Author Archives: Turfguy

A few spring lawn care tips after a hard winter.

It looks like spring has finally arrived in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and it is about time! Although fall is the best time to seed, spring is a great time to repair the damage done by harsh winter weather. This winter saw plenty of snow, extremely cold temperatures, and a lot of damage caused by snow mold and snow plows. You can drastically improve your spring lawn care by following a few of these suggestions.

An easy way to seed or reseed your lawn is to hand rake out the areas, or power rake the areas. This will remove a lot of the debris, loosen the soil and ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Select a good quality seed mix appropriate for the area you are seeding. I prefer to use a starter fertilizer whenever seeding. These types of fertilizers are lower in nitrogen, very high in phosphorous and potassium (These are the three numbers, in order, on the analysis portion of the bag). A good example is 12-16-8, or in a range similar to that. The key points to Starter Fertilizers are the fact they have high phosphorous levels. Phosphorous helps to establish stronger roots, which is important for newly germinated grass seed, as well as existing turf.

Just as important as quality seed and Starter Fertilizer is soil pH. This is a measure of the acidity of the soil. The lower the number, the more acidic the soil. The ideal pH for turf grass is between 6.0-6.5. Most soils in Northeastern Pennsylvania are in the range of 5-6, which is a little too acidic for turf, but ideal for weeds. Some of these are dandelions, crabgrass, plantain, mosses, knotweed, hawkweed and daisy, to name a few.

Soil pH is raised by applying lime, preferably pelletized lime, to the soil. Other products like water soluble calcium are faster acting and more cost effective. Ask us for more information on these products.

If you are not over-seeding your lawn, early spring is the best time to apply a crabgrass control. These products improve your lawn care by preventing weed seed from growing. Weeds compete with your turf grass for sunlight and soil nutrients, making it more difficult for you to have that beautiful lawn of your dreams.


This post was written by Turfguy

Where to go for landscaping ideas

Making your home into a beautiful retreat doesn’t have to be a chore. Spending time outdoors is a therapeutic way to blow off the winter dust and gain new hope for the promises of spring and summer. “But where do I start?” you say. If you are reading this, you obviously figured out how to use technology so let me give you a few links to get your imagination flowing.

We suggest that you get your Landscaping Foundation in place first before you start planting. Coming out of a difficult winter as we have just experienced, remember to account for places to push or throw snow as you gather ideas. Keep your delicate structure plantings back at least 5 feet from driveways, and if possible keep a grass buffer between drives and plantings so you can store snow without destroying your landscaping. While driveway edgings seem pretty, if you enclose the whole driveway, you are bound to be doing landscape repair in the spring. If you don’t care to do any hardscaping, consider using raised flower beds to keep your landscaping three dimensional.

Try researching some Flower Garden Designs online. These pictures are a great start to get the creative juices flowing.
Where ever you start, remember to slow down a bit and enjoy your time outdoors!

This post was written by Turfguy

Why do I need Calcium or Lime for my lawn?

Why is Calcium so important to lawns, flowers and vegetables?

Calcium is essential for healthy, vigorous plant growth and the proper development of strong cell walls, roots and leaves. It improves the lawns’ tolerance to the stresses of heat, drought and disease. Calcium controls the plants uptake and utilization of water and nitrogen and improves soil texture.

What is pH and why is it important in your lawn and garden?

The pH range defines the relative acidity or alkalinity of soil. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. Levels below 7 are acidic and above 7 are alkaline. pH affects the chemical and biological activities in the soil and must be in the correct range for plants to achieve their optimum potential. Grass grows best with a soil pH range between 6.0 and 6.8.

If you are not sure of your soil pH, then use my Jonathan Green Soil pH Test Kit, available from your local dealer, which will give you a fast and accurate reading of your soil pH. Your local university extension office can also provide soil testing.

Proper pH levels increases soil microbial activity, which aids in thatch reduction. A proper soil pH improves the effectiveness of fertilizer and weed controls.

MAG-I-CAL is a Highly Concentrated Source of Soluble Calcium!

In fact one 45-LB. Bag of MAG-I-CAL is equal to ten bags of regular limestone.
The soluble calcium in MAG-I-CAL is just as essential in the development of new plants, as it is vital, in the creation of strong bones. MAG-I-CAL contains soluble calcium, combined with an organic acid, which is pelletized to make it easy to spread.

How does MAG-I-CAL work?

Once MAG-I-CAL comes into contact with the soil and water it releases rapidly to raise soil pH. This is important because desirable grasses thrive in 6.0 – 6.8 soils, while weeds persist in lower pH or acid soils. MAG-I-CAL will re-energize your lawn by improving its soil structure. Lawns fed with MAG-I-CAL are healthier, due to improved water filtration, aeration and an increase in the growth of beneficial microorganisms.

This post was written by Turfguy

Care and Maintanance of Lawns in the Shade

For the most part, grasses are sun loving plants, and are meant to be grown in sunny situations.  As we all know, this is not always the case.  Lawns under the shade of trees are typically thin, weak and of poor quality.  Maintaining a quality stand of turf grass under shade can be difficult and requires a change in lawn care practices.  For optimum results, turf needs at least 4-6 hours of direct sun per day.  If they are subjected to added stress from excessive wear and tear, then they require even more.

It is not just the lack of light that makes growing turf in the shade tough.  Shade brings on numerous other problems.  Shaded areas tend to be either too damp or too dry for turf, there is a lack of air circulation, the soils tend to generally be too acidic, and nutrients tend to be sucked up by tree roots.  Often, when it rains, the moistures does not get down to the grass, as it is picked up by the leaves on trees before it can get to the soil.

What to do?

The first step is to choose the proper grass types.  Fine fescues are generally recognized as being more shade tolerant than other grass types.  Tall fescues are tolerant of moderate shade levels; they also have the advantage of a deep root system to help them find sources of water that other grass types miss out on.

Secondly, maintain a regular fertilization program, but cut back on the amounts of nitrogen.  Grass in shaded areas tend to be elongated, as they are reaching for sun.  By using high amounts of nitrogen, you are increasing growth of the green leafy part of the plant.  Use fertilizer that are higher in phosphorous and potassium.  Phosphorous is needed to help build strong root systems.  Potassium helps turf to better withstand external stresses, helping to make the plant stronger.  Most people think that they should give shaded lawns a little extra when they fertilize; this is exactly the opposite of what should be done.

Next is to maintain proper moisture levels.  Shaded turf is usually either too dry or too damp.  When the site is too dry, it is caused by many reasons.  Tree roots win most of the battles for available moisture.  Additionally, leaves from trees block most of the rain falling and absorb it before it has a chance to reach the ground.  Soil compaction also causes a lot of the water that does reach the ground to run off before it has a chance to soak in to the soil.  When watering is needed, it is better to water less frequently, but deeper in each instance.  This accomplishes to things.  First it pulls the grass roots deeper into the soil.  Also it keeps tree roots deeper, rather than having them rising to the surface looking for water.  When the site is too damp, it is generally caused by high water tables, or low lands where soils stay damp all the time.  Though it is better to have damp soil rather than dry soil, this brings in additional problems such as diseases.

Along with proper moisture levels it is important to maintain proper pH levels.  Most soils in shaded areas tend to be on the acidic side.  pH is a measure of a soils’ acidity.  A simple soil test will tell you whether you need to lime or not.  Low soil pH prevents much of the nutrients in the soil to be unavailable to turf.  Raising the ph, by applying lime, or Mir-A-Cal, helps to make these nutrients available to the grass plants.  An ideal level for turfgrass is in the range of 5.5 to 6.5.

Raise your mower heights.  Even though grass tends to reach for the sunlight when in shaded areas, it is best to raise your mower as high as it will go.  Longer grass tends to have deeper roots.  Since a grass plant is only as strong as its roots, it is best to have the grass longer.  Additionally, longer grass helps to conserve soil moisture, for those dry sites.

Turf grown in shade is less able to recover from wear and tear.  Reducing traffic on shaded lawns will help the overall turf quality as the plants will need to spend “energy” repairing damage, and have a greater ability to improve its overall appearance.

Lastly, mainly because it takes so much time or money is to let in more light.  The easiest way, depending on the height of the trees is to remove the lower branches.  This lets in additional light while maintaining the appearance of a wooded site.  Another way to bring in more light is to thin the stand of trees.  Removing trees from the site will open up the canopy of limbs, letting in more sunlight.  This also allows for more rain to fall to the ground, possibly improving soil moisture.

By opening up the site, whether by limbing or clearing out trees, this also helps to improve air circulation.  Poor circulation in damp areas increases the chances of diseases.

Turf in shaded areas is rarely as lush and full as sunny sites, but by following the points above, you can help dramatically improve the overall appearance of your shade lawn.

This post was written by Turfguy