Our Evergreen Partnership with the Cedar Rapids Kernels

Being in business for 38 years has allowed UltraLawn to cultivate a bevy of incredibly rewarding relationships. People have trusted us with all sorts of projects of all sizes dealing with an array of problems requiring solutions. Whether it’s controlling weeds in a small front lawn or helping to rebuild lawns and landscapes devastated by a natural disaster, the satisfaction of a job done well never gets old!

One of the unique partnerships that’s been created is with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. In 1890, the Cedar Rapids Canaries took the field as part of the Illinois-Iowa league. Nearly 120 seasons later (there were a few breaks in the action), the Kernels are still playing ball! There is a deep connection between the city of Cedar Rapids and this baseball team, and that support and passion was recognized in 2021. Major League Baseball restructured its minor league system, which resulted in dozens of minor league teams being disbanded. The Kernels were elevated to “High A” status in the rebranded Midwest League, showing just how great a job Cedar Rapids has done hosting professional baseball! We couldn’t be more excited or proud to be a small part of the experience they offer fans and players!

In 2008, we entered an earnest partnership with the Kernels to assist in taking care of the playing surface. The field there, consistently ranked among the best in the Midwest League, is under the outstanding direction of Jesse Roeder. Jesse has been recognized by the Iowa Sports Turf Managers Association as its Manager of the Year, and the field he maintains has also been awarded as the best playing surface in the state, regardless of sport.

High level athletic fields are a unique, delicate environment to care for. The field at Veterans’ Stadium is a premium blend of Kentucky Bluegrass grown on a sand-based medium. The field is fully irrigated and is mowed between 1” and 1.5”. UltraLawn does NOT recommend trying to replicate those conditions at home! The bluegrass blend used there is comprised of specific varieties of bluegrass that can withstand low mowing heights, do a better job holding up to traffic, and are more resistant to diseases. The interior of the infield is mowed with a 21” walk-behind “reel-to-bedknife” mower, the rest is cut with a 3-reeled unit commonly called a “triplex”. These types of mowers are specially designed for precision cuts on the highest quality of turf, and also make it possible to accomplish the striping and designs that you see when you put a baseball game on TV. Roeder and his staff mow the field several times a week, which helps keep the playing surface thick, fast, and consistent. Since there are heavy rollers on their machines, mowing directions do need to be alternated to keep the grass growing as upright as possible.

Whenever turf is grown and maintained in such conditions, it is under increased amounts of stress. Even though the field at Veteran’s Stadium is lush, green and perfectly manicured, there are extra steps necessary to keep it that way beyond what a homeowner must do to keep their own lawn in good shape. Regular irrigation is necessary to keep the grass hydrated, but in the heat of summer, it can create an environment where the turf is under disease pressure. This is one aspect where we’ve assisted the Kernels, applying preventative fungicide treatments there for several years. Depending on weather conditions, we will alter the products used to treat the disease that is the biggest threat at the time. Our equipment allows us to achieve superior coverage, done in a manner that ensures no compaction to the field from heavy spray equipment.

In addition to a disease control program, we also assist Mr. Roeder with insect diagnosis and treatment, as well as helping with problematic grasses that infiltrate the playing surface. At the beginning of each growing season, we come up with a plan with Jesse to make sure the needs of his field are being addressed, we’re responding to issues that may have crept up the previous season, and doing whatever we can to let him and his crew show off their excellent work.

We are a small cog in a smooth rolling wheel, but it’s a great source of pride that we can assist in taking care of the baseball field that belongs to OUR city’s team!

When is the Best Time to Aerate Your Lawn?

If you aren’t familiar with what aeration is or why it is helpful for your lawn, you are not alone. It’s something that can easily go unattended because it happens under the the surface. In fact, only 25% of homeowners in the United States aerate their lawn.

What is Aeration and Why is it Important?

Aeration is a process by which air is allowed to circulate through a substance. You can aerate a wide variety of things, such as milk, blood and also soil. It allows air to circulate through the lawn, but also provides a pathway for water and nutrients to reach the roots in a more direct manner. Aeration is usually accomplished by poking holes in the soil or by taking plugs of soil out of the ground. Core aeration requires heavy machinery that has been designed specifically for this purpose. The use of aerators creates exposed roots and surfaces of the plant are cut open, this can result in the plant dying out a bit before it heals. This process can take up to a couple weeks. 

There are natural soil aerators, like bugs and other soil-loving creatures that dig in the dirt – but they are not as effective or as capable as humans are, especially professional lawn care technicians. Following the service, you will notice a stronger turf beneath your feet after a few weeks.

When is the Best Season to Aerate in Cedar Rapids & Iowa City?

Before you go and buy yourself a lawn aerator or hire someone to come out, you should know that there are better times to aerate your lawn than others. While the long-term effects of aeration are beneficial for your lawn, it is also stressful to the plants if not done a the right time. We want to target the times of the year when the lawn is healthy and growing. In Iowa (specifically Cedar Rapids & Iowa City), we have cool season grasses. So spring and fall are the best times to both aerate and seed your lawn.

Now that its narrowed down to the season, the other huge factor is the weather. We know how unpredictable Iowa weather can be and it has an impact on when your lawn entering its “growing” stage. Because we tailor our lawn care program to take advantage of the weather conditions, we have found that these ideal times present themselves in the spring and late summer/fall for Cedar Rapids & Iowa City.

Ideal Weather Conditions for Aeration

In the spring, it’s best to wait until the grass is starting to or is consistently growing. For this to happen, the soil needs to be approaching 50+ degrees. There are a couple indicators we can use tell when a lawn is fit for aeration:

  • Green Grass – Every fall/winter, the plant goes dormant. As a result, it tends to turn a yellowish/brown color. In the spring, the new growth pushes out the dormant material, which is eventually mowed off and decomposes. When a lawn has consistently green grass, we know it has grown out of dormancy and it healthy enough for aeration.
  • Mowing frequency –  Mowing should be done often enough that you remove no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade. When the lawn needs mowed more than once a week, it is a strong indicator it would recover quickly from aeration. Mowing frequently is also a great way to break up the cores that have been pulled during aeration, allowing the soil to fall back into the holes and decompose naturally. 

In the early fall (August through October), growth of the plant isn’t as rapid as it was in the spring. However, this is when the root growth is accelerated as the plant is recovering from the heat of the summer months. There is always a chance your lawn goes dormant in the summer months, so you may need to wait until the grass greens again before aerating. Also if there was a summer drought, the soil may be too hard to even penetrate well. So waiting for cooler temperatures, shorter daylight hours, and increased rainfall make the fall a perfect time of year for the lawn. 

Don’t have time to aerate your lawn?

Your time is valuable. We know you have family, hobbies and work so give us a call and we would be happy to provide you with a no obligation quote.