Fescue Zoysia Bermuda Turf

mumsOctober is all about autumn and the change of the season from summer to fall. The cooler weather is not only easy on the electric bill, it’s also easier on your planting. Believe it or not, now is the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. It’s also a good time to plant your spring-flowering bulbs. That’s right, they may bloom in spring, but you should plant them in the fall. Why? The soil is still warm, the rain plentiful, and the roots have a great chance to establish without worry of drought or snow.

If you haven’t already, you should take note of what worked and what didn’t in your garden before planting your new bulbs. Make sure you don’t plant shade-loving plants in full sun and vice-versa. You may want to do a soil test to make sure your soil isn’t too acidic or need any lime added to adjust the pH. You will need to till the lime into your soil, and since the results of soil tests can take a few days, the sooner you get it done, the better! If you are also doing vegetables, keep track of where you planted. That way, next year you can rotate where you plant in order to prevent disease.

BerkelyIf you are looking to add color to your cooler-weather garden, there are plants that are autumn bloomers. Winter pansies make a great splash of color while hardy mums bring that feel of fall to the landscape. Aster is another flower that will add a pop of color to your garden as well as your indoors. Russian sage can add a contrast to the autumnal colors while smelling great. The tough sedum is almost a must for autumn gardens. It survives summer heat and drought to burst alive with blooms in the fall.

Even though it is autumn, there are still many things you can and should be doing for your lawn. Watch out for white grubs. They not only destroy the turf by feeding on the roots, but they also attract moles and voles who will feed on them. You will find that the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis helps get rid of them, but it does take a little time to build up in the soil. Warm season turf may be fertilized, but do not fertilize cool season (fescue) if it has been overseeded. If you want to establish a cool season lawn, the best window to do so is September 15-October 15. Warm season grasses should be established next spring.



There are two turf weeds you should keep your eyes open for. Henbit is a sparsely hairy winter annual with greenish to purplish, tender, square stems. This weed reproduces by seed that germinate in the fall or winter and grows during any period of warm weather that occurs during the cold season. It can quickly invade thin turf areas where there is good soil moisture or shade. Dense, healthy turf is the greatest defense against the weed, but chemical control can be used as well. another annoying and difficult weed is nutsedge or nutgrass. The best time to eradicate this aggressive and persistent weed is during its growing period. First identify what type of nutsedge you have before using an herbicide.

Start dialing back your irrigation use. The weather is cooler and therefore the plants and lawn less thirsty. In fact, you may want to get your system repaired if there are any issues. Since the lawn doesn’t need constant watering, it gives you more of a window to get someone in to fix it. You will also find an irrigation specialist’s availability more open now rather than the beginning of next season when everyone’s irrigation system is started up.

Pathlight 1

If you have an outdoor landscape lighting system, now would be a good time to ensure all lights are working, especially those lighting paths or entranceways. It’s starting to get darker sooner, making it important for the safety of everyone, that walkways, paths, and anywhere someone might walk, are lit up to prevent tripping and injury. If your lights are on a timer, some adjustment may need to be made (though once daylight savings ends in November, you will definitely need to fix the schedule on your timer).

leavesBesides the leaves on trees turning beautiful colors, they are also falling to the ground. There are many things you can do with those leaves. You can compost them. You can bag them. You can blow them to the woody back area of your property. You can use them for plant protection from the cold in your garden beds. You can till them into fallow garden beds too. Whatever your desire, make sure your landscaping service (or whichever family member is assigned that chore) knows what you would like done with them.

By taking these simple steps to maintain your landscape in the fall, you will end up with a stunning spring and summer outdoors.

ugly lawn pic logoEven though summer is winding down, it doesn’t mean it’s time to neglect your landscape. In fact, there are still many things you need to be doing to help keep your outdoors looking its best.

test tubesLet’s start with the flowers. Most of the blooming will be done for your spring and summer plants, so take note of what worked in your garden and purchase more for next spring. Store them in a cool, dry place until the weather gets cooler, then plant away! But, before you plant, you need to do a soil pH test. You may want to also test your vegetable garden if you don’t plan on fertilizing for any late crops. You should also divide your spring and summer blooming perennials.

brown patchIf you happen to have warm season grass, you can still be dealing with lawn disease such as brown patch and dollar spot, so keep your eyes open and treat accordingly. White grubs can also be present in your soil, and while the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis does a nice job on them, it does take some time for it to build up. Warm season lawns along with hollies can also be afflicted with spittlebugs.

????????????????????????????????????????????Different lawn types are going to require different treatments. Fescue (cool season) turf should be fertilized, aerated, and overseeded. Do not fertilize warm season grass! The planting of cool season lawns is best done between September 15-October 15. It’s best to hold off until next spring for warm season grasses. Henbit and nutsedge (nutgrass) may become a problem. Both can be controlled through herbicide, though nutsedge is a bit more difficult. Irrigation clocks may need to be adjusted as less water is going to be required.

web wormPecan trees may see webworms who should have started appearing in late August. There are both natural and pesticide controllers for this problem. Natural remedies include removing the affected branch and throwing away to handpicking the webworms off and drowning them in soapy water. For pesticide use, Carbaryl (Sevin, etc.) is a good product to rid the lower parts of the tree of webworm (please don’t try to reach the very tops!) The trees can also be afflicted with pecan weevils–little critters that make holes in the pecans.

plantsAnd finally, while we’re on trees, your may see leaves starting to fall. You can compost the leaves, till them into any fallow beds or vegetable garden, or have them blown and removed. Any trees and shrubs that you may want to plant should be planned for now, especially if you don’t want to miss out on them. There are plenty of nurseries around, but their supply is not endless.


Besides regular watering and mowing, one of the best things you can do to keep a healthy lawn is to aerate it. There are many benefits to this turf task, from allowing oxygen and nutrients to reach the roots, to reducing soil compaction and water runoff. If you’re wondering how to aerate, when, and why, we’re going to break it down for you.

There are a few ways to aerate a lawn, from simple spikes (we know you’ve seen those crazy shoes!) to using a machine that pulls out plugs of soil. While both work, they are not equal in how effective they are. The shoe, hand, push, drum, towing, and mowing spiked aerators are cheaper, but you will need to aerate more often because the holes close up faster than the plugs and could actually compact the soil more.

spike shoes

Aerators that remove small plugs of soil are known as core aerators. By removing the soil, more air, water, and nutrients get to the roots and there is more room for the roots to expand. The holes are also a great place for seed to go and be protected when overseeding a lawn or for fertilizer to get closer to the roots. There’s less risk of the seeds and fertilizer being washed or blown away.

Aerate illustration

Some reasons to aerate have already been mentioned, but let’s really be thorough here in listing ALL of the benefits.
1. By allowing oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach the roots, it encourages them to grow deeper and thicker.

2. More water is absorbed by the soil, reducing runoff.

3. Deeper and thicker roots means thicker turf.

4. Healthier turf and better water absorbability means less watering.

5. Your lawn will become more durable and resistant to foot traffic.

6. Thatch is reduced.

7. It makes it easier for the lawn to breathe.

8. It helps prevent grubs from harming your lawn.

9. Growth is stimulated.

10. Deeper roots means better access to water, making the turf more drought resistant.

11. A healthy, thick lawn produces more oxygen.

12. Reduction in lawn disease due to unabsorbed water sitting on top.


So now you know the why and how in regards to aerating a lawn, but you need to know the when. It all depends on the type of grass, your soil, and other conditions. It seems to be a general consensus that aerating should be done once a year unless your turf has issues from being located on a hill or trampled on by pets and children. If you find that your turf has slow or stunted growth, even after fertilizing it, chances are the soil is too hard and compacted, preventing root growth. Your lawn needs to be aerated. If you find water just running off or pooling and not being absorbed, and you have clay soil, you should get an aeration done. Lawns that get a lot of traffic, have a lot of thatch, or are growing in very hard soil, should be aerated to alleviate the problems and encourage deeper root growth for thicker turf.

Unless you have any of the listed problems we just mentioned, you should find that aerating your warm season grass in the spring, around May, and cool season in the fall, around September, should be enough to maintain healthy growth year round.

August here in North Carolina is still a very hot month. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can and should be doing for your landscape. Below we break down what kinds of things you will need to do or have your landscape company do.


Water your container plants

container plantThis really should be a no-brainer, but people tend to forget their container plants. If the plants are hanging, or kept on your deck, chances are your sprinkler or irrigation system is not getting them. Take a few minutes out of your day to give these poor guys a little attention. They’ll reward you with colorful flowers or delicious veggies.


Deadhead your plants

dead roseNo, this is not some Greatful Dead reference. When the flowers have finished blooming, pinch them off to allow new ones to bloom. It’s an extremely easy way to keep your landscape colorful longer.


Get rid of spent veggie plants

garden toolsIf your vegetable plants have finished producing, as most will be soon, then remove them from your garden in order to prevent them from attracting insects and bringing disease to plants still producing. An ounce of prevention…


Propagate your roses

rose bushWant more rose plants next year? You don’t need to buy any; you can make new plants from your existing ones. The way to do this is to remove two thorns near the top of a flexible stem. Use a clean, sharp knife to do this. Bend the stem toward the ground and make a couple of small cuts in the stem in the area between the removed thorns. Now cover the “wounded” part of the stem with soil as it’s being held down by landscape pins. Keep the growing tip uncovered. (You can use brick or stone to keep the covered “wound” in place.) Come next spring, you should see new growth. When you see new leaves on the rooted stem, remove the entire stem (carefully!) from the main plant. Recut the stem just beneath the new root mass and plant your new rose bush!


Save your pines from pests

redhead sawflyThe Pine Sawfly larvae feed on your pines, mostly damaging them, but in worst cases, can kill them. These caterpillar-looking larvae can start their voracious feast as early as June, but will still be found snacking on pine needles through August. An easy home remedy to this problem is picking the larvae off and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water.


Plan ahead for next year

bulbsNow is the perfect time to think about next year’s landscape. If you know what you would like to plant, preorder your bulbs immediately. This way you won’t miss out when planting season comes, especially if you are looking for a unique and unusual flower. You will find supplies generous and ripe for the picking!


Cut flowers

zinnia-flower_45If you seeded plants in July, seed more again. Enjoy their blooms in your garden as well as in your house. Cut away, give to neighbors, bring to work, and bring a smile to someone’s face.


Fertilize the right plants

fertIf you would like your tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants to continue to produce, give them some fertilizer. Your summer vegetables will like it and benefit from it. Your fall veggies as well as fall-blooming perennials and annuals should be fertilized too. Don’t forget your cannas, chrysanthemums, and dahlias, while reblooming irises could use a light fertilizer application. If your lawn is a warm season grass, now is a good time to fertilize it. Make sure the roots get the needed nutrients from the fertilizer by watering any application.

You don’t want to disturb bud formations on your azaleas, camellias, and summer-flowering shrubs, so do not fertilize them.


Cut your grass at the right height

mowingGenerally during the summer, cool season grasses are cut higher in order to prevent stress and unhealthy turf, while warm season grasses are cut lower. If late July into August is wet and a little cooler, you can lower your warm season grass’ cutting height. Don’t lower it too much though, it’s still hot at times!


A lush, beautiful green lawn is the envy of the neighborhood. Not only does it require proper maintenance, but also the right kind of grass. By planting the wrong kind in a shady area, or an area that gets complete sun all day, your lawn can end up looking pretty bad. Since your house is an investment, it’s best to make it look good both on the inside as well as the outside. Hey, a well maintained, good-looking lawn can increase your home’s value by 15-20%! So why not properly care for it?

If you are at the point where you need to install a new lawn, there are few things you need to do. First, you need to do a soil test. This test will let you know what the soil pH is, a factor that can make or break the fertility of your lawn. North Carolina is known for having low soil pH (acidic soil). The way to solve this problem is to apply agricultural grade limestone. You can apply lime to the lawn surface at any time, though best results will be achieved if the recommended lime and fertilizer are thoroughly mixed into the soil prior to planting.


Now it’s time to choose the right type of grass. There’s cool season and warm season grass. Let’s start with cool-season grass. These grasses grow primarily during the spring and fall of the year and become dormant during the hottest portion of the summer and during the coldest part of the winter. You’ll find that cool-season grasses generally maintain some green color year round except under extreme heat and cold. The grasses included in the category of cool-season are tall fescue, bluegrass, turf type fescue, perennial ryegrass and mixtures of any of these grasses. If you live in the western region of North Carolina, bluegrass, bluegrass-fescue mixtures or tall fescue are the most common cool-season grasses. In the piedmont area, you’ll find bluegrass-fescue blends or tall fescue are the dominate cool-season varieties. Tall fescue is the only cool-season grass that should be considered as a permanent lawn for eastern North Carolina.

Planting a mixture of grasses increases the chance of survival from turf diseases since mixtures have varying levels of resistance to different diseases. Mixtures of grasses are also more adaptable to varying growing conditions such as shade, soil moisture and temperature. It’s best to seed here in North Carolina from mid-August to mid-October, depending on the location in the state. Do not cut cool-season grasses lower than three inches.


So what’s warm-season grass? These grasses are green in the summer and become brown and dormant in the winter (don’t we all?). This group includes common and hybrid bermuda, centipede, zoysia and St. Augustine. Warm-season grasses are adapted to the sandy soils of the North Carolina coastal plain and most of the piedmont area. What’s great about these grasses is that they tolerate the high temperatures and summer droughts in North Carolina better than cool-season grasses.

Whether the grass is established with sprigs, sod or by planting seed, the best time to start is March. If you’re going with springs or sod, the time-frame is shorter–March through July–while seeds can be planted from March through September. You should begin mowing the grass as soon as it is tall enough to be cut. A reel mower is preferred for cutting zoysia, hybrid bermuda and centipede. Warm-season grasses can develop a thatch layer. When the thatch layer is half an inch thick, the lawn should be dethatched or raked.


Of course no matter what grass you choose, watering and proper cutting also play a factor in how good your lawn looks. We offer irrigation services, sodding, and lawn maintenance packages to keep your property looking its best.


Things to keep in mind when choosing grass:

1. How much sun and shade there is.

2. How much traffic the grass will see.

3. How long you want to see green.

4. What kind of soil you have.

5. How much money you want to spend.


As the hot and dry summer progresses, many of us are coming face to blade with a fescue lawn that is turning tan and looks more like a wheat field than a lush green lawn.

After a nice wet spring, we are now faced with a Summer heat wave which is putting a great deal of stress on the fescue lawns. When exposed to long dry or high temperatures- fescue lawns are actually shutting down into dormancy to conserve energy and will turn a tan color. Some or most of the fescue can rebound after some good watering or cooler temperatures occur.

Ways you can help protect fescue during the Summer:

  • Raise your mower cutting height- Fescue lawns ideal cutting height is around 3.5” to protect against weeds and stress. In cool Spring and Fall its ok to drop to 3” as it grows so fast. During the Summer however, you will want to raise the mow height to atleast 4”. The longer blade conserves more water mass in the plant tissue for a reserve.
  • Skip mowings- when its extremely hot and dry even irrigated lawns do not necessarily need to mowed every week over the Summer. Skipping every other week will allow the fescue to conserve energy and water. It will not grow much from week to week anyway, so the lawn will not look as untidy as it would Spring/Fall. We tell our customers that its better to have a shaggy living lawn than a shortly mowed and tidy dead lawn.
  • Water the lawn- Irrigate the lawn on your allowable days per town regulations. Try and water atleast 3 times per week in early morning hours so your lawn receives 1” per week.
  • Avoid fertilizing and herbicides- Fescue does not need fertilizing during the Summer as it can promote fungus and further stress. Limit herbicide spraying for your lawn weeds to after its been irrigated and in the early morning or late afternoon.

In closing, we are in the extreme southern limits for suitability of fescue. Because it’s a cool-season plant, it is more of a challenge to get through the summer. So taking precautions will help it survive better and longer for you over the Summer.

Spring Has Sprung! The ACS Spring Home Show is this weekend with amazing weather-all at the Raleigh Convention Center!

We invite you to come see us and ask experts for outdoor living- get inspired and gain some new ideas for your outdoor projects for landscapes, pool/spa and home.

The Fontaine booth will feature a dreamy backyard escape with a hand crafted stained pergola, landscape lighting, a custom outdoor stone fireplace, paver patio by Belgard, colorful plantings, and a pottery water feature.

As your ONE-SOURCE landscape solution, Fontaine is excited to offer many quality services- we can handle all of your landscaping needs! Want a Green Lawn? Come ask our lawn care specialists for how to’s for a thick green lawn this year. Ask about our home show specials! We’ll be there to answer any questions you might have.

Email us for FREE tickets to the show and be our guest! (Normally $9/each) 


Home Show Hours

Friday, February 18, 11am – 9pm
Saturday, February 19, 10am – 8pm
Sunday, February 20, 10am – 6pm

Fontaine Landscaping is a full service landscape contractor located in Apex, NC.

Proudly servicing Residential and HOA’s in the Triangle!

Call us (919) 380-8286 Let’s Grow Something… Together! 

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Steps for a Quality Lawn

Developing and maintaining a nice lawn relies on several key factors. Today, more homeowners are realizing that it is possible to create and maintain a thick, uniform lawn by working in harmony with the following factors.

  Lawn Factors

1. Climate
The timing and intensity of climatic factors such as precipitation, temperature, sunlight and wind speed all significantly affect the health and lushness of your lawn. More and more, Fontaine is educates clients with non-irrigated fescue lawns with full sun, it’s time to throw in the towel. We recommend they either need to delete some turf with plant beds or hardscaping, or install an irrigation system, or to change it over to a warm season grass like Bermuda or Zoysia.

2. Soil

Ever get home with that gorgeous new shrub you bought, take the shovel to your lawn or plant bed area and with first swing the shovel actually ricochets off the ground?  Most have, welcome to Clay soil; a impenetrable, drainage  nightmare.

Getting familiar with the soil you have and improving it – is crucial to obtaining a lush and lasting landscape.

Take the necessary steps to improve and enrich your soil. Till in organic compost soil  available at most mulch vendors.

 The condition of your soil will dictate the cultural practices of watering and fertilizing by how well the roots are able to develop and grow deep. Providing and establishing a better soil will improve your lawn foremost and any plantings. It’s all about promoting more and better root growth resulting in a thicker, greener lawn and a healthy, thriving landscape.

3. Turf Types Best for You
Whether you are simply overseeding your lawn with new grass seed, or planting an entirely new lawn from seed or sod, selecting appropriate grass is very important. New varieties of Bermuda, Zoysia and Fescues provide better color and are tested and bred to be somewhat tolerant of drought, shade, heat, disease and pests. Some homeowners require 2 types of turf at the home as one area is sunny and the other is shade. Choosing the right turf type match for your particular site conditions is key to a healthy and sustainable lawn.

4. Cultural Practices

  • Mow Lightly & Frequently – When mowing, cut no more than 1/3 the length of the blade each time. Warm season grass is typically mowed at 2 to 3” and cool season fescue grass 3.5 to 4”. Try not to mow when your lawn is under stress; it can cause your lawn to turn brown and leave brown lines where your mower wheels have passed. In the summer, reduce stress and help insulate your lawn by raising your mowing heights and even skipping mowings until rain. During the summer droughts we often tell clients we may need to skip a mowing or two as it’s far better to have taller grass for a while than have short cut dead grass. 
  • Aerate Each Year – Core aeration is recommended every year for any lawn type. Aeration helps relieve stress from compacted soil, reduces thatch build up and improves utilization of moisture from either irrigation or rainfall. All lawns benefit from annual or even twice annual aeration to reduce our clay base soil compaction and improve moisture and air movement. Your lawn’s root system will grow deeper and become stronger, resulting in a better quality lawn. Additionally, topdressing after aeration with a good compost soil will also improve water retention and help rebuild our clay base soils overtime. Fontaine offers topdressing to its lawn care customers.
  • pH levels of the soil have to be in an ideal range for plants or turf to uptake nutrients properly. Poor plant health/performance, yellowing, thinning out, moss are some signs of improper pH levels.  Each turf type requires a different range in pH, for example fescue likes 6.5 to 7.  To increase a low pH level, lime should be applied while lowering the pH requires sulfer. A soil test is available locally and should be performed atleast every 3 years to determine your soils pH level.
  • Leaves – Leaf removal on a frequent basis will safeguard your lawn against thinning and smothering. Leaves can quickly kill off areas of the lawn if not removed in a matter of days. 
  • Shade – Too much shade causes turf to thin out and in some cases disappear all together. All turf grasses like atleast 2 to 4 hours of sunlight per day to survive. To bring in more light, prune and thin out tree limbs and canopies to encourage light and air movement. Air movement also helps reduce the potential for disease to your lawn. Also, consider planting attractive ground covers or hardscaping instead of grass if the area is too heavily shaded.
  • Watering – Slow & Steady – Give the soil a chance to “drink” or absorb the water you’re giving it. Watering too much too quickly will cause runoff and waste. For automated sprinkler systems, it is a good idea to run 2 to 3 separate run cyles per allowed day to allow for better absorption, especially on slopes and hot spots. Make sure to water early morning and never mid day.  Test the zones of the lawn areas and set the run times to water your lawn until the soil is saturated until runoff is about to occur. Running times will vary depending on the sprinklers being used. Rotor heads typically run for 15 to 35 minutes while the fixed spray heads only need to run 4 to 12 minutes. You want to give your lawn about one inch of water per week including rainfall. Most towns have fixed days you are allowed to water.

5. Lawn Care- An Effective Program
In an ideal world, turf would get its nutrition solely from the soil and clippings. While leaving grass clippings on the lawn provides some nutrients, turf will require additional nutrients through fertilizers.  An effective lawn care program, based on carefully timed applications of complete balanced fertilizers and weed controls will provide your lawn with the nutrients it needs to thrive. Feeding your lawn every 6-8 weeks during the season is crucial for healthy turf.  It is important to note that even the healthiest lawns will get some weeds, insects, and disease. However, these conditions can  be managed with carefully timed treatments while following good mowing and watering habits.

For more information on Fontaine’s lawn care programs- contact us at info@fontainelandscaping.com