6 Ways To Get Rid of Weeds

6 Ways To Get Rid of WeedsThere’s nothing more demoralizing than seeing your beautiful yard overrun by weeds. Our weed control services will keep full-scale infestations in check, but there are also a couple of methods you can use to remove the occasional weed or cluster.

The Family Handman has some fantastic tips on getting rid of weeds. Read the full article on their website, or read on for the highlights:

Strategy 1: Practice prevention: Mow to the ideal cutting height

Each type of grass has an ideal cutting height for good health and strong growth. When cut no lower than that height, and when cut before it gets too long, the grass will usually out-compete weeds as long as it’s also fertilized and watered properly. Longer grass helps prevent weeds in a couple of different ways. The taller growth shades the ground, keeping it cooler and retarding weed seed germination. And once weed seeds sprout, they don’t have as much sunlight as they need for hardy growth.

The chart below shows the range of cutting heights depending on the grass type. If you don’t know your grass type, take a plug of turf to a garden center and ask the staff to help with the identification.

It’s also important to mow your grass when it needs it. That’s when the grass is one-third above the ideal cutting height. Depending on the weather conditions and the time of year, that can mean mowing every week or two, or every four or five days. Keeping the height in check also means you’re clipping off weed seed heads before they can mature and seed your lawn.

Ideal Mowing Height Ranges

Cool Climate Grasses
Bent grass – 1/4 to 3/4 in.
Chewing hard or red fescue- 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 in.
Tall fescue – 1-1/2 to 3 in.
Kentucky bluegrass – 1-1/2 to 3 in.
Perennial ryegrass -1-1/2 to 3 in.

Warm Climate Grasses
Bahia grass – 2 to 3 in.
Bermuda grass – 1/2 to 1 in.
Blue grama grass – 2 to 3 in.
Buffalo grass – 2 to 3 in.
Carpetgrass – 1 to 2 in.
Centipedegrass – 1 to 2 in.
St. Augustinegrass – 1 to 3 in.
Zoysia grass – 1/2 to 1 in.

Strategy 2: Identify the weeds before planning the attack

Before you start any weed control program, you need to determine which of the three types of weeds you’re controlling. Each requires unique products and application methods. Some treatments are very time sensitive, while others can be done anytime during the growing season.

Strategy 3: Control broadleaf weeds with the least amount of herbicide possible

The key to controlling broadleaf weeds is to use a broadleaf herbicide (see “Getting the Most from Broadleaf Killers,” below) and distribute it with the smallest applicator necessary to do the job. That’ll not only save time and money but also keep you from needlessly introducing chemicals into the environment.

Spot-kill weeds with a small pressure sprayer

No matter how lush and healthy your lawn is, a few isolated weeds will pop up. That doesn’t call for whole-yard treatment. Instead, spot-treat the weeds with a small, trigger- controlled, pump-up pressure sprayer (Photo 1). After pouring in the diluted herbicide, you pump up the pressure with a little plunger and then pull the trigger to release the spray right on the culprits.

Strategy 4: Kill perennial grassy weeds one by one

Quack grass is the widest spread example of a perennial grass that comes back year after year just like your lawn. They spread through seeds and extensive underground root systems and are unaffected by broadleaf killers. Pulling grassy weeds only gets some of the roots, and the remaining ones will quickly sprout new plants. The only effective solution is to use a “nonselective” plant killer like Super Kills-All or Roundup. You can apply non-selective killers with sprayers, but you’ll kill everything in the area, including your lawn and any other nearby plants. The best way to kill these weeds while protecting surrounding plants is by wiping the grass blades with the non-selective herbicide. Wear a cheap cloth glove over a plastic or rubber chemically resistant (they’re labeled as such) glove to protect your skin. Dip your gloved hand into the herbicide and then simply grab the blades near the base and pull the herbicide over the grass blades. Don’t worry about coating every single blade. The chemical will absorb into the plant, make its way down to the roots and kill the entire plant. Most will die in a few days, but survivors may need more treatments.

Strategy 5: Control crab grass with a “crab grass preventer” in the spring

Crab grass is the best example of an annual weedy grass. It doesn’t over-winter like perennial weeds. Instead, it dies at the end of the growing season and depends on producing thousands of seeds to propagate new clumps in the spring.

The best way to keep crab grass under control is to apply a crab grass preventer between the first and third mowings in the spring. Timing is everything. The treatment prevents the seeds from germinating. If you wait too long, the seeds will sprout. Apply too early and the preventer will dissipate and late germinating seeds will sprout.

Make notes in the fall about where your crab grass seems to thrive. That, of course, is where the seeds are concentrated, so you don’t need to treat the whole lawn, just the areas that are infested. Crab grass loves areas where the ground warms quickest, especially near driveways or sidewalks where the asphalt or concrete helps warm the soil. That’s the profile of most other annual grassy weeds too. They’re treated much the same way as crab grass, but read the directions on preventer bags to find one that’ll be effective for the annual weeds you want to eliminate.

Strategy 6: Don’t fight weeds where grass won’t grow

Poor light or soil conditions can make it all but impossible to grow grass in some areas. If you’ve tried more than once to nurture grass in an area and failed, it might be time to throw in the towel and treat the area with a landscaping alternative. The obvious choices are stone, mulch and attractive ground cover plants that tolerate the same conditions grass can’t handle. Kill any weeds with a nonselective herbicide (re-treat survivors after 10 days). The herbicide will break down within two weeks and the ground will be safe for new plants. If you’re covering the ground with a decorative material like stone or mulch, consider laying a weed-control fabric on the ground first to keep weeds from getting another foothold.

The experts at Parkway Lawn Services are ready to help you with all your MN lawn care needs, questions, and concerns. Our Minneapolis Lawn Service is bar none. Get a free estimate today.

General Mowing Guidelines

From the University of Minnesota Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series

Summer heat can take a toll on your lawn. If you mow too low, water too much or too little, or ignore early signs of pests, your grass could quickly become lackluster or even completely die in small or large patches. The general rule of thumb for mowing grass is to mow high, mow as frequently as needed, and allow the clippings to return to the lawn. Follow these mowing guidelines from the University of Minnesota for a lush, green lawn all summer long.

Mowing Height

Height of cut plays a very important role in determining the maintenance needs of a lawn. Generally, the higher the height of cut the less the maintenance required. This is primarily due to the fact that higher heights of cut promote deeper root growth into the soil.

Shorter heights of cut promote shallower root systems. Deep root systems have naturally greater access to soil water and nutrient reserves thereby increasing their ability to tolerate environmental stresses. Shallower root systems require greater attention to supplementing soil water and nutrient needs to keep the plants healthy and minimize negative effects of adverse environmental stress.

In addition to larger and deeper root systems, higher heights of cut restrict the amount of light reaching the soil surface. Since many lawn weed seeds require light for germination, the increased shading from a higher height of cut will actually suppress weed germination and growth thereby cutting down the need for herbicide use or other weed control measures. This can be particularly helpful in controlling warm season annual grasses such as crabgrass. In turn, this can reduce the dependence on pre-emergent herbicides for their control. For most lawn areas, mowing at a height of 2.5 – 3.0 inches will provide a good quality turf.

Mowing Frequency

Mowing frequency is based entirely on the growth rate of the grass. In spring and fall when grass is growing more vigorously, mowing should be more frequent than during mid-summer when growth rates slow.

Mowing frequency is also increased with shorter heights of cut. For example, if the lawn is maintained at 1 inch, then only 1/2 inch of growth is needed before mowing is required assuming that no more than 1/3 of the top growth is removed at each mowing.

On the other hand, if the height is maintained at 2.5 inches, then about 1 inch of growth could occur before mowing would be required. In general, the more growth allowed (following the 1/3 guideline) before mowing is required, the longer the time interval between mowing.

Mowing too infrequently damages the lawn by removing too much of the plant at once. A substantial amount of leaf tissue is removed with infrequent mowing, while proper mowing removes a much smaller portion of leaf tissue. Cutting too short will expose the lower portions of grass stems which are yellowish in color due to less chlorophyll present compared to the greener leaf blades above. Grass plants will now need to use food reserves to remake the necessary chlorophyll before normal growth can resume. This is an unnecessary use of food reserves and further weakens the plants ability to withstand and recover from other weather and environmental stresses.

Continually scalping the turf can seriously stress and weaken the grass plants inviting unwanted weed invasion and competition.

While most walk-behind rotary mowers adjust mowing heights by resetting the four wheels to the desired height, it is a good idea to occasionally see how close that setting really is to the actual height of cut. To do this, take a ruler and gently push it through the turfgrass canopy until it rests firmly on the lawn/ground surface. Then look across the grass plants just in front of the ruler and see what the height is. For example, if the ground is firm then mower wheels will ride higher and consequently the height setting will more closely approximate the actual cutting height. However, where the ground is soft or there is a significant thatch layer present, the wheels will sink more deeply into the lawn surface and hence, the mowing height is actually less than the wheel settings would indicate. Where there is significant thatch present, mower wheels can ride much lower than the lawn surface between the wheels resulting in scalping.

Remember to take the time to adjust your mower correctly, periodically verify that the mower height settings are actually providing the desired height of cut.

Other Factors to Keep in Mind

Following are some additional mowing tips to help keep the lawn healthy and actively growing.

  1. Increasing the mowing heights by an inch during mid-summer will improve the lawn’s ability to tolerate stress caused by heat and drying winds.
  2. Continue to mow throughout the fall until growth stops. The weather is usually warm enough for continued grass growth until late October in the Twin Cities area.
  3. Excessively tall grass in fall frequently mats down during winter, making it more susceptible to winter disease problems such as snow mold and invasion by meadow voles (mice-like creatures that create serpentine paths in the lawn surface and are covered by loose grass clippings; they become visible as snow melts from the lawn in the spring).
  4. Change the direction of mowing frequently to promote upright shoot growth. If possible, mow at right angles every other time. For example, alternating mowing patterns will prevent continuous scalping and soil compaction.

The experts at Parkway Lawn Services are ready to help you with all your MN lawn care needs, questions, and concerns. Our Minneapolis Lawn Service is bar none. Get a free estimate today!

Remove Grass Clippings?

Here is great advice as published in Total Landscape Care magazine.

Myth: it’s a good idea to remove grass clippings after mowing.

Reality: There is a misconception their grass clippings contribute significantly to thatch. Grass clippings are mostly water and decompose rapidly, returning significant amounts of fertilizer to the lawn. Research shows that up to one-third of applied fertilizer can be recycled by simply returning clippings.

– See more at: http://www.totallandscapecare.com/landscaping/10-most-common-lawn-care-myths/#sthash.u8ADvFnQ.dpuf

Bob Kroth, Owner
Certified Turfgrass Professional

Late spring flowers for pollinators

The U of M Extension Consumer Horticulture Team

You can support pollinators by providing flowers throughout the growing season. Spring flowering plants like willows, maples, plums, and gooseberries provide bountiful nectar and pollen for bees that are active in spring. Many bee species in Minnesota are only out flying as adults during the first month of spring, taking advantage of these abundant floral resources to gather pollen to feed their young, which will be developing within the nest the rest of the year. After the early spring flowers have faded there is a gap before the next bounty of long-blooming flowers appears in early to middle summer. Flowers such as bee balm, purple prairie clover, and joe-pye weed, will continue sustaining bees throughout most of the summer.

In many landscapes, there is a lull between these two heavy blooming periods. Although the early spring bees have gathered all the food they need, there are other bees active throughout the growing season like bumble bees, sweat bees, small carpenter bees, and the European honey bee. These bees need continually blooming flowers from April through September. For bumble bees, late spring/early summer flowers are crucial for colony development as colonies start from scratch each year and the fledgling colonies need pollen and nectar to grow.

What can we provide for bees during this lull in bloom?

Here are a few great choices to fill in this gap:

Virginia waterleaf, Hydrophyllum virginiana, an easy to grow plant that can fill in shady understories. Two-spotted bumblebee, Bombus bimaculatus, photo by Heather Holm.

Wild lupine, Lupinus perennis, a great provider of nutritious pollen. Mason bee, Osmia sp., photo by Heather Holm.

Golden Alexander, Zizia aurea, tolerant of a wide range of conditions, provides pollen and nectar. Sweat bee, Halictus sp., photo by Heather Holm.

Prairie phlox, Phlox pilosa, a great butterfly plant preferring full sun.

Wild columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, an easy to grow bumble bee plant. Half black bumble bee, Bombus vagans, photo by Heather Holm.

Wild geraniums, Geranium maculatum, abundant flowers support a wide range of pollinators. Photo: Green metallic sweat bee, Augochlorella aurata, photo by Heather Holm.

Pagoda dogwood, Cornus alternifolia, a stately shade loving shrub. Photo: Brown belted bumble bee, Bombus griseocollis, photo by Elaine Evans.

Beardtongue, Penstemon spp., a bumble bee favorite with several species providing variety in planting conditions. Photo: Common eastern bumble bee, Bombus impatiens on Penstemon grandiflorus, photo by Elaine Evans.

Check on your garden weekly to see what is blooming. If you notice a gap at any point in time, fill it with flowers for our pollinators.

Frost Advisory !

Frost/Freeze Advisory – Cover plants or bring them in!

Hazardous Weather Outlook

Hazardous Weather Outlook
National Weather Service Twin Cities/Chanhassen MN
1105 AM CDT Thu Apr 27 2017 

1105 AM CDT Thu Apr 27 2017

This Hazardous Weather Outlook is for portions of central and
southern Minnesota...and west central Wisconsin.

.DAY ONE...This Afternoon and Tonight

Below freezing temperatures are expected tonight. Some lingering
cloud cover and wind could help minimize frost, but the sub-
freezing temperatures could be detrimental to tender vegetation.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...Friday through Wednesday

Accumulating snow is possible across the area Sunday night and

How to Smooth a Bumpy Lawn

house with bumpy lawn

Dreaming of a smooth lawn? If your lawn is riddled with bumps, dips and holes don’t despair – you can still have the lawn of your dreams. Lawn Savers pinpoints some of the common causes of bumpy lawns and how to fix them.

What Causes a Bumpy Lawn?

Uneven lawns can be caused my many things, such as:

  • Frozen, dense soil that thaws unevenly in the spring
  • Pets and pests that dig holes
  • Children who dig holes or play heavily
  • Walking on lawns that are too soft, usually in the early spring or after it rains
  • Equipment that is used incorrectly, causing holes or other damage

How Can I Fix a Bumpy Lawn?

Fixing your lawn might take some work, but with a little effort your lawn will be back in shape in no time. For depressions less than an inch deep, gradually sprinkle them with top soil (compost-based soil works best). If depressions that are an inch deep or more, remove the top layer of soil to correct the sinking and fill it back with new, healthy soil. Add a little extra to allow for some settling. Be sure to remove any pests or objects that are causing the damage prior to any repairs.

Keep your lawn smooth by:

The experts at Parkway Lawn Services are ready to help you with all your MN lawn care needs, questions, and concerns. Our Minneapolis Lawn Service is bar none. Get a free estimate today.

Got Vole Damage In Your Lawn?

Parkway Lawn can help by overseeding this Spring. Click free estimate above.

Bob Kroth, Owner
Certified Turfgrass Professional    

Here is a great article published by UMN

Voles in the landscape

Jennifer Menken


Voles, also known as field mice, are small brown rodents very common in yards and fields. Their presence is most often observed in the late winter and early spring right after the snow melts, when their grassy trails are laid bare and areas of dead grass appear. Voles do the most harm to small trees and shrubs when they chew on the bark, often hidden below winter snows.


Voles are a group of small, brownish rodents about the size and shape of a mouse. They have small ears and a short tail, which give them a “stocky” appearance. They spend a great deal of time eating grasses and roots and making trails. These surface runways are one of the easiest ways to identify voles. Usually seen in early spring just after snowmelt, a series of criss-crossing trails can be viewed on the surface. There may be larger patches of dried grass that function as storage areas for extra food and nesting materials.

Voles will also make small holes about 1 inch across and underground tunnels to get to tubers and bulbs. They will even use mole tunnels. This often cause moles to be blamed for eating roots, instead of the white-grubs they actually eat.

Vole damage may also be noticed on trees and shrubs where they have chewed through the bark very near the ground. The vole’s front teeth will leave ¼ inch side-by-side grooves in the wood.


Meadow vole

Jennifer Menken, Univ. of Minnesota

Redbacked vole

Jennifer Menken, Univ. of Minnesota

Minnesota has several species of vole, the most common being the meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) and the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogastor). Like most rodents voles have a short life expectancy but are very productive breeders. One female vole can have 5-10 litters in a year averaging 3 to 5 young. They may nest in shallow grass filled nests on the ground, or dig a small tunnel about 4-5 inches down to nest. Fortunately voles are a prime food source for many predators such as snakes, hawks, owls, foxes, and badgers. Vole populations cycle, and about every 3-5 years there will be a population boom. Mild winters with good snowfall can help to increase vole populations.


Voles are extremely common and total prevention is probably impossible but general yard sanitation may help keep vole numbers down. Remove woodpiles and other debris from the ground that may allow hiding places for voles. Keep grass trimmed short and bushes trimmed up from the ground. Bird feeders are another attraction for voles and should either be removed or the ground kept very clean to keep vole numbers down.

Management strategies

Vole damage on juniper

Michelle Grabowski, Univ. of Minnesota

Vole damage on juniper

Michelle Grabowski, Univ. of Minnesota

While lawn damage is most visible in the spring it is rarely permanent. Simply rake up the dead grass and reseed the area. As the surrounding grass grows it will cover up the trails. Vole damage to tree bark is best prevented by encircling the tree with a light colored tree guard. The guard should be tall enough to reach above the snow line in the winter and the base should be buried in the soil or have a soil ridge around the base. Make sure that the guard is loose enough so that it doesn’t constrict the tree.

In small areas trapping may be an effective way of reducing vole populations. Standard mouse snap traps set along runways or near tunnels baited with peanut butter will catch some animals. You may want to cover the traps so that pets and children do not accidentally find them.

Large vole populations can most effectively be reduced with toxic baits. There are some pesticides available for home use. Be sure to read the label before you buy any pesticide and again before you use the pesticide. Vole baits should be placed inside bait stations to reduce the risk of non-target species ingesting the bait. Most pesticides recommended for voles are restricted and can only be used by Certified Pesticide Applicators. Contact your local Extension educators for more information about pesticide use.

Remember the voles are always there and for a great portion of the year they go unnoticed. In an average year it may not even be worth the effort to control the population.

Wait! It’s Still Too Early for Lawn Care!

Use This Handy Sustainable Lawn Care Calendar

This has been an unusual winter for Minnesota – very little snow and unusually mild temperatures. We’ve already enjoyed a couple weekends with temperatures in the 60s and everyone is looking forward to spending more time outside. But as much as you may be itching to get out in the yard and take care of those spring chores, DON’T! It’s still too early for lawn care, the ground temperature is too low and you may cause more harm than good to your lawn.

So when is it okay to get started on another season of lawn care? The University of Minnesota Extension Office published a lawn care calendar and guidelines for your reference.

Sustainable Lawn Care Calendar and Growth Cycle

Minnesota lawns of cool season turfgrasses bear the stress of changing weather and can survive harsh winters. These grasses endure throughout the seasons because they grow rapidly during spring and fall when temperatures are cool and then become inactive during the heat and drought of summer. A sustainable lawn care routine should support this natural life cycle of cool season grasses.

lawn care growth cycle

Cool season turfgrass growth cycle

Image Credit: Cornell University 

Seasonal plant growth cycle

In early spring, roots are long and full of nutrients stored from the fall. Shoots, the part of grass visible above ground, use this stored energy for growth.

In warm summer temperatures, leaf and root growth slow down. Plants rest during times of heat and drought. Roots can be damaged when soil temperatures are above 85°F.

In the fall months shoots start to grow again and nutrients are stored in the long roots for the winter. Optimal shoot growth occurs with air temperatures of 55 to 75°F.

Cool-season root growth is stimulated by soil temperatures above 32°F, and is optimal with soil temperatures between 50 and 65°F.

When to schedule lawn maintenance

It is important to schedule your lawn care maintenance during times that match the life cycle of the turfgrass.

Things to avoid:

  • Do not add fertilizer too early in the spring. This may encourage the grass to grow during a time when it should be slow or dormant.
  • Do not spray to control weeds when temperatures are warm. This increases the likelihood of damaging the lawn.
  • Do not fertilize in hot mid-summer months; this can cause irreversible damage to your lawn.
  • Crabgrass doesn’t develop until late spring or early summer, so don’t apply herbicide used to prevent pre-emerging crabgrass in the fall.
lawn care calendar

Sustainable Lawn Care Calendar and Growth Cycle

Image Credit: University of Minnesota Extension Office

Need help? Call the experts at Parkway Lawn Service!

free estimateNeed help with spring clean-up or aeration? Interested in our weekly mowing service? The experts at Parkway Lawn Service are ready to help you with all your lawn care needs, questions, and concerns. We have over 30 years of experience of serving customers in the Twin Cities. Click here for a free estimate, or contact us today at 612-869-5878 for all your lawn care needs.

Boxelder bugs inside homes during winter

Boxelder bugs inside homes during winter
Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologistboxelder-bug-jeff-hahn

With the recent mild weather we have experienced, some residents have been finding boxelder bugs and lady beetles in their homes. This is actually not unusual in the middle of the winter. These insects remain inactive as long as their hiding places in various wall voids, attics, and other nooks and crannies in and around buildings remain cold. However, if we receive mild, sunny temperatures, this can cause these overwintering insects to break their dormancy and become active. They then move towards the warmth inside the building where residents find them crawling around. Once active, they do not live much more than a few days to about a week.

Boxelder bugs do not damage property but can be very
annoying when found indoors. Photo: Jeff Hahn, U of M

Despite the circumstantial evidence; these insects are not laying eggs and reproducing indoors. All of the boxelder bugs or lady beetles that are seen indoors now entered buildings last fall. Unfortunately, there are not many good options for dealing with boxelder bugs and lady beetles at this time of year. It is not possible to prevent them from emerging from wall voids and other spaces. And once they become active in your home, they only realistic option is to physically remove them, e.g. with a vacuum cleaner.

The best time to deal with boxelder bugs and other insects that seek harborage for the winter is in late summer or fall before they start to move into buildings. The best methods for reducing these insects are seal up cracks and spaces that may allow them into your home combined with a timely treatment of an appropriate residual insecticide. Some insects will still get inside but you should be able to reduce the number that would otherwise get inside.

For more information, see the University of Minnesota Extension publication Boxelder bugs.
Posted by Jeffrey Hahn at 12:15 PM

The dangers of standing ash trees by Jim Walsh Board Certified Master Arborist

In January of 2017 I attended the Northern Green, an annual green industry get together, and it’s Master Classes for tree geeks.  The dangers of standing ash trees falling apart due to heavy emerald-ash-borerinfestations of emerald ash borer (EAB), was one of the main themes of the conference.  The effect of EAB, an agrilus beetle, feeding on ash tree stability is different from the damage done by other types of agrilus beetles such as two lined chestnut borer on oaks and bronze birch borer on birch.  In short, EAB killed ash are less stable and become safety hazards faster than trees killed in most other ways.  If you are not treating your green ash consider removal before it becomes a liability, ruining the enjoyment of your yard.  Make a plan to deal with your green ash early, before you have a major safety hazard in your yard. Hundreds of millions of ash have already died due to emerald ash borer mostly in states east and south of Minnesota as well as in Canada.  EAB is in Minnesota and is just beginning it’s lethal feast on Minnesota’s estimated 900 million ash trees.



Jim Walsh Board Certified Master Arborist

Vineland Tree Care

612-872-0205 (office)