Complete Guide Lawn Care in Home GardenComplete Guide Lawn Care in Home Garden
There’s much more that goes into a lawn than meets the eye. Having a pristine lawn is the result of healthy grass, fertilizer, mowing, watering, and weeding, which takes work on the part of the grower.
Lawns have a rich history, dating back to medieval times. Popular in Europe, they often consisted of a pasture or field. It wasn’t until Elizabethan times that lawns became a place to be admired. They were made up of meadow plants, such as chamomile, and began the era of the “English lawn,” a status symbol of the wealthy. It wasn’t until after the US Civil War that lawns became popular in America. And with the invention of the lawn mower in 1830, lawns have continued to be a staple of most American homes.
Lawn Care Basics
Caring for your lawn doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, if you understand the basics of proper lawn care, you’re off to a good start. Here are some information and tips that may help you get started.
Grass can’t grow without water, and that’s why giving your lawn the proper amount of water is crucial to its survival. Experts recommend 1 inch of water per week, either through rain or sprinklers. While there is no way to accurately measure the amount, checking your sprinkler’s water pressure can give you some indication. If the grass is turning a silvery-blue or brown, you’ll know it isn’t receiving an adequate amount of water.
Here are a few other watering tips:
- Water early in the day: Night watering can cause lawns to develop mildew and fungus.
- Water deeply: A light sprinkling doesn’t get deep into the soil, which is needed to promote strong roots.
- Be aware of local watering restrictions: During times of drought, your county can limit the number of days you are allowed to water. Make sure you thoroughly water when you are allowed.
- Water more than once a week: Two to three days is ideal, providing 1/3 to a 1/2-inch per session.
Like getting a haircut, you want to create the right grass length, or height, when mowing. There are different recommendations based on the type of grass, so knowing the grass type is important. For example, Zoysia grass should be kept from 3/4 inch to 2 inches, while Kentucky Bluegrass can range from 1.5 to 2.5 inches in height.
For a well-cared for lawn, follow these mowing tips as well:
- Mow once a week: In the spring, lawns may be mowed twice when grass is growing at a rapid rate.
- Cut 1/3 of a length of the grass per mowing: Cutting further down can damage the grass and the mower blades.
- Mow different directions every time: For example, mow horizontally one week, and vertically or diagonally the next. Mowing the lawn the same way week after week can cause grass to lean.
- Keep mower blades sharp: Mowing with dull blades can cause lawn grass to become damaged.
- Never mow a wet lawn: This can cause uneven patches, which invite fungus.
Fertilizing your lawn is important; not only does it provide nutrients it, but it ensures a healthy future. Between heat, bright sun, getting walked on, and mowing, lawns take quite a beating. And lawns need to have certain levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in order to thrive.
- Choose a fertilizer based on grass type: Buying a fertilizer without taking this into account is like purchasing prescription eyeglasses with any random prescription.
- Choose the right type of spreader: Fertilizer spreaders vary depending on lawn size. Smaller lawns tend to use a drop spreader while larger lawns use a rotary spreader.
- Fertilize 4 to 5 times a year: Early spring, late spring, late summer, early fall, and late fall are ideal times. Space two months between fertilization times.
Even well cared for lawns develop weeds from time to time. There are two types of weeds to be on the lookout for: broadleaf (which include dandelions and thistle) and grassy weeds (crabgrass and goosegrass). To get rid of weeds, follow these tips:
- Use a broadcast herbicide: Scotts Turf Builder is one recommendation.
- Pull weeds by hand: This is the organic approach to care if you don’t want to use chemicals on your lawn.
- Create a thick lawn: The denser the lawn, the less likely weeds are to invade. While this doesn’t happen overnight, properly caring for your lawn over several years will go a long way.
Lawn Care Guide – What Kind of Grass is it?
One of the first things you’ll need to learn about is the grass type in your yard. Knowing grass type is important because it affects what kind of fertilizer to use, what length to mow, and what kinds of pesticides will be effective. Grass type is usually determined by the region in which you live.
If you live in a cool-season region, for example, which includes Northern California and any state north of Virginia, you may have Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, or fescue. Hot summer grasses include Bermuda grass, centipede, St. Augustine, and zoysia. Refer to a source such as Scotts Lawn to help you find out grass type. If you are still having trouble identifying your grass type, you can bring a sample into a local hardware store or talk to your neighbors.
Starting from scratch
If you are starting a lawn from seed, there are a number of questions you’ll need to ask yourself before you choose a grass type. Since all regions of the country allow for more than one grass type, you do have a say in the matter. Consider the following:
- Not all grasses look the same: They vary in color, leaf width, and general appearance. What do you want your lawn to look like?
- Time and money: Some grasses need more care and maintenance than others. Do a little research on the price of different grasses and what their requirements are.
- What is your lawn’s primary purpose?: Is it meant to be decorative, or used as a play area for children or pets?
- Growing conditions: Is the area in shade or sun? What is the soil type? What is the general climate like?
Getting the Right Tools
So, you’ve figured out what kind of grass you have or what kind of seed you’d like to plant. Now what? If you have an established lawn, there are a few tools you’ll need.
- Lawn Mower: When purchasing a mower, keep in mind that there are several options: a push mower, a riding lawnmower (recommended for large yards), mowers with adjustable speeds, a body made out of aluminum or steel, and pull start or electric start. Finding the right mower is a matter of personal preference.
- Spreader: A spreader is a tool that helps apply lawn fertilizer. There are two main types: rotary and drop spreaders. Rotary spreaders tend to be used on large lawns that are free of flower beds or gardens. They get the job done fast. Drop spreaders are more precise, take a little longer than rotary spreaders, and are often used on smaller lawns.
- Trimmer: A trimmer, similar to an edge, can be used to clean up the places your lawn mower missed. Trimmers are useful for cutting through patches of weeds or tall grasses. They tend to run on gasoline or electricity and cut rapidly.
- Edger: An edger cuts at a vertical angle, which makes it ideal for removing grass that is next to other foliage, such as bushes. Edgers can run on gasoline or electricity. Two popular kinds include turf and rotary edgers, which make lawn care easy.
- Sprinkler: Almost any kind of sprinkler works for watering lawns. Just make sure to purchase one that has a timer, as timers can ensure that your lawn gets enough water, but isn’t wasteful.
Zoysia Grass Choice
Zoysia is a genus of eight species of grass which are native to China, Japan, and other areas in Southeast Asia. Often found in coastal areas, Zoysia is a sod-forming perennial that contains both stolons (also called runners) and rhizomes, the horizontal stem of a plant that sends out shoots or roots underground. The first species of zoysia, matrella, was introduced to the US from the Philippines in 1911. Since then, it has gained popularity.
Adapting to a Foreign Soil
Zoysia is a warm season grass, which means it thrives in areas along the Atlantic coast, from Florida to Connecticut, and along the Gulf Coast, from Florida to Texas. It is also gaining ground in California and can be found in other regions of the deep South. Zoysia is commonly used on golf courses, for home lawns, in parks, and on athletic fields. Highly versatile, zoysia can be grown in many types of soil, ranging from sand and clay to acidic and alkaline.
Three’s a charm
There are three species of zoysiagrasses found in the US, each varying in texture, cold tolerance, and care requirements.
- Zoysia Japonica: also called Korean or Japanese lawn grass, is coarse in texture but is more tolerant of cold than the two other species. The only species grown from seed, Meyer grass is a strain of Japonica. Meyer produces a dense turf and grows well in partial shade. It grows well in areas where summers are too hot for cool season grass, but winters are too cold for hot summer grass.
- Zoysia Matrella: is primarily a tropical and subtropical grass. Although it takes a long time to become established, Matrella will eventually form a thick mat. While it prefers full sun, it will also grow in shady areas. This species will stay green year-round in warmer climates but will brown after several touches of frost in cooler climates.
- Zoysia Tenuifolia: is the last species, but it has the finest texture of the three. It is very fluffy and does not hold well in cold climates. It is often used as a ground cover because of its short, wiry leaf blades. Like all zoysia, it also produces a dense turf.
So why chose zoysia?
Here are a few great things about zoysia and a few reasons why you will want to consider growing it:
- Drought-resistant: In severe conditions, it will turn straw-colored, but it can bounce back with rainfall or irrigation. The nature of zoysia grass allows it to conserve water, as it has a deep root system.
- Holds up well underfoot: Due to denseness, zoysia is often the grass of choice for lawns, golf courses, and baseball fields.
- Self-maintaining: It doesn’t need to be fertilized regularly, like many other grass types. If you choose to fertilize, use a nitrogen-release type in the spring, and a winterizer in late fall.
- Tolerant of salt: That’s why it is often grown along sandy seashores, such as the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
- Relatively pest-free: While no lawn is completely free of pests and disease, the only major things to watch out for are a brown patch, rust and leaf spot diseases.
No grass, of course, is ideal for every lawn in every location. Here are a few reasons why zoysia may not be right for your yard.
- Slow growth: That’s right, but good things come to those who wait.
- Inability to grow in cold climates: If you live in the Northern part of the US, zoysia is probably not the right grass for you.
- Intolerant of excessive shade: If the majority of your lawn is in the shade, zoysia will probably not grow well. It can tolerate some shade, but too much and your grass won’t stay green.
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