Posts Tagged ‘sea kelp’

2013 Top 5 lawn treatments for your dollar spent

Most can agree that there are certainly some basics to really providing visible improvement in lawns, from color, to density, or reduced weeds.  If there was an overall wish list for lawn treatments, a list which highlighted the best of the best, the hardest working, the biggest bang for your buck; would you be interested?  I thought so.

Top 5 lawn treatments for your dollar

Without question, fertilizer is at the top of the list for several reasons.  First, grass appreciates the additional nutrient supply in order to improve color and increase growth both above and below ground.  You can serve up your fertilizer varying from slow release, all organic, a natural blend, or a conventional fast release product.  Each type of fertilizer has its advantages and disadvantages depending upon how fast you are trying to improve your lawn, your proximity to surface water/wells, or disposition for organic things in life.  The underlying focus of fertilizer is simple; give the lawn a boost to make it healthier by growing better than surrounding weeds.  This is where fertilizer needs some additional help in our wish list for the most beneficial lawn treatments for your money.

It may go without saying, but lime is not what your grandfather used to use back in the day.  In fact, lime has been formulated to address more than just a simple pH adjustment.  Since grass appreciates a slightly acidic pH (6.5 to 6.7) for maximum health, what else can lime do that you may not know?  I prefer a high calcium lime, pelletized for easy application and loaded with calcium to help improve the cation exchange in the soil.  Cation what you say?  Well, simply put – a high calcium lime actually helps soften soils, it’s a natural material to improve soil structure and this in turns makes growing roots a lot easier.  More roots, better lawn, thicker lawn!  Lime and fertilizer go together like peanut butter and jelly; they are good friends and do a lot for the dollar spent.

The third lawn application that is underrated but is more valuable than people realize is core aeration.  Yes, core aeration is a form of dethatching so don’t get too excited.  Core aeration is probably the single most beneficial non-chemical, all organic treatment you can do for your lawn.  I’m not talking about sweet little metal stars that you pull and rotate with your home lawn tractor.  I’m not talking about shoes with spikes in them where you walk around and believe in your deepest heart that this is the best form of aeration since color TV.  No, real core aeration physically pulls a 1” or so diameter core with hollow tines which goes down several inches and deposits a plug on the surface of the lawn.  The result is a grid of small holes in the lawn which then allows in air, lime, fertilizer, water, and a place to seed into!  Wow, I can feel the difference just writing about it.  Core aeration should be an annual, or every other year process to keep even a healthy lawn in check.  There is a good reason golf courses aerate all the time, it works!  Do yourself a favor in 2013, have your lawn aerated!  You’ll sleep better at night.

Sea kelp or Compost tea don’t normally come up at the dinner table when folks think about improving their lawns or when reviewing a conventional turf contract for the spring.  In fact, I’m sure every man would fall over if his wife or girlfriend turned to him at dinner and said, “Hey honey, why don’t we try sea kelp this year on the lawn?  I hear it is full of organic matter, amino acids, and good stuff like that!”  I myself might even shed a tear at such a revelation but most others would be petrified.  The fact remains, she is right – compost tea and sea kelp are super at providing micro-organisms like fungi and bacteria, exactly what most lawns lack from abuse or low organic matter after the house was built. Poor soil is one of the leading causes of nasty looking lawns and no matter how much fertilizer and lime is applied, your lawn will only rise to a mediocre level at best.  Adding compost tea and/or sea kelp is a great way to build up a healthier lawn from the soil up.  A great house must be built on a solid foundation, so must a lawn be grown from soil that is better than sand, gravel, back-fill, or compacted clay.  If you have never considered compost tea or sea kelp, give it some serious thought because whoever brings it up first at the dinner table wins!

The last treatment which ends this blog post and ends up coming in at the number five position is insect control.  I mean grubs below ground or chinch bugs on the surface.  Nothing will destroy your lawn without you noticing until the damage is done like insects.  Weeds cannot damage or kill a lawn like a grub infestation can.  While the hot, dry weather of 2012 behind us, the pests remain and will continue to wreak havoc in NH and VT lawns well into the early summer of 2013.  Please don’t waste your money on milky spore either, a product designed for use down south, not to mention it only works on one type of beetle under ideal conditions.  We have over a half dozen grub beetles in our growing area, so save the coin and have a treatment done professionally.  There are good organic products available for all of these pests as well as great newer treatments in a more conventional mode.  If you had insect problems in 2012 resulting in skunks digging and crows tearing up and tossing turf, get some help!


Crabgrass is more than a crabgrass problem!

Enjoy your lawn this year without crabgrass

If you are considering crabgrass control this spring, consider solving the real problem as an alternative spring time lawn project.  If you have a crabgrass problem, you have more than just a crabgrass problem.  The root of the issue is likely unhealthy soil, compaction, and low organic matter; all of which contribute to an inferior lawn.  Most folks will focus on the symptoms of a poor looking lawn such as dead patches or crabgrass and not the underlying issues.  Most lawn issues can be directly attributed to bad soil.  Can there be bad soil?  Well, in a manner of speaking yes, there can be bad soil or at least soil that cannot successfully support good turf growth.  Healthy turf does not occur by accident; it takes a healthy soil to support a green, lush lawn.  Let’s take a closer look at why good soil is so important and why bad soil really can only support crabgrass or nothing at all.

Soil is supposed to be filled with micro-organisms in various percentages, nature’s way of supporting plant life through root systems.  A healthy soil will contain soil particles of various sizes (clay through sand), air spaces, and water.  An ideal soil will also contact organic matter and many micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, like in high school biology class (wicked cool).  Turf really appreciates a soil which has a higher bacterial count.  Now you know why grass is always so green over the septic system, an ideal environment for lots of bacteria, organic matter, and moisture.

Poor soil will have a low population of these micro-organisms; in fact, it may not have much, if any at all.  Low organic matter is another issue which takes away from a healthy lawn.  Compacted soils don’t have the air spaces necessary for roots to grow successfully because roots need air to survive.  Add a low soil pH and now you have locked up vital nutrients necessary to support healthy turf growth.

The bottom line is that a good lawn must be rooted in healthy soil.  Without moving forward with proper techniques to improve your soil, your lawn is destined to be a field of crabgrass and blowing dust each and every year. Growing a lawn is just like growing corn or any other crop – it has basic needs.  Crabgrass is much less fussy and will gladly move in without an invitation and stay all summer long, thriving in high heat with minimal rainfall.  Crabgrass is not the enemy; crabgrass is just an opportunist which seizes its ideal growing environment.  The real villain is bad soil that is devoid of air, organic matter, and micro-organisms.

Your real hope lies in compost teas rich in bacteria, fungi, and other “good guys” who helps improve a sterile and almost lifeless pile of dirt.  Sea kelp adds lots of organic matter plus a host of nutrients, proteins, and minerals.  Core aeration breaks up compacted soil, providing air pockets and the opportunity for rain to penetrate a hard surface area.  Organic fertilizers provide more organic matter and a plentiful helping of nutrients, not only the grass, but the living community below!  While crabgrass suppression can be helpful, the real cure lies in improving your lawn’s soil as a basic rule towards creating an outdoor living space that can be enjoyed instead of being cursed.


Fall is the best time to improve your lawn in NH & VT

Fall is the best time to repair or seed a lawn in NH and VT

Fall is the best time to repair your lawn after experiencing a brutal hot summer.  Although your lawn may contain summer annual weeds like crabgrass, oxalis, spurge; take heart that their time will soon be coming to an end in September.  September beckons turf renovation in order to help restore some order by repairing any damage incurred since spring.  Common lawn damage results from drought, weed or insect infestation, or even disease and must be repaired in the fall for best results.

Regardless of what went wrong, having a game plan now is critical toward taking advantage of warm autumn soil, cool nights, and typical rain.  This normal weather combination makes fall an ideal time to repair and improve lawns in NH and VT.  So what can be done?  What should you consider in terms of products or services this fall to help your home lawn?

Aeration and overseeding should be at the top of your list because both will help your lawn in numerous ways.  Review my prior blog posts for the benefits of aeration and overseeding.  So long as soil moisture is good, aeration can begin in mid to late August depending upon your location.  Topdressing bare spots or a damaged area of lawn is another great process toward thickening up your lawn once seeded.  Seeding and renovating your lawn by aerating is just the first step toward helping repair and improve it.

Applying a high calcium lime, a well blended natural fertilizer, and even kelp or compost tea will enhance seeding results and benefit the organisms in the soil itself.  Sandy soils, new lawns, and those with thin topsoil depths are at a disadvantage in terms of supporting a high quality lawn without substantial work.  A great start to either improving or repairing a treated lawn includes some if not all of the aforementioned lawn treatments in both NH & VT.

September and October are huge months and can turn an otherwise weak, thin, or damaged lawn around; preparing it for the spring of 2012.  The healthier you get your lawn during this time frame, the better your grass is prepared for the winter and spring treatments next year.  Remember, most crabgrass control products do not allow seeding and use of that product simultaneously next spring.  Although spring lawn seeding and repair can be fruitful, the weather often plays a huge roll regarding rainfall and heat.  You will also face annual weeds as they germinate in new soil, presenting serious competition to your young lawn.  These two factors make fall the opportune time to make repairs over spring time when it comes to achieving maximum results.

Plan ahead now and don’t miss this important time frame to help repair your lawn for not only this winter, but more importantly the spring of 2012!

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