Proper lawn care maintenance can elevate your yard from nice to beautiful, making it an extension of your home to be both enjoyed and admired. We’re not talking routine watering and mowing but rather taking a few extra steps that will deeply improve your lawn’s health year after year.
Lawn Care Maintenance: 6 Ways to Keep Your Lawn Healthy
1. Aerate So Grass Can Breathe
Most people trample their lawns without thinking much of it, especially with kids and pets running around. This constant use compacts the soil underneath, and it only becomes worse each time your mow your lawn.
Compacted soil prevents air from flowing freely between grass blades, into the soil, and around roots. It also prohibits nutrient absorption and proper water drainage. Last but not least, beneficial organisms like earthworms can’t survive in hard, compacted dirt. The solution is to aerate, which loosens soil and allows better air circulation. Your grass will also be able to absorb the water and nutrients it needs to grow thick, deep, and strong.
When to Aerate
You can choose one of several different options to aerate, including renting a large machine, wearing “spiked” sandals when you walk in your yard, or using a smaller handheld tool. The goal is to create holes that allow grass to successfully grow in stressful situations, including low rainfall and high heat. But you must be careful when you aerate; doing so at the wrong time can cause more harm than good.
For most northern lawns, aerating should be done in early spring or early fall. Southern lawns benefit from this activity in late spring or very early summer. Aerating at a time that coincides with active growth will allow your lawn to quickly recover and fill in spaces made by aerator equipment.
2. Time Your Fertilizer and Weed Control Applications
Scheduling is similarly crucial when applying fertilizers and weed control. The best time for the former is in early spring, when you have time to jump-start root development. A second application in the fall helps repair summer damage and enables root growth that continues even after top grass stops growing. This helps your grass survive the winter so that in spring, you see a semblance of a healthy lawn.
Light feedings between these heavier ones help maintain strong growth. And your best bet is to go with organic fertilizers that don’t form a crust on the soil and block air and sun. Organic materials also encourage water movement into dirt and, with regular, consistent feedings, add structure to the soil so grass roots stay in place. Beneficial microbes also like to feed on organic materials.
You want to apply weed control before these pests can develop root systems, go to seed, or reproduce. This means early spring and summer, but keep in mind that different control measures must be used on different weeds. Crabgrass, for instance, responds best to pre-emergent weed killers that destroy plants as they sprout. Dandelion killers, on the other hand, grow the plant to the point of death.
In addition, sometimes spraying a plant’s individual leaves is most effective, while others require that you spray patches. The point is that knowing the weed you’re treating, as well as the control method best-suited to that weed, can contribute to a thick and vibrant lawn.
3. Look for and Treat Grubs
You can tell you have a grub problem by turning a keen eye to your lawn. If you see patches of wilting or brown grass, and you haven’t experienced particularly hot and/or dry weather, the damage may be caused by grubs. Likewise, areas of your lawn that have been dug up can indicate wildlife – such as raccoons – feasting on underlying grubs.
Grubs can damage a lawn’s root system, allowing turf to be picked up like a carpet square. You can therefore check for these beetles by donning some grubs and lifting your grass. Any white “Cs” you see in the dirt indicate a problem, and more than five within a square foot requires a fairly immediate treatment plan. If you let grubs go uncontrolled, they can kill large patches of your lawn.
How They Are Eliminated
Treatment should focus on killing eggs before they can hatch and burrow for winter. Your target time should be late May to mid-July. In a perfect world, however, you would prevent rather than treat these beetles, and the best way to do that is with a thick, healthy lawn. Dense turf doesn’t make for a hospitable environment, meaning the steps you take in your routine lawn care maintenance should also naturally deter grubs.
4. Apply Lime to Acidic Grass
- Heavy rainfalls
- Dry spells
- Regular fertilization
- Increased numbers of soil microorganisms
Most grasses prefer a pH that ranges between 5.8 and 7.2 so they can absorb nutrients. When overly acidic, grass becomes discolored and/or shows an abundance of pesky weeds. For further indications that your lawn’s pH balance has strayed, look for moss and poor grass growth.
The Benefits of Lime
Lime, made from ground limestone rock, naturally contains compounds that increase a soil’s pH. But lime should not be mistaken as a substitute for fertilizer. Its primary roles are to offset acidity and improve grass growth, not deliver crucial nutrients. In short, it restores balance so your lawn can flourish.
The best times to apply lime are in the fall and spring; fall is especially ideal as the changing weather conditions – rain, snow, and bouts of freezing – help break down lime so it can go to work. Before this application, however, you must test your soil to know the exact pH level you’re dealing with; over-application of lime can kill your lawn. Continue testing the soil each year until the balance is restored.
5. Overseed to Fill and Enhance
While overseeding can establish new grass in bare spots and ignite healthy growth where turf is thin, you first need to identify what caused these problems in the first place. Whether that’s soil compaction, excess thatch, general neglect, or any other number of causes, correcting these issues first will prevent them from happening again.
6. Water Deeply
It may seem that watering for a few minutes at a time, several times a week, will deliver the hydration your lawn needs. But the better choice is to water less often and in greater quantity. In turn, grass roots will grow deeper into the soil so your lawn remains green throughout hot and dry weather. The ideal is to give your lawn 1 inch of water once a week.
Lawn care maintenance can be time-consuming, but the benefits it yields – like providing an inviting place for your family and serving as a source of pride – are well worth the additional steps. A professional service can help by eliminating the guesswork often involved with treatment. We’ll care for your yard so it looks fuller, greener, and healthier. Call Weed-A-Way Home Lawn Care in Mississauga, ON, today to get your free quote.