Friday, December 30, 2011

Organic Fertilizer time in TN!

After 16 years in business, the time has come for “The Turf Doctor” to convert the core of our turfgrass fertilization program to organic based fertilization.  The main reasons are as follows:

1. Turfgrass Quality

2. Healthy soils

3. Government Regulation

4.Economically feasible

Turfgrass Quality: We have relied on a core synthetic fertilizers over time because they gave us the desired, predictable results we needed to have consistent, aesthetic turfgrass quality.  However, over the years, the synthetic fertilizer amounts had to be increased to get the same results. We only supplemented with organic fertilizers during the summer months because they could safely be applied during hot,dry summer months.

  Healthy Soils:  Synthetic fertilizers deplete the soil of healthy micro-organisms over time which help convert the fertilizers to useable plant nutrients. Synthetics fertilizers will over time change the ratio of calcium/magnesium in the soil (soil ph).  This contributes to the need to apply lime to correct the soil ph. Organics restore the soil balance by providing the beneficial micro-organisms needed over time, reducing the need for nutrients and pesticides needed for quality turfgrass.  Healthy soils allow the turfgrass roots to grow longer, which in turn will help reduce irrigation needed to keep turf alive during summer heat. 

Government Regulation:  Concerns over nitrogen and phosphorus leaching into ground water in some states has led to a ban of/ or severe restriction of phosphorus application in some areas.  Many of our states to the north have already enacted legislation to restrict the treatments of lawns for “aesthetic purposes”. Turfgrass benefits to our environment such as cooling, filtering and recreational use, are too important for us not to take a pro-active approach to being good stewards of our environment.  I believe by converting the core of our fertilization to organic products, we can reduce the need for stringent legislation in the future. 

Economically Feasible: Synthetic fertilizer prices have always been substantially less than organic fertilizer options.  However, the cost of fuel is directly related to the manufacturing cost of synthetic fertilizer.  Therefore, as fuel prices have climbed over the past few years, so have the prices of synthetic fertilizers!  The cost of using organic fertilizer has remained steady and even come down a little as more manufacturers are now supplying organic options. Therefore, now that the synthetics are almost as expensive as the organic options, now is the time to make the switch!


***The plan is to apply organic fertilizer in all 5 rounds of the  basic plan in 2012.  Converting to this method is a process and the benefits of this method will not be “instant” like synthetics, but will continue to improve the soil and the turf during the course of the applications.  Just like there is a cumulative negative effect of applying mostly synthetics, there will be an even bigger positive cumulative effect by continually using organic based fertilizers. As the cumulative effects of restoring the soil balance begin to take place, the turf grasses will require less water and less pesticides to maintain.

Make no mistake, we will continue to control weeds, insects, and turfgrass diseases using safe, EPA registered pest control products as needed.  My goal is to provide the customer with the best lawn possible.  If there are situations where a synthetic fertilizer is needed for best results, I will not hesitate to use one.  My commitment is to rely on organic based fertilizer treatments over the long haul, but not eliminate all use of synthetic fertilizers when they are the best option to correct a large nutrient deficiency.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Watering and Mowing for fall seeding only!

Once your lawn has been aerated, overseeded, and fertilized, the goal is to keep the soil surface (seed) damp for about 2 weeks.  Seed swells when it get wet and shrinks when it dries.  Therefore, keeping the seed damp keeps it swollen and encourages it to germinate.  Watering lightly and frequently during the daylight hours is the key!  The dew keeps the seed from drying out at night.  This is the ONLY time of year that watering during the daylight hours is a good idea.  Fall afternoons can be hot and arid, so that is the most likely time for seed to dry out.  Since all irrigation systems vary in pressure and amounts delivered, the following is only a guide to point you in the right direction. 

Example: Set system to start about 8:00am - 9:00am. Have it put from 10-15 minutes of water down.  Repeat the same cycle about 1:00pm in the afternoon.  Check the lawn late one afternoon after running the system this way for two days to make sure the soil surface stays damp. Also make sure lawn is not too wet = seed floating in puddles.

Once the seed has germinated, turn water off a few days to let soil surface dry before mowing to prevent mower damage to new grass seedlings.  Return to deep, infrequent night time or early am watering until irrigation system is shut down for the winter or until November.

***If you had set more than one start time during seed germination, don’t forget to remove that start time once the seed germinates.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nutsedge control question

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Soil temps over 90!!!!!!!!!

The accumulation of heat during the summer has brought our soil temps over the 90 degree mark.  What does this mean for your lawn? It means if you do not allow the soil surface to dry between waterings, nutsedge and dallisgrass will take over!!  You can get away with hap- hazard irrigation all sumer UNTIL soil temps reach 90.  You must adjust your system!!  You can’t “set it and forget it” during this heat. 

sedge2 dallisgrass


Pithium Blight is also an issue when soil temps climb above 90.  It will kill turf in 24 hours.  It occurs usually in low spots and always in areas are too wet.  “Brown Patch” fungicides will not stop pithium!  Cut back on watering during this heat.  Don’t attempt to keep the lawn “juicy green” right now.  It will recover faster from drought stress than from pithium.  Pithium is terminal!!!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Whats with all this Oxalis???????

Weed of Spring 2011



Oxalis – AKA Yellow Woodsorrel, is more prolific this spring than I have ever seen it.  It germinates in late March or early April and is quite resistant to most weed controls.  We have found that Fluroxpyr or Triclopyr are the best herbicides to control it.  It has a small yellow flower and is generally considered a summer annual, although, there is a perennial variety. We will control it during 2nd and 3rd apps in 2011.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Grubs,Grubs, and more Grubs.

We noticed a tremendous amount of grub damage and large grub populations during fall aeration and seeding 2010.  I don’t know if the flood contributed to the large population, but is was the most grub activity I have seen in 15 years!  The grubs feed on the turfgrass roots leaving an area the appearance of “drought conditions”, even if you have irrigation. The turf would peel back when we tried to aerate and grubs would be near the soil surface.  Mature grubs remain at the soil surface until about the first frost.  They overwinter deeper in the soil and re-emerge when soil temps warm in spring.  Most adult grubs will emerge as June Bugs or Japanese beetles in late spring/early summer. The best time to control grubs is during June and July using a systemic insecticide like Merit.  Systemic Insecticides target the grubs that are feeding on the turf and their offspring.  They work slowly (about 3-4 weeks to start), but can control grubs for up to one year. This is the first year I will recommend all my irrigated lawns take a grub control this summer.  Otherwise, they will continue to multiply and damage the turf.  We will leave more information and an estimate for grub control during our 2nd application visit in 2011. 

****Although moles do feed on grubs, a grub application is in NO way marketed as “mole control”.  Moles also feed heavily on earth worms(which are beneficial to the turf and soil) and Merit will not harm the earthworms!!!  Therefore, controlling grubs will reduce a portion of the food supply for moles, but does not determine whether a mole stays or leaves your lawn.  I recommend a grub application to stop the damage the grubs due to turfgrass roots and consider reducing a moles food supply as only a side benefit. 

If moles are damaging your lawn, call Keith Burgess @615-496-7004. He gets the moles!!!!!!!  He also can tell you by the damage if the moles are feeding on grubs and/or earthworms.

Pre-emergent time!

I am glad to put 2010 in the rear view mirror.  We are back in our home after the flood and ready to get the lawns “clean and green”.  Pre-emergent for crabgrass has begun.  The snow should be out of Nashville by Monday!  Pre-emergent must be activated by rain (or snow) to complete the barrier.  Therefore, it is a good thing if we have precipitation after we apply the first application. Crabgrass does not usually germinate before April first in our area.  Therefore, we have until the end of March to complete the first treatment and for it to be activated by moisture.  See you soon!