Quackgrass is a perennial grassy weed that is very difficult to eradicate from a lawn. This persistent grassy weed can take over your lawn or invade open soil spaces rather quickly if left alone. Quackgrass grows from seed and underground rhizomes (roots) that lie dormant overwinter but quickly revive each and every spring. In the spring time (in particular) this problem weed grass usually grows faster and taller than other surrounding grass plants. The reason this weed is so difficult to control is due to its resistance to selective herbicides that are routinely used in seasonal lawn care programs. Even though we can quickly eliminate other unwanted grassy and grass-like weeds in lawns like crabgrass, barnyardgrass, foxtail, nutsedge, etc….. just not quackgrass – It lives on! The best way to eliminate quackgrass is by applying a non-selective liquid herbicide like Round-Up (glyphosate) directly to the unwanted weed grass when it is actively growing (spring or fall). Please keep in mind that this non-selective herbicide needed to eliminate quackgrass will also kill any/all desirable grass, plants, etc. that are allowed to come in contact with the herbicide. It is a good idea to choose the right applicator (small paint brush, hand sprayer, back pack sprayer, etc.) that you can easily control to lessen the amount of excess turf damage. If the quackgrass outbreak is very small in overall size than a paint brush (very tedious) or small hand sprayer (faster but expect grass damage as well) will do the trick. However, if quackgrass has spread across your entire lawn than a larger back pack or tank sprayer should be utilized to make the application (please consult a professional for best results). As you can imagine a lawn replacement/repair plan must be in place before making the decision to apply Round-Up to your quackgrass plagued lawn. After waiting generally 14 days or so (post round-up application) you can repair the dead previously treated lawn areas by seed or sod to complete.
The challenge we turf grass managers face every spring season (in particular) is that in order to prevent the annual unwanted grassy weed called crabgrass from growing in a lawn we either need to maintain great turf grass density to stop undesirable crabgrass (seed) from ever germinating in open soil or we need to apply a preventative herbicide to create a short lasting “barrier” that will stop any/all crabgrass seed from growing or fully maturing. Even when we have decent overall lawn density and have applied a pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide there is still a strong possibility that crabgrass will grow in weakened lawn areas like those found in heavily compacted soil areas, lawn areas cut too short (usually along curbs, roads, walks, base of trees, etc.), areas that are exposed to extreme heat for long periods of time or lawn areas that were simply left bare (not repaired) from growing seasons past.
When a granular pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide is applied it will generally provide between 6-10 weeks of crabgrass protection. The life of this synthetic “crabgrass barrier” is dependent on the amount of rain or irrigation following the application and the amount of possible soil disturbance that takes place (post application). The lower the amount of soil surface disturbance or lessor water applied will extend the life and effectiveness of a crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide application.
No grass seed should ever be planted in a lawn that recently had a pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide applied (+/- 6-10 weeks post application).
The majority of crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides will not allow desirable grass seed to germinate over the course of its effective 6-10 week life span. The crabgrass herbicide has no way to distinguish between unwanted crabgrass seed and desirable grass seed. We highly recommend applying a crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide in the spring and planting grass seed mid-August through September especially in full sun exposed lawn areas where crabgrass is more prevalent.
A great way to increase air, water and nutrient flow to your lawn’s root zone is by performing core aeration. Core aeration is a mechanical lawn improvement process where motor driven cylinder-like spoons are plunged into and shatter the soil thereby relieving compaction and reducing thatch build up. Half inch diameter or so plugs of thatch and soil are actually pulled from the ground during this process. The soil cores are normally left atop the lawn to simply decompose over time and to return great organic material back into the soil. It is very common to core aerate heavily trafficked lawn areas twice per growing season (spring and late summer/early fall are recommended). Plan on aerating your lawn before over-seeding for improved grass seed to soil contact. Promote deeper and healthier turf grass roots by incorporating core aeration into your seasonal lawn management program.
Lawn renovation is the process of rebuilding your lawn’s density by mechanical and manual means. To begin we normally core aerate all lawn areas to relieve soil compaction and allow for improved air-water-nutrient flow to the existing lawn’s root system. After all lawn areas have been aerated, we will mechanically slit-seed across all existing thin/stressed lawn areas. Mechanical slit-seeding is the process of planting site specific premium grass seed directly into the soil by slicing through a weakened stand of turf grass. This service ensures great seed to soil contact which translates into excellent germination rates. After all existing lawn areas have been mechanically slit-seeded, we will apply a granular seed starter fertilizer that is especially high in phosphorus to all lawn areas to further enhance the seed germination process. Next we will repair all remaining completely bare (little or no grass) areas by delivering and installing additional top soil (1/2”- 1”), plant premium grass seed and install seed germination blanket or peat moss covering to complete the bare area repairs. The absolute best time (in my opinion) to perform these services will be from mid-August through September. Actually, it is only during this time of the growing season that we have optimum seed growing conditions (warm soil temperatures, less weed competition, little chance of frost or freezing temperatures, adequate natural rainfall and cooling temperatures). The spring season will be the next best time of the year to renovate a lawn, especially for lawns partially covered by shade tree canopies. It is only in the spring season that trees have not yet fully grown their leaves and greater seed germination/plant vigor can be derived from this short term abundant sun light. Lawn renovation services in addition to properly scheduled mechanical maintenance, lawn fertilization, weed control and insect management will greatly enhance any failing stand of turf grass over a short period of time.
My professional opinion on the use of sod is that I will recommend it only when absolutely necessary. The reason we like growing a lawn from seed over sod is that we can choose the best blend of turf grass seed for the specific site/conditions at hand. Please keep in mind that most commercially grown Kentucky Bluegrass blend sod is meant to be installed in areas that have 70% + sun exposure throughout a given day. One important factor rarely exposed by most sod resellers. When the choice is made to grow a new lawn by seed you will need to intentionally “over prepare” the soil and nurture the seed for optimum germination and deep root establishment to ensure great long term results. Sod on the other hand can be simply laid on a “sub-par” soil surface and kept alive as long as there is adequate and routine irrigation available. Other factors that can easily stress poorly rooted sod are everyday foot traffic, pet waste, intense heat, insect activity, minimal watering, excessive watering, fungus, sub-par mechanical maintenance, etc. Even though seed will take a growing season or two to fully establish and reach the density levels you are looking for, you will have great long term results with lower maintenance costs thereafter. Sod on the other hand will look great instantly and usually require a greater initial financial investment, but will also continue to cost more over time to maintain (rebuild fading sod density due to limited initial grass variety selection, avoiding constant fungal related threats, continual need to break through dense thatch layer, etc.). The average sodded lawn retains a non-native soil layer that routinely causes poor air/water/nutrient flow to the lawn’s root zone below. In many cases we are forced to break down this “soil barrier” by performing multiple core aerations, mechanical slit-seeding, power raking/dethatching, etc. each and every growing season to maintain acceptable turf density.