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Lawn Care Tips

 


 

Proper Lawn Watering Tips

Every living thing needs water to survive. Your lawn is no exception. As the weather heats up, your lawn processes more and more water. Unfortunately, at the same time that the lawn is using more water through the summer, thereís usually less rainfall available. Without additional watering by you in the form of extra sprinkling, your lawn may go dormant or suffer serious thinning.

What happens to the water you put on the lawn?

Grass blades are covered with tiny holes (or pores) called stomata. The plants absorb water mixed with nutrients and minerals through the roots and use all of these things in producing food. This process is called photosynthesis. Excess water and turf ďwaste materialĒ (oxygen) are released through the pores on the grass blades. This is called transpiration, and without enough water, the whole cycle soon slows or even stops completely. Transpiration replaces oxygen in the atmosphere and releases water vapor into the air. Itís this process that allows a lawn as small as 50' by 50' to produce enough oxygen to support a family of four.

How does the Type of Soil affect Watering?

Your soil type affects how often and how long you need to water. Sandy soils absorb water fast but lose it just as quickly. Loamy soils are ideal because they have a good absorbing rate and can also hold water well. Clay soils can be hard to water because they take the water in very slowly. On the other hand, clay holds water well and dries more slowly than other soil types. The average lawn consumes about 1'' of water per week (as measured in a rain gauge or coffee can). When there isnít enough rain to meet the need, watering is the answer. Soil dries out from the surface downward. By watering deeply, you encourage deeper rooting of the lawn. Water each area long enough to saturate the soil to a depth of 6'' (thatís about 1'' of water per area per week). If possible, apply most of this 1'' of water at one time.

Need help setting up a good watering program? Contact Lawn King. Weíre your neighborhood lawn care team. Remember: Grass consumes much more water in hot weather. Grass needs water to clean the air, produce oxygen and produce nutrients.

Recommendation: Water your lawn in the early morning hours. ( 4:00am - 9:00am) Do not water at night, as this will promote disease. Also, do not water in the heat (middle) of the day. The water will evaporate too fast and it will not have a chance to penetrate the soil.

 


 

Watering Tips - Automatic Sprinklers

Most of us know how important water is for keeping our lawns healthy and green. Without water our grass canít survive. Automatic irrigation systems can provide great care for a lawn. They eliminate hose pulling and can do your watering chores anytime, even when youíre asleep or out of town. But even with the most sophisticated sprinklers, you could still be sending money down the drain if itís not used correctly. Getting coverage and depth is the first step. Your lawn needs 1Ē of water a week. Thatís a lot of water and you donít want to waste any of it. The first step is to know when (and how) to turn your system off. Thatís right. We see sprinklers going full blast in the middle of rainstorms sometimes and wonder why? You need to know how much rainfall youíre getting to know when your system needs to run and when it can be turned off for awhile. Keeping in mind how much water your lawn needs, setting the timers on your system will determine how deeply you are watering.

A big temptation with automatic sprinklers is to water the lawn for a short time every day or two. This results in shallow watering and shallow, weak roots. Responsible lawn care also means taking care to ensure that all of the lawn is getting watered. Each type of sprinkler head has a different pattern and flow rate. If your system is properly designed, it is divided into zones that cover all of the turf and planting beds on your property. Most in-ground sprinkler systems today are efficient and accurate. But regular, minor adjustments to these systems can lead to major improvements in how well they work: Check sprinkler heads periodically to make sure none have been broken and they are still aimed in the proper direction. Be sure sprinklers have an even spray pattern and that leaves or other debris arenít blocking the spray. Make sure your timer is adjusted correctly for the time of day.

 We know how important water is to everything we do at Lawn King. We want you to get the most from your system, have a beautiful lawn, and not waste water or money. So if you have any questions, contact Lawn King.

Recommendation: Set each zone for a minimum of 40 minutes every 3 days. If you have multiple zones, then set a couple of zones for day 1, then a couple more for day 2, then the rest for day 3. The whole lawn doesn't need to be watered on the same day.

By using these settings, you will be watering deeply and infrequently, which will promote deeper root growth and drought tolerance.

 


 

Lawn Care Mowing Tips

Should I bag my grass clippings when I mow?

No! It's almost never a good idea to collect clippings from your lawn for several good reasons. Clippings return a lot of nutrients to help with lawn fertilizing, they do not add to thatch.

It's true that for years it seemed like a good idea to bag lawn clippings, but new research and environmental concerns have changed all that. 

A beautiful lawn is never an accident. And among all of the strategies for lawn care that make a lawn look its best, mowing properly is one of the most important. Keeping your lawn a cut above the rest is really very simple. Just remember these basic rules, and you'll be well on your way to having a picture-perfect lawn.

Grass Recycling Helps With Lawn Fertilization

Clippings "recycle" as much as 15% of all the food value of the lawn fertilizer applied. This means a lawn that ďrecycles" can be greener and better fed than one where clippings are removed. And because clippings have such high water content, they break down quickly and return both moisture and lawn fertilizing nutrients to the soil fast. Leaving your clippings lie taps into the natural cycle of nature, and saves you time, work and money with lawn fertilization.  ( Tip: If you have clumps of clippings on the lawn, remove them ! )

Controlling Lawn Thatch

Thatch is the layer of living and dead roots and stems that form on top of the soil. A small amount of thatch is a good thing, but when thatch builds up faster than the soil can break it down, all sorts of lawn maintenance problems start to crop up. The misunderstanding is that grass clippings add to this thatch. This just isn't true. Thatch is made up mostly of roots and stems, not grass blades. Bagging the clippings does not reduce thatch build-up.

Keep it High

The first guideline for growing grass is mowing high. A lawn kept clipped at the correct height is able to stay greener, helps with weed control, conserves water by shading the soil, and has more food producing ability. Weed and crabgrass seeds need plenty of sun and heat to sprout. Because of this, taller grass is one of the best methods of weed prevention you can use. Shading the soil by mowing higher also reduces water loss from evaporation.

Recommendation: Mow your lawn at a 3" height during the Spring & Fall and 3.5" - 4" during the Summer.  You will notice the difference !

Cutting too short or too much off at once is scalping.

When you set the blade too low, you may remove most of the food producing parts of the plant. The result is a brown lawn that takes weeks and weeks to recover.

How Often should I Mow?

Mowing at the right frequency is the second lawn care rule to keeping your lawn in top condition. Lawns grow at very different rates from season to season. Northern Turf grass produces much more top growth during the spring and fall, and your mowing schedule should match the growth of your lawn. During periods of heavy growth, once a week may not be enough, while every ten days might be fine during the summer. The key to mowing frequency is to never remove more than 1/3 of the total blade height in a single mowing.

A Sharp Blade = A Better Looking Lawn

We receive inquiries all the time about lawns that look brown even after periods of rain and cooler weather. In almost every case, this is the result of a dull mower blade shredding the tips of the grass. When a blade is dull, it rips the turf instead of cutting cleanly. The ripped tips then bleach out and turn brown, giving the whole lawn a tan or brown cast. Having the blade sharpened and balanced once per year is usually not enough especially on larger properties. To keep your grass growing strong, you should keep your blade sharp.

Remember:

The common perception is that clippings add to thatch has been disproved by university research.

Grass clippings left on the lawn return up to 15% of the nutrients applied in lawn fertilizer.

Mow the lawn high. Set the mower on one of the highest settings. Never remove more than 1/3 of the blade height at a time.

Mow more often during periods of heavy grass growth. Keep the blade sharp for a clean cut.

 


 

Moss in your Lawn

Moss may not always grow on the north side of trees and it might not be able to guide those lost in the woods. But it does send a different kind of signal to us in terms of weed control.  

When it shows up in your lawn, moss is sending a message that something in your yard is not right for growing grass. Moss isnít a super strong plant. It doesnít drive out grass; it just quietly fills in the space when your good turf isnít able to grow.

Why is Moss There?

There are about many kinds of moss that show up in lawns, and most of them love shady, moist conditions. But cool, moist shade isnít the only reason you may be seeing a short green blanket of moss where the grass is supposed to be. Here are some other conditions that can bring on moss:

Poor drainage: A common reason moss appears. Soil that is nearly always wet keeps the grass from growing by drowning its roots and creates a perfect home for moss.

Too much shade: Moss can take off in areas where there is not enough sunlight for grass to thrive. Thinning or pruning overhanging shrubs or trees will help light get through. Or we can help you plan for a type of grass that grows well in shade.

Not enough air circulation: Your lawn needs plenty of air to help water evaporate from the soil. Pruning low branches in surrounding trees may also help with this problem.

Low soil fertility: Without the right amount of nutrients in the soil, itís hard for many grasses to grow. Your Lawn King lawn care program can provide the regular fertilizing that your grass needs to start a new growth process.

Compacted soil: When the top several inches of soil get packed down, turf roots canít penetrate and have trouble getting established.                Lawn aerating can usually help solve this problem.

Acidic soil: Testing the soil pH may show that your lawn needs lime.

The best way to tackle moss is by working together to correct the root cause. If you have this problem in your lawn, contact Lawn King.

 


 

Lawn Thatch

The average lawn contains millions of individual grass plants. These plants are always forming new parts and losing old ones. Thatch is the matted layer of dead and living stems, roots, and organic matter that forms in most lawns above the soil. Thatch is a natural part of growing grass, and a small amount is actually healthy. It conserves moisture and provides a source of new humus as it decomposes.

The Dangers Of Too Much Thatch in your Lawn

When the soil in your lawn can't break down thatch as fast as it builds up, a lot of problems can result. Thatch over 1/2'' thick becomes a breeding place for both insects and lawn diseases. Heavy thatch also encourages turf roots to stay in the thatch layer instead of pushing into the soil. Another big problem with matted thatch is how it sheds water. The principle is the same as the thatched roofs used on old-style cottages. By being thick and heavily matted, the surface keeps water out. Thatís fine on a house, but not on a lawn. For all these reasons, itís important to manage thatch levels as part of a good turf care program.

Soil And Grass Types Affect Thatch Levels

Some soils are able to break down thatch very quickly. Soils that are high in microbial activity can keep up with thatch naturally, eliminating the need for other management practices. Loam soils tend to handle thatch much better than either clay or sand. The type of grass being grown makes a big difference too. Blue grass and fine fescue for example are prone to rapid thatch accumulation, while others develop little or no thatch (like rye grass and tall fescues). Conditioning the soil before lawn seeding and then choosing a thatch resistant variety are two of the best thatch preventive measures.

Removing or Controlling Thatch

In severe cases (1'' or more of thatch), stripping the entire lawn or complete tilling and reseeding may be the only solution for your lawn repair. Dethatching using a power rake removes a lot of thatch, but also disrupts the good turf. Slicing is another alternative, but it works best only with a few grass varieties. Of all the choices for thatch control, core aeration is the best way to reduce and control thatch. Core aeration is simple, economical, and doesn't tear up the entire lawn (unlike other alternatives for lawn renovation). Regular core cultivation benefits the entire lawn while solving moderate thatch problems. Core aeration also keeps thatch from becoming a serious problem by speeding up the decomposition process and punching through the thatched roof over your soil.

Remember:

A little thatch is good, a lot of thatch isn't. Good management keeps thatch under 1/2''. Overseed with thatch resistant turf types. Practice regular core aeration to avoid more costly and severe solutions. If you think you have a thatch problem, contact Lawn King. We'll be happy to take a look.

 


 

Fall Lawn Care Tips:

Late fall is your last chance to take care of your lawn that will prepare it for a healthy winter and give it a strong start next spring.

Tips For the Fall

Lower the height of your mower. Your lawn should enter winter without any young, tender growth that could make it more appealing to winter lawn diseases, like snow mold. New soft growth on the lawn is also more prone to dry out after the first winter winds come through, which leaves you with a tan or brown lawn all winter. So, as late fall approaches, begin to gradually bring the cutting height down on your mower, until you are almost at 3". Do Not scalp the lawn. Itís important to do this over a few weeks to avoid suddenly removing all the green leaf tissue and damaging the turf.  Grass grows all winter, developing the root system.

Late Fall Lawn Fertilization

This is a time of year when your lawn really good use of fertilizer. The lawn's top growth has slowed, so these lawn fertilizing nutrients go straight to the roots for a strong start next spring. Your lawn actually converts the fertilizer into food reserves and loads up its root system so itís ready, willing and able to get a quick (and healthy) start for growing grass in the spring.

Remove Leaves And Other Debris From Lawn

Before snow or other winter weather hits, take the time to go over the lawn one more time. Leaving debris on the lawn can smother the grass and create problems with winter or early spring lawn diseases.

If the lawn has not been aerated, there may still be time. Lawn aeration is very effective as long as the soil is not frozen. In other words, as long as we can still pull a good core, your lawn will directly benefit. Core aeration in late fall gives the plugs we pull plenty of time to melt down and to get thatch decomposing. 

 


 

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