Posts from the ‘Summer Lawn Care’ Category

It’s prime lawn care time |

It’s the perfect time to attend to your lawn.

As garden chores wind down, you can turn your attention to improving your grass — now and next spring.

Star Tribune photo galleries

Early fall is a time of active growth for grass, both above and below ground. That means regardless of the current condition of your grass, it’s prime time for lawn care. Any effort you put into your yard now will pay dividends not only this fall, but also next spring and summer.

Here’s how to keep your lawn looking great:


fall fertilizer

Because turf grasses are growing so actively now, they’re able to take up and make use of fertilizer most effectively.

Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer in early to mid-September, then water the lawn lightly afterward to make sure the granules reach the soil and don’t wash away. (Nitrogen is always the first of three numbers that give the nutrient analysis of any fertilizer.)

The University of Minnesota no longer recommends a second application later in autumn, because grass is less able to absorb nitrogen then. One fall application will do.


Though we often receive plenty of rainfall in autumn, it’s not unusual to run into a dry spell.

If we haven’t had rain for a week or so, you should water the lawn, especially if it’s been warm or windy. It best to water deeply, rather than lightly, but how often you need to water depends on the weather. As the temperatures drop, you can water less frequently, but as long as grass continues to grow it will need water — whether from the sky or your sprinkler.


Keeping the grass taller during summer (2 1/2 to 3 inches) results in deeper root growth. But once the weather cools off, you can gradually reduce the height of the grass. By the final mowing, your lawnmower blades should be set so the grass is only about 2 inches tall. If the grass blades are left too tall going into winter, they can pack down, which makes the grass more prone to disease.


Scotts ez Seed shaker


Early September is the best time to overseed thin patches of grass. Soils are still warm, there’s usually more rainfall, and nights are longer and cooler — all favorable conditions for grass seed to germinate and grow rapidly. Plus, few weed seeds are programmed to sprout now, so there’s less competition.

Scruff the soil so seeds make good contact rather than sit on a hard-packed surface. Aerifying the lawn before overseeding loosens the soil and creates an excellent surface for planting. Fertilize with standard lawn fertilizer or one formulated specifically for use when planting grass seed. Then water lightly as often as needed to keep the soil moist. Water more heavily and less frequently as the young grasses grow. Mow the areas that are overseeded when existing grasses grow too tall. Most important, do not use any form of herbicide in these areas until next year, including fertilizer/herbicide combinations.


An abundance of crabgrass has been one of this year’s most common complaints. The repeated heavy spring rains interfered with pre-emergence herbicides. So even lawns that were treated for crabgrass may have lots of it.

Because crabgrass is an annual weed that dies over the winter, there’s no point in using weed killers on it now. Instead, plan to apply a pre-emergence herbicide to infested areas next spring.

Natural products containing corn gluten meal also prevent crabgrass, but they take several years of spring and late-summer applications to be the most effective.



Creeping Charlie Herbicide

Ortho herbicide for creeping charlie

By the latter part of September, temperatures will have cooled enough to begin using broad-leaf herbicides on dandelions, plantain, creeping Charlie and other perennial weeds, which spring back from the same roots year after year.Because perennial weeds are storing nutrients in their roots now for next year’s growth, they’ll take in herbicide more readily in the fall. On really tough weeds such as creeping Charlie, you can add a second herbicide application two weeks after the first.

If you prefer not to use herbicides, manually dig out perennial weeds. And remember, the weeds you remove this fall won’t be around to produce seeds next year.


If your soil is hard or you have a thick buildup of thatch (more than 1/2 inch), your lawn will benefit from core aeration in September. Aeration takes small plugs out of the soil, which allows water, fertilizer and oxygen to penetrate below the surface and encourages good grass growth. (The small cores of soil should be left on the surface of the grass, so they break down and top-dress the soil.) You can rent an aeration machine (it’s hard work) or hire the job out.

Power rake

If the thatch is really thick, rent a dethatching machine, also known as a “vertical mower.” (Again, this is hard work you may wish to hire out.) The machine slices through the grass, bringing up lots of thatch, which will have to be raked up and added to your compost pile.

Aerating and dethatching may be done on the same day, but they will dry the soil rapidly, so be sure to water the lawn once you’re done.

Deb Brown is a garden writer and former extension horticulturist with the University of Minnesota.

via It’s prime lawn care time |

Other posts that you may enjoy:

Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening.

LeVahn Brothers Hardware is located at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Find us online at and also on Facebook at

You can aslo call us at 763-553-1222



When should you dethatch or aerate your lawn?


There is a debate going on among our employees about when to dethatch a lawn. Some the guys here say you should do it in the spring when the grass has established its root base. They base their opinion off of what golf courses do for their grass in the spring. Others, like myself, believe it should be done in the fall. If you dethatch your lawn late in the summer/early fall lawns are less succeptible to weeds and crabgrass establishing themselves. Whether you dethatch in spring or fall you need to make sure to give your lawn a healthy drink afterward. At least a 1/2 inch of watering should be done. If you dethacth in the spring you are going to want to make sure to use a fertilizer with a weed killer or crabgrass killer in it after you are done.  Here are a few articles I have found to support only my argument. If the other guys in the store want to defend themselves they’ll have to start their own blog:)

Late summer lawn care:

Lawn aerification: If your lawn has significant compaction problems, the period right around Labor Day and through the early fall is an excellent time to do some core aerification. Lawn aerification machines are usually available through most rental businesses.
Photo 2: Lawn aerifier. Note the hollow tines for removing soil cores. Bob Mugaas.

Be sure to rent a core aerifier, one that actually pulls cores out of the soil and redeposits them on the lawn or soil surface. The extra aeration in the soil will encourage more active root growth as well as benefit the soil microbial community. Healthy plant roots and a healthy soil microbial population make for a healthy, vigorous grass plant better able to withstand stress along with normal wear and tear of lawn activity. The cores can be left on the soil or lawn surface to naturally decompose. This will also help control the buildup of thatch in the lawn. It is best to make two or three passes over the lawn to increase the number of holes needed to maximize the benefit.

Thatch control: Occasionally, a thick layer of brown fibrous material will build-up between the soil surface and where the grass plant shoots begin to turn green. This brown fibrous mat is known as thatch. It is actually composed of both living and non-living material. Thatch develops from the regular sloughing off of plant roots and other dead and decaying parts of the grass plant. It is however, NOT composed of any grass clippings. While there may be some grass clippings left on the surface, they are not part of the true thatch layer. So, whether you pick up your clippings or not, it will make no difference on the build-up of thatch. The living component of thatch consists of some roots, rhizomes and, of course, the many microorganisms and other living creatures.
If thatch develops at a faster rate than can be broken down by microorganisms, it can accumulate to undesirable levels. Generally, thatch greater than half-inch is undesirable. Cultural practices that contribute to thatch buildup are excessive nitrogen fertilizer, overwatering, infrequent mowing, compacted soils and simply the genetics of the particular grasses. Some grasses are more prone to thatch build-up than others.

Photo 3: Vertical mower or dethatcher; sometimes referred to as a power rake. Bob Mugaas.

Late summer (i.e., early September) is a good time to work at removing excess thatch build-up. Machines known as vertical mowers or de-thatchers can be rented and used to mechanically remove some of the thatch build-up. Leaving the soil cores on the surface will also help begin to break down thatch. In fact, where very thick thatch layers exist, using both a vertical mower and core aerifier may be helpful. If this is the case, thoroughly aerify the lawn, than perform vertical mowing. This operation can be done back to back on the same day if desired. It’s a good idea to follow-up with a quarter to half-inch inch of water to reduce lawn stress incurred from the dethatching and aerification processes.

Taken from the University of Minnesota extension page—ea.html

Dethatching Drought Damaged Lawns

August 7, 2012

If your lawn has been damaged by the recent drought conditions, chances are that you will have to do some lawn repairs come fall.  Depending on the extent of the damage it might be beneficial to dethatch your lawn.  There are several ways to remove thatch from a lawn from manual removal to using power equipment.  Thatch rakes are found at most home improvement stores.  These rakes have sharp, claw like tines that grab thatch and remove it from the lawn.  This is the most labor intensive way to remove thatch.  If you are dethatching a small patch of lawn it might be easier to dethatch the lawn by using a thatch rake.  Anything over a couple of hundred square feet is best left to power equipment.  Most folks do not have hours to dedicate to the manual removal of thatch.

The most effective way to remove thatch in a lawn is through the use of a power rake.  Most home owners do not own a power rake, but they can rent one at most rental stores.  Power rakes are about the size of your average push mower and can be used by almost anyone.  Most power rakes on the market are constructed using metal blades that spin on a drum.  The blades are usually serrated, which allows them to grab the thatch in the lawn.  Power rake blades spin continuously while the machine is being propelled forward.  Most units come with a bagging system to catch the removed thatch.  There are adjustable settings on most machines which allow the user to choose the depth of the blades.  You only want to set the blades low enough to remove the thatch.  If your blades are removing chunks of dirt and living grass, then your machine is set too low.  Any rental store should provide instructions on how to properly use the machine prior to renting it out.

taken from clean-cut property services

Here’s a few more articles about lawn care, seeding, dethatching and aeration:


Is Your Lawn Fertilizer Killing Your Trees?


Tree Damage on a Norway spruce

Last year there was an outbreak of dying spruce trees in the upper mid-west. It appears that the culprit is a new herbicide that is being used mostly by commercial lawn care services called Imprelis. Imprelis is manufactured by Dupont Inc. (Here’s a  link to Dupont’s Imprelis damage claims webpage)  It does a fantastic job of killing dandelions and other broadleaf weeds as well as other hard to kill weeds such as creeping charlie. However, there was an unfortunate side effect in which trees were also absorbing the weed killer and  for some varieties of trees it was doing severe damage to the tree. The trees that seem to be affected the most are Norway spruce and white pine trees. Other varieties of conifers are also effected as well. There are tell tale signs of injury that include twisting of new growth shoots and browning of needles especially towards the tops of the affected trees. The pictures above  and below are taken from the University of Minnesota Extension’s web page.

Imprelis Damage: Twisting Shoots

If you have damage to a tree there isn’t much you can do. The only advice given at this point is to make sure the patient is as comfortable as possible and keep the tree from any additional stress. Because of the browning needles the first instinct of many home owner is to assume that the tree needs water. This can lead to over-watering and cause additional stress leading to additional damage to the tree. Water the tree when it’s dry but make sure not to over-water.  Dupont also suggests avoiding fertilizing the tree for at least one year. Be sure not to compost or spread grass clippings treated with Imprelis anywhere that they could do harm to additional trees.  Lastly, you should contact your lawn care company and ask them what they are using for fertilizer and report to them the suspected damage.  Unfortunately, it appears that at this point it is a wait and see approach. Trees may be able to correct the damage themselves or they may suffer long-term effects from the damage or even die.

At this point it does not appear that there is any link to the harm of the trees and fertilizer (like Scotts) sold at retail stores. You may also want to consider using a more natural fertilizer that is less chemically based. You can also help your lawn naturally by not bagging your grass clippings. By leaving the clippings on the lawn the decaying clippings will naturally feed nutrients back into the lawn. Everything I’ve read so far states that Imprelis is only found in commercial herbicides. You can still use granular or liquid fertilizers and herbicides found at retail outlets such as our hardware store in Maple Grove.

Additional helpful links for more information about Imprelis:

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Dupont’s page for care of stressed trees treated with Imprelis

Michigan State Extension’s page for A homeowner’s guide to Imprelis herbicide injury to landscape tree

University Of Minnesota Extensions page for Imprelis:

New Turfgrass Herbicide Linked to Injury on Some Spruces, Pines and Other Landscape Plants : Yard and Garden News : University of Minnesota Extension.

LeVahn Bros Hardware and Plumbing can be found in the Bass Lake Shopping Center at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. in Maple Grove, Minnesota

For more information we can be contacted at 763-553-1222

We can be found online at and on Facebook as well at

How to get rid of Box Elder Bugs

Adult Boxelder bug

Box elder bugs are a nuisance bug that are completely harmless beyond the icky factor. They are a bug that doesn’t do any harm to you or your home but most people including myself don’t like to live with the bugs. Box elder bugs start showing up in the spring having hatched from their winter hiding spots.  They emit an odor that attracts other boxelders to the spot and in no time they can cover the warm southerly facing side of your home. Boxelders are prolific breeders (just watch them for 5 seconds and you’ll know what I mean). They lay eggs on and in your windows and siding and in  few weeks you’ll see thousands of tiny red bugs swarming all over your walls (like the picture below).

newly hatched box elder bugs

In the fall box elders will again swarm the southerly facing walls of your home in preparation for winter. They’re looking for a warm place to spend the winter and if they’re on your house it means they’ve found their spot. If you don’t want them covering your house in the spring or getting into your house during the winter months I suggest taking care of them in the fall.

The best poison to use is a residual bug insecticide like Bug Max 365. You can apply this to the outside of your home where you see the box elder bugs. Spray the siding directly with the insecticide  focusing on the foundation. Make sure to get all cracks and crevices because you don’t want them making your home into their home. You may also want to consider sealing up those cracks you find with caulking to prevent any unwanted guests. With a residual insecticide you do not have to spray the bugs directly. The insecticide will continue to kill the bugs day after day until the insecticide finally wears off. On my house we would spray the house above the deck and have to sweep up giant piles of dead box elders daily. There are other residual insecticides out there but based on my experience this one seemed to work the best.

Bug Max 365

Box elder bugs get they names from, you guessed it, Box elder trees. If you have a severe problem and hate the idea of using insecticides you could remove any box elder trees that are nearby. Please make sure to only remove trees that are actually on your property. We don’t want to be responsible for any fights or legal action from your neighbors.

Another non-poisonous ways to get rid of box elder bugs is to use a shop-vac to suck them up. They stink when you squish them and remember that they emit an odor that attracts other bugs so do you best not to smash them up. Suck them up, bag them and throw them away.

For more information contact us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, Mn 55369

Visit us on the web at

For more information on othe pest control check out these blogs: How to get rid of Grubs and Japanese Beetles, How to get rid of Yellow Jackets, Wasps, and Hornets, How to get rid of ants in your home and yard, How to get rid of mice, How to Get rid of 1-5000 mosquitoes every night. Try a Bat House., What to do for Emerald Ash Borer, summer lawn care: how to kill grubs, moles and ant control

How to get rid of Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetle

Japanese Beetles are  a pest that were accidentally introduced to the eastern U.S. in the early 1900’s. Now they are sprouting up everywhere including in Minnesota. This year in the twin cities metro area they are as bad as they’ve ever been and they are devouring everything in their path. Japanese Beetles cause damage in multiple ways.

GRUBS- Grubs are present in your lawn during spring and early summer from eggs that were laid and hatched the previous fall. The grubs devour roots of plants (including: trees, grass, plants, flowers and ornamental shrubs). They cause stress on your lawn by not allowing roots to establish causing large patches of grass to die in the heat of summer. Pull up the dead turf and roll it up until you reach the edge of the green. If it is grubs you will find them here at the edge of the green turf eating away at the roots. Another issue that may arise out of having these grubs in your turf is the fact that other pests eat these grubs. Grubs in your turf will attract moles, shrews, and even skunks that all feed on the larva.

Lawn damage due to grubs

ADULT JAPANESE BEETLE -From about the beginning June through the end of August they mature into the beetle and they emerge hungry. They attack plants of all kinds but they seem to like roses, ornamental shrubs, and fruit trees. The beetle emits a pheromone that attracts other beetles to the spot resulting in an infestation on a single tree or garden.

Beetle Damage

They retreat to the grass in the evening to lay eggs in your lawn/garden. The eggs will hatch in the late summer and the larva will immediately begin the cycle again feeding on roots before winter arrives.

TREATMENT– There are a number of products out on the market that will help control Japanese Beetles. You can attack them in a few different ways. The first is to use a systemic treatment for your trees and shrubs. Infuse by Bonide is a systemic treatment for trees that will help protect them from a number of different insects including Japanese Beetles and Emerald Ash Borer. To kill grubs it’s best to apply a granular insecticide with a spreader from July-September. At this point in the grubs life-cycle they are weak and can be killed off easily.

Grubex Granular grub killer

To kill adult Japanese beetles proves to be a little more difficult. Removing the Japanese Beetles as soon as they are present is key due to the fact that having beetles present attracts more beetles. Use a spray insecticide and thoroughly treat the infested area. You may need more than one treatment to completely kill off an invasion. Be careful to use an approved insecticide when treating  a fruit producing plant and follow the instructions on the bottle.

Bonide Fruit Tree Insecticide

Use of traps to capture Japanese Beetles have mixed results. Some people who use them say that they’ve had great results in controlling the infestation. However, traps use a pheromone that attracts beetles to that spot which may result in attracting more beetles to a spot without actually capturing them.

For more information on Japanese Beetle control and prevention check out the Univeristy of Minnesota Extension page.

For more information on insect control check out these blogs: What to do for Emerald ash Borer, How to get rid of wasps, hornets and yellow jackets, Summer lawn care: how to get rid of moles grubs and ant control, How to get rid of ants in your home and in your yard

All the products listed above can be found at:


For more info call us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, Mn 55369

Check us out on the web at and also on Facebook

How to get rid of Yellow Jackets, Wasps, and Hornets


Honey Bee

The first thing you need to know when attempting to get rid of a bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket is to identify exactly what variety of insect you are looking at. The image above is that of a Honey Bee and when at all possible you should try to avoid getting rid of them. Honey Bee populations have plummeted in recent years having an adverse effect on our food crops. In fact, according to the National Geographic Honey Bee populations have declined by 50% in the last 50 years. Farmers depend on bee populations to populate their crops and if this trend continues it’s going to have severe effects on the food we consume. Please be careful and identify that the pest that you’re about to spray is in fact a pest and not a vital contributor to our environment. With that being said, there are a number of wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets out there that can be a big nuisance.

Paper wasp with its nest

One of the most common wasps that we see in this area is the paper wasp. The Paper Wasp builds its nest in trees, building overhangs, eaves, or other areas out of the elements such as sheds, or children’s playhouses. If at all possible leave a nest alone if it’s not bothering you. Paper wasps are not considered pests and are actually beneficial to the environment. They feed on caterpillars, beetle larva, flies and other nuisance insects. If a nest is too close for comfort a can or two (depending on the size of the nest) of wasp and hornet killer can be used to kill a colony of paper wasps. It is highly recommended that this be done at night preferably when it’s cool (50 degrees or less). Wasps have a hard time flying when the temperature is cooler. It is also recommended that you don’t make sudden movements as this will attract any wasps toward you as a target to defend against.

A 30+ year old Paper Wasp nest hanging in the store from owner Loren LeVahn’s back yard

Yellow Jacket

 Yellow jackets are  a wasp variety that is attracted by sweets, and meats. They will congregate around public areas such as parks, zoos, schools, beaches or anywhere else they can find sources of food. For this reason preventative measures should be taken to prevent yellow jackets from taking up residence near you. Here are some tips to help prevent yellow jackets from becoming a nuisance:

  • Keep garbage and recycling contained and covered at all times.  They would love to make a meal out of your old discarded food and drink refuse.
  • Get rid of your hummingbird feeder. I know this may be painful for some of you out there to do this but it may not be as painful as a yellow jacket sting.
  • Properly seal awnings, siding, and trim around your home. Yellow jackets would love to nest inside the walls of your home so seal-up all gaps that you can find to prevent this (and make your home a little more efficient in the process).

    Yellow Jacket Trap

  • In the springtime use a yellow jacket trap to hopefully snare a queen looking for a place to set-up shop. Queens will be making their rounds in the springtime looking for the perfect place to start their colonies. The traps can also be used in the summer months to help control populations of yellow jackets and wasps.

Once yellow jackets are established in your area they are  more difficult to get rid of due to the fact that you can’t normally see the actual nest. Do your best to locate the entry point of where they are coming from.  Yellow jackets will nest inside your siding/awnings of your home, in your foundation, in your retaining walls or any other number of locations. Be mindful that the actual nest may be up to a couple of feet or more away from the entry point. In other words spraying a poison into the hole may not be sufficient enough to take care of the problem. You may need to drill multiple holes into the structure and inject poison directly into a nest to be certain that you kill the whole colony. Be incredibly careful when attempting to do rid yourself of yellow jackets. They are more aggressive than other bee varieties and can really cause some harm when aggravated. They will defend their nests to the bitter painful end and will sting multiple times before they die. If  you have no choice make sure to follow these hints: Work late at night in cooler temps (50 degrees or less) and wear protective clothing. Move slowly to attract less attention (easier said than done). Have an arsenal of yellow jacket and wasp killer at your disposal and use all of it. You may want to do 2-3 treatments to ensure that you’ve got all of them. The winter temps will kill off the colony so if possible don’t be a hero and wait until nature takes care of them for you. Be careful to make sure that you killed off the ENTIRE colony before you plug up any holes (they have been known to chew their way out of a nest and that could potentially mean chewing into your house instead of out of it).

For yellow jackets that make their nest in the ground the rules change a little bit.  Instead, use an insect killer that is a dust like Bonide’s Ground Bee Killer. You could also use other insect killers that are in powder form such as sevin, eight, or Dursban. You can also use a few aerosol cans of Yellow jacket killer. Find some means of injecting the dust or spray into the ground where the nest is located.  On a cool night locate the nest and inject an ample amount of poison into the nest. Move slowly to avoid attracting attention to yourself as a threat. You may need to treat a nest a few times to ensure that the nest is fully dead.

Take the proper precautions when dealing with bees

Whenever dealing with bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets take the proper precautions. If you are allergic, have someone else take care of it for you. Don’t take a chance it’s not worth the risk.

For more information contact us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at

For more information on pest control check out these blogs: How to get rid of ants in your yard, How to get rid of mice, How to get rid of mosquitoes using a bat house, What to do for emerald ash borer


How to get rid of Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie (A.K.A. Ground Ivy)

Creeping Charlie, also known as Ground Ivy, is an evergreen creeping weed that is found in the mint family. It is also a nuisance for homeowners that are looking to keep their Kentucky Blue grass lawns looking weed free. If left alone, Creeping Charlie can take over a lawn. If you are trying to identify Creeping Charlie it will have a square stem, paddle shaped leaves, and blue to purple colored flowers.

It was originally brought to North America for its medicinal qualities. It isn’t technically a weed but it is viewed and treated as a one. In some instances this ground covering ivy can look quite beautiful.

Creeping Charlie in bloom

If you have issues with creeping Charlie in your lawn and you want it killed off you can do it yourself. Lawn treatment companies (ie. tru-green) would like you to believe that Creeping Charlie is a menace that is going to destroy your lawn and that they have the only known cure. As a matter of fact I had 3 salesmen at my door arguing with me about how they were the only company that could treat my Creeping Charlie invasion that was occurring on my lawn.

What I told them and what I’ll tell you is that Ortho has a fantastic product that when used correctly can very effectively control Creeping Charlie for a fraction of what it costs to have a chemical treatment company treat your lawn. It comes in a green with purple labeled bottle. It also treats clover, chickweed, and oxalis as well as a number of other weeds. Ortho also has a product called Weed-B-Gon Max that works on Creeping Charlie and on broad leaves like dandelions.

Ortho Weed-B-Gon

It works best to use these products in either a hand-held pump sprayer or a Dial and spray sprayer that you hook up to your hose. Read and follow all directions on the package and give it some time to work. On Creeping Charlie it will take about a week for you to really see any real results. Make sure you don’t over apply the product because it can have an effect on the grass. The best times to apply a killer to Creeping Charlie are in the fall when it starts to go dormant (early October) and also in the spring during or after it flowers. Creeping Charlie is a perennial weed so you may have to do treatments yearly to keep it in check.

For more information call us at 763-553-1222

Come in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at

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