Category Archives: Lawn Care

When growing grass, soil preparation is EVERYTHING!

Whenever repairing or installing a new lawn from seed or sod, one very important aspect of the planting process is soil preparation.  Besides using premium fresh site-specific grass seed or sod, avoiding the hot and dry season (if possible) and ensuring routine irrigation, the better the initial soil preparation is, the better the outcome will most certainly be.

Here are a few soil preparation tips that will ensure success when planting grass from seed and/or sod.

GRASS SEED

Before planting grass seed over an existing weakened stand of grass, be sure to core aerate first to open the existing soil, relieve compaction and allow for improved seed-to-soil contact.  Better yet, mechanically power rake the lawn first (spring or fall preferred) to scarify the soil surface and to remove debris and excess thatch.  Once dethatched, core aerate (single or multiple passes ok) then spread grass seed over prepared surface by walk behind drop/broadcast spreader or plant seed directly into soil via mechanical slit-seeder.

If planting grass seed across bare ground be sure to cultivate/roto-till the existing soil first.  Before adding any/all amendments, starter fertilizer or additional top soil, for large open widespread areas, use a front or rear tine tiller to cultivate the soil to a depth of 2″-4″ first.  For small spot-repair areas use a steel rake, cultivator or even a Garden Weasel to cultivate the soil manually.  Once all bare soil areas have been cultivated and soil compaction has been broken, rake loosened soil to level and grade adequately across site to ensure proper drainage, etc..

Add pulverized top soil (as/if needed) to further improve/elevate areas targeted for eventual seed planting to complete.

SOD

Assuming that we are starting with a bare ground situation where all existing unwanted grass has either been manually, mechanically or chemically removed prior to new sod installation, bare compacted soil needs to be adequately cultivated before new sod can be successfully grown.  Again, just like when planting grass seed across large open areas, roto-tilling is the preferred method of soil preparation.

Once all bare soil areas have been roto-tilled/cultivated (depth of 2″-4″ ideal), add amendments, fertilizer or additional pulverized top soil to prepare the site for new sod installation.

Take your time, be thorough in your soil preparation and you will have a beautiful new lawn in no time!

Please be sure to consider Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. for your next grass planting project.  We are happy to answer any questions you may have and help any way we can.  Thank you for visiting our site and have a great day!

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It’s much too hot and way too dry…….. will my lawn be ok?

The first cool-season lawn areas to show signs of heat related stress will likely consist of Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue grass plant varieties.  Lawn areas that are not routinely watered, experience full-sun exposure or are found growing atop shallow heat-retaining objects (sewers, utilities, compacted materials, etc.) or alongside curbs, sewer covers, sign posts, etc. will go dormant first when temperatures hold in the mid-to-upper 90’s and moisture is non-existent.

In most cases, as cooler temperatures return and routine rainfall becomes the norm, your lawn will awaken from it’s dormancy and return to it’s beautiful self all on it’s own and without any additional help.  However, depending on the total duration and severity of the heat/drought experienced, season-end lawn repairs by seed may be needed to rebuild any/all lost lawn density.

Here are a few seasonal lawn care tips to remember when we experience severe heat and dry conditions

  • Try to keep foot, bicycle or vehicle traffic across all heat effected lawn areas to a bare minimum.
  • Water regularly all season long to ensure dormant-prone grass plant varieties thrive and survive.
  • If a routine watering program is not possible for any reason, do not begin to water your lawn sporadically after your lawn has already gone dormant.  Just let your lawn come out of dormancy on it’s own, over time and as cooler weather and routine rainfall allows.
  •  Mow lawn high (3.5″+/-) all season long for best overall grass plant health and to encourage critical root development.
  • Core aerate lawn every fall to relieve soil compaction and allow for improved air/nutrient/water flow to your lawns root zone.
  • Incorporate the planting of drought-tolerant cool season grass varieties into your seasonal lawn improvement program.

Please be sure to let our team at Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. know if we we can be of help or answer any questions you may have.  Thank you for visiting our site and have a great day!

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Weeds are growing in my newly seeded lawn …….. what to do?

When planting a new lawn from seed (in particular), soil is normally added, amended, cultivated and/or aerated to provide optimum seed-growing conditions.  Lightly cultivated soil is critical for new grass seed germination and eventual plant/root development, but also happens to be the “open door” needed for any/all competing nearby weed seed to flourish.

Here are a few precautions that can be taken to lessen the possibility of unwanted weed growth within your improved soil/new lawn area.

1). If attempting to grow grass within an area that already has a large population of weeds (broadleaf, grassy or grass-like weeds) consider applying a selective or non-selective herbicide to all unwanted growing vegetation a few weeks before soil preparation/seed planting takes place to completely eliminate the problematic weeds found (roots and all).

2). Plant grass seed in late summer/early fall to avoid increased spring season weed seed competition.

3). Use a premium blend of site-specific grass seed that contains 0% weed/noxious weed seed.

4). Consider mechanical slit-seeding (when existing site and soil conditions allow) to plant new grass seed directly into the soil through an existing stand of turf grass.

5). When planting grass seed in large lightly cultivated soil areas, consider covering all newly planted areas with seed germination blanket to lessen the exposure to wind-blown weed seed, feeding birds, etc..

If all precautions were taken, but a few problematic broadleaf weeds still happened to grow within your newly seeded areas, no problem at all.  Here are a few simple steps that can be taken to eradicate the unwanted weeds found growing in your prized new lawn.  If a small area, just manually pull any/all weeds found as they appear.  If a larger area, spot treat the visible broadleaf weed foliage with a selective liquid herbicide to completely eliminate the weed (root and all).  As lawn density builds over time, weed competition will become less problematic due to less bare soil exposure.

Just remember, planting or repairing a lawn from seed is not a quick proposition and without it’s fair share of short term challenges (maintenance, irrigation, environmental conditions, etc.).  However, it is our continued opinion that planting a site specific lawn from premium disease resistant grass seed is the very best way to grow a healthy stand of turf grass that will eventually prove worth the wait.  Please consider Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. for your next lawn improvement project.  Thank you for visiting our site and have a great day!

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Mechanical Slit-Seeding = Best Way to Rebuild a Thinning Lawn

Slit-seeding is the mechanical process of planting premium site-specific grass seed through an existing stand of turfgrass, directly into the soil.

Unlike general over-seeding where a spreader is normally used to simply broadcast seed over a lawn (hoping grass seed will eventually reach soil to begin the germination process), mechanical slit-seeding ensures critical seed-to-soil contact by slicing through the lawn and planting the seed directly into the soil.  Mechanical slit-seeding is best performed in late summer/early fall, but can be completed in the spring as long as NO crabgrass prevention herbicides are used (pre/post slit-seeding).  For even better results, core aerate the targeted lawn areas before slit-seeding and apply a granular seed starter fertilizer (high in phosphorus) shortly after.  While slit-seeding may not be the most efficient or cost-effective way to plant an entirely new lawn from bare soil, the process really excels when rebuilding an existing lawn that has declined from such issues as disease, heavy physical use, drought, etc..

Mechanical slit-seeding provides excellent seed germination rates and should be incorporated into any professional long-term lawn improvement program.

Please be sure to contact Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. with any lawn care or mechanical slit-seeding questions you may have.  Thank you for visiting our site and have a great day!

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No Chicago area snow cover means NO SNOW MOLD for your lawn…… YES!!

March 20, 2015 – Snow Mold Found Within Lawn Area Located Between Two Residential Driveways

Since we have had absolutely no snow covering the ground over the past few winter months, experienced a fairly steady rise in soil temperatures recently and have had only occasional rainfall, you can be fairly certain that your Chicago area lawn will have little chance of suffering through a gray snow mold outbreak for this 2017 spring season.

Early Spring of 2012 – Shade Prone Lawn Area Last to Melt Snow

Gray snow mold is an early spring season turfgrass disease that usually occurs shortly after a cold and snowy winter. Normally begins when soil temperatures warm well before any/all lingering snow cover melts away.

Please be sure to contact Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. with any questions or assistance you may need for this 2017 growing season and beyond.  Thank you for visiting!

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What is this so called nimblewill you speak of?

Nimblewill is a warm season perennial grass that has a tendency to grow in patches and is occasionally found growing in poorly drained soil and lightly shaded lawn areas.  Nimblewill is considered a weed grass and is never planted on purpose.  Nimblewill can spread by seed and/or by it’s lightly rooted spreading stems (stolons).

pacocha-nimblewill-growing-in-lawn

You can easily notice a lawn that has nimblewill growing in it during the early spring and late fall months (in particular).  Once cooler temperatures and first frost occurs, nimblewill will die back to the ground and change from it’s normal bluish/green summer color to a straw-like tan color.

pacocha-patches-of-dormant-nimblewill-grass

Once identified and only when the target plant is actively growing (May thru August), nimblewill can be completely eliminated by spot applying a selective or non-selective herbicide.  Shortly after the treated nimblewill areas have completely died back (14 to 21 days post non-selective herbicide application), any/all necessary steps can be taken to complete the final lawn repairs needed (additional top soil, grass seed, etc.).

Please be sure to contact Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. with any questions or service requests you may have.  Thank you for visiting our site and have a great day!

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Boo……. THISTLE …….. Boo ……….. GO AWAY ALREADY!!!

Anyone that has had a run-in with thistle around their yard knows how tough this broadleaf weed is and how difficult it is to completely eradicate.  With it’s deep and wide spreading root mass and sharp pointed prickly foliage, it will not pull out of the ground easily (or completely) without a fight.  Pacocha - Thistle Foliage Close UpThe only effective and proven way we have found to completely kill mature thistle (in particular) is by applying a selective or non-selective (site dependent) systemic herbicide directly to it’s foliage.  Often times several spot herbicide applications are needed over the course of many growing seasons (3 to 5 years) to completely kill thistle found growing in a regularly maintained lawn (in particular).Pacocha - Large Thistle Found Growing in Bed Along Walkway

Tips on controlling and keeping thistle out of your lawn and landscape.

  • Thistle can have a biennial or perennial life cycle (specific thistle variety dependent)
  • Never plant a new lawn or create new gardens without first completely eliminating any/all resilient thistle plants first.
  • When applying a systemic herbicide, allow plenty of time (4-8 weeks) for the liquid herbicide (selective or non-selective – site dependent) to translocate through the entire plant (from foliage to root mass) thus ensuring a complete kill.
  • It is much easier to chemically eradicate thistle when therePacocha - Thistle Growing in Lawn are no other desirable plants (manicured turf grass, ground cover, vegetables, etc.) located in close proximity to the unwanted weed.
  • Always eradicate thistle found in lawn areas AND adjacent plant bed spaces.  Since thistle spreads by seed, rhizome and/or cut root segments (variety of thistle dependent) it will continue to spread anywhere it can unless totally eliminated.
  • Thistle seed can remain viable in the soil for up to 20 years!!
  • If you have a bird feeder in your yard, try to avoid using bird feed that includes thistle seed.
  • Continue to monitor your property for young thistle plants and try to manually remove them whenever possible.  If manual removal is no longer a feasible option, spot treat them with a systemic selective (lawn areas) or non-selective (areas where no other desirable vegetation is located) herbicide before the plant is allowed to flower and set seed.Pacocha - Multiple Thistle Growing in Lawn
  • Canada thistle (in particular) is considered to be a noxious perennial weed in Illinois and should be controlled by the land owner whenever found (Illinois Noxious Weed Law – 505 ILCS 100/)Pacocha - Thistle Growing in Lawn Adjacent to Plant Bed

Please be sure to contact Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. with any questions you may have or to schedule an on-site consultation.  Thank you for visiting and have a great day!

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Proper Routine Mechanical Lawn Maintenance = A Happy Lawn!!

One way or another, if you are the proud owner of property that happens to include a lawn, you need to understand that it will require a certain level of on-going mechanical care in order for it to be healthy and survive for the long term.Pacocha - Dense Lawn

We are asked many times a year from new potential clients (in particular) whether or not our company provides bi-weekly lawn mowing service (once every two weeks), and the answer is simply NO.  Your lawn needs to be maintained/mowed/cleared of debris at least once a week when it’s actively growing for best results.  If you wait too long (2 weeks or more) you will likely end up cutting away too much of the new top growth (well beyond 1/3 of grass plant – recommended limit per mowing) which translates into the plant placing all of it’s remaining energy into top side leaf recovery and not critical root development.Pacocha Turfgrass Root Zone  Just by looking at a lawn from the curb, I can tell whether or not it is being properly mechanically maintained on a routine basis.  A lawn THAT IS NOT MAINTAINED ON A ROUTINE BASIS is usually light green in color, has heavy broadleaf weed populations (dandelion, clover and creeping charlie especially – sometimes even thistle), they are thin and contain multiple bare spots from past injuries and/or stress.When a lawn has a shallow/inadequate root mass it suffers in so many ways.  The grass plant needs to develop a substantial root zone in order for it to survive the occasional challenge from extended periods of drought, weed seed competition for any/all bare soil, compacted soil from foot traffic, disease, insect invasion, cutting too short, fallen leaves left atop/smothering lawn, etc.Pacocha - Lawn Repair by Seed 5-22-14

The bottom line is maintain your lawn properly all season long for a great, healthy stand of turfgrass that you can be proud of.

Please be sure to contact Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. with any questions you may have or if we can help in any way.  Thank you and have a great day!Pacocha Landscaping Services Logo

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Watch out for RUST…….. ON YOUR LAWN!!!

Yes, lawn rust!

When we hear the word rust we usually think of deteriorating steel or iron somewhere in our local surroundings.  However, you may be interested to learn more about a common lawn disease that shares the same name.  Whether it be the tell-tale sign of your shoes turning orange when walking across the lawn or the lawn taking on a semi-faded orange color, your lawn is likely dealing with this common late summer fungal related disease called lawn rust.

Pacocha - Lawn Rust on Shoe

Here are a few lawn rust specifics for your review.

  1. Shoes become orange colored when walking across the lawn (orange/brown/rust colored powder sticks to shoes)
  2. Lawn takes on a temporary rusty color (entirely or in patches)
  3. Usually found during late summer/early fall season Pacocha - Rust on Blade of Kentucky Bluegrass
  4. Very common when lawn has gone dormant (partially or fully)
  5. Disease very likely when high humidity AND high temperatures are the norm
  6. In severe cases, rust disease may thin overall lawn (although not very common).  Plant premium site-specific grass seed to rebuild lost density as needed.
  7. Core aerate and/or mechanically power rake all lawn areas to break down/remove problematic excess thatch
  8. Perform infrequent watering and continue lawn fertilization (nitrogen in particular) to speed recovery

Please be sure to contact Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. with any questions or service requests you may have.  Thank you for visiting our site and have a great day!

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Strange dark green colored circular shaped ring found on my lawn = FAIRY RING DISEASE

With the abundance of rain we have enjoyed over the past few months, you may have noticed a few odd looking circular shaped dark green colored rings (3′ to 10′ +/- in diameter) located across your lawn.  If so, you are not alone.  In all likelihood, the saturated soil below your lawn has initiated a very common fungal based disease called Fairy Ring.

Pacocha - Fairy Ring 1

The first signs of Fairy Ring disease are usually the appearance of dark green colored circles, arcs and/or mushrooms across the lawn’s surface.  Of course, the mushrooms are a reliable sign that an abundance of buried decaying organic material is in the soil (old tree roots, stumps, etc.).  As the fungi break down the excess organic matter in the soil nitrogen is produced giving the lawn located just above/around a healthy dark green color and a decent growth spurt (beyond surrounding non-affected lawn areas).

Pacocha - Fairy Ring 2

If Fairy Ring effected lawn areas prove to be seasonally persistent at your property and grass fails to grow/survive, then you may want to consider removing a 6″-10″ layer of soil located just below the plagued lawn areas, add clean topsoil and plant premium grass seed to repair the specific areas.  There is no guarantee this soil replacement approach will be 100% effective, but may be worth the investment over the long term if your lawn continues to struggle.

Pacocha - Fairy Ring 4

In most cases, just by power raking (mechanical dethatching) the entire lawn in the spring, mowing frequently and providing routine lawn fertilization will increase the vigor/growth rate of the entire lawn and adequately conceal most Fairy Ring outbreaks that may occur over the course of a growing season.

Pacocha - Fairy Ring 3

Please contact Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. with any lawn care or lawn repair services needed at your property.  Thank you for visiting and have a great day!

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