Archive for the ‘Cultural Practices’ Category

Spring lawn tips

Published by mrgrass on April 10th, 2015 - in Cultural Practices, Home owner tips

As the last-gasp of winter loosens it grip on spring, your lawn is likely covered with gravel, sand, leaves, and crusty black snow banks. Here are a few helpful tips that can get your lawn into recovery mode or better yet, green.

 

Big snow bank

 

 

Rake, rake, rake!

 
Rake as much sand and gravel as possible from your lawn. The less sand and gravel there is on the surface, the warmer the soil , allowing for a quicker green-up. Rocks, sticks and leaves should also be raked up sooner than later. Any object left on the lawn, especially once air temperatures begin to heat up, means the possibility of mulching the grass beneath the object. Without sunlight and air, grass will green around the piles of leaves and branches, but thin or even die beneath the winter debris.

 

Break Up Snow Banks

 
Large snow banks can be broken up with shovels to help speed up the melting process. This year, we ended up with car-sized snow banks or larger. Left alone, these snow banks can last into early May! Break up those nasty snow banks and help the lawn beneath get a breath of fresh air. A good lawn application cannot go down with large snow banks, so the sooner they are gone, the better!

 

 

Spring’s First Mowing
One last note, if your lawn is long and shaggy, give it a nice short cut. A 1.5” to 1.75” cut will enhance turf recovery by removing dead grass and allowing the soil to warm faster with improved exposure to spring-time sunshine. And, sharpen that mower blade now for a neater cut this summer.

 

Everyone was inside all winter, so get outside, take in the spring air and give your lawn a fresh start.

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5 Things Your Lawn Wants to tell You

1. Location

As the winter begins and your lawn is covered by ice or snow, there are some secrets your lawn may be hiding. For starters, and this may seem simple, your lawn’s location has a huge bearing on what you should be thinking about before spring arrives. For instance, that encroaching tree line has slowly but surely thinned out the edges of your lawn over the past 5 or 10 years. Your once proud carpet of green has become a band of dirt and moss due to the shade and overgrown limbs hovering above the now missing grass.

2. Grass seed

The second lawn secret reveals that all lawn grasses are not created equal and do have limitations in response to drought, heavy use, and shade. Yes, many turf types can tolerate less than desirable growing conditions, but left alone, thinning and ultimately bare ground will result. Much like a receding hair line, the question is not if, but when the grass thins out enough to get your attention. Don’t think throwing lime down or some patch seed mix will suffice, oh no, this situation beckons professional help. Only an intervention to change the site and current grass types will truly resolve and reverse turf loss.

3. Mowing height

Although the 70’s have come and gone, many lawns are treated and cut at less than optimum intervals and height. The third lawn secret beckons a weekly cut to a handsome and proper 3” most times of the year, not a foot every month. If your lawn could speak, a basic request would be for a regular mowing and a realistic cutting height; not a shaggy carpet reminiscent of the 70’s where bell bottoms earned their following. On the other hand, a short military type cut can brown a lawn out for the summer causing irreversible damage. The harm done to your lawn by improper mowing cannot be underestimated.

4. Healthy soil

A fourth and valuable fact relates to soil health and the ability of your turf to not just exist – but to thrive. Healthy soil, full of organic matter, bacteria, fungi, and worms support not only a vibrant root system but a lawn that can withstand pests and environmental stress. Chronic and heavy use of salty fertilizers and other products over time can reduce soil health and thereby predispose your grass to a host of health issues. If your lawn could talk, it would ask for more positive reinforcements in the form of compost tea, organic materials, lime, and other soil enhancing actions.

5. Timing

Timing does matter. Our fifth lawn tip is timing as it relates to pest control, soil enhancements, seeding, aeration, and other helpful activities. Most pests, including weeds and insects are best controlled at very specific times of the year. For example, ticks are best controlled in the spring and late fall – the same time as most broadleaf weeds. Crabgrass is best controlled in the early spring while lawns installations, overseeding, and aeration are best done in the fall. Soil enhancements are best applied in the spring and fall when accompanied by seeding. Your lawn would tell you timing is everything!

 

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Late fall lawn tips: raking and mowing

You know the lawns, the ones that stay buried in leaves from October until Memorial Day or the perfectly clean ones where not a single leaf can be found by Thanksgiving. Although these two kinds of lawns are at opposite ends of the autumn-leaf-removal spectrum, the point is made; you should do something about those leaves before the snow flies.

 

 

A clean, healthy green lawn will better handle winter issues.

A clean, healthy green lawn will better handle winter issues.

Heavy leaf cover acts like mulch and remember, we mulch to keep weeds and seeds from germinating in our landscape. The deeper the leaf cover and the larger the piles, the more likely this lawn will thin out or end up as bare ground come late spring. The best solution to lots of leaves is a late season cleanup in November, well after foliage season has passed.

 
While obtaining a perfectly clean lawn is not necessary, a good raking or professional cleanup will go a long way toward protecting your lawn come winter. This way, next spring when things starting growing, your lawn can join the green-up and not be inhibited or damaged from heavy leaf cover left over from the prior year.

 
Another important item on the fall checklist is the final mowing. I get these questions a lot, “How short do I mow my lawn and when should the final cut be?” Generally, in northern New England, the final cut should be in November. The final mowing height should range right around 1.5”, depending upon grade, because an uneven lawn may be severely scalped if cut this low.

 

 

 

A healthy fall lawn

 

A short cut can help minimize snow mold, winter kill, ice damage, and even vole damage as outlined in my earlier post http://www.mrgrassblog.net/2014/10/20/mole-voles-landscape/. This is the only time of year I recommend a very short cut! A lawn that is left long (over 3”) is in jeopardy and greater peril for damage from the aforementioned issues. Add to that excessive leaf cover and your lawn can soon turn into a parking area versus a green space to enjoy.

 

The moral of today’s blog post is to cut your lawn short in November and keep it relatively leaf free before the snow flies for a happier and greener lawn next spring!

 

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