The Secrets for Growing Green Grass
To those who aren’t in landscape maintenance, growing beautiful, healthy grass can seem like the dark arts.
But for those of us who work with property landscape maintenance every day, it’s more of a science.
Like a magician who gives away how her tricks are done, this article will give you the inside scoop on what it takes for your property to have beautiful, green grass.
The Absolute Basics
If you can do nothing but three things, make sure the following essentials are done. They are the foundation of a healthy lawn.
The first most important thing you can do is to give your lawn enough water.
The second most important component of a healthy lawn is a regular mowing schedule. Ideally, you want to keep most types of grass less than 4” tall. You will also need to make it part of your routine to switch up your mowing patterns. Grass that is cut in a varying pattern will be healthier and thrive more than more than grass that continues to bear the weight of the mower wheels in the same “route” on a weekly basis.
The third most important ingredient for green grass is proper fertilization. We will touch on some fertilizer specifics a little bit later in the article.
These three tasks (proper watering, mowing, and fertilization) are a good start, but it takes more than that to create a lawn that is the envy of your neighbors.
We find it helpful to have a year-round vision for your property. So, we will give you a breakdown of the proper times for specific activities that fit in this annual vision.
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The first thing you’ll want to think about in the spring is giving your lawn a chance to breathe.
This starts with dethatching. Thatch is a layer of dead grass that accumulates around the base of grass blades when your lawn produces organic waste faster than it can decompose. Dethatching machines will clean up and collect this debris so the grass can breathe again.
Dethatching is also important in either mitigating or at least reducing the effects of snow mold which, besides the allergic impact, can leave a lawn looking nearly destroyed by either pink or grey circles.
Aeration is next. An aerator perforates the soil with small holes to allow air, water, and nutrients to reach down to the roots.
Dethatching and aeration are a part of a good spring clean-up program designed to give your grass a head start in its prime growing season.
A couple more things to consider, depending on your property:
- Overseeding is the process of spreading a thin layer of soil with grass seed mixed in over an existing lawn. This can help make your lawn thick and lush, especially if you have patches that are sparse.
- For grassy areas next to parking lots that have gravel applied in the winter, you will want to coordinate using paddle brooms to push gravel out of the grass into the parking lot while it’s being swept. Failing to do this may leave pebbles to be scattered into windows or passers by when the lawns are being mowed. It is very important to do this when the grass is dry before it starts to grow. Read more about lot sweeping tips here.
Around May 15, you’ll want to start up the irrigation system to provide your turf with the proper amount of water. Check out this article for more on proper irrigation.
Note: Pay special attention to areas that may have received chemicals or salt from sidewalks or parking lots during the winter. These areas especially will need water to flush away (a process known as leaching) these chemicals that are harmful to plants.
At the same time you start up the irrigation system, you’ll want to apply fertilizer to give your grass the nutrients it needs to grow. The quality of fertilizer used will make a significant difference on the outcome of your lawn’s appearance. Using specific compost blends or even adding sea minerals can improve soil health and help the grass access the minerals already present in the soil.
You’ll also want to apply herbicide to keep the weeds at bay.
Note: Fertilizer needs proper watering to deliver it to where it needs to go—down into the soil instead of on top of the grass. When applying herbicide its important to shut off your irrigation system for 24-48 hours to allow the chemical to be absorbed by the weed and taken into the root system. Watering shortly after an herbicide application will only serve to wash it away into your local sewer system.
Some Finishing Touches
In the spring, we usually edge tree wells and flower beds. Edging creates crisp lines where the grass stops and the wells and beds start. But, it does more than that. This “air gap” creates a barrier that helps prevent grass and weeds from growing into the beds.
Weeds like to poke through cracks and gaps in hard surfaces like curb lines or sidewalks. Now is a perfect time to get rid of these.
During the summer months, the bulk of maintenance work is staying on top of the mowing.
- Don’t bag the clippings! The nutrients should be returned to the soil to keep the grass healthy and strong. Any excess clippings can be gathered up in the fall or cleaned up in the spring.
- Keep the mower blades sharp. This is an often neglected component of grass health. Dull blades tear the grass instead of cutting it crisply. Sharpening the blades takes only a few minutes, but it can make a world of difference. Our in-house mechanics and equipment staff make sure our mower blades are up to the task.
Late Summer, Early Fall
Managing the mowing is important in the dry times starting late July and extending to September. Sometimes full cuts are needed. Other times only high areas need to be dealt with (this is called high-spotting). Longer grass serves to shelter the ground keeping it cooler and protecting the moisture that is there from evaporation. Keeping the grass height even is the key. If things haven’t been growing much, save the grass by not running machines on the turf.
Staying on top of edging or weed trimming on hard surfaces is important as well.
For five months of the year, grass grows upward. In September and October, grass grows its root structure to prepare for the next season. Fall blend fertilizers which are high in phosphorus and potash supply nutrients to the roots during this key growth season.
After the leaves start to drop, you’ll likely only need two to three mows.
Fall clean-ups involve picking up leaves and thatch with a machine called a Turf Sweeper which uses large rubber fingers to gather loose material from the lawn.
Getting Ready for Snow
Irrigation lines need to be blown out (emptied of water) before the cold weather sets in. We recommend mid-September for this.
Consider seeding new soil areas or construction areas. New seed will sit under a blanket of snow and start to sprout early in the spring. Hydroseeding (spray applied grass) or drill seeding (injecting seed into the soil) are perfect applications for this.
When herbicide is applied in the fall, weeds will take the herbicide into dormancy with them and die over winter.
It Might Seem Like a Lot
If you haven’t thought much about what it takes to maintain a healthy lawn, this can seem like a lot. But, these tasks are all just a regular part of our landscape maintenance programs. We would be happy to take care of these for you, making your lawns green and spectacular. Contact us today.