The stubborn grassy weed with a strange name………….. Quackgrass!

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.

Would you like to apply a crabgrass preventer to your lawn or plant grass seed……… please pick just one!

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.

Shatter your soil for a better lawn!

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.

Plant a fence!

Wood, metal and vinyl are all common materials to construct a new fence from but there are many limitations you should consider.  Many cities will specify a maximum fence height (3’-6’), limit the areas of your property where a fence can be installed and further limit the type of materials that your fence can be constructed of.  In case you are not aware of these city specific fence installation details, they will be explained to you when applying for a fence installation permit or easily accessible when researching the zoning regulations/municipal code for your area on the internet.

I understand that there are many times when a conventional hard material fence is the best choice.  A wood, metal or vinyl fence is best when you have young children to protect, pets to retain or even a swimming pool to secure.

However if your goal is to shield a nearby neglected adjacent property from view, create a formidable impassable barrier or to further enhance a line of sight view from a point on your property than consider planting a live screen instead of installing a fence.

Here are a few additional benefits and details to consider when planting a live screen on your property.

  • Live screen plant material can be trained, trimmed, pruned, supported, etc. to occupy precisely the right area in need of physical or visual shielding.
  • Depending on the budget and planting space available, a visually complete live plant screen may take several years to grow and fill in.
  • Choose multiple evergreen plants (foliage remains green year round), deciduous plants (loses foliage at end of growing season) or a combination of the two for best site specific results.
  • Be careful to choose the correct plant material that will not likley outgrow the limited space available (under low hanging power lines, near driveways, along sidewalks, close to neighbor’s property, etc.) for best long term results.
  • In most cases there are very few (if any) height, choice of plant material or planting location restrictions from local zoning/municipal authorities.
  • Be sure to remember that the larger the plant is at time of installation, the more expensive it will likely be (greater material, delivery and installation costs).
  • Neighborhood metal, wood or vinyl fences are easily duplicated and are very common.  A well thought out plant material screen is very unique and will increase in value as time passes and as plants have a chance to mature.
  • Maintenance on either a hard material fence or a live plant screen varies greatly (heavily dependent on environment, installation and selected site specific materials used) and should be scrutinized during the beginning planning stage to determine the right choice to satisfy your long term needs.
  • Visit a few reputable local nurseries to see the various types of screen plants available (upright arborvitae, spruce, upright juniper, privet, viburnum, cotoneaster, honeysuckle, etc.).

Hopefully this information will prove useful to you when determining your property specific screening or fencing options.

Is it only snow plowing that I need?

There are many properties that require more than one form of snow removal to achieve the best results.  As many of us know, snow can be mechanically plowed, pushed, lifted, blown, hauled away or even instantly melted as conditions dictate.  It is very important to understand that each of these snow removal methods requires a degree of site specific knowledge and operational expertise to be effective at just the right time.

Here are just a few factors that help us determine the best method to clear snow at your residential, commercial or industrial property.

  • What is your tolerance for snow accumulation before clearing must begin?  Will snow need to be cleared instantly as it falls or only after a predetermined amount of snow accumulation has occurred (1”+)?  Is speed of snow clearing paramount to all other service factors?
  • Is there enough physical space on your property to retain cleared snow until natural melting has occurred?  If not, plans will have to be in place to relocate or elevate cleared snow higher to further maximize any space that remains.Commercial snow removal
  • Do you have a special paved surface that will be damaged if a standard steel edged snow removal machine is used?  It is very common that brick paved, stamped concrete, epoxy coated concrete or even regular asphalt paved surfaces will become scratched due to repeated passes from steel edged snow removal equipment.  One should strongly consider using a specialized piece of snow removal equipment(plow, blower, bucket, pusher, etc.) that has a rubber or polyurethane cutting edge to avoid this problem.
  • Is your site open for business 24 hours a day/7 days a week or only during select times during the week?  This site specific detail along with your tolerance for fallen snow accumulation will further determine the necessary equipment and snow clearing approach needed to meet or exceed your expectations.
  • Will snow piles have to be placed or relocated near existing storm sewers or drainage retention areas to safely carry away excess water as snow melting begins?  Often times specialized machines will be needed (loaders, skid steers, blowers, etc.) to relocate existing piles of snow to alternate on-site or off-site areas best suited for the excess drainage water that melting snow creates.
  • Will it be a problem if snow piles become just too large in size on your property?  Some of the reasons that existing piles of snow may need to be reduced in size are that they block the safe view of an adjacent road way, block the sight path of a critical sign, ongoing melting of snow may cause a reoccurring refreeze/ice situation atop adjacent pavement, take up needed parking spaces, etc.  Again, specialized snow relocation equipment may be needed to handle this task.

Please be sure to keep Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. in mind when evaluating your present and future snow and ice management needs.

The damaging power of ice!

Many of us carefully travel atop slippery icy surfaces every winter with great care and awareness.  We do our very best to lower the possibility of a slip and fall or vehicle accident by applying various forms of ice melters to our roads, sidewalks and bridges to convert dangerous ice to manageable surface water.  However, we need to really consider the power of ice and the damage it can cause when water is allowed to freeze when becoming trapped or simply left to stagnate in non-temperature controlled areas like exterior sump drains, foundation mounted water supply lines, roof gutters, non-drained buried lawn irrigation lines, buried down spout drain lines, garden hoses left outside, rain barrels, etc.

What happens to water if it’s not allowed to expand when frozen?

Here are a few simple steps to avoid ice related property damage and it’s corresponding repair.

  • Clean out all leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts often to allow for proper draining.
  • Be sure to properly pitch exterior sump pump drain lines to allow water to flow out and not remain stagnate in pipe.
  • Blow out or vacuum all debris that may have become trapped in buried down spout extension drain lines.
  • Prepare your lawn’s sprinkler system for winter by removing all the water from the irrigation system and equipment by using pressurized air.
  • Drain water from all portable/stationary pumps and water holding tanks before freezing temperatures move in.

By taking these few simple winter related precautions will allow our drainage and water control systems to function as they were intended and with minimal additional expense.

What exactly is a lawn and landscape spring cleanup anyway?

A seasonal spring cleanup is a one-time property visit to prepare your lawn and landscape for the up and coming growing season.

Normally our spring cleanup service includes the removal and off-site disposal of any landscape related surface debris, windblown trash, fallen twigs, etc. that may have accumulated over winter in plant beds, atop paved surfaces and across all lawn areas.  We will also cultivate the soil or wood mulch covering within specified plant beds, cut back various perennial plants, perform initial lawn mowing, all pavement will be mechanically edged and blown clean to complete.  It is also very common to perform mechanical lawn dethatching, core aeration and lawn fertilization in addition to a spring cleanup.

A few proven ways to rebuild lawn density

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.

Planting a new lawn by seed vs. sod

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.

How may I help you?

Thank you for taking the time to review my lawn, landscape and snow management related writings.  My promise is to share relevant experiences, observations and practices used to produce the very best lawn, landscape and snow related service outcome possible.  My name is Joe Pacocha and I began Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc. in 1993.  We perform professional seasonal property maintenance, renovation and installation services across the north side of Chicago and surrounding northwest suburbs.  We continually strive to earn the respect and trust of our customers by exceeding their expectations.  It is in our client’s complete satisfaction that we derive our passion to continue learning and generate increased value within all services that we perform.  How may I help you?

Since 1993, Pacocha Landscaping Services, Inc., building long-term satisfied client relationships, one important detail at a time!

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