Seasonal Challenges

Winter is quickly approaching, bringing a whole new set of potential turf problems with it.
We have the old standbys:

  • Leaves. I love watching the leaves turn color and gracefully flutter down with the wind and rain. What I don’t like is seeing them accumulate on our client’s lawns. After only a few days, leaves left on your lawn start causing smothering damage, which leads to all kinds of problems besides bare spots. Moss development, infestation of opportunistic invasive grasses and weeds and, with evergreen needles ( fir, pine, cedar etc.) lowered soil ph, are all byproducts of leaves left on lawns. So do your lawn a favor, make it a point to, if at all possible, get those leaves off your lawn on a weekly basis.
  • Crane fly larvae. Last year’s warm, wet winter did little to naturally control crane fly larvae. This year it looks we are in for more of the same. We have been noting exceptionally high numbers of adult crane flies mating and laying eggs. This years crop of larvae are going to be causing significant damage to turf. If you’re already on our control program you will be fine. If not, your applicator will let you know if you have a problem. BUT, he only sees your lawn once every 6-8 weeks. If you aren’t on the control program and notice distinctive thinning and/or a lot of birds poking around your lawn, you probably have crane fly larvae. Call the office so we can determine the proper course of action.On the more exotic side: Pink Snow Mold. Interestingly, even with such a mild winter last year, we did see several cases of snow mold in client’s yards. In mid December we had several consecutive days with heavy morning frost which is conducive to snow mold formation. Although there is no practical preventive measure for control of snow mold, there are some simple, physical measures to minimize the long term damage. Most notably is using a leaf blower to fluff up the damaged areas. If you have this problem this winter, your applicator will let you know, or you can call the office.
  • Leaf Spot, Red Thread, and Rust. Although these are all very common fungal problems, we generally do not see extensive problems with them in the winter. But another mild, wet winter changes the game, creating conditions more conducive to these diseases. The good news is, we can generally control these diseases with proper, regular fertilization. This means it is vital not to skip any winter applications.

We are adjusting how we do things at Tuff Turf to keep up with the changes and challenges of landscape care in the Northwest. You can depend on us to continue to deliver the same outstanding service our clients expect.

Adding Trees and Shrubs Sprays

Another warm, wet winter, followed by a hot, dry summer is being predicted. These conditions are creating longer periods of ideal conditions for disease and insect proliferation.

In response to this problem, we are adding one additional application to our basic disease and insect control program and one to our mite and insect control program.

This will allow us to start both control programs earlier and continue them later, filling the “holes” created by our changing weather conditions.

All our existing clients will be advised of this change to their program(s) and, of course, the cost associated with it so they can decide if it is right for them.

Nasty Dripping Trees in Vancouver, WA?

I have noticed exceptionally large numbers of trees that are “dripping”. This is caused by aphid infestations in the trees, which produce honeydew, the messy sticky material that is dripping.

Not only are the aphids damaging your trees by feeding on them, when they are causing this dripping it is indicative of very high populations, causing more severe damage.

Besides being unsightly and annoying, the dripping honeydew causes other problems. It is sugary, which attracts ants, yellow jackets, wasps and other potentially dangerous and/or damaging insects.

The honeydew is also damaging to house and car paint and other, smaller trees and shrubs that get covered, often causing “sooty mold” and attracting scales and other plant damaging insects.

Fortunately there is an easy solution to the problem. Give Tuff Turf a call. We can do a single, systemic application that stops the aphids within 48 hours and last through the whole season. One call and aphids can be history.

Tuff Turf Inc.
(360) 254-3134

A LONG, STRANGE Summer: Lawn care for in Vancouver, WA

Yep, going to be a long, strange summer. Unusually hot and unusually dry, which means difficult turf maintenance will be the norm. Appropriate watering will be critical to keep a lush, green lawn. This means we all have to be smart about how we do this.

Ideal watering in these conditions is to apply 30 to 35 minutes of irrigation, regardless of application system, per section, every other day. Equally important is to water in the early morning. This avoids evaporation/waste of water and helps minimize disease conducive conditions.

Speaking of disease; we are seeing varying degrees of the fungal disease leaf spot in the melting out phase in extremely high percentages of our Client’s lawns. Your applicator will provide more detailed information on a case by case basis.

This disease can be extremely destructive to your turf and is characterized by irregular shaped brown spots (see photos) with spots of seemingly healthy green within (frog eye). Many people apply more water, understandably thinking the turf needs more water, but this actually helps spread the disease.

If you think you have this disease, use a screw driver to dig into the soil. If the soil is moist down to at least an inch, you most likely have the disease. If the soil is dry and crumbly you most likely do not have a disease issue as drought stress can closely resemble disease conditions. If you are unsure you can simply call the office and we will make the determinations and proper recommendations for you.

We are dedicated to providing the best service possible to every client we have. We are here as a resource for you, so use us!

Gonna Be A Bumpy Winter

I have seen more adult crane fly this fall than you can shake a stick at. Most of you are probably familiar with these insects. The adults look like over sized mosquitoes. They fly around, annoying you when you're mowing, hang around your house and show up in ( sadly, all too few numbers) your outdoor spider webs.

These pests have mostly mated by now and the females have laid their eggs in your lawn. Sometime around early December we will, depending on the weather conditions, see the first hatching of larvae. Once these larvae hatch they begin to feed on the roots of your grass and, of course, they rarely bother with any of the nasty, invasive native grasses in almost every lawn. Oh no, they go right after your rye grasses and rescues.

We will be monitoring our different routes for evidence of damage in all our client's landscapes. If you are already on our crane fly control program, rest easy. We will be applying the proper control at the proper time to control this pest. If you are not on the control program we will notify you if we noted adults in your landscape this fall, and advise you of the need for preventative measures.

If you are not on the control program and notice distinctive thinning, discoloration or heavy bird activity in your lawn, you quite possibly have a crane fly larvae problem. If you are unsure, we are always just a phone call away.

Now, if we can just avoid the Great Snow Mold Debacle of last winter . . . ah, but that's the stuff of a future blog .

Feed Your Trees and Shrubs This Fall

But why, you might ask, fertilize in the fall? Aren't my trees and shrubs going to be dormant over the winter?

The answer is yes, they do go dormant, but this dormancy is not a complete "shut down". Their metabolism, energy consumption and growth all slow down, but (and this is the key), they do not completely shut down.

By feeding your trees and shrubs in the fall, we are providing them with essential nutrients and micro-nutrients to carry them through the winter into spring. True, many of these nutrients are already in the soil, but the plants are unable to access them. We give em what they need, in a form they can readily use.

Nitrogen (not much and mostly slow release), phosphorus, potash, magnesium, sulfur, boron, copper and iron are all included, in exacting measure. This special blend is formulated specifically for our Northwest winters, providing your trees and shrubs with exactly what they need to thrive throughout our sometimes crazy winters.

The benefits of fall feeding include; increased root development, resistance to frost and freeze damage, improved general hardiness and a store of energy that is available if needed for prolonged winter weather.

So do your landscape a favor and get this service done! we have seen really amazing results in the trees and shrubs of our client's who take advantage of fall and spring feeding. See for yourself what a difference Tuff Turf can make.