Green Baron FAQ Green Baron FAQ

Green-Baron-FAQ

Questions

How do I properly water my lawn?

What are the concerns to humans and pets after an application and when is it safe to walk on the treated area?

What is the proper mowing height and should I bag clippings or mulch?

What's causing the brown spots in my lawn?

When is the best time for weed control in turf?

How long does it take for weeds in my turf to die following an application?

When is the best time to prune trees and shrubs?

When is the best time to aerate and do you pick up the plugs?

What is the difference between aerating and thatching/power raking?

What is thatch and why is it bad?

What is wrong with my plants?

Do you give free estimates?

Is this a good time to fertilize?

How do I get rid of weed-grasses in my lawn?

How do I get rid of crabgrass?

Will rain make my tree/shrub application ineffective?

Answers

How do I properly water my lawn?

Ideally you want to moisten the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches. However, soil profiles, composition, slope, compaction, temperature and sun exposure all impact the amount of water a lawn needs and can retain. It takes a little research to determine that amount. Use a shovel to cut and remove a thin slice of sod after watering to check water penetration. Adjust your watering accordingly.

The soil should dry between waterings, grass roots need oxygen too. Overwatering can "drown" the grass causing it to become weak, thin, limp and the roots to rot. Light watering that merely dampens the grass is of little or no benefit. The best time to water is early morning to give the water a chance to soak in before the sun is up. Midday watering, when the weather is hot and dry, wastes water due to excessive evaporation. Evening watering can encourage disease development.

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What are the concerns to humans and pets after an application and when is it safe to walk on the treated area?

Once our application has dried, usually an hour or two depending on the weather, or after the treatment has been watered in, it's safe to be on. As professionals, responsible and safe care of your landscape and our environment is our number one priority. The products we choose are thoroughly tested and registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and applied by trained and licensed technicians consistent with label recommendations.

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What is the proper mowing height and should I bag clippings or mulch?

Most of the turf grasses that do best in our climate: blue grass, rye grass and some fescues, should be mowed at 2.5 - 3 inches during the warmer months. Taller grass has more leaf surface for food production which encourages root development, which lessens drought stress. Tall grass makes it more difficult for weed seeds to invade the lawn and insulates the soil better to slow down moisture evaporation.

At season's end we suggest you lower the mowing height .75 - 1 inch for the winter. The slightly shorter grass is less likely to develop winter diseases that show up the following spring and summer.

If you choose to bag clippings you'll probably mow once a week. It's best if you don't remove more than about one-third of the leaf blade. Of course you'll have the clippings to dispose and that's becoming more of an issue for some. Mulching saves you the disposal hassle, but you'll likely have to mow more frequently to effectively mulch the clippings fine enough. In order to mulch correctly you need the right kind of mower and blade.

Speaking of blades, make sure they're sharp. A dull blade rips and shreds the grass instead of cutting it. A good guideline is to sharpen your blade every four to six weeks. Try it. You'll notice the difference.

Another good practice is to change directions each time you mow. This keeps the turf growing upright and prevents developing ruts in your lawn from repeating the same mowing pattern.

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What's causing the brown spots in my lawn?

Most of the time it's one of five things. Lack of water, insects, some heat conducting object, fertilizer or chemical burn, or diseases. Sometimes it's easy to figure out, more often not.

If you probe a brown spot or pull up a slice of sod and it's dry, and the green grass around the spot is moist, chances are it's a watering issue. If the brown spot is adequately watered, check to see if the grass pulls up easily, detached from its roots. It could be insects. If the brown spot is shaped like a man made object (pool cover, tarp, hose) it's likely due to heat generated or magnified by that object. If there's one thing for certain, more is not better when it comes to fertilizer and chemical applications to turf. Too much fertilizer and herbicides will surely burn a lawn. Diseased lawns are the worst. There's rarely a curative, and determining which specific disease your lawn has can be costly, involving off-site laboratory analysis. Treatment for turf diseases often includes both long-term fungicide application programs and mechanical cultural practices including aeration and power-raking (thatch reduction).

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When is the best time for weed control in turf?

Spring and fall, when weeds are growing actively, is when you'll get your best control. Weeds will "take in" sprayed-on herbicides more readily and rapidly, moving the material throughout the plant getting a more complete kill.

It's difficult to control weeds in the summer. At that point in their life-cycle many weeds have gotten summer tough, developing defense mechanisms such as thick waxy layers or stiff hairs on their leaves. Those barriers can prevent weed control products from reaching the leaf surface and penetrating the plant. If any herbicide does make it inside the plant, uptake is often slow and not completely effective. 

There's also the risk to your turf. When it's too hot, broadleaf weed herbicides can cause turf damage and many product labels recommend not to apply above certain temperatures.

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How long does it take for weeds in my turf to die following an application? 

Depending on the time of year, temperatures, type of weed and condition of turf, about two weeks. By then it should be pretty obvious that the weed is dying; twisting leaves, browning around the edges, wilting stems. Blossoms, if any, usually close. Being thorough beats being fast. A few mows and you won't know where it was.

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When is the best time to prune trees and shrubs?

There are some general rules and practices to follow when deciding when to prune. Of course, there are exceptions. But let's begin at the "top". Don't!.....ever! Meaning there's know reason to top trees. If a tree needs height reduction to avoid power lines, encroachment on buildings or to open a view, it can be done with correct, healthy pruning methods without the long-term, harmful effects of topping.

Evergreen shrubs such as arborvitae, yews, boxwoods and junipers can pretty much be trimmed whenever needed, but try to avoid the hottest times of the year. We like to prune evergreen trees as little as possible, and usually just removing the bottom branches, in late fall or very early spring. You want to avoid pruning in below freezing temperatures.

Timing needs to be a bit more specific for flowering trees and shrubs. Usually the best time to prune those is after bloom and before buds are set for the next year. When pruning deciduous trees the things to look for are broken branches, dead, crosses, rubs and misdirected. Try not to remove more than a quarter to a third of the tree's canopy. Aggressive pruning is best done when the tree is dormant or near dormant.

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When is the best time to aerate and do you pick up the plugs?

Most lawns can best tolerate aeration in the spring and fall. At those times the turf recovers faster because it's not fighting heat stress or drought. Aeration machines will also pull a more beneficial, deeper plug when the soil is softer and moist which is likely that time of year. 

We leave the plugs. It's healthy. They're a form of top dressing. As you mow, the plugs are shattered and the organic matter breaks down returning nutrients to the soil profile. After about three mows the plugs are mostly broken up and just barley visible. You'll want to sharpen your mower blade after that. Breaking up the plugs can dull the blade.

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What is the difference between aerating and thatching/power raking?

Both are very beneficial but in different ways.

Core aeration removes "plugs" from the turf, leaving holes providing better water penetration, root expansion and air flow. The pulled plugs then breakdown and return their nutrients back to the soil profile. The openings also promote the decay of the thatch layer, preventing it from becoming too thick, thus detrimental to the lawn.

When there's too much thatch, some needs to be removed. That's when we recommend power raking or de-thatching. That mechanical process "reaches" down into the thatch layer and pulls it up for removal and disposal. Like aeration, we suggest power raking be done in the spring, early summer and fall, avoiding the hottest time of the year.

Often it best to power rake and then aerate.

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What is thatch and why is it bad?

Thatch is the accumulation of dead stems, stalks and roots from the grass plant. It's not always bad. Thatch layers of 0.5 - 1 inch are actually beneficial to the turf, insulating it in the winter, slowing down water loss to evaporation and keeping the soil cooler during hot weather. It's when the thatch layer gets too thick that it becomes harmful. Excessive thatch can suffocate the lawn, preventing air, water and nutrients from getting to the root zone. Shallow roots, a weak, unhealthy plant and spongy turf are usually the result.

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What is wrong with my plants?

Most plant problems are caused by insects, diseases or humans.

Insects often leave some type of evidence; drippy frass, chewed leaves, entry/exit wounds, swollen galls among others. However you may not always see the pest. For instance some do their dirty work in the root zones of plants. 

Diseases are harder to diagnose and many have similar symptoms; a stressed appearance, leaf wilt, limb and even branch die-back. Some diseases can progress rapidly and often times once they're discovered it can be too late to save the plant. Others may not necessarily be fatal and can possibly be managed to prolong the life of the plant.

It's common for us to see plenty of human damage to plants over the course of a season. Topping, tree trunks damaged by mowers and line trimmers, tree support ties that aren't removed and girdle the trunk are all common. Improper pruning or bad timing when pruning are also harmful.

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Do you give free estimates?

Yes. We're happy to give free estimates. We consider it an honor that you would invite us to your home or business to discuss your landscape needs and how we can work with you to get the most from your landscape dollar. We sincerely believe that you'll get something of value out of meeting with us, whether you buy from Green Baron or not. Of course, we hope you do.

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Is this a good time to fertilize?

There are certain times when it's best to fertilize, but it depends on what you're fertilizing.

Turf should be fertilized throughout the season with the correct fertilizer for the time of year. We emphasize spring and late fall applications, yet a well balanced fertilizer for the months in between can really help grass get through the hot summer months with more vigor and less stress.

Trees and shrubs usually require fertilizing no more than once or twice a year. A foliar fertilizer can be sprayed in the spring and early summer once the new leaves have emerged and the plants are actively growing. Since foliar fertilizers work rather quickly it's important not to use them late in the season. That can promote new growth that may not have a chance to mature or harden off, and could be damaged by early fall, below freezing temperatures.

Another method is to introduce fertilizers through the root zones of plants. Root injections take longer to get into the plant so the timing is either pretty late in the fall or very early in the season.

The choice of fertilizer is critical. It needs to be the right stuff for that time of year and type of plant.

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How do I get rid of weed-grasses in my lawn?

Unwanted grasses in your lawn come in two forms, perennial and annual. It's important to know what kind of weed grass you're dealing with.

Many annual grasses can be controlled with persistent use of pre-emergence herbicides. Simply meaning that the product is applied before the seeds have germinated, watered into the seed germination zone, then as the seeds germinate their beginning feeder roots meet the herbicide and stop growing. It may take a few seasons to get most of the undesired annual grass out of your lawn, but if done properly (good applications of the right stuff at the right time and watered in thoroughly) it works pretty well.

Perennial weed grasses require a different and often times a more laborious effort. Usually the unwanted grass needs to be sprayed with a product like Round-up, sometimes more than once. When dead it can be cut out and either new sod installed in that space or seeded with a grass seed blend compatible with your existing turf.

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How do I get rid of crabgrass?

Crabgrass is an annual grass so it can be controlled with the use of pre-emergent herbicides. Timing is very important to any success in crabgrass control. Most pre-emergent herbicides that do control crabgrass should be applied in the spring and watered in thoroughly in order to set the herbicide barrier that will control the crabgrass seeds as they germinate.

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Will rain make my tree/shrub application ineffective?

Only if it's raining hard at the time of the application or immediately after the treatment is made. It only takes a very short time for the spray to become "rain-fast" on the plant and go to work controlling the target pests

If we think weather threatens the effectiveness of any application we'll reschedule with you. We want what we spray to work its best for you.

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