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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.