shows Ramzy Ruiz's photo at Super-Sod of Cary

Behind the Lens: Ramzy Ruiz and Photography

This Super-Sod employee’s passion draws attention to the ordinary and helps him keep the store “in focus.”

shows Ramzy Ruiz

Ramzy Ruiz works at Super-Sod of Cary helping customers but also uses his time at the store to capture a new perspective on the turgrass business behind the lens of a camera.

As a recent addition to the Super-Sod team, Ramzy Ruiz began his work at Super-Sod of Cary in early March 2017, but it didn’t take him long to bring his outside passions into the workplace.

His photography hobby has shed light on the everyday beauty of a store — from walk-in customers to inventory to the natural surroundings of the office.

Recently, Ramzy posted some of his photographs on an employee conversation board and revealed his hidden talent to Super-Sod employees in The Triangle and beyond. We were blown away by his attention to detail and recognition of beauties we often overlook. Naturally, we tracked him down to learn more about Ramzy’s hidden talent.

Ramzy has held a passion for art since a young age. “Drawing, painting sculpting. You name it, I’m into it!” Ramzy said. His appreciation for art and creating it led him to an interest in photography.

“Photography was just another branch on the tree for me. Know what I mean?”

Though he has always enjoyed taking pictures of friends and family, Ramzy didn’t begin to focus on the quality of his photos until the summer after his high school graduation in 2013.

As he saves for a better camera, Ramzy uses his iPhone 5s to capture photos in his free time and edits them with Photo Edit on his desktop computer. Though he doesn’t have a DSLR camera, Ramzy is a testament to the statement “the best camera is the one you have with you.”

He draws inspiration from an extensive list of abstract artists, including John Romita McFarlane, Picasso and Keith Haring. Miguel Ángel Ruiz Matute and Leonora Carrington are just two artists on Ramzy’s list of inspiring Latina American artists as well.

Ramzy strives to take photos with both a rustic and elegant theme.

“I like a variety of subjects, but my favorite settings are always industrial or nature. Sometimes both in the same picture,” he said.

Ramzy’s all-time favorite photos below capture his unique perspective on natural beauty in an industrial world.

shows one of Ramzy Ruiz's favorite photos he has taken
shows Ramzy Ruiz's favorite photo he has taken

Eventually Ramzy would like to turn his afinity for art into a source of income.

“Art is a big passion of mine. It would be really cool if I was able to do that,” Ramzy said.

In the meantime, Ramzy helps customers at Super-Sod of Cary with information about products and deals with transactions over the phone and on the sales floor. He even lends a hand by assisting customers as they load their purchases if needed.

Amongst the bustle of the busy spring season, Ramzy has captured some insightful shots of life around the Cary store. Check out his photography below.

Soap Flush Test for Pests (like Fall Armyworms)

Soap Flush Test for Pests

A soap flush is a mixture of 3 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 1 gallon of water. We find that lemon-scented dish soap is the most effective. Pour the mixture into a 3′ x 3′ area and watch the action. The soap will agitate the caterpillars’ skin and they will come to the surface – you can see them and then you will know to treat for them immediately.

We recommend scouting for fall armyworms from July until the first good frost.

This test also works for many other destructive insects.

Treating Fall Armyworms

  • There are an abundance of insecticides available on the market that treat armyworm infestations. Many of our stores carry products (please call ahead to confirm we have them in stock.)
  • Treat more than once – Just because the armyworms have gone to pupae stage does not mean they are gone. They will mature, lay eggs, hatch, and infest your yard again. Be vigilant and treat multiple times according to the insecticide instructions in order to break the armyworm life cycle.
  • Timing of treatments is important – Early morning or late afternoon is the best time because the armyworms are active. If applied mid-day and the armyworms may be below the surface of the new turf and the application will not be as effective.
  • If you live in an area prone to infestation, stock up on insecticide and be prepared to defend your yard with treatment when necessary.
  • Make sure to read all insecticide instructions carefully and apply at the application rate recommended on the product label for the pest you are targeting.

Testimonial

Mark from Acworth purchased 2 pallets of TifGrand Bermuda on August 17th. On September 12th we discovered Mark had fall armyworms. To confirm that was the problem, he performed the Soap Flush Test we recommend. The test was positive, he applied armyworm insecticide, and this is what it looks like now! Mark stated that “Your tip on the army worms was a lifesaver! I showed the pics to several people and they also never knew about those armyworms (and how to test for them!)”

Damage caused by fall armyworms.

Damage caused by fall armyworms.

shows full recovery of Bermudagrass after fall armyworm infestation

Full recovery after treating for fall armyworms

How to Calculate Fertilizer Rates

Super-Sod's 5-10-5 and 16-4-8 fertilizer bags

Calculating fertilizer application rates is just math, a simple formula. Here’s an explanation for you to reference when you need it.

1. Gather Facts

A. How many square feet is your lawn? The Yard Area Calculator on our website will help you calculate your square footage.

B. Fertilizer Rate for your type of lawn? We recommend 3 separate applications of nitrogen (N) fertilizer. Familiarize yourself with the annual recommended nitrogen fertilizer rates for your type of lawn. Divide that annual recommendation into 3 so you know how to proceed with one fertilizer application.

Warm Season Lawn Fertilizer Rates

Fertilize when growing in the warm months (summer). 

Bermuda   Zoysia
TifGrand: 3-6 lbs N annually
TifTuf: 3-6 lbs N annually
Tifway: 4-6 lbs N annually
  Emerald: 2-4 lbs N annually
Leisure Time: 1-3 lbs N annually
Zenith: 2-3 lbs N annually
Zeon: 1-3 lbs N annually
Centipede   St. Augustine
TifBlair: 1-2 lbs N annually, if at all!   Mercedes: 2-4 lbs N annually

     Cool Season Lawn Fertilizer Rates

          Fertilize when growing in the cool months (not now!). 

Tall Fescue
Elite Tall Fescue: 2-4 lbs N annually

C. Then, get a soil test and fertilize based on that feedback. You may need less fertilizer than you think you need. We recommend Waters Agricultural Laboratories for the best soil test for our southeastern soils.

D. Look up the nutrient analysis (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium a.k.a. N-P-K) on the fertilizer bag. We recommend our 20 lb bags of 5-10-5 for Centipede and 16-4-8 for Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Tall Fescue.

2. Calculate

Example Scenario: You have a Bermuda lawn and intend to apply N at the low end of the range, at the rate of 3 lbs N a year. Separate this into 3 applications of 1 lb N each time. Here’s the math for the fist treatment of 1 lb N in May or June using 20 lb bags of our 16-4-8 for a 7,000 sq. ft. lawn.

Notes:
-Calculations are first based on fertilizing a 1,000 sq. ft. area; then for your specific square footage.
-There are different formulas to calculate the fertilizer rate; this one factors weight of the bag at the end.
-You can apply the 4 steps to other fertilizer blends to determine how many bags to purchase.

Step 1:  Determine percentage of N in the bag. Take the first number in the ratio, which represents percent N in the bag, and divide it by 100.

16 ÷ 100 = .16 (or 16%) N is in our 20 lb bag of 16-4-8

Step 2:  Determine how many lbs of a particular fertilizer you need for 1,000 sq. ft. You want to apply 1 lb N to 1,000 sq. ft. so you divide that number by the percentage of N in the bag.

1 lb ÷ .16 = 6.25 lbs of 16-4-8  should be applied per 1,000 sq. ft.

Step 3:  Determine how many lbs of that fertilizer you need for your square footage. Based on 6.25 lbs (the pounds of 16-4-8 needed per 1,000 sq. ft. determined in Step 2), calculate how many pounds are needed for the first application to your lawn, in this case a 7,000 sq. ft. area.

7,000 sq. ft. x (6.25 lbs ÷ 1,000)  = 44 lbs of 16-4-8 is how much to apply to 7,000 square feet now

Step 4:  Determine how many bags to buy for 7,000 sq. ft. This is where the weight of the bag comes in. Divide the lbs needed by the weight of the bag.

44 lbs of 16-4-8 ÷ 20 lb size = 2.2 bags needed
(round up to 4 and save the rest for your next application)

If you are compost topdressing with Soil3 to build better soil structure and practice organic fertilization, then topdress for one fertilizer application instead of spreading fertilizer.


Further Fertilizing Tips

  • Separate the annual recommended Nitrogen rate into the amount of applications you prefer, we recommend at least 3 “split” applications. At least 3 applications provides a more consistent feeding and safeguards against burning the lawn with too much fertilizer at once.
    • Warm Season Lawns: Fertilize with Nitrogen through the growing season; starting after spring green up and when soil temperature is above 65 degrees F. Typical months for fertilizing warm season lawns with N are May, June, July, August.
    • Tall Fescue (a cool season lawn): Fertilize at least 3 times a year, during Tall Fescue’s growing season in autumn, winter, and early spring. As of now, stop fertilizing Tall Fescue for the summer. A rule of thumb is no Nitrogen fertilizer on Tall Fescue during the warm months of May, June, July, and August.
  • This same calculation can also be used to calculate how many pounds of phosphorus and potassium you are appliying, but that isn’t typically done unless there is an unusual deficiency in those two elements, with special applications of them required.
  • Based on the amounts of nitrogen needed for a particular lawn, this same formula can be applied to determine the pounds of nitrogen available in any fertilizer blend you have access to.

TifTuf Bermuda Roots

TifTuf_Bermuda_Roots

Here are the strong new roots on TifTuf Bermuda sod. Picture taken by Brad Hubinek, manager of our stores in Raleigh and Cary, North Carolina, at The Harvest Church 11 days from the date of installation.

TifTuf_drought_tolerand_bermuda_lawn

This TifTuf Bermuda lawn was installed Saturday, April 15th at Harvest Church in Cary, NC. The congregation got together and laid the sod themselves.

Late April Lawn Tips 2016

April Lawn Tips for Warm Season Lawns

  • Prepare to fertilize your warm-season lawn (Zoysia, Bermuda, Centipede) after it has fully greened up. In the most southerly areas, soil temperatures are warm enough to fertilize the warm season grasses (soil temps should be above 65 degrees).
  • Our Total Lawn Food 16-4-8 is what you want for Zenith/Leisure Time/Emerald Zoysia lawns and TifTuf/TifGrand/Tifway Bermuda lawns.
  • Your TifBlair Centipede should be fertilized with very little fertilizer. We have our own special formulation just for it with lower nitrogen: Centipede Formulation 5-10-15.
  • If you need to apply Lime to raise the pH, we have limestone. Don’t ever apply lime to Centipede lawns, as they like acidic soils.
  • Soil Test Note: Always apply fertilizer and lime based on soil tests. You may need less than you assume!
  • It’s seed time again! Danger of frost is past – that means Zenith Zoysia and TifBlair Centipede seed can now be planted safely.

April Lawn Tips for Elite Tall Fescue Lawns

In the Southeast, Tall Fescue is grown north of an imaginary line drawn from Birmingham, through Atlanta and Charlotte, ending in Raleigh.

  • Stop fertilizing Fescue for the summer.
  • With warmer weather fast approaching, it’s time to stock up on fungicide for your tall fescue lawns. Read our blog post about fungicide on tall fescue.

Uses for Soil3 Compost sold in our cubic yard BigYellowBag.

Keep a BigYellowBag of Soil3 on hand so it’s there when you need it. Cost is $162, including delivery.

  • Starting seeds before you plant them out (it’s not too late!)
  • Preparing vegetable beds
  • Preparing summer annual beds
  • Container gardening – plant your summer annuals directly in Soil3
  • Prepping ground for new sod
  • Topdressing your lawn for organic lawn fertilization and to continue building good soil underneath your lawn

Red Alert: High Chance of Disease on Warm Season Lawns

Picture of Spring Dead Spot Fungus in a Warm Season Lawn

Spring Dead Spot Fungus: Slightly off color now, but if left untreated this spot will be dead in the spring. Apply preventative fungicide ASAP.

High Chance of Fungal Disease on Warm Season Lawns Right Now and in the Spring
Due to an unusually wet autumn, we’re seeing more diseases on warm season lawns than we’ve ever seen. More wet weather is in the forecast.

Fungal Tips for Warm Season Lawns

  • Even if you’ve already applied a preventative fungicide on your warm season lawn, please do so again IMMEDIATELY. With all this rain, it’s likely the efficacy has been reduced by leaching.
  • You name the fungal disease, and it’s out there now: Rhizoctonia (all the “patch” diseases), Pythium Blight, Bipolaris, and even Dollar Spot.
  • With at least 3 full weeks of rain and cloudy skies in October and early November, it’s been the perfect storm for fungal disease problems in the Southeast.
  • The fungi that show up now to cause visible damage are present and active, but so are the fungi that cause the damage that shows up in the spring during green-up. This is yet another reason to apply preventative fungicide RIGHT NOW.
Our message is simple: Apply Preventative Fungicide ASAP!

 

Picture of Large Patch Disease on a Lawn

Here’s an example of large patch taken by our own in-house specialist, Tim Bowyer, Ph.D. in early October. Fungal disease problems have increased during this last week of rain.

Picture of large patch disease in a lawn

Another picture of large patch (Rhizoctonia).

October Lawn Tips

October Lawn Tips

After you’ve let your best friend frolic for a few hours in a big beautiful pile of leaves on your lawn, do yourself a favor and rake or blow those pretty autumn leaves off your lawn. Leaves can suffocate and damage all types of lawns, so get them off of there and onto the mulch pile.

October 2015

Insect Alert: continue to scout for Fall Armyworms until frost.

October Lawn Tips for Warm-Season Lawns

    • Fungicide Point #1: There’s been tons of rain over the last week and with the rain and overcast skies, temps are right for fungal outbreaks on warm season lawns. Come by to pick up your fungicide products.
    • Fungicide Point #2: Even without the right conditions for an outbreak right now, Zoysia, Bermuda, Centipede, & St. Augustine lawns should get an application of preventative fungicide in October (once soil temps are 70 degrees) to help reduce the possibility of Large Patch appearing in the spring. Remember, an ounce of prevention in the fall is cheaper and easier than curing Large Patch in the spring!
    • If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to apply pre-emergent weed control on all established warm-season lawns. Come by for products!
    • Nitrogen is a no-no: Don’t be seduced by the ads that use catchy advertising to pitch so-called “winterizer” products which are high in nitrogen. Your warm season lawn is going dormant and doesn’t need much fertilizer – in fact, high nitrogen can cause damage due to increased tender growth that is killed during the winter and it can increase fungal problems that show up in the spring. Fall applications should consist of a higher phosphorus and potassium content like 0-7-7 or 5-10-25 or 5-10-30 combo with pre-emergent. Wait until late spring 2016 to use a high nitrogen fertilizer on Zoysia, Bermuda, Centipede, and St. Augustine.
    • Do not aerate warm-season lawns in fall; wait until spring.
    • Keep mowing your warm-season lawn until it goes dormant. It’s best to keep your lawn at regular mow-height for winter, and not let it grow long. On the other hand, do not scalp! Keep it at normal height for your type of lawn.

October Lawn Tips for Tall Fescue Lawns

The pre-emergent vs. post-emergent herbicide topic takes study, thought, and practical experience. If you have further questions about herbicide use on your lawn, please don’t hesitate to call us.

    • Our Blue Tag Certified Elite Tall Fescue seed is in stock. It’s a blend of three types that we hand selected as the best for the South. Read all about it here and keep scrolling to see our package deals!
    • Lay Tall Fescue sod now! It’s grown with same superior seed blend as above. Request a Free Sod Quote.
    • PRE-emergent Herbicide on Fescue: If you are about to plant Fescue seed, omit pre-emerge herbicide. If you have an established Fescue lawn and have no intention whatsoever of overseeding, then it’s time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide.
    • POST-emergent Herbicide on NEW Fescue: If you planted a brand new Fescue lawn from seed and in the process tilled up the existing soil, you’ve likely kicked up weed seeds with the tiller and exposed them to light (light is one of the factors that causes seeds to germinate). The seeds are probably now germinating and you’re worried about the weeds alongside your Fescue seedlings. Here’s a rule of thumb: it’s okay to apply a post-emergent herbicide (such as Trimec) labeled for use on Tall Fescue lawns after you’ve mowed your new lawn three to four times.
    • Mowing Tall Fescue Seedlings: The first time to mow your lawn (at a 2.5-3″ cut height) is when the seedlings reach 3-4″ tall. In fact, mowing will promote growth (both root and shoot growth)! So don’t be timid. Mow it.
    • Aerating Existing Fescue Lawns using Soil3: Aerating improves established Fescue lawns by increasing air, water, and nutrient availability in the root zone of your lawn. Use a core aerator and for best results spread a 1/4″ layer of Soil3 organic compost first, then aerate. Don’t aerate a newly sodded Fescue lawn because it’s not rooted and it will be torn up in the process.
    • Fertilize Existing Fescue Lawns: Stop in to pick up 16-4-8 fertilizer for established Elite Tall Fescue lawns.
    • Fertilize when Seeding New Fescue Lawns: We have an 18-24-12 starter formulation in 50 lb. bags.
    • Along with fertilization, you may need to apply lime to neutralizes the pH of your soil. Optimal soil pH is critical for your grass to be able to uptake the important nutrients supplied by your fertilizer. Take a soil test to determine if your soil needs lime.
    • Continue to mow your Fescue lawn at 2.5″ to 3″ cutting height.
lawn fungicide

Apply Lawn Fungicide to Tall Fescue in Summer

The experts at Super-Sod of Hendersonville, North Carolina, tell us their recommendations for applying preventative lawn fungicide to Tall Fescue lawns during the summer months.

The following tips apply to all regions where Tall Fescue is grown.

Brown patch, caused by the Rhizoctonia species fungus, is the most common disease that can develop in a Fescue lawn. It appears as a brown or yellow circular patch of grass that can vary in size from a few inches to several feet in diameter. Tall Fescue grass is more susceptible to brown patch during the hot, humid summer months. Lawn fungicide or fungus control can be applied to the lawn after brown patch has appeared, but it is best to take preventative action and begin applying fungus control for the duration of the summer months.

We recommend beginning lawn fungicide applications when nighttime low temperatures rise to 60°F. Typically, preventative applications are made at 14 to 30 day intervals, depending upon the fungicide. There are an abundance of lawn fungicides available that prevent brown patch and other lawn diseases. Many of our stores carry these fungicides.

Following good lawn care habits can also help prevent diseases.

  • Avoid over watering by only irrigating when there has not been sufficient rainfall. An established fescue lawn needs 1 inch of water per week (maybe more in the height of summer).
  • Also, keep Tall Fescue grass mowed to a minimum height of 2.5 inches, never cutting more than 1/3 of the blade height at each cutting.
  • In addition, do not fertilize tall fescue grass during the warm months; fertilize only when this type of lawn, classified as a “cool-season grass,” is actively growing during the cool months of early spring and late fall.
  • Topdressing in the autumn with organic compost is a sound organic fertilization practice that also provides good types of bacteria to the lawn that may out compete disease-causing pathogens.
Single Rolls of Sod

Individual Sod Rolls for Quick Fixes

Sometimes areas of a lawn need a quick fix with just a few rolls of sod!

There are sometimes patches and strips where a lawn struggles, due to challenges with the underlying soil or less-than-ideal cultural conditions. There is nothing wrong with putting a few rolls of sod down in an area where it might not last a long time, but will serve its aesthetic purpose for the time being.

Examples of individual rolls of sod for quick fixes:

  • New puppy tracking in dirt from a problem area by the back door where sod struggles to grow? Solution: Periodically refresh that muddy area with rolls of our sod to trap the dirt tracks.
  • Grandparents coming to visit? Does that bare patch out the guest bedroom window really bother them? Solution: Patch it up with a few rolls of new sod and enjoy their compliments about the pretty swatch of green.
  • Preparing your landscape for the big graduation party and parts of the lawn not quite up to speed? Solution: Get a few rolls and be done worrying!
  • Throwing a garden wedding and the prettiest place for the bridal arbor puts the betrothed standing in bare dirt? Solution: We have gorgeous plush rolls of Fescue, Zoysia, and Bermuda you can use to ensure a verdant carpet for the bride and groom’s fancy shoes.
Why use sod for a quick fix?
  • Instant “wow” factor: Sod gives immediate lush, green results.
  • It’s inexpensive: Single rolls of sod are available from all our stores. Follow this link to find your nearby store and call for your local pricing. (psst . . . that’s much less costly than annual flower bed plantings).
  • It’s easy: Small, easy-to-handle half cubic foot bags of Soil3 are in stock for purchase with individual rolls of sod for easy addition of compost to improve your soil.
  • You can do it yourself! The sod rolls and small bags of Soil3 will fit in the trunk of your car.

The Beauty of Farming Elite Tall Fescue Sod

Misty, verdant, morning. Elite Tall Fescue sod field, September 29th, 2014.

Misty, verdant, morning. Elite Tall Fescue sod field, September 29th, 2014.

Exactly one month later, on October 29th, Dave snapped this while seeding the last Elite Tall Fescue field that he’ll plant this year – the 2014 planting season is coming to a close under dramatic skies.

SuperSodfarmingbeauty

Two days later, it snowed on November 1st!!
Don’t worry, the new Fescue will be just fine.

Super_sod_Hendersonville_NC_farm

October Tall Fescue Lawn Care Tips

Elite Tall Fescue overseeding

This Elite Tall Fescue lawn is overseeded every autumn.

As the weather cools, it’s time to plant Elite Tall Fescue sod and seed. It’s Fescue Time!

Here are your Elite Tall Fescue Lawn Care tips for October. The pre-emergent vs. post-emergent herbicide topic at any time of year takes study, thought, and practical experience and we address it regarding Tall Fescue in two bullet points below. If you have further questions about herbicide use on your lawn, please don’t hesitate to call us.

  • Our Blue Tag Certified Elite Tall Fescue seed is in stock. It’s a blend of three types that we hand selected as the best for the South. Read all about it here.
  • Lay Tall Fescue sod now! It’s grown with same superior seed blend as above. Request a Free Sod Quote.
  • PRE-emergent Herbicide on Fescue: If you are about to plant Fescue seed, omit pre-emerge herbicide. If you have an established Fescue lawn and have no intention whatsoever of overseeding, then it’s time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide.
  • POST-emergent Herbicide on NEW Fescue: If you planted a brand new Fescue lawn from seed and in the process tilled up the existing soil, you’ve likely kicked up weed seeds with the tiller and exposed them to light (light is one of the factors that causes seeds to germinate). The seeds are probably now germinating and you’re worried about the weeds alongside your Fescue seedlings. Here’s a rule of thumb: it’s okay to apply a post-emergent herbicide (such as Trimec) labeled for use on Tall Fescue lawns after you’ve mowed your new lawn twice. It’s time to mow your lawn at a 2.5-3″ cut height when the seedlings reach 3-4″ tall. In fact, mowing will promote growth (both root and shoot growth)! So don’t be timid. Mow it.
  • Aerating Existing Fescue Lawns using Soil3: Aerating improves established Fescue lawns by increasing air, water, and nutrient availability in the root zone of your lawn. Use a core aerator and for best results spread a 1/4″ layer of Soil3 organic compost first, then aerate. Don’t aerate a newly sodded Fescue lawn because it’s not rooted and it will be torn up in the process.
  • Fertilize Fescue Lawns: Stop in to pick up fertilizer for Elite Tall Fescue lawns.
  • Along with fertilization, you may need to apply limestone to neutralize the pH of your soil. Optimal soil pH is critical for your grass to be able to uptake the important nutrients supplied by your fertilizer. Take a soil test to determine if your soil needs lime. We have lime in stock.
  • Continue to mow your Fescue lawn at 2.5″ to 3″ cutting height.

October Warm Season Lawn Tips

Follow these warm season lawn tips from Super-Sod.

This October as your Zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine, or Centipede lawn goes dormant, follow these warm season lawn tips from Super-Sod.

In October, plants are going dormant and it should be a quiet time, right? Well, just like there’s a bounty of fall festivals and football games right now, fall holds a bounty of garden activities. It’s a time of transition in the plant world and a few lawn projects need to be attended to and “best practices” kept in mind with these October warm season lawn tips.

For ALL lawns, continue to scout for Fall Armyworms until frost.

  • If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to apply pre-emergent weed control on all established warm-season lawns.
  • Winterizer is a no-no: Don’t be seduced by the ads that use catchy advertising to pitch so-called “winterizer” products. Your warm season lawn is going dormant and doesn’t need fertilizer – in fact, fertilizer can cause damage due to increased tender growth that is killed during the winter and it can increase fungal problems that show up in the spring. Wait until spring 2015 to fertilize Zoysia, Bermuda, Centipede, and St. Augustine.
  • Fungicide: Zoysia, Bermuda, Centipede, & St. Augustine lawns get an application of fungicide in October (once soil temps are 70 degrees) to help reduce the possibility of Large Patch. Remember, an ounce of prevention in the fall is cheaper and easier than curing Large Patch in the spring!
  • Do not aerate warm-season lawns in fall; wait until spring.
  • Keep mowing your warm-season lawn until it goes dormant. It’s best to keep your lawn at regular mow-height for winter, and not let it grow long. On the other hand, do not scalp! Keep it at normal height for your type of lawn.
  • Your lawn is not yet dormant and can get smothered and damaged by a layer of leaves. Prevent lawn suffocation and rake or blow those pretty autumn leaves off your lawn!

Fall Armyworms in Lawns

Fall armyworms (FAW) are eating their way across lawns as we speak. We’re getting calls about them in our Outlets, so if you live in the Southeast (even as far north as north Georgia and North Carolina) and love your lawn, please scout for them daily. Increased bird activity is a sure sign of FAW presence in your lawn.

New Sod

FAW LOVE NEW SOD above everything else, but they will eat established sod too. Their culinary propensity for new sod makes it appear that these creatures arrived WITH new sod, but lawn care experts and extension specialists are familiar with this problem and know that FAW are already on site before new sod is laid. New sod is like a fresh buffet spread out before them.

Here’s unbiased 3rd party information about FAW and new sod:

TurfFiles: NC State University (See third paragraph under “Scouting and Early Warnings”)

 A Little Bit about Their Life Cycle

Insect life cycles involve a lot of metamorphosis. This is what it looks like to be a fall armyworm:

eggs > larvae > pupae > moths

The eggs are laid in shrubs adjacent to turf or in unexpectedly non-horticultural places like sides of building, fences, posts, signs, old cars, and I’ve even seen a picture of their egg masses on a flag. Unlikely, seemingly inhospitable places as seen in the picture of a black post.

We rarely see them in our production fields because with hundreds of acres of tightly mowed turf there is nowhere suitable for them to lay their eggs.

fall-armyworm-eggsWhen eggs hatch, out comes the larvae that goes hog wild on your lawn. The “larvae” are really the “worms” which are really “caterpillars.” So, we find out that they are not really worms at all, it’s just some catchy name.

The caterpillars are the damaging phase. Notice how you don’t see them everywhere at once on your lawn. They march across from one side of the lawn to another and this shows that they hatch from eggs that were deposited adjacent to the lawn. If the FAW came with the sod, they would certainly be everywhere at once eating sod, wouldn’t they.

fall-armyworm-lawnfall-armyworm-larvaThe larvae somehow (I’ve forgotten my entomology lessons here) become the pupae, which are non-damaging, but they are hideous, cockroach-colored, torpedo-shaped awful things that bury themselves into the soil so we don’t have to see them, thankfully.

fall-armyworm-pupaeThe pupae “pupate” into moths, which are considered the adults, and it’s the moths/adults that have the babies. The moths lay a new round of eggs and the cycle repeats itself. Sooooo, if you’ve had fall armyworms once, look for them twice. We hate it too.

How to Kill FAW

We’re written a lot more about FAW in our July Lawn Tips email, but there are two points I’m going to pull from there, just in case you won’t follow my link and read all the interesting facts we have there.

#1. There is no “over the counter” preventative treatment available to homeowners for FAW in the egg, pupa, or moth stages. However, insecticide is available to homeowners for treating when they’re in the larva/caterpillar stage, which is when they are doing their damage.
#2. When you see a sign of them, treat your lawn immediately because they can do terrible damage within 24 hours. Treatment time should be late in the evening or early in the morning; both times are when they are most active. Liquid insecticides are best and we recommend two treatments: one in the evening and one the next morning.

It’s always sad when a customer calls about FAW. Here’s a picture of a beautiful lawn that was attached by FAW three weeks after being installed. The new sod is the brown section; the green section was laid two month earlier. The FAW troops attacked the new sod first, from the perimeter, moving inwards.

fall-armyworm-damage-sod

Most of our Outlets carry FAW insecticide, but if one of them doesn’t, they can still make a recommendation, so give them a call. In the case of the customer’s lawn above, Scott at our Gwinnett Outlet tells me, “We spoke on the phone at about 4:20pm one afternoon, so I told him to run to Home Depot and use the Triazicide. It made more sense to get them treated immediately than to wait until we opened the next day.”

Our customers should be on alert for FAW activity until the first frost.

When the Battle is Over

After you’ve applied your insecticide treatments, we recommend applying starter fertilizer (5-10-15) to your lawn the next day. Continue to water your lawn each morning for several days.

The good news is that, in most cases, a warm season type of lawn will recover. FAW don’t eat stolons and rhizomes of warm season turf and growth will resume from those resilient plant parts.

While warm season grasses, given proper care, will typically recover from FAW damage, damage to tall fescue is often much more significant. Fescue simply does not have the same tolerance to FAW activity, particularly if it is not very well established. As a result, FAW damage in tall fescue often requires overseeding or re-sodding in order to repair the damage. A new lawn can go from fine one day, to a complete loss in a little as 24 to 48 hours. Tall fescue users cannot take the FAW threat too lightly.

Water Sod During Installation

Water Sod During installation: Hand water sod as you are laying it down. No piece of freshly cut sod should be down for more than 30 minutes without getting water. This is especially important during these hot summer months, but don’t neglect it when it’s cooler out either.

We can’t stress watering enough. New sod is highly perishable and will die if it dries out.

As soon as installation is complete (SAME DAY!): Thoroughly water your new lawn to establish moisture in the sod layer and the soil underneath it. If you are laying a lot of sod, water the area you’ve finished as you move on to the next area. Use common gardening sense: sod is perishable and will die if it dries out. Yes, we said it again!

For approximately 2 weeks after installation: Keep your new sod wet like a sponge until new roots form. Reader further about Watering New Sod.