Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Armyworm update

Check this out.


UT Entomologist quote is 'we are having a biblical year for fall armyworms on pastures and lawns"

I talked to Dr Frank Hale today to get a better understanding of this outbreak. The moths that lay armyworm eggs don't overwinter here! They moved up from Gulf States through Alabama, now currently damaging TN and NC. they look for lighted areas, such as street lights, flood lights, and landscape lights! Then they lay eggs, but NOT in the soil. They lay eggs on house eaves, poles, and even on underside of landscape plants. Thats why they are so difficult to control! We apply a systemic grub control in mid summer, which reduces grub populations. It works slowly, but long term on grubs, because grubs lay eggs in grass! We also spray bifenthrin with our turf insect control. It is mostly a contact product, with very little residual. Bifenthrin will only control the armyworms population if they are present at time of treatment. They are definitely late this year. Again, if we see damage when we come to seed over next few weeks, we will treat with bifenthrin while we are there, otherwise, they will eat your seed job! Crazy worms!

Monday, September 8, 2014


Record outbreaks of fall armyworms have been showing up in the past week here in Nashville, and in North Carolina. Unlike grubs, armyworms lay there eggs anywhere except the soil! The lay them on light poles, flag poles, trees, etc. When they hatch they go to the buffet to eat. Your yard is that buffet! Especially if you have betmudagrass that is on a slope. Slightly drought striken areas of bermuda are definitely hit first. They will move to fescue, but normally don't begin their "march of destruction" on fescue. However, they will flat pig out on baby fescue seedlings. They will eat all the seedlings in about 24 hours. How do you know if you have these worms? First, have you noticed large areas of bermuda that look like they died really quickly? If so,  look at the edge of the dead area at night with a flashlight. They feed heavily at night. If you see them, please let us know. If we see them when we come to seed, we will treat them so they won't eat the new seedlings. Happy hunting!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Late summer irrigation tips

Over the past two weeks, the cumlative toll of the summer heat is evident on the fescue lawns. The timely rains have ended and the humidity has decreased. Hot dry days with lower humidity have really dried out the soils. Due to the rising soil temperatures, I recommend you do not try to keep your lawn 100% green through the use of irrigation. It would take almost 2 inches of irrigation per week to keep your lawn looking like it did earlier in the summer. That much irrigation would also be likely to germinate nutsedge, crabgrass, spurge, and increase disease occurrence. I do recommend that you apply about an inch a week to keep grass alive, even if it is a little in the "tan" side. Once you get one soaking rain, the grass will Greenup and resume healthy growth. Fall will be here soon!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Flower for Mother's Day!

Oxalis, sometimes known as Yellow Woodsorrel. Bright yellow flower, most often a summer annual (prolific right now). Sneaky little weed that tends to deflect weed control when applied as blanket spray with high water rate! Easy to kill with spot spray low water volume direct hit, especially with a little "Splat" sticker thrown in. Battleship Herbicide. will hammer it!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Irrigation 101 revisited!!

Irrigation 101: How to properly water your lawn.

Most people with irrigation systems do not understand the best way to program and manage their irrigation system. The tips I offer here will help you figure out how to set your irrigation system, regardless of the irrigation system you own. Turf-grass uses the most water during times of high heat and low humidity. This tends to be during late April, early May, and from August through October.

Turf-grass uses water to cool itself very similarly to how a car uses a water pump. Water is pulled in through the roots and exits through the leaves. When the humidity is below 70%, water is rapidly pulled throughout the plant and into the atmosphere. If enough water is available, the grass will stay green and healthy. If you heave a week with no rain, temperatures in the upper 70s to upper 80s and humidity below 70%, your lawn will use almost 1.5 inches of water. These weeks are rare, but do occur during the months listed above. When temperatures are high and the humidity is high, your lawn will use only about 1 inch of water per week. When humidity levels are high, the turf-grass cannot pump the water effectively because the atmosphere is already moist. This is typically when you start to see fungus develop. My best yards water each zone just two days a week. They apply half an inch to each zone twice weekly.

In order to figure out how much water each irrigation zone is putting out, place coffee cups or tuna cans in the lawn; make sure these are flat on the bottom with vertical sides. Let the system run however long you have the system currently set. Stick a ruler in the can to determine the amount of water you are applying for the amount of time you have each station set. Adjust the time as necessary to catch half an inch each time the system runs. Set your irrigation system to water twice weekly during most of the year.

During the time of the year when humidity drops, you may have to add the third day of water to keep the lawn properly watered. We use irrigation to supplement rainfall. When nature provides a heavy rain, the water seeps through the profile and the grass responds. The roots of the turf-grass grow downward towards the seeping water. Therefore, the roots grow deep and strong. People, who water for a few minutes, several times a week, encourage the roots to stay near the surface because the roots get frequent light water on a consistent basis.

When the average temperatures climb into the 90s for a few days, weaker grass wilts quickly. When the grass wilts or dies, weeds take its place. The second reason for watering deeply and infrequently is as follows. Light, frequent, watering keep the soil surface tamp. This encourages weeds like nutsedge, crabgrass, johnsongrass, and dallisgrass to grow. The turf-grass gets ZERO benefit from a wet soil surface. Weeds however, love a wet soil surface. We want to encourage the turf-grass while discouraging weeds.

Changing your irrigation to water deeply and infrequently will reduce weed germination by 90%. Please try to adjust your system to more closely resemble the deep and infrequent system. If you have a large system with many zones, you may need to water half of your zones one night and the other half of the zones the next night in order to run each zone long enough to apply one half of an inch per watering.

What time should I water my lawn?

The best time to water your lawn is from midnight to 7:00 am. The wives tale of “watering at night causes fungus” is just that, a wives tale. Dew forms on turf-grass each night and keeps the leaves wet until the sun dries them the next morning. Turf-grass also excretes guttation water during the night. Guttation water is high in sugars and excellent for feeding fungus spores. Therefore, irrigation at night washes off gutattion water, which is a GOOD thing. Turf-grass fungus occurs more when the DURATION of leaf wetness increases than when the total amount increases. Water left on the leaf blades when soil temperatures are high is like adding gasoline to a fire for fungus. Therefore, we need to stop watering by 7:00 am, so that the grass blades will be dry by the same time they would if it were only dew on the leaf blades. High air temperature + high leaf moisture=fungus development!

How can I tell if my lawn is getting enough water?

Take a Phillips head screwdriver and stick it in the ground. You should be able to push the screwdriver in the ground and touch the handle of the screwdriver soil (as far as it will go). If you can, and the screwdriver does not come out of the ground muddy, your soil is perfect. If the screwdriver slides in the ground very easily and comes out muddy, reduce the duration time of watering. If you have a hard time and have to stand on the screwdriver to make the handle touch the soil, increase the duration of watering!

Please call me with any questions about your irrigation habits. With your help, we can give you the healthy, weed free turf you are looking for! Without your help, we can’t make your lawn the best it can be!

Thank you,

Robert “The Turf Doctor” Stroud



Crank it up!

The temperature is in the mid 80's, the humidity is low, plus the wind speed is high. Therefore turn up your water! We are losing(fescue is using) about 1/3 inch per day.
Some of that loss is from surface evaporation and the rest for grass to cool itself and stay green! MOST, not all, irrigation systems with rotor heads would need to run 25+ minutes per day to replace the loss(usage) of moisture. We don't want you watering daily,  but at the same time don't think that 10-15 minutes you apply three days a week will keep turf from becoming drought stressed. Try 45-50
minutes twice weekly, so the majority of your water goes through soil profile and into turf roots,  instead of dampening soil surface for nutsedge to germinate and having more of your water evaporate from wind/heat than be used for the plants!
  The easiest way to make a temporary increase in your irrigation output without having to adjust each station is to adjust "seasonal adjustment" until humidity increases. Most all digital irrigation controllers have this feature. Example : If you have a station set to run 30 minutes and your seasonal adjust is set to 100%,it will run 30 minutes. If you set seasonal adjust to 150%,it will run 45 minutes, which is 150% of 30 minutes. Good tool. Use it this week! Thanks

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Irrigation 2014

Just because you have irrigation, doesn't mean you need to just have it activated and turn it loose! Most of our summer turf weed issues(and a lot if disease issues) are GREATLY MAGNIFIED by over irrigation that starts in April. Please take the time to know how often your system runs and how long it runs. If you can get your system to only water 1/2 inch, twice weekly, that is adequate starting point. Never water more than 3 days a week! We need soil surface to dry between waterings, PLEASE. This encourages turf roots to seek water below instead of getting a regular drink at surface every other day! Most of the summer weeds like nutsedge, Dallisgrass, and johnsongrass thrive on moisture in top 1/4 inch of soil. Combine moisture with warm soil temps, and BAM, you have a mess. Do you know how much water your system puts out in a given amount of time? Every system can be different based on water pressure and nozzle size. Put a cup out and see what you catch in say 25 minutes. 90% of the time, if you are watering with a rotary type sprinkler, you are wasting water if you are applying less than 1/2 inch per watering. I have people tell me all the time either they have no idea how long there system runs or how much it puts out. Its worth finding out! It is actually beneficial if turf becomes slightly water stressed before watering. It reduces the possibility of creating "sissy grass" that doesn't develop roots and can't withstand summer stress. Help us help you by checking out your irrigation settings. Thanks!

Friday, March 14, 2014


This is best looking plant I have seen in Nashville in 2014, and its a very difficult weed to control! It laughs at most herbicides!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Soil Temps, stand by for Germination,

Number one question this week is when will the seed you put down last month germinate? Did it die, maybe freeze or rot? No! Seed basically needs moisture and soil temps above 50 to germinate. There were 5 days between these pictures the thermometer registered 40 March 5th,from surface down to 41 at a 4 inch depth. on March 10th, soil surface temps had risen to 56. We will now see fescue and perennial ryegrass germination over the next 10 days. We may have to apply Drive herbicide to keep weed grass Germination down for about 30 days, without harming new fescue seedings. That will provide a window for new seedings to grow. Real preemergent can be applied by late April. This past winter killed many freshly germinated seeds, especially in shaded areas.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

3-5-14 Soil Temps

Tested soil temps today from just under surface to 4 inch depth. Temps in Full sun right under surface right at 40. Temps rose only slightly to 41 @ 4inches. Therefore, shaded soil temps still in 30's,so all touch up seeding done in early 2014 still just sitting there doing nothing! Germination will not come for probably another 14 days minimum. However, we can delay preemergent at least until April 10th this year if you are waiting on new seed to germinate. It will happen!

Warm Season Replanting Plans?

If you have low cut, high traffic bermuda, you better be spend the extra money on Ronstar or at least Oxadiazon generic. Otherwise, you will have to waste money on Charcoal when you sprig or sod this year. Ronstar not great on crabgrass, but excellent on the goosegrass you will be fighting this summer, especially if you have to sprig! So far, I will be shocked if at least between hash marks on football fields isn't toast! Getting random/scattered kill results from early plugs. Ronstar won't root prune nearby as bad as Prodiamine or Dithiopyr! In Nashville, I also expect to see some of the lousy old El Torro zoysia that is still around, to be greening up around really late,if at all!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Frost Heaving!

Haven't seen this in a while in our area. We have been touching up seed jobs this week. Haven't had to break up the soil in most lawns because the freezing and thawing cycles over the past few weeks have done it for us. Basically, ice crystals form below soil surface and grow towards the direction of heat loss, and it almost looks like grub damage or skunk damage when they dig for grubs. The only real negative is immature seedlings from the fall seeding can be uprooted and killed. I will post some pictures tomorrow of a few dead seedlings. The good news is heaving soils make a decent seed bed! Seed we plant now will usually germinate by early March, but then again in TN it could be snowing or 85 in March! We will wait until new seedlings emerge before applying first application of preemergent on reseeded spots.

Monday, January 6, 2014


What is needed for winter kill on hybrid Bermuda? I have found 3 consecutive days with single digit lows will cause significant death on hybrid Bermuda in two situations. If mowing height is one inch or lower or if an area gets lots of traffic, like between hash marks on football field.. The best case for preventing this is hopefully you applied potassium before the plant went dormant. Having at least an inch of snow cover prior to the temperature drops will also reduce winter kill significantly. zoysia can also experience winter kill, but has better cold tolerance than hybrid Bermuda, Common Bermuda is very hardy, so winter kill is rare on common!