Drought Stress in Michigan Lawns


Drought stress is a term those of us in the lawn care industry use to describe symptoms seen in lawns due to lack of water.  There are three basic stages of drought stress:

The 1st Stage:

The grass plant starts to change color from green to a matte gray color.  Also, your grass appearance will go from lush to more of a dried-out look.  During this first stage, you will also notice that the grass blades do not spring back after walking over them.

The 2nd Stage:

In this stage, the grass plant is transitioning from matte gray to yellow.  The grass blades are starting to curl and wilt.

The 3rd Stage:

This final stage is where the grass plant is transitioning into or has gone into dormancy (all brown).

Drought stress does not always occur in the summer.  For example, sudden bouts of warm weather combined with high winds and sun can dry out a lawn very quickly in the late spring.

What can I do to help my lawn recover from drought stress?

If you are irrigating your lawn regularly and notice drought stress, you may have to increase the watering time to bring the lawn back.  If your lawn is not irrigated, you will have to pull a hose and use a sprinkler until favorable weather returns.

Why do I see brown mower tracks in my lawn (sometimes and not others)?

There are times where brown spots or tracks from your mower pop up virtually overnight.  Often, this is caused by a turf disease called Ascochyta Leaf Blight, which is triggered by high temperatures and dry conditions.  If you believe you see signs of this disease, please call our office and your lawn technician will be happy to assess your lawn and give recommendations to help it recover.

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Grub Control in Grand Rapids - A simple overview

Grub Control in Grand Rapids - A simple overview

Having grubs in your lawn can be very frustrating.  Damage usually occurs quickly.  It's unsightly.  Sometimes damage from grubs can be amplified by a hungry skunk peeling up your lawn to get a late night grub snack.  If your lawn has a grub infestation, solving the problem doesn't have to be complicated.  Here is some helpful information to keep in mind...

#1  If you have active grubs damaging your lawn, have a curative grub control application applied immediately.  This application will kill the grubs and halt any further damage.  You will have to water this application in within 24 hours for it to be effective.

#2  Grub damage typically occurs during the Spring and Fall.  During the Summer, grubs take on the form of Japanese beetles or European Chaffers.  These beetles mate and lay eggs starting the next generation of grubs.

#3  If your lawn is showing signs of distress or is starting to turn brown in certain areas during the Spring or Fall, your lawn might have grubs.  Grab the turf by your hand and pull.  If the turf pulls away, look for grubs.  Grubs eat grass plant roots.  This allows the turf to pull away from the soil easily.

#4  Another tell tale sign is that flocks of starlings or other birds will peck into the soil in the distressed areas looking for grubs.  Look for pencil diameter holes in the soil from the bird's probing beak.

#5  If you have grub damage or have neighbors who have a grub infestation, we high recommend a summer grub control application.  This application disrupts the grub life cycle and protects your lawn from grub infestations for a full year.

I hope this helps.  Always feel free to call our office if you suspect a grub problem and would like some help in identifying the issue or need help with control options.


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How to deal with vole damage on your Grand Rapids lawn

How to deal with vole damage on your Grand Rapids lawn

Spring has arrived!  For AAA Lawn Care that means more calls about vole damage in Grand Rapids lawns. 

Voles, often called field mice, are small rodents that resemble a mouse but a stouter and shorter.  They are plant-eaters that primarily feed on grass and perennial-flower roots.  Vole damage looks like little trails or surface tunnels that are lined with dead grass.  Voles create these tunnel systems under the blanket of snow throughout the winter. As the snow melts, their little kingdoms become uncovered.  However, damage will disappear as soil temperatures rise and your lawn starts to grow again. The voles will always be there, but you will have a harder time seeing evidence of them.

A good rule of thumb in dealing with Spring vole damage is to rake up the dead grass and, if needed, throw down some grass seed.  Rarely is the damage so severe that you would have to do lawn restoration.  All-in-all, just be patient and your lawn will recover!  Voles will always be running around in your lawn but a lush, healthy stand of grass does a good job of hiding vole trails.   

If you are not sure if voles or another critter is damaging your lawn, you may want to check out our Voles vs. Moles blog post.  Please also feel free to call AAA Lawn Care at (888) 374-7336 and your lawn technician will be happy to assess your lawn.

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How to identify snow mold in your Grand Rapids lawn?

How to identify snow mold in your Grand Rapids lawn?

AAA Lawn Care technicians are seeing some lawns with signs of snow mold.  Snow mold diseases are caused by cold-tolerant fungi that grow at near freezing temperatures.  Wet, heavy snow on top of unfrozen ground provides good conditions for snow mold development.  It can also be active in the spring during cold, wet days (even after the snow has melted). Snow mold symptoms appear in circular, grayish or pinkish spots in lawns as the snow melts in the spring. 

Light raking of affected areas in the spring will speed up the drying.  This also reduces further injury and stimulates new spring growth.  In most cases, our early spring application will stimulate enough new growth for good recovery in these areas.  Any areas that have not recovered by late April should be reseeded.   Lastly, mowing your lawn shorter (around 1 ½”) in the late fall will reduce the matting down that occurs over the winter and will help your lawn dry faster in the spring.

If you are concerned about possible snow mold in your Grand Rapids lawn, please do not hesitate to call AAA Lawn Care at (888) 374-7336 and we will be happy to have your technician take a look!

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Thirteen-lined ground squirrels lawn damage.

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels lawn damage.

One of the most destructive critters we see in West Michigan lawns are Thirteen-lined ground squirrels. These squirrels can cause structural damage due to tunnels under patios, stairs, and foundations. However, their burrows are the most common type of lawn damage caused by Thirteen-lined ground squirrels.  These burrows are unsightly and can cause injury if you happen to step into one.  They also damage gardens and landscaped areas when they consume seeds, flower bulbs, and young plants.  

Identifying Ground Squirrels

Although often referred to as chipmunks, these creatures are actually burrow-dwelling squirrels.  They are small, weighing only a few ounces and measuring about six to twelve inches long. 13 lined ground squirrels get their name from their tell-tale thirteen alternating brown and whitish longitudinal lines and spots on its back and sides.  

Ground Squirrel Activity

Ground squirrels are active during the daytime, especially in early morning and late afternoon.  They prefer to burrow near covered areas, such as stumps, buildings, and brush piles.   Their tunnels are usually about two inches in diameter and will not have any dirt mounds nearby, as they move dirt to minimize the risk of predators finding them.  The main tunnels are typically 20 to 30 feet long and include a number of chambers and smaller, additional tunnels. 

How to Control Damage

You can minimize the chance of damage from ground squirrels by making your property less desirable to them.  First, make sure your home is properly caulked and sealed to minimizes areas where they could get in.  In gardens, you may consider covering seeds and bulbs with hardware cloth.  It is also a good idea to reduce the amount of ground cover (such as shrubs and wood piles) near the home and affected areas, as ground squirrels prefer those areas.   If problems and damage persist, you may consider trapping or baiting as a method of elimination.

Are you unsure whether or not you have damage due to ground squirrels?  Although AAA Lawn Care does not offer a service for this critter, we are happy to give you recommendations.  Call us at (888) 374-7336 and we will be happy to have your lawn technician assess your lawn

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What Causes Dog Spots In My Lawn?

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but the damage they can cause to grass certainly is not! 

A common complaint we hear from dog owners is the appearance of small, round brown spots in the lawn.  Oftentimes, this lawn burn is due to the high nitrogen content in dog urine.  Although there is not one proven solution to what we call “dog spots”, a multi-step approach can control lawn burn and get your lawn looking healthy again. 

A good place to start is watering the lawn and focusing on areas in which there are dog spots.  If those areas do not seem to bounce back as hoped, you may want to consider spreading a layer of top soil on the affected areas and overseeding (see our blog post about Spring overseeding here).  If you do chose this option, you will just want to make sure that pets and humans alike avoid newly seeded areas until it is well established. 

Watering more frequently in years or seasons with less rain also helps minimize the risk of future dog spots.  Lawns that are stressed by factors such as drought or lawn disease may be more likely to suffer lawn burn from dogs.  Young grass and new seed are also especially susceptible.  We recommend watering more often for short periods, in order to allow the lawn to dry between waterings.   After your dog urinates, it is also a good idea to saturate that area with water to dilute the urine. 

Reducing the risk of lawn burn can also start with your dog!  Some pet owners consider training their dogs to urinate in areas that are not very visible or highly trafficked.  You can also encourage your dog to drink plenty of water and invest in a high-quality dog food that does not exceed the recommended protein content for your dog.  Dogs with a high-protein diet tend to have urine with a higher nitrogen content.

It should also be mentioned that dog spots, lawn diseases, and grub damage can all look similar if you are not sure what you are looking for.  If you do not know which may be causing brown spots in your lawn, please call AAA Lawn Care at (888) 374-7336 and we will be happy to have a technician take a look!

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Proper Grub Control Can Save Your Yard

 grub controlWhat Are Grubs?
Grubs are the larvae form of a beetle, sometimes called a white grub, june bug, or other kind of beetle. The c-shaped pale insects feed on the roots of grass and can cause the grass to die. The brown dead patches can be large or small, depending upon how big the grub population is.

Lawn care experts say that the best way to determine if a lawn needs grub control treatment is to check a one foot square area of the yard. Digging two inches down, a simple count of the number of grubs in the one foot square area will indicate if the yard needs to be treated. If, for example, more than ten grubs are found there, the yard needs a grub control treatment.

How Do I Know If My Yard Has Grubs?
Even before dead brown patches appear in a yard, another indicator can signal the infestation of grubs. Moles, and other small burrowing animals, often feed on a yard with grubs. These furry animals may be an indicator of a problem below the grass.

In addition to looking for animals that feed on grubs, lawn service companies also recommend checking the yard as it greens up in the spring. A small brown patch could be an indicator of a grub problem that began the previous fall. If the sod rolls up like a piece of carpet, it is likely that the yard has grubs and should be treated.

What Is the Best Way to Prevent Grubs?
For many home owners, the best way to prevent any lawn problem is by applying scheduled lawn treatments. Though some home owners do this on their own, some of the best lawns are a product of professional lawn fertilization services. These professional companies make it their business to know what is the best time, often based on temperature and rainfall, to treat a yard. Scheduled applications of fertilizers, grub control, and other services will produce a lush, thick lawn.

In addition to looking great, a thick green yard can also prevent run off of water, possibly reducing the needed amount of irrigation and sprinkler services necessary. In fact, the thickest yard can absorb nearly six times as much rainfall as a wheat field and four times as much as a field of hay. A yard that absorbs water is a healthy lawn.

Even if you are not planning a backyard graduation party, it should come as no surprise that most home owners think of a yard as a valuable extension of their home. For instance, a lush yard combined with well designed and maintained landscaping can add as much as 15% to 20% of value to a property. For these reasons, Americans as a whole spend as much as $40 billion a year maintaining their yards and landscaping.

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What is ripping up my beautiful lawn?

If you have lawn damage that looks like this, then you probably have a skunk for a neighbor...

Every year we get calls from people who wake up one morning to find that their once beautiful lawn has been torn to shreds.  The damage looks like little holes have been dug everywhere or small patches of turf have been peeled away from the soil.  The lawn damage looks terrible.  What could have possible done this?

More than likely your lawn was the scene of a lavish dinner of succulent white grubs for your friendly neighborhood skunk.  Skunks love grubs. They peel back or dig little holes in the turf searching for their dinner.  Damage occurs at night because skunks are nocturnal animals.  Also, skunk damage due to grub problems only really occur in the Spring or Fall.  Those are the two seasons when grubs are active in lawns.

So what do we do?  Regardless of whether or not the skunk ripped up the lawn or not, the lawn was probably going to suffer damage from the grubs anyway.  We would recommend a curative grub control product like Dylox to elimate any grubs in the lawn.  We would also recommend a preventative grub control product be applied in the Summer to prevent further grub infestations.  Take care of grubs, take care of the skunks.  Good Luck!

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What is Drought Stress?

Brown patches caused by Drought Stress

Drought stress is a lawn condition that causes areas of your lawn to turn brown due to lack of water. Drought Stress can occur very quickly. Virtually overnight, large patches of brown grass or even tire tracks from the lawn mower appear in your lawn. This is caused by your lawn becoming dry followed by a period of adequate irrigation or rain.

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Heat, Humidity & Grass

It is going to be one hot week here in West Michigan.  The weather forecast is calling for 90 degree days and plenty of humidity.  All of this heat and humidity is going to have some negative effects on your lawn.

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AAA Lawn Care14202 Ironwood Dr. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534