Lawn Maintenance

Burned tire tracks in the lawn

August 10th, 2015 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Kevin Frank from MSU writes about the burned tire tracks in lawns. When tire tracks appear in lawns the first assumption is that the machine drove through Round Up or other pesticide and killed the grass. Kevin gives a good explanation of how those tracks occur.


Warm, dry weather causes heat tracking in lawns

Mowers and other repetitive movement can leave tracks on lawns during hot, dry weather.

For most of 2015, rainfall was ample and in many spots excessive in Lower Michigan. The story has been different in northern Michigan with much drier conditions and many unirrigated turf areas entering dormancy to survive while waiting for more favorable moisture conditions. The recent brief hot spell with temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s combined with a lack of precipitation has resulted in many instances of heat tracking damage from equipment.

Heat tracking is damage from any trafficking on turf when it is stressed from high temperatures and lack of water. Often, heat tracking is the result of mowers running over the turf when it is near the wilting point, but damage can result from any traffic, whether it’s equipment or even just enough people walking the same path. Some will misdiagnose tracking damage as being from a pesticide or fertilizer application. The resultant damage may look like Roundup was on the tires of the equipment, but it’s simply from traffic on turf when the turf is near wilting point.

Michigan State University Extension advises the only way to really avoid this damage is to avoid trafficking turf during the hottest time of the day when the turf is under stress. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell when this damage is produced. On some days and sites, tracking damage could occur relatively early in the afternoon, and on other sites it may happen later in the afternoon. Mostly it depends on soil moisture and the ability of the plant to cool itself through evapotranspiration. As temperatures rise and soil moisture becomes depleted, the plant will stop transpiring and begin to heat up. This is the time when turf becomes susceptible to tracking damage.

Although heat tracking and wilt damage can look really bad, in almost all cases the damage is not fatal. Temperatures look favorable for recovery in the next week, just make sure the turf has adequate irrigation and doesn’t dry out to ensure recovery.



Dr. Frank’s work is funded in part by MSU’s AgBioResearch.


The other side of the fence

July 10th, 2015 by Tuff Turf Molebusters


Pool cover on grass

July 9th, 2015 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Spreading a solar cover for a swimming pool on the lawn can burn the grass in a very short time when it is sunny and hot.  Covers should be cleaned on the driveway to prevent this from happening.


Pure Michigan

July 9th, 2015 by Tuff Turf Molebusters


We found this burn in a lawn at the entrance to a subdivision.  Somebody has some artistic talent to burn a spot in the shape of Michigan.

burned michigan


Summer Sprinkling in Michigan

June 11th, 2015 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

When the temperatures are above 70 degrees, cool season grass needs to be watered once a day.  When the temperatures are above 80 degrees, cool season grass needs to be watered twice a day.  We recommend watering at 3:00 AM and then again during the heat of the day.  We have heard the argument against watering during the heat of the day because it can burn the lawn.  This is only true if you water for 1 – 2 minutes per zone with rotor heads because you are barely getting the grass wet and the water droplets act as a magnifying lens.  If you run the sprinklers for at least 10 minutes per zone with rotor heads and 3 minutes per zone of pop up heads you will cool off the lawn and give it the water it needs.

I have also hear the argument about watering less frequently, but for a longer period to make the roots go deeper.  The problem with this philosophy is that it ignores the biology of our grass.  Cool season grass has shorter roots when the temperature warms up.  You cannot change the biology of the grass.  Roots are getting shorter now and no amount of water will make them grow deeper.  Watering deep can stress out the lawn more because of the extreme variances between too wet and too dry.  To relate this to a human, if you are running a marathon race on an 85 degree day, would you drink 2 gallons of water the day before the race and then not drink for 2 more days because you already had enough water for the week?  You would dehydrate at the same rate if you did not drink before, during, and after the race.

Patchy lawns

April 23rd, 2015 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Grass varieties come out of dormancy at different rates.  If your lawn looks more like art than grass, don’t worry.  Kentucky Bluegrass is the last grass to green up.  That means if your lawn is still dormant and not growing, you have more Kentucky Bluegrass. If neighbor’s lawn is greener than yours right now have patience, because you will have a nicer looking lawn in the summer. 


I know most people are thinking that their lawn never looked patchy before, but it might now.  While it is true that annual bluegrass and bentgrass patches keep growing and expanding every year, the reality is your lawn was spotty last spring.  The grass will blend together in another shortly and the different varieties of grass will not be as noticeable.  We take a lot of pride in our lawns, so our memories completely block this time in the spring where the grass looks bad. 

spotty lawn 


Wrong sprayer

April 22nd, 2015 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

You know you grabbed the wrong sprayer when……….

burnt lawn








And no. this was not done by us!

Skunks are actively digging in lawns

September 16th, 2014 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Skunks are tearing up a lot of lawns in west Michigan right now in search of food.  The most likely item they are searching for is grubs.  Even if you kill the grubs, skunks will continue to dig for another week or two.  Your best option is to trap them and relocate them.

It is a good time of the year to be grass

September 12th, 2014 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Many people tend to give up on their lawn after summer with the mindset that the season is over and they can start over next year.  This is a bad mindset because now we have the best growing conditions of the year with cooler temperatures (or arctic temperatures like today), adequate rain, heavy dew, and days that can still give plenty of sun.

Now is the best time of the year to seed.  If you have thin spots or bare spots you have another good week or 2 to seed them.  I would not wait too much longer because this is Michigan and we might have 3 feet of snow on the ground next month.

You should be watering once a day for 7-10 minutes per zone with the rotary heads and 3-5 minutes per day with the pop up heads.  If we continue to have rain once or twice a week you can turn off your sprinklers.  If we go more than 2 days without rain, turn them back on.

Slime Mold

July 11th, 2014 by Tuff Turf Molebusters

Slime Mold

The frequent rain has created an explosion of slime mold in the bark beds lately. While it may look like your dog was sick or your crazy uncle drank too much, it is a fungus. It is not toxic. It can be yellow, gray, black, or other colors. You don’t have to spray it with anything. Grab a shovel, dig it up, and throw it away. This is more common in beds that had fresh bark this spring.