Welcome to the Customer Resource Center
Our Customer Resource Center is here to provide you with additional information you may need to know. As always, if you have any questions, please give us a call. We are always here to help.
What to Expect this Fall:
As summer season draws to a close, autumn season will usher in milder temperatures, lower relative humidity, and shorter days than nights. These environmental factors will affect changes to your landscape that will demand different care and maintenance from what is needed during the grueling summer season. With slightly lower temperatures and shorter days, plants’ water demands are generally moderate and will continue to decrease as we progress closer to winter. Autumn pruning of shrubs is a common practice since plants will show minimal stress and will recondition very quickly as well. Nevertheless, you will still need to take some steps to protect your landscape. This time of year, insects are still just as active as they are during summer. Diseases, particularly for turf grass, thrive in mild humid weather. Central Florida Autumn evenings are the perfect growing conditions for diseases such as Brown Patch Fungus to flare almost overnight, which can severely affect St. Augustine and Zoysia lawns in particular. In addition, fall season is generally dryer than during the summer months. With rain showers occurring less frequently, any areas not adequately covered by your irrigation system will begin to show areas of wilting turf, and if prolonged, will go into drought. It is the perfect time to make sure that your irrigation system is dispersing adequate water evenly throughout the lawn. Any turf damage due to drought that occurs during this time may take many months to fill back in, as the lawn will soon go into winter dormancy. As Benjamin Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Fall landscape maintenance can be narrowed down to 5 easy to monitor items.
- Installing New Sod (if needed)
- Weed control
- Watering practices
- Mowing practices
Installing New Sod: Autumn is the perfect time to install new sod and plants. This is because plants will not lose water as quickly as they do during summer and they tend to grow roots very quickly this time of year. If you are installing new grass, there are a few things to look out for. First, make certain your new sod did not arrive with Sod Webworms. At their larval state, Sod Webworms will damage grass by chewing on the leaf blades. Damage will resemble mowed down turf that is lower in some areas. Sod Webworms are most active at night and will rest during the daylight hours. The good news is that Sod Webworms are a turf damaging insect that can be controlled. Be sure to have your new sod inspected by a lawn professional once it is installed. Something else to consider is that when sod arrives to your home, it is delivered on large, stacked pallets. Sod on a pallet is subject to zero light conditions and the leaves usually stay moist longer than 48 hours, therefore it often arrives with fungus and will need proper treatment immediately after installation. Also, Gray Leaf Spot is not uncommon on new sod, especially St. Augustine and Zoysia. Although it is not a threat to established turf, Gray Leaf Spot will severely damage new sod if left untreated. Gray Leaf Spot can be easily controlled with fungicide applications, which is why it’s very important to have your new sod professionally treated as soon as it is installed. New Sod should also be watered everyday for 30 days, but not mowed.
Fertilization: This is one component that we take care of for you. If you have our platinum lawn care program, we have maintained the color and density of your lawn and shrubs during the summer months, kept it protected against lawn damaging insects, and kept the summer weeds under control. By now, the lawn has used up a good portion of the nutrient base that was applied during the spring application. This is the time of year when we replenish the soil with a full analysis fertilizer to help restore nutrients back into the soil to keep a healthy supply and nutritional balance for turf grass to regain a deep green color and density. Our fertilizer also incorporates pre and post-emergent products to suppress winter weeds and keep them from establishing on the lawn. The fall applications that we perform are designed to improve color and density of turf, continuously feeding turf grass with slow-release granular fertilizer. This is aimed to improve the condition of the grass during the fall and prepare it for the winter season.
Weed Control: Heron has got you covered. Treating the lawn with Pre-emergent weed control before weeds become established is important in the fall to prevent your lawn from being overrun by winter weeds. Pre-emergent weed control products help prevent weeds from germinating, which means that weeds will begin to grow and put out shoots after a period of dormancy. Also, Grass is more susceptible to injury from herbicides during the winter season and there are some weeds we simply will not be able to treat. Therefore, weed prevention in the fall will be the best practice for preventing weeds in the winter. Although we are preventing the weeds from emerging in your lawn, you may still get some persistent weeds that will emerge. When this happens, a post emergent weed control will be used to further treat difficult to control weeds. Post emergent weed control is used when a weed has emerged. Long lasting pre and post emergent weed control will lessen the impact of summer weeds and emerging winter weeds.
Watering Practices: Without rain or supplemental irrigation, a lawn will deplete of moisture within just a few days. Soil will dry out from top to bottom. Therefore, the deeper the root system of your turf grass, the better it will be able to withstand drought stress. It is critical that your lawn be conditioned to develop a long root system. Applying ¾” to 1” of water per application will wet about 8 to12” of soil underneath. Allowing the grass to slightly wilt before watering will prompt the grass to seek moisture deeper into the soil, lengthening the roots and thus having a greater reserve of water within the plant structure. This will allow the grass to go longer without needing water. When properly conditioned, the grass will require only about two watering cycles per week at the beginning of fall. As winter approaches, you will be instructed by your local water management authority to back off your irrigation to a maximum of once per week. Provided the lawn has been watered correctly up to this point, one watering cycle a week will generally keep the grass in good order. Be sure to monitor watering times and duration carefully, as overwatering can damage a lawn just as much as under watering can. Brown Patch is a common disease in St. Augustine and Zoysia grass which thrives in wet conditions. Remember, grass needs to be properly irrigated…not saturated. The leaf blade will tell you when you need water. When the leaf blade starts to close and fold up, that is the turf telling you it needs water. Deep and infrequent watering is best. The blades of the grass must be dry at the onset of sub freezing temperatures, but the water in the soil will help insulate the root structure of the grass, decreasing the potential for cold injury. Do NOT water during a freeze event or substantial damage to the grass may result. Our irrigation team is always here to help with any irrigation concerns that you may have. If you would like a free irrigation analysis, please call our office.
Mowing Practices: Continue to stay on top of your grass so that damage is not incurred from improper mowing. Never mow your lawn shorter than the recommended length for your grass type. A good rule of thumb is that you should never cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade to achieve your turf variety’s ideal length. If you have St. Augustine at mowed height of 3 ½”, you need to mow it once it reaches 5 ½”. Emerald Zoysia should be kept at 2” and mowed once it reaches 3 inches. Intervals between mowing will increase from once per week at beginning of fall to once every 2 to 3 weeks at the onset of Winter season. A helpful tip to remember, mowing heights may be raised in the fall to reduce the risk of winterkill from low temperatures. Taller grass blades will help insulate the lower portion of the grass.
Keep a close eye on your lawn this Fall and let us know right away if something is not right.
Look in our Additional Resources http://www.heronpest.com/customer-tips/additional-resources/ to see descriptions of some key issues you will experience such as frost, north side shade decline, and brown patch fungus.