Top 10 Issues Plaguing Lawn Care in Essex, CT
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Spring is the time for Lawn Care in Essex, CT.
Spring is clearly on its way in Essex. As I drive along River Road, I notice the turf coming back to life, showing signs of new life. On Maple Avenue, buds are bursting on shrubbery. The residents on Book Hill Road might be looking out onto their lawns and maybe thinking of core aeration to rejuvenate their turf.
Everyone has seen the results; although only temporary, it looks like a large flock of geese camped out for the weekend. But here at Lawn Science, we get better results with our own lawn aeration program, using liquid aeration, a formula personally developed by the owner of Lawn Science, with a proprietary formula of kelp, compost tea and humates. This program gives the turf optimal nutrition. The lawns on Bokum Road are looking alive, but what lawn couldn’t benefit from an organic based lawn care program? I go along and I notice the grass cutting companies and yard maintenance companies getting to work, cleaning up from the winter and preparing for the busy growth season.
Lawn Care in Essex is in full force
Out on the narrow roads in Essex, local lawn care companies are out in full force. They’re treating lawns with the first application of the season. Maybe you’re wondering what a local family-owned lawn care company like Lawn Science can do for the turf on your street? Things look good now, but with the coming heat and humidity of summer, your lawn can become stressed if it’s not properly watered and fed with healthy nutrients at the correct time.
Even with the advantage of a sprinkler system in place, the grass has a hard time resisting weeds, fungus and pests that want to take over your lawn. I’m on my way through town, driving along Mares Road and I am seeing more green grass and budding foundation plants. Maybe some are thinking that Scott’s Turf Builder is the best they can offer to their property. For years Scott’s was a main stay in the home lawn care market. However, now many people want experts to help them care for their lawns.
No More Lawn Care in a Bag
As the owner of Lawn Science, I’ve spent the last 35 years attending classes and seminars, even experimenting on my lawn and the lawns of my team. At Lawn Science we’ve carefully fine-tuned an organic lawn care program that can give your turf every advantage during all stages of growth. No more “lawn care in a bag” for us or for our clients. We’ve found it just doesn’t work to keep lawns in Essex healthy and green.
Finishing up my tour of Essex on Plains Road and South Main Street with my car windows open, I take in the fresh spring air and imagine a town with healthy green lawns, ready for a whole season of family fun.
Here are the top 10 most common issues we find in lawn care in the spring in CT
Damage control: Figuring Out What’s Wrong with Your Lawn
There are lots of things that can make for a sparse, straggly looking lawn. If your lawn isn’t up to snuff, here are the top ten reasons why.
Thatch is that brownish layer of organic debris (old stems and rhizomes) that sits between the soil and the grass leaves. Having some thatch in your lawn is good – too much is bad. A healthy lawn will have thatch – it helps hold in moisture and keeps the crowns safe from excessive wear. However, a layer of thatch that’s ½ inch or more can actually keep moisture from reaching the roots. It prevents the water from penetrating deeply into the soil, and you end up with shallow root systems because the water available is near the top of the soil. Shallow roots equal grass that is susceptible to disease and drought damage. We have found the very best way to reduce thatch is by using organic lawn food and applying lime annually.
The bane of every lawn grower’s existence, weeds can infest your lawn and take is over or create patches of unsightly chaos that mar the look of your perfect green grass. Those little spots of unhealthy grass are prime candidates for an invasion. Once weeds take hold, all the surrounding grass plants are at risk. We have found excessive weeds usually indicate past or prior damage occurred to the lawn. The lawn will need to be seeded after the weeds are killed off.
Grass is in danger from disease when it’s not at its best. Once a disease is present, it can spread quickly to the other grass plants in the area and leave a path of destruction that upsets the natural beauty of your lawn. Overwatering and poor drainage frequently contribute to fungus issues.
There are two main types of insects that can damage your lawn surface insects, like chinch bugs, sod web worms and army worms. The second is soil bound insects like grubs. Grubs will eat the roots off the grass plant killing the lawn in large patches.
Wear and tear.
That path the kids take to get to the pool is looking a bit tired. That dog has decided to use your front yard or right off the back deck as his personal potty. Grass will suffer from excessive use and abuse and the damage is very distinctive.
Whether your inherited a bad lawn from the previous owner or just haven’t been able to keep up with the watering and fertilizing, the neglect will show in your lawn. Once your lawn is in disrepair, you’ve opened the floodgates to all kinds of problems like soil erosion, rutting, skinks digging up the lawn to get to grubs.
Winter injury or drought.
Most times your grass can survive either a cold winter or a hot summer. However, when truly extreme winter or summer weather occurs, your grass may not be able to handle it. You may end up with some dead grass from severe weather conditions. Sometimes even if you’re watering the lawn in the summer the lawn can still suffer from heat stress. In the winter any puddling on the lawn can result in frozen puddles that kill off the grass.
When the soil is compacted, air, water and nutrients can’t make their way down to the roots. Soil compaction occurs most often in high traffic areas of your lawn and in soil with a low PH or acidic soil where the PH is below 6. Adding calcium in the form of lime and liquid organic aerating are the best two ways to relive compaction.
Whether the water flows too quickly through the soil or sits on top of the soil and hardly drains at all, your lawn can suffer the effects of poor drainage. If you didn’t pay attention to the amount of water your lawn gets (or doesn’t get) when you water, your lawn could either be too dry or drowning. We often see Moss growing in lawns are shady along with poor drainage. We often see lawns that are overwatered develop serve cases of fungus that damages the lawn.
Choosing the wrong grass variety for your lawn’s growing conditions (weather, shade, wear, etc.) will almost always guarantee some dead or injured grass. Trying to grow bluegrass in a shaded area is almost certain failure. Fine fescue will thrive in areas that Bluegrass will not.
Causes of Damage for Lawn Care in Essex – Heat or Insect Damage and How to Fix it Fast
Appearance – White grubs are the larvae of scarab beetles, which include Japanese, June, and May beetles. While the adult insects are different, the grubs at the larvae stage essentially look and act the same. The larvae have C-shaped, white bodies with brown or yellow heads. Fully grown larvae are usually between ½ to ¾ inch long and have three sets of small legs near the head.
Symptoms– The lawn will have irregularly shaped brown patches of turf, generally occurring between late spring and early fall. The damaged turf will roll back easily from the soil – like peeling up a piece of carpet. You may see skunk and raccoon damage from their foraging for grubs.
Damage Threshold – Sample lawn before dead grass appears to determine infestation level. Cut and lift a 1-foot-square section of lawn from the edge of the lawn area suspected of having grubs. Stir around the soil to a depth of about 2 inches so you can see all the grubs in the area. If there is an average of six or more grubs per square foot present, it’s time for a treatment.
Control – Use chemical grub control insecticides for the best result . Water heavily after application to ensure pesticide gets through the grass and thatch layer and into the soil.
Appearance – Adult chinch bugs are small – 1/5 of an inch long – with black bodies and white wings. There is a distinctive black triangular marking on each of the wings. Young chinch bugs are similar in shape to the adults but are red with white stripes on their back.
Symptoms – Chinch bugs suck the juice out of the stems, crowns, and blades of grass, leaving large, circular patches of yellow to brown damaged turf. They generally are most common in the sunny parts of the lawn.
Damage Threshold – To determine if there are chinch bugs in your yard, push a bottomless coffee can about 2 inches deep into the edge of an affected area of the lawn. Fill the can with warm water. The chinch bugs will float to the top within ten minutes or so. Repeat this test several times in different areas of the lawn. If you estimate (based on the average results of your tests) that there are 15 to 20 chinch bugs per square foot, treatment is warranted.
Control – Use Insecticides label for Cinch bug control. Eliminate thatch to improve drainage and fertilizer penetration into the soil and pant endophytic grass varieties when possible.
If you have questions about improving your lawn care in Essex, CT, or would like a lawn care quote please contact Lawn Science at 860-642-9966
Visit Essex, CT
Essex is unique in certain ways, due mostly to the described shifting of the cultural focus of the town over the past 300 years. This shift has resulted in three Congregational Churches, two Episcopal Churches, two libraries and interestingly, Essex has three zip codes, with three post offices. This seeming duplication (and tripling) of functions has taken place in a town with a current population of slightly more than 6,500 persons, which is the historical high.
The town today is losing many of the hallmarks of the past. In many ways, it is becoming one town, rather than three villages. There is no question that it has become primarily residential. There is still industry however, as many sharply focused smaller manufacturers have located here, primarily in the Centerbrook Industrial Park. This industrial area is adjacent to an abandoned airfield, once known as Doane’s Airport. Howard Hughes landed here a few times in the 1930s, when he was visiting one of Old Saybrook’s most famous residents, Katherine Hepburn. Essex will continue to focus and refocus, a current example being the commercial growth around Bokum Corners at the intersection of Route #153 and Bokum Road. However, as Essex continues to change it maintains an eye on the past, for it does not want to forget its heritage.