Nebraska lawn care includes mowing, fertilizer, pest control, cultivation, watering and overseeding. You have the option of doing all these tasks or hiring any or all of them done by a local professional.
Most lawn care companies should be familiar with current developments in fertilizer and pest technology than homeowners. A responsible lawn care company holds in-house training sessions and encourages its employees to attend classes and educational seminars conducted by the University of Nebraska?Lincoln Extension and/or the Nebraska Turfgrass Association.
Lawn care companies cannot perform miracles. Most conflicts between homeowners and a professional lawn care company arrive from a miscommunication over the services to be provided or unrealistic expectations about the results. This is especially true when a homeowner is looking for that ?picture perfect? lawn.
Things to look for in a professional lawn care provider
Levels of service: lawn care companies usually offer various levels of service depending on your expectations and budget. They should also offer different programs for different turfgrass species.
Response to problems: a professional lawn care company should respond to a phone call within the week (depending on time of year). If it is determined that the lawn care company should correct the situation, a reasonable amount of time may be required to complete the fix.
Level of expertise: professional lawn care technicians should be licensed by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to apply pesticides or other restricted products. Employees of the company should regularly attend training by University of Nebraska or other state colleges.
Reputation of the company: length of time in business and reputation are important considerations. Ask your neighbors if they have had any experience with professional lawn care providers. The BBB may also be checked for reputation.
When problems do arise, contact the company's service manager. Explain the problem clearly and ask how soon a technical representative can investigate the situation. Keep in mind that every problem that happens to a lawn or the surrounding vegetation is not always because the lawn care happened to be on the lawn a few days, or a few weeks ago. Sometimes bad things happen. Keep an open mind about the service manager says.
Lawn diseases and other pests
Promoting healthy growth and avoiding conditions that cause stress to your turfgrass is the best way to prevent a severe disease outbreak. Stressed lawns are an open invitation for a lawn disease to gain a foothold. Optimal maintenance practices are the best way of avoiding stressed turfgrass.
Even if a pathogen is present in the soil, infection will not occur unless the environmental conditions are conducive to disease development. Once turf diseases have become active, they can cause heavy damage if not treated properly.
Snow Mold: although not a usual problem in Nebraska, in years with extensive snow coverage, snow mold is more likely to show up as damaged areas in the lawn. Spring is when snow mold damage becomes apparent and by then it's too late to treat. Most cases of snow mold will disappear with a little time. More extreme cases may require re-seeding or sodding.
Another variation of snow mold is pink snow mold, which is most noticeable in the early morning. Pink snow mold leaves rings on the grass. If grass doesn't grow through, you may want to reseed later.
Fixing damaged snow mold areas requires some light raking of the grayish damaged grass and let the new grass grow through it.
Apply pre-emergent crabgrass preventatives around April 15. No need to fertilize, especially if you applied fertilizer (and you should have) in the fall.
Mid-April is also a good time to re-seed. Soil temperature is the determining factor. Clear the lawn of debris by raking first.
If planning on seeding and applying a pre-emergent, make sure to use a pre-emergent designed for re-seeding, otherwise, regular crabgrass preventer will also prevent new grass seedlings from emerging.
Sod Webworms Adult sod webworms, sometimes referred to as "lawn moths" are buff-colored, about 1/2" - 3/4" long with snout-like projections extending forward from the head. At rest, they fold their wings around the body, giving them a cylindrical appearance. These small moths don't harm the lawn. It is their larval stage where damage is noticed.
Damage appears as generalized browning and thinning of the turf. It usually shows up uniformly and over large areas. Sod webworm damage often has an appearance similar to fungal diseases, such as Bipolaris leaf spot/melting out. Unlike grubs, sod webworms can have several generations per year and the potential for injury throughout the growing season is considerable.
Sod webworm larvae (caterpillars) are gray to tan with small dark spots on the body and brown heads. They reach 3/4 to 1 inch when fully grown. Larvae feed at night on grass leaves and stems near the soil surface, and hide during the day within burrows lined with silk webbing (hence the name "webworms") which penetrate through the thatch layer and into the soil. Sod webworms feed on most turfgrasses including bluegrass, bentgrass, tall and fine-leafed fescues, zoysia grass and buffalograss.
To determine the amount of infestation, the little caterpillars need to be coaxed to the surface. Mix up a solution of lemon-scented liquid dish soap (about 2 tablespoons per gallon of water). Mark off 1 square yard of turf and pour about 2 gallons of this mixture over the turf, letting it soak in. In about 10 minutes, webworms will wiggle their way to the surface to escape the irritation of the mixture. Start counting.
Sound cultural practices, especially proper irrigation, will usually allow turf to outgrow moderate webworm damage. Insecticide use may be required if 15 or larvae are found per square yard in a healthy turf. If you suspect webworm damage, consult a professional lawn care provider in your community.
Grubs are the larvae of 3 different types scarab beetles found here in Nebraska. Masked chafers (annual grubs), May or June beetles, and black turfgrass ataenius. A relatively new threat has been becoming more noticeable In recent years. Japanese beetle populations are increasing in number and the damage they cause. They too are a scarab beetle. All of the scarab beetles can damage turfgrass roots, but, it is only the Japanese beetle that causes extensive damage to ornamental plants by eating leaves and blossoms. Adult Japanese beetles can fly great distances, usually in search of a mating partner. The adults also prefer certain plants (grape vines, rose-of-sharon, impatiens etc.)
Controlling the Japanese beetle can be extremely difficult unless you don't mind hand-picking the beetles off plants. Traps are not recommended unless you have extensive infestations. Otherwise, the traps will just attract more beetles to your property.
Controlling grubs should only be attempted if you have had turfgrass damage in the past. In those situations when controlling the white grubs is indicated, it is best to control them when they are young. Waiting until the are ready to emerge from underground is too late.
If insecticides are used, before applying: mow the lawn and remove clippings before treatment, water the area (1/2" - 3/4"). This moves the webworms closer to the surface. Apply insecticides in the late afternoon or early evening when larvae are active. After insecticide application, lightly water the area (1/8"). Granule applications also should be lightly irrigated immediately after application to wash granules off grass blades and activate the insecticide.
Professional Lawn / Turfgrass Associations of Nebraska: