Lawn Fertilizer Treatment

Frequently Asked Lawn Care Questions

With many years of experience, we’ve encountered numerous lawn care questions from our customers throughout each season that tend to arise quite often. In order to try and help you gain a better understanding of our lawn care services, we’ve noted some of the most common inquiries you may come across that may be helpful to you.

Crabgrass vs. Quackgrass

This one of the most common lawn care questions that we get each year. The biggest difference between the two types of grassy weed is perennial vs. annual. Quackgrass is a perennial type of plant and sprouts form a root mass each spring. It is also a cool season plant so thrives early in the season (April- June). Its rapid growth in April & May really makes it stand out from the rest of the lawn. Since it is a perennial plant there are no selective control products available for it, outside of Round-Up.

Crabgrass, on the other hand is an annual that sprouts each season from seeds left from previous years adult plants. Another difference is that it is a “warm season” plant, meaning it thrives better in warmer and drier environments which is why we see this weed more often mid-summer (July-August). Control measures for crabgrass are primarily “pre-emergent” which prevent the sprouting and growth of new seedlings into adult plants.

The best way to determine which weed you have is presence of the weed in May. If you are seeing it in April or May, you most likely have quackgrass as environment conditions have not yet been met that would allow crabgrass to flourish.

Shaded or Partial Sun Areas

Grass lawns by nature need lots of sun. Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Perennial Fescue are the three most common types of grasses on Minnesota lawns. All three are classified as “full sun” meaning they require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Over the years, seed companies have created different hybrids of all three that will survive and grow without full sun that are classified as “shady” or “partial sun” mixtures claiming they will grow in those shade areas of your landscape, but even these varieties will still require at least 3-5 hours of direct sun. In some circumstances this may be the case, however, there are other factors that also need consideration.

Of these, some of the most impactful are morning vs. afternoon sun as well as availability of air movement. Implementation of a good fertilizer and weed control program can go a long way to help improve lawns in these areas. However, grass growing beneath a row of 50 year old maple trees is not likely to fully grow.

Voles vs. Moles

We get this question most often in the spring just after the snow melts and the damage is revealed. Voles are by far way more prevalent in lawns that we service. The difference can be simply identified as “moles” tunnel under the grass in the soil while “voles” will tunnel through the fibrous grass thatch above the soil but under snow during the winter. Typically, the damage caused by voles is limited to aesthetics. In most circumstances lawns will heal up by themselves by mid/late May. Best practice is to leave the lawn damage alone until the lawn starts to green up. Raking the torn up grass too early has been shown to lengthen the healing/growing process.

Unfortunately we have not come up with any successful control measure for voles. We have noted reduced vole activity in lawns by making sure perennials from adjacent landscape features are fully cut out each fall. This helps remove additional shelter areas for the voles prior to snow cover. Different trapping methods for moles have shown to be effective. Trapping moles is not a service that we currently offer.

When to Start Lawn Treatments | Too Early vs. Too Late

The simplest answer to this question is “ASAP”, however, there are several factors that dictate when we feel comfortable starting our lawn care services each spring. The primary of these is when lawn and landscapes have dried sufficiently enough to allow for safe working conditions on your lawns without causing damage. This is obviously dependent on precipitation amounts each year in late March and early April.

The 2nd factor we look at is ground or soil temperature. The soil temperature in the top 2 inches should be at least 45 degrees or more. This is important because crabgrass seeds can sprout at soil temperatures of 50 degrees. For each day we put down our pre-emergent product before this point we are losing one day of control on the back side as ground temps warm into the germination range. We try to strike a reasonable balance of when to start by looking further out at 7-10 day weather forecasts. If a prolonged stretch of cool weather is forecasted we will often postpone starting applications.

On the flip side of this are homes on the end of our service routes. We often get customers concerned it will be too late for the crabgrass preventer. It is important to understand that crabgrass can sprout at 50 degree ground temps, but this is in perfect conditions and the absolute lower limit. Additionally, the pre-emergent doesn’t just prevent crabgrass, but a whole host of other seeds and weeds that might be in your lawn. Having this done later is actually more beneficial as the weed prevention will go later into the growing season.

What to Expect as a New Client

Each year we have new clients that join our service program. Folks come to us for varying reasons but normally their lawns are not in the condition they would like them to be. Most people are looking for a greener, lusher lawn without weeds. As a service provider, we are also looking for the same results at the end of our seasonal services. This is not something that can or will happen with just one application; most specifically in regards to weed elimination/control. You should be able to observe noticeable changes within a week or two of an initial application, but it is likely that a full season of applications will be needed to get a severely distressed lawn into shape. All of our applicators are eager to help you with the same goal in mind, so feel free to call, email or just stop one of us when we’re at your home with any lawn care questions you might have.

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