How Misdiagnosing Lawn Problems Can Cost You Money And What To Do About It

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  • Many lawn care companies misdiagnose your lawn problem which costs you more money

  • Finding the right lawn care company

  • Know some lawn care basics to avoid unnecessary costs / upsells

There is a wide number of problems your lawn could be experiencing ranging from major to minor, easy fixes. Unfortunately, though, there are a lot of people who are more than happy to make a problem out bigger than it actually is in order to get an upsell. If something seems off, you are entitled to get another quote. There are a number of common problems that are easy to treat.

One of the most common “ugly” practices that I see in the lawn care business is technicians and operators misdiagnosing lawn problems which can lead to a very (un)eco-friendly solution.

Here is the situation: You hire a local lawn fertilization company to come out and treat your lawn 5-6 times per season.

They come to do the treatment and (hopefully) are really paying attention to your property. They see a brown (or dead) spot in the lawn and they think one thing – cha ching…$$ …upsell opportunity. They knock and tell you that you have grubs, billbugs, and a fungus problem and if you do not take care of it right away, you may risk losing your entire lawn (they use fear to sell).

The price is going to be 2 times your normal application price for each service. So, if your normal lawn visit for fertilizing and spraying weeds is $50 it will be $100 for the fungus and $100 for the insect control.

At this point you are so worried about your lawn that you sign up for anything they recommend to stop the problem and protect your lawn. They report to their office they had a $200 upsell today and they get their 10% commision. They then grab the fungicide and insecticide off the truck and cover the entire lawn (or they schedule to have someone else come back out shortly) with a product that will kill off all of the apparent nasty evil insects and fungi: It’s a win win and everyone is happy, right? Well not exactly…

Here are some of the problems with this common situation:

  • The diagnosis may have been incorrect.

  • You likely spent $200 you didn’t need to spend.

  • The impact of covering the entire lawn with insecticide and fungicide could be very negative.

  • Your lawn company could be motivating technicians to be mini salesmen who feel they need to upsell and earn a commission.

I am not suggesting that you should question everything your lawn company recommends, but you need to be educated enough so that if this situation happens (and it will) you can know enough to make a wise decision. Unfortunately, with over 20 years in this industry, I have seen this happen so many times that I cannot count.

For me, having a client spend money on something they do not need is wrong and bad business. Applying insecticide and fungicides when they are not needed or applying them in areas that do not need them is harmful to the environment and just not smart. This is a dirty practice that makes our industry look bad and needs to be stopped. I would like to provide a few tips and some useful information to help avoid these situations and clean things up a little bit.

Find the Right Service

If you are hiring a lawn company, good for you! It is a great thing to take pride in your home and your property and to make things look the best that you can. This does not excuse you from what they do on the property, though. Make sure to research the company that you hire. Look at their core values, go through their website, and make sure you can feel good about hiring them.

If you are only looking at the cost then the above situation will happen much more than you think. Be sure to ask questions like, are you mindful and smart with the applications? Are your technicians trained and experienced? Do you try to use the most eco-friendly products and solutions possible?

Know Some Lawn Basics

Learn a few things about the most common lawn problems in our area. You don’t need to become a lawn care expert, but having a little knowledge can help you immensely. Here are a few things I wish all lawn owners knew, so that they could recognize problems when they develop.

This may change depending on the region and type of soil and grass you have, but here are a few overall tips that may be helpful.

Dog Damage  

The green outer ring received less urine and is acting more like fertilizer, thus causing a dark green and rapid growth. It is also common to see the green ring around dog feces that have been left on the lawn for several days.

Again, this is related to the nutrients leaching into the soil. There is not a lot that can be done from a product standpoint. There are products on the market that you can feed your dog to neutralize their urine, but I would not recommend that. There are also some products you can spray on the spot as soon as your pet is done going to the bathroom, but they are tricky because you need to be out there right away.

Although there’s not much that can be done right now, they are testing some new products so I will be researching them.

Fungus Damage

Notice how irregular and bizarre these shapes are. Normally (here in Utah) you will see fungus damage show from early summer to early fall. There are many different types of lawn fungus so it helps to know which kind you have so that you can treat it with the correct product. Not all fungus are created and treated equal.

Drought or Dry spot

The lawn can become stressed from heat to drought. And here in Utah we are so high in elevation that it can be hard to keep a lawn from getting dry. If you see this, the first thing I would do is check all sprinkler heads and make sure you visually can see each area getting hit. You may need to increase your sprinkler time. There are also products like “Revive” and other organic soil conditioners that can help it bounce back.

There are quite a few different lawn problems but my goal here was to make you aware of a few of the most common ones and have you think before you just sign up for services. Over the years, I have been to many properties where someone saw one grub and they wanted the entire lawn treated.

The truth is, if you see a grub or a few it’s okay. There are all kinds of insects in your soil. It’s an ecosystem, they work together to keep things in balance and check. When you plaster insecticide across your lawn, you may be doing more damage than good in the long run. You may be killing thousands of beneficial insects. If you receive a diagnosis from a lawn care company be sure to check for the following:

  1. Make sure to have the correct diagnosis.

  2. Treat it correctly with the least amount of excess and impact.

  3. Weigh out all the options.

  4. Look for organic and eco-friendly solutions to these problems.

 

Fertilizer 101: Which Type is Best and What Should I use on my Lawn?

 

 

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  • Which is the best fertilizer between Organic and Inorganic

  • Fully Inorganic Lawn Care

  • Fully Organic Lawn Care

  • Blended Lawn Care

There are a lot of different fertilizers out there and none are created equal. Both organic and inorganic fertilizers have benefits, but is one better than the other?

I have found that a lawn program that includes both organic fertilizer and inorganic fertilizer seems to work the best, but I tend to favor the organic. I like to start with a 65% organic, 35% synthetic ratio and increase the organic by 5 to 10% each year while decreasing the inorganic materials until I get to about a 85/15 split, but I want to go into more detail.

“Which type of fertilizer is best?” is a question that is debated all over the world and all over the Internet. I have read articles and research studies supporting both sides. If turf management is something that excites you, please do take the time to read the research. Right now, though, I’d like to come at the question from another angle.

Throughout my 20 years in the lawn care industry, I have managed thousands of properties and tested all kinds of programs, from fully-synthetic programs to fully-organic and everything in between. Informed by that practical experience, I’ve had the chance to form a few thoughts on the organic vs. inorganic debate based on what I’ve seen that works, and what I’ve seen that doesn’t.

Let’s take a look at the different types of fertilizer. When I refer to “organic” fertilizer, I’m talking about those derived directly from plant or animal sources such as manure, compost, and bone meal. Organic fertilizers usually contain many plant nutrients in low concentrations. Many of these nutrients have to be converted into other forms by soil bacteria and fungi before plants can use them so, they are typically released more slowly, especially during cold weather when soil microbes are not as active.

Despite the slower release, organic fertilizers have many advantages. With organic fertilizers, soil crusting is reduced. Organics may improve water movement into the soil and, in time, add structure to the soil. Organics feed beneficial microbes, thereby making the soil easier to work. Organic fertilizers may cost more than chemical or inorganic fertilizers because they are less concentrated, supplying fewer nutrients pound for pound.

Inorganic fertilizers, also called commercial or synthetic fertilizers, are characterized by the fact that they go through a manufacturing process before they are used. Examples of common inorganic fertilizers include ammonium sulfate and ammonium phosphate. People are often surprised to learn that many inorganic fertilizers actually come from naturally occurring mineral deposits. Inorganic, therefore, does not have to mean dangerous.

Inorganic fertilizers usually contain only a few nutrients – generally Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and some Sulfur, either singly or in combination. These nutrients are in a concentrated form, readily available to plants; however, since they are lost from the soil quickly, you may have to apply inorganic fertilizers several times during the growing season (unless you use a specially formulated, slow-release type). If you need only a certain element such as Nitrogen and want it to be quickly available to your plants, an inorganic fertilizer such as Ammonium Nitrate might be the perfect solution.

 

Fully Inorganic Lawn Care Programs

About 15 years ago when I lived back East, we ran programs that had no organic products in them at all. We mixed in the cheapest nitrogen food source, some weed control, and sprayed all day, every day. The lawn greened up fast and looked good…for about 4 weeks.

By the end of the season they would start to go yellow and were starving for the next feeding. The products did a great job at getting the color people want, and we were able to get properties to turn around quickly, but the programs did not have much long-lasting value.

Now, not every company does this. I know of some very good companies that run inorganic programs and add quality ingredients and micronutrients to their program. But, in my opinion, the best programs make use of organic fertilizers.

There has been so much development in organic fertilizers over the past ten years that there really is no reason not to use them. I have found that by building the soil with the right organic products you can slowly improve the overall health of the lawn, not just give it a quick fix.

 

Fully Organic Lawn Care Programs

My dream is to get to a place where I have one hundred percent organic solutions for all lawn problems. I believe that in the next ten years this will become possible, but we just are not there yet.

A major problem with a fully organic program is that the weed controls tend to be less consistently effective than synthetic weed control. In comparison to inorganic products, though,  organic products are much more susceptible to problems from variables like weather, wind, and rain.

It is possible to make an organic program that will work. I believe I have found a good system to make them work, but it often means having to wait for a perfect window to use them which is very difficult with a full schedule.

When you use a fully organic program, you need to visit the property more often for weeds, which means more driving, which means more impact on the environment. A fully organic program can be done, but it can also be a hassle and does have some drawbacks.

One of the biggest obstacles to my dream becoming reality is the cost of organics. The product cost is, on average, about forty percent more for some weed controls. Unfortunately, the majority of that has to be passed down to the homeowner.

Many clients and homeowners cannot afford to have a fully organic lawn program, or can’t justify the price difference, especially when the organic route can take years to develop the lawn they’re looking for.

 

Blended or Mixed Lawn Care Programs

I have found by reducing the inorganic fertilizer drastically and increasing the organic inputs, you can cut down on products that have Nitrate rates by fifty to seventy-five percent, and still get that amazing green lawn.

It has taken me years to find that blend and I’m sorry, but I’m not about to give that away! But just know that it can be done. This gets great results and significantly decreases the impact on the environment as well as Nitrate runoff.

When you use a blend, you can get some of the benefits from the inorganic like longer lasting color and quicker greening, as well as some of the benefits from the organic like a healthier soil balance, less impact on environment, and less harm to beneficial insects and organisms. You can also do this while keeping the cost affordable for homeowners.

This is a win-win. My short-term goal is to get each lawn to an 85% Organic/ 15% Inorganic mix until the organic weed control price drops enough to make it affordable.

People may disagree with me on what the best fertilizer to use is, but this is what I have found through time, a whole lot of trial-and-error, and a great deal of experience. And it works really well here in Utah.

Many large companies are working on the organic weed control programs and I hope that as the demand rises, and more companies get on board with it, they will find more cost effective ways to produce organics. For now, though, a blended program is the way to go.

 

Your Basic Lawn Care Guide: Easy Steps To A Beautiful Lawn

 

It’s important to take care of your lawn, but it takes a lot more than just mowing it during the summer and throwing some fertilizer down. It’s almost a year round effort, but it’s definitely worth it. Among other things, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Clean up any debris.
     

  2. Dethatch (or power rake) the lawn.
     

  3. Apply lawn seed.
     

  4. Aerate the lawn.
     

  5. Fertilize the lawn.
     

  6. Water/irrigate regularly.

Here is a brief, basic guide on how to maintain a great lawn. Get ready – it is not easy and many of you will find that you want someone else to do the work for you. I’m with you on that. I own a lawn care company and I hire another company to do all the mowing, clean up, sprinkler work, etc for my own personal lawn. I just don’t want to spend my time doing that. I would rather be mountain biking, hiking with the family, or playing my guitar.

You may find some things on this list you want to do, and some you want to hire out and that’s totally fine. Just make sure to get them done. It’s more important than you might think.

  1. Once the snow melts in the spring, do a full yard clean up. Go through the entire property and pick up dead tree limbs and debris and rake up any leaves and acorns etc.
     

  2. Run the lawn mower over the grass to really suck things up and give it a fresh look.
     

  3. Dethatch (or power rake) the lawn. The machine can be rented anywhere, is very easy to run, and does not require a lot of hard work. It runs over the grass and pulls out any loose or dead grass – somewhat like getting a haircut. This also can help to loosen up that top layer of soil in preparation for the season.

    Removing dead thatch will make your fertilizers work better and your watering more effective.
     

  4. After you run the thatching machine over the lawn with the blade lowered, you will have loose grass in piles over the lawn. The next step is to grab a rake and rake it into piles and then remove all the piles. This is the hard part.

    I have done lawns that have had five to ten large black bags full of debris. (This is one thing I would always recommend to hire out. It is a lot of work and you can usually get a very fair price for the hard labor.)
     

  5. Run an aerator over the lawn. If you have any problem spots, hit those areas twice. This will pull out cores of soil and leave them all over the yard. These cores will settle back in over time. Aeration is key because it allows oxygen to get to the root system, which helps it to grow healthy.
     

  6. Apply a nice layer of seed over the entire lawn. Make sure to use the type of grass seed that will match your lawn. When you come across bare areas or bare spots, add a little extra. Grab a steel rake, mix the seed in, and cover it with some Patch Master, or a thin (¼ inch) layer of compost, soil, or peat moss.

    Be sure to protect the area from birds, rain storms, and foot traffic and water the new seed often, but not for long periods of time. Ideally, water five minutes per area, three to four times a day.
     

  7. Fertilize your lawn. If you are putting down seed because of bare spots, then make sure you do not use pre-emergent in your fertilizer. Doing so will work against you and prevent germination. Do not use weed control either. This early in the season, weeds are still dormant so you should not need it anyway.

    Use a good quality, slow-release, high Nitrogen fertilizer. If you prefer organic fertilizer (like I do), use an organic fertilizer with slow-release and some humates or compost built into it.
     

  8. Start up irrigation. Turn on your sprinklers, fix any broken heads, and adjust the heads, to make sure you have it all dialed in for an even and consistent watering. This is crucial! Once you have the heads adjusted properly, inspect them often.

    Keep an eye on the lawn and make sure each section is getting covered properly. If you are unsure, do a “can test” by putting a coffee can out and collect water from each section of your lawn then measure the amount of water collected.

 

 De-thatching a lawn
De-thatching a lawn

After you’ve done all that, you are ready for summer! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You should mow your lawn down to about 3-4 inches for optimal health. Do not let it get too high or cut it too short. Both could result in lawn issues. I have my lawn mowed once a week.
     

  • Check your sprinklers often. If you see water pooling up in the lawn, decrease that watering in that zone. If it is drying out, increase watering. You want to run the sprinklers early in the morning (1-3 am) and have them wrap up by the time the sun is out and warming up (7-8am). I recommend doing a manual inspection once a month.
     

  • Be sure to fertilize. The products you should use will vary depending on where you live and what type of grass and soil you have. Make sure to use high quality fertilizer that includes organic inputs. Stay away from unbalanced products. Something that says 46-0-0 on it should work well. Make sure you are using products that have micronutrients, slow releases, and some organic materials.
     

  • Keep weeds under control. Don’t let them go to seed. Many people spray dandelions when they see the yellow flowers start to wilt and turn to that big fluffy white head. If you are at this point you are too late. If you are wary of weed killers, there are now some great eco-friendly weed controls that you can buy. Please be careful with any control products. Follow labels and use sparingly!
     

  • Monitor everything. Be on the lookout for odd spots in the lawn. As soon as you see something, take action. Research and figure out what it is or call your lawn company. They are usually on the property once every 4-6 weeks and new things can pop up all the time. If you wait until the next visit it could be too late.

Once the leaves start falling and the temperatures start dropping it’s time to start wrapping things up for the season. If you had any damage from the summer, now is the time to do repairs. Seed or sod areas and make sure you get that vital fall lawn fertilizer down. Don’t skip it!

Rake up any leaves, blow out your sprinkler system, and finally, winterize your equipment: drain the gas, change the oil, sharpen the blades, etc.

Congratulations! You made it through the season and will be ready when spring rolls around again.

 

 

 

Save Money. Prepay for the Season.

 

 

Your grass is still dormant, but it’s not too early to start planning for the upcoming lawn season. We’re offering our clients a chance to prepay for the season and receive a 3% discount for the entire year. Take care of payments now, avoid the hassle of making payments throughout the season, and pay less for a strong, healthy lawn. To sign up for our prepay option, send us an email at info@ecolawnutah.com or call us at 435-200-3261.

10 Plants That Are Poisonous To Pets

10 POPULAR PLANTS THAT ARE POISONOUS TO YOUR PETS

Spring is here and while we are all excited to see our yards and gardens in bloom, let’s keep in mind that some of our favorite plants have hidden dangers and can severely injure or even kill our pets. Here are the top 10 offenders:

1. Tulips and Hyacinths
Tulips contain allergenic lactones and hyacinths have alkaloids that are similar in nature. The highest concentration of the toxic substance is in the bulb, while leaves and flowers are less toxic. If your dog digs up the bulbs and chews on them (or worse – ingests them completely) the substances can irritate its mouth and esophagus, as well as cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe symptoms include increased heart rate and difficulty breathing. Your vet can treat your dog with mouse rinses, anti-vomiting medication and fluids.

2. Daffodils
This iconic sprint plant contains lycorine, an alkaloid that triggers vomiting, and all parts of the plant are toxic – bulb, steam, leaf or flower. Upon ingestion, your dog may experience severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or even more scary symptoms like cardiac arrhythmia or respiratory depression. Take your dog to a veterinarian right away if you notice symptoms.

3. Lillies
There are many varieties of lilies and while some are dangerous to pets, others are completely harmless. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies cause mild tissue irritation to the mouth and esophagus. Tiger, Easter, Day, Asiatic, and Japanese Show lilies – are extremely toxic to cats and can cause rapid kidney failure. If you see or suspect that your cat ingested a lily, immediately bring it to your vet and take a sample of the plant with you.

4. Oleander
Oleander is a popular shrub. Not many people are aware that its leaves and flowers are extremely toxic if ingested and can cause severe vomiting, slow the heart rate and may cause death.

5. Azaleas and Rhododendrons
Azaleas are beautiful plants that can really make your yard stand out, but beware – their leaves, flowers and even nectar can cause excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Pets who ingest the azalea plant may end up in a coma and die. Other symptoms include very low blood pressure and irregular heart rhythm,

6. Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemums are like a pretty package of toxins that can cause vomiting, excessive drooling, dermatitis, lack of coordination and diarrhea. Keep your pets away from chrysanthemums and call your vet if you suspect exposure.

7. English Ivy
English Ivy contains a toxin called hederagenin, which, when ingested by your pet, causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, as well as tissue irritation, rash and fever. It’s worth noting that this plant’s toxicity is milder and it takes quite a bit of ingested English Ivy to cause serious problems.

8. Cyclamen
Cyclamen is highly toxic, with its roots being the most dangerous part of the plant. The toxins in cyclamen can cause severe vomiting and may lead to death.

9. Lily of the Valley
This common spring plant contains cardiac glycosides which cause vomiting, diarrhea, low heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias (potentially severe), and seizures. If your pet has ingested any amount of Lily of the Valley (and any part), take it to your veterinarian for treatment.

10. Chives
This popular herb is known for its beautiful purple blooms, but, like all members of the Allium family, it is moderately toxic to both dogs and cats. If ingested, it can cause Mouth tissue irritation and drooling; abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea; heart and respiratory rate changes, as well as weakness and collapse. Garlic and onion are in the same family and are also toxic to your pets. Be watchful if you grow these herbs, as symptoms may have delayed onset. Call your veterinarian if you suspect you pet ingested chives or other member of the Allium family.

Keep your pets safe when planting this season!
And keep this 24/7 Pet Poison Control number handy:
855.764.7661

It’s Aeration and Overseeding Time!

The next three weeks are the best, most effective time to aerate and seed your lawn. Core Aeration and Overseeding are two of the best things you can possibly do for your lawn! Aeration loosens compacted soil, which increases the availability of water, nutrients, and oxygen to the roots. Aeration stimulates new growth. It reduces water runoff, and increases the lawn’s ability to withstand drought conditions. Overseeding fills in bare spots, making it thick and full. Developing a lush, thick lawn isn’t just important for looks, but is also one of the best ways to protect the lawn from weeds.

Sign up for an Eco Lawn program today and get 10% off your services, including Aeration and Overseeding.

Microbes Gone Wild: The Soil Food Web and Your Lawn

 

 

Beneath your lawn, down in the soil, there’s a whole world of drama going on. Bacteria, fungi, all kinds of microbes, worms, insects, and animals are interacting in all kinds of ways (including eating each other). It’s a tiny, epic soap opera of who’s doing what with whom. Biologists call this complex interplay between all of the organisms who live or work or play in the soil, the “Soil Food Web.” The Soil Food Web matters A LOT to the health of your lawn. You could even say these interactions determine the health of your lawn. When all the little actors in the soap opera are connecting in the right ways and in the right amounts, they make the soil perfect for growing plants, like a green, lush, beautiful, thick lawn. And a lush lawn can take pretty good care of itself. It naturally fights off weeds, and disease, pests and drought, etc.. Of course, our yards have another player in the soil food web: humans. And we often unintentionally change the dynamics of the underground world. Think about a newly constructed home. The soil around the area has been dug up, trampled on, often brought in from some other location. That whole underground ecosystem has been disrupted: little microbe families torn apart, new organisms introduced into the mix, all kinds of disruptions to the Soil Food Web. In order to get that soil to a place where it can support a healthy thick lawn, the right balance of interactions between the organisms must be restored. How? Tune in next week to see what Eco Lawn does to try to get the right organisms playing together in the right ways.

How To Nurture Microorganisms For a Better Lawn

 

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  • How microorganisms can improve your lawn

  • How to nurture microorganisms for a better lawn

  • Learn more about the important microorganisms for lawn care

Microorganisms are an extremely important part of your lawn. Although fertilizers can do wonders in the short-term, microorganisms act as a long-term fertilizer and health system for your lawn. It’s important to nurture them and give them an environment in which they can thrive.

I have been in the lawn care industry for 20 years now and have noticed over the past 7 or 8 years that the term microorganism is becoming more and more popular in the lawn care world. It has been fun for me to learn more and read every book I can find on the topic to not only understand microorganisms better, but to implement a strategy into my business that will help to build and re-populate them.

Lawn care used to be a lot different. Here is the old way of doing lawn care: Go to the store and grab a bag of inorganic fertilizer with the highest nitrogen number possible – 32-5-7 (N-P-K). Put it down on your lawn and watch the magic happen.

The grass turns green and will not stop growing throughout the summer. You have to mow sometimes twice a week to keep it looking nice. You didn’t have to think much about what was going on down in the soil, just about the grass blades being greener than the neighbor’s.

What we have learned over the years, though, is that one of the most important things in lawn care for longevity and a healthy, sustainable lawn is what happens down in the soil! Here is a brief summary:

1 Teaspoon of good soil contains:

10,000 to 100,000 cells of algae, 100 million to 1 billion bacteria, several yards of fungal hyphae, and about 40 Nematodes: 20 bacteria eating nematodes and 20 fungal feeding nematodes.

1 Acre of good soil contains:

2-3 million earthworms, 133 pounds of protozoa, 900 pounds of earthworms, 900 pounds of arthropods, 900 pounds of algae, 2,000 pounds of bacteria, and 2,400 lbs of fungi.

The amazing thing is that all these microorganisms and insects are all part of the soil food web and each play a unique role in the soil’s ecosystem. If things get out of balance, you start having serious problems.

Using inorganic fertilizers and herbicides can quickly offset the ecosystem balance in soil. Inorganic fertilizers have a very high salt content. The salt irritates the worms and can damage and kill off beneficial microbes.

Once these guys are forced out of your lawn, the soil becomes sterile. The beneficial fungi and protozoa that eat the harmful fungi are not around and you start seeing fungus problems in the lawn. The beneficial bacterial slime that helps soil particles retain moisture and hold nutrients are gone. Eventually you have to start using more water and more fertilizers to make up for what is missing.

One of the most important things I have learned is that you need to work WITH the living microorganism in your soil in order to get the best long-term results. Often, lawn issues are a manifestation of an imbalance in the soil. Too much focus on N-P-K and nitrogen might be a quick solution for a green lawn, but will imbalance the soil and cause issues in the long run.

The new way of lawn care incorporates this knowledge into the action plan for each property. Good lawn care includes always looking and analyzing the lawn to see how it is reacting and looking for ways to decrease inorganic materials and things that could have a more negative impact on the environment.

What can you do?

  1. Understand the importance of these microorganisms and what they do and how they work.

  2. Make sure the things you are adding to your soil will not harm them.
     

  3. Make sure you don’t go overboard or too heavy with any one nutrient at a time. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing!
     

  4. If needed, provide food sources for the already existing organisms.
     

  5. If needed, use products that will add more microorganisms to your soil.
     

  6. Use compost and compost teas regularly – make sure they are coming from a good source and that they are active.

Want to Learn More About Microorganisms?

Here is a little bit of a deeper look at just three types of microorganisms that are living in your soil (hopefully).

Nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic, wormlike organisms that live in water films and water-filled pore spaces in the soil. Typically, they are most abundant in the upper soil layers where organic matter, plant roots, and other resources are most abundant.

Soil nematodes, especially bacterial- and fungal-feeding nematodes, can consume nitrogen containing compounds and release nitrogen in a form of ammonium, which is very easy for the grass to digest and use: they help the lawn uptake and use the food source.

They can also enhance decomposition and nutrient cycling by grazing and rejuvenating old, inactive bacteria and fungi and spreading them to newly available organic residues. Without nematodes and protozoa, nutrients can remain immobilized and unavailable for plant uptake in bacterial and fungal biomass.

Predatory nematodes generally feed on smaller organisms like protozoa and other nematodes. Thus, they can help moderate population growth of bacterial- and fungal-feeding nematodes and protozoa, and help regulate populations of plant-parasitic nematodes.

Mycorrhizal Fungi

Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with certain plant roots. They will help plants absorb phosphorus as well as potassium, calcium, copper, and iron more efficiently. 

In this mutualistic relationship, the fungi will colonize plant roots and spread out a microscopic network of filaments underground called “hyphae,” thus allowing the plants to soak up more water and nutrients, while taking sugars in exchange. On its own, this network of fungal hyphae is called a “mycelium” – which we know has amazing properties.

When you have a balanced supply of these guys you can use less water and fertilizer which, again, will lessen your impact and give you that great lawn.

Protozoa

Protozoa are one-celled organisms that prey on bacteria, keeping the good bacteria population in balance and fending off pathogens – those bacteria that cause plant diseases.

Protozoa require oxygen to keep eating and reproducing, but it’s often in short supply in lawns at recently built homes where heavy clay soil has been compacted by construction equipment. Introduce air pockets with a core-aerating machine, allowing air and water into the soil for these soil organisms and your plants’ roots.

Microorganisms are extremely important to the long-term health of your lawn. Be sure to follow the tips above. Those tips will help you to better nurture the microorganisms living in your lawn and give you a more beautiful and green yard now and later.

 

 

Heat + Drought Stress

What to Do About Heat and Drought Stress

With the recent summer heat, we have noticed that dry spots are appearing on lawns around town. If you are seeing this in your lawn there are a few things that you can do:

1) Check your irrigation. Run a manual test during the day and watch every zone to make sure that every section of your lawn is getting covered with water. Sprinklers should be checked monthly during the season. Once a year is not enough. Heads often get damaged, blocked by objects or other growing plants, and clogged with mud. This can leave areas accidentally and unknowingly un-watered.

2.) Run your sprinklers for a few minutes in the evening to help cool down the lawn. This is in addition to your early morning watering.

3) Use a Soil Conditioner treatment. We have a product called Revive which, when combined with proper irrigation, can help to bring back the color of your lawn.

4.) Paint it. We have a non-toxic turf paint that we can be applied to dried out areas. The paint improves the look and color of the lawn until the natural green bounces back.

Please remember that drought stress is just temporary and with proper irrigation, your lawn will bounce back.

We’re Thankful For…

Happy Thanksgiving! We thought we’d take this wonderful time of year to sit back and reflect on the many great things we have to be grateful for. With full hearts we present:

Top 12 Things We at Eco Lawn Are Grateful For
(Because We Couldn’t Keep It To 10):

 12. We only had one of our trucks back into a pole.

 11. Three weeks of rain in August

 10. Kolache breakfasts and local lunch spots (Teriyaki Grill, Fairweather Foods, Whole Foods Cafe, Cafe Rio, Tarahumara, Cafe Galleria…) Bless you for your deliciousness.

 9. Improving economy and business growth

 8. Low humidity (this from 5 Jersey transplants)

 7. The anonymous “client” who keeps sending us random $8 “payments” that he claims to “owe” us.

 6. Working in the most beautiful place on the planet

 5. Local contractors who were great partners

 4. Dedicated, highly-qualified team members who make the job fun

 3. Getting to see wildlife on the job, including the porcupine that run straight at Tim and escaped up a tree. Thank you, porcupine.

 2. Being able to provide fresh drinking water for 40 people in Ethiopia through charity: water

 1. Awesome clients who are just good, quality people. They make everything worth it.