Lawns are Environmental Helpers
Most of us have become more environmentally conscious and are pitching in to help the environment. We recycle our newspapers, aluminum cans, plastic containers, used motor oils, and perhaps purchase more energy-efficient appliances.
By properly maintaining our home lawns and landscapes, we can become even greater environmental stewards. Just think of what our world would be like without lawns, trees, and shrubs! Here in the U.S., there are more than 31 million acres of grass and our home lawns are often overlooked as major environmental helpers.
Grass Conserves Water and Cleans The Air
The next time it rains, notice, where the water comes from that, fills the street gutters and storm drains. Not from our lawns because dense, healthy turf is superb in trapping precipitation and reducing soil erosion. Each square foot of a healthy lawn can absorb over a one-half gallon of rainwater without a noticeable runoff. This water then becomes a valuable resource in nourishing the lawn, trees, and shrubs while soaking through the topsoil and replenishing groundwater reserves. This same lawn is also serving as a primary collector of dust, dirt, and air pollutants while producing oxygen vital to our survival.
Lawns Provide Energy Conservation and Comfort
A well-maintained lawn could keep your home cooler on hot days by reducing surface temperatures as much as 15 to 30 degrees compared to bare soil and 20 to 40 degrees cooler than asphalt. Your lawn probably has more air conditioning capacity than your central air conditioning unit.
(If you don’t have the time, energy, skills, or desire to take care of your lawn but still want lush green grass, consider hiring a professional lawn care service like TruGreen.)
Lawns Improve Soil Quality
Grass plants are continually building new topsoil from decomposing roots, stems, and leaves. A typical lawn will produce 233 pounds of grass clippings per 1,000 square feet during each growing season. Therefore, cycling grass clippings back on the lawn to help the environment and reduces landfill waste.
Lawns, in addition to environmental benefits, provides a place to relax, have fun, generally feel good about ourselves, and even increase property values. So, the next time you are working hard to make your lawn look good to pat yourself on the back for being a good environmental steward.
Lawn Care Tips
Proper lawn maintenance plays a crucial part in any landscape design. A beautiful well-maintained lawn can make the entire landscape look good, whereas a lawn that is not maintained can completely ruin it beautifies. Discussed below are a few important lawn care tips that will help you maintain a fine-looking lawn.
Choosing the Right Grass for Your Lawn
Lawn grass is available in lots of variations and the kind of grass you choose goes a long way in ensuring that your lawnmowers are easy to maintain and serves its purpose. Here are a few basic questions to ask before deciding on the type of grass to go for:
- How will your lawn be used or for what purpose are you setting the lawn – for instance: Ornamental Landscaping, play area, etc.
- What is kind of budget can you allocate for the lawn
- How much time are you willing to spend on lawn maintenance?
- How do you want your lawn to look like?
- What kind of climatic conditions do you face, like the amount of sun, dryness, wetness, etc?
- What are the soil characteristics?
lawn Care – Mowing your Lawn
Regular Mowing is required to ensure that your lawn portrays the best looks. But there are some important factors to keep in mind before you do that.
For instance, it is important to ensure that the grass is not cut too low. Cutting the grass too low can hurt the grass and can permanently damage them.
Also, low-cut grass tends to grow faster and will require more water leading to larger maintenance on your side. Given below are a few tips for mowing your lawn effectively:
- Avoid cutting the grass too short as this can damage the grass, inhibit a deeper root system from setting up, and give rise to weeds.
- Different grasses have different heights at which they can grow best, so make sure you inquire about this from the vendor or your landscaping company. The ideal height of most grasses is 3 to 4 inches.
- Removing more than one-third of the grass leaf in a single cutting is not recommended
- Mow only on dry grass and not when the grass is wet
- Make sure your mower’s blade is new and sharp before starting a fresh moving session. Keeping several mowing blades at hand helps.
- To ensure smoothness make sure you change the mower’s oil once or twice during the mowing season.
Watering your Lawn
Just like human beings, grasses tend to adapt to their circumstances. This is why stressing out the grass to a moderate extent is a good way of making them stronger. For instance, you can make the grassroots penetrate the soil better by not watering frequently. Try not to water for a day or two and check the rooting depth. You will be amazed to find an increase. Better rooting will make your grass growing healthily. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- The best time to water your lawn would be during the early hours of the morning.
- Watering during this time will allow the water to reach the roots without evaporating.
- Mid-afternoons may lead to water getting evaporated soon and watering at night times can give rise to the possibilities of diseases.
- While watering, make sure you spread the water homogeneously across the lawn without overflooding or missing certain areas/spots.
- If your lawn is placed on heavy slopes make sure that the water does not run off.
- Several applications of water would be necessary for such surfaces to ensure adequate penetration.
- During the summer season or drought conditions decide whether to water the lawn or let it go dormant.
- Letting the grass to go dormant and then watering again to green it up and again letting it go dormant is not a good practice.
- If your lawn is newly sodded avoid watering it frequently to ensure that the roots grip the soil perfectly.
Lawn care Problem Diagnostic Tips
Factors, such as adverse weather conditions, cultural practices, or pest incidence can often lessen the quality of our lawns. Proper diagnosis is critical in identifying lawn problems and determining what corrective steps need to be taken.
Not every problem can be easily determined and solved in the field, but with a few helpful tools and having the right information, we can go a long way in narrowing the possibilities.
Tips that will help determine and correct many of the problems include the following:
1) Become familiar with the turf species you are growing and what their cultural requirements are.
2) Learn how to look for symptoms and signs of problems.
3) Keep a history of the lawn to track problems. Some problems, such as crabgrass invasion, white grub damage, and some turf diseases can be annual occurrences.
4) Some pests, or the damage they cause, can be difficult to see without the aid of good diagnostic tools such as a magnifying glass, pH meter, etc.
5) Obtain reference materials that help confirm the identity of a particular pest.
6) In some cases, it may be necessary to send a sample to a diagnostic laboratory for analysis.
7) Become familiar with the remedies at your disposal such as pesticides, fertilizers, etc.
Fertilization is important for the healthy growth of your lawn grass, but just as in the case of watering; too much use is not recommended.
You need to make use of a balanced fertilizer mix that can supply the turf with nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
The use of fertilizers with balanced elements can help in the development of thick and healthy grass that has a higher resistance towards diseases producing pathogens.
You can go for both liquid as well as granular type fertilizers, though liquid type fertilizers can be the more effective of the two as they can be easily absorbed by the plants. Different grasses have different needs, so make sure to consult a specialist before application.
Though fertilizers are important for healthy grass growth, excessive use can lead to certain undesirable effects. For instance, using fertilizers in more than required quantities can over-stimulate growth making the grass vulnerable to dry conditions. It can also make the grass catch diseases by reducing resistance.
Weeds are an unfortunate reality of any lawn unless the lawn is extremely well- maintained. Common weeds that can attack our lawns are Bentgrass, Bermuda Grass, Crabgrass, Dandelions, Ground Ivy, Moss, and Mushrooms among others. The best way to deal with weeds is by spot treatment using herbicides. Spot treatment is more effective and is much safer than administrating the herbicide to all areas. It is important not to mow or water the lawn immediately after the herbicide application. You can also go for organic lawn care to control weeds.
Preventing your Lawn from Diseases
Proper mowing, aeration, drainage, irrigation, and fertilization can help your turf grass stay healthy and free from diseases. Also as a preventive measure, you can make use of PENETRANT FUNGICIDES that stop the growth of pathogens.
If your lawn gets infected irrespective of these precautions, try and consult an expert immediately as lawn diseases can cause serious damage to your lawn if not treated properly.
If you make use of sprinklers to irrigate your lawn, make sure you check up on their condition regularly. Improper sprinkler maintenance can cause wastage of water at the same time leading to overwatering some areas of your lawn causing damage. The same is the case with drip irrigation or any other form of irrigation system. Automatic irrigation systems also need to be monitored regularly.
You need to aerate your lawn at least 2 to 3 times a year to ensure the healthy grown of the grass. This is important especially in those situations when your lawn is getting used heavily causing the turf to look thin.
Aeration involves the removal of small soil cores thereby allowing enough room for water and fertilizers to enter the grass and to aid root development. Aeration can be done using core aerators which are more effective in comparison to other types. You can also go for aerating manually using hand aerators.
Often do not give this much level of importance but leaf removal is crucial to ensure healthy grass growth. Unattended leaves can cause damage to your grass by increasing the soil ph level. This is because of the high levels of acid content that leaves tend to have. Also, the abundance of wet leaves can cause suffocation to the grass thereby killing large parts of the lawn.
To avoid these problems make sure the lawn is free of dry leaves. One way of achieving this is by regular mowing of the lawn.
By following the tips mentioned above you can ensure that your lawn is healthy and looks attractive at all times.
Selecting Lawn Grasses for Spring Renovations
As temperatures rise and our waterlogged soils eventually dry, many of us will be out on our lawns correcting bare or damaged areas created over the winter months. I receive several dozen requests each spring for information on selecting the best turf species to correct such problems.
The first step in fixing these problems is to assess what has caused the problem to occur. Whether it is drainage, soil pH or fertility, traffic, heavy shade, etc, these need to be corrected before you can expect any new turf to survive. Every spring at lawn and garden shows the MSU Extension Service provides free soil pH testing and it is astonishing how many lawn soil samples have soil pHs that are not conducive to healthy turf growth.
The next step then would be to select a turf species that is right for the problem area and most importantly. Is the turf species adaptable to your area? It always amazes me to walk through the garden center sections, particularly of the larger chain stores, and see what is being offered for purchase to establish or repair Southern lawns.
Many of the seeds on the shelves are just not suitable for permanent Mississippi lawns. Unless you live in the extreme northern counties, most cool-season turf species (ryegrass, bluegrass, and fescues) will be poor permanent lawn choices. The heat of summer will be their demise and should not be planted even as temporary lawns once our warm-season turf species begin to green.
If seeding is your only option centipede, Bermudagrass, carpetgrass, zoysia, Bahia, and seashore paspalum are your warm-season choices. St. Augustine, the species most tolerant of shade, and the above-mentioned warm-season species can also be established vegetatively.
Success for a New Lawn
The sense of accomplishment and pride from the time, money, and energy spent establishing a new lawn for many homeowners is often lost within the first year of the law’s existence.
This is often due to a few common mistakes made in the process of selecting the grass species to mow and watering.
Select the Proper Grass
Not all grasses meet all possible uses. If you feel inept in selecting the best species for your site, don’t hesitate to contact an expert for advice. Provide information such as geographic location, amount of shade, the intended use of the lawn, and the amount of maintenance input you plan to provide. Don’t scrimp on costs of initial establishment. The few dollars saved on inferior bargain sod or seed will usually cost you more in the long run.
Properly Prepare the Site Before Planting
Take the time to have a soil analysis performed. It is much easier and less costly to adjust soil pH and provide the proper nutrients to the soil before planting. Site prep should include tillage and drainage considerations.
Select the time of planting to optimize success
A seed of warm-season turf species such as bermudagrass, centipede, carpet grass, etc. has the greatest chance of success when planted from spring to midsummer. Cool-season species, such as fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass, need to be planted in the fall only and their use may often be considered as temporary lawns only for much of the deep South. Most sod can be installed whenever it is available.
Maintain Good Cultural Management Practices
It is critical to developing a sound lawn management regime to keep a newly established lawn healthy. This should include infrequent but deep watering whenever needed, mowing often enough to never remove more than one-third of the total leaf blade at a single mowing, periodic fertilization to maintain healthy turf, and pest prevention.
Lawn Care Lessons from the Birds and Bees
Most people enjoy the beauty and cheerfulness birds add to our landscapes, but we often let go unnoticed their signaling to us that damaging insects may be invading our lawns. Although not as well accepted or inviting, red paper wasps and some bees are great predators of tiny caterpillars that feed on our lawns.
This time of year, when fall armyworms invade lawns in dynamic populations, the birds and wasps are often the first to notice them. So, if you see flocks of birds or more than normal activity of red wasps flying around your lawn, then take the time to part the grass with your hands to check for caterpillars. So, yes we can learn valuable lessons about lawn care from the birds and bees.
While speaking of birds, even they are not insect feeders, hummingbirds are now in their fall migration, so I encourage you to put a hummingbird feeder near your kitchen window for an amazing and humorous display. I have been having dozens at my feeders the past few weeks.