Lawn Care Tips

Lawn care offer a beautiful pastoral setting and provide recreation and food for birds, bees and earthworms. They are a source of air conditioning, help to capture dust and dirt, and reduce erosion. They also help to filter runoff and reduce nutrient pollution in waterways. But lawns also require substantial time and energy to keep them healthy and attractive, often requiring four or more hours of weekly work.

Most cool season grasses will enter a dormant stage during periods of extreme drought. This is a normal process that conserves energy for the plants and usually returns to full health after rain returns. Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass will look yellow and “dead” during this period but are usually back to green when the rain comes. If you prefer a lush green lawn throughout the summer, you will need to help Mother Nature out with some irrigation.

It is a good idea to inspect your lawn periodically to assess the condition of your grass and identify any problems, such as weeds. It is easier to manage weeds before they grow large enough to choke out your grass. Crabgrass is often a problem in new lawns and can be controlled with pre-emergent weed killers that destroy germinating plants as they sprout. Broadleaf weeds such as clover, white grubs and wild strawberry are often found in lawns with poor soil conditions.

It is best to add organic material to improve soil quality before establishing a lawn. It is difficult to incorporate this material into the soil once turf has established. In addition, it is difficult to know the amount and quality of organic material that should be added unless soil testing has been performed.

Mow at the appropriate height for your region. This will encourage deep roots, and a healthier, more drought-resistant plant. Water only when the lawn really needs it. The frequency depends on weather, temperature and the type of grass you have. Frequent light sprinklings moisten only the surface, and discourage deep root growth; whereas deeper watering (often called “deep soaking”) allows the roots to tap into subsurface water supplies. Watering in the morning reduces water loss from evaporation and wind. Grass growing on compacted or fine sandy soils may need deeper, more frequent watering than that on loose, clay soils. Watering near trees may require more frequent, lighter irrigation because the tree roots will absorb much of the water.

Weeds can be controlled by cultural, physical or chemical methods. Moderate populations of weeds are acceptable in most home lawns; clover flowers provide forage for bees and other pollinators; and some weeds, such as switchgrass and sweet fern, offer color and texture to the landscape. If you choose to use a pre-emergent weed control, choose one that does not contain toxic chemicals.

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