It’s that time of year again! The Magnolia’s are just starting to bloom, and the air is still filled with the wonderfully intoxicating scents of Winter Daphne and Sweetbox. We’re all looking forward to the warmer, drier days just ahead. Everyone is starting to think about gardening again. Don’t forget that Spring is a great time to renovate your lawn!
There are many reasons why lawns fail. If you have a troubled lawn here are some things to consider: Does your lawn get enough sunlight? Is there adequate drainage, or are there issues that may cause water to collect or pool? Is the lawn getting enough water? Could there be a problem with the soil PH? Is there an insect or disease problem? Has the lawn just been neglected? Has it been cut too short or left too long?
Fixing your lawn can sometimes seem like an overwhelming or daunting task. Here are some general guidelines and common problems in lawns:
General Lawn Care – While there are no strict rules about how and when to mow, it’s is generally best to start by having the mower blades set on their highest setting, then reduce the height as the season progresses. Let the growth rate dictate the mowing schedule. An approximate height of 1-1.5” is ideal for most residential lawns (depending upon the specific type of grass used). Edging should be done every 2nd or 3rd time you mow, to retain crisp edges. If you edge every week, you have a higher risk of changing the bed lines. Most lawns do well if fed twice a year. It’s best to Fertilize in Spring, and again in Fall. The overall conditions of the lawn will determine if it will need more or less fertilizer.
Does your lawn need dethatching? Thatch is composed of grass stems and roots in the topsoil, that die and do not fully decompose. Mulch mowing does NOT lead to thatch formation. Thatch occurs naturally, and can be beneficial up to ¾ of an inch. If you have more than ¾” in your lawn, you’ll most likely want to dethatch. While you can measure the thatch in your lawn, you can feel it or visually inspect it. If your lawn feels spongy or is bouncy underfoot, you have too much thatch. Too much thatch can prevent water, fertilizer, insect/disease controls from reaching the soil. It can also block out sunlight from newly growing grass blades.
Should you aerate your lawn? Lawns with heavy soils (such as clay) or use (foot traffic, pets, kids) are likely candidates for aeration. The best time to aerate is during the growing season, when grass is healthy (Spring!). Aeration removes small plugs of soil and thatch from the lawn. It allows air, water, and nutrients to reach the soil more easily. Aeration reduces compaction and improves turf resiliency. Aeration works best with dethatching. Your lawn will thank you for letting it breathe!
Moss Control – Moss tends to be a common problem in our region. Moss in a lawn is an indication that the turf is not growing well. Moss does not kill the grass, but it creates unfavorable growing conditions. The best way to effectively control moss in the lawn (and garden) are to correct the growing conditions. Moss grows well in areas with heavy shade, poor drainage, and compacted soils. Sometimes you can fix these issues, for example pruning back large trees and shrubs to allow for more light, re-routing water to fix drainage problems, or amending the soils. Sometimes using a shade tolerant grass is the best solution. Lime is a good product to control acidic conditions in your lawn. Liming the turf can neutralize the acidity, which builds a better lawn and a stronger competitor for weeds and moss. Apply Iron will also set back moss growth, while having little effect on the grass.
Renovate or Replace? While it is common practice to combine a several tactics to renovate your lawn, in certain cases it might make more sense to just start over. When deciding whether to renovate or replace, you’ll want to consider the overall size of lawn and compare the percentage of it that is struggling. Also, the reason WHY it is struggling in the first place may be the overall determining factor. Another thought to consider: Does it HAVE to be lawn? Sometimes the best solution is to convert some or allof the lawn area to beds. Groundcover can be planted instead.
One also needs to consider how much time they can realistically devote to lawn care. For an immaculate lawn, you’ll need to more than mow it every few weeks. If the desired results are beyond your ability or time constraints, consider having a professional take care of it instead.
We provide all of the services listed above, as well as consultations by a plant care specialist, and more. Please let us know if we can help you achieve the lawn (or garden) of your dreams!