Sunday, May 11, 2014

Living Water Lawn and Tree Care - Spring E Magazine

BEYOND APPEARANCEThe Benefits of a Healthy Lawn

If you have a lawn, you are not alone. In the United States, homes, golf courses and parks now grow more acres of turf grass than farmers devote to corn, wheat and fruit trees — combined. In a study published in Environmental Management, researchers estimated there are 40 million acres of turf grass in the U.S., covering 1.9 percent of the land. 

Is all of this turf good for us? Is it beneficial to our health and lives? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding “yes.” A healthy lawn provides a number of benefits to you, your family and the environment: 
  • A thick lawn functions as an air conditioner. In fact, one acre of grass has the cooling effect of a 70-ton air conditioner, the equivalent of what is needed for eight houses. 
  • A recent survey performed by the Gallup organization states that a well-maintained lawn can increase the value of your home by 15%. In fact, the recovery value (the amount you will receive in the value of your home for every dollar invested in  your lawn) is 100 – 200%; significantly higher than – for example – the investment made in a patio or deck (40 – 70%). 
  • The plants in your lawn, including your turf, help muffle noises from the street, helping to create restful areas to enjoy the out of doors. 
  • Natural turf provides for good traction between the ground and your feet, especially when barefoot!
  • A well maintained and healthy lawn helps control populations of chiggers, ticks, ants, snakes, rodents and other small, unwanted varmints. These pests become more troublesome in the absence of fine lawns and can more easily find a way to your home. 
  • Roadside rest stops, parks, cemeteries and home lawns are all conducive to good health because they provide settings that help to reduce stress. 
  • Finally, tending or enjoying your lawn provides you with an opportunity to walk, lift, bend and otherwise exercise, creating a more enjoyable routine and an indoor workout. 
As Living Water begins its 24th season, we are mindful of the positive impact a healthy lawn brings to all of our customers and to our community. As always, we are thankful that you have given us an opportunity to help you create and enjoy the benefits of your healthy lawn. 

Spring Turf Advice

Somebody asked me if you could do just one thing early in the season what would you do to your lawn. So I thought about that one for like about 20 seconds and I came up with an answer. These days the way my mind works 20 seconds is really rare and impressive but it indicates how much this one thing can do for YOUR turf early on. So what was it? I kinda want to keep you in suspense but since I know attention spans are getting shorter I won't.

 Ok as soon as it was mostly dry I would mow my lawn real short. Yup that is it. Doing that one thing can really do a lot to get your turf healthier, happier and greener earlier than anything I can think of. Now for almost 30 years turf, trees and landscapes have been my vocational passion. Truth is I have forgotten more after all these years than most people know. I am not bragging because the forget part is real embarrassing...where did I put those keys? But if you or someone you love or... pay will mow your lawn real short in Mid- late March through mid April everything else you do will be enhanced. Why? Well there is this thing called photosynthesis, you remember science class 5th grade,  photosynthesis is really enhanced and promoted by cutting turf short early in the growing season. 

Did you notice I didn't mention power raking? Well I didn't because in most cases all the benefits of power raking aren't that hot. The damage though to turf can be real from power raking. Power raking often weakens desirable turf species and promotes undesirables like crab grass and broad leaf weeds. People power rake to get rid of thatch but every study I know of and there are plenty come up with the same number. Power raking never removes more than 17% of thatch and usually a lot less. Aeration controls thatch much better, organic thatch reducer controls thatch much better but people can't see that with the naked eye. Now power raking looks impressive...why cause someone just knocked the snot out of their lawn but that doesn't make it a good thing...most beatings aren't. 

So if you take my advice, and you don't have to, and mow your lawn real short the first mowing; and just the first mowing,  here is what I recommend unless you have an amazing commercial know the kind that cut down trees and do the quarter mile in less than 8 seconds, cut twice. First time mow at about 1 and 3/4 to 2 inches and then drop your mower one more notch to as low as 1and 1/4 inches. Bag it both times and change direction each time. So if you go north south the first mowing go east west the second time and that's it. You can fertilize before or after, treat the lawn for weeds before or after, aerate before or after you mow short and it wont matter but you better believe that short first mow will enhance the benefits of all those very good practices. Ok it's spring I got where was I going?

Snow Mold and Other Spring Turf Diseases

Spring Dead Spot

Disease OverviewSpring Dead Spot Disease in Bermudagrass
Spring Dead spot is one of the most damaging disease of bermudagrass. There are a number of fungi that may cause the disease, but in the U.S. it is Leptosphaeria Korrae and Ophiospharella herpotricha. The disease generally attacks mature bermudagrass lawns that have been established for over three years.
Healthy vigorous turfgrass better resist diseases than unhealthy grass. The most susceptible grasses are those that are stressed and weakened from growing in poor soil, has been poorly maintained, or when growing outside it climate zone.
How the Disease Operates
This lawn disease actually begins in the fall, but the evidence of the disease doesn’t appear until spring. In the fall, when the soil cools to 80 degrees, the disease becomes active and infects the roots. The disease in not noticed because the grass will soon start to go dormant. When spring approaches, the disease progression speeds up. The roots are not able to take up nutrients or break dormancy and the grass quickly dies.
Disease SymptomsSpring Dead Spot
The disease is noticed in spring as the grass is breaking dormancy and greening up. You will notice patches of grass that look sunken and have a dead, whitish look. (A different look from healthy dormant grass.)
The patches of dead grass are circular ranging from 6 inches to 3 feet in diameter. They will often coalesce leaving larger, more irregular shaped patches. The patches are dead and cannot be saved.
Eventually the grass will spread into the damaged area, but it will continue to have problems.
Cultural Practices that Discourage Disease Development
If you have had problems with the disease before, it is important to maintain potash (K) levels in the soil. (K) or Potash is also referred to a Potassium, represented by the third number on a fertilizer bag. Even small deficiencies in K lowers the grass’ resistance to the disease. Even if a soil test shows the level to be adequate, you still need to apply 1 lb of potash per 1000/sq.ft. to soil. However, not more than a pound per 1000/sq.ft. should be applied at one time. You can purchase fertilizer that contains only Potassium. It will look something like 0-0-15. The last number will depend on the percentage of K in the bag.
Maintain the soil pH at 5 to 5.5. No one knows exactly why this helps, but it does. Either the grass’ resistance is raised or microorganisms that are antagonistic to spring dead spots are more active at that pH range.
Raise the mower blade. Higher mowing heights means deeper roots and more blade for carbohydrate production. It may provide enough resistance if disease pressure is low.
Keep thatch to acceptable levels of ½ inch. Use a dethatching machine if you have severe thatch problems. Annual core aeration works well to keep thatch levels within a desirable range.
This is one of the times when applications of ammonium sulfate fertilizers to help speed recovery of damaged areas. Make sure you water the fertilizer in directly after application to avoid burning the grass. Studies have shown that the grass responds better with ammonium sulfate than when using urea based nitrogen. In addition, the ammonical fertilizers do not remain in the root zone for as long as coated urea products. This is important because you want the nitrogen to be used up when fall approaches and the disease becomes active again.
Do not use fertilizer containing ammonium nitrate, however. Ammonium nitrate is not the same thing as ammonium sulfate and will will not give you the desired results.
Fungicide Use
Several fungicides are labeled for spring dead spot. However, university tests have shown that fungicides are not always successful in controlling this disease. Some products displayed no noticeable results at all. For other, results were inconsistent at best. If you do use a fungicide, it must be applied in September or when temperatures dip below 80 degrees. It must be applied as the disease activity begins.
Follow label directions completely. If you are not having good results or having difficulty applying the product, remember that commercial applicators have access to fungicides and equipment that are not always available to homeowners.

Red Thread and Pink Patch Diseases

Disease Overview
Red thread and pink patch are lawn diseases that often occur together. A variety of grass types are affected including Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, ryegrass and bentgrass. The fine fescues and ryegrass may be the most severely affected.
This lawn disease is one of the easiest to identify. The late stages of red thread lawn disease produces a network of bright pink to reddish color fungus with a thread-like appearance. On cool, damp mornings, the lawn fungus covers the grass with a pink, gelatin like mycelium. Pink patch develops a gelatinous, pink fungus on the grass.
The lawn disease attacks grass that is low in nitrogen. Their development favors cool, wet spring and fall weather. you will often see them during extended periods of damp, drizzly, overcast conditions. This disease has also been known to appear as snow is melting in winter. Mild winters will generally see more occurrences of the disease than harsh winters.
Disease Cycle The disease over-winters in in thatch and organic lawn debris. The following spring as temperatures reach 65 degrees the disease becomes active. Moisture is important for the disease to spread. Prolonged dampness from rain, dew, or irrigating in the evening or at night accelerates the disease activity.
Once the disease starts, it can be easily spread by mowing. Collecting the grass clippings and disposing of them may slow the disease. Animals or people walking across the lawn can pick up and deposit the lawn fungus in other areas.
Cultural Practices that Discourage Disease Growth
Be sure to maintain proper nitrogen levels in the turf. The disease doesn’t usually attack healthy grass. Lawns that are low in nitrogen will be the most severely affected.
Don’t over-fertilize or you will predispose your grass to other lawn diseases, such as leaf spot.
Fungicide Use
Red thread usually isn’t a serious lawn disease and fungicide use isn’t recommended. If you properly maintain your lawn with sufficient nitrogen you will have few problems.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Spokane Dandelions, African Watermelons, and Our Friend Martha

If we had a nickel for every time we were asked the question, "Do you know where we can get a tasty African watermelon?", we'd, um, well we'd be broke. But that doesn't mean that African watermelons aren't important. Furthermore it doesn't mean that African watermelons aren't important in Spokane. Further, furthermore it doesn't mean African watermelons aren't important to Living Water customers because in a very direct way you helped grow them. That's right, while you may not be a hands-in-the dirt melon farmer, you are still, in a significant way responsible for those tasty summer treats. Even if they are grown half a world away in Adiedo Kenya.

A few years ago Mike and Lisa Fairburn, Living Water's owners, were introduced to Spring Of Hope International, a Christian non-profit group involved in bringing clean water and business opportunities to the people of Adiedo Kenya. While the ministry opportunities were immediate and obvious, Mike and Lisa also relished in that fact that they would be able to invest their time, talents, and treasure (through the Living Water Foundation), in helping these beautiful people build a sustainable income to help their families and communities.

An opportunity to invest in agribusiness arose and they jumped at the chance to be a part. With investments of both time and money, a handful of small community farms were started. This not only provided an income source and jobs for the villagers, it also gave the young men and women a reason to stay in the villages instead of moving to the slums around Nairobi. So, not only do these farms establish the obvious monetary changes these poor villages need but it keeps families intact and helps with overall community wellbeing.

Our friend Martha is one of the leaders that oversee's the farming projects. You see her here in some of these pictures. The news coming out of the area is fantastic. We are seeing hope, promise, and sustainability in these villages restored. Yes, there is hope again in what once looked like a hopeless situation. In a very significant way, every Living Water customer has a part in this. A percentage of every dollar we bring in goes to this mission in Adiedo Kenya. So while you might be paying us to make your lawn green, kill the dandelions, or get rid of those pesky aphids, you are also providing jobs and hope to people that desperately need it. And because of this we say THANK YOU!

Please remember the people of Adiedo and agribusiness in your prayers. Among their many needs is rain. Rain at the right times, in the right amounts to sustain the farming progress.

So the next time you get asked if you know where you can get a tasty African watermelon, you can say "Actually I invest in African farming and they produce some tasty mouth watering watermelons. Let me make a few calls."

Contact us at 509-487-3439, if you would like to know more about how you can make a difference in Adiedo, or visit

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Alright You Composters...

The leaves are in their final few days of being attached to a tree. Hanging on for dear life they try so hard to remain affixed. But Mother Nature, as we know, always wins. The slow descent is inevitable. The only question that remains is... large green trash can or compost pile?

Let me help you decide their leafy fate. Most composters know that deciduous leaves make fantastic compost for gardens come spring time. However, not all leaves should be used. If your trees had a fungus this year, like shot hole or powdery mildew those leaves need to be discarded.

Fungal spores can overwinter and be detrimental to your garden. The problem is that while the internal temperature of your compost pile might be hot enough to kill most diseases often times it doesn't get hot enough to fill fungi. Even if the pile heats to a point of being able to actually kill the fungi it only takes a handful of leaves not properly mulched to remain a threat.

If you have any questions call us at 1-800-LAWNCARE or check out the website

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Last Chance to Drench

The leaves are turning hues that would make Crayola jealous just before making their pilgrimage south. Lying quietly having fulfilled their annual duty. Now giving one last bit of life before they wind up behind steel teach and black plastic. Content knowing their offspring will start the cycle again in the spring. A life well lived......

But I digress. A great way to honor the fallen leaves of yester year is to give their replacements the best possible shot at completing their cycle without disease or insect infestation. And believe it or not that starts now. This is the perfect time for a soil drench around your shade trees.

The soil drench is a systemic treatment full of nutrients and insect control that will be absorbed by the root system and stored until spring. This gives the tree a great shot at those early spring insect larva and diseases. The new growth is particularly vulnerable and needs all the help it can get. A late fall soil drench coupled with a dormant oil spray in the spring is a great way to head off disease and infestation.

If you have any questions let us know by calling 1-800-LAWNCARE or visit our website

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Just A Little Off The Top

Today we will continue along the same path that we did in our last couple of blogs: getting the landscape ready for winter. The unique thing about today's blog however, is that we are going to reverse fields on you. We're going to do an about face. We're flipping the script. We're doing a 180. You get the idea. Something we told you to do earlier in the year is now not a great idea. But I would like to assure you that we are not crazy people. No it's about the weather. Earlier in the year during the summer we hammered mowing your lawn at your highest mower setting. This helped with keeping the grass healthy. That is not best practice when it comes to fall though.

The thing we have to keep in mind when preparing your landscape for winter is this; limit liability. Deep root feedings help a tree over winter and come out in spring better. Sprinkler blowouts help you avoid a costly sprinkler repair in the spring. Spider sprays help with insects trying to find a warm place in your house for the winter. It's the same thing with mowing short for winter. This practice limits the surface area of the plant which does two things: 1) Allows greater air circulation before and after snow and 2) there is physically less plant to get matted down over the winter so it's harder for snow mold and other early spring fungi to take hold.

So.... scalp it! Take it all the way down. Set your mower at the lowest setting and bag the clippings. Our best guess is you probably won't have to mow more than once or twice more this year. Make sure before you put you mower away for the winter to do one short mowing. You'll thank us come spring.

If you have any questions call us at 1-800-LAWNCARE. Or check out our Tips, Tutorials, and FAQ's page. There's a good chance you'll find the answer there.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sprinkler Blow Outs, It's Time

There can be two huge benefits to not having your sprinklers blown out before winter. The first is obvious, I mean who doesn't enjoy the beauty of a twenty foot tall geyser in the spring caused by an exploding sprinkler head. They're beautiful and the sound of running water is so peaceful. The second is less obvious but still fun and that is the pond you can create from a frozen line breaking under ground. If you let it go long enough you could probably add koi and some lily pads. You may eventually develop a safe haven for various water fowl.

However, if you don't want to turn your yard into Yellowstone Jr., we would highly recommend a sprinkler blowout. They're inexpensive and could save you a lot of headaches down the road. What happens is this: As the temperature cools and the ground freezes, so does everything in the ground including water left in sprinkler lines. As water freezes it expands often time bursting the plastic lines that transport water to sprinkler heads. You could also have similar problems with the heads themselves. They can retain enough water in the housing to break when it freezes. Costing time and money.

A simple solution is to let us come out and blow the lines out for you. The method is simple. We just hook a big air compressor to your system and turn it on. This forces air through the lines, driving the stored water through the lines and out of the sprinkler heads.

It's pretty painless and gets you all set for winter.

Call us at 1-800-LAWNCARE to get one scheduled. Or go to our website and request we contact you.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Trees: Feed em' good

It's about this time of year we start enjoying the crisp morning air and dreading the rake and black garbage bag brigade that inevitably follows. The leaves will fall covering our nice landscapes and we are forced to clean up after them. It's at this point we typically tell them "we'll see you in the spring" and figure our responsibility has ended for a few months. Not so fast, I say.

While you can take this route for sure, we would highly recommend a deep root feeding. Our method is pretty simple really, we spread a special blend of nutrients around the root system under the canopy of the tree. This will help you trees in a number of ways. First of all the trees soak up the treatment as the last little bit of nutrients before they go dormant and this helps them to winter healthier. Secondly, we find that the trees come out of dormancy with less winter damage. Finally, we typically don't see the early spring fungi and diseases in the trees we feed in the fall. They also fend off the insects better the next year.

The great thing is that this is part of our Fall 40 Special running now until the end of the season. The treatment is 40% off for any customer not currently getting a deep root feeding. So there is no better time to call. 1-800-LAWNCARE, or email us