What makes green grass you ask? I can tell you there is more to a beautiful property than just mowing the lawn.
It’s a bit of love and a bit of preventative maintenance that will bring out the greener grass that you crave all summer long.
Last week’s post talked about common problems that you may see in your lawn and as promised I am going to talk about a few more this week.
Spring lawn tips are great but maintaining your lawn all summer long takes time and money so get ready to put some effort into your property.
What is lawn maintenance?
Lawn maintenance is simply a term used to maintaining your outside property in order to bring the best out of your lawn and garden. Growing grass seems like an art and in a way it is because there are property services out there that specialize in growing grass and they are good at it.
You can do the same if you do your research and take pride in your property knowing that just mowing the lawn is not all that it takes. While trying to maintain healthy, luscious green grass there are many obstacles that may get it in your way when caring for your property, some being easier to overcome than others.
Some lawn problems are easy to prevent and there are some may just affect the appearance of your grass causing little or no lasting damage to your grass.
Just mowing the lawn
Just about everyone who owns property with grass will be mowing the lawn all summer long. It’s part of owning a home that you have to take on in order to keep your property looking good and up to standards for your city.
If you don’t plan on just mowing your lawn or hate property maintenance you could always call in for back-up as there are plenty of people who are willing to mow your lawn for a fee.
If you are particular about the way your lawn is done do it yourself or hire professionals property services because door to door kids who want to make a few bucks likely aren’t professionals. Just mowing the lawn is pretty simple but doing it right is another story.
Most people after mowing the lawn like to give their lawn something to drink but too much of a good thing is never good.
While water is a growth requirement for most plant species too much water can be more harmful to your lawn than not watering at all.
As I mentioned in an earlier post 1 inch of water once per week is typically enough to maintain a healthy lawn and keep your property looking top-notch.
Your municipal bylaws may allow you to water your lawn every other day but this is often a lot more water than your grass will use. Over-watering will fill all the soils porous spaces with water, blocking oxygen from the roots. Roots deprived of oxygen will essentially drown and your lawn overall will have a shallow root system.
I was taught to never give any plant water faster than the soil can absorb it. When watering your lawn if you notice that the water is starting to pool on the soil surface your lawn likely has been over watered and it’s time to turn off the hose.
Allow the grass to dry out before giving another thorough watering. Overwatering is not only harmful to your lawn but also a waste of our resources but also any fertilizer applied to your lawn will be ineffective as it is likely to get washed away before making it to the roots.
Since this fertilizer is being washed away you are most likely going to fertilize again, which you wouldn’t have to do if you had given your lawn just enough water instead of too much. Newly seeded or sodded lawns will only require daily watering until they have established a strong root system.
During the hot summer months you may noticed your property started to look a little brown. In Ontario we typically see this in July and August as the grass is just not able to get the water it needs. You may find that just mowing the lawn isn’t going to cut it, you aren’t mowing as much or you give up completely because the lawn isn’t as green as it could be.
If you have a strong, established lawn, allowing it to go dormant is essentially letting the grass have a rest during the hottest summer months. Allowing your lawn to go dormant can save you money on your water bill but keep in mind it will put some stress on your lawn.
The grass may appear to be dead but in fact it isn’t, it will turn brown but will green up and grow new leaves when it is watered again. Timing a fertilizer application with the fall rains will help to kick-start the reappearance of a healthy green lawn.
As your lawn comes out of dormancy it is a good time to look for any weak areas in your lawn where you can over seed and take advantage of the fall rains for watering.
Dormant periods require mowing the lawn less often as I mentioned above although allowing dormancy to occur can contribute to more thatch building up in your lawn, so be prepared to do some raking.
While a dormant lawn may save you some time and in some places unavoidable, be prepared for some extra work that may be required to green it up again.
Newly seeded or sodded lawns should not be allowed to go dormant as they will not have established a strong enough root system to withstand the stress.
Check with your municipality because while watering bans are enforced in many cities and towns you can usually get a special watering permit after putting down a new lawn whether it is sod or grass seed. This permit should allow you to water your lawn as required to keep it from going dormant.
Have you ever walked around your property and found your shoes covered in an orange or yellowish powder? This is rust.
Rust will be seen more often than not during the hot summer months making dormant periods the perfect time for rust to settle in. A well-fertilized, well-watered lawn will be more resistant to rust though setting your lawn mower blades too low and cutting the grass too short can make your lawn susceptible to rust.
While rust is pretty easy to recognize and in most cases it is unlikely to kill your grass it is a stress for your grass and may increase its susceptibility to other pest and disease. Rust is a fungus so a fungicide can be used if your lawn is heavily covered though in most cases it is not necessary.
If your lawn is not dormant and you are experiencing rust, a fertilizer application and a thorough watering may be beneficial. If it is dormant and not actively growing then the fertilizer would just be wasted.
Collecting your grass clippings after just mowing the lawn when rust is present instead of mulching them on the lawn will help to slow down the spread of the fungal spores. Washing off the blades and deck of your lawn mower can also help to slow the spread of rust throughout your lawn.
If you are noticing patches of discolouration on your lawn it could be possible that it is mechanical damage. If the blades on your lawn mower are uneven or you have some high spots in your lawn you may find that your grass is being scalped.
Have you ever dropped one of the wheels of your lawn over the edge of a flower only to see more dirt than grass left behind? Scalping will often cut your grass so short that it may kill it.
Protecting your lawn from scalping can be as easy as sharpening and lifting the height of the mower blades or leveling out ruts and high spots. If you have eliminated your lawn mower as being the culprit it is possible that you have an excess buildup of thatch in your lawn and it may be time for power raking and/or aerating. Again, just mowing the lawn is only one part of the process.
Scalped areas are slow to grow back so while it may be tempting to fertilize these areas it is best to wait until the area has recovered completely, nitrogen is more likely going to burn the area and offer no benefit.
An area that has been scalped can be raked out to remove any thatch and top-dressed with a layer of topsoil and grass seed. As I have mentioned several times before your best defence against having any problems in your lawn is to maintain a thick, well fed, healthy lawn.
While fertilizer may seem expensive having a healthy, luscious lawn that can crowd out weeds may save you some money trying to fix some of these problems later on.
Maintaining a healthy lawn sounds like a lot more work than it really is but a lot less work than trying to fix a problem that could have been prevented.
There’s an old saying that fits this scenario very well, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure“.
What problems have you faced with your lawn while maintaining your property? How did you fix them?
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