Is your lawn looking more rough than normal?
Now is the time of
year for your lawn to begin producing seed heads. If you are seeing this in your lawn, don't think that something
is wrong. While it is producing the seed heads, the grass will have a more rough look. It almost looks like a
different type of grass. Don't panic! This seeding is a not a weed or off-type of grass. It is
the natural way that grass reproduces and it may last one or two weeks depending upon the weather.
After your lawn
has finished producing seed heads you may find that it looks a bit yellow and not very lush. If you examine the lawn
closely, you will see that the yellow is the straw left over from the seed heads. To clear this up and return the lush
look, you may mow your lawn at the normal height one day and then the next day drop the mower down one setting and mow the
lawn again. Afterward, return your lawn mower to its original height setting. This is a perfect time to fertilize
and get your summer watering schedule going. The grass will grow up and will leave you with a lush, green summer lawn!
IMPROVING A LAWN
Five Common Lawncare Mistakes
Unfortunately, knowledge isn't hereditary. We learn as we go, this is especially
true when it comes to lawn care. Every first-time homeowner has to go through the same basic steps to learn how to care
for their lawn. Should I set my lawn mower to a specific cutting height? How much water should I use? When
is the best time to fertilize my lawn? These are just a few of the numerous questions that arise.
The Lawn Institute
offers these suggestions so you can avoid a few of the basic mistakes people make when it comes to proper lawn care.
1. MOWING: An unsharpened lawnmower blade will actually rip or tear the grass rather than provide a clean even cut.
The ripping or tearing of the plant tissue can create a breeding ground for disease and other problems. Cutting your
lawn too short is another common mistake that can create an environment that encourages weed growth, increases heat stress
during dry or hot periods and makes your lawn more susceptible to insects and disease. Recommendation: Always keep your
lawnmower blades sharp. At the outset of each growing season, sharpen the blades or have your blades sharpened by a
professional. If you live in a warmer climate, where lawn care is a year-round activity, check your lawnmower blades
periodically to make sure they're sharp. Set your mower blade to a height that cuts no more than the top third of
the grass plant; this will encourage stronger roots. Cutting your lawn too short no only creates an environment for
both weeds and disease it causes the lawn to lose moisture much quicker.
2. WATERING: Water is essential to all
life... too little water and we die, too much and we drown. The same is true of the grass in our lawns. Water
makes up 70% to 80% of the weight of our lawn grasses and the clipping alone are nearly 90% water.* Recommendation:
use water wisely and practice water conservation. To establish itself, freshly seeded area or newly installed turfgrass
sod has very important watering needs. Proper watering immediately after installation will ensure the turf gets established,
and it will also have an impact on how well the lawn continues to flourish for years to come. Give your new sod lawn
*1 inch of water*. Water daily*, keeping turf moist until it is firmly rooted (about 2 weeks). Then less frequent
and deeper watering should begin. *McPheeters Turf, Inc. recommends that you continue to apply 1" of water, every
time you water, for the life of your lawn. This proves to meet the water needs of lawns in Central Oregon
with our climate and soil conditions.*
3. FERTILIZING: A few of the biggest mistakes made when it comes
to using fertilizers is not only using the right mixture, but using the right quantity and applying it at the right time of
the year. Often times when spring comes around people feel a need to fertilize their lawns in hopes of seeing a green
plush lawn as soon as possible. Too much fertilizer, especially with high levels of soluble nitrogen fertilizer, tends
to increase thatch problems and leaves lawns more prone to insect and disease. Or, worse yet, you will literally burn
your lawn. Recommendation: The goal of a good fertility program is to produce a reasonable amount of top growth, but
not at the expense of root growth or carbohydrate storage. A good root system is the key factor to a healthy lawn.*
(See Our Products page and Caring for Your Lawn page for McPheeters Turf's fertilizing information and recommendation.)
4. DETHATCHING: Thatch is that tightly packed layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that develop between
turfgrass and soil surface. As it is, dethatching takes a little time and effort and using the wrong dethatching equipment
can make it a Herculean effort when it needn't be. Some dethatching machines have flexible, leaf rake-type tines
that are ineffective in removing thatch. Spring tines that attach to a rotary mower blade aren't good for dethatching
and can damage your mower. It's important that you use the right equipment if you are going to dethatch. Don't
attempt to remove the entire thatch layer in one treatment and do not dethatch when soil is wet; only dethatch your lawn when
it is needed rather than on a routine basis. Recommendation: A little thatch is desirable, since it helps moderate temperature
extremes at the soil surface and provides a cushion effect on the surface but too much thatch can present some negative consequences.
To determine if your lawn has a thatch problem, remove a small, plug of turf several inches deep. Note the spongy layer
of material between the turf and the soil. If this layer is more than 3/4 to 1 inch thick when you compress it, you
should consider having your lawn dethatched*. If you need to dethatch your lawn there are garden centers and equipment
rental outlets that rent dethatchers. These machines are known as vertical mowers, verticutters, dethatchers or power
rakes and they have vertically spinning blades which pull some of the material to the surface as they slice the thatch layer.
Mechanical dethatching should be done in* springtime, before the lawn comes out of dormancy*. As is the rule when operating
any equipment, follow the manufacturers or rental store's operating procedures. The organic material dislodged
by the dethatching machine should be removed and composted. It's also important to note that grass clippings do
not cause thatch*.
5. AERATION: Aerating a lawn is usually recommended when the soil becomes compacted and water
and nutrients can't get to the roots of the plant. Lawn aeration equipment will pull "cores or plugs of soil
out of the ground, letting air in. These plugs should be 2-3" in depth. Such a plug should be pulled out
of the lawn at about every 3". The plug-removal process is facilitated by watering the lawn the day before, but
don't water to the point of muddying the soil. One of the most frequently made mistakes is the lack of sufficient
cores or plugs removed from the lawn. If the tines of the aerator are set more than three inches apart, and only one
pass is taken on the lawn, the effort may not have been sufficient to solve the problem. Two passes may be required
to ensure that air, water and nutrients can get down to the roots. Take care to mark all sprinkler heads so that they
can be avoided with the aerator. This will save on costly repairs to the irrigation system. Recommendation: Core
aeration, a process where plugs of soil and grass are removed at regular intervals, can be done either by renting equipment
or hiring a professional. A cool, dry fall day* (or in the springtime) is the perfect time for this beneficial chore.
Core aeration reduces compaction in heavy clay soils, permits a more rapid exchange of oxygen and water with grass roots and
reduces the thatch layer on lawns. The soil and grass plugs can remain on the lawn since they will gradually decompose
and return all their nutrients to the soil. Often times, two passes in the form of a criss-cross pattern are recommended
to make sure aeration is sufficient. Leave plugs on the lawn as they will eventually breakdown and return nutrients
to the soil. *
*Where the asterisks appear, McPheeters Turf, Inc. has adjusted, subtracted
or added comments to better coincide with our climate, zone, turfgrass types, and locally relevant experience.* To see
the article in complete and non-adjusted state see The Lawn Institute's website, and find the article "Five Common
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