July 3, 2014

Hydrophobic Soil: The Truth About Dry Spots

Hydrophobic soil causes shallow roots and a higher incidence of lawn diseases because the grass doesn't have an extensive root system or the resources to grow out from under the leaf disease.  Natural levels of Grubs or Chinch bugs result in major damage because the minimal root system just can't repair the damage fast enough.

 The simple truth about dry spots in a lawn isn't always the amount of water being applied, sometimes the issue is that the soil particles just don't absorb the water.  Hydrophobic soil causes water to collect on the soil surface rather than infiltrate into the ground. Wild fires generally cause soils to be hydrophobic temporarily, which increases the soils ability to repel water,  

In our region of the country due to the high clay content of our soils, soils that overheat and get baked in the sunlight, unbeknownst to us,  can become hydrophobic. Golf fairways are plagued with hydrophobic spots due to low mowing heights that offer little shade to the soil when irrigation systems go down for repair for extended time periods.  Humans have built with mud bricks since the dawn of civilization. Ancient Mesopotamians used bricks to build walls and buildings. Native Americans used sun-dried bricks to build houses. Even today, about half of the people on the planet live in homes constructed of mud bricks.

To determine if you have a hydrophobic soil condition or a real lack of water issue try this technique.  In areas where the lawn is green, toss out several cat food cans or tuna fish cans.  Do the same in the dry spots.  Next, run the sprinkler system for an hour and then compare the water levels in both areas.  If the level is about the same in all cans, you have hydrophobic soil.  If the cans left in the dry spot  are nearly empty, call the sprinkler repair man to adjust heads or add a few additional heads, hydrophobic soil is not your issue.
Once a soil is hydrophobic, it is impossible to correct the problem by adding additional irrigation water.  It would be like expecting dried bricks to become workable clay again by soaking the bricks in water.

The main issue as I see it, is that hydrophobic soil restricts the downward development of grass roots due to the newly developed soil texture and the inability of the soil to attract the water molecule.  I use the analogy of two magnets.  Hydrophobic soil is like taking one magnet and calling it water and the other magnet and calling it a soil particle.  There is no way you will ever get the two magnets to stick together because they both have the same electrical charge so they repel one another.   Changing the polarity or electrical charge of the soil is the only option  that will result in your soil to begin absorbing water once again. 

Back in 1999 I stumbled upon a chemistry that when applied to hydrophobic soil, corrects the problem in as little as one to two treatments.  I named my product "Revitalize". Over the last 15 years we have been successfully treating lawns with dry spots to cure an age old problem.  

Homeowners that have asked us to spray their lawn that don't have dry spots report that they have been able to water less and have the same green lawn.  When you are accidentally over watering your lawn due to slight hydrophobic soil conditions (that don't yet result in dry spots), the excessive water can start to drown your trees, causing them to turn yellow, drop leaves and even drop twigs excessively, but that's going to be the subject for next month.

Until next time...

Todd Graus
Green Turf Lawnscapes, Inc

Humans have build with mud bricks since the dawn of civilization. Ancient Mesopotamians used bricks to build walls and buildings. Native Americans used sun-dried bricks to build houses. Even today, about half of the people on the planet live in homes constructed of mud bricks

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_10059131_make-sundried-bricks.html
Humans have build with mud bricks since the dawn of civilization. Ancient Mesopotamians used bricks to build walls and buildings. Native Americans used sun-dried bricks to build houses. Even today, about half of the people on the planet live in homes constructed of mud bricks

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_10059131_make-sundried-bricks.html
Humans have build with mud bricks since the dawn of civilization. Ancient Mesopotamians used bricks to build walls and buildings. Native Americans used sun-dried bricks to build houses. Even today, about half of the people on the planet live in homes constructed of mud bricks

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_10059131_make-sundried-bricks.html

June 16, 2014

Bad Planting = Dead Branches & Heavy Cone Production

Over my 30 year career, I have observed extremely high cone production on spruces in concert with the bottom branches dying from the bottom upward.  My opinion is that these symptoms were a direct result of extreme stress exerted upon trees that had been transplanted as balled and burlap trees or spade truck trees.  Poor nutrition, planting too deep, girdling twine or girdled roots are to blame. The worst part of this story is that improperly planted trees dies several years (5-15) after planting and absolutely after the warranty expires.  As a tree pathologist and consulting arborist, its my job to determine the stress factors upon trees in there present location and make recommendation to correct. 

Back in 2009 I was called to diagnose problems with three hundred-fifty (350), 10' tall blue spruce outside of Jackson Hole. Two different companies had planted trees on this property in the same season.
Company A:  Three hundred twenty five (325) had been planted 8-12" below grade. the bottom branches of these trees had to be removed by the landscaper just to get the soil back in the planting hole. The cages were still attached, burlap was still covering the top of the ball and was still wrapped around the trunk secured there by the nylon twine.  The burlap had not begun to decay and the combination of burlap and twine all below grade with soil microbes eating away at the portion of trunk bake buried was beginning to girdle the trunk.  These trees all had different stages of root, basal and vascular disease's. These stressed trees (325) had been producing bumper crops of spruce cones for 3 years straight prior to my arrival and the tops were bent over due to the weight with some 50-70 cones each year being represented. 

Company B: Twenty five (25) trees where planted at the proper grade. The burlap was removed back to the edge of ball and they also removed the twine.  These 25 all had maybe 15-25 cones each.

After remediation and implementing of a proper health care program of all trees in question, with the exception of a few that were just too far along to save are now healthy and produce alternately, a light crop one year of 20 cones and a bit heavier cone crop the next year of about 30 cones.

My take on this situation and many other sites is that stressed trees that have been transplanted improperly may very well begin to produce a mega cone crop as it senses it's mortality.  Healthy trees on the other hand produce but a bucket full each year. 

As you inventory your spruces or a friends trees, which ones don't look like the others?  On average as you scan the landscape, which individuals trees are loaded with cones?  They may just be the tip of the iceberg and the others may just be a year or two from having the same problems.  In this situation, sooner is better.  For every year it took the tree to become visually stressed, plan on the same amount of years to get them back to showpiece condition.

Until next time...

Todd Graus

April 2, 2014

Dangers of a Power Rake

Power raking was was very popular back when I was young and the lawn mowers only discharged the clippings out the side of the deck (pre baggers).  In the fall of the year there would be an inch of dried lawn clippings that had never decayed.  If these clippings were not raked out the winter would turn this layer into an impenetrable mat. Have you ever used lawn clippings to keep the weeds down in a flowerbed or garden? If you did, you probably only used one or two weeks worth of clippings.  Back then the clippings accumulated for 20-30 mowings.  Get the picture? 

In the fall homeowners would dethatch their lawn after the turf went dormant, after the lawn turned brown.  By power raking in the late fall it would lift out all the psudo-thatch (lawn clippings and dead plants) prep the soils surface that would allow new grass shoots to rise up through the soil in the spring.  That same day they would apply a granular Winterizer Fertilizer and begin to water it in.  This feeding would offer the lawn enough food to repair the damage caused by the power rake and prepare it for the winter.  By the following spring the lawn would green up on its own so the first application of fertilizer (starter fertilizer) applied in the spring would help the plant to drive down deep roots that would allow for better usage of water.  In the spring there is only enough time to repair damaged roots or promote deep rooting, not both. 

Power Raking after Grass Greens Up is BAD
Fast forward to 2014.  In our area the soil pH is very high. organic matter is slim and soil microbe populations in the soil are very low.  Companies that apply liquid lawn fertilizer or high volumes of liquid weed killers also contribute to the decrease in microbe population.  Homeowners with shallower root systems water like mad to keep everything green.  If you bag your lawn clippings, good for you.  The biggest lie about mulching lawn mowers is that if you mulch, you can disregard one application of fertilizer each year. False!  What they don't tell you is that you are contributing to the thatch build up because the low microbe population can't possibly breakdown this much biomass each week.  Also, microbes live in the soil and the mulched clippings or even old dead leaves and plants are wilted onto a mat of dead clippings, insulating them from the soil microbes!

Over my 30 year career, I have witnessed the rise of lawn diseases, shallow roots and weeds that love areas tilled up by a power rake.  The need for increase in water during the summer is proportional to the increase of poweraking in the spring.  The chances that you will have a Grub infestation, crabgrass or lawn disease is about 90%. Of course, Green Turf Lawnscapes customers receive the proper quality, quantity and  quantification to make their neighbors Green with Envy. 

 A Power rake only has my blessing in late November ,every 10 years or in the event the lawn needs to be totally renovated and reseeded.  For a happy and healthy lawn, get the lawn mowed extremely short and aerate it in the spring.  You will have less weeds, bugs and crud to deal with this summer and more money in your pocket due to a smaller water bill.

Until Next time,

   Let Us Put You ... In the Green

March 19, 2014

Early Watering In the Spring, Results in Less Watering this Summer

As we leave winter behind us, one situation will persist unless we correct a soil moisture problem.  We have all witnessed farmers watering their fields late into the fall or just prior to planting.  Farmers are recharging the "subsoil moisture", which essentially is a battery of reserved water that can be drawn upon between rains or irrigation cycles during the summer. On residential lawns, all enter the spring growing season with depleted soil moisture levels in the 2-4 feet depths.  As we move into the summer months, the irrigation water we apply can be siphoned downward as if the subsoil were a dry sponge very quickly and the roots in the A Horizon can only use it for a few hours before the water moves beyond the root tips.   If you don't follow these instructions, you are more than likely going to be forced to water daily to keep the top few inches of soil wet throughout the summer.   

Back in 2002, Green Turf Lawnscapes I (Owner Todd Graus) pioneered a new watering regime to help the residents of Greybull, Wyoming to deal with the water shortage in Shell Creek and the impending watering restrictions that were to again impact the city as they did in 2001.  The idea was to force root to grow deeper to allow them to draw water from a deeper profile that summer.  By 2005 our watering instructions were being picked up by the residents of Colorado due to the drought impacting that state.  Bottom line, this system works.

How It's Done

In the spring before the soil temperatures heat up and the roots of lawns begin to develop, it may sound crazy but it is possible to begin to water our own lawn crops to replenish the subsoil moisture in the B & C Horizons.  Sadly however, most lawns have their roots just in the A Horizon.


Therefore, we will ask you to water deep and heavy early as the lawn is greening up and then ask you to withhold water for the next few months to help force the roots to look for water deeper in the B Horizon.  There is no need to water because the temps are cool enough and we still get a few spring rains to prevent the lawn from drying up to much,

When the "spring root development phase" is completed, the results are deeper roots which can draw water from a larger and deeper soil profile in the summer. Remember, this can only be done as the lawn is coming out of dormancy and until the lawn is being mowed regularly.  Most of your neighbors will have a shallow root systems this year as they have had forever, their roots will only located in the A Horizon which will require them to water much more this summer. You on the other hand will be able to voluntarily water less still maintain a healthy turf and greener color resistant to higher pressures of bugs and crud.

Make every effort to schedule your watering system to be turned on by April 1st. (Except in Jackson - shoot for April 15th) We have been reviewing  the historic weather data tables and have concluded that by these dates in the spring there will be no danger of a late frost driving deep enough into the soil to freeze up an activated watering system.

On the other hand, IF you can’t get it turned on because your ditch water hasn’t arrived yet or your irrigation company hasn't gotten to you yet, just hook up a couple of hoses to the city water system and water 2-3 hours in each position. Following is an example of a watering regime proven to work.

Remember to follow the strict watering instruction when you receive your first fertilizer application so you may have to alter slightly the schedule below.

March -Irrigate every other day for 30-60 minute or until the water starts to puddle up.  When Green Turf Applies the first application, wait 3 days for the weed control to absorb into the weeds and then activate the Dry, slow release fertilizer with a deep watering and then don't water again until May or until Round 2.

April - Restrict all watering unless fertilizer and or weed application requires watering.

May - Restrict all watering unless fertilizer and or weed application requires watering.

June - When temperatures begin to average 93 degrees start watering 1 time per week.

July-September -  You may get away with water 2 times a week, 45-120 minutes per station or spot.

Dangers of Power Raking and De-thatching Blades on mowers.

Last but not least, it is important that you understand that in the spring, the roots have to make a decision, repair damaged rootsfrom winter OR grow deeper roots.

Listen closely, if you power rake or De-thatch your lawn in the spring, these machines tug, tear and pull on the root system and create some bare spots.  In this case, the roots will not grow deep because they need to use all their energy repairing the damage from the De-thatching process.  You will end up with roots only occupying the A Horizon regardless of how you water in the spring.  Just mow the lawn super short the first time and aerate your lawn instead. In addition, lawns power raked or De-thatch in the spring results in lawns struggling with crabgrass, excessive broad leaf weeds because they compete well with turf grass when their are bare spots and higher incident of lawn diseases and grubs!

Until Next Time... Start Enjoying family activities in the Out of Doors on your GREEN TURF.

Todd & Holly Graus

February 12, 2014

30th Anniversary (1984-2014)

We begin our 30th year in business since the birth of a small town lawn and tree care company that since has seemed to have gone big-time.  I don't say this to be boasting or bragging, only that we must have done something right that has struck a cord with the public.  Since our humble beginnings in Northern Nebraska we have served Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming.  Currently we serve 30% of Wyoming with a branch in Worland, Wyoming and our Corporate headquarters in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  This year we continue to grow with the times and have opened another branch office in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

What's the secret of our continued success?  We have always been a company founded on free lawn and tree evaluations, high quality products for an awesome value.  We may have to apologize for our prices from time to time, but we will never have to apologize for our quality.  High Quality products and the high quality service we provide has always taken care of us.  You get one shot each year to have your own Garden of Eden and poor quality that comes along with cheep prices sets your landscape to be average at best.  The Green grass will always be on the Green Turf side of the fence.

With social media what it is today; Websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and now a Blog, all these different medias will feed off each other to tell the story of the daily and future directions of Green Turf Lawnscapes, relying on our 30 years of history, experience and wisdom.

My Mom & Dad, Laverne & Joyce Graus, taught me the lesson of long hours and work ethic.  It's faster to do the job the right way the first time and to clean up my messes and leave a job site cleaner than I found it. We take the time to teach our staff members, that don't have my experience of growing up with parents that lived through the Great Depression, to care for the lawns and trees as if they are the last ones on the planet and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  It is better to have a set program in place to care for the trees and turf, preventing problems rather than always being reactive.  All the different social medias that we will use, will help inform you to the environment around you that will untimely affect your little piece of paradise.  

Welcome to "Grow'n with the Times", my 30 year old newsletter that has now gone digital in the form of a blog.

May God Bless you all and Welcome to our journey.

Todd & Holly Graus