • Never fertilize on frozen ground to avoid your fertilizer to be washed away by rain or wind. Always fertilize on softer ground.

Some of our clients are astonished to see on our fertilization programs that we will be on their yards late fall. Most of them think that lawn care companies start their hibernation around that time. 

Well, not really.

Why Fertilize Your Lawn Late Fall?

So, why should you fertilize your lawn late fall when nature is winding down before the winter?

The reason is straight forward: 

You set yourself up for success for the following year.

If you’ve done fall aeration and late fall fertilization:

  • You prepare your lawn for a great winter. Your fertilization in late fall will offer the energy needed by the roots of your lawn’s plants. During late fall, plants will store anything they can to pass the winter. Do not think that nothing happens underground during these periods. Fall and winter may look quiet on the surface, but there is activity at the root system level. Just like animals preparing for the winter, your turf does the same thing. So give your lawn what it needs to have the extra energy reserve.
  • You ensure that your lawn will just need a kick start in spring to thrive and not an entire makeover. Ultimately, late-fall fertilization can save you some hard-earned dollars the following year.
fertilize your lawn

What Can You Use to Fertilize Your Lawn?

Let’s start with what you should not do.

Do not apply the same fertilizer on Easter, Labor Day, and Halloween.

Although we will discuss the different types of fertilizer and preparations in a separate blog, remember that your lawn does not need the same stuff all the time. 

The rule here is simple: 

Think about yourself. 

Except for bacon, you do not want to eat the same stuff because you need different nutrients at different times of the day, depending on your activity and condition. 

The same needs apply to your turf.

If your turf needs more instant power, use a fast-release fertilizer. If your lawn is preparing for a long winter, try to use a slow-release fertilizer for your late-fall application. For the latter, it’s usually the one with higher nitrogen content. 

As we are approaching the late-fall season, here’s an additional tip.

Your last fertilizer application is an important one. Therefore, approach it with care and attention. 

The type of fertilizer aside, this last application needs to be evenly spread. If you do not use a lawn care company to apply your late-fall fertilizer, try to rent or invest in professional equipment. 

We use a walk-behind spreader, and for a good reason: They have a flow-rate dealer to release a precise amount of fertilizer per square foot. Hence, you spread the right amount of fertilizer on the lawn area you need to cover. 

We’ve seen too often homeowners take a hand full of granules and throw them on the ground or use a flow-rate dealer but using too much fertilizer. 

Remember that an excess of fertilizer is not good and will be detrimental to your lawn.  

By all means, avoid patches of excess fertilizer in one area of your yard. A good practice is to read the instructions on the fertilizer package before starting. Fertilizer producers always offer the volume of fertilizer to be used per square foot. 

If it is the first time you use a flow-rate dealer, get acquainted with the material first and the way it spreads fertilizer. Before hitting your lawn, try to test on your driveway, and once you are ready, you are good to go on your lawn.

What Have We Learned?

Fertilize your lawn at specific times of the year, and always think about your particular turf needs. 

Depending on the time of the year, you need to vary your fertilizer formulation. Watching weather forecasts is essential. Your soil should not be too hard or weather too hot or dry.

Never miss your late-fall fertilization. If fall is well prepared, you set yourself for success for next spring. Your turf’s plants will need and store energy in the root system. However, it is essential to offer the right fertilizer volume and not spread it over your lawn in excess. 

Stay connected with us if you want to learn more about fertilizer preparation.

How Does Liquid Aeration Work?

Liquid aeration is gaining momentum in the lawn care industry. But, how does it compare to the traditional and well-known core aeration? 

To fight against soil compaction’s harmful effects, lawn aeration is an essential strategy that you should consider implementing in spring and fall to revitalize your lawn. 

Oxygen, water, and nutrients are essential for any form of life to thrive. It’s no different for your lawn. 

Therefore, if you create a healthy environment for your grass to grow, guess what happens?

The plants of your lawn grow stronger and healthier. 

Yep, life on Earth is “that” simple.

That said, you sometimes need to help Mother Nature just a smidge. This is where lawn aeration comes into play.

Why Lawn Aeration?

Folks, we spent more time on our properties this year.

You do not need to be a stud in national statistics to know that.

For many families in Chester County, PA, in 2020, people have spent more time on their properties. 

With the quarantines, social distancing and working remotely from home meant more yard time with the family.

Let’s be honest; there was not much else to do.

Yet, playing ball with the kids, and kids running around playing with the dog is an incredible sight and a fantastic way to build happy memories. 

The only issue in this lovely picture is what happened to your soil.

What happens to your soil, you might ask?

Well, it suffered foot traffic.

Foot traffic! Is that it? Is that why I need lawn aeration?

Actually, not really.

It’s your foot traffic and that ugly thatch layer that was not removed in Spring or for a few years that impact your soil negatively.

The thatch layer is composed of dead layers of grass that can accumulate on your lawn over time.

With soil more compacted than usual, water, nutrients, and air cannot penetrate deep enough. 

If air, water, and nutrients cannot feed the plant, your plant is weaker and more prone to disease and natural aggressions.

What’s Lawn Aeration?

In a nutshell, lawn aeration helps to deal with the above.

In the end, addressing compaction will allow more water and nutrients to reach your soil, where the grassroots will absorb them.

There are two types of lawn aeration: 

Mechanical and liquid. 

Most people are familiar with the mechanical core aeration, where small plugs of dirt are pulled out. These plugs are called “cores,” and they create a small hole of 2 inches deep and ¾ of an inch in diameter in your soil.

After mechanical core aeration, “plugs” or “cores” lay around on the lawn. Although the process works well, it can leave your yard looking messy. 

Many people see the benefit of core aeration, but do not like the sight for the first few weeks after the aeration. It looks like a gang of dogs pooped in your yard. 

With all due respect to centuries of American poetry, there is no better way to describe it.

Also, before running a core aerator on your property, you’d be wise to mark your sprinkler system heads, invisible fences, underground utilities, or cable lines with flags or cones to avoid destroying a costly system.

Typically, a core aerator pushes holes in the ground. So, imagine what that can do to an underground system that costs a fortune?

If you need to get the benefits of lawn aeration but you are unsure if you will like your lawn’s short-term appearance the first few days following your core aeration, you should consider liquid aeration.

What’s Liquid Aeration?

Here’s the difference with your old good mechanical core aeration: 

Liquid aeration does not leave plugs on your yard and offers more even and more in-depth coverage of the area you want to treat. The liquid aerator is sprayed on your turf, and that’s it.

These are the main differentiators.

In essence, liquid aeration offers the same base benefits as core aeration with some attractive advantages:

  • Breaks up the thatch layer.
  • Penetrates clay deeply, which is ideal in Southern PA.
  • Improves water penetration more evenly.
  • Promotes air penetration.
  • Softens soil to allow the plant’s roots to grow better.
  • Improves the absorption of nutrients in a more systematic manner.
  • Can be done anytime during the growing season.
  • Uses bio-degradable materials, safe for kids and pets.
  • Preserves the integrity of all your in-ground systems.

Ultimately, liquid aeration can be more effective than core aeration. 

If you are more a DIY person and you do not plan to contact a lawn care company, a good tip is to pay attention to the ingredients of the products you can find at your nearby retail store.

Always check out the wetting agent, preferably made from a natural organic compound. 

Then, make sure there is food in the ingredient list like enzymes, humates, and bacteria. It is essential for microbial life development that will attack the thatch layer. You may have to buy a separate product to add the missing elements in the formula.

Heck, What Should I Choose? Core or Liquid Aeration?

Your liquid aeration will not have an immediate impact on your lawn like core aeration. So, you will need to be a little more patient.

That said, the choice between core and liquid aeration will depend on the lawn condition. So, you need to do some assessment first.

Is your lawn heavily compacted?

How thick is your thatch layer?

For instance, if you’ve never taken care of the thatch layer of your lawn, and if that layer is over ½ inch thick, you might consider the following strategy:

  • Go for core aeration in spring.
  • Add liquid aeration during the summer season.
  • Finalize the season with core aeration before mid-October.

If you think the above is overkill, then always do core aeration first. The core aeration will help the liquid aeration and fast-forward the process.

What’s Your Choice? Core or Liquid Aeration?

Core or liquid aeration is effective in helping achieve a beautiful lawn. 

Both have advantages, and it sometimes comes to preferences based on the elements we have described. 

Before forming an opinion about the subject, we would recommend anyone to:

  • Assess your lawn condition while specifically focusing on the thatch layer.
  • Determine if “cores” or “plugs” are visual nuisances that you want to avoid, knowing that cores disintegrate naturally after a few weeks.
  • Know that core and liquid aeration can team up and play a beneficial role conjointly. You can have the best of both worlds. 

Have you ever thought about combining core and liquid aerations before?

How to aerate lawns?

Aerate your lawn if you need to set yourself up for success in 2021, Chester County!

If you want a beautiful lawn in 2021, then aerate your lawn. 

It’s that simple.

Many homeowners never aerate their lawns and live happily ever after. 

Many do not even know what lawn aeration is. 

Yet, it is the best way to ensure the long-term health of your lawn and prolific growth.

But, let’s face it.

It’s not a fun process if you are not used to it. So, why the heck should you spend time to aerate your lawn?

If you are not clear why you should aerate your lawn and are still debating because the process is a pain, consider the following points.

Lawn Aerations Have Multiple Benefits

If you aerate lawns periodically, you will notice tremendous improvements over time. 

So, yes indeed, there are different factors that lawn aerations combine that help get a greener and thicker, healthy-looking turf.

What do lawn aerations do to your lawn?

There is no better way to reduce soil compaction. 

When you reduce compaction, it improves the penetration of water and air through the soil close to the root system to increase the grass plant’s vitality and strength.

It also makes watering and seeding more effective, which is an excellent way to reduce your bills.

Ultimately, your lawn is more resilient to heat, drought, and cold.

So, let’s check how to aerate lawns.

First Things first, Protect Your Watering System

If you proceed to core aeration, you need to pay attention to where you are going to punch holes. 

Otherwise, you will destroy your sprinklers or water line if they are not deep enough.

If you have sprinkler heads scattered around that you cannot remove, try to place a little flag or cone next to each sprinkler head. You will avoid costly mistakes.

Of course, you will not have this problem if you opt for liquid aeration.

We covered the difference between core and liquid aerations in a previous article. If you need to learn more about that subject, read our article Lawn Aeration: Wake Up Your Lawn, Chester County!

Don’t Aerate Your Lawn During the Heat of The Summer

When should you aerate your lawn? 

The short answer is spring and fall. 

If you decide not to go through this process twice a year and miss spring, shoot for the end of August up to late fall.

The biggest mistake is to aerate your lawn during the summer’s hottest days.

Although it is excellent for your lawn wellness, the aeration process is stressful – not in a detrimental way, but mechanical or chemical processes are involved. 

Therefore, avoid catching up with aerations during the peak of summer. That said, they are beneficial before major growth seasons or to prepare for the colder winter season. 

Besides, if you thought it is too late to aerate your lawn, a core or liquid aeration performed between the end of August and late fall is essential to prevent damage from freezes or snow.

Always Use The Best of The Best

We are not referring to us here. Although…

We refer to tools, machines, and products.

Like anything else in this world, quality is critical, and spending some time to do your due diligence about which tools, machines, or products – in the case of liquid aeration – is the secret of qualitative lawn aeration.

Visit your favorite retail shop, spend some time talking to professionals, ask questions, and gain helpful insights.

If your budget allows you to buy a machine, go for a professional aerator. 

Manual aeration of a broad surface is overwhelming labor. If you value your sanity and want to preserve your lower back, reduce the manual labor, and stay away from any cheap tools.

Now, a professional core aerator can be expensive. Therefore, try to rent the equipment if you are only going to aerate once or twice per year.

Alternatively, investigate liquid aeration. 

Depending on your budget, liquid aeration might be a wise choice. 

Although liquid aerators are not all made equal, you will need to learn a bit about science. Not to worry, we will cover this topic in another article soon. So, if you are interested to learn more about it, stay tuned.

Check Out the Weather Forecast

Weather should be considered before deciding on the day you need to aerate your lawn. 

Remember that the soil should not be too hard or too soft, especially if you plan to do core aeration.

You should not aerate your lawn if your soil is ultra-dry, or if the area where you live was flooded the day before. 

Again, adjusting your aeration schedule with feel and finesse is the difference between a process that runs smoothly and a nightmare.

Therefore, check the weather forecast regularly once you approach the aeration’s date, knowing that you might need to change that schedule at the last minute.

And Finally!

Even if no one ever had fun during lawn aerations, they are the central piece of your lawn wellness strategy. 

Aerations strengthen your lawn by bringing the nutrients and air to the roots. Therefore, they should be performed before the growing season starts.

If you plan to do aeration yourself, either buy or rent professional equipment. Usually, tools used for manual aerations should be reserved for very small surfaces only. 

If the big bulk of the market considers core aeration, liquid aerations have come a long way and have proven to be more efficient than core ones. 

In the professional world, liquid aerations start to intrigue and convert more and more lawn care businesses trying to deliver a differentiated approach to lawn care.

Liquid aeration is best used when a lawn is already healthy and there is no need for seeding. The product works very well and improves the soil, essentially aerating on a microscopic level. After treatment, we have noted a visible color increase in the lawn, due to the chelating effect of the liquid aeration. 

So, it’s time to aerate lawns, Chester County!

Tips For Your Summer Lawn Care in PA

Summer lawn care is a hot topic in Chester County. If you were wondering what to do and how to care for that lawn in the summer, there are a few things you need to know.

Summer lawn care is an art that you need to dominate this year. It’s the right time to make your lawn look great and also prepare for the colder season.

Keeping your lawn healthy and lush during the summer requires attention and basic knowledge of what to observe. 

Because what you do and observe today will help you over time.

Once the basics of summer lawn care are understood, you will enjoy a beautiful lawn that you and your family will love. 

So, if you want to create beautiful and happy memories, read on to learn our tips for summer lawn care.

Mowing height is important.

Do not give a buzz cut to your lawn!

Try to maintain a decent mowing height as part of your summer lawn care plan.

What does “decent” mean?

We encourage you not to mow under 4”. 

Does it seem high to you?

Even though it may seem high, a mowing height between 4” to 4.5” is your best height. It will keep your lawn roots strong and increase your plant’s heat tolerance. 

Besides, a turf between 4’ to 4.5” helps prevent weeds from germinating and keeps more shade which helps to keep your soil moist. 

Also, 80% of the moisture in the grass is held in the leaf blade. 

So mowing your lawn too short may stress the plant too much. 

So, it’s okay to allow your lawn to get a little shaggy when the weather is hot and dry for a few days. It won’t get out of control, we promise!

Ready to start mowing?

Hold on to that idea, we are not done here!

Before starting to mow your lawn, check your mower’s blades. It is important that your blades are sharp to offer an optimal cut. So, sharpen them if they seem dull. Most brands have blades that can sustain anything between 8 to 12 mowing cycles. So check out your blades on a regular base.

Why is it important?

You want to give a clean-cut and not tear the plant. It could have a disastrous impact to your lawn, by helping fungi and disease spread.

Know how to water your lawn.

Are you a morning person?

Well, during the summer, you should be. 

Heavy watering of your lawn one or two times per week is best and preferably early morning. 

Keep a watering schedule part of your summer lawn care plan to avoid watering too frequently.

Water thoroughly in the morning and avoid evenings if you can. 

Why?

Evening watering leaves grass blades wet all night. And that’s bad. It can create many detrimental effects on your lawn.

During the evening, water continues to rest on the entire plant’s ecosystem. 

What does it mean?

It means that if water remains on the plant or near the roots for too long, it will cause the lawn to rot, develop diseases, and attract insects. 

When that happens, people usually try to cure the problem caused by adding more pesticides and more fertilizer, which creates more imbalances. 

So, the bottom line is that watering in the evenings is bad. Just as overwatering your lawn can be bad.

Indeed, a question we often get is what to do if rainfall is expected?

It is important that you check the weather forecast regularly and try to understand if rainfall is expected and what it will be like.

If heavy rains are expected, do not water your lawn. It would be an overkill.

In case the rainfall is light or just a sprinkle, remember that this might not be enough for your lawn. Hence, you should stick to your summer lawn care watering plan.

Assess your lawn density and soil compaction

Always check your soil compaction

The easiest way to do it is to use a stick or screwdriver and check how hard it is to push it through. 

If you get a lot of resistance, especially if the weather is dry, this might indicate that you may need to water your lawn more or use a soil enhancer liquid aeration type product. 

Soil compaction is a bad thing. 

When compaction increases soil density, roots cannot thrive. If the root system cannot develop, your lawn may not be able to survive the summer season.

Compaction is a surface issue. It affects the top of the soil of just a few inches. It is not much, but it can be detrimental to your summer lawn care plan.

The problem of compacted soil is that it does not allow rapid water penetration. It means that you need to water your lawn a lot more to get the water to reach the feeding area of your lawn’s roots. The danger is to water your lawn too much, which leads to other problems as we mentioned earlier.

Verify your soil compaction regularly and do not hesitate to go for core aeration or liquid aeration and add a little seeding if needed as soon as fall weather arrives.

Keep your lawn clean

Let’s be real. 

A backyard looking like a junkyard is not ideal for a beautiful lawn. We all know that. But, you do not need to reach the “junkyard” level to impact your lawn negatively.

Therefore, do not leave “stuff” on your lawn.

What does “stuff” mean?

  • Tarps
  • Trashcans
  • Chairs & tables
  • Swimming pools & toys
  • Tents

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. 

Why should you remove all items from your lawn?

Because heat transfers through objects and can burn grass blades, heat can cause stress to your lawn and impact its health. 

It’s that simple.

Also, try to avoid too much traffic on your lawn. That’s a tricky part too. 

Always try to remember the rule of the 2P’s: 

People & Pets.

During summertime, you might ask yourself: 

How to avoid having kids running on your lawn or pets playing or sleeping on it if not worse? 

That might simply be one of the mysteries of the universe or the Holy Grail of summer lawn care. Realistically, try to manage human and pet traffic to the best of your ability and offer periods of rest to your lawn to let it heal.

Therefore, ask people to use walkways, try to host parties on your deck, and get the dog off your turf.

And what now?

Summer lawn care is about a few things to know and observations to make. 

It’s not rocket science, but there is some work involved to remain consistent and agile to adjust your plan.

Therefore, try to keep a summer lawn care plan during the summer months to help you out. Here’s a summary of what you should keep in mind:

  • Verify the mowing height of your mowing machine.
  • Check the blades of your mowing machine and sharpen them when needed.
  • Remember to be consistent with the watering time and frequency of your lawn.
  • Check the weather forecast for rainfall.
  • Observe and measure the rainfall and adjust your watering plan.
  • Reduce people and pet traffic on your lawn.
  • Keep your lawn area clean of any objects.

Are you ready to implement a great summer lawn care plan this year?

How to Get Rid of Spotted Lanternflies in Chester County?

Around 2014, Spotted Lanternflies were observed in Chester County for the first time. Since then, these insects have begun to spread far and wide.

Honestly, the rapid spread of Spotted Lanternflies has been alarming to scientists and common homeowners alike. 

They can ruin certain types of trees and create an unpleasant environment wherever they propagate.

Spotted Lanternflies

Realistically, in the wake of COVID-19, an infestation of Spotted Lanternflies is not the best selling argument if you plan to sell your home. Therefore, take care of them before it’s too late.

Increasingly, more and more property owners in Chester County have had to deal with Spotted Lanternflies infestations. 

Whether you’re in Pennsylvania or not, these tips could prove useful in the near future. 

Are you ready to learn how to take on the Spotted Lanternflies? Let’s get to it.

What are these Spotted Lanterflies?

These insects, approximately one-inch long, can wreak havoc on the local greenery. They are covered with black spots, with signature red-colored wings. Younger Spotted Lanternflies in the nymph stage will black and red 

Although it has two pairs of wings, the Spotted Lanternfly is more a jumper and it uses its wings to assist these jumps rather than making sustained flights.

Spotted Lanternflies come from Asia where they create issues in local rural areas. However, the spotted lanternfly can find the perfect host over 70 plant species, including ornamental trees, grapevines, fruit trees, and woody plants. 

The list gets longer and can include many agricultural crops and common forest plants. In our area, it was found on birch and maple. In other words, these little guys need to be taken seriously.

Ultimately, Spotted Lanternflies feed on primarily hardwood trees and they excrete a sticky, “honeydew” substance that can destroy any and all vegetables, flowers or shrubbery nearby

Luckily, the danger associated with these bugs is relatively small to humans directly. They will not bite you, nor sting you. 

They can be obnoxious since they live in colonies and are not scared to land on people. Ultimately, they are more disgusting-looking than dangerous. 

Finally, Spotted Lanternflies Have Met Their Match

So, Spotted Lanternflies have laid claim to your property. Well, it’s time to contain them!

In just a few steps, you can be prepared to deal with an infestation.

 

1- Eliminate the Eggs

First of all, it is necessary to contain the spread of any Spotted Lanternflies. 

When clearing out a given area, always check for their eggs, typically a mass with a mud-brown coloration.

These egg masses typically appear from late September through May. 

The egg masses can then be removed from the tree with a knife or similar tool into a bag. 

Alternatively, they can be directly sprayed with insecticide or killed with hand sanitizer or a similar alcohol-based solution.

If you bag their eggs, you are requested to report them online to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Follow this link to fill a report.

2- Address the Nymphs

Once the eggs are taken care of, you can start worrying about the nymphs, or the pre-adult Spotted Lanternflies. 

From late April to early November, the nymphs and adults climb the trunks of trees to feed.

At this time, the trees can be sprayed with insecticides. Otherwise, some people prefer using sticky-paper to trap the nymphs as they climb the tree’s trunk. Beware when taping trees-birds, rodents or bats can get caught in the tape.

However, it is necessary to be careful when carrying out this step. If not done with great care, you could harm beneficial insects or wildlife.

3- Tackling the Adults

Now, the final step. How do you take care of the fully-grown Spotted Lanterflies? Well, there are a few options here.

The first option is to use an approved insecticide which kills the adults on contact. Alternatively, the adults can be captured in a bottle or similar container. 

Manually kill any active nymphs or adults with tennis rackets, swatting and stomping them.

Another option is to plant Milkweed on the property amongst your present vegetation. 

Spotted Lanterflies tend to eat Milkweed, although it is poisonous. 

This can kill the insects or slow them down substantially, leaving them vulnerable to other methods. 

The last option and by far the most effective one is to use systemic treatment.

What is a systemic treatment?

It is a special insecticide applied to the bark of the tree that gets transferred throughout the plant. Any insect that feeds on the tree will die. Be aware to wait until a flowering tree has finished flowering before applying a systemic-this ensures no honey bees will die inadvertently.

If any Tree of Heaven trees is growing on your property, use them as bait by treating them with a systemic insecticide.

Once You Reclaim Your Yard, Then What?

Once the invaders are taken care of, you need to be vigilant and check the development of a new colony. 

It is still recommended that you continue monitoring your outdoor areas. Therefore, continue to keep an eye on the trees if there was a previous infestation. 

Cleared of Spotted Lanternflies, enjoy your ability to landscape and take advantage of your outdoor areas once again! 

Have you already tried one of the above options?

How to Select the Right Lawn Fertilizer

Your lawn fertilizer is the essential piece of your lawn program. Here are a few tips to consider this spring to approach your lawn fertilization that goes beyond your traditional retailer’s off-the-shelf lawn fertilizer.

Summer is around the corner and you feel that you need to get that lawn ready for the warmer days ahead.

This is your year. 

You want that perfect thick green lawn to forget COVID-19 and all the bad news. You need that beautiful uniform lawn to regenerate, feel content, ready to create beautiful memories for the family.

Naturally, you know that Spring is the time to apply that lawn fertilizer. 

You probably have the lawn fertilizer bags stacked in your garage waiting for you.

Yet, something does not feel right. 

You are struck by doubt.  

Why does your lawn not look quite like the one of that beautiful house in Downingtown that you pass every day on your way to work? 

Why does that lawn look better than yours? Do they use a better brand? 

The truth is that they might take additional steps that you are not aware of. So, if you need to learn some drills, read on.

Before using a lawn fertilizer, conduct a soil analysis

“Know thy soil” is the first step to excellence and a golden rule. 

Indeed, it is essential to know the type of soil surrounding your property. 

Why?

Soil analysis provides an indication of the nutrients available in the soil that the plant will need to grow.  

For professional lawn care companies, the soil analysis is an essential method to put together a tailored and sound fertilization program. 

Otherwise, it is impossible to get good results.

In other words, the off-the-shelf lawn fertilizer that you bought may not respond to the true nutritional needs of your lawn.

Although soils in southeast PA are mainly clay, it does not mean that all soils are the same everywhere in Chester County.

One size does not fit all.

If you consider your lawn as “your baby,” then, try to literally consider your lawn as your baby. 

Because, without proper food, it is impossible to grow well and strong. 

Hence, conducting regular soil testing will help to correct your lawn nutrition program based on data. 

It may sound daunting, but you will achieve results more efficiently. 

If you identify the nutrient deficiencies of your soil, you may be able to control your fertilization program. 

By doing so, you may be able to appropriately tune your approach to lawn wellness and avoid excessive fertilizer applications to maintain a healthy lawn.

Check the Vitals Before Using Any Lawn Fertilizer

If you do it periodically, a soil analysis will inform you about different and essential values. 

These values are:

  • Soil pH
  • Neutralizable acidity
  • Phosphorus, Potassium, calcium, magnesium levels 
  • Organic matter
  • Cation exchange capacity

Depending on the values that the lab will send back to you, you will need to establish the appropriate remediation actions. In other words, you will need to:

  • Tune the pH if you missed it last fall (ideal pH is usually between 6.2 and 6.8 in PA)
  • Increase or decrease the amount of phosphorus (P) available
  • Check the volume of potassium (K)
  • Review the levels of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg)
  • Target the adequate organic matter volume for a better structure
  • Determine how your soil retains nutrients with the cation exchange capacity (CEC)
  • See how much nitrogen needs to be added.

Although we will not go over the ideal proportions for all these elements in this article, you might now realize that the above is just impossible to achieve with off-the-shelf products.

Select the Right Lawn Fertilizer

Once the results of your soil analysis arrive, it comes down to the application of lawn fertilizer.

There are different types of fertilizers:

  • Slow-release 
  • Quick-release

What’s the difference?

In a nutshell, a quick-release fertilizer immediately provides the nutrients to the plants. Whereas, as slow-release fertilizer releases small and steady amounts of fertilizer over time.

What’s better between the two?

It depends, but the general answer is that it is always better to use slow-release or controlled-release fertilizer that will breakdown over time. 

Try to always prefer natural, organic fertilizers to add nutrients in the soil by naturally breaking down during the decomposition process.

There are slow-release fertilizers that have nutrients encapsulated in a polymer-based protective skin. 

That polymer-based skin slowly deteriorates under the action of heat and water.

Why is it better to use a slow-release fertilizer?

The reason is simple.  

You want the plants to have what they need throughout the growing season. A slow-release fertilizer achieves exactly that.

Even though the price per pound is slightly higher for slow-release fertilizers, remember that you will need fewer applications with this type of fertilizer. 

This almost evens the price over time if you compare both slow and quick-release fertilizers’ total cost for a season. 

Usually, slow-release fertilizers have a higher ratio of nitrogen and combine herbicides. Nitrogen promotes vigorous grass and green color. 

Do not saturate the soil with fertilizers. 

The effects could be disastrous.

Applying large amounts of fertilizer can leach nutrients from the soil and push too much succulent growth that is prone to fungal diseases. 

Therefore, check the recommendations on your soil analysis report and the fertilizer manufacturer instructions before any application.

Your Lawn Fertilizer And Your Action Plan is Right Here

To achieve a thick green turf, a periodic soil analysis should be performed to evaluate the nutritional needs of your lawn’s plants. There are test kits available online but the most thorough can be obtained through your local Penn State Extension office.

Once you have the data and value guidelines in hand, select the right fertilizer with the appropriate NKP values. 

Always try to use slow-release lawn fertilizers even if they seem more expensive. Over time, the total cost flattens compared to cheaper quick-release fertilizers.

Ultimately, do not over-saturate your lawn with fertilizer. Check the recommendations of the fertilizer manufacturer. 

Now that you know more about lawn fertilization, have you considered a proper piece of equipment to release your lawn fertilizer?

Lawn Aeration: Wake Up Your Lawn, Chester County!

Lawn aeration is one of the best ways to wake up your lawn, Chester County! Especially if you missed Fall. 

As the warmer weather has finally arrived in Chester County! We know you’ve been waiting, because we have, too. 

Whether it’s gardening, playing with the dog, or getting a tan, we’ve all got a reason to get back outside. And, with being outside, comes being in your lawn. From a full winter season, your lawn sure could use a kick-start. 

But what exactly does that mean?

If you’re ready to get back to that spring-green grass, lawn aeration may be something to consider. A healthy, green lawn may not appeal to everyone. But if it sounds good to you, read on.

Why Lawn Aeration?

What’s the first step to creating an environment for healthy plants? Cutting away the dead weight! 

The same is true for grass, and the same principle makes your lawn healthy and green.

Thatch is the name for the dead layer of grass that can accumulate on your lawn. Lawn aeration is a great way to get rid of this layer.

In the end, getting rid of the thatch will allow more water and nutrients to reach your soil where they will be absorbed by the grassroots.

We don’t want to get too sciency here, but there are a lot of microorganisms that decompose thatch. However, those microorganisms are often stuck beneath the compacted soil or simply not present in the soil. 

Using mechanical aeration can break up the compacted soil while alleviating the lawn of that thatch layer.

What is Aeration?

Most people have this process in mind where small ‘plugs’ of dirt, approximately 2 inches long and ¾ of an inch in diameter. That’s core aeration!

These ‘plugs’, also known as ‘cores’, create much-needed space to get the nutrients, water, and air for the root system to expand. 

Core aeration (this type of lawn aeration) makes the actual soil less compact by displacing bits of the soil.

But that’s not it!

There’s liquid aeration too.

It can be as effective if not more than core aeration as it loosens the soil deeper.

As its name suggests, it’s a liquid sprayed on your turf. It’s that simple.

The liquid is made up of key bio-stimulants and highly oxidizing material used to create energy within the soil, creating micro-fractures that break up soil and alleviate compaction which allows for better water and nutrient penetration.

 The advantages of liquid aeration vs mechanical aeration are:

  • Increased Safety and Eco-Friendliness: This method of liquid aeration introduces only biodegradable materials to your lawn. It’s also safe to use around children and pets

 

  • It can be done anytime during the growing season

 

  • There is no need to mark sprinkler system heads, invisible fences, underground utilities, or cable lines

What Are All These Aeration Types Doing?

They are addressing the same thing: Soil compaction.

By systematically addressing compacted soil with aerations, the roots of the grass in your lawn will finally be able to breathe. 

Compacted soil, if not taken care of, can prevent nutrients or water from reaching the grass root zone. This could be the cause of dead spots or thin areas in your lawn.

The overall health of your lawn is improved, allowing roots to go deeper and grass to be greener.

How else can lawn aeration help your lawn?

The trouble with water runoff of puddles in your lawn can often be addressed through core aeration.

After years of annoying puddling, it’s certainly worth a try.

So What is Better, Liquid, or Core Aeration?

The main difference between both is, which is best suited for your lawns needs

Core aeration will have an almost immediate positive impact on your lawn, but will require dry soil and ultimately is best suited to be used when introducing seed into the lawn is a must 

It does not mean that liquid aeration is less good. It simply means that it’s different.

For instance, you cover more surface thoroughly with liquid aeration than core aeration ever would, even if you multiple passes with the core aerator machine. 

Liquid aeration will require no marking of invisible pet fences or irrigation heads and can be done with moist soil, without the mess of “plugs.”

So, there’s a trade-off for each process, but results are durable in both cases.

The good thing about core and liquid aeration? 

They can work conjointly.

If your soil has a real thick thatch and your soil is extremely compacted, you can use both simultaneously. But, the core aeration needs to happen before the liquid one.

Am I Done After One Aeration?

No! Very obviously, if aerations are good for lawns, it is certainly not the miraculous process that turns turfs into perfection. There is a reason golf courses aerate several times per year. Wet weather compacts soil, dry weather compacts soil, wear and tear of children and pet’s play compacts soil. Some level of compaction is always present on your lawn. 

There is more that can be done for the perfect lawn. 

After lawn aeration, lawn care experts turn to pH modification of the soil. By applying gypsum or lime to your soil after aeration, this can impact the pH of your soil.

Ultimately, correcting the pH will allow perfect conditions within the soil for optimal nutrient absorption into the grass plant

But let’s keep that for another blog post – wink, wink!

What’s Your Take-Away In All That?

It’s time to take back your lawn! After months of waiting, you can finally get back the lawn you have been dreaming about.

And there’s no reason to go easy on it. Think of every time you go outside to walk, relax, or spend time with family and friends. Isn’t it worth making your lawn healthy (and look great, too)?

You should be proud of your lawn. If you’re not sure that lawn aeration is the right path for you, give our team a call. We’ll be happy to walk you through the process of lawn aeration. 

What steps have you taken this Spring to address your lawn wellness?

Spring Pre-Emergent Herbicides To Sort Your Weed Problem in Chester County

Spring Pre-Emergent Herbicides in Chester County

Spring pre-emergent herbicides are the masterpiece of your weed-control Strategy. They can probably help your lawn this year. 

It is especially true if you’re tired to see those nasty patches of crabgrass develop aggressively in your front, or back yard or along the edges of your sidewalks and driveway.

Spring is not over yet, and you are ready to go to war against weeds already. 

Typically, while respecting the current social distancing to avoid COVID-19, you may be tempted to check online what people say about the plethora of products out there, and you might feel already overwhelmed. 

Your best option is to spray pre-emergent products on your lawn.

What’s a Pre-Emergent Herbicide Doing For My Lawn?

The pre-emergent herbicide will not address all your lawn weeds, just those ungerminated grassy weeds such as crabgrass, Japanese stilt grass, and goosegrass. 

Pre-emergents do not control any broadleaf weeds or grassy weeds that are already germinated. 

However, it will actually be effective to contain the most common grassy weeds that you see in Chester County and the rest of Pennsylvania.

Most of them will use chemicals such as Dithiopyr, Prodiamine, and Oryzalin. All these chemicals have different target weeds that they take care of. All are either available as granular or liquids. 

No matter if you use granular or liquid pre-emergent herbicide, there’s one thing about them that you should know: 

They do not eliminate the weed seeds but rather, they stop the seed in its germination process. 

In other words, you’re not buying a killer per se, you’re buying a growth controller. Their main mode of action is a root inhibitor, as the plant sends out roots, the herbicides “stunts root growth” and the plant dies.

As for many things in life, timing is essential. Hence, the pre-emergent spraying process should not happen when it’s too cold outside.  

Typically, if the soil temperature reaches 45-50 degrees F. and above, this should be the right timing. 

Therefore, do not plan to spray on a specific month. One year may be colder than another. Hence, try to base your schedule on outside temperatures.

Apply pre-emergent too late is a factor also. Once the grassy weeds have germinated, the less effective the application is. Typically in Pennsylvania, pre-emergents shouldn’t be applied after mid-May.

What’s a Selective & Non-selective Herbicide?

As its name suggests, selective herbicides will take care of certain species of weeds while reducing their impact on other plants. 

In the case of lawns, selective herbicides will only control weeds, not the desirable turf they are growing in.

A non-selective herbicide will kill literally everything no matter the plant type and species in gets in contact with – which includes the plant of your lawn that you need to keep.

Hence, if you are looking to control weeds in your lawn and not kill your lawn, choose a selective pre-emergent herbicide. 

The selective herbicides will take care of:

  • Plantain
  • Goosegrass
  • Hairy Bittercress
  • Dandelion
  • Henbit
  • Crabgrass
  • Yellow Rocket
  • Black Medic 
  • Ground Ivy
  • Quackgrass
  • Chickweed
  • Corn speedwell
  • Japan Stiltgrass
  • Clover
  • Wild Violet
  • Nimblewill
  • Wild
  • Dallisgrass 
  • Sedges
  • And many other species

Of course, different products will have different results. Results may vary depending on the formula used in the selective pre-emergent herbicide. Proper timing is essential is effective weed control. The target weed must be stress-free and actively growing, to be effectively controlled.

Therefore, observing and identifying the weeds beforehand will help you in the selection of the selective pre-emergent herbicide.

Although selective pre-emergent herbicides will selectively address certain species of weeds, you need to make sure to observe some precautions regarding the timing of the application.

It is particularly true if you have a fresh new lawn. 

The rule is always to let the lawn settle for a few months before starting spraying selective pre-emergent herbicides. If you observe this rule, you will ensure that you inflict no harm to your lawn.

And What Now?

If you are unsure about the type of pre-emergent herbicide that you need to use, get in touch with your friendly neighborhood lawn specialists.

Spring Lawn Care: 3 Important Tips For Chester County, PA

Spring Lawn Care: 3 Important Tips For Chester County, PA

Spring lawn care in Chester County, PA can lead to a picture-perfect lawn in the coming season. Unfortunately, many people can overlook spring lawn care, or deem it unnecessary.

Spring lawn care is extremely important for both the health and the aesthetics of your lawn. 

With just a few steps, you can elevate your lawn from looking like the rest to standing out beyond your neighbors.

Do you want your lawn to stand out this year? If you are looking to have the nicest lawn in Chester County, PA in 2020, keep reading to learn how you can make your lawn dreams a reality through the use of spring lawn care.

Tip #1: Clean Up Your Lawn & Dethatch

Spring lawn care can take many forms, but one of the first steps that you should take is to clean up your lawn.

Ultimately, blowing leaves or removing dead branches can make the difference between a dead lawn and a thriving one. 

Use a leaf blower as a part of your spring lawn care routine is vital to making this difference, especially if you haven’t done it for a while. Leaf blowers can be cheap in your nearby retail store but crazy efficient to avoid raking.

Although you blow leaves in the fall, you shouldn’t hang up the leaf blower for good once springtime comes around. 

The same goes for dethatching. 

By managing the amount of thatch in your lawn with this method, you can ensure that your grass has plenty of room to grow and isn’t suffocated. 

If you did not dethatch your lawn last fall, take the opportunity to do it in spring.

As recommended by lawn care experts, thatch buildup that is over ½ inch is considered to be potentially harmful to the overall wellbeing of your lawn.

Especially if done through a professional dethatching service, you can experience a lot of benefits by addressing this common issue.

Some of the benefits that you could experience if you take care of this task include:

  • Better penetration of water and nutrients to the root zone
  • Healthier grass present in your lawn as unhealthy or dead grass is removed
  • More vibrant color in your lawn

 

Tip #2: Pre-emergent Weed Control

For a lawn full of healthy green grass, you’ll probably need to invest in weed control, starting with a properly timed spring pre-emergent.  

“Grow like a weed” is a phrase for a reason. If given free rein, weeds multiply quickly and can ruin the aesthetics and health of a lawn. They tend to take up nutrients and space in your lawn and are sometimes so aggressive that they can even choke out desirable grass.

Pre-emergent or “crabgrass prevention” is an herbicide that’s designed to kill summer grassy weeds before they can establish themselves. It interrupts the germination process and stops the weeds’ root growth right at the time of sprouting, ensuring that weed won’t develop. 

And when weeds don’t develop, they’re also not given the opportunity to spread. 

The really tricky part about pre-emergent herbicides is ensuring they are timed properly. If you use them when you’ve got immature, baby grass, it can damage it.  

And if you use them after the weeds have grown roots, you’ve missed the window.  It’s best to get these pre-emergents down when the soil temperatures are between 50-50 degrees. 

The “natural indicator” of applying pre-emergent when the forsythia bushes are in full bloom work most years, but it is not as accurate as using the soil temperature as your guide.

Tip #3: Address Compacted Areas

Spring lawn care services may be necessary to address areas of high traffic on your lawn.

After a year or a few years of extended exposure to traffic, the soil could be compacted and undesirable weeds could begin to grow instead of grass in given areas.

It can be made easy with the assistance of a professional team. When it comes to addressing compacted soils, a lawn aeration service may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Although it is recommended to take care of lawn aeration in the fall, partaking in a spring lawn checkup will bring this problem to the forefront to either address immediately or address in the fall.

Ready For the Nicest Lawn in Chester County, PA?

Whether you are interested in enhancing the health of your lawn or simply making your lawn look great, spring lawn care is one great way to do that.

Connect with our team at DTL Total Turf Care to schedule a call, consultation, or meet-up to discuss how we can address your spring lawn care needs!

Winter Lawn Care in Chester County PA

Winter lawn care is real. Do not believe that during the winter or during snow episodes that nothing happens to your lawn.

What’s winter lawn care? During the wintertime, your lawn is dormant. It does not mean that your lawn died, it has simply adapted to colder temperatures and shorter days. 

For proof, around mid to late March, when temperatures start slowly rising again in Chester County, Pa, your lawn will pick up again. 

However, there are some easy things you can do to help reduce the impact of winter on your lawn. If you need to learn more, read on.

Prepare for the winter during fall

As held for true in many things in life, preparation is everything. Therefore, there are some steps for your winter lawn care that you can take before winter hits hard our Southeast Philadelphia area. 

You can prepare your lawn in advance with:

  • Lawn aeration – It is a simple process that alleviates soil compaction and drives oxygen to the root system of your lawn and ease the intake of nutrients and moisture retention.
  • Overseeding – re-seed your lawn after aeration. Not every lawn needs overseeding. However, if your lawn was impacted by environmental stress, then overseeding is recommended.
  • Dethatching – Thatch is an organic layer that builds up, that layer needs to be removed to allow oxygen and water transfers to the soil.
  • Late fall fertilization – It re-establishes nutrients, that your lawn will store up and use the following spring. 
  • Avoid reducing your mowing height to less than 3”   
  • Remove the leaves falling on your lawn regularly, at least once per week, to allow light and water to penetrate the ground. Use a blower preferably and do not leave stacks of dead leaves on the lawn surface.

These steps offer a great basis to prepare your lawn for the winter and manage your winter lawn care effectively. May the winter be harsh or gentle, the essential objective is to have healthy soil. 

What to do during winter?

Lawn dormancy is a natural phenomenon in our latitudes, and you should expect off colors during that period of time. 

When snow falls in Chester County, PA, it is commonly believed that snow kills lawns. Actually, when lawns are covered by snow. 

Snow coverage acts like a blanket that insulates the plants and their roots from the colder temperatures.

Although snow certainly impacts lawns to a certain level, there are many different environmental factors that truly cause damages. Snow protects lawns from:

  • Ice
  • Cold winds
  • Dehydration

Remember that microbes that are present in the soil survive even during the coldest peak in the season. Consequently, with lots of microbial activity and organic matter even during frozen times, your lawn will not die.

There are some steps that you can take during the wintertime:

  • Continue to blow away leaves and other debris falling on your lawn
  • Do not walk on your lawn when your lawn is frozen to avoid dead spots and damages to the plant
  • Do not plow snow from or into your lawn
  • Do not throw salt on your lawn area

Implementing these simple rules will help your turf go through the winter and thrive when milder temperatures are back.

And what now?

If you did not apply the rules we shared, springtime being around the corner, connect with us for all your questions. Our team will help you put in place the right program to revitalize your turf.