Got Mushrooms?

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We do.  Mushrooms this time of year are pretty normal, especially in over-watered lawns or humid conditions.  Common mushrooms are part of a harmless fungus that starts under your turf, breaking down organic material into nutrients your lawn can use.  Since most mushrooms in your lawn are a sign of a healthy ecosystem, it may be best just to leave them alone.  Aesthetically, they may not be very appealing to look at.  Or you may be concerned with children and pets being around them.

If you want to get rid of them, simply just rake them up, or give the lawn a quick mow.  Something to consider are watering habits.  Although watering habits may not always prevent mushrooms, you should always water established lawns deeply and infrequently and only if rain has been scarce. Light irrigation promotes shallow rooting, non-drought hardy turf, and encourages crab grass. Newly sodded lawns require water one or two times a day while newly seeded lawns will require water two to four times a day.  Most lawns in our area will need from 1 – 1-1/2 inches of water per week.  In drier conditions, the mushrooms tend to go away.

In extremely dry conditions watering your lawn anytime is more beneficial than not at all.  However, the most ideal time to water established lawns is 4am – 8am.  Although this is not the most convenient time to water for most of us. The second best time to water is 8am – Noon.  Try to avoid midday waterings.  Contrary to popular belief watering your established lawn in the mid-day sun does not cause turf to burn.  However, a disadvantage to mid-day watering may include loss of moisture through evaporation, making it difficult to thoroughly wet the soil.

For more information on Irrigation Practices visit Purdue Extension:   https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ay/ay-7-w.pdf.

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DISCONTINUED – Red Hen Jumbo Bags of Mulch and Top Soil

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5/02/17 UPDATE:  Red Hen Turf Farm has decided, effective 2017, to DISCONTINUE our JUMBO BAGS of Mulch and Top Soil.  We no longer carry these items, in bag or bulk.  If you need a referral, we recommend contacting your favorite local garden centers.  

A SINCERE THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE PURCHASED OUR JUMBO BAGS OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS!  

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.  

It was a hard call, but ultimately, we felt that the Jumbo Bags were detracting from where our FOCUS needs to be, which is the production and harvest of Red Hen’s Turfgrass Sod.   CALL for a QUOTE TODAY: 574-232-6811

 

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Red Hen 2017 WEED ALERT – The Crabgrass is Coming! The Crabgrass is Coming!

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CRABGRASS
Image Source: Purdue Turf Tips

Just a quick reminder….

It is once again time to get your crabgrass preventer out on the lawn.  That is, unless you’re planning on a spring seeding … then you would NOT want to apply any type of weed herbicide.

Our 13-0-5 with crabgrass preventer (the Grey Bag) is a great choice, especially at only $29.50 plus tax.  It covers 12,500 Square Foot, at a rate of 4 pounds per 1000 Square Foot.Photo of Red Hen - Fertilizer and Tools_03-11-16

I was down south in Alabama last week looking for signs of crabgrass, but the house we rent every year was all weeds.

Jeremy's vacation view in Alabama

Jeremy’s vacation view in Alabama

From the websites I use to track turf-related problems across the nation we are starting to see it germinate in parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.  It’s a matter of 1-2 weeks and we’ll start seeing this common weed migrating to the north.

Getting your preventer down now will help stop crabgrass from germinating and kill other weeds also. With last year’s 5 weeks of little to no rain I think it might be a good idea to apply a crabgrass preventer twice this year to stay away from the summer flush of crabgrass. HOWEVER, that said, the only way I would recommend to do 2 applications is if you have open turf and have had problems in the past.

Do remember that its need to be watered in and applied at the right rate to be effective. Please always read the label.

Want to learn more about keeping crabgrass under control?  Check out our previous blog posts on this topic by CLICKING HERE.

Until next time!

Jeremy and the Red Hen Crew

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Jeremy’s Book Corner – Reviewing Traction by Gino Wickman

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Here at Red Hen, over the past 3 years, we’ve been reading and re-reading the book, “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman … and it turns out that this book has been responsible for firing quite a few employees.  I came to this realization as I was recently having lunch with a salesman from our industry when it hit me. I was talking about the book and how an employee realized that if we did what was in that book they would need to leave.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman (Click on the pic to order this book from Amazon)

Basically, Traction has a lot of great ideas to take your business to the next level, and the chapter that has helped us the most is about holding employees accountable.
Over the past 4 years there is no book that I have given out more copies of, and here at Red Hen, we tend to read a LOT of business books.

I do believe that because every business is run differently everyone will get something different out of this book. I like the way it is presented by having actionable summaries at the end of each chapter. After you read the first chapter I believe you will start to see what you can do next in your own business.

I do not believe that we would be in the great place we are in without some of the insights we’ve gained from Traction. From holding different styles of meetings from the top management down, exploring ways to increase “employee engagement”, and various new processes that have made a world of difference, just to name a few.

If you do not get something out of this book, you must be reading this from a beach and just getting a check in the mail from your company.

When I talk about employees being fired or quitting and this being influenced by Traction, I’m not just referring to our business. There are a handful of business owners that we work with on a level that goes beyond merely providing and selling a product.  Time and again, they tell me that they how much we have helped them GROW their business.

For instance, I helped another sod farm in Minnesota where the owner was having major problems with an employee … and that employee was his brother. After spending a few hours with him talking about his business, he ordered Traction to read on his Kindle while flying. After his plane landed in Minnesota, he ordered 10 copies to give to all of his employees, brother included. The end result was that the brother ended up quitting within a 2 week period. I talked to him again more recently this past December and asked, “How was the 2016 season?” He replied, “It was the best we have had in a long time.”

Another great example comes from a local landscaper business owner that also has learned from the book. This landscaper states, “We realized that everyone (is now) happier and attitudes have improved.”

I have a goal of reading 10 to 15 business books every year. Some are of course, better than others. No single book can make all business problems go away, but we strongly believe that Traction will get you started in having a better and more productive year.

Until Next Time,

Jeremy and the Red Hen Crew

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Was it worth it? Recharging Our Batteries at the iLandscape Show in Shaumburg, IL

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Was it worth it?  

In one word …

YES!
Lisa and I attended the 4th annual iLandscape show in Schaumburg last week. If you are in the landscape business I would suggest you keep this on your radar for next year. It is a great show for estimators, supervisors, managers and owners. With it being located in our region I don’t know how you can pass this up.
If you have gone to Indiana Green convention in Indianapolis, it has a different format. Indy seems to me to be more education driven. Schaumburg seemed to offer bigger picture ideas along the line of — What does landscaping look like from 30,000 feet? Just a few themes that were explored by the excellent speakers at iLandscape:

  • How are questions from potential customers being asked and answered?
  • How do you move landscaping stone?
  • Is there a better way so you can do it without hurting your back?
  • Can you get your work done in 4 days instead of 5?
  • What is your most import asset? (It’s your employees by the way)

According to their Facebook post, iLandscape was named one of the 50 fastest growing tradeshows in the country according to Tradeshow Executive Magazine, ranked #21 by net square feet and #22 by number of exhibitors.

Sign up now so you can get the info for next year … Here’s the LINK – http://www.ilandscapeshow.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/home.contact/index.htm
Here’s a link that introduces all of the speakers at iLandscape 2017: http://www.ilandscapeshow.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/home.showpage/pageID/32/index.htm

A few more links related to the speakers from some of the sessions Lisa and I attended:

AND LASTLY, looking ahead to the future …

Jeremy’s 6 Tips for a Better Convention Show Experience:

  1. Check out the speakers ahead of time, and spend some time Googling them to find articles and videos that will help you decide which sessions to attend. Make sure your employees do the same.
  2. Book early. The convention hotel will book out earlier than you might think.
  3. Reflect on the 3 largest vendor driven purchases you make? See who their competition is, and whether they will be setting up booths at the show.
  4. Download the apps for Uber and/or Lyft. We found out that for iLandscape, if you don’t stay at the convention hotel, especially during the winter it’s likely too far to walk to dinner or get back to the hotel if you did not pay attention to number 2.
  5. Take notes while you are there, and share them with your team.
  6. Give me a call and let me know you’re attending.  If we’re also planning on being there, perhaps you’d like to meet up for dinner and do some networking — one of my favorite things about attending these shows.

Recharging your batteries during these winter months can go far in making the coming Year YOUR BEST SEASON YET!

If you want more in-depth info, you know where to find us … just give Red Hen Turf Farm a call at 574-232-6811.

Until next time! … Jeremy and the Red Hen Crew

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Red Hen’s Grass Seeding Quiz

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Red Hen Turf Farm - Grass SeedHere’s a quick quiz to see if what you know about grass seeding is fact-based or maybe more based on old-wives-tales or just plain old bad habits. Simply Answer YES or NO …

Here we go:

  1. The more seed I put down, the better I will be.
  2. The best time to apply seed is whenever you have some on hand.
  3. The more expensive bags of seed are better.
  4. I only need to spread the seed around by hand or with a broadcast spreader and I will have grass in a week.
  5. You don’t need to use any fertilizer when you’re seeding.

HINT: If you have answered YES to any of these 5 questions, you might want to give us a call to find out why the answers are actually all NO. And, of course, you could always consult Purdue Extension to learn more.

P.S. Did you know that TYPICALLY in the Michiana region, August 15 – September 15 is the #1 best time to do a seeding?  BUT, every year can be a little bit different and this year, with the heat and droughty conditions, we’re thinking it will be more like September 1 – October 1.  (Source: Purdue Extension among others)

LEARN MORE:  CLICK HERE for Other Articles that Red Hen has written about grass seeding.

CLICK on this PICTURE for Tips for Improving Grass Seed Germination

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LATE-SUMMER CRABGRASS CONTROL TIPS (from the Red Hen FAQ Vault)

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Crabgrass Photo by Michigan State University Extension

Crabgrass Photo by Michigan State University Extension

Getting right to crabgrass … it’s been bad this year! From site visits and talking to quite a few landscapers and customers, with the lack of rain this spring and summer, I believe that non-irrigated lawns saw the most dramatic turf-decline this year, and on a related note, the brunt of crabgrass germination. We have definitely seen a lot of customer photos this year of grass-type weeds in general.

The best way to control crabgrass is to maintain a dense, healthy turf. That way, your grass is more likely to out-compete crabgrass (and other weeds), preventing weeds from establishing. On the other hand, crabgrass tends to have rigorous survival and reproductive capabilities.

So, for lawns, it may be unrealistic to expect a crabgrass-free lawn (BUT YOU CAN TRY!)

It may be that, in the end, you will have to accept a few crabgrass plants.

Are you dealing with crabgrass at this point in the year? Do you want to get this weed under control?

If so, we recommend following either of the 2 following methods to hopefully put you in a better position by next spring:

Option 1. Let the crabgrass go for now, and wait until fall and let Mother Nature kill it off. After mid-July, crabgrass plants are usually too large to control effectively. Crabgrass begins flowering and setting seed in July and will die out with the first major frost. It will take a while for these plants to decay, but at least you won’t see any in the spring. That is, unless you have allowed the crabgrass to go to seed this year, in which case you will be dealing with those seeds germinating next spring.

Option 2. As Purdue Extension points out, “Proper fertility, mowing, and irrigation is essential for crabgrass control; consider herbicidal control only if necessary.” If you are not able to tolerate the crabgrass in your lawn, we specifically recommend using a product that we carry called Q4 (CLICK HERE to read the label). We really like Q4 because it covers all 3 major types of undesirable weeds all in one bottle — grassy weeds, broadleaf weeds, and sedges. If there was only one herbicide product that I could use on my lawn, it would be Q4.

For better crabgrass and broadleaf weed control next year, you’d really need to do some strategizing over the next few months.

For example, by adding 25-0-10 fertilizer to your lawn two times from now until winter, this should make your lawn much less weedy going into the 2017 growing season. WHY IS THIS? The thicker and stronger your grass is grass is, the better your grass can out-compete weeds. Regular fertilizing is one of the important steps towards making that happen.

Have you ever wondered why is it that we don’t see a lot of fertilizer commercials in the fall, like we do in the spring?

My guess is that the marketing teams for the big name brands do not use turf science, but are instead driven by the purchasing habits of homeowners (for better or worse).

Our job at Red Hen Turf Farm is always to strive to save our customers time, money, and/or both. So, let’s use some turf science and feed your lawn when it needs it the most.

If you told me that you only wanted to fertilize 1 or 2 times each year, you might expect I’d recommend doing it in the spring.

In fact, you would get the most bang for your buck by fertilizing in September and then again in November. Are you surprised? We wrote a blog about this very topic that you might want to check out by CLICKING HERE. We have also written quite a bit about crabgrass in the past, which you can read by CLICKING HERE.

And guess what? It’s all based on turf science, with Purdue Extension as a major source that we consult, and we always recommend that our customers do the same.

 

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It JUST SNOWED, right? Well, the Crabgrass is Coming!

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Well we are looking to have an early spring this year. It sure has been nice sitting outside with the neighbors, getting my boat ready and even washing my truck. We even harvest our first semi of sod on Friday. I know last year I was not doing this to much later.
When the phone starts to ring and customers start coming into the Shop, it’s time to look at timing of CRABGRASS.

If you have been in the Michiana area for a while you know we have had an early season like this not too long ago. But it is usually hard to remember how your yard looked by the end of the year.

The last early spring we had some home lawns had breakthrough of crabgrass. We call it the summer flush. This could be the year to apply a CRABGRASS PRE-EMERGENCE (aka a “Weed and Feed”) two times.

But remember not every yard is the same and neither is the weather from year to year.

Looking at the long-term Growing Degree Days (GDD), I would say that the next 3 weeks would be a great time to apply Crabgrass pre-emergence.  

Photo of Red Hen - Fertilizer and Tools_03-11-16

Our 50 pound bag of 13-0-5 w/.28% Barricade herbicide (the GREY BAG, front row, farthest to the left) is a GREAT CRABGRASS PRE-EMERGENT  that INCLUDES FERTILIZER.  It’s only $29.50 and would cover 12,500 square feet when applying at 4 pounds per 1000 square feet.  CLICK ON THE PHOTO to be taken to a LINK with the technical specs on our 13-0-5 for crabgrass management.

After your first application is done, perhaps you’ll find that your yard is just not thick enough. A second crabgrass pre-emergent application 60 days later can be beneficial. I do believe the last time I recommended this to all was in March 2013.

Some key points to remember going into this season:

  1. It rained a lot last year in the spring. This year could be different.
  2. Pre-emergent herbicides must be watered in to be effective.
  3. Always follow the label on fertilizer, and don’t forget that the labels can change from time to time.
  4. Ensure even distribution of product especially where you are most likely to see crabgrass.
  5. Thin turf is often a problem in compacted area such as just off a driveway or sidewalk, in non-irrigated areas, and with low-cut turf
  6. Crabgrass can start to germinate when the average daily soil reaches 57° to 64° F.  A Crabgrass Pre-Emergent is most effective when you apply it BEFORE the weed starts to germinate.  We are at 49° F as of 3-9-2016 at the farm.

Come on out and visit us soon!  Our current hours are Monday – Friday, 8AM to 4PM Eastern time.

And – as always – we’re here for questions – 574-232-6811.

Lastly, as a BONUS, you can read some articles from our archives that address CRABGRASS by CLICKING HERE.

Until Next Time,

Jeremy and the Red Hen Team

first cutting 2016_collage with new trebro and gordon_fb 3-11-16

 

 

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Crabgrass in the Fall – Having a Completely Crabgrass-free Lawn is a Tough Chore!

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Crabgrass growing next to a sidewalk

Crabgrass growing next to a sidewalk  >>> Image Source: Purdue Turf Tips, Weed Management Next to Sidewalks and Driveways (July 14, 2014) – CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO READ MORE

As most of you are WELL aware of, crabgrass is a common summer annual weed in our Michiana lawns.  In July, crabgrass plants were busy flowering and spreading their seeds, but each year it will die out naturally after the first frost.

But what can you do about crabgrass in the months between July and October/November when we usually see our first frost?

Unfortunately, the best time to control late summer / early fall crabgrass is to go back in time and deal with it in THE SPRING with a PRE-EMERGENT herbicide (like our 13-0-5 Fertilizer + Crabgrass preventer), along with mowing right, watering right, and fertilizing right.

Crabgrass is tough to kill and reproduces very effectively.  To expect a 100% crabgrass-free lawn is probably not very realistic – Mother Nature has the upper hand. The most effective approach to controlling this weed is to nurture and maintain a dense, healthy lawn to out-compete crabgrass (and other weeds by default), and prevent it from establishing in the first place.

We’ve been getting quite a few calls and visits from customers whose lawns are mostly free of this weed EXCEPT along areas like the edges along sidewalks, driveways, and roads.  These sections have two major issues going against them:

(1) SALT from winter that is still hanging around in the soil; and

(2) COMPACTION from things like foot traffic, auto/mower tires, and piled snow.

Crabgrass – among other weeds – is very tolerant of growing where there is salt and compaction.   Turf grasses are sensitive to both salt and compaction, and tend to NOT grow well in these spots.  Kentucky bluegrass is especially sensitive to salt damage, while perennial ryegrass, fine fescues, and tall fescue are more tolerant, but not totally resistant.

Another common trouble-spot is along the seams where sod was laid but the edges of the rolls were probably not placed close enough together.  The turf growing in these seams is thin and weak, allowing weeds to out-compete your grass.

Again, the crabgrass you see now in late-August WILL die off with our first frost.  But what about using a POST-emergent herbicide?  There are effective products to use, but TIMING is everything and ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.  Common to these post-emergent crabgrass herbicides is that you need to apply them when the plant is YOUNG … and, well, once we get past mid-July the crabgrass plants are usually
too large to control effectively. Another challenge to treating crabgrass that has already shown up is that these post-emergents work best at temperatures below 85ºF on clear days with low humidity.  That’s pretty hard to do in the dog-days of summer!

So what do I do this time of year in my own yard? I pulled a few out of my front yard the other day. I have more in the backyard and I plan on leaving them. I am not going to try to attempt to eradicate them with herbicides at this time. They are very big and tougher to kill. I am going to tolerate them because they will die with the first frost. Every year I tell many customers that you can apply Crabgrass preventer 2 times in a year.   If crabgrass was bad this year, I would look to doing better prevention next year.

On the other hand, if you’re up for the challenge, we do carry some post-emergent herbicides that we’d be happy to educate you about.

For more in-depth, science-based information, check out Purdue Extension’s publication, “Control of Crabgrass in Home Lawns” by CLICKING HERE.

As always, give our team a call if you have any questions – 574-232-6811.

Jeremy and the Red Hen Turf Farm Team

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Where did the rain go? And what do I do about my thirsty lawn?

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons user adrian.benko

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons user adrian.benko

Well – ONCE in a while – I am wrong (unless you talk to my wife).   You see, around the middle of June, I was telling many clients, landscapers and farmers not to worry about all the rain we were getting. I was sure July 1st would hit, and we would not see another drop. Well I was wrong by 18 days.

The last measurable rain at the South Bend Airport was on July 19, 2015. We got a ½ inch that day and over 1-¾ inch the day before that.

Today, after visiting a few of my favorite internet weather sites it does not look like we will see any rain for a while longer, other than a 30% chance this Sunday. We could very well see three more weeks without significant rain.

With that in mind, the question you might be asking yourself is, “What do I need to do with my yard?  

Keep in mind that there are two different types of yards right now:  

  1. yards that are recently established by seed or sod (less than 1 year old); and
  2. yards that are already well-established (1 year or older).

If you are planning on doing a NEW seeding or sodding with Red Hen’s products, you should already have our instructions – so stick with that or let us know if you need those instructions.

CLICK on this PICTURE for Tips for Improving Grass Seed Germination

But what about a 1-year-old or older established yard? There are basically 2 different ways to go about it.

  1. You can let it go, stop watering, and let your lawn go dormant until we get enough rain and hope for the best. Some grasses will make it through and others will not. Some types like perennial and annual ryegrass may not make it. Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass do have a much better chance or surviving longer periods without rain or irrigation… or
  2. You can keep up with watering, BUT REMEMBER THE KEY IS TO “WATER DEEPLY AND INFREQUENTLY“. For my own lawn, I am planning on watering deeply every 3 days until the next rain.

If you choose to keep up with your watering, and you need to keep an eye on your water bill and are looking to help conserve water, here are some good pointers:

  1. With more shade, grasses need less water than in areas than full sun. And keep in mind that as trees grow taller, they naturally create more shade. Adjust your sprinkler heads accordingly in shady vs. full sun areas.
  2. Look for areas in your yard that are greener than others. Areas that are less-green need more water.  For instance, you’ll see that on a hill, the grass at the bottom is usually much greener.  Adjust your sprinkler heads accordingly.
  3. As discussed in our previous post about irrigation efficiency, you should consider calibrating your sprinkler heads.  Sound complicated?  Not really.  Basically, you set cups out across a zone check to see if they have the same amount of water, or at least close.  If not, adjust your sprinkler heads accordingly.  CLICK HERE to check out the WikiHow website’s step-by-step visual guide for calibrating home lawn sprinklers

Until next time,
Jeremy Cooper & the Red Hen Turf Team
Call us at 574-232-6811 .. for our location and hours, click here.

 

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