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Below are some general tips for maintaining a healthy lawn.
This is the main activity in turfgrass care. In general, the more often it is done, the better the quality you can expect. Mow as often as feasible throughout the the growing time. This will “tighten the turf, cut down on thatch and preserve nutrients, decrease water and fertilizer needs, stop weeds from going to seed, decrease pest problems, virtually eliminate fungus and is the single BEST way to provide a better lawn.
Most often, cultivation on lawns is done by “aerifying”. Aerifying a lawn is the process of opening up the ground to allow water and air into it. This is usually done with spikes or a core removing aereator. This should be done about once per month in very heavily traffic ed areas. It can be done less often in lighter traffic areas. It is best not to aerify after October, and certainly no later than the end of November. If you do, you will be planting those weed seed that would have otherwise laid on the top of the ground and rotted.
If you want a green lawn all winter, in moderate climates, you can overseed with perennial ryegrass, or fescue. There are some drawbacks. The use of pre emergent chemicals, may cause the seed not to germinate at rates high enough to give a good “stand”. You should really do one or the other. Most “weed and feed” products, contain pre emergants. There may also be a need to chemically remove the winter grass to allow the summer grasses to have a long enough season to grow to their full potential.
If you choose to take this route, it is better to overseed when the proper conditions exist, and not at a pre appointed time. These conditions generally exist about two weeks before the first killing frost. Check ground temperature, and rate recommendations, for the seed you will be using.
About a pound of nitrogen, the first ingredient listed on the bag, per thousand square feet, three times per season is usually sufficient. Golf courses and athletic fields use more fertilizer, more often, but home lawns really don’t need that much. Do this before rain, or irrigate soon afterward. As with all lawncare products, check the container for rate recommendations.
To get rid of weeds and weedy grasses you may have to resort to the use of chemicals from time to time. This should be limited if all the steps listed above were done right. The best weed prevention on the market, is a good sharp lawn mower used often. If a lawn is mowed frequently, weeds do not have a chance to produce seed. In the case of perennial weeds, some chemical controls may be needed. Most of the “new” chemicals on the market, contain some of the older ones. It is important to treat for your target weed, and nothing else if possible. Get the product recommended for your need, follow the label directions carefully, and apply only when needed. Pre emergents can be very useful but be certain they are being used at the proper times. Insecticides and fungicides may occasionally be needed, but if the mowing part of the equation was done properly, insects and fungus will be a much smaller problem.
If you use irrigation, water only as much as needed to keep your lawn healthy. Automated systems are great for convenience, but even when coupled with tensometers, a human element is needed. You can easily tell if your lawn is under stress, and a short stroll will let you know if you need to back off of the artificial rain. Too much water, can be worse than too little, causing an environment where fungus, insects, weeds, and unnecessary growth are problems.