Who doesn’t like a nice lawn? Having a desirable lawn not only makes a house more enjoyable, it will also raise the property value. Unfortunately, the key to success is not just a few steps. Grass is sensitive and many factors may influence how the lawn will thrive. Put your best foot forward, live by these lawn care tips.
1. Have Your Soil Tested
Results of lawn care services could be night and day by just knowing what your soil needs. Earlier the soil is tested, the better you are off, but it is never too late to have the soil tested. Not everything works quickly. For instance, lime could take 6 months to fully raise the soil pH just from one application. Sometimes multiple applications are needed. If two applications are needed, then you could be looking at more than a year to correct the soil pH.
For all of us, having annual check-ups are important. Prior to doctors establishing a course of action, a blood test is often required. Grass is no different and in ways, soil could be compared to blood. Knowing what your soil needs and having the correct levels, is crucial in having a beautiful lawn, just like our health. Whether you are maintaining a nice lawn or establishing one, know what your soil needs!
Fertilizer is a waste of time and money if the soil is too acidic.This is why soil pH is most important factor to grass health. Nutrients are not available to grass if the pH range is not optimum. Weed controls won’t even work properly.
For grass, very slightly acidic soil is desired, a soil pH of 6 is best. Any pH lower than 6 will start to cause issues. A pH of 6.5 is still good, closer to 7 is when is starts to get too high. Since New Jersey is a region that receives significant rainfall, Jersey soil tends to be acidic.
Having soil tested by a lab would have the most accurate results. When sending soil to a lab to get tested, take a sample from the worst parts of the lawn. Poor growth areas should get special attention when addressing deficiencies in the soil. Multiple samples can be used, but just enough for a snack bag, about 2 cups of soil. Properly fill out the questionnaire with the soil sample, since recommendations will fluctuate based on the answers.
2. Know Your Enemy
Weeds are often seasonal and could point out certain issue with the lawn. Not only selecting the right herbicide is important in controlling weeds, but knowing why this particular weed is growing could help prevent future problems. Weeds often grow for a reason. Whether it is excessive water, lack of nutrients, or drought, weeds can tell you exactly what the problem is.
Knowledge and experience are often required. Knowing the possible problems that can arise from drainage, rainfall, insects, disease, among other issues is mandatory, depending on the property. Don’t worry, we are here to help!
3. Taller the Grass, Deeper the Roots
Don’t under estimate common practices. Mowing, the height the grass is cut, can influence grass dramatically come summer time. The more establish the grass roots are, the more durable the grass will be. Taller grass will promote deeper root growth, making grass stronger and taller grass will make it harder for the sun to cause heat stress.
4. Mulch Grass Clippings
Grass clippings will not increase thatch, instead it will add organic matter and nutrients to your soil.
5. When Watering, Make Sure the Spray Pattern is Effective
Inground sprinkler systems need to be properly maintained and adjusted annually. A slight imperfection will be noticed during drought conditions.
Make sure edges are getting extra attention with water. Waste about a foot of water on driveways and walkways. A light watering, which is typical of the furthest point on a sprinkler spray, would not be adequate water for grass along edges. Asphalt, pavers, and concrete all give off additional heat from the sun, especially asphalt. The extra attention with water to grass edges is extremely important if the lawn is less than 2 years old. The root structure takes time to get fully established, effecting durability.
When making sure that a foot of water is being wasted on the hardscape (a good way to see if the sprinkler is spraying evenly) look at what is wet on the pavement, especially when the water first comes on. If the pattern isn’t even, it is a sign that an adjustment is needed. Water pressure may also be a factor.
6. Too Much Water Can Do More Harm Than Good for Grass
Knowing the soil type and establishing a proper watering schedule is very important. Someone in Toms River, NJ would not have the same watering schedule as someone in Edison, NJ. In New Jersey, the most common soil types are clay or sandy. There is a big difference on how you want to water between these two soil types.
Water flow is not good for grass. The slope of the property and downspouts may cause issues. The constant water flow when it rains will thin out the grass where the path of the water is, making more room for weeds to grow. Weed seeds travel miles through the air, landing on roofs and coming out the downspout when it rains. This added moisture also encourages weeds, as well as disease.
7. Water in the Morning
In the morning, watering prior to 8am is the best time of the day to water. With high humidity, extended periods of moisture could be a perfect recipe for disease. Not only the rain, but the dew overnight will add to this moisture and by extending the duration the lawn is wet will increase the chance for disease (fungus).
Watering the lawn in the afternoon will lead to a waste of water and money. The grass will have less time to drink from the mid-day heat since the water will be evaporating at a faster rate.
At night, water at this time will also increase the amount of time the lawn has an abundance of moisture, leading to disease.
8. Establish a Good Lawn Care Program
Knowing the nutrients grass requires, what should be applied and when a certain fertilizer is needed is crucial in maintaining a lawn. Too much nitrogen could be detrimental, even in cold weather. More importantly, be aware of the restrictions that are put in place by the State of New Jersey, whether organic fertilizer is being used or not. It is not just knowing how certain nutrients influence the lawn, the environment is just as important.
9. Core Aerate Every Other Year or as Needed
Core lawn aeration does wonders for grass seed, while benefiting your existing lawn. August thru October are excellent months for this service.
10. Use Tall Fescue Grass Seed
Tall Fescue is the most durable grass type in New Jersey that will stay fairly green throughout the winter. Appearance of tall fescue has improved dramatically in recent years, there really shouldn’t be much other reason to use anything else. This factor alone could save headaches that may be experienced in the summer time. Tall fescue can handle shade and also thrive in the sun! Tall fescue is not susceptible to many diseases and the deep roots that tall fescue will grow helps to make this grass type tough against drought conditions. Tall fescue would be the only cool-season grass to be able to withstand the heat during the summer on curb lines, the areas of grass between the sidewalk and street.
Many things to consider here, but all just as important as the next. Grass can be a lot to take in. If you are not up to the task, we are here!
Our Lawn Care Program is modified off of lab results from Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory. Dirt & Turf services Union, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties.