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June Landscapes – Lawn Care Tips!


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Here are some mowing tips to help you have a more successful lawn mowing season

June is here and with it we’re now in full summer mode. One of the homeowner’s favorite activities is mowing his/her lawn. This can be challenging if you’re new to the task. So with this column, we’ll be talking about how to get the best performance from your lawn mowing.

First, before you even get out the door though, lets start with the equipment. Your lawn care will only be as good as your equipment allows it to be. So its important to take good care of it and provide regular maintenance.

1. Clean up your equipment. Check your spark plugs for replacement, they normally will need changing after a year’s use.

Replace any filters in your equipment. Some mowers will have an air filter and many weedeaters do as well. And of course, change the oil. If you check your owner’s manual for your mower, it will show you how to do this in most cases.

 

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This blade (above) needs to be replaced.

2. Depending on the age of your mower, your blade may need to be replaced. Check your blade for indentions and punctures, and for any pieces of the blade that are missing. If you observe any of this, replace your blade. Before putting your new blade on, either sharpen it with a grinder or have it sharpened at a mower shop. New blades are often dull right off the shelves. If your blade doesn’t need replaced, remove it and sharpen it.

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This is a critical step. A dull mower blade will “shred” the grass instead of cutting it. When this happens, it causes stress in the turf (and an uneven cut) which can lead to a number of other problems. A sharp blade will cut the grass, leaving behind a single wound for the blade to heal. Water your turf after mowing, so that the blades can recover before the sun can fray the ends of the blades. This will provide for a “greener” turf because there will be no brown on the ends of the blades.

Now, let’s mow.

1. In the spring and fall, you can mow your lawn short. Don’t ever scalp your turf, so don’t go to the lowest setting. But you can cut the lawn shorter during the spring and fall because temperatures are generally lower during those seasons.

However, when 90+ degree heat arrives, raise the blade. Keeping your turf higher during June-July-August will help your turf stay healthy during the hottest months. When the blades are higher, the soil beneath is able to stay moist, longer.

This is particularly important for St Augustine turf, which naturally likes to be longer/higher.

2. If it rained three inches yesterday, do NOT mow today. With large amounts of rainfall/water, your turf becomes soft and sometimes mushy. Even walking across the turf in this condition can cause “bumps” in the turf, once it dries. Mowing when wet will cause ruts in the turf where the wheels go over it. And of course, this is particularly important for those who mow with a lawn tractor.

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An example of different mowing patterns, above.

3. Mowing patterns – try not to mow your lawn the same way each time. You can mow it diagonally in two ways. You can mow side to side in two ways. You can mow what we can the “shrinking box” as well. But try not to repeat any of those patterns in consecutive weeks.

4. Mow weekly. A weed requires 1.5 weeks to create seeds. Simply mowing weekly helps prevent the spread of weeds.

5. When you’ve finished mowing, take time to blow off the mower deck and engine with your blower. It is also good to blow out the mower well, where the blade is located. Weed seeds and insects can get stuck inside the well and get deposited back onto the lawn at the next mowing.

 

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The Weedeater . . .

1. I think everyone has this tendency. Sometimes we realize it. Sometimes we don’t. It is important, when edging such as against a bed border, that the grass you cut there be the same height as the grass that is mowed in the middle of the yard. It should not be shorter. For example, St Augustine will recede from the border if it is repeatedly cut too short there. Over time, the homeowner will have to install thin strips of sod just to get the grass back to the border.

So when you place your weedeater near the bordering, the head of the weedeater should be kept level and not tilted down. I think sometimes we just feel we have to cut something, even though the grass is short there. Hey, if it’s short already, leave it be.

2. Make it a habit of weedeating around surface drains and sprinkler valve boxes. Allowing grass to grow over a valve box can cause the box to be lost. When the valve goes bad one day, you will need to know its location or pay a higher fee to have a locator used. When you’re blowing after this is done, make it a point to blow out the surface drain areas. This will keep debris from clogging the drain grates when we have rain events.

3. Some areas of the lawn cannot be cut without using a weedeater. In these locations, match the height of your cut with that of the middle of the lawn. The objective is to have a smooth, even cut all from end to end.

 

It’s Grub treatment time!

Grub worms will be feeding on the roots of your lawn this month, so plan on applying a grub kill product soon. If you’re using a retail grub killer, I advise you to apply it twice – one week apart. In each case, water it in either manually or with your sprinkler system. A rain event will likely send the granules away with the rainwater as grub kill products are typically light granules that have little weight.

Many lawns that I’ve seen suffered some damage from the winter storm and have still not filled back in where some turf has died. You should not be alarmed if this is your lawn. Our lawns simply need some warmer temperatures and sunshine to get going again. I am quite sure we’ll see that this month. :)

 

Winter Storm Update . . .

Our friends at Texas A&M Forestry Service have conducted an analysis of the damage left in the wake our February winter storm. Particularly interesting to this study was the damage left behind with the Live Oaks, often called the state’s toughest tree.

The study concluded a few things that probably aren’t surprising.

1) Not all Live Oaks rebound the same. So if you have a Live Oak(s) that have recovered fully while others have not, you should consider simply waiting it out. There’s a chance they will return, just very slowly back to normal.

2) The best thing you can do to help with this recovery is more or less – stay out of the way. You can provide a mild fertilizer as you normally may do, but otherwise just leave them be. Don’t trim off anything for at least another month or so and certainly don’t be in a hurry to remove them.

3) If by mid-July your Live Oak still doesn’t have new growth, the tree is dead.

Nurseries I’ve seen are beginning to return to normal finally. We’re not there quite yet but it’s much better. We still have some availability issues with the species we talked about last month. But otherwise, inventories are other plants and trees appear to be normal. I give credit to these nurseries for being creative during a crisis and helping to return things to normal.

 

 

 

 

 

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Is there a beetle larva (grub being one) killer that wont kill beneficial insects?  Does the grub prevention chemicals kill worms? 

I have a LOT of June Bugs (beetles) on my front and back porch. A lot more than my neighbors and I assumed that was because I dont use commercial chemicals.  My lawn looks great and I havent noticed any damage to the grass.  I also assume that is because I have primarily a mixture of bermuda (including 411) grasses and buffalo which seem to either regrow what the grubs eat or they dont taste as good as juicy St Augustine.  It doesnt seem like an issue other than I have a lot of dead beetles on my front porch and inside my watering can plugging up the pouring. 

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3 hours ago, Soldierhorn said:

Is there a beetle larva (grub being one) killer that wont kill beneficial insects?  Does the grub prevention chemicals kill worms? 

I have a LOT of June Bugs (beetles) on my front and back porch. A lot more than my neighbors and I assumed that was because I dont use commercial chemicals.  My lawn looks great and I havent noticed any damage to the grass.  I also assume that is because I have primarily a mixture of bermuda (including 411) grasses and buffalo which seem to either regrow what the grubs eat or they dont taste as good as juicy St Augustine.  It doesnt seem like an issue other than I have a lot of dead beetles on my front porch and inside my watering can plugging up the pouring. 

I assume you're referring to earthworms. I honestly don't know. But I typically don't see earthworms in lawn soil here in DFW. The black, gumbo clay just doesn't allow them to move around much. They stick primarily to beds and under trees where the dirt is loose and easier to navigate – and has more nutrients for them.

Beetles are attracted to light, so if you leave your outside lights on at night, that may be why you have more Beatles than the neighbors. Also, if your outside lights are strong, they'll seek you out. lol

A grub kill applied on the ground won't stop the June bugs at all. It only stops the grub worm they create.

You're right in that grubs prefer St Augustine, but will eat Bermuda or buffalo if they have to. Bermuda grows fast and can recover quickly from any damage grubs create. But most grub kills will also kill other undesirable insects, such as chinch bugs and sod web worms.

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SHA, I got an email from a friend whom sent me these picture of his oak tree.  He thinks it looks sick and he's wondering what to do.  I cant tell if the tree is rotting on the inside and now making it out to the joints or if it's outside trying to work its way into the tree.  If it is the former, then all can recommend is some type of sick tree treatment (Howard Garrett's formula?). If it's the later, is there a salve/paint that will kill the infection (whatever it is) before it gets worse?

 

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@Soldierhorn, Tell your friend to contact an arborist asap. I'm not sure what is causing that but an arborist will know and will be able to treat it. Don't go throwing product at it hoping it works. Its worth it to get it right the first time and minimize future damage.

 

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