Monthly Archives: June 2019

Keep Your Lawn Looking Great

Whether you like to putter around the lawn or manicure your yard to perfection, the act of caring for your lawn can be therapeutic. By tending to your yard, you¹re creating an environment that suits the needs of your family and lifestyle and one that can handle all the wear and tear that you, your pets, and a neighbourhood ball game can dish out.

Great lawns aren’t made; they’re grown. And it’s up to you to keep them that way by watering and fertilising—the two maintenance chores that separate okay lawns from truly great ones.

When to Water

Your lawn will let you know when it needs water: As blades of grass curl lengthwise to conserve moisture, the grass loses its green luster and turns a blue-grey colour. Your lawn will also lose its ability to bounce back when you walk on it, and it may develop brownish patches. These signs appear very fast during hot, dry weather, so keep your eyes open for them.

An established lawn needs to be watered only when it becomes dry, rather than on a regular watering schedule. Different weather conditions, such as temperature, humidity, rainfall, and wind, will affect the water needs of your lawn. If you water once a week just because somebody once said you should, you could be needlessly wasting water and damaging your lawn. How often you water also depends on your soil type. Sandy soils don’t hold water well, so the grass will need to be watered more frequently. Clay soil holds water better, so less frequent watering is necessary.

Without a doubt, early morning watering is best. Morning weather is generally cooler, with gentler winds, so the water has a better chance of reaching the roots instead of drying up too quickly on the blades or being blown off course. The grass will also have plenty of time to dry before nightfall, which helps reduce lawn disease.

Don’t forget to watch shady areas for dryness, too. Grass growing near trees is especially vulnerable—the roots of a tree will soak up any available moisture, leaving your poor grass with little or no moisture. The foliage on trees can also keep rain from falling directly on the grass underneath.

How Much to Water

There are two words to remember when determining how to water your lawn: deeply and infrequently. The roots are where all the action is, so you need to water enough to encourage healthy root growth without wasting precious water.

If you water your lawn only a little bit every three or four days, the roots will be shallow, because the water only penetrates the top of the soil. When the hot, dry summer weather comes, shallow-rooted lawns won’t be able to extract moisture from deep in the soil. If you over-water, on the other hand, the water will go farther down into the soil than the roots need, and you’ll waste water and possibly kill the grass by depriving your lawn of much-needed oxygen. Water your lawn until the moisture soaks 6 to 8 inches into the soil. You can check this by poking a long screwdriver into the soil after watering.

Unless you have an underground sprinkler system that can water the entire lawn at one time, make sure your sprinkler patterns overlap. To test whether your sprinklers water the target area evenly, place one coffee or food can about a foot away from the center of the sprinkler, another three feet away, and a third at the edge of the watering area. This will tell you which areas get the most water. You can then decide where you have to overlap to get full and even coverage.

Turf grass needs about 1 to 2 inches of water a week, including rainfall. Use a rain gauge to determine how much rain has fallen so you can supplement that water with your sprinklers. If there is no rainfall, you’ll have to water the full amount with the sprinkler.

Feeding Your Lawn

There are 16 different elements your lawn (or any other plant, for that matter) needs to grow. Some—carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen—are plentiful in the air and water. Others are found in the soil, and some will need to be fed to your lawn with fertiliser. Luckily, many of the elements are needed only in trace amounts, so you don’t have to provide every last one of them.

These elements (excluding oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon) fall into three categories in order of importance‹macronutrients, secondary nutrients, and micronutrients.

The macronutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—are the most important because your lawn uses them in the greatest quantities. Those big numbers you see on all the fertiliser bags, like 15-5-10, represent the product’s ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium by weight.

The secondary nutrients—calcium, magnesium, and sulfur—can usually be found in sufficient quantities in the soil. If your lawn’s pH is out of whack, apply lime to supply calcium and magnesium and raise the pH, or apply sulfur to lower it. Micronutrients such as iron, zinc, manganese, copper, molybdenum, boron, and chlorine are also available from the soil. An iron deficiency will turn your grass yellow and is most likely to occur in soils with a high pH.

I recommend having your soil tested before you fertilise your lawn. A soil test will tell you the levels of pH, phosphorous, potassium, and organic matter in your soil, as well as the percentage of sand, silt, and clay. Your local agricultural extension or a nearby university can usually perform a professional soil test for a modest fee. Private labs provide the same service, but with a higher price tag.

Look for private labs in your local phone book under “Soil Analysis,” “Soil Testing,”or “Laboratories Testing.” The home soil-test kits available at garden centers and nurseries tell you only the pH of your soil, so laying out a few bucks for a professional test is really your best bet.

When to Feed

The best time of day to fertilise is when the grass is dry. Fertilise the lawn, then water it to knock off the fertiliser from the blades of grass and put it into the soil. Don’t fertilise on wet grass‹as the grass dries, the fertiliser left on the blades can burn the grass in the hot sun.
Next comes the tricky part—what times of year you should fertilise.

Fertilisation times depend on what type of grass you’re growing. You can follow one general rule of thumb: Fertilise before your grass enters its period of active growth. For cool-season grasses, this is usually in the spring and fall. Warm-season grasses will benefit from a feeding in the late spring through the summer.

How often should you fertilise? This is where personal preference comes in. You’ll probably need to fertilise your lawn at least once a season to keep it alive, but it¹s up to you to decide how much growth you really want. Low-maintenance lawns will need to be fertilised only once or twice a year, while high-maintenance ones will need feeding once a month during the active growing season. Either way, you willll have a healthy lawn. The low- maintenance lawn just won’t be as lush and green as a high-maintenance one. Get to know your grass‹what type of nutrients it needs, how much it needs, and when it needs water. With a little time and care, your lawn will be able to withstand pretty much anything Mother Nature can throw at it.

Organic Options

Organic fertilisers are made up of animal or plant waste. Manure, Milorganite (sludge), compost, seaweed, and rock powders are just a few. When you use organic fertiliser, you’re feeding both the grass and the soil.

These fertilisers encourage the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the soil. And the nitrogen in organic matter is water insoluble, meaning it’s released slowly so your lawn gets a steady supply of food throughout the growing season.

There are downsides to organic fertilisers, too. The level of nitrogen in organic matter is much lower than in synthetic fertilisers, so you have to apply a lot more organic fertiliser to get the right amount of nitrogen into your grass. It¹s more expensive than synthetic fertiliser, too. The nitrogen in organic fertiliser is temperature sensitive—the soil temperature must be over 50°F to activate the microorganisms that digest the organic matter and release the nitrogen. So your fertiliser may sit there doing nothing until the weather warms up.

How Long Should You Go?

Every time you cut a blade of grass, its root system temporarily stops growing, which limits the plant¹s ability to absorb water and nutrients. If you cut too short, you weaken the root system‹and a weak plant is a target for weeds, disease, and drought.

How do you know how short to cut your grass?

The One-Third Rule asserts that you should never cut off more than one third of the grass plant. So if your type of grass is best at a height of 2 inches, cut it when it’s 3 inches high. If it’s best at 3 inches, cut it when it reaches 4 1/2 inches. Once you determine the optimum height for cutting, take a measure of this height against your shoe and remember where it hits. If the grass is taller than the swoosh on your sneaker (or whatever), it’s time to mow.

The list below outlines the optimum height ranges for the most common types of grass. Lean toward the low end of the range when the grass is healthy and growing. When the lawn is stressed by heat, drought, disease, shade, pests, or traffic, stick to the higher end of the range.

Cool-season Grasses

Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis): 2 to 3 inches
Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne): 2 to 3 inches
Fescue, fine (Festuca rubra): 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches
Fescue, tall (Festuca arundinacea): 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches
Creeping bent grass (Agrostis stolonifera): 1/4 to 3/4 inch

Warm-season grasses

Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon): 1/2 to 1 inch
Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides): 2 to 3 inches

Lawn Garden Care Tips

In many properties or estates, it is the beautiful expanses of verdant grass that is first noticed by guests and is usually the largest single feature of a landscape plan …

When people have gone to the cost and trouble of creating a beautiful landscape plan for their home and garden, it is important to be sure to have a good maintenance plan that will assure that your lawn garden stays in great shape. This is foremost to homeowners because in many properties or estates, it is the beautiful expanses of verdant grass that is first noticed by guests and is usually the largest single feature of a landscape plan.

Watering the lawn and garden is one of the most important parts of good lawn maintenance. In some parts of the country, there is enough rainfall so that the roots are properly supplied with moisture. But even in what would be considered soggy areas, such as the Pacific Northwest, there are periods or dry weather and no rain. When this happens, it is vital to the survival of the lawns that they be properly watered.

The first indication that a drought condition could be affecting the lawns of your lawn garden landscape design is a change in the grass colour. First, grass that is not getting enough moisture will lose the intense green shades and with a bit more time they will begin to show areas of turning a straw colour.

The best time of day to water a lawn or garden is during the coolest part of the day. This means that turning on the lawn sprinkler early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has set is best. Garden lawn experts also say that the rotary sprinklers provide the best coverage if you don’t have a built in sprinkler system for your lawn maintenance.

In most cases, it is best to water your lawn just once a week, unless the weather is extremely hot or dry. When doing your weekly watering, you can place an empty tuna can on the grass and let the water run until it is filled up. This will help you know when you have watered enough to give the deep roots enough moisture without over watering. Watering in this way will also help your lawns develop a deep root system which will also help them survive periods of drought.

Another aspect of lawn and garden maintenance is proper fertilization and weed control. Good basic maintenance techniques will go a long way in keeping the lawns of your home and garden healthy, thriving and with few weeds. Spring is the best time to fertilize lawns as this is when the grass is “waking up” and will need the extra nutrients from the fertilizer to assure healthy growth. The best garden lawn fertilizers will have a combination of nitrogen, phosphates and potash.

In addition to a “spring feeding” of your lawn garden, you can also boost the health and vitality of the grass in your lawns with a second round of fertilisation during the summer. This will help assure that your grass is healthy enough to help push out the weeds that might try to take root and you can also use a fertiliser that combines a weed-killer to control these unwanted plants.

The Lawn – Tips For Creating Curb Appeal

Making sure that the lawn is well-maintained is one of the simplest ways to make sure the curb appeal of your home makes people feel welcomed …

Almost everybody is familiar with the idea of what “curb appeal” is in reference to how someone makes a snap judgment about your home by how it appears. It takes only a moment for someone to decide if your home meets their standards based only on what they see from the outside. Making sure that the lawn is well-maintained is one of the simplest ways to make sure the curb appeal of your home makes people feel welcomed.

While that can sound easy enough, sometimes getting the back and front lawn to look beautiful, immaculate and attractive can be a daunting task, especially if there have been some problems with the health of your lawn recently. Below is a collection of lawn care tips and suggestions that can help you cultivate a lawn that draws people to your home, welcomes them, and gives your curb appeal a real boost.

Tip One: Have the soil tested so that you know what kind of fertiliser you should add to the lawn area to provide the grass with proper nutrition. Local agricultural extension agencies often offer this service for free or at a very low cost.

Tip Two:

Have a regular lawn maintenance routine that includes fertilising three to five times every year. Make sure this is done on a regular schedule and is the right kind of food for the grass in your garden lawn. The extension agency can also help you with information in this regard as it relates to your local area.

Tip Three:

When undertaking lawn mowing during the heat of the summer, cut it at the maximum height your lawn mower allows. This helps keep the grass from drying out as fast and even provides shade to the ground which helps prevent the loss of moisture. This will help conserve water and it will also help the lawns to crowd the weeds out. During the cooler and wetter times of the year you can set the lawn mower to cut lower according to your preferences.

Tip Four:

Water about one to one-and-a-half inches once a week. When you water briefly every day, you are encouraging your lawn to develop a shallow root system. Watering only once a week helps develop nice deep roots which can better withstand hot, dry summer weather.

Tip Five:

Aerate at least once or twice every year. This also helps promote lawns with deep root systems and helps the water and lawn food to get past the surface and down to the roots where it does the most good. Aerating also helps undo the effects of soil compacting, which is a particular problem if you use a riding lawn mower to help with your lawn maintenance.

Tip Six:

Keep the blades of the mower good and sharp. Dull blades actually rip the ends of the grass blades and cause a ragged look and contribute to browning at the ends. Also, you should do your lawn mowing in different directions each time you mow. This helps avoid ruts and soil compaction problems.

Tip Seven:

Watch for signs of dead areas. Such dead patches can be an indication of an insect problem or disease that is attacking your home and garden lawns. When you see this, you should not treat the problem until you know the cause. Your local extension agency will be a great help in this case also.

Tip Eight: Control weeds with the use of quality herbicides. You can do this separately or look for a fertiliser that also contains weed control components.

These simple tips should give you a good starting place from which to improve the health, vitality and appearance of the lawn that is the introduction to your home. With careful lawn maintenance you will enjoy great curb appeal and you will also be able to use and enjoy your yard more fully.