Category: Lawn Maintenance

Welcome to Summer

It looks like the summer heat came a little early this year. We are already experiencing some of the warmest and driest conditions that the are has seen in a few years this early in the summer season. Over the holiday weekend, while you are spending time with family and friends, take heed of the temperatures and make sure that you keep yourself and your lawn hydrated.

Your turf likely has not been able to put down deep healthy roots since the wet winter (yes, too wet is a bad thing for turf). Please keep an eye on your turf and if you haven’t already turn on your irrigation system. We haven’t really needed them until this week, but if you have one use it. If you are unsure how to operate your system, let us know and we can assist you.

Watering during periods of drought can help prevent many serious turf problems like dormancy, yellowing, bare spots, and some diseases. Here are some tips on how and when to water your lawn:

When to water

Using irrigation water to fill the gaps between precipitation events is critical to a healthy lawn, and efficient, responsible use of this natural resource will keep water bills lower. You should always pay attention to any local ordinances regarding water usage. Drought tolerant turf species, while they may go dormant during drought, will revive once precipitation occurs or watering restrictions are lifted

To be the most efficient when watering your lawn, you should always irrigate when:
 Winds are calm
 In the early morning hours, this minimizes evaporation loss and results in a more efficient irrigation event.
 Only when lawns show signs of drought stress.

Do not irrigate in the evening (increases disease pressure)

How to Water

There are two basic kinds of sprinkler systems available to homeowners:

  1.  In-Ground, automatic irrigation: This is the most efficient way to irrigate your lawn. A professionally designed and installed system will provide complete and even distribution of water across the lawn surface, should have a battery back-up for any timing devices, and a rain sensor to disable the system when precipitation occurs.
  2.  Above Ground, movable hose based sprinklers: These methods are less expensive than in-ground systems, however not as efficient or convenient. These sprinklers may either be a portable surface type, which needs to be moved from time to time in order to cover the whole lawn or a traveling sprinkler, which follows the path of the hose or a cable around the lawn.

Both methods require observation and effort on the part of the homeowner in order to avoid over watering and ensuring uniform coverage through out the lawn.

Knowing how to irrigate is one thing, but how much should you be watering your lawn?

  • A general rule for most turf species requires 1 inch of water per week in order to maintain a healthy status, this includes any precipitation.
  • Irrigation should be a supplement to natural precipitation, not the main source of water for your lawn.
  • Water once every 2-3 days in periods of drought (about a half an inch per application).
  • If one or more inches of precipitation falls in any given week, then supplemental irrigation is not necessary.
  • Soils that are primarily clay based (most around here) will require less water overall and fewer applications than more sandy soils. Clay has a very high water holding capacity.

Irrigation cycles should be run so that you are watering as deeply as possible into the soil profile, with causing runoff on the surface. Irrigation should only be applied to supplement precipitation deficits. Avoid hard and fast irrigation timer settings, be flexible with your times and days. Avoid standing water in your lawn.

To determine if you are applying the correct amount of water, place a rain gauge between a series of irrigation heads or midway between the sprinkler and the end of its coverage and check the depth of water in the gauge after a predetermined length of time. Use this information to calculate the amount of time that irrigation must be applied to reach ½ inch.

Things to keep in mind
When watering
• Water deeply and infrequently.
• Proper use of sprinkler water will result in a healthier and attractive lawn and lower water bills.
• Consider spot watering localized dry spots instead of the entire lawn.
• Water areas on mounds and berms and near buildings more often, where reflected heat dries the turf.
• Avoid irrigating until water runs off the lawn surface and on to walks and roads.
• Areas shaded from trees may require more water to support both trees and turf grasses.
• Avoid standing water for any period of time.

When Maintaining
• Make sure that you are mowing at the proper height for your turf species (not all grasses should be mown at the same height of cut).
• A sharp mower blade is essential if you want to maintain a healthy lawn through periods of stress. Dull blades tear the grass, resulting in a more stressful and jagged cut, making the turf more susceptible to fungal diseases.
• Avoid fertilization until fall for cool-season turf (fescues, ryes, bluegrasses).
• Spot spray only for weed control in cool-season turf.

Benefits of Turfgrass Sod

A lawn sodded with turfgrass is considerably easier to maintain than a lawn that is seeded, sprigged, or plugged. Sodded lawns need no special care because they are already healthy and mature when they are installed, where as a lawn that is propagated from seed, sprigs, or plugs will need significant time and continued effort in order to reach maturity.

Turfgrass sod is grown from top-quality seed blends or certified sprigs by professionals and is under constant supervision. After is has been installed, just water, mow, and fertilize according to plant needs and it will remain a healthy, green carpet of grass that requires very little maintenance.

Turfgrass sod can be installed practically anywhere, even in places where seeding is impossible or too costly. Sod is often used to stop soil erosion and water pollution on slopes where rain would wash away both seed and soil. Turfgrass sod is also available in numerous varieties to serve various regional needs, such as soil type, climate conditions, intended usage, sun/shade conditions, etc.

Sod can really be installed any time of the year, so there is no need to wait until the “time is right”.

Because sod establishes itself very quickly and is capable of handling full user traffic within a week or two. It creates the perfect surface for lawn games, family get togethers, and other outdoor activities. With advancements in the development of hardy grass species, sod is often the choice for parks, golf courses, athletic fields, as well as residential and commercial applications.

Lawns sodded with turfgrass should be considered an investment by the homeowner. Sod is the only way to go from bare soil to a lush lawn in just a few hours. However, it is relatively inexpensive to use. In the few hours it takes to install your turfgrass sod lawn, your property value increases significantly while you enjoy the beauty and convenience that sod has to offer.

Because of today’s ecological and environmental concerns, many people are turning to sod to meet their home lawn needs. Sod offers many environmental and health benefits:

• Cools and cleans the atmosphere
• Releases O2
• Stores Carbon (C)
• Breaks down harmful pollutants
• Helps to minimize dust
• Provides erosion control
• Reduces storm runoff
• Helps to recharge groundwater

As it grows, it silently contributes to a healthier environment. Today’s turfgrass sod lawns give homeowners an opportunity to enjoy life a lot sooner than traditional lawn propagation methods. In today’s hustle and bustle world, we expect convenience, efficiency, and quality in the products we use. New developments seem to go up overnight and attractive landscaping can be installed in mere hours, so why wait 1-2 years for a new lawn to struggle to maturity when you can be relaxing on a beautiful, mature lawn right now. Sod meets the needs of today’s fast paced, demanding lifestyle and provides environmental benefits all at a surprisingly low cost of ownership.


A Look At The Landscape: September

You may think September should bring a cool down but here in North Carolina it can still feel like the middle of summer. Even though it may not feel like it yet, the weather is changing for the better including lower humidity (which many plants become stressed over) and lower night time temperatures (which grasses and roots love because they can recover after a hot day). So you still may not feel like it’s time to look at doing anything outside, but it’s the perfect moment to start. And if anything, don’t wait until the middle of October when frost and freezes become a possibility.

Looking at Your Landscape

Right now you probably see some of your grass coming back after the serious stress it went under this summer. It might have been dry, skinny, not growing and possibly brown, but now it’s probably growing, is less brown, and the blades are thicker. It will keep recovering. Be patient but look below for other things you can do for the promise of a great start to a lawn next year and a healthy lawn through the winter.

Your plants are probably in the same situation. The best thing you can do is clean them up – no pruning but definitely remove fallen leaves from around the plants, remove dead or diseased limbs and leaves. Spray with any insecticidal soap if needed.

Right now the Crepe Myrtles, Rose of Sharons, Knock Out Roses, Sedum and other perennial plants are in bloom right now. And the south’s favorite border plant, Liriope (otherwise lovingly known as Monkey Grass) is blooming too.


Plants and Trees

Right now we’re seeing many of the summer blooming shrubs begin their decline as their flower heads deaden.

Hydrangeas are most likely looking this way and you may be seeing signs of fungus on their leaves – causing them to turn brown. Too much water and watering top down or rainfall can cause this. Remove leaves that are mostly brown and make sure you throw them away along with any other leaves that fell on the ground. Take care of the rest of the leaves by squirting them with a fungicide. Definitely do not prune a hydrangea right now – wait until late winter or early spring as the buds start to form.

If your plants have holes in the leaves, you have little bugs eating away and enjoying the feast on your plant. Use good old Sevin Dust or if you’d rather go organic, Spinosad, Neem oil, or for some a little spritz of water with dish detergent will do the trick.

Deadhead and pinch back flowers that need it unless you want them to self-sow now.  This encourages new and bushier growth. Examples of plants that love it: Knockout Roses, Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia), Mums, Marigolds, and Coneflower. But! If you want them to self sow do not deadhead or pinch them back. Let them go to drop their seed.

Keep weeding and watering! If you are getting less than an inch a week, then make sure plants that are not drought tolerant are getting water. Try watering them deeply in the early morning every 3 days instead of every day as well. Look out for wilting leaves on drought tolerant plants – this is a clue they need some water. Be careful of plants susceptible to root rot and not overwater them. Weeds will steal the precious water from your plants, so get rid of those when you can by spraying or pulling – or both.

Do not fertilize any plants or trees from here on out.

Also, right now is a great time to transplant and add shrubs or plants to your landscape where you might need to introduce some fall bloomers. September is the best time to snatch up the best looking plants!


Now is the time to start considering your bulbs. You can move irises, peonies, and daylilies while they are still showing. Just make sure you plant the rhizomes of the irises and the eyes of the peonies no deeper than an inch or so. New bulbs can start to be bought and stuck in the ground for the spring towards the end of the month and into the first part of October.

We also offer a division and moving of plants service for you as well as adding in new plants and bulbs! Click Here to contact us.


Absolutely do not cut back your azaleas, forsythia, and other spring flowering shrubs. Also do not prune at this point any other shrubs, new growth could result and with a hard freeze or frost in October that new growth would cause damage to the plant.

By all means though, go ahead and prune off any dead, damaged, or diseased limbs or shoots even on those shrubs. Make sure you throw them away and don’t leave them lying beneath the shrub to invite disease to the plant. I carry around one of those big blue Ikea bags for weeds and pruning. It is so convenient!

Some of you have had some good storms and it causes damage in your trees and shrubs. Cut off those damaged limbs and pull them out of the shrubs too if any fell into them. Clean up is very important to a healthy lawn and shrubs.

Suckers may be growing on the bottom part of your Holly trees, Crepe Myrtles and other similar trees that naturally want to be more shrub-like. Go ahead and take those off.

If your Hostas (aka Plaintain Lilies) have holes in their leaves with burnt edges, they’re in the sun too much or in the heat of the afternoon sun. Towards the middle of this month you can replant them to a shadier spot. And if you have to have Hostas in that spot find a Hosta that can take the sun better like Guacamole, Sun and Substance, and Squash Casserole. Also Hostas should be divided if very big to keep them healthy. Plus this just gives you more plants for your yard!

Other plants also need division to maintain health and you can create new plants from those. This is a great time of year to do it. Some of those include ornamental grasses, Peonies, Irises, Hydrangeas etc.

Keep planting annuals, especially the cooler season annuals like Pansies, and you can actually start planting shrubs now!

Fall is the best time to plant shrubs because it gives them a chance to establish their roots so they have a jump on growing outwards in the spring and producing their best show, rather than waiting in the spring for their roots to establish then put on a show.


Right now is the perfect time to lay sod.

Now is the time to start working on your lawn for next season. Labor Day marks the traditional end to summer and with that, the time to start thinking about over-seeding, pre-emergent, and fertilizers for cool season turf. Additional information about over-seeding can be found here.

Warm season turf (Bermuda or Zoysia), is on the backside of the growing season. These turf types will benefit most from minimal Nitrogen (N) fertilization and moderate Potassium (K) fertilization. Pre-emergent applications are also recommended for warm season turf at this time.

As we move into fall, keep in mind that you are laying the foundation for next season’s success with everything you do in your yard. A little expense now will pay big dividends in the spring and summer.

Check out our other posts for more info on irrigation or other turf care topics.


Importance Of Pre-Emergent Weed Control


A weed is generally defined as any undesirable species present in an otherwise homogenous stand of turf. Weeds can be intimidating and stressful on both professional turf managers and homeowners, but they don’t have to be. With the right information and timing, weeds can be controlled and virtually eliminated from a turf stand (if a plan is developed and followed). Pre-emergent herbicides are the key in the battle against weeds.

As a golf course superintendent, every  September, I would start the pre-emergent application process, so that turf at the course would be lush and weed free not only for the remaining season but also for the coming one.

Many might think that this is an expensive process or can not be done to residential lawns. It most certainly can, and should be done to home lawns. The cost is outweighed by the season-long benefits that it provides. You know the saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ That is precisely the case with pre-emergent applications. Weed free lawns provide homeowners with better curb appeal, a more enjoyable lawn, and a denser,healthier lawn.

It is considerably more difficult and costly to control weeds once they have emerged from the soil.

We all know how unsightly rampant weeds can be in a lawn. There is a another negative effect weeds have on your lawn aside from aesthetics. Weeds compete with desirable turf for sunlight, water, air and essential nutrients. The effect of all the competition is a significant reduction in the overall health, density, vigor and aesthetics of the rest of your lawn as the more aggressive weeds out grown the existing grass.

Weed infestations can become uncontrollable quickly if there is not preventative action taken. In order to combat weeds, a well thought plan needs to be developed (likely with the help of a professional) and followed.

Strategic timing for the pre-emergent application is crucial to its overall effectiveness as is choosing the proper active ingredient (AI) in the pre-emergent. Waiting too late to make the application is not going to do you or your lawn any favors and can severely inhibit the efficacy of the treatment resulting in weed breakthrough and weaker protection.

Pre-emergent chemicals will only work when applied before weed seeds germinate, and location, grass type, and soil temperatures are the determining factors as to when that is, so if there is any doubt, contact a professional for a consultation. When applied properly, the active ingredient in the pre-emergent forms a barrier to prevent newly germinated weed seeds from breaking the soil surface and infesting your lawn.

Uniform coverage during application is critical for the effective barrier to cover the entire area you want to protect. In order to make an even, uniform application of the pre-emergent, it is critical to follow the following steps:

  1. make sure that your spreader is calibrated properly to the rate you want to distribute on the lawn
  2. apply half of the recommended application rate moving across the lawn in a north/south pattern
  3. make a second application at half of the recommended rate moving across the lawn in an east/west pattern
  4. irrigate the application into the soil

Key points about pre-emergent applications:

  1.  Pre-ermergent inhibits the development of newly germinated weed seeds.
  2. The product does not prohibit germination, but rather prevents the development of weeds above the soil surface.
  3. It is best to apply uniformly, at the right time, over the entire area that is to be protected.
  4. Most applications need to be watered in by at least a half inch of water after the application to be effective.

If this seems like a lot to take in, don’t worry about it. The professionals at Crossroads Turf can take care of it to ensure you have the weed free lawn you deserve.

Overseeding and Fescue Maintenance

Creating and developing a beautiful, thick fescue lawn is hardly ever by accident. It requires a well thought out strategy and patience. Fall is the most important time in the development of a dense, thick fescue lawn. Actions taken in the fall (September/October) will determine the level of success or failure that you see in your fescue lawn the following season. Many folks believe that the end of summer marks the end of lawn care season, however the reality is that the end of summer marks the beginning of the real lawn care season.

Several things must happen in the fall to ensure that you have a thick, dense fescue lawn to enjoy the following season.

The first thing that must be addressed as the temperatures turn cooler in the fall is to re-seed the lawn (if the lawn is a cool season turf). Generally, the best time to over-seed fescue lawns is when nighttime temperatures are consistently below 70 degrees. In addition to over-seeding, the application of a pre-emergent herbicide should be made 4-6 weeks after over-seeding germination.

While daytime temperatures are important and play a role in plant establishment, more important are the nighttime temperatures. Cooler nights allow the soil to radiate heat into the atmosphere, thereby cooling the subsurface of the soil. Fescue can struggle in the hot, humid summers that we have here in the south.

Cooler soil is beneficial to fescue in several ways:

  1. it allows for more aggressive root growth and development from new seedlings and encourages an overall healthier plant
  2. allows for recovery by the plant from stresses incurred throughout the previous day (mowing, high temperatures, etc.)
  3. encourages the plant to reach maturity at its own pace, thereby growing a stronger plant that is more capable of resisting stress from the environment and people

This is precisely why fescue sown in the spring (when soil temps are rising) does not generally make it through the summer months. There simply is no time to reach maturity and the process is rushed.

The first thing to remember when deciding to over-seed your existing fescue lawn is to get the timing right. While trying to determine the appropriate date to begin the process, it would be wise to also begin looking for the right seed mixture. That’s right, mixture. Mixtures, or blends, take several varieties of fescue seed and combine them to provide a genetically superior stand of turf once established. Taking several fescue seed varieties allows the best parts, the strengths if you will, of those strains to shine through.

It is possible to get genetically pure fescue seed from distributors; however genetically pure seed is just that pure as it relates to one grass species. This, while it sounds good, is a weak option. Pure seed is not as genetically protected as certified fescue seed mixtures or blends are. Mixes contain several varieties of seed, all certified, and afford the consumer the benefits of multiple genetic codes.

Certified fescue seed mixtures/blends:

  1. have proven to be more genetically diverse,
  2. are able to withstand more environmental stresses,
  3. preform better in challenging environments
  4. provide better results to homeowners that do not have the time or resources to invest heavily into professionally managed turf care

That is a lot of words just for me to tell you that certified seed mixtures are the best way to go for the vast majority of homeowners.

Once the mixture and date have been determined, it is time to prepare the site for seeding:

  1. Mow the existing grass low, rake or blow off any debris, and dethatch if you can (you can rent these machines at most equipment rental stores).
  2. After the prep work is done, it is time to sow the seed. Make sure that your spreader is calibrated properly (most over-seeding rates fall in the #5-7/ thousand square feet range).
  3. Set the spreader to one half of the recommended over-seeding rate and make passes over the desired are in a north/south pattern, next repeat the process (again at one half the recommended rate) in an east/west pattern. The pattern change helps to ensure thorough coverage and good seed dispersion.
  4. Once the seed is down, a light topdressing of compost is advised to ensure good seed to soil contact (crucial for germination) and a light watering.

After the process is complete, keep the area watered for 7-10 days multiple times per day (as needed based on environmental conditions (shade, wind, temperature, etc.) making sure to keep the top layer of soil moist, reduce applied water as the new grass grows, eventually getting down to once every 2-3 days or as needed only. After establishment, fescue will need approximately 1-1.5″ of irrigation or natural rainfall each week. Only apply water to supplement natural precipitation.

Refrain from mowing the newly seeded area until the grass is approximately 3-5 inches tall. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer 2-3 weeks after the first mowing.

For more information about lawn care techniques and methods, contact Crossroads Turf for a personalized consultation.

Irritation or Irrigation?

Grass plants are made up mostly of water and to little or too much can be cause for concern. Water is the primary mechanism for transport of nutrients, organic compounds, and gases into turf roots and throughout the plant. While most people think a lack of water will damage their lawn, overwatering may in fact cause more damage to existing turf.  To maintain a healthy, dense, and actively growing lawn, it is essential to irrigate the lawn during dry periods. It is easy to overwater a lawn.

The consequences of overwatering a lawn include: increased weed pressure (especially crabgrass), increased disease pressure, shallow rooted turf (think weak), wasted natural resources, and for most, higher water bills. When you irrigate your lawn, it is best to err on the dry side rather than be guilty of overwatering. You can always add more water if the lawn is still dry, but you cannot take excess out of a lawn.
Frequency will vary based on the appearance of your lawn. The first signs of drought stress are a blueish-green color (caused by leaf blades beginning to curl up to conserve energy) and footprints that remain in the turf after walking across it.


Ideally this is the point at which you should irrigate your lawn. There is no benefit whatsoever to irrigating a lawn before this point.

As drought stress increases, your lawn will wilt and have a greyish-green color. At this point, you should irrigate the affected area immediately. Turf in this stage of drought stress can recovery quickly with prompt attention on your part.

Severe drought stress causes the plant to cease all metabolic processes and stop growing. The shoots (leaf blades will turn brown and could die.

green grass and dry grass


Irrigating at this point helps the plant to survive, however it can take up to two weeks to see noticeable improvement and possibly longer to make a full recovery. Patience is your friend at this stage of the game.

Another common irrigation misconception is that lawns should be irrigated on a set schedule. This is not the case, as a set schedule does not take into consideration the needs of the plant, evapotranspiration rates, or other environmental conditions, however it does increase the likelihood of over watering. Also, for those with automatic irrigation systems, you should not run the same programs for the entire season. Irrigation rates and timing should accommodate the needs of the plant at any given time.

Turfgrass species vary widely in their water requirements, with most cool-season grasses using approximately 20% more on average than warm-season grasses. Most turfgrass species will require between 1-1.5” of water per week to maintain a healthy status. Factors that influence water use rates of grasses (and all plants for that matter) are: weather, soil type, slope, etc. It is best to apply this amount of water in a single cycle or two equal applications spaced three to four days apart, rather than through light irrigations daily (if you have newly seeded or sodded turf, then you will need more frequent irrigation at first). During an irrigation event, soil should be wetted to the depth of the deepest root. Shallow, frequent irrigation encourages the plant to produce shallow root systems. A shallow root system weakens the plant when drought sets in or temperatures increase and encourages the proliferation of weeds, notably crabgrass.

Hose-end sprinklers usually apply a small volume of water to a given area and must be left to run for extended periods (2-3 hours) to provide adequate moisture. See the example below:


Automatic systems can deliver larger volumes (depending on system and nozzle configurations) in less time.

Irrigation of the green grass with sprinkler system.


If you have an automated system, then you should do an irrigation audit yearly to gauge the efficacy of the system and make any needed repairs. This will keep the system operating at peak efficiency and lower your overall water usage (your lawn and water bill will thank you).

The best time of day to irrigate turf is between 4-8am. There is little wind disruption currently of day, you do not lose water to evaporation, and temperatures are generally at their coolest. Yes, 4-8 am is early and could pose some logistical challenges for most people. The next best time to irrigate your lawn is between 8pm-12am. However, irrigating at this time of day can increase the possibility of soil borne disease that affect turf if humidity levels are high (we live in the South, when aren’t they high in the summer). Irrigation that is preformed during the middle of the daylight hours is ineffective and should only be undertaken as a last resort.
Proper irrigation practices are just as vital to a healthy lawn as fertilizer, weed prevention, or mowing and should not be intimidating. When in doubt about your irrigation practices, remember, you can always add more water, but you can’t take any out.

6 Benefits of Professional Lawn Maintenance

Like most homeowners, you find you have little time for lawn care. Regular lawn care and maintenance takes time and effort, requiring a year-round commitment to keep a well-maintained lawn.

Hiring a landscape company that handles professional lawn maintenance in your areas is the perfect solution for a beautiful lawn. Do-it-yourself lawn care and regular maintenance is an overwhelming task for most homeowners.

Whether the lawn is large or small, keeping the grass, plants, trees and shrubs healthy an dgreen takes knowledge and experience in plant care and maintenance practices.

Professional lawn care offers numerous benefits that are difficult to match:

  1. Regular Services
    • With the hectic schedules that many homeowners have day in and day out, finding the time to take care of even basic lawn maintenance taskss is a challenge. Hiring a professional to take care of this for you frees up your time and gives you peace of mind in knowing that your lawns needs are met consistantly.
  2. A Healthier Lawn
    • Keeping your lawn healthy year-round is more than just regular mowing and trimming an drequires attention to details that may signal impending problems. A healthy, functional lawn requires knowledge and skill about mowing techniques, soil types, plant growth pattersn, climate and light conditions, feeding and pruing schedules, and proper lawn care product selection for your existing lawn and landscape conditions.
  3. Curb Appeal
    • Your lawn and landscape have a significant impact on your home’s appearance and curb appeal. A well-maintained lawn adds beauty and character to your home, creates an inviting entrance, increases property values, and gives the homeowner a sense of pride in their property.
  4. Professional Knowledge
    • Lawn care professionals have a diverse knowlege of the product and procedures that are essential to keep your lawn healthy and beautiful. Professional lawn managers understand the advantages and disavantages of different lawn care products and procedures. Professionals bring years of education and experience bear for the homeowner, with most now carrying  college degrees in turf maintenance, horticulture, or agronomy. This education and experience is key to the proper timing, selection, and application of fertilizers, perticides, herbicides, new plantings, and seeding.
  5. Skilled and Experienced Crews
    • Crews show up with the proper tools and equipment to get hte job done right. Hiring a professional to maintain your lawn can save you thousands in tool and equipment costs, while increasing the amount of free time that is available to you. If you consider the experience level of the team and the cost of the tools and equipment, often a professional lawn care service delivers a better product for less expense.
  6. Weed Control
    • Without proper weed control by a professional, aggressive weeds can infest your lawn. Proper selection and application of pre-emergent products is the first step in a weed free lawn. A healthy, properly maintained lawn can also aid in the elimination of unsightly weeds. Once weeds have established, it is much more expensive to remove them than it would have been to prevent them.

A Look at the Landscape: August

This is the start of what I hope will be informational and/or helpful to you as you look out at your landscape. It is all things we consider as landscapers and homeowners in the month of August. These are things I’ve always tried to do, even before I was in the business and it’s something every homeowner can do to help their landscape through the tough part of the summer. Some of these we may take care of for you, depending on the level of your maintenance, or we may not but they are still worth taking a look at.

Y’all its August – the month my girls start back to school (in just 2 weeks!) and we are almost through this sweltering, drought-ridden, long as a pole bean summer. Luckily a week ago we had a break in the drought and in the heat and this coming week looks to be the same.

Looking at Your Landscape

Right now if you are looking out at your landscape, you probably want to go run back inside and not emerge again until the heat is over and you can start the repairs to your yard. Yes, I think everyone, including those Bermuda grass yards are feeling the effects of the summer. So, in case you didn’t take a deep look, here’s what it probably looks like and further down, what you can do this month to help things along.

Plants and Trees

Your flowering shrubs and trees most likely have yellowing leaves and they’re dropping making your heart drop with them wondering if they are going to make it. Most of them will – they are only dropping their older leaves because of the drought conditions. They will bounce back, especially if they are a drought tolerant plant like Azaleas. Some more finicky plants like Gardenias will also be showing signs of stress but they will need a little extra care – get them some water and make sure you fertilize them with the correct food.

yellowing leaves on an Azalea plant
The yellowing leaves on one of my Azaleas.

If your plants have holes in the leaves, you have little bugs eating away and enjoying the feast on your plant. Use good old Sevin Dust or if you’d rather go organic, Spinosad, Neem oil, or for some a little spritz of water with dish detergent.

Deadhead and pinch back flowers that need it. This encourages new and bushier growth. Examples of plants that love it: Knockout Roses, Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia), Mums, Marigolds, and Coneflower.

Keep weeding and watering! If you are getting less than an inch a week, then make sure plants that are not drought tolerant are getting water. Try watering them deeply in the early morning every 2 -3 days instead of every day as well. Look out for wilting leaves on drought tolerant plants – this is a clue they need some water. Be careful of plants susceptible to root rot and not overwater them. Weeds will steal the precious water from your plants, so get rid of those when you can by spraying or pulling – or both.

Fertilize your landscape shrubs with the appropriate fertilizer. This will be their last feeding until the Spring – otherwise you risk new growth later that won’t survive a good frost. And if you haven’t hit your roses yet with some food, then please do! Also container plants may be looking for a liquid feed at this time so don’t forget them – they’ll last longer through the season for you.


Absolutely do not cut back your azaleas, forsythia, and other spring flowering shrubs.

By all means though, go ahead and prune off any dead, damaged, or diseased limbs or shoots even on those spring flowering shrubs. Make sure you throw them away and don’t leave them lying beneath the shrub to invite disease to the plant. I carry around one of those big blue Ikea bags for weeds and pruning. It is so convenient!

Some of you have had some good storms and it causes damage in your trees and shrubs. Cut off those damaged limbs and pull them out of the shrubs too if any fell into them. Clean up is very important to a healthy lawn and shrubs.

Suckers growing at the bottom of a holly tree.

Suckers may be growing on the bottom part of your Holly trees, Crepe Myrtles and other similar trees that naturally want to be more shrub-like. Go ahead and take those off.

Boxwoods and other hedges like Yew and Privet will still benefit from a good pruning as well but this month is the month to do it otherwise afterward you’ll risk new growth during a frost period.

You can cut off the yellowed leaves of irises right now but leave the still green shoots. Or if you’d rather just leave it all until fall.

If your Hostas have holes in their leaves with burnt edges, they’re in the sun too much or in the heat of the afternoon sun. In the fall you can replant them to a shadier spot. And if you have to have Hostas in that spot find a Hosta that can take the sun better like Guacamole, Sun and Substance, and Squash Casserole.

If you are into propagation and sharing with your friends and neighbors, go ahead and take semi-hardwood cuttings from shrubs like Rose of Sharon or Forsythia. Stick them in a pot and get their roots going so they’re strong for the winter (like anyone can think about the winter with this heat).

Keep planting annuals and avoid putting perennial shrubs in the ground. Some perennial plants like Coneflower or Dragon’s Breath can still take it but it’s best to leave them to plant when it’s not so hot.


Your grass, especially if its Fescue probably has a spectrum of looks to it. But mostly it looks sickly, dead or overgrown with weeds. If you are one of our customers in the first year, bear with us – fall is the best time to rebound and next year it won’t be like this.

Much of what can be done for Fescue is done in the fall as spring is a late jump for Fescue. If you want more info we wrote two great articles on Fescue and our Southern Summers and How to irrigate for Fescue.

Patience is critical this time of year for Fescue, resist the urge to fertilize or undertake any seeding/sodding. The best time to begin those practices is just after Labor Day.

Warm season turf (Bermuda or Zoysia), the drought may be taking a toll on your turf, but don’t fret, it will bounce back quickly once adequate water is applied (either naturally or via irrigation). If you have irrigation, use it 2x’s per week for 30 min each early in the morning (4-7 am).

Moving forward, begin thinking about Fall pre-emergent applications. This is the most important thing that you can do to ensure that your next season is a great one.

Check out our other posts for more info on irrigation or other turf care topics.

Our Business

We are expanding and added on another employee this month. Wesley is joining us as a fully experienced and well-qualified maintenance foreman. He has easily worked in and showed he is skilled and knowledgeable. We are still adding on maintenance accounts so he is a welcome addition to our team!

Fescue and Southern Summers

There are two types of grasses, warm-season (Bermudas, Zoysias, St. Augustine) and cool-season (fescues, ryes, bentgrasses, bluegrasses). Many factors distinguish the various cultivars, both in the general sense and more specifically between species. While we will not get deep into the weeds (pun intended) while discussing grasses this morning, I think that a little background information might be valuable as the discussion turns more from grass type to lawn maintenance, to turf performance.

If you are reading this, then you most likely have a variety of fescue grass in your lawn. Fescue is a general name given to a species that has several cultivars. Differentiating between specific fescue cultivars and their genetic pairing with other grass types is not of critical importance for this discussion, so moving forward any reference to fescue should be taken in the general sense.

Fescue is a cool-season grass that is quite popular in the transition zone (this is the climatic zone that you live in). It establishes easily from seed in the cooler fall months, stays green year-round (usually – more on this later), and can tolerate a variety of growing conditions. Fescue is also a bunch-type grass. These are grasses that grow in bunches and do not have Rhizomes that spread laterally (think Bermuda grass). Being a bunch-type means that any injury to the turf must be reseeded to fully recover.

As mentioned above, Fescue can tolerate a variety of growing conditions. Fescue grasses generally preform best when temperatures are between 65-80 degrees for leaf growth and 68-86 degrees for seed germination. New root growth for most cool-season grasses occurs rapidly when soil temperatures are between 50-65 degrees at the 1-inch depth and will continue into the upper 80’s, albeit at a reduced rate. However, once temperatures in the soil reach 90 degrees or greater, root growth is greatly reduced, and care must be taken to protect the root system from damage.

Though Fescue can and does tolerate a wide variety of temperatures at which it can perform, it is susceptible to heat and drought stress. Fescue can tolerate the extreme summer heat that we routinely see here in the Carolinas, but it needs a break at night from those high temperatures to recover from the day’s stress and generate some new growth. Generally, Fescue requires cooler nights (< 70 degrees) to recover from high heat the previous day, if the night stays warm (> 70 degrees), then the plant cannot produce the energy that it needs to repair itself and grow the next day. Long stretches of high nighttime temperatures can be brutal on Fescue (many in the Carolinas are seeing the effects now from a brutal June weather pattern). Fescue can look devastated in the summer, and while high daytime heat is the first target of blame among many (and does share some responsibility in decline), high nighttime temperatures are more destructive, especially when coupled with high humidity.

With that information in mind, let’s examine the weather over the past month as it relates to historical averages for our area. June 2018 was on average, 5 degrees warmer than normal. Think about that for a minute….5 degrees! That is a noticeable variation and should not be taken lightly. During the month of June, we saw:

• Average High/Low: 87/65 degrees
• Actual High/Low: 91/70 degrees
• # days > average high: 26
• # days > average low: 28
• # days > 86 degrees: 27
• # days > 70 degrees (daily low): 15
• # days > 90 degrees: 19
• # days > 92 degrees: 13
• Total precipitation: 1.47″ (-3.25″)
• Average precipitation: 4.72″

As the numbers above indicate, June has been a brutal month with respect to traditional averages for the area. The result is that some folks are seeing decline in their Fescue sooner in the season than is typical. Usually we see this sort of weather begin to affect Fescue negatively in late July, this year it came a month early.
The big question we always get is what can I do to improve my lawn or what are you going to do to make it better? There is no easy answer for these queries. While there is a lot that can be done to mitigate the effects of extreme growing conditions (the last two weeks of June come to mind), there is little that we can do to counteract mother nature. Reversing course once damage appears can be quite challenging during a Carolina summer. All hope is not lost though.

Fescue may turn brown/tan, but can often survive periods of drought by going into a state of semi-dormancy, and will struggle in hot/dry summers (have you been outside). During periods of extended hot/dry conditions, fescue will require significant water, in excess of 1″ per week. Many homeowners irrigate their lawns in some form or fashion, however unless you have a professionally installed irrigation system that is programmable and have had it calibrated to meet your watering requirements, there is not a practical way to get that much water on the lawn in a given week without some assistance from mother nature.

When we do irrigate our lawns, it should be to avoid wilting, but only to supplement natural rainfall, not to replace it (unless it just is not rainy, like the last month was). We should also be mindful of our irrigation timings. Early morning is the best time to irrigate our lawns (before sunrise is ideal 3-5 am). On established lawns, deep infrequent irrigation is key to strong deep roots. Deep and infrequent means water longer cycles with more days between waterings, wetting the soil to a depth of around 3″. On lawns that are not quite established (newly sodded or seeded), we want to water as needed. Since the root systems are not as strong in a newer lawn, we want to water more frequently to nurse the grass through the days until we get a break in the weather.

If you have questions about your irrigation practices, let us know and we can help you develop a plan.

Fertilizer this time of year is NOT THE ANSWER. When temperatures are like they have been lately, turfgrass root systems are limited in their uptake ability and there is no need to stimulate a stressed plant that does not want to grow under adverse climatic conditions. If fertilizer is applied to a fescue lawn now, you will accelerate its decline. Patience here will pay dividends later.

Fescue may be allowed to go dormant (a natural process that is used as a defense mechanism by the plant) if heat and drought set in, and you will be surprised at the recovery once there is relief from the stressor, even if the grass was completely tan.

The best course of action right now for those with stressed Fescue is to trust your turf professional, consult one if you haven’t, and be patient (I know that is not what you want to hear), things will improve but it will take some time and cooler weather.

The weather will break, and recovery will happen. It only takes a few cooler nights to notice a significant improvement in turf quality, so hang in there for the time being.