Lawn Care Tips & Advice
LAWN HEALTH CARE IN DRY CONDITIONS
We have been getting a lot of questions from you and we want to make sure you have the right information! We have prepared this Frequently Asked Questions guide to Lawn Health Care in Dry Conditions to help you make the right decisions regarding your lawn this summer. We hope you find this helpful, and we encourage you to give us a call or shoot us an email if you need any additional information. Should I stop my Lawn Health Care applications since the weather has been so hot and dry? At Quality Care, we believe strongly in continuing your Lawn Health Care program through the entire growing season. (For more information check out this article by Dr. Nick Christians of Iowa State University) We use slow release dual coated fertilizers that are water-activated, and choose nutrient mixes appropriate to the time of year. In dry conditions, we also adjust the quantity of fertilizer being applied. Even though your lawn may be dormant now, the fertilizer we apply will help your grass plants to rebound and reestablish into a healthy turf when weather conditions improve. Will weed control products used in hot, dry weather harm my lawn? No. Keeping weed pressure controlled in a lawn suffering from drought stress will help your turf recover when weather conditions improve. Our licensed technicians are trained to spot-spray in these weather conditions, and to identify areas of concern and communicate those concerns to you. When should I begin to water my lawn? We recommend lawns get 1″ of water per week. This is best applied in two separate sessions (1/2″ each session) between 4 and 9 a.m. to avoid losing water to evaporation. An easy way to approximate the amount of water you’re giving your lawn is to place an inexpensive rain gauge within the area you’re sprinkling, and stop when you’ve reached one half inch. Be sure all areas, including your landscape plantings, are included in the watering.Simulating the same conditions for your landscape plantings, especially young trees and shrubs, as you do for your lawn, will be very beneficial. Does mowing height matter? Mowing height is surprisingly important to turf health. The ideal height of grass depends on weather and time of year. In general, grass should be cut shorter in spring and fall than in summer. Quick-growing grass can stand a shorter cut in the milder seasons, but hot summer weather can stress short grass plants. When mowing, always check your lawn to make sure you’ve chosen a good mowing height. Aim for 3.5″ – 4″. A thick lawn is the best defense against weeds and any other fungal issues!
The Dirt on Our New Fert
At Quality Care, we’ve long known that healthy lawns start with healthy soils. Soil alive with microbial activity and rich in organic matter makes the nutrients existing in that soil and in fertilizer we apply more available for use by your lawn. This summer, we are excited to announce a new product that we’ll be using for our Lawn Health Care programs – a product that combines the benefit of soil conditioner, organic filler material, and slow release nitrogen. That means the amount of supplemental nutrients applied can be reduced, grass plants are greener over a longer period of time, and long term health and durability is improved. This fertilizer is exclusive to Quality Care, and we’ll be using it for all our Summer and Late Summer Lawn Health Care applications. The following information is provided by The Andersons, makers of our new fertilizer. SENSIBLE There are many types of controlled-release or enhanced efficiency nitrogen products available that provide the single benefit of potentially improving the utilization of applied nitrogen. Enhanced efficiency fertilizer products use several different methods to impact the release of nutrients. Some enhanced efficiency fertilizers use physical coatings such as polymers and/or sulfur to slow the release of nitrogen. Other enhanced efficiency fertilizers use additives to suppress chemical and/or biological conversions of nitrogen compounds in the soil. HCU granules are different by design. They utilize urea-humate fusion technology which bonds a uniform coating of potassium humate over a urea granule. This coating does not act as a physical barrier to slow nitrogen release, but works synergistically with urea to promote and enhance soil biology. HCU granules contain beneficial fulvic and humic acids that provide a rich carbon source for maintaining and improving soil biology. Fulvic and humic acids have numerous proven benefits for soil and plant health which include: enhanced nutrient efficiencyenhanced micronutrient uptakeenhanced soil nutrient holding capacityenhanced biological activityenhanced water holding capacity Both fulvic and humic acids have unique physical and chemical properties that contribute to their effectiveness and the way they complement fertilizer programs. SUSTAINABLE Humic substances are recognized by most soil scientists and agronomists as the most important component of a healthy, fertile soil.Pettit, R.E. 2004. Organic Matter, Humus, Humate, Humic Acid, Fulvic Acid and Humin: Their Importance in Soil Fertility and Plant Health. Humic acid provides a carbon food source which stimulates soil microbiology. Carbon is an essential plant nutrient that provides a carbon food source and habitat. Microbes support soil and overall plant health by making nutrients available to plants in the inorganic form. Humic acid is a primary food source to grow populations of beneficial soil fungi, including mycorrhizal fungi. The complex structure of humic acids enables many opporunities for interactions with nutrients. These interactions keep nutrients accessible to the growing plants and prevent leaching or tie up. Humic acid is an environmentally sustainable addition to your nutrition program, as it allows the same quality and color to be enjoyed while applying less nutrients – BLACK IS THE NEW GREEN. Humic acids also increase the availability of micronutrients to the plant. Larger molecules of humic acids physically modify soil structure which increases soil aggregate stability, improves water infiltration, nutrient holding capacity, aeration, soil tilth, and workability. DISPERSIBLE The “magic” in Humic DG and Black Gypsum DG is the dispersing granule (DG) technology, which serves to enhance humate distribution. Upon contact with water, each DG granule disperses into thousands of micro particles, which move directly into the root zone and begin working to improve the health and quality of your turf, crop, or plant. THE UNIQUE DUAL CARBON SOURCE: HUMIC DG & BLACK GYPSUM DG Humic Acid Precursor (Plant Based Carbon) + Humate (Bio-Organic Based Carbon) Humic DG & Black Gypsum DG contain two forms of organic carbon available to the plant; a plant derived carbon source and a bio-organic derived source. Together, these two sources of organic carbon have been shown to increase soil carbon, chelate macro and micro nutrients, increase CEC and stimulate beneficial soil biology. All other competitive dry humates and powders contain a single bio-organic based carbon source. Humic DG & Black Gypsum DG positively affect the availability of fluvic acid in the short term, and allow longer term activity in chelation and soil chemistry versus liquid humate products. All humic substances found in Humic DG & Black Gypsum DG are crop available within the growing season. Humic Acid Precursor (Plant Based Carbon) Humic acid precursor contains a soluble form of organic carbon which releases into the soil as Humic DG & Black Gypsum DG disperse. Research has shown that organic carbon holds nitrogen in the soil and binds readily with carbon based acids. This increases the amount of dissolved organic carbon in the soil water. Through biochemical reactions, humic acid precursor is transformed into humic and fulvic acids which help chelate nutrients in the soil. This enhances plant nutrient uptake of applied fertilizers and soil nutrients. Black Gypsum DG Featuring the same dual carbon sources that make Humic DG unique, Black Gypsum DG is a unique bio-amendment that combines natural gypsum and humic substances in one, homogenous prill. Containing a combination of gypsum, humate and humic acid precursor, Black Gypsum DG delivers calcium, sulfur and humate (a rich source of carbon) directly to the soil utilizing our dispersing granule (DG) technology. The gypsum found in Black Gypsum DG is naturally chelated, supplying calcium without changing soil pH, and adding sulfur where needed. Acting as a soil conditioner, gypsum loosens hard packed soils and enhances the flushing of harmful salts and excess sodium. Like Humic DG, Black Gypsum DG contains dual carbon sources: humic acid precursor (plant based carbon) and humate (bio-organic based carbon). Humic acid precursor is transformed into humic and fulvic acids, helping to chelate nutrients in the soil. Humates works to prolong humic acid soil activity and to help stimulate soil microbes and biologic activity within the plant. Humates also act as a chelating agent for micronutrients, enhancing the utilization and efficiency of applied and existing nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Upon contact with water, DG technology breaks down each Black Gypsum DG granule into thousands of micro particles. These micro particles self-incorporate into the soil, moving gypsum and humic acid directly into the plant root zone and providing immediate benefits to both the soil and plant. Black Gypsum DG provides the following benefits: Increases calcium and sulfur without changing soil pHEnhances efficiency of applied and existing nutrientsIncreases soil CEC and tilthReduces soil salinityReduces thatch and stalk residue Why Black Gypsum DG Over Other Types of Standard Gypsum? Our gypsum source is calcium sulfate di-hydrate (CaSO4·2H2O), which, with two extra water molecules, is more water soluble than the anhydrite form (CaSO4). These extra molecules make calcium and sulfur more quickly available to the plant – as soon as Black Gypsum DG enters the soil solution. While a plant receiving the anhydrite form of calcium would be forced to wait days or weeks to take advantage of the applied nutrients, a plant receiving a Black Gypsum DG application begins to utilize the nutrients in hours, thanks to the di-hydrate calcium and our dispersing granule (DG) technology. Black Gypsum DG delivers 21% humic acid delivered in every application. This humate is quick acting, and provides further chelation of applied and existing nutrients, increasing their availability to the plant.
How We’re Moving Forward
As many of you know, the Governor announced measures starting Friday, May 8 to begin re-opening our communities, and easing restrictions in the counties we service. We thought it would be a good time to provide an update: In the Office Our administrative and operations offices will remain closed to the public. Our team is experiencing a high volume of requests and we apologize that our response time may be slower as a result. If you would like to make a payment, you may do so online at www.quality-care.com or by giving us a call at 319-354-3108. To schedule a mulch delivery or inquire about a lawn health care program please email email@example.com or call us at 319-354-3108. In the Field Our field team will continue practicing social distancing, and using all recommended PPE. Lawn Health Care Program Update We are currently working through spring applications and will continue to do so for the better part of May. The spring application includes a preemergence crabgrass control which prevents the germination of crabgrass seeds. While we haven’t seen crabgrass appear yet, soil temperatures are close to reaching the point at which crabgrass germinates. Our Lawn Technicians are also able to control crabgrass with a post emergence product, and will be watching for it over the next several weeks. Dandelions, however, are perennial weeds and must be treated with a contact herbicide after they appear. We are starting to see dandelions popping up in the area, if you see dandelions in your lawn, let us know so we can get them taken care of! Not yet a Lawn Health Care client? Click here to request your free proposal! Mulch We offer natural shredded hardwood mulch at $50/yard and a brown-dyed mulch at $55/yard. The delivery fee is $50 for drop offs to Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Tiffin, and Hills; and $75 for drop offs to West Branch, Solon, Riverside, Swisher, and Kalona. We do not deliver outside of these areas. The lead time for deliveries is generally 3-5 days. We are unable to offer mulch installations or mulch purchases for pick up at our shop at this time. Grass Cutting & Landscape Requests At this time, we are unable to take on new requests for grass cutting or landscape enhancement projects. Our gardeners have a full plate this spring! We truly appreciate the opportunity to work with you and take care of your lawn. If you have any questions, we are happy to help! Please do not hesitate to reach our team via email or phone. You can also manage your account online by visiting our website and selecting “Customer Login”. Wishing you all a wonderful spring! Your Friends at Quality Care
Emerald Ash Borer and Your Ash Trees
Emerald Ash Borer was first detected in North America in 2002. Since its accidental introduction from Asia, this invasive pest has killed untold millions of ash trees in forest, riparian, and urban settings. In some forests near the epicenter of the invasion in southeast Michigan, more than 99% of the ash trees with stems greater than 2.5 cm in diameter have been killed. All North American species of ash that the Borer has encountered to date are susceptible to varying degrees, including green ash, white ash, and black ash, which are the most widely distributed and abundant ash species in North America. It appears increasingly likely that the Emerald Ash Borer could functionally extirpate one of North America’s most widely distributed tree species, with devastating economic and ecological impacts. (Daniel A. Herms; Deborah G. McCullough, January 2014) While the most common tree species in North America may be susceptible to the relatively new threat of Emerald Ash Borer infestation, there are a variety of ways we can react now to help reduce the environmental and economic damage that seems inevitable. The first step in preparing for EAB is to accurately identify Ash trees in your community. The Michigan State University Extension has compiled an informative reference guide to aid in Ash Tree Identification. Another helpful guide from MSU will help you to determine weather or not your trees may already be showing signs of infestation. If the Ash trees on your property are unhealthy, you may want to consider replacement and/or removal. Be careful when removing your ash tree, as transportation of Ash debris over some boundaries is prohibited. Refer to this page for information on laws regarding Emerald Ash Borer and up to date on the resulting quarantine boundaries. If your Ash trees are in healthy condition and provide the benefit of shade over hot Iowa summers, are essential for erosion prevention, or you just couldn’t bear to lose them, you may want to consider treatment options. Quality Care, the Nature Care Company can help protect your Ash trees from this invasive species. You can find more information on Emerald Ash Borer at iowatreepests.com or emeraldashborer.info
Moles vs Voles
Each spring, we get several calls about moles and voles and turf damage caused by these pests. While the name ‘mole’ sounds very similar to the name ‘vole’ – the two are quite different animals. Even though both can damage your turf, it is important to understand their differences and the different methods needed to eradicate them. The Eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) is the most numerous and widespread, and is responsible for most of the complaints concerning mole damage to lawns and gardens. Moles are not rodents. They belong to the group of mammals known as insectivores, and thus are related to the shrew. Eastern moles have pointed snouts, greatly enlarged, rounded front feet with stout claws, and a short, nearly naked tail. They are six to eight inches long with short, velvety fur that is usually gray to silvery-gray. The eyes and ears of moles are very small and are concealed in the fur. It is a common misconception that treating a lawn for grubs will prevent an infestation of moles. Moles feed primarily on earthworms, but may also feed on spiders, beetles, centipedes, grubs and other insect larvae or pupae. Moles make two types of underground burrows: Shallow surface runs, which they use to find food. These tunnels leave create pushed up ridges as the mole “swims” through the loose topsoil. While these surface tunnels may be used frequently at first, they are eventually allowed to collapse, leaving a cracked depression in the lawn. Deep burrows are also created as the mole’s main home. The deep burrow is marked by volcano-shaped mounds of dirt that the moles push up when digging. During their burrowing activities, they produce mounds and ridges that disfigure lawns and sometimes dislodge plants or injure plant roots. Their mounds also provide a medium for the germination of weed seeds. Moles’ tunneling can cause cracks in concrete sidewalks and can even affect your foundation. Long-term damage can also be extensive. Moles are exceptional diggers and can tunnel up to 12-15 ft per hour. This can cause deep tunnels that can sink your entire soil level or cause large sunken areas in your lawn. Gophers are burrowing rodents and members of the zoological family Geomyidae. The designation “pocket” before the word gopher refers to the pockets in the gopher’s cheeks which are used by the gopher to carry food, nesting materials and other small supplies into their tunnels. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if you have a mole or a gopher! Mole hills tend to have a volcano-shape with a hole in the center of the top. Gophers, on the other hand, will kick out the dirt in a more oblong shape with a hole at one end. Your Quality Care technician can place mole baits in the runs to kill the moles and keep save your lawn from potential damage. Please call the Quality Care office for more information. Again, the Iowa State Extension office can provide you with alternatives to our bait-method of mole control. Their phone number is 319-337-2145. We highly recommend such alternative methods for dog owners- particularly for breeds that are likely to dig baits out of the runs. Our friends at the University of Missouri Extension have additional information on Controlling Nuisance Moles if you are interested. Voles are true rodents, and belong to the order Rodentia and family Arvicolidae . The word vole refers to “field”– earlier uses of the word were used as vole-mouse, and eventually became simply voles. People often refer to voles as meadow mice, or “field mice”. Voles are of pest significance in turf and landscaped areas for two reasons: They tunnel and burrow in turf areas They gnaw on the trunks and roots of various trees and ornamental plants In general, voles are compact rodents with stocky bodies, short legs, and short tails. Their eyes are small and their ears partially hidden. They usually are black, brown or gray, though many color variations exist. The adult vole ranges from 3.5 to 5 inches in length and weighs 1 to 2.5 ounces. Voles are herbivores. The stems and leaves of grasses comprise the majority of their diet, but they will also consume other green vegetation and fruits. Voles do not hibernate and are active throughout the year. During severe winters and snow cover, when green vegetation is scarce, voles often burrow around the roots of trees, which may cause damage to trees and shrubs. Voles are active during dawn and dusk, but may be seen active during the day and night as well. Vole runways in turf are formed by a combination of the vole eating the grass blades, and the constant traveling over the runway. Voles also spread excavated dirt from the burrow system in the runway, resulting in a dirt-bare path in some areas. One of the major keys to managing voles is to realize that, in many cases, voles are associated with dense cover. Inspections should begin along building exteriors. First inspect the immediate landscaping outside of the building looking for runways leading from any dense areas cutting through turf. Landscape plantings with low-lying plants such as arborvitae, creeping yews, junipers, and similar species are good candidates for vole activity. By eliminating weeds and dense ground cover around lawns the capacity of these areas to support voles is reduced. Lawn and turf should be mowed regularly. The meadow vole constructs well-defined, visible surface runways through turf areas, measuring about 1.5-2 in./4-5cm. in width. It is the sight of these paths that cause concern in March and April. Another alternative is trapping. Using mouse traps with peanut butter bait placed in the vole runs may take care of a small infestation, however, the Iowa State Extension Office can provide alternative methods or referrals for professional rodent control companies. For more information about Voles, please read this article from Purdue.
All About Aeration
Lawn aeration involves the removal of small soil plugs or cores out of the lawn. Quality Care provides aeration done with a machine that has hollow tines mounted on a drum. Known as a core aerator, it extracts 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter cores of soil and deposits them on your lawn. Soil cores are best left on the lawn surface; they typically work back into the grass in 2-4 weeks. Aeration holes are typically 1-6 inches deep and 2-6 inches apart. Aeration relieves soil compaction, improves water and nutrient movement in the soil, increases rooting, and prevents thatch accumulation. Aeration improves the growing conditions for the turfgrass plants and results in a healthier, more vigorous lawn. If your property has an irrigation system or invisible pet fence please contact us so that your technician can properly mark these utilities prior to service in order to avoid any possible damage. As lawns age or sustain heavy use from play, sports activities, pets, vehicle traffic and parking, soil compaction can result. Soil compacting forces are most severe in poorly drained or wet sites. Compaction greatly reduces the pore space within the soil that would normally hold air. Roots require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water. Compaction reduces total pore space and the amount of air within the soil. It has a negative impact on nutrient uptake and water infiltration, in addition to being a physical barrier to root growth. This results in poor top growth and lawn deterioration. Core aeration can benefit your lawn by: Increasing the activity of soil microorganisms that decompose thatch. Increasing water, nutrient and oxygen movement into the soil. Improving rooting. Enhancing infiltration of rainfall or irrigation. Helping prevent fertilizer and pesticide run-off from overly compacted areas. The frequency of aeration is largely determined by the soil type and the amount of use. Lawns growing in heavy, clay soils and those subject to heavy foot or pet traffic should be aerated twice a year. Once a year should be sufficient for lawns that are established on well-drained soils and experience little traffic. In Iowa, September and April are the best times to aerate Kentucky bluegrass and other cool-season lawns. While the overall results are beneficial, core aeration does cause some initial damage. Aerating in September or April allows the grass to quickly recover during the favorable growing conditions in early fall and spring. Lawns may be fertilized and seeded either before or quickly-following aeration.
The Language of Lawn Care
How many lawn applications do I need per year? Will my application prevent grubs? Should I look for liquid or granular fertilizer? These are just a few of the questions we encounter when the time comes to choose a lawn health care program. So what should you be asking? Lawn Care Programs There are three main components to lawn care: fertilization, weed control, and pest control. Most often offered as a program, lawn care visits typically include a certain number of applications of both fertilizer and weed control over the course of the growing season. When reviewing an offer or estimate, always make sure to check that each application includes both, as some companies split weed control and fertilizer into two separate visits. Another important factor in choosing a lawn care program is the type of product used. Liquid fertilizers will provide a quicker green-up, but tend to be short lived. Slow-release granular fertilizer is more cost effective, providing you with a more sustained green-up (up to 8 weeks!), prevents “overfeeding”, as well as safeguarding against burning your lawn during the dryer summer months. Preemergence Crabgrass Control Usually included with the first application of the year (and sometimes the second), preemergence crabgrass control prevents the germination of crabgrass seeds. It’s important to remember that this does not prevent dandelions! Dandelions are a perennial weed, which will show up year after year. They will be treated after they emerge, typically in mid to late spring. One more really important note on preemergence: it prevents good seed from germinating, too; so if you are seeding your lawn in the spring, it’s important to let your lawn care company know so they can plan accordingly. In this case, a standard starter fertilizer is used without crabgrass control. How many applications do I need? The easy answer? It depends. Irrigated lawns in sunny locations use the most nutrients, so it’s not unusual to see as many as seven applications each growing season. If you have a shady lawn and your lawn health care provider is pushing that many visits, ask why; chances are four or five applications will suit your needs just fine. Remember, thin lawns are more susceptible to weed infestation, so take the time to discuss with your provider what each visit includes! What about grubs? Grub preventive is a separate product from standard granular fertilizer. Usually applied in mid-summer during the larva stage of Japanese beetles, a preventive grub control application stops grubs before they start feeding on the grass roots. While we generally see grubs in open, sunny lawns, no one can say with 100% certainty where they will appear, but chances are if you’ve had grub damage before, they’ve found something they like! Grubs can be treated post emergence as well, but it’s always more cost effective (and healthier for the lawn!) to treat them prior to full development. My estimate has a quote for liming – do I need this? Lime is applied to lawns to raise the pH, but since most of our soils tend to be neutral or a little on the high side, we don’t typically need to apply lime to lawns in our area. If your lawn care company is recommending a liming, ask why, and if the recommendation is based on a soil test or some other factor. Don’t hesitate to ask questions! Creating and maintaining a healthy, vibrant landscape is a long-term partnership/ The more you know, the more cost effective your program will be! Have a question? Send it to us here.
Protection from Pests!
Mosquito Control and Perimeter Pest Control As temperatures become consistently warm, bugs of all kinds become more active. Already you may have seen flies, ladybugs, and spiders in your yard and around buildings. We certainly have! Reduce Mosquito Pressure Are you or your kids outside on warm summer nights? West Nile Virus, spread by mosquitoes, is common to the state of Iowa, and can be deadly. Protect yourself and loved ones from disease and discomfort with Mosquito Control! This application is a spray applied to your grass up to 3 times over the course of the active mosquito season. If you live near water, woods, or other mosquito breeding grounds, you will love this treatment! Like all applications, we would recommend that you keep pets and kids off the lawn until it dries, but after it’s dry the only ones that have to worry are the mosquitoes. Be Proactive – Keep Bugs Outside! Do you find your home plagued with ants, spiders, centipedes, ladybugs or box elder (potato) bugs? Once they get in, they range from annoying to impossible to get out. Be proactive this year with our Perimeter Pest Program. This spray is applied up to four times from spring to fall to the foundation of your home, three feet up and three feet out, forming a protective barrier that discourages many-legged invaders from entering your home. You will notice an immediate effect! Contact us with questions, or request a proposal today!
Your Thirsty Lawn
Keeping Your Lawn and Landscape Green All Season Long Like any plant in your garden or window box, your turf grass needs water to survive. While Iowa’s frequent rainshowers often fit the bill in spring, in summer it’s not so simple. With temperatures in the 80s and 90s, Iowa summers can be sweltering, and dry spells are common. While it’s normal for your turf grass to go into dormancy during this time, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a great-looking lawn and landscape! Keep your lawn ready for a summer cookout all season with these lawn care tips. Lawn Health Care in Summer Some of our friends have asked us whether they should stop their fertilization and weed control applications if the grass isn’t growing. On the contrary, since our fertilizers are slow-release, water-activated granules rather than a spray, your lawn will get the feeding it needs with the morning dew and summer storms, without the risk of burning. We also adjust the amount of fertilizer we put down. This will help your lawn rebound at the end of the season when temperatures cool down. Also, weeds take advantage of stressed lawns; leaving off your applications now might mean sacrificing your weed-free lawn or losing ground to tenacious weeds. Our technicians spot-spray in these conditions, meaning we target your weeds where they are, when they arise. When Should I Water? A period of dormancy during the hottest part of the summer is normal and natural for your grass — however, more than a month with scant rainfall means the ground around the grass roots is drying out and may result in some die-off. During very dry periods, water your lawn to about half an inch twice a week. However, don’t waste your water! If you water between 4 and 9 am, you won’t lose it to evaporation under the sun. I Have an Irrigation System… Excellent! Set your timer for that early morning time. There are rain-detector devices available for irrigation systems so your system will recognize and not turn on after a storm, or if your lawn has sufficient moisture, and we offer water-saving irrigation heads to keep money in your wallet and protect our natural resources! We also offer a full service irrigation maintenance program! This includes: Irrigation Start-Up: In the spring we will re-attach your backflow prevention device (if removed for winter), turn water on for your system, run through each zone to check for broken heads, adjust sprinkler coverage, and make repairs as needed. At the same time, we help you customize your program so your system runs the desired amount of water and time. Backflow Certification: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law! City code requires yearly testing of your backflow prevention device to ensure that it’s working properly and protecting your city water supply. Our state-certified technicians perform mandatory backflow prevention tests as required by city and state regulations. Midseason Checks: We offer midseason checks to help manage your irrigation system. This includes running through the system midseason to check for broken heads and leaks, adjusting sprinkler coverage and making repairs as needed. We can also help you adjust your controller to run the system based on weather needs– typically this is a drier time of the year when your irrigation system is required to run more often. This is helpful because irrigation systems typically run early in the morning when you might not see it run– therefore, you might not be aware of issues that need repaired. Irrigation Shut-Down/Winterization: In autumn, after your water is turned off to the system, we will blow out all remaining water in the system with compressed air to prevent freezing damage. If your backflow device is located outside we will remove the device and leave it with you to store in a heated area over the winter. If your backflow prevention device can be removed, it’s a very good idea to do so and keep it somewhere that will not freeze. Even if all water has been blown from the device, the plastic inner parts are subject to freeze damage and can break over the winter– and are surprisingly costly to repair! Repairs: We can make repairs to irrigation systems– as soon as you notice something looks wrong, give us a call! The sooner your system is in good repair, the better your lawn will look and the less money you will spend on wasted water. What About My Flowers, Trees and Shrubs? Mulch! If you didn’t take advantage of mulch for your landscaping in the spring, it’s not too late. Mulch helps protect your plants from the dry conditions by creating a moisture-retaining buffer, and slowly breaking down to enrich the soil. It’s also a good idea to mimic the conditions of the average rainfall, same as for your lawn — a half inch once or twice a week. A good way to test the amount of water reaching your plantings is to place an inexpensive rain gauge in the area and stop at the half-inch mark. Also, keep an eye out! Make sure all your plants are receiving that water. For trees, try placing a hose on the ‘upstream’ side of your trees and set to trickle for a few hours. This slow, deep and heavy watering, once a week, should help protect your trees from stress. We Can Help! We can supply mulch for your landscaping and we can start up, maintain and repair your irrigation system. Should a severe drought set in, we’ve done it before and we can do it again: our watering trucks are ready and waiting to protect your lawn from die-off. We’re happy to answer any questions that you have!
Grubs in Your Lawn
Understanding and Preventing Grub Damage An established lawn is an investment into your home and community. Not only is a well-maintained lawn aesthetically pleasing, the grass plants filter storm water and reduce erosion of topsoil, which is good for everyone! It makes sense, then, to protect your investment. Grub damage is devastating to your grass and irreversible except through re-seeding. Preventing damage is easy, though, with the right information and tools. What are grubs? Grubs are, in a general sense, the larvae of beetles. White, small and thick, they have little better to do than eat from the moment they’ve hatched to the moment they begin to metamorphose into adults. While some beetles are actually fairly good for your lawn and garden, since they help dispose of decaying plant matter, the white grubs in your lawn are highly destructive. What should I look out for? The most telltale sign of grub damage is unfortunately the final stage of damage: after the roots of your grass have been completely eaten away. If you see patchy dead spots that can be pulled up like a rug with little resistance, with or without the white grubs still present underneath, you have had grubs. Other signs can be increased raccoon, mole or bird activity in certain areas of your lawn, as these all feed on grubs among other things. Preventing Grub Damage The healthier your lawn, the more attractive it is for beetles to lay eggs in it. June and early July are the pre-hatching season for these beetles – so if you’re going to put down preventive grub control, that is the time to do it! Preventive grub products keep the beetle eggs from hatching and do absolutely nothing once the eggs have hatched. After hatching, only insecticide can stop the grubs! Quality Care can help! We offer an affordable, annual Preventive Grub Control application that prevents beetle eggs from hatching and a Grub Curative application if the damage has already begun. Drop us a line for a free estimate. Preventive grub control is like an insurance policy on the investment you’ve made into your lawn, your home, and your community. A beetle may never lay a single egg in your lawn – but prevention that isn’t needed is far less expensive and time-consuming than curing and repairing the damage done.
At Quality Care, our staff and technicians are what some call “pet people.” We love our dogs and cats (and assorted gold fish and other pets too!) But we are aware that sometimes they can leave “spots,” and no, not the kind you find on your average Dalmatian. A pristine, evenly green lawn is a human invention that our pets have difficulty understanding. The brown spots caused by their urine are simply the result of too much nitrogen concentrated in a small area. You can recognize pet spots or burn spots by a small crater of brown grass surrounded by a ring of overly-green grass. Urine damage has nothing to do with acid, so canine dietary supplements that alter the urine’s pH have no effect on pet spots. For this same reason, lime treatments tend to be ineffective at treating or reducing burn spots caused by pet urine. Female dogs do not have more potent urine than males, but female dogs (and puppies) do tend to “squat” and concentrate their urine in one small spot. Watering the lawn will help flush excess nitrogen from concentrated areas and reduce the damage done by pet spots. Create a dog run, or fenced area on your property that is in a low-visibility part of your lawn. You can also train your pet to use a mulched area for their bathroom needs. Our friends at Purdue Extension have some great tips for pet owners who want to keep their lawns looking healthy and green! Animal Urine Damage In Turf (PDF).
Get It Growing – Partnering with KGAN
We’re proud to partner with KGAN CBS2/FOX28 on “Get It Growing,” a biweekly segment on our local morning news! Look out for Geoff Wilming every other Thursday morning in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City! Most Current 10/9/20 Fall colors signal an important time for lawn preparation 9/25/20: Lawn Care tips for Fall 9/4/20: Derecho Safety Tips and Seeding Season 8/24/20: Make your re-build easier 7/31/20: Prepping for Fall 7/10/20: Caring for your lawn during dry periods 7/3/20: Sod’s Summer Sores 6/12/20: Grubs, bugs, and outdoor shrubs 5/29/20: Common Fungal Infections 5/22/20: Summer Seeding and Invasive Plants 5/1/20: Planting season is upon us! 1/30/2020: Growing Healthy Trees 1/16/2020: The Language of Lawn Care 10/3/2019: Fall Colors 8/22/2019: Assessing Your Lawn 8/15/2019: Droughts and Grub Damage 4/25/2019: Spring Preparations 4/4/2019: Mulching 3/28/2019: Lawn Restoration 3/21/2019: Spring Lawn Care 1/10/2019: Winter Pruning 11/8/18: Tree Care and Pruning 10/25/18: Extended Growing Season 8/16/18: Naked Lady Lily and Lawn Rust 8/2/18: Grub Damage and Gardening Goods 7/12/18: Yard Abnormalities 6/29/18: Protect Your Yard 3/29/18: Spring Grasses 1/25/2018: Your Lawn Health Care Program 1/11/2018: Indoor Gardening 7/20/2017: Strange Landscape Encounters 7/6/2017: Wildflowers and Japanese Beetles 6/22/2017: Summer Challenges 6/8/2017: Soil 6/1/2017: Wild Parsnip Warning and All About Bugs 5/11/2017: Mother’s Day Bouquets 4/27/17: Happy Arbor Day! 4/13/17: Easter Lilies
They’re Here! Japanese Beetles
Protect Your Landscaping From Hungry Beetles! Summer is here, and with it the invasive Japanese Beetle. These insects are devastating to your trees and shrubs – take action NOW with Quality Care! What are Japanese Beetles? These metallic green and copper chafers (flying beetles) are invasive pests – as adults they devastate the fruit and foliage of trees and shrubs, while as larvae (grubs) they can cause irreversible damage to your lawn. Japanese Beetles feed primarily on linden, crabapple and birch trees, as well as flowering shrubs like roses, hydrangeas and grape plants. These beetles are active from early summer (late June to early July) and feed, mate and lay eggs for about eight weeks before dying off. Why Should I Protect My Trees and Shrubs? Because Japanese Beetles feed on leaf tissue, they can swiftly strip a tree or shrub of all its leaves, ruining its good looks for the entire season! If you have a birch, linden, crabapple or flowering shrub you want to save, then now is the time to take action – before it’s too late! Will Treating Japanese Beetles Get Rid of Grubs? While Japanese Beetles are one of the sources of the ‘white grub’ which can be disastrous for your turf grass, their flight ability means we can’t control where they feed or lay their eggs. If you have Japanese Beetles, you do not necessarily have grubs – and grubs don’t always mean you should expect Japanese Beetles. However, the healthier your lawn, the more attractive it is to these pests, so that is important to keep in mind. We do offer a Preventive Grub Application which keeps beetle eggs from hatching into grubs – this insurance can help protect your lawn and is far more affordable than repairing grub damage. What Can Quality Care Do? Quality Care is here to help! We offer a curative application to save your trees. If you see beetles now, contact us immediately, and we will get you scheduled for a treatment to cure the infestation. We understand this is an emergency and we treat it like one! The curative lasts four weeks – if you see beetle activity afterward, you may need another treatment. I saw a collection bag at my hardware store. Can’t I use that instead? Please don’t – those bags are made to deal with beetle populations over large areas like parks, golf courses and acreages. They’re intended to attract swarms of beetles to an area far from their feeding grounds and trap them there. An urban or suburban lawn simply isn’t big enough to keep the bag from acting more like a beacon than a solution, and may cause irreparable damage to your landscaping and trees. We’re here to help! Contact Us or Request a Proposal Today!