Irrigation, droughts – and strange weather … HOT, DRY SUMMER TURF TIPS from Red Hen Turf Farm

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The last few months we’ve been hearing, “This sure is a strange season.”   It certainly was an unusual start to the 2018 year.  We had floods in February, snowstorms in March and in April we never thought we’d see the trees turn green.  But are we really having especially strange weather, or are we just hoping for normal weather to let mother nature do all the work for us?

Let’s look at the weather facts from this year, gathered from our main weather source: NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  In February 2018, we hit a record-breaking 8 inches of precipitation.  Rain, coupled with a huge snow storm, melted snowpacks and led to extreme flooding, causing cresting of local rivers. I think we all remember this event and some are still feeling the effects. Click: here for an article about this historic flooding.

This picture was taken on February 27, 2018, showing one of Red Hen Turf Farm’s many flooded fields.

In March, everyone was trying to recoup from the February floods. We received snow showers for the first half of the month.  It was a pretty cold month with temps averaging around 34 degrees.  Typically, around this time, we are all looking forward to spring and the green up of trees and grass.  But nature didn’t green up like it did the prior year and it remained pretty cold.  In fact, it seemed like “greening up” took 3-4 weeks longer compared to last year.  The strange weather had its effect on us at the sod farm as well.  Flooding and extremely cold temperatures prevented us from harvesting sod until April. Whereas last year, we were harvesting sod on February 14 (an especially early time compared to most years), in 2018 we did not harvest our first order of sod until April 9th – WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

April 9, 2018, Red Hen Turf Farm’s first sod harvest of the season. Snow and all!

As summer began to set in, throughout July our customers started feeling the effects of extreme heat and drought. Lawns started turning brown and sprinklers were constantly running.

 

One of the frequently asked questions we received during this hot, try time of the season was “why is my grass brown if I have my sprinklers on timers?”  Sure, auto-timers may seem like a dream. Set it and forget it, right?  Unfortunately, this is a common misconception, especially when the temperatures are above normal and/or if we haven’t had significant rain in weeks.  Sprinklers are a good supplement for water, but can never do as good of a job as Mother Nature when it rains.

In order to understand why your grass may be turning brown, you need to first consider how much water is needed to sustain a healthy, green appearance.

According to a fantastic, easy to read publication from Purdue, Irrigation Practices for Homelawns, most ESTABLISHED Indiana lawns need 1 to 1-1/2 inches of irrigation per week.  But what if you are in the midst of a drought?  You can do 1 of 2 things for established lawns.

CHOICE 1:  Allow your established lawn to go dormant.  Irrigate 1/2 inch every 2 weeks just to maintain hydration to the plant crowns.  This amount of water will not green up the lawn, but it will increase survival chances during long drought periods.   However, newly installed sod will require daily irrigation 1-2 times per day for at least a week.  After a few mows, deep and infrequent watering should be practiced.

LEFT: Turf has been irrigated during a drought. RIGHT: Turf turning dormant.

CHOICE 2:  If you decide against dormancy, keep your established lawn green by watering it DEEPLY 2-3 times per week.  Soak it deeply, morning hours are best to water, but if your only chance to water is at a different time, go for it but keep a few things in mind that we’ll talk about next…

Contrary to some tales, watering your lawn in the afternoon will not burn it.  It is not the ideal time to water but if it is the only time you have to water, it may just take extra time due to more wind and evaporation. Avoid watering in the evening hours.  Watering in the evening can make turf more susceptible to mold and diseases by providing the moisture needed by fungus and bacteria. Even with proper watering techniques, turf can still get heat stressed and get some brown spots. Depending on the species of turf, green up times vary.  Kentucky bluegrass may take 2-3 weeks to recoup and start turning green again.  On the other hand, tall fescue will tend to bounce back quicker from a droughty period.   

IN GENERAL, WHEN IT COMES TO IRRIGATION SYSTEMS, avoid the set-it and forget-it approach. Rather, adjust your irrigation timers according to your turf’s needs, not yours.  Some things to consider when you’re evaluating your turf’s needs are:

  • Paying close attention to the weather will help you figure out if you need to water more or less.
  • Finding out how much water your lawn needs depends on a few factors such as species of turf, if it’s in the shade, if it’s at the bottom of a slope, and whether your grass is newly established.
  • Grass in the shade and at the bottom of a slope tends to need LESS water overall.
  • Keep in mind that NEW SOD and GRASS GROWN FROM SEED tends to need more weather overall FOR THE FIRST YEAR OR SO while it’s becoming fully established – but again, if it’s in the shade or at the bottom of a slope, adjust accordingly.
  • Yes, you read that right … Sodded and Seeded Lawns should be considered newly established / establishing for about a year or so.  Some of the calls we had this summer were about sod that was laid last fall, where the amount of irrigation was not adjusted accordingly, and they were effectively under-watering which led to yellowing or browning of the grass that was still establishing, as compared to the established parts of their yards.
  • You also may want to pay attention to the length of the lawn surrounding your sprinkler heads.
  • If the grass is too long, the water spray will be deflected and not get to where it needs to go.  Keep grass trimmed around sprinkler heads.

If you are unsure how much water your irrigation system is putting out or if it’s putting out the same amount all over, simply put empty tuna cans or rain gauges in grid like zones.  If they are not holding the same amount of water for each zone, adjustments may be needed.  You will also have to adjust timers on hills,  slopes and shaded areas as they all require different amounts of irrigation.  Set timers on hills and slopes just enough time until the water begins to run off, then stopping until it is absorbed, repeating until the desired amount is applied is recommended.   Hilltops dry out faster than lower areas so they should be irrigated differently.  Shaded areas also need less water.

Click here to read more on a blog we recently published on proper watering techniques.

Let’s recap and build on a few main points…

  • The best time to water is 4am-8am.
  • The next best time is 8am-noon.
  • Watering every day, in light/shallow waterings should be avoided and can produce unwanted crabgrass, diseases and other weeds that thrive in that environment.
  • Deep, infrequent watering is the best for established lawns.
  • Newly established lawns and lawns that are establishing over about a year or so tend to need more water overall – but again, slopes and shade can make a difference.
  • Oh, and Fertilizing and mowing should also be avoided during extremely hot and dry periods.

When the Temperatures are HIGH, RED HEN TURF FARM RECOMMENDS that you hold off on fertilizing and mowing, and plan on doing some extra watering if you want to keep your lawn from going dormant, especially with Recently Laid Sod

So whether you have underground irrigation on timers or a good old fashion sprinkler and hose, some adjustments and work still have to go into keeping your lawn green during droughts.

Questions?  Give us a call at 574-232-6811

 

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Late July / Early August UPDATE – The Window of Time for Fall Grass Seed Planting Will Be Here and Gone Before You Know It!

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Every year around this time, it always feels like SUMMER is FLYING by.  

We’ve been getting lots of questions about Grass Seed, which we DO SELL in addition to our 100% Kentucky Blue Grass sod and our Rhizomatous Tall Fescue Sod, and many other lawn care products (including fertilizer).

Red Hen Turf Farm - Grass Seed

 

IDEAL TIMES TO PLANT GRASS SEED

Did you know that there are certain times of the year that are better to plant grass seed than others?  If not, you’re not alone.

It turns out that in our part of the country, often the BEST TIME to plant Cool Season Grass Seed is in the LATE SUMMER / EARLY FALL.

Specifically, in the northern-third Indiana, August 15th through September 15th is the ideal time period to plant Cool Season Grasses.  (One exception to this rule would be if you have a heavy shaded area due to trees, in which case you might want to consider a winter or spring seeding when the leaves have fallen and more sunlight can reach your soil bed.)

Why plant grass seed between August and September 15th?   Well, according to Purdue turf expert, Zac Reicher, planting turf grass seed in northern Indiana within this late-summer / August 15th – September 15th window offers several advantages:

  • Air and soil temperatures are more moderate, which improves seed GERMINATION.
  • It typically rains more frequently, which helps reduce (but may not eliminate) extra watering … this also improves your chances for successful seed GERMINATION.
  • Grass seedlings face fewer pests than they do in the spring or the hottest parts of summer, again improving GERMINATION.

WHAT IS GERMINATION

 

A FEW TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR ODDS FOR BETTER SEEDING RESULTS

First, let’s talk about what method of seeding or over-seeding you might consider.  Many people try to simply cast the seed by hand or by using a spreader and leave it at that.  But is this the most efficient way?  The answer is NO for several reasons, including the fact that rain or wind will likely carry much of this seed away and it will never grow.  Or much of it will become a yummy meal for wildlife.  Also, without giving the seed a thin layer of soil over the top to grow in, there’s a good chance your rate of success will go way down.  You can rent a slit seeder or a core aerator at most local garden centers.

We recommend using either a slit-seeder to plant your seed, or using a core aerator first and then seeding into the cores.  These methods protect the seed from being carried away, and provide the much needed soil bed for the seed to germinate.

Let’s go a little deeper…

New grass seedlings have poorly developed root systems, which means they cannot effectively absorb nutrients from the soil.

For this reason, it is important to WATER and FERTILIZE PROPERLY after seeding to encourage germination and establishment.  

  • Fertilizer Application #1 – Do this right after planting your grass seed.   We recommend using 12-12-12 (or another starter fertilizer).  The rate of application will depend on the species of grass you are planting.  You should also water 2-3 Times each day while the seeds are in the process of germinating.  Apply enough water to keep the soil moistened. When you see the new grass plants (seedlings), you may reduce the number of times you water.
  • Fertilizer Application #2 –  4-6 weeks after planting (depending on the type of grass seed you’ve planted).  Use some more of the starter fertilizer that you applied in the first application.  Again, the rate of application will depend on what kind of grass you’ve planted.  Continue to water as needed to prevent the soil from drying out. However, be careful that you do not keep the soil saturated, leaving your new grass vulnerable to pests and diseases.
  • Fertilizer Application #3 – Do this 4-5 Weeks after your 2nd Application (once again depending on the type of grass seed you’ve planted). Our 25-0-10 fertilizer would be perfect for this 3rd Application. Or, for the 3rd Application, you could apply a broad leaf herbicide if needed to control broadleaf weeds (such as our 22-0-5+Trimec+Iron). On the other hand, if you’re dealing with grassy weeds, they are difficult to kill with herbicides, so proper mowing is your best choice for controlling them.

FOR MORE DETAILS BEYOND WHAT WE INCLUDE BELOW, ALONG WITH OUR 2018 PRICING INFORMATION and APPLICATION RATES, CLICK HERE

PURCHASING GRASS SEED AT RED HEN TURF FARM

Here at Red Hen Turf Farm, we sell several varieties of grass seed by the pound, which is handy whether you have a very small or very large area to plant.  Contact us for prices and recommendations based on your specific needs and goals.  Some of your choices include:

100% Kentucky Bluegrass Seed … 

This sod-quality seed will match our most current variety of Kentucky Bluegrass sod in production. Seed can be used to patch small areas in existing sod or seeding a large area next to sod. This seed takes 21 days to germinate and will be very slow to fill in. This seed will require some extra attention to establish, but it exhibits the same deep green color and disease resistance that Red Hen’s sod does.  AVAILABLE IN 50 LB BAGS, OR IN BULK BY THE POUND.

Rhizomatous Tall Fescue (RTF) Seed … 

This seed will match our No Net Rhizomatous Tall Fescue sod in production. Again, like with our 100% Kentucky Bluegrass, sod-quality seed, the RTF seed can be used to patch small areas in existing sod or seeding a large area next to sod. This seed takes 7-14 days to germinate.  AVAILABLE IN 50 LB BAGS, OR IN BULK BY THE POUND.

Greenskeeper Custom Mix Seed … 

OUR MOST POPULAR SEED!  Works well in full sun and light amounts of shade.  This variety contains 3 types of grass seeds and each type will germinate at a different time. AVAILABLE IN 50 LB BAGS, OR IN BULK BY THE POUND.

Greenskeeper Premium Shade Mix Seed …

While no grass loves shade, this blend has varieties that exhibit better growth habits in partially shaded areas. For more information, visit the “Grass In Shade” section of our website. AVAILABLE IN 50 LB BAGS, OR IN BULK BY THE POUND.

Greenskeeper Super Shady Seed …

NEW IN 2018!  If you have less than 2 hours of direct sunlight and have tried to other shady mixes with little luck, this may be the grass seed for you!  This mix contains includes 5% Poa Supina bluegrass seed – some of the highest tech shad grass seed on the market.  AVAILABLE IN 25 LB BAGS, OR IN BULK BY THE POUND.

Greenskeeper Valu Plus Mix

An affordable option, good for rapid establishment.  Primarily consists of ryegrasses, with some Kentucky Bluegrass and Creeping Red Fescue.  AVAILABLE IN 50 LB BAGS

Greenskeeper Low-Mow National Links Mix

Consists of low-growing fine fescues well adapted to the harsh conditions of golf course roughs and bunker faces. Left unmown, this formula provides maintenance savings, erosion control, and adaptation under varying soil conditions.AVAILABLE IN 50 LB BAGS ONLY

P-105 Princeton Kentucky Bluegrass

A compact-type variety.  Excellent durability for meticulous sports fields, landscape professionals, golf course fairways, tees and roughs.  Best traffic tolerance among commercial Kentucky Bluegrass. Adapts to wide range of soils and climatic conditions. AVAILABLE IN 50 LB BAGS ONLY

What’s more, if you don’t see what you are after, we may be able to special order the seed you need. Just let us know the seed specifications you have and we will do what we can to get it for you for a reasonable cost.

READY TO TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT SEEDING?  TAKE OUR QUIZ by CLICKING HERE

 

 

LEARN MORE

  • Contact Red Hen Turf Farm … Whether you’re a recent customer, a customer from years or even decades ago, or you’re simply looking for information or pricing, we’re here to help.  What’s more, regardless of whether you end up purchasing anything from us, we genuinely enjoy talking with and educating people.  Give us a call (574-232-6811) or drop us an email (turf@redhenturf.com).
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Straight from the RED HEN FAQ VAULT – If it’s BROWN, Mow it DOWN … and More EARLY SPRING GRASS TIPS

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Red Hen's 1st 2018 Harvested Pallet of Kentucky Bluegrass Sod - WINTER IS HOLDING ON STRONG!

Red Hen’s 1st 2018 Harvested Pallet of Kentucky Bluegrass Sod – WINTER IS HOLDING ON STRONG! Harvested 4/9/18

You’ve noticed that in the winter months, your lawn’s grass typically will turn brown, right?  This is a normal response to winter conditions — your grass has simply gone into a dormant or resting stage.  Though your grass may look dead, it is alive and is waiting for the air and soil temperatures to rise in late March to early April.  Once this happens, the turf color will begin to green up and start growing again.

So what can you do besides wait for warmer days?

Well, if your grass tips are brown, go ahead and mow them down.  That’s right … By doing an early spring mowing and removing the brown tips off of your grass, this naturally brings out the greener grass blades, and it may even help to stimulate growth. While you’ll still need to plan on simply giving the grass more (WARMER) TIME to green up, a good mowing certainly won’t hurt, at any rate.  For an established lawn, remember to mow grass to 3 to 3.5 inches high, which makes it less prone to insect, disease, and weed problems.  In general, you should mow frequently, cutting off no more than a third of the height each time.   Also, by mowing frequently and only when grass is dry, this will prevent clumping, and allow for leaving the clippings on your lawn. Save yourself time and money by NOT bagging or raking up your clippings.  The grass clippings will break down and return valuable nutrients to the soil — in a way, it’s Mother Nature’s Free Fertilizer … However, if you do end up with clumps of grass clippings, you will want to rake, bag, or mow again so they don’t smother / shade the grass.

What else can you do?

An early spring application of fertilizer may do wonders in speeding up the green-up of your lawn.  As I write this on April 12, 2018, the ground is no longer frozen, so it’s a fine time to start off with either a Fertilizer + Crabgrass Pre-emergent (like our 13-0-5). By around May 1st depending on when we start seeing consistent 60+ degree days, you may decide to treat for broadleaf weeds with a Fertilizer + Broadleaf Post-Emergent like our 22-0-5.

TIP:  Remember, if you’re planning on doing some Spring Grass Seeding, as a general rule you will want to keep any herbicides away from those areas.

Not sure what approach to take?  Every year is different, and every yard is different… Give us a call and we can chat about different options.

Understandably, every spring, we get a dozen or so calls from customers who sodded their lawns last year with Red Hen’s 100% Kentucky Bluegrass Sod, because they are worried about how UNGREEN their lawns are while their neighbors’ (non-Kentucky-Bluegrass) lawns are already coming out of dormancy and greening up.

Compared to the perennial ryegrasses and fescue grasses that are typical in our area, Kentucky bluegrass sod needs MORE time, MORE warmth, MORE sunlight, and MORE nutrients to GREEN-UP in the spring. This is simply a natural result of the genetics of the Kentucky bluegrass sod.

On the other hand, the superior genetics of Red Hen’s Kentucky Bluegrass sod gives it excellent disease tolerance against problems like leaf spot and summer patch.  Kentucky Bluegrass is by far (in our opinion) the most beautiful cool-season grass you can buy. Once your Kentucky Bluegrass fully greens up by mid to late May, its deep, emerald blue-green color and dense, low-growing boat shaped blades can’t be beat.

More questions? Give us a call at 574-232-6811 … Thanks from Michelle, Lisa, and Jeremy @ Red Hen Turf Farm

* *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  * *  

PREFER TO LEARN AT YOUR OWN PACE? Purdue University Extension’s Turfgrass Program offers so much free information about homeowners’ lawn care.  This is a fantastic science-based and regionally-focused resource you can feel confident about trusting.  You can explore at https://turf.purdue.edu/homeowner.html  … Here’s a small sampling of the MANY topics covered:

Establishing a Turf Area
Establishing Lawn Areas From Seed
Seeding a Turf Area in the Spring
Purchasing Quality Grass Seed for Your Lawn
Establishing a Lawn from Sod
Building a Backyard Putting Green

Maintaining a Home Lawn
Don’t Bag It
Irrigation Practices for Homelawns
Mowing, Thatching, Aerifying, and Rolling Turf
Fertilizing Established Lawns
Should I Hire a Professional Lawn Care Service?
Maintenance Calendar for Indiana Lawns
Maintaining Lawns on Sandy Soils
Animal Urine Damage in Turf

Weed Control
Control of Broadleaf Weeds in Homelawns
Control of Crabgrass in Homelawns
Identification and Control of Perennial Grassy Weeds

Disease Control
Turfgrass Disease Profiles: Gray Snow Mold
Turfgrass Disease Profiles: Pink Snow Mold
Turfgrass Disease Profiles: Brown Patch

Insect Control
Turf Insect Management
Japanese Beetles in the Urban Landscape
New White Grub Pests of Indiana
Protecting Pollinators from Insecticide Applications in Turfgrass
Moles

Pesticide Information
The Way to Spray
Pesticides and the Home, Lawn, and Garden
The Benefits of Pesticides: A Story Worth Telling

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12 Quick Tips to Make Your Lawn Look Its Best, The 2018 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 2018 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 … Here’s our 2018 Price List.

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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Crabgrass Countdown!

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We’re starting to get calls with questions on when to apply crabgrass pre-emergent (preventer).

This is what we’re telling our customers:

So we never have an “exact” date on when to apply the crabgrass pre-emergent since every season is different. We monitor the weather and soil temperatures.  Crabgrass germinates when the soil temperatures are consistently 60° F degrees for 3-5 days at a 1/4″ level. Remember, crabgrass pre-emergent must be applied at least 2 weeks prior to germination for it to be effective. April 1st looks like a good target date right now but that may change depending on weather conditions.  Here’s a great (real time) link for crabgrass germination and optimum times to apply pre-emergent from Michigan State University:  GDD Tracker

As we know, the best crabgrass prevention is a dense, healthy turf, but because crabgrass has a massive reproductive & survival capability, it is common to have some  in your lawn.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent crabgrass: Apply a pre-emergent 2 weeks prior to crabgrass germination. Regular fertilization should help thicken turf along with proper watering and mowing.  Water deeply and infrequently. (Light and shallow watering will encourage crabgrass growth).  Do not mow more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at one time.  If you mow below 2.5-3 inches (depending on the turf species) it will increase crabgrass populations. 

IMPORTANT TO KNOW:  If you are planning on seeding or have completed a dormant winter seeding, do not use crabgrass pre-emergent.  It will likely end up killing any new grass seedling growth. There are a few options for crabgrass treatment if you have planted grass seed or plan on planting this spring.  Just give us a call and we can go over the products to use. Use caution when using post emergent herbicides and ALWAYS read the label. 574-232-6811 is the number to call.

Pick your battles.  You can’t plant grass seed AND apply crabgrass pre-emergent at the same time. If crabgrass was a problem for you last year and you want to treat it, apply the crabgrass pre-emergent and save your seeding for fall.  That is the best time to seed anyway.  (Typically around August 15-September 15 … again, every year is a bit different … Purdue explains more about seeding in their free publication – CLICK HERE).

Here’s more info from Purdue Science: Crabgrass Control

Know when to give up. If you wait until summer and you realize your crabgrass is out of control, you may as well let it go until it dies off with the first frost.   There are post emergent herbicides that you can use but they are more difficult to use than the pre-emergence products, they cannot be used in the heat of the summer, are expensive,  and are only effective on smaller crabgrass plants – which you probably don’t see anyway.

If you are looking for crabgrass pre-emergent + fertilizer, come see us!  We have quality fertilizer in stock at great prices AND you get expert advice (the advice is free) if needed!

The weather is getting warmer so why not take a leisurely drive out to New Carlisle to  pick up your sod, seed, herbicides and fertilizer.  Also, don’t forget to visit us on Facebook to see all of our updates including office hours and our first harvest of the season!

We have a ton of crabgrass topics!  Check out our previous blog posts that touch on the topic of CRABGRASS by CLICKING HERE.

Until next time!

The Red Hen Crew

 

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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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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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It’s getting to be the end … Jeremy Reflects

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Photo by: Leslie Lestinsky

Photo by: Leslie Lestinsky, Red Hen Summer 2015 Marketing Intern

It is getting to be the end…..

Well another season is about to be upon us and it’s not my favorite season. I am not much into the winter season. I am not really into the cold nor do I like driving in bad conditions. It was just 2 years ago that I put my truck into the ditch down by Peru. Luckily no one was hurt and a local sheriff pulled me out. I had a farmer with me and we were going to an Expo in Indianapolis. I remember him saying “There seems to be a lot of vehicles in the ditch down here.”  After the word “here,” we too were in the ditch.

So before the snow starts to fall, in my own yard I still have one application of Fertilizer to go down this week. I will not be over-seeding at this point; it’s just too late in the year.

I also need to start lowering my mowing height. The problem I have had lately is that we have been very busy and by the time I have time to mow, the grass is too tall to lower the mower blade.

While we’ll be harvesting (weather-permitting) up through Thanksgiving if not longer, it’s sad to think that another harvest season here at Red Hen Turf Farm is about to pass us by. But I do appreciate the time it affords me to be able to spend with my family and friends, and to reflect on what we were able to achieve as a team and what needs to be improved before our 2016 sod harvest season.

– Jeremy and the Red Hen Turf Farm Team

 

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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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Every year is different and every yard is different

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Sunrise on Turf

Photo by Leslie Lestinsky, Red Hen Summer Intern

How is the year going for you?

Well unless you have not been around the Michiana area for the summer, you know it has been a WET ONE!  At Red Hen, it has been very tough trying to harvest sod, and to plant our tomatoes, corn and soybeans.

On the sod-side of work, taking care of 200 acres of mowing and fertilizing grass has been interesting. We definitely have not had to turn on the irrigation much so far this year. There is nothing like a good rain, but when you get more than a few inches at a time, it can use up chemicals faster on turf grass.

In many lawns, as of now your second application of fertilizer is close or has been used by the plants. In terms of weed control, crabgrass preventer applied in the spring is becoming no longer effective. Granular broadleaf killer has been tough to apply on the right day due to the rains. Sedges have been popping up all over, since wetness and summertime heat is what they thrive in.

If there is a point to this, it is that every year is different and every yard is different. At Red Hen, we don’t believe that sticking to a strict “step program” does justice to the fact that a yard here in New Carlisle may have gotten a lot less rain than a yard in Wakarusa, and both yards have their own issues and conditions. When a customers asks us what fertilizer product someone should be applying, we like to ask, “Well, what’s going on in your yard?,” and we tailor our recommendations to your needs.  Theoretically, we might give your next-door neighbor a different recommendation than you because – like I said before – each yard is different.  Does this surprise you?

Taking it a bit further, we offer the service of designing customized fertilizer programs – based on your goals, the issues you are trying to solve, and a lab-based soil analysis through our soil test program (starting at $25 for one sample).

We’re here to help people fix problems in their yards – even if it’s not our sod.  This is my fifth year here at Red Hen, and this year’s unique weather conditions have been making things especially interesting and challenging, which I love!

Jeremy and the Red Hen Team

Give us a call today if you have questions or concerns about your lawn at 574-232-6811.  We’re here to help make Do-It-Yourself Lawncare Do-able.

 

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