Lawn Care Tips
Some helpful tips for growing and maintaining healthy lawns.
1. Begin with healthy soil
A good lawn starts from the ground up. Proper soil preparation will minimize future weed problems. Adding compost will improve the water-holding capacity of sandy soils and open up air spaces in compacted clay soils. Nutrients and essential micro-organisms in compost help get the growing process off to a good start.
2. Remove thatch
In the spring, remove excess thatch with a heavy rake or de-thatching equipment. This helps to open your lawn to water, air and nutrients. Remember that some thatch is good and can help with water percolation into the soil.
3. Mow high
Mow your lawn to about 6 cm (2 1/2 inches) to encourage better root growth and moisture retention. Keep your blade sharp! Your lawn will recover quicker if the grass is cleanly cut.
4. Mulch your grass
Use a mulching mower and leave your grass clippings on your lawn. This provides a great source of slow-release nitrogen for your lawn.
5. Water the roots
Proper irrigation gets to the root of the matter. Water only when your lawn is showing signs of wilting. Early morning or early evenings are the best times to water, minimizing evaporation. Too much water starves your lawn of oxygen and invites disease (more specifically Fairy Ring and Powdery Mildew). Lawns require only 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water per week.
6. Develop a tolerance
A few weeds or insects won't harm your healthy lawn. Spray as a last resort! Hand weeding followed by seeding can be very effective. Mechanically controlling your weeds will stress out the plants and allow your turf to crowd it out. Aerating and keeping turf at a healthy height at key to weed control.
7. Let your lawn breathe
It's a root awakening! Aerating your hard, compacted soil helps get water, nutrients and oxygen to the roots. Aeration is best done in the spring or early fall before topdressing and over seeding.
8. Top dress and fertilize
In early fall, top dress your lawn with a thin layer of compost or topsoil. You can also add grass seed to your lawn in the late fall to allow germination to occur first thing in the spring. Using compost or slow-release fertilizers will help promote vigorous lawn growth next spring. Also make sure when using fertilizer that you are applying the proper type for the time of year. The three main nutrients in fertilizer are N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium). Bags of fertilizer will come with a set of numbers telling you what percentage of the bag in what specific nutrient. For example, a bag that shows 30-0-3 is 30 percent Nitrogen, 0 percent Phosphorus, and 3 percent Potassium. Nitrogen promotes top growth, Phosphorus promotes root growth, and Potassium promotes crown health and helps with overwintering.
9. Crowd out weeds
Healthy lawns are less susceptible to weed problems. Over seeding your lawn every fall keeps your grass thick and chokes out weeds. Seed rate and type can vary based on exposure to sun, and watering requirements. One of the main causes of weeds in turf is allowing the weeds to “out compete” the turf. Make sure that the type of grass you have is meeting its proper conditions as far as mowing height, fertilizer and water requirements, as well as regular aeration.
10. Low maintenance plants
Trees, shrubs, perennials, ground covers and wild flowers promote biodiversity in your yard. Consider other plants for ground covers in shaded or dry areas. Periwinkle has it made in the shade while creeping juniper and thyme have fun in the sun.
11. Common turf diseases
Fairy Ring and Powdery Mildew are two diseases that are common in turf in the Strathcona County area. The main causes of these diseases are lack of oxygen in the soils (mostly due to oversaturation) and lack of sunlight from being in a shaded area. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to completely remove and re-sod the turf to get rid of Fairy Ring. As a matter of fact, this often is an expensive, ineffective route to deal with the problem. Since the main cause of Fairy Ring is lack of oxygen in the soil, doing deep frequent aerating in the best and cheapest route. Using a pitchfork to “poke” holes directly where the Fairy Ring is as well as the surrounding 6-8 inches can increase the aeration in the soil and make the Fairy Ring become dormant in the soil. DO NOT fertilize to try and fix Fairy Ring.
12. Healthy lawns
Healthy lawns are safer for use and recreational activities. The tighter the density of grass you have provides better cushion for use and reduces the chances of impact injury. They are less susceptible to weed invasion and disease. They are visually appealing and will require less work over time if you follow the correct cultural practices.
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