MID to LATE-SUMMER CRABGRASS CONTROL TIPS (from the Red Hen FAQ Vault – The 2019 Update)

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Crabgrass Photo by Michigan State University Extension

Crabgrass Photo by Michigan State University Extension

Getting right to crabgrass … it’s looking to be bad this year! From site visits and talking to quite a few landscapers and customers, with the sporadic weather / precipitation patterns this year, I believe that non-irrigated lawns are seeing 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 of these 2 Options 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). Here at Red Hen Turf Farm, we really like a product called 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 2020 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, but actually that’s not the case.

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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Children’s Books with a RED HEN Theme – A List by Red Hen Turf Farm

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So, today I was reminded about how we’re often asked if there are Hens or Chickens or any animals at all at Red Hen Turf Farm, and that’s a fair question!

Alas, there are no Red Hens running around our farm.

The Red Hen we’re named after is from the folk tale, The Little Red Hen.  You know … the one where none of the other farm animals want to help the Little Red Hen grow wheat from some grains she finds, then harvest it, thresh it, mill it into flour, and then bake the flour into a yummy bread.

The animals want someone else to do the hard work, but they want to enjoy the fruits of the Little Red Hen’s labors.  Red Hen ultimately tells the other animals they cannot eat the bread since they did not do any of the work, but MAYBE if they had enough money or goods to make it worth her time, it would have been another story.

It was back in the 1950’s when the original owners of our Farm, Ron and Victor Keigley and Harold Hetler, started growing turfgrass sod for themselves, but then their neighbors saw the beautiful results and wanted some, too.

As a twist on the old folk tale, at Red Hen Turf Farm, we are GROWING FOR OTHERS who want a beautiful instant lawn when it takes nearly 2 years of hard work for us to grow grass from seed into a thick turf that can be harvested into rolls.

Do you remember the story of The Little Red Hen?  Did you have a favorite book version? There are LOTS!

I’m especially fond of the Golden Book version by Diane Muldrow and JP Miller (first published in 1954) since this is the one I first grew up with.

Paul Galdone’s The Little Red Hen (1973) is another classic version of this tale.

More recently, there’s Jerry Pinkney’s The Little Red Hen (2006), which has especially wonderful watercolor illustrations.

There are MANY more versions of The Little Red Hen tale, but let’s switch focus onto a few spin-offs off this story.

Barbara Barbieri McGrath and illustrator Martha Alexander’s The Little Green Witch (2006) retells the story when a little green witch cannot get her lazy monster friends to help her make a pumpkin pie.

In The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens and illustrated by Susan Stevens Crummel (2011), there’s a mountain of homework and Little Red Pen tries to get her fellow school supplies to help her out.

In Candace Fleming’s and illustrator, Sally Anne Lambert’s Gator Gumbo: A Spicy Hot Tale (2004), Monsieur Gator is getting so old that he can only catch leaves, moss, and roots. He is teased by the other animals day after day, and finally decides to whip up a pot of gumbo.  None of the animals will help him so he does it all by himself.  Of course, when the gumbo’s done, the other animals want some, but instead Monsieur Gator teaches them a lesson.

In Armadilly Chili by Helen Ketterman and illustrated by Will Terry (2004), Miss Billie Armadilly wants to make some chili, but as we would expect in this Texas prairie spin-off of The Little Red Hen, all of her animal friends are too busy to help.  She decides to eat it by herself one cold night, but the smell brings her friends one by one to her door, bringing dishes of their own to share.

And finally, while I could keep going with this list for quite a long time, I’ll end with Help Yourself, Little Red Hen! (Another Point of View) by Alvin Granowsky and illustrated by Wendy Edelson (1995).   This version is told by the pig, and tells how the true backstory of this classic folktale is that Little Red Hen never does anything for herself and that the other animals do all of the work for her.  When Little Red Hen finds the grain of wheat that leads her to plant it and eventually bake it up into something yummy, the other animals decide it’s time for her to learn to help herself.

Happy Reading!

– Lisa, and the Crew at Red Hen Turf Farm

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Top 5 Reasons Why Your Fertilizer Isn’t Performing Like You Think It Should – the 2019 Update

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1. Quality.
To save money, the big mass merchandisers have diluted their products so much they no longer deliver the essential nutrients grass plants in the Michiana area need. Because of these watered down “programs”, we have been getting more and more calls about lawn programs that can be traced back to these insufficient products.  At Red Hen Turf Farm, we believe we can offer customers better fertilizing products at better prices than they are paying at big box stores.

2. Over-Measuring or Under-Measuring the Area of Your Lawn.
So, your fertilizer bag label or your soil test results tell you to apply a certain amount of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet and you’re confused about what to do next. The questions run through your head … “How large is 1,000 square feet? How much fertilizer do I need to buy? How do I know if my spreader is putting on the correct amount?”  The first step is to determine the area or square footage of your lawn or garden space. You could use good old-fashioned math problems to calculate the area (REMEMBER GEOMETRY CLASS?), or you could use Red Hen’s Sod Calculator via our website – but that would mean you’d have to take some measurements.

Even easier, and probably “accurate enough” is a Website and App called Lawn Crack Area CalculatorSimply type in your address, find your lawn on the map, and click around the edges and Lawn Crack calculates the area for you.  It probably won’t be 100% accurate, but we’ve been using this tool for a few months and are pleased with how close it usually is.

3. Spreader Calibration.
So, back to the question of “How do I know if my spreader is putting on the correct amount?”  There are so many brands of spreaders, and each one seems to have it’s own settings.  You could try checking the website of the company that manufactured your spreader for the right spreader settings. But even then, how do you really know if the settings are accurate?  Spreaders must be properly calibrated if they are to deliver granular fertilizers and pesticides to turf at correct rates. As spreaders become older and worn, re-calibration ensures you obtain the best results.  Visit Red Hen’s PDF Library and read our whitepaper, “Fertilizer Tips & How to Calibrate that Darn Spreader” to learn more.

4. Soil Testing
You should only apply the nutrients that your lawn needs, but how do you really KNOW what nutrients your lawn needs?  The answers are in the chemistry of the soil, and every lawn has a unique chemical history.  The only way to really know what nutrients your lawn needs is by SOIL TESTING. A soil test of your lawn is a key step, especially if you are particular about your lawn or have grass problems. We recommend that you do a soil test every 3 years.  If you use our soil testing procedures, we’ll provide you with a kit that you’ll mail to a certified lab.  The postage and payment to the lab will end up costing you under $15 for a single sample. The results are sent to us and we will translate them into layman’s terms, using this information as an important piece of the puzzle for us to create a Customized Fertilizer Program, designed just for you.  Once we’ve designed your fertilizer program, we can even give you reminders by phone or email for when it’s time for your next application.

5. Timing.
In so many different ways, TIMING plays an important role when fertilizing you lawn.  For some fertilizer products, the instructions tell you to apply on dry grass – so if rain is in the forecast, timing could be especially critical.  Some products may even instruct you to water-in the fertilizer, so timing your application around rain could save you from having to use your sprinkler.  Fertilizers with added Herbicides or Pesticides work when applied around a specific point in the life cycle of the pest you are trying to eliminate – so again TIMING is important.  For example, you can read our previous Blog to learn more about how time is of the essence when it comes to treating potential white grub infestations.  Timing is also important when it comes to the seasonal life-cycle of your grass since you want to fertilize when the roots are actively growing (which is NOT year-round).

NEED SOME ADVICE?
Give us a call today – 574-232-6811

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12 Quick Tips to Make Your Lawn Look Its Best, The 2019 Update

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Red Hen Turf Farm PRESENTS ... 12 Quick Tips to Make Your Lawn Look Its Best

1.    Mowing 
The best height to keep grass for our area is 2-1/2 to 3 inches high. Mow when the grass grows out ½ to ¾ inch.

  • BONUSCLICK HERE for Purdue Extension’s free publication on Mowing, Thatching, Aerifying, and Rolling Turf …
  • EXTRA BONUS: CLICK HERE for The Lawn Institute’s guidelines on Mowing

2.    Fertilizing (and Liming)
The first rule of fertilizing is to read the label of the product you are using.  Two more important factors to consider when fertilizing your lawn are HOW MUCH and WHEN to apply.

Experts recommend an ANNUAL TOTAL 2-4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet throughout each growing season for most established full-sun lawns (Kentucky bluegrass; Kentucky bluegrass mixed with perennial ryegrass and/or fine fescue) in Michiana. Ideally, your annual total of nitrogen should be split into 2-5 applications, with each single application of nitrogen being about 1 pound per 1,000 sq. ft.  For established shade lawns, about half as much nitrogen is suggested.

On the flipside, how often you fertilize affects not only lawn appearance, but also its maintenance level. The more often you fertilize, the more you’ll have to mow, for instance.

About applying lime … Red Hen Turf Farm does NOT recommend that you blindly follow this annual ritual unless you have done a recent soil test that indicates you need to adjust your soil pH.   While lot of so-called “experts” recommend lime (especially in the fall) as a way of adjusting the pH of your soil to make it less acidic, we don’t agree with this advice.  The idea behind liming your lawn is that you are trying to raise the soil pH near neutral to increase the availability of most plant nutrients.  While proper soil pH is necessary to achieve a healthy, attractive lawn, most Indiana soils under turfgrass do not need liming. 

THE BOTTOM LINE:  At Red Hen Turf Farm, we feel that the reality is that every single lawn has its own unique needs, so we recommend that you do a soil test every 3 years. If you use our soil testing procedures, we’ll provide you with a kit that you’ll mail to a certified lab.  The cost is $25 for a single sample, and $10 for each additional sample. The results are sent to us and we will translate them into layman’s terms, using this
information as an important piece of the puzzle for us to create a Customized Fertilizer Program, designed just for you

  • BONUS:  Learn how Red Hen Turf Farm can help you get your soil tested AND help design YOUR Customized Fertilizer Program by CLICKING HERE … And, Yes, we do sell high quality Fertilizer, and people seem to love the results, especially at our competitive prices Here’s our 2019 Price List.

3.    Watering 
Very few people who have an “automatic” sprinkler system water turf properly. Most end up over-watering! You should water when the soil is dry to a depth of 4 inches and then water long enough to wet the soil 4 inches deep. Looking at the soil is the best way to tell how moist it is. Invest in a soil probe! Avoid watering in the late afternoon or early evening.

  • BONUS: Check out Purdue Extension’s free publication, “Irrigation Practices for Homelawns” by CLICKING HERE
  • EXTRA BONUS: CLICK HERE for The Lawn Institute’s guidelines on why you may want to consider letting your grass go dormant during periods of drought or more extreme heat, such as what’s typical in late July / early August in the NW Indiana / surrounding regions.

4.    Shade 
There is no grass that likes shade. Turf is poor in shade for two reasons:

  • One is lack of quality and quantity of sunlight present and
  • The other is reduced air movement that keeps sun or wind from drying wet leaves.

Lessen shade and increase air flow for better grass. You can have either healthy grass or shade, not both…

  • BONUS: Learn more about trying to grow Grass in Shade via our website by CLICKING HERE

5.    Grubs
Most people are caught up in the hype of killing every grub. The truth is that most grubs do VERY LITTLE HARM, and it’s completely normal to have SOME grubs in your lawn … in fact, all lawns have grubs! It takes 5 or more per square foot to cause problems. Protect the environment and save some $$ by eliminating or reduce the size of preventative applications. If you are sure you have “grub problem,” there are a number of pesticides with varying efficacy depending on when you apply them.  For example, we currently carry a combination fertilizer / grub control product – 15-0-3 PLUS IMI  (“PLUS IMI” means that the 15-0-3 fertilizer has an added chemical called “Imidacloprid,” a widely used and powerful insecticide that can also affect non-targeted beneficial insects.)  We carry the 15-0-3 as well as a granular insecticide without a fertilizer “built in” called Dylox 6.2.

  • BONUS:  CLICK HERE to read our previous blog post on the topic of Grubs … especially if you think you might have a true “grub problem”, including the times of the year that are most effective for treating the affected area.
Click on the Image to Read Purdue Extension's "New White Grub Pests of Indiana"

Click on the Image to Read Purdue Extension’s “New White Grub Pests of Indiana”

6.    Moles 
The primary diet of moles is earthworms, not grubs!  Old fashioned traps and gell baits that mimic worms are the only things that work.  Tomcat mole killer is a brand that Purdue Extension recommends.

7.    Thatch 
Thatch is the dark cocoa brown material that is below the green and above the soil. It is created by the death of old plant parts that are below the mowing height. Clippings do not produce thatch! 

How much thatch is ok?  Up to ½ inch of thatch is ideal and greater amounts are bad. Increasing levels of thatch are caused by over applications of fertilizer and water.Multiple passes (8 or more) with a core aerifier in September for a 2 or more years along with management changes can reduce thatch.

8.    Dog spots 
Pick up the feces and for urine, dump some water on the spot if you observe the act. Re-seed or sod as there is no resistant grass for this area. Despite what you may have heard, we, along with Dr. Steve Thompson, DVM, Director of Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Wellness Clinic, do not recommend changing your dog’s diet without consulting your own vet first. It is either dogs or turf!

  • BONUS: Read Dr. Thompson’s article, “Dog-Gone-It Lawn Problems!” by CLICKING HERE

9.    Weed control 
The best way to prevent weeds is to have thick turf that is mowed high and not over-watered. Grass will out-compete most weeds. By the way … moss is not an invading weed. Moss likes shade and tends to occur where turf is then (and thin turf usually ALSO accompanies shade conditions). You can’t fight Mother Nature, so the reality is that you will usually need to just live with the moss, or even give up on grass and install ornamental beds with shade loving plants. Another option is to cut down the trees to allow the grass to thrive, and you can read our website link on “Grass in Shade” to learn more.

10.    Crabgrass 
The best crabgrass preventer is to mow high and manage the turf so it is thick. TV adds scare people into applying outrageous amounts of herbicides that may not not needed! If you continually have a crabgrass problem, make a first application of a preventative herbicide in mid-April/early May, and a second application in late June. Red Hen carries Award-brand Fertilizer + Crabgrass Preventer

11.    Disease                           
Lawns that are mowed, watered, and fertilized properly have the fewest diseases. Disease outbreaks are the result of a combination of factors occurring at the same time. These factors include the presence of the pathogen, the status and vulnerability of the turf, and certain prevailing environmental conditions.  A prolonged period of hot, humid weather can cause occasional non-fatal outbreaks. The genetics of your grass play an important role in disease control. For example, newer varieties of Kentucky bluegrass (such as the ones that Red Hen Turf Farm uses in our 100% Kentucky bluegrass sod) have greater overall resistance compared to fescues, ryegrasses and old bluegrass varieties. 

To effectively control a lawn disease, first you need to accurately diagnose the problem  – BUT lawn diseases are hard to identify because the pathogens are typically microscopic.  Diagnosing lawn diseases is both an ART and a SCIENCE that requires a systematic approach. What we are able to observe is usually the RESULT of an infection, and not the pathogens themselves. In other words, if you are seeing patches of discoloration in your lawn, you could be seeing the RESULT of a lawn disease caused by a microscopic pathogen.  Another challenge to diagnosing the problem is TIME – if you can recognize the initial stages of the outbreak, this will greatly increase the likelihood that you can treat it and your lawn will recover.

If you decide to start applying chemicals to your lawn without first confirming what the disease is, this can be expensive decision and can actually cause more problems.  If you think you are seeing signs of disease in your lawn, we would recommend limiting yourself to scientific research-based resources.  Specifically, for this part of  mid-west Indiana, we endorse the following:

12.    Finding Reliable Answers                      
As we have already touched on, we feel that Googling random website or following word-of-mouth advice are not reliable ways of getting lawn care information.  Everyday, we talk to customers that have been following certain lawn practices their entire lives … and so often it turns out they were mis-informed.

There are so many “urban myths” out there, especially when it comes to the 11 topics discussed above.  If you’re ready to make sure that the information you know is based on science and research, you’d be best off limiting your resources to:

  • Purdue Extension / Department of Agronomy (up-to-date, research-based information, specific to our geographical location) – Online at www.agry.purdue.edu/turf
  • Michigan State University Extension (up-to-date, research-based information, specific to our geographical location)  – Online at www.msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/home_lawns
  • The Lawn Institute – While this site is not regionally-based, in 1955, The Lawn Institute was created as a not-for-profit corporation to assist and encourage through research and education the improvement of lawns and sports turf. Since then, the Institute has been one of the most respected authorities in the world among turf professionals and scientists for monitoring, reporting, and interpreting the latest advances in turfgrass research, landscape horticulture, and agronomic science. – Online at www.thelawninstitute.org
  • Red Hen Turf Farm’s website (our info is derived from Purdue / MSU Extension and other reliable sources, including decades of experience) – Online at www.redhenturf.com
  • Red Hen Turf Farm’s Customer Service Crew, especially Turf Operations Manager, Jeremy Cooper … our contact info is below!

CONTACT US

RED HEN TURF FARM is located at 29435 Darden Rd, New Carlisle IN – CHECK OUT OUR GOOGLE LANDING PAGE – WE’D LOVE TO GET A REVIEW FROM YOU WHILE YOU’RE THERE – HERE’s THE LINK
Phone
: 574-232-6811
Emailturf@redhenturf.com
Webwww.redhenturf.com

GET UPDATES when we publish new blog articles and share other helpful, timely tips SENT DIRECTLY TO YOUR EMAIL INBOX – It’s Easy to Subscribe to Red Hen’s E-Newsletter by CLICKING HERE

Red Hen Turf Farm – The Best Turf on Earth!  We grow & sell KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS SOD HARVESTED FARM-FRESH ON DEMAND in Northern Indiana, along with GRASS SEED, FERTILIZER, WEED CONTROL PRODUCTS & MORE to homeowners, landscapers, contractors, garden centers alike

Originally posted 6/6/14, Updated 5/12/17, Updated 4/17/18
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Adventures in Installing Sod for the First Time – Part 1

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By Michelle Sadowski, Customer Service Specialist, Red Hen Turf Farms

In the summer of 2018, I took on a D-I-Y project to sod my back yard.  Now that several months have passed, I can share my funny moments, achievements, and failures with all of you. It’s easy to give advice when you read from a script or manual on a daily basis,  but when you actually experience the complete prepare, install and care of sod, you get a better understanding what customers are going through first hand.

If I may start out by giving a bit of advice … if you have a smaller project like mine (1,800 Sq. Ft.), it’s manageable for the D-I-Y’er. If you’re working on a larger job, consider hiring a landscaper.  Landscapers have the equipment and manpower to get the job done easier and more efficiently. If you need a few leads on hiring a landscaper, just call Red Hen Turf Farm – 574-232-6811

I have a slight advantage over the typical residential homeowner.  I’ve been working for Red Hen Turf Farm for 2 seasons now, and I have been equipped with the knowledge of preparing, installing and caring for the sod day in and day out.  And if I really want advice or an answer I cannot find in my trusted sources (Purdue & Michigan State), I can easily just ask Jeremy, our Turf Operations Manager.  Although I am still very much learning the ropes, he knows pretty much everything there is to know about the turf industry, as well as other off topics I don’t need to know (but he tells me anyway).

When I expressed an interest in sodding my back yard, I wanted to make sure I chose the right type of (two) turf varieties Red Hen grows, harvests and sells, which are Kentucky Bluegrass sod and Rhizomatous Tall Fescue sod (also referred to as “RTF Sod” or simply “Tall Fescue Sod”). You can read a more in-depth article about our two turf varieties HERE – Red Hen’s 2 Choices for an INSTANT LAWN: Kentucky Bluegrass Sod vs. Rhizomatous Tall Fescue Sod.

Jeremy helped me choose the type of sod best suited for my project by asking me a few simple questions. These are some of the same questions we ask our customers to make sure their sod projects are successful, and include things like:

  1. Do you have irrigation in the area you are sodding? This is important because although both types need enough water to get established, fescue is drought tolerant and will bounce back better after a drought than Kentucky Bluegrass.
  2. What type of soil do you have? Is it closer to beach sand or hard clay? Again, this is important for the capacity to hold nutrients properly.  Sandy & clay soils need to be watered and fertilized a little differently as well. For more on SOILS, check out FROM THE RED HEN FAQ VAULT: Soils for Lawn – Considerations for Seeding and Sodding
  3. How many hours of direct sunlight does the area you want to sod actually get? Our fescue sod is not a “shade grass” like some people think.  Both turf grasses need direct sunlight to thrive.
  4. How much time and money do you realistically want to spend on maintenance?  Kentucky Bluegrass is a higher maintenance turf than fescue.  Fescue will need less water and fertilizer once it’s established than Kentucky Bluegrass.
Red Hen Turf Farm grows, harvests and sells 100% Kentucky Bluegrass AND Rhizomatous Tall Fescue. Kentucky Bluegrass makes up most of our sales, but the Fescue is another option for homeowners with little or no irrigation and/or want less maintenance.

The “BEFORE PHOTO” … We had a lot of work ahead of us including removing a fire-pit and walkway.

CHOOSING THE BEST-SUITED TURF TYPE

I knew that my backyard was not going to be the best fit for the Kentucky Bluegrass sod. There’s no in-ground irrigation, it’s got some shade and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money maintaining it.    I didn’t mind having an “imperfect” lawn, especially with our pesky squirrels and moles.  So I chose Rhizomatous Tall Fescue for the project. It was end of June when I decided it was time for my project to begin since I was planning a huge birthday party in August and I was on a time crunch.

Keep in mind that our Tall Fescue sod is not a shade grass – no grass likes shade.  However, in theory our Tall Fescue sod MAY do better in shaded areas than our KYB sod.

Ultimately, if your grass is thinning out due to shade, there are things you can do to improve your growing chances such as trim trees and create more airflow. Here’s a great link for those wondering about growing grass in shaded areas:  Red Hen’s Grass In Shade

INSPECTING THE SITE

I first wanted to make sure the soil was going to be fertile enough for my turf but I knew it would be fine because there was already grass growing in the area I was planning on sodding. The initial reason I wanted to sod is because I had large dirt patches everywhere. Seeding could have been an option but I am impatient. I didn’t want to wait a year to pass a “sock test” and who doesn’t want an beautiful, instant lawn?

We found out later (after closer inspection) the reason grass didn’t grow in certain areas was due to compaction and rocks under the soil. Grass doesn’t grow well on rocks or in compacted soils.  To learn how to correct compaction issues, Purdue has a great link here:  Mowing, Dethatching, Aerifying and Rolling Turf.

Rocks made grass impossible to grow next to our old driveway. It was a tough and long job to remove them to make way for turf.

My soil was on the sandy side, so I considered mixing topsoil in.  However, from what I have learned while working at Red Hen, I knew it was not necessary because I had success growing grass in that area before. Additionally, I knew our sod grew well in many types of soil as long as it was taken care of properly. I also learned that having sandy soil meant you may just have to water more frequently and in smaller amounts. Here’s a great Purdue article on sandy soils: Maintaining Lawns on Sandy Soil

When homeowners tell us they have new construction, we often suggest to mix topsoil in – just because (typically) with new construction the top layer of soil  (where a lot of the nutrients are) is often stripped out to make way for concrete, garages, homes and roads.  If you are unsure, always get a soil test before you seed or sod.
MEASURING

We recommend using a measuring wheel or other measuring tool designed for this purpose.  We have found that house plans/prints are not reliable enough when deciding how much sod to order.

Make sure you measure more than once and allow for any trimming.

Red Hen makes it easy to measure – just go here:  Measuring Tips  I measured a few times with a measuring wheel and after I got the same number twice, found 1,800 sq. ft. was the magic number.

You can also try using a website called Lawncrack to help you figure out the size of the area.  You simply type in your address into the Lawncrack Area Calculator, and an aerial view of your property pops up for you to draw the area you want to sod, while it calculates your square footage.  there are lots of trees on your property, it might not provide you a good enough aerial view.

You can use a measuring wheel like this for small projects, or a larger wheel for larger projects.

PREPPING THE SITE

We were finally ready to break ground.  I would suggest reading our instructions on Preparing, Patching and Installing sod.  It was end of June and it was very hot (90’s)  Jeremy did warn me about heat stresses on sod during these temps but I pushed forward with the project anyway.  I was able to hire a friend to scalp the remaining sod off the site. Using a sod cutter, it didn’t take any time for him to remove the upper layer of the lawn to get it down to bare dirt.  We removed the fire-pit and stone walkway, then we were ready for the tilling. Some landscapers suggest to use grass killer herbicide and till it up afterwards.  If you decide to go this route, ensure you pick a herbicide that allows you to replant grass or seed within the time frame you want to seed or sod.  (always read the label/instructions).  I had pets so I didn’t want to risk any harmful chemicals around them.

Renting a sod cutter is one way you can prepare your site for new sod.

Once the old grass was removed it was time for tilling and grading.  My husband rented a tiller and tilled the soil deep to about 4-6 inches.  We then took metal rakes and leveled the area into a smooth surface.

The final grade.

DELIVERY & INSTALLING

I made sure I planned ahead to order my sod, ensuring at least 4-5 days for scheduling.  It was July 5th.  My sod and enough starter fertilizer (12-12-12) to cover my area was set to arrive after lunch.

With a bit of planning and communication to the Red Hen Team about where the delivery semi would be parking and placing the pallets of sod, (HERE’s an article we recently wrote on that topic), our awesome Red Hen driver Bob, arrived promptly and set the pallets exactly where we needed them.

We were ready to start installing.

I fertilized the graded ground with starter fertilizer (12-12-12) at 8 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft so I used just about 15 pounds total for my 1,800 sq. ft. area.

An easy way to calculate how much fertilizer you need:  Take your total square footage divide it by 1,000 (sq.ft) then multiply it by the rate of the fertilizer.  IE: 1,800 sq. ft divided by 1,000 = 1.8 multiplied by the rate of the starter fert of 8 lbs per thousand sq. ft  equals 14.4 lbs needed for the entire area.

Not sure if your spreader is set to the right setting?  Click HERE for Red Hen’s Guide, Fer tilizing Tips & How to Calibrate that Darn Spreader.    I always tell our customers if you are unsure on the amount of fertilizer to use, go lighter to start.  Don’t go too heavy … you will see why in Part 2 of my story … 

And the work begins…

With help from a wheelbarrow, we hauled our sod to the opposite side of the yard to start our first long straight line of sod.  I made sure as the sod was put down, it was constantly soaked with water using my hose and sprinklers.

Since neither of us had installed sod before, it took us about 2 hours to install each of our three 600 Sq. Ft. pallets, whereas the average professional landscaper could probably do it in half of the time.    My husband hauled the sod and set each piece down, while I firmed up the seams and made sure each piece was deeply soaked with water, just like it says in Red Hen’s Early and Long-Term Care Guide.

We laid the sod making sure each seam was tight with the next until we had a completely installed lawn.   I was extra proud of the fact that I ended up being spot on with the measurements!  It took us about 7 hours total for the entire installation.  This included a few much needed water breaks. We were racing against a thunderstorm that was heading our way and we just made it in time for mother nature to help us with some watering.

Our project was coming along nicely!

WATERING, WATERING, WATERING

We kept the freshly installed sod deeply soaked for the first 5 days, then continued to monitor it everyday for any additional waterings.  As you might remember, July 2018 was extremely hot and dry, and during basically doughty weather, you will need to water your freshly installed sod more often so it does not dry out.

I made sure I watered early in the morning – between 4-6am because according to Purdue’s Irrigation Practices for Homelawns – “at this time water pressure
is usually the highest, there is little distortion of the watering pattern by wind, and the
amount of water lost to evaporation is negligible.”  On the other hand, if I was unable to water early in the day, I knew that watering at a less-ideal time was much better than skipping it altogether.

Although my new yard was Tall Fescue sod and, once fully established in a year or so, will be drought tolerant, all new sod (until it’s established) will need to be soaked with water for the first week to root properly, and even more so in the hotter temperatures like we were dealing with.  If you are unsure if your sod is getting enough water, lift up on a corner, see if the soil underneath is getting soaked through.  If it is not, water more. Here’s a great link on properly watering your lawn from Purdue: Irrigating Home Lawns

The finished project!

Throughout the hot month of July with no rain for several weeks,  it seemed no matter how much I watered, it just wasn’t enough. After all, my hose and sprinklers did not put out as much water compared to in-ground irrigation.  I was determined to keep my new sod green, but it had been a few weeks and the sod hadn’t even rooted in places. I started seeing a few brown spots so I took some pictures and showed Jeremy.  Just as I suspected, I still was not putting down enough water.  I had my watering cut out for me!

A few heat stressed areas were visible after a few weeks.

In the meantime,  at The Red Hen Office we were getting calls from customers who were having similar issues, even with irrigation systems on timers, we we knew it was the perfect time to write our blog, Irrigation, droughts – and strange weather … HOT, DRY SUMMER TURF TIPS from Red Hen Turf Farm.

It was difficult watching my sod turn brown during the hot weather. But just when I was losing hope, in early August cooler weather came around and Mother Nature graced us with some much needed rain, and guess what?  My fescue started repairing itself.  I was relieved and excited to see it come back to life.  I decided it was a good time to boost it with another round of starter fertilizer before my August party … and THAT’S WHERE MY NEXT ADVENTURE BEGINS in Part 2!

Look for Part 2 soon!  Until then,

~Michelle & The Red Hen Crew!

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Hauling and Trailering Sod Safely and Efficiently #PickingUpSod #Trailering

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While Red Hen will deliver 500 Sq. Ft. (1 standard pallet) or more of sod, if you have the means of picking sod up, it’s always worth getting quotes for both scenarios.

When you pick sod up at Red Hen Turf Farm during our loading hours, we will always prefer to load your sod on the pallet, by using one of our forklifts.

The most common problems that we encounter when loading various vehicles are:

  1. Customers do not bring and are not prepared to use the appropriate tie downs.
  2. No good access to load trailer with Red Hen’s Forklifts because the trailer has a drop down gate that can not be removed and/or ramps that the forklifts cannot safely drive on.
  3. Tires have not been checked for wear or air pressure.
  4. Trailer is not rated for the weight of even 1 pallet of sod.

If you ultimately decide to pick up sod, the Law puts the responsibility of providing proper transportation and equipment for SAFE and LEGAL hauling squarely on your shoulders.  This includes proper cargo tie-down equipment, properly equipped vehicles and the knowledge and skills to execute the practices safely.

Being mindful of this could literally save someone’s life!

If you want to become REALLY EDUCATED about hauling cargo and equipment, we suggest you look at Purdue University’s FREE 85-Page GUIDE, “Securing the Load: A Guide to Safe and Legal Transportation of Cargo and Equipment” at THIS LINK.

The very least you should know when picking up sod includes:

  1. You need a vehicle that can haul the load safely. A full pallet of sod (500 sq. ft.) can weigh 2000-3000 pounds depending on recent rains or irrigation. IN CASE YOU ARE INTERESTED IN RENTING A TRUCK and/or TRAILER TO PICK YOUR SOD UP, we’ve included a few helpful links at the end of this article.
  2. Make sure you have a vehicle that can pull the loaded trailer and also make sure the vehicle is designed to pull the loaded weights.
  3. If you bring a trailer, make sure it is designed to hold the weight you want to haul, and make sure the tires can handle the load.
  4. CHECK THE TIRE AIR PRESSURE of YOUR VEHICLE and THE TRAILER.
  5. With a Trailer, Safety chains should be properly rigged to tow vehicle, not to hitch or ball
  6. With a Trailer, the Coupler should be secured, tight, and locked.  Refer to the “Coupling To Tow Vehicle” section of your manual.
  7. Lights: Test Tail, Stop, and Turn Lights
  8. Bring something to tie down the sod on the pallets. Ratchet tie down straps work best.
  9. With a Trailer, Follow the safety checks after 10, 25, and 50 miles as described below.
After 10 Miles After 25 Miles After 50 Miles
Retighten lug nuts Retighten lug nuts Check that Coupler is Secured
Check tire pressure Check tire pressure Check that safety chains are fastened and not dragging
Check that Coupler is Secured Check that Coupler is Secured Check that Sod is Secured

We truly want you to get home with all of your sod safely, and the people following you will appreciate your diligence.

Also, it is required by law.

Last but not least, if you are curious about renting a truck and/or trailer, here are some handy links to check for availability in your local area:

LOWE’S rents Pick-Up Trucks – https://www.lowes.com/l/truck-rentals.html

HOME DEPOT also rents Pick-Up Trucks – https://www.homedepot.com/c/truck_rental

HOME DEPOT also rents Trailers – https://www.homedepot.com/c/moving_supplies_equipment_rental

U-HAUL rents Trucks and Trailers – https://www.uhaul.com/

MacALLISTER RENTALS operates throughout Indiana and Michigan and rents Trailers – https://www.macallisterrentals.com/rental/trailer-rental/

If you’re in the South Bend Area, BURNS RENTALS offers Trailer for rent – https://burnstoolrentals.com/equipment.asp?action=category&category=33

For the South Bend Area, MICHIANA RENTALl is another source to rent a Trailer – https://mtrental.com/tools/trailers/

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You’re thinking of having Red Hen Sod Delivered by One of Our Semi Trucks? TIPS on How to Make the Delivery Go More Smoothly for Everyone …

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So, let’s imagine that you’re thinking about ordering sod from Red Hen Turf Farm, and you’re considering opting for DELIVERY rather than picking it up.

Perhaps you’ve measured your area already, and maybe you’ve even called us to receive a FREE QUOTE and to talk about delivery versus pick-up.  Maybe when you called, you asked questions about prepping and installation, and general care of the sod, especially initially. There’s SO MUCH that we can cover when you call for a quote or information on ordering sod that we NEVER have the time to cover EVERY SINGLE THING.  

If you’re at this stage of planning your sod project and have not talked to the Red Hen Customer Service Team yet, give us a call at 574-232-6811

Sometimes, when we’re talking about scheduling a delivery or when we’re calling you to confirm the details on the day of your scheduled delivery, we may not always gather enough information to provide our TEAM of EXCELLENT FARM SEMI DRIVERS so that they know ahead of time if the delivery site is tricky to access with Flatbed Semi Truck in some way.

The first question to consider when envisioning your sod delivery is WHERE DO YOU THINK THE SEMI TRUCK WILL BE ABLE TO PARK?

Our flatbed semi trucks are about 9 foot wide by 70 foot long, and to offload your sod order, they first have to unload our 2-1/2 TON Piggy-Back-Style forklift, which is about 8 foot wide by 8 foot long. If Our Driver needs to park on the street, to stay safe, they’d need to have plenty of visual distance in all directions. Once the forklift is off the truck, they’ll take each 2-TON pallet of sod off of the truck and place it as close to your desired location as possible, which brings me to the next question to consider …

The next thing to consider is HOW TO LET RED HEN KNOW WHERE YOUR DELIVERY SITE IS LOCATED … ESPECIALLY for new developments and areas where Google Maps does not find your address correctly for some reason.

While you are onsite and considering where Red Hen’s delivery semi should park, let’s make both of our jobs easier by helping us find you using your Android or IPhone and the Google Maps app, which lets you share your location in real time.  The best part? It’s all quite simple to do once you know where to look.

  • First, go to the best spot you feel the semi will need to park.
  • Now, make sure your LOCATION or LOCATION SERVICES is turned on in your phone settings
  • Next, open the Google Maps app (which is simply named Maps on your phone screen) on your iOS or Android device. The Google Maps Icon looks like this:

  • Tap the blue dot, which represents your current location and select “Share location” from the menu. If it’s your first time using Google Maps like this, it’s normal if your phone asks you to authorize the app to access your contacts before continuing.
  • If you want to share your location for a specific amount of time, select the “1 hour” option, and you can use the blue plus and minus buttons to increase or decrease the time as you wish
  • If you want to share your location with a trusted source indefinitely — that is, until you manually turn it off — select the “Until you turn this off” option
  • On an Android, select the person with whom you want to share your location from the list of suggested contacts or select an app (like Gmail or Messages) to send a private link. You can also opt to copy the link to your system clipboard and then paste it wherever you like.
  • On an iPhone, tap “Select People” to choose a person from your contacts, select “Message” to send a private link to someone in your messaging app, or select “More” to send a private link via another communication service. Your phone may prompt you to give Maps ongoing access to your location before it moves forward.
  • To manually stop Maps from sharing your location, open the Google Maps app, and look for the “Sharing your location” bar at the bottom of the screen
  • Tap the “x” next to the line that says how and for how long your location is being shared

If you have an iPhone, there are more ways to share your location from the Messages app, Contacts, and both Apple Maps and Google Maps. You can read all about those options in a recent article by Business Insider called, “How to share your location on an iPhone in 4 different ways” at https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-share-location-on-iphone

Now, think about where you envision each 4ft-by-4 ft pallet of sod will be placed, and then have a back-up plan in case Red Hen’s driver feels they may do more harm than good driving approximately 4-and-a-Half-Tons across the worksite.  A hard surface like your driveway is typically the easiest to access.  They can spend some time placing pallets here and there, within reason.  A wheelbarrow will come in handy! 

 

When you initially order your sod or when you confirm the details on the same day your sod is to be delivered, if you let us know what you’re thinking and pay by credit card by phone or on our Homepage with the CLICK TO PAY NOW button, with mindful communication it’s not even necessary for you to be home when your sod is delivered.

Thanks for reading about the basics of the type of communication that is key to a smooth sod delivery.

Got more questions?  We’d love to hear from you at 574-232-6811!

– Jeremy, Michelle, Lisa, and the rest of the Red Hen Turf Farm Team

 

 

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When was the last time you checked you tires’ air pressure? #PickingUpSod #Trailering

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“When was the last time you checked your air pressure?”

Well, this is a question we ask a lot here at Red Hen. There is a tire gauge next to our cash register for a reason.

I always tell myself I am going to count how many tires I fill up every year and never do so. But I can tell you it’s a lot.

It all started about 8 years ago when I noticed a lot of trailers and sometimes trucks would have start to get loaded, but then would have to be unloaded so that they could drive back to the office to use our air pump.

Now the important thing to understand is how we operate as a team. If it needs to get done, we do it. But if we can be smart about it, why unload a trailer just because no one checked the air pressure?

I have sent our semis out with forklifts to save customers from what was becoming a bad day.

Be proactive.

Take the time to grab a tire gauge and check your air pressure.

The last thing I want to see on the way home is a customer pulled over with a flat tire.

Oh, and for MORE TIPS on picking sod up safely, check out our blog post,Hauling and Trailering Sod Safely and Efficiently #PickingUpSod #Trailering” (CLICK HERE)

— Jeremy and the Red Hen Turf Farm Crew

P.S. If you are curious about renting a truck and/or trailer, here are some handy links to check for availability in your local area:

LOWE’S rents Pick-Up Trucks – https://www.lowes.com/l/truck-rentals.html

HOME DEPOT also rents Pick-Up Trucks – https://www.homedepot.com/c/truck_rental

HOME DEPOT also rents Trailers – https://www.homedepot.com/c/moving_supplies_equipment_rental

U-HAUL rents Trucks and Trailers – https://www.uhaul.com/

MacALLISTER RENTALS operates throughout Indiana and Michigan and rents Trailers – https://www.macallisterrentals.com/rental/trailer-rental/

If you’re in the South Bend Area, BURNS RENTALS offers Trailer for rent – https://burnstoolrentals.com/equipment.asp?action=category&category=33

For the South Bend Area, MICHIANA RENTALl is another source to rent a Trailer – https://mtrental.com/tools/trailers/

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MAY REMINDER! Fertilizer, Crabgrass & Broadleaf Weed Control

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Whether or not you applied a crabgrass pre-emergent or perhaps a straight fertilizer in April, early to mid-May is usually the time for an application of either a fertilizer or a “weed and feed” (a “weed and feed” refers to a fertilizer that also has a herbicide in it).

 * * * A word of warning when applying a “weed and feed” to newly seeded grass OR to an area you are planning to seed… Herbicides typically inhibit the germination of grass seed, so you should always read the label of the product to find out the recommended waiting period between applying the herbicide and planting grass seed.  Typically, you will need to choose one or the other – seed in the spring or apply a product with a herbicide in it. * * *
First, we always recommend Soil Testing, and then working with us to develop your fertilizer program with your soil analysis and your goals in mind.  When you don’t have a soil test or a custom fertilizer program in place, for a May application, consider these 3 options…   

OPTION 1 …
NO NEED TO TREAT WEEDS? 
A product without any type of added herbicide, like our 25-0-10 fertilizer, would be appropriate.  Our 25-0-10 gives you a boost of Nitrogen to green up your lawn and make it more lush, and a higher level of Potassium than most of the products you can buy at the local garden centers, which helps promote root growth, heat and drought hardiness, wear tolerance, and disease tolerance. Wait 6-8 weeks from the time of your last application, or if this is your first application of the year, you can make your first application now.

OPTION 2 …
NEED A SECOND (or first?) APPLICATION OF CRABGRASS PRE-EMERGENT?

Frankly, the window of time to get the most bang for your buck with a crabgrass pre-emergent has passed so we don’t usually recommend treating for Crabgrass at this time of the year, but we realize some people may want to give it another shot. A very small percentage of crabgrass seeds MAY still be lurking.  If you did an application of crabgrass “weed and feed” 6-8 weeks ago (like 15-0-3 Crabgrass pre-emergent PLUS fertilizer), you might be considering a 2nd application.  If you choose to do this, you’d want to get the crabgrass pre-emergent applied ASAP for this product to be as effective as possible (in other words, BEFORE those few remaining crabgrass seeds have reached the germination stage).

OPTION 3 …
WANT TO BATTLE THOSE PESKY BROADLEAF WEEDS? 

Dandelions and other broadleaf weeds are among the most troublesome turf pest problems in lawns, and it looks like this spring will be an especially bad year for them.  Wait 6-8 weeks from the time of your last fertilizer or weed-and-feed application, or if this is your first application of the year, now would be a good time to get something down.  That said, we offer several ways to effectively control broadleaf weeds.

One method is by applying Trimec 22-0-5 + Iron, which is a post-emergent broadleaf “weed and feed” with added Iron to give your grass a richer, deeper color.  The active ingredient, Trimec, needs to be absorbed by susceptible plants in order to be effective, so for best results, mow one to two days before application and then water lightly or apply in the morning for proper adhesion to plants.

Another very effective product that Red Hen Turf Farm carries is a newish selective herbicide called Tenacity.   Tenacity does NOT contain any fertilizer, so if this is the herbicide you choose, you’ll likely want to also do a fertilizer application in May (refer to Option 1 above).  When properly applied, Tenacity will destroy the weed but not harm your grass.  Tenacity can be used both as a pre-emergent and post-emergent to selectively control 46 weeds and grass species, including dandelions, clover, creeping bentgrass, perennial ryegrass, or fine and tall fescue. And it’s safe to use on established or newly seeded turf.  Tenacity works by inhibiting photosynthesis, so it does turn the targeted weeds white, and it may also cause temporary whitening of your turfgrass (for a few weeks anyhow).

CLICK on this Screenshot to READ Purdue Extension's FREE PUBLICATION, "Control of Broadleaf Weeds in Home Lawns"

CLICK on this Screenshot to READ Purdue Extension’s FREE PUBLICATION, “Control of Broadleaf Weeds in Home Lawns”

* * *

Please call Red Hen Turf Farm, or come in to get advice on which is best for your situation…  574-232-6811 is the number.

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I HAVE THE BEST CUSTOMERS!

Facebookgoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailI know … everyone says they have THE BEST CUSTOMERS, and I truly mean it!

And, I have some of the funniest customers around.

For instance … Let’s talk about Landscapers!  Landscapers in general must have a good sense of humor just for the industry they are in. Mother Nature tends to throw a monkey wrench into a landscaper’s job plans weekly if not sometimes daily.  They might be trying to lay sod, but it rains two inches that night. Or they might be going to plant trees, and it snows two inches. Then they need to get the salters in the trucks and a day later take them back out. Yes every job and business has its challenges. But Landscaping in the Michiana area is a unique one.

I have been on some fun trips, events, conferences, lunches and dinners with my customers. I learn something new and always have a good time. I am amazed at how many of my customers have become a friend over the years. I am very lucky to be in the industry I am in, and to have met so many great men and women.

There are more days than I can count that a customer has called or texted me and made me laugh. Including today. Laughing makes for a great day!   Thank you!

Until next time, Jeremy and The Red Hen Turf Farm CrewFacebookgoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail