Lawn Maintenance

Ground Control Lawn Care

February 23rd, 2021 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

We are honored to be recommended by Dan Jelens of Grounds Control Lawn Care as he steps in to retirement.  We wish Dan the best!

MSU Irrigation Tips

July 17th, 2020 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Helping your lawn during the heat

July 17th, 2020 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Sprinkling in the Summer

August 2nd, 2019 by Tuff Turf Molebusters
For season grass, summer in Michigan is the worst time of the year.  Remember the heat wave 2 weeks ago with the 90 degree temperatures, high humidity, and even nights that were still 80 degrees at 10:00 PM?  Not only were we uncomfortable, but our lawns were too!  Diseases that attack grass love the heat, humidity, and grass that is under heat stress.  While we cannot control the temperature, there are a few things that you can control, like:

If you have an underground system, avoid sprinkling in the middle of the night.  You should water in the morning for about 15 minutes per zone with rotor heads and 2 minutes per zone with misters.  Water after 6:00 AM so that your lawn is not wet while it is dark.   When temperatures are above 80 degrees, sprinkle again in the afternoon to cool the lawn.  If you are watering in the heat of the day, make sure to water long enough to compensate for evaporation from the sun and wind.  For zones with rotor heads, water for 5 – 10 minutes and 2 minutes for the misters.  This will vary depending on soil profile, type of grass, amount of sun, and the amount of wind you receive.

I realize that underground sprinkling is a nice luxury and not everybody can afford it.  However, in today’s technological world, the lack of an underground sprinkler system is not really an excuse to avoid sprinkling when you are not home.  Amazon has everything you need to make your own “above ground sprinkling system”.  For less than $60 you can buy a digital timer that attaches to your spigot and has up to 4 connections for garden hoses that can be programmed to run at different times.  All you have to do is set out 4 sprinklers in your lawn.  You can even buy timers that have WiFi so you can control the timer with an app.  You would want to move the hoses every couple of days to avoid killing the grass under it.  I have seen many homes with nice systems using garden hoses, and you don’t have to blow them out in the fall!

How high should I cut my grass in the summer?

August 2nd, 2019 by Tuff Turf Molebusters
Mowing the grass too low is the biggest mistake we see people make.  No matter how many times we recommend mowing at the highest setting during the middle of the summer, many people still mow the grass too short.  I have heard that mowing higher means mowing more frequently.  This is completely wrong, in fact the opposite is true.  The rule of thumb is to never cut off more than 1/3 of the blade of grass at one time.  If you apply the 1/3 rule and always let your grass grow long enough to cut 1/3 off, you can see in the chart below that raising the mowing height from 2″ to 4″ also doubles the number of days between mowings.
I realize that letting your grass get 6″ high before mowing is long and covers your shoes when you walk through it.  It looks like it needs to be mowed when you just finished mowing.  However, longer grass will remain green longer in the heat, have less weeds, and less pressure from diseases.  Keep in mind that this is for a short time period when we are in the middle of summer and have temperatures above 80 every day.
Besides for appearance, lawns are cut too short because most home-owner mowers can’t mow higher than 3″.  The small, mowing only companies don’t understand the agronomics of mowing high, and certainly don’t like to be told how to do their job when asked to raise their mower.  We just witnessed this last week at a turf tour where a MSU professor asked a group of Grand Rapids lawn care professionals how high to mow in the summer.  All the fertilizing companies said 3.5″ – 4″, while the companies that only mow said 2.5″ – 3″.
The depth of the roots of grass are a direct proportion to the height it is mowed

Summer Sprinkling

June 24th, 2019 by Tuff Turf Molebusters
  • Water twice a day when the temperature is above 80 degrees.  If you have underground sprinklers, set the rotary heads for 20 minutes a zone and the misters for 8 minutes at 5:00 AM and 1:00 PM. I have heard the argument to not water in the heat of the day because you lose it to evaporation.  Remember, your lawn is living and breathing.  You cool down with a glass of water.  We make sure our pets have plenty to drink.  Why would you not want to cool down the grass?
  • Avoid watering late in the evening.  You want to give your lawn time to dry before the sun goes down.  If the lawn stays wet all night you are only inviting fungus and disease.  Now, before I get flooded with emails from people without a sprinkler system, I should state that watering in the evening is still better than not watering at all.
  • Avoid too much water.  I have also heard the argument to water deep and infrequently to make the roots go deeper.  This argument is not based on science.  The biological make up of cool season grass is that the roots grow deep when temperatures are 55 degrees to 70 degrees.  That is whey the grass grows so fast in the spring, and also looks great in the fall.  The roots are going to be more shallow as temperatures climb above 75 degrees, so don’t waste water trying to fight nature.  A glass of water that is full cannot hold any more water, despite how long it is left under the faucet.  Soil that is too wet will lead to diseases of the grass.
  • If you have an irrigation system, make sure to watch the heads to make sure everything is firing on all cylinders. When conditions get dry, gaps in coverage become obvious and green and brown circles indicative of poor irrigation coverage become obvious.
  • Kevin Frank from MSU made a great video on watering.  Click here to see it.

Tuff Turf Molebusters turns 25!

January 28th, 2019 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Happy 25th Birthday to Tuff Turf Molebusters!  January 24, 1994 was the day Jim Zylstra incorporated Tuff Turf.  In 2000, Tuff Turf puchased a mole trapping company named Molebusters and officially became Tuff Turf Molebusters.  Jim had the unique idea to put a mole on the top of his truck in 2005.  By the end of 2006, most of trucks were topped with moles.  The bright green and orange color scheme came about in 2009 along with an updated logo featuring Digger the mole.  Tuff Turf has continued to grow and in 2018 moved to the heart of Byron Center.  Tuff Turf is proud to be celebrating 25 years in business!



Helping your turf during dry and hot weather

July 17th, 2018 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

The following article was posted by Kevin Frank of Michigan State University Extension on 7/11/18.

The lack of significant rainfall across many areas of Michigan combined with high temperatures has resulted in turfgrass stress. Lawns that were soaking wet throughout much of April and early May have now turned brown. Many homeowners choose not to irrigate their lawn and, once the lawn starts to turn brown and rainfall doesn’t return, the concern and questions arise as to whether or not the lawn might die.

The vast majority of lawns in Michigan are primarily composed of Kentucky bluegrass. Typically there is no danger that the lawn is going to die unless water is lacking for six to eight weeks in combination with high temperatures. However, there are no solid day estimates without water for predicting whether the turf will die as many other factors are involved such as high temperatures and traffic. Even if you don’t regularly water your lawn, it might be a good idea to give the turf a little water if it hasn’t received any water for a month. Apply about 0.5 to 1 inch of water just to make sure the lawn makes it through this dry period. The goal of this irrigation is not to turn it green but just to prevent the turf from completely desiccating (severe drying out) and possibly dying. If the weather pattern remains dry I would continue to irrigate at least once every three to four weeks at a minimum.

Here are some other helpful tips for managing turf during hot and dry weather.

  • Don’t worry about trying to control weeds right now in drought stressed turf. Just like the turf, many of these weeds are slowing down their growth and trying to control them now would be more difficult, besides they might be the only green color in the turf.
  • Heat tracks are becoming common on both home lawns and golf courses. Anytime you put traffic from a cart, mower, or spreader on turf that is nearing the wilting point or has already wilted, you will likely see a track in the following days or week. For those who have irrigated and still have some green turf, avoid mowing during the heat of the afternoon. Mow during the cooler times of the day, early morning or in the evening after dinner. Also, maintain the highest mowing height possible. Don’t think that by mowing lower you’ll help the turf by reducing the amount of leaf area the roots have to support. Remember if the turf doesn’t have any leaves it can’t harvest light for photosynthesis and the result is that more energy will be spent to produce new leaf tissue. Mow high and mow in the coolest part of the day.
  • If you have an irrigation system make sure to watch the heads to make sure everything is firing on all cylinders. When conditions get dry, gaps in coverage become obvious and green and brown circles indicative of poor irrigation coverage become obvious.

Drought to turfgrass

Gaps in irrigation coverage are very obvious this year due to a lack of rainfall.

  • Soil differences across an area can result in visual differences in turfgrass very similar to those seen with poorly functioning irrigation systems. Although we hope or think we have a very uniform soil type to grow our turf, in reality soil properties can vary drastically, even across a home lawn.

National Lawn Care Month

April 20th, 2018 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Andy Harris on the House floor, “Mr Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to recognize April as national lawn care month. The landscape industry employs nearly 1 million workers and contributes annual revenue of $78 billion to our nation’s economy. From the National Mall to an opening day outfield and even in our own front and back yards, images of beautiful lawns are iconic depictions of American culture and the American dream.” READ MORE

Fall Mowing Tips

November 14th, 2017 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Mulching your leaves saves back breaking work and can be a source of valuable nutrients for you lawn and landscape. However, it can also cause more harm than good if done improperly. The key is to get the leaves small enough to break down naturally without creating too deep a layer that can suffocate turf. This process may require mowing more than once per week at the highest level your mower can be set at. A sharp blade will also help mince leaves without bogging your mower down.

Watch this short video by MSU extension service.