Posts Tagged With: aerating

[Part 3] Planning for a Green Spring: Feed Your Lawn

Feed Your Lawn in FallDo you know the condition of your grass? Looking out over the yard at all your hard work, it is easy to miss what’s right under your nose (or should we say feet). The long hot summer was likely brutal on your lawn. A good feeding of fertilizer will give you a head start on greener, healthier grass come spring.

Examine Grass & Soil

Before you apply fertilizer to your lawn, it is always good to take a closer look at your grass and soil. (By closer we really mean dig out a small section of your grass and look at the root system.) How deep are the roots? Is there a layer of dead organic matter (thatch) thicker than a half inch below the surface? Is the soil hard and compacted? All of these conditions can be solved by following a simple fall lawn checklist to improve your grass.

  • Keep Mowing – Your grass is still growing and storing nutrients, so don’t put the lawn mower away yet. Adjust the height on the mower to cut the grass shorter. This allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass. Be careful not to trim off more than a third of the blade, which could expose the roots to disease and pests.
  • Keep Watering – Grass is gathering nutrients and moisture to channel into root growth. Cutting back on watering now will cause the roots to remain shallow. A good deep watering of an inch every few days will work.
  • Aerate – Aerating machines extract plugs of soil from you lawn, allowing water and organic material to get to where it is needed. It will improve compacted soil and bring beneficial microbes to the surface. They love to munch on thatch! Our article on aerating has more helpful tips to get you started.
  • Dethatching – If aerating doesn’t completely eliminate the thatch, then rent a dethatching machine, which will pull it up from the soil. Rake up the thatch debris and deposit it into your compost pile. For more information, check out our article on dethatching.
  • Fertilize – After aerating, spread a layer of compost and fertilizer over your lawn. In the past, many advised applying a fertilizer high in phosphorous. Today that practice is discouraged and fertilizer companies are working to eliminate chemical phosphates due to the harmful effects on our environment. Opt for organic phosphorous sources like fish or cattle bone meal, animal manure or bat guano to help give your grass strong roots.

Test the Soil

Many lawn problems begin with the condition of the soil. Have your soil (the soil sample you dug up from your grass) professionally tested for PH levels. A healthy lawn will have a PH level between 6.0-7.0. Weeds thrive in acidic soil. A thin layer of lime applied to your lawn should take care of them.

Good Top Soil – Good Gardening

Go back to where you dug up your soil sample. Can you see how deep the good top soil is?

A 4-inch layer of top soil will give you a good lawn, while an 8-inch layer of top soil will provide you with a great lawn. Good gardening begins with good top soil. Compost and other organic matter worked into your grass with a rake will improve the dirt beneath.

Organic vs Synthetic Fertilizers

Know the difference between organic and synthetic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are less concentrated, but remain in the soil longer. They release nutrients over time. Synthetic fertilizers are more concentrated and get into the plant faster. They are water-soluble and have a tendency to leach out of the soil quickly. While synthetics get the job done fast, they can burn the plant and get into the groundwater.

Fertilizer Boost for Health

Help your grass store up the moisture and nutrients it needs to make it through winter. Giving it a boost with fertilizer now will help establish a strong root system and crowd out those pesky weeds. Investing a little time now will pay off big come spring next year. 

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your lawn and landscape projects. From aerators and dethatchers to rakes, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getting Ready for Fall Part 3: Pampering the Grass

Prep Your Garden for Fall - Dethatching, Overseeding and AeratingHas your lawn had its share of foot traffic this summer? With outdoor activities in full swing, it’s a sure bet your grass is a little stressed. It may be a toss-up as to which of you is more excited about the kids going back to school – you or your lawn! A little lawn pampering may be just the ticket. It will love you for it (and you will love how it looks next year).

Adjust Your Mower Height

Once the summer heat is gone, lower your lawn mower to a regular height of about two inches. Cutting your grass shorter will help prevent matting under leaves and snow. Avoid cutting it too short though, otherwise weeds can take over if the grass thins out too much.

Continue Watering Schedule

Don’t slack on watering just yet. Until temperatures really begin to cool, continue to water your lawn as you have been. A general rule is to give your lawn about an inch to an inch and half of water a week. This will vary depending on where you live, the condition of your soil and the type of grass you have.

Check for Thatch

Check your lawn for thatch – a thick layer of dead organic matter mixed with living plant parts that builds up at the surface of your grass. Over-fertilizing and watering too frequently can cause thatch and lead to disease and insect problems. A dethatcher has powerful blades that pull the thatch to the surface. After using the dethatcher, rake up the thatch debris and compost it.

Pesky Weeds Be Gone

Fall is also a great time to attack those pesky weeds like dandelions, clover and other broadleaf weeds. Applying an herbicide spray that contains glyphosate, 2 4-D or MCPP is best. The weeds take these chemicals down into their root system, effectively stopping their chances of returning in the spring. The herbicide needs to be applied when temperatures are more moderate and the soil is moist.

Fall Lawn To-do List

Now that you have thatched your lawn and treated for weeds, improve the condition of your soil and grass using these to-do’s.

  1. Aerate the soil. This reduces thatch, improves drainage and loosens the soil. Using a plug type aerator is best since there is less chance of compacting the soil.
  2. Apply a top dressing. This is a mixture of loam, sand and peat, which will help amend the soil. Put a thin layer over the grass and plug holes. Avoid smothering the grass.
  3. Work the top dressing into plugs. Use a stiff brush to push the mixture into the plugs.
  4. Repair dead patches in grass. Reseed any thin spots. Use a mulch product that is embedded with seeds and fertilizer to help fill in these areas. Keep spots moist to allow seeds to germinate.

I See Dead Patches

If your grass has too many dead patches, try over seeding the entire lawn. Many over-seed warm season grasses with ryegrass to help thicken up thin or patchy yards. Cisco seeds has a variety of different types of seeds available. One is sure to do the trick for your lawn.

Quick Fix with Sod

Sometimes starting from scratch is the best option. Sod is the quickest way to bring your yard back to life. Now that summer heat is on its way out, it is the perfect time to install a new lawn of cool season grass. Keep the new sod moist for a quick start. It will have plenty of time over the winter months to build a strong root system.

Fertilize Cool Season Grasses

Finish up your yard work by fertilizing your grass. For cool season grasses like bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass, a late summer feeding in September and then again in October/November will help them green up earlier and look better in the spring. Don’t fertilize warm season grasses in the fall because they are dormant. Only fertilize them if they have been over-seeded with ryegrass. You fertilize these types of grasses in the spring.

Mulch those Leaves

Be sure to remove any fallen leaves from your yard before they can mat down and smother the grass. Using a mulching mower will help with this. Also, don’t forget to drain your irrigation lines before the first frost. Shut off the water to the system and then drain each zone separately to make sure there is nothing left to freeze.

A little lawn pampering may be just the thing to improve your stressed out grass. Your hard work will pay off when your grass comes back greener and healthier next spring. Now, if we can just figure out a way to keep the kids and dog off your beautiful green lawn…

Want more information on fall lawn preparations? Check out our blogs, What Everyone Ought to Know About Lawn Aeration, Aerating/Plugging and Slice Seeding and Essential Fall Tools for Your Lawn & Garden.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From detachers and aerators to mulching mowers and over-seeders, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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