Whether you do it yourself, or hire a company, observing the following suggestions will make a big difference in the quality of your lawn.
- Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade per mow.
- Mow with sharp blades.
- Avoid mowing when the turf and/or the soil is too wet.
- Vary the mowing patterns.
- Mow the turf to a height of 3-4 inches.
- Clippings are beneficial to the lawn unless the turf is diseased or has weed seeds present.
- Avoid scalping the turf with string trimmers.
Irrigation is the supplemental application of water to a lawn.
How Often, How Much, and When?
Too many well-meaning homeowners water their lawns on a daily basis. Over irrigating can be just as bad as not watering enough. If the irrigation frequency exceeds the ideal level, multiple negative effects are likely to occur:
- Shoot and root growth will decline, resulting in reduced vigor and quality.
- The turf is more susceptible to disease, insects, and weeds.
- The likelihood that the turf will recover from injury will be reduced.
For established lawns, daily irrigation is not recommended. This practice keeps the soil wet which encourages shallow root development. When the majority of the roots are in the surface layer of soil, the turf is more susceptible to stress.
To help encourage the development of a deep root system, deep, infrequent irrigation is recommended. Deep, infrequent irrigation allows the surface to dry out, which encourages roots to grow deep into the soil. Enough water should be applied to wet the soil to a depth of at least 1 inch below the root system. For example, if the root depth is 5 inches, the soil should have water to a depth of 6 inches. Root depths can be located by using a spade, soil knife, shovel, or soil probe.
Most turfgrass managers recommend early-morning irrigation, between 5:00 and 10:00 a.m.
- Proper use of fertilizer is an important part of maintaining a healthy stand of turf.
- The label on a bag of fertilizer lists many ingredients with the main ingredients being nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
- A soil test, recommended to be done about every three years, will help identify the nutritional needs of the soil.
- Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass needs 2-6 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. per season and tall fescue and fine fescue needs 1-4 lbs.
- Slow-release fertilizer is generally preferable to quick release.
- If possible, irrigate following fertilization.
- Blow off the hard surfaces following granular applications.
- Whether it's a bag of fertilizer or a liquid pesticide, always read and follow the label.
Core aeration in the fall, and sometimes the spring, has many benefits. Removing cores of soil reduces compaction resulting in healthier turfgrass root growth.
Combined with overseeding, fall is the best time to aerate a lawn. Choose a seed that is suited for your lawn, sun/shade, etc, and blends well with the existing cultivar. Kentucky bluegrass requires more sun, irrigation, and nitrogen than turf-type tall fescue. No grass type will survive dense shade; however, fine fescue does well in in areas with limited sun.
Turfgrass Weed Classifications
- Annual: complete life cycle in 1 year
- Perennial: live 3 or more years
- Grass-like (Sedges)
- Summer Annual
- Winter Annual
- Annual Grasses, such as Crabgrass
- Pre-emergent herbicide should be applied in early spring or late fall
- Broadleaf Weeds
- Post-emergent, selective herbicide (most effective in the fall for perennials)
- Perennial Grasses
- Non-selective herbicide, such as Roundup