Goat Notes

Goat Notes

February, 2014

First Things First: Spring Cleanup & Lawn Assessment
With what seems to be the coldest, stormiest and longest winter on record, and still going strong in many parts of the country, thinking about and planning for Spring lawn care and renovation is likely the last thing on your mind. But getting things set and ready to go for the upcoming season, especially if you still have leaf clean up to do, is just around the corner.

Depending on what part of the U.S. you live in, as early as the first part of March you may be in the midst of cleaning up sticks, blooms, seeds and left over leaves. Chippers, blowers and outdoor vacuums offer an easy and fast solution to clear your lawn for the next step: Assessment.

After a thorough walk around your lawn and evaluating the effects the winter had on your property, or the stress caused over the prior year by drainage, shade, pests, heavy foot traffic or soil pH, you may notice simple problems such as thatch, bare spots and soil compaction. If you have a dog, you may have to clean up their "waste" which may also have caused some damage. In most cases the melting snow will wash the salts from the urine into the soil and the grass will recover. If the damage is severe, re-sodding or new lawn seeding of the areas may be called for.

Your assessment may also uncover a disease called Snow Mold. This lawn condition glues the grass blades together which inhibits new grass from growing through the mat. You can spot this by looking for matted patches in your yard.

Matted or soil compacted patches and thatch can be addressed with the use of a power rake (dethatcher). Excess thatch prevents water and nutrients from reaching the soil and may contribute to turf disease. Be careful if the ground is wet when power raking, as uprooting the grass plants can occur. Over-seed any thin spots that may appear or were missed in the Fall.

Soil testing can be done in early Spring. Generally a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is desired for a healthy lawn. If the pH is less than 5.0, a healthy balance can generally be achieved by applying lime at a rate of 50 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. If drainage problems developed over the winter, determine the right trencher to help repair these issues.

Inspecting flower beds for growth progress is in order for early Spring as well. Keep roses covered until the danger of a heavy frost is over. When it's safe to uncover them be sure to clean away any soil or other organic material that may have been used to seal them for the winter as disease spores from this material can infect your plants.

Be sure to wait until buds have opened before removing dead branches, unless they are broken. Use the same protocol for perennials. Remove any mulch that was placed around plants for protection. The use of an outdoor vac with a hose attachment is ideal for this kind of cleanup, as hose attachments can clean between shrubs and have multiple uses such as cleaning under decks, window wells, utilities and other hard to reach areas. Some plants may take longer than others to come out of winter dormancy. If scale insects or tent catepillars were an issue on plants last year, spraying with dormant oil before the buds open will help smother the egg cases.

Once your property is cleaned up from the long winter and assessed for "next steps", you'll be set to prepare your lawn for the healthy, lush look that will be the envy of your neighbors!

January, 2014

Come to the premier of the newest, coolest sod cutter featuring effortless operation and maximum productivity for any job, any operator! Plus see the newest most inovative renovation on the market today and ARA show specials you won't want to miss, like additional discounting on PR Power Rakes and AE Aerators and Easy as 1-2-3 Financing!

November, 2013

Wishing you Holiday Cheer and plenty of relaxation and downtime for your holiday season!

From outdoor debris cleanup to clearing the table following a holiday meal, the DL35 gets it done faster so you can "put your feet up" sooner! See how it's done: http://www.youtube.com/embed/dmdFMwDTE2g

October 2013 

We would like to extend our sincere thank you for stopping by our booth at GIE+EXPO to participate in our "World Premier" of our 18" Cut Hydro Sod Cutter and next gen Mechanical Drive Fixed Deck 26" Outback® Brush Cutter. We hope you enjoyed learning about our full line of Fall Cleanup products and Lawn & Garden equipment. We hope you had fun "feeding the hungry goat" with the return of Pumpkin Chunkin' this year, and seeing the power of the DL3500V truck loader in action along with the full lineup of Billy Goat products outside.

July, 2013

Summer Lawn Care FAQs

How short should I mow?

Often lawns are cut too short with the misunderstanding that if it's mowed short, it won't have to be mowed again so soon. The truth of the matter is that shorter cut grass renews itself so quickly that no time is saved. Additionally, in the heat of the summer the risk of burning is increased if it is cut too short. It is recommended to raise the mower to the highest possible notch so you're mowing only the top third of the grass when you cut. This promotes stronger roots and shades the ground so it doesn't dry out as fast on those exceptionally hot summer days. And the taller grass blocks the sun that weed seeds require to germinate. The Billy Goat 34" HOMEPRO finish cut mower features an easy change front and rear height adjust for quick and convenient setting and adds a professional striped look to your lawn.

How often should I water?

The rule of thumb is to water once a week and to soak the lawn. A deep watering promotes a healthier root system, helping the roots to reach deeper into the soil. Deep watering also prevents chinch bugs, a pesky insect (normally found in the central US) that attaches to dried stressed lawns. Frequent light watering may lead to thatch and may contribute to turf disease. It's important to consider your soil type when determining how much water your lawn needs. Sandy soils dry out faster and clay soils hold moisture longer and don't require watering as often. Lawn dethatching is recommended when thatch accumulates to 1/2" or more.

How often should I feed?

Experts recommend fertilizing twice annually at a minimum (spring and fall) and some also suggest feeding in mid-summer. Common nitrogen-phosphate-potassium fertilizers sold at most garden centers may not provide everything healthy grass requires; a fertilizer that includes micronutrients (sulfer, copper and iron) offers a healthier feeding. Finally, an application of dolomitic lime every few years is recommended because the soil becomes acidic with watering and fertilizing over time. Lime restores the pH in the soil, replacing important minerals like calcium and magnesium. 

How do I keep weeds at bay?

Many experts avoid herbicides and profess that keeping the grass healthy chokes out weeds naturally. Regualr mowing tops weeds like dandelions and crabgrass before they go to seed and prevents a scattering of their seeds. If weeds have become out of control, a natural herbicide is a safe and effective alternative. Their potency comes from com gluten and salts from fatty acids or other nonchemical origin.

Are there any other requirements to maintaining a healthy lawn in summer months?

Nutrient penetration is critical and when grass gets too compacted the flow of nutrients to the root system is cut off. Aeration pokes holes into the turf and provides oxygen circulation and leaves space for the roots to absorb nutrients. The soil is loosened, allowing the roots of the grass to grow deeper.

 

March, 2013

Lawn Rejuvenation FAQs

When turf is badly stressed, what equipment is needed to rejuvenate it?

After taking a beating from last summer's heat, followed by piles of heavy winter snow across much of the country, power rakes / dethatchers, overseeders and aerators will be the key items to rejuvenate stressed yards.

What is the correct timing and sequence for using this equipment?

Come spring, if a yard suffers from excess thatch buildup from the prior season, typically a quarter inch or more, start off the season with a power rake (dethatcher) to pull up and remove the accumulated thatch. Excess thatch can prevent water and nutrients from reaching the soil and contribute to fungus and turf disease. Next up is aeration. An aerator relieves soil compaction in the top few inches of the soil and improves root depth as well as air, water, fertilizer and nutrient flow. This increases turf health, drought resistance, and results in less stress, fewer weeds and pest problems. Lastly -- the use of an overseeder to thicken the entire lawn or fill in thin and bare spots will complete the rejuvenation process, but consider the impact of spring weed control or fertilizer on young grass shoots -- so consult your nursery first. 

What criteria should be considered when purchasing aerators, dethatchers and overseeders?

For aerators, simple tine engagement and disengagement is key along with low fatigue and simple ramp loading. Also important is O ring chain and greasable bearings for improved performance and up-time. For overseeders, hydrostatic drives completely take the fatigue factor out of traditional models and make the chore of seeding simple. A floating cutting head maintains blade-to-soil contact for better germination. Lastly, when purchasing a dethatcher, look for infinite height adjustment to improve blade life along with strong tires, greasable bearings, and a fold and go handle with inside bail and cross bar for easy transport or storage.

Are there any operational tips for these types of equipment?

It is highly recommended to water your yard before aerating for plugs up to 3" deep. Cut your lawn short before overseeding then lay down seed at half the rate, going over it twice in a 45-degree criss-cross diagonal pattern.

 

January, 2013

Spring Tune Up

We all await spring for the start of another season. This is a good time to service your equipment before putting it to work. The first thing is to give each unit a good once-over to ensure all hardware is secure, no oil or fuel leaks, and the tension of belts is properly set and their condition is in good working order. Once that is done its time to bring the unit to life for the first time since last season. If the unit was stored with no fuel, add fresh fuel, check the oil, then start it up. This is a good time to change the oil, so after it has ran for 10 minutes or so, shut it off and drain the oil. Once drained, re-install the plug, and refill with manufacturer's recommended type of oil. It is also a good idea to use an enzyme treatment in the fuel  to help protect the fuel system from the affects of the ethanol in the fuel. These treatments are available at most lawn and garden centers and will help keep your engine up and running smoothly. Also check the air filter and spark plug and clean or replace them if necessary. Once the engine is serviced, lubricate the chains (if equipped) and adjust if needed. Sprocket alignment should also be checked to prevent premature wear of drive components. Also lubricate idlers and any oher pivot points for smooth opertion. Inspect the cables for condition and proper adjustment, then lubricate with a good silicone spray. Finally, if the unit is equipped with pneumatic tires, check the air pressure and overall condition of all tires. Wheel bearings should also be examined for wear. Inspect tines or blades and replace if necessary.

Taking time to service each piece of equipment prior to use can save a lot of downtime and frusration and will get you off to a good start this spring season! ---Danny Spiwak, Billy Goat Technical Service Manager

 

November, 2012

Wishing you Holiday Cheer and plenty of relaxation and downtime for your holiday season!

From outdoor debris cleanup to clearing the table following a holiday meal, the DL35 gets it done faster so you can "put your feet up" sooner! See how it's done: http://www.youtube.com/embed/dmdFMwDTE2g

 

October, 2012

Billy Goat demoed the power of the brand new debris loader with its main event in the outdoor area at GIE+EXPO, 2012, where attendees were invited to chuck pumpkins up to 14” in diameter into the debris loader, aiming at a 4’ x 2’ cartoon caricature poster of their candidate’s opponent.

The 35 HP electric start debris loader maximizes loading and debris reduction with Billy Goat’s exclusive dual shredding system with Piranha™ blade and produces 5,050 CFM of suction power for the ultimate in productivity. A 20” impeller with 18 cutting points provides debris reduction up to 12:1. The unit features a large 14” x 10’ clear poly helical hose, ideal for taking huge bites out of any debris pile, including pumpkins! View the video: http://www.billygoat.com/AssetGallery/CategoryModal/75  

 

August, 2012

Tips for Damage Control in Drought Conditions

Mow higher if the grass is still growing. This encourages roots to grow deeper and slows down the evaporation of soil. Stretch the time between watering to maximum and water efficiently and thoroughly. Too little water encourages weeds.

 

In severe water shortages let the lawn go brown. Healthy perennial grass can survive months with no water and recovers quickly when rain showers return.

If you’re in the midst of drought with restricted water use:

Avoid excessive foot traffic.

Weeds will continue to thrive so it is a good time to spot treat with a lawn-friendly weed killer.

Lawns, by nature go dormant under extreme conditions and can survive several weeks with no water. Applying small amounts of water confuses the lawn, making it think conditions are no longer extreme, resulting in worsened lawn condition.

You may need to repair the lawn when drought conditions improve, especially in areas next to concrete or where soil is compacted.

Don’t over-seed or try to rejuvenate the lawn until fall when rainfall is usually more plentiful and the drought is over.

When Renovation is in Order

Lawn renovation is the process of rejuvenating a lawn. The process usually calls for re-seeding, especially for cool-season grasses. Timing for this project is important and depends on your geographic location. For seeding, late summer is a good time for this process so the lawn is established before the first heavy frost. Warm season grasses are usually done in late spring, when the soil warms up enough for seeds to germinate.

If completely installing a new lawn, apply a non-selective herbicide; it kills what is on top of the soil and below the surface. It does not remain active in the soil so it will be safe to plant again. Let the lawn get completely brown, then wait an additional week to ensure there is no sign of new growth. If there is, spot treating will be necessary. When everything is completely dead, mow the dead lawn as close as possible, and bag the dead clippings.

Next, cultivate the soil with a dethatcher or power rake. Go over the lawn first in one direction, then the other direction. Following this step, an option is to aerate if the soil is heavily compacted. You can also cultivate and seed at the same time (slit-seeding). Use the same process of going over the lawn first in one direction, then the other direction. Slit-seeding is only recommended for non-compacted soils.

Now apply the seed.  Be sure to choose a seed suitable for your climate, and apply according to label directions. If using a slit-seeder, set the rate slightly above ½ the rate and do it in two directions (aforementioned above).

Spread a starter fertilizer over the entire lawn per the label directions. Keep the seeds evenly moist until germination. As the seedlings grow taller, cut back on the number of waterings and increase the amount of water. The lawn can be cut when it reaches 2 to 3 inches. It is not recommended to apply weed control until spring for cool season lawns, or fall for warm season lawns.

 

May, 2012 

The Goat's Spring / Summer Lawn Renovation Tips 

May: Fertilize your yard as the rapid spring growth begins to slow. Most lawns won't need more than 1 lb. per 1,000 sq. ft. As the season begins to dry out, typically in June, begin regular morning watering (before 8 a.m.). Do not overwater as it can promote fungal growth. Water just enough to reduce drought stress. Depending on climate, no more than ¾" to 1 ½" total per week is needed.

 

June - August: Pesticide applications for grubs can start if the population exceeds 9 grubs per square foot. If it's less than that, they're unlikely to cause damage to your root system. If the lawn is lush and healthy, a small population may be present, but not enough to cause damage that justifies the expense. August is also the time for high brush mowing. The Billy Goat brushcutter will gobble up anything up to 6' high and 2" diameter. 

Are there any other requirements to maintaining a healthy lawn in summer months?

Nutrient penetration is critical and when grass gets too compacted the flow of nutrients to the root system is cut off. Aeration pokes holes into the turf and provides oxygen circulation and leaves space for the roots to absorb nutrients. The soil is loosened, allowing the roots of the grass to grow deeper.