Lawn Care Basics
Lawn care is the best way to keep your home’s landscape attractive and healthy. The basics include mowing, fertilization, watering, and insect control.
A healthy lawn provides a personal benefit and benefits the environment. Soil with optimal pH levels, beneficial microbial activity, and healthy roots provide the perfect habitat for a lush lawn. Visit https://www.landscapersharrisburgpa.com/ to learn more.
Weeds and other unwanted plants compete with grasses for water, nutrients, and sunlight. The best way to prevent weeds from forming in your lawn is through weekly mowing, fertilization, and regular deep watering of the soil. When weeds do appear, there are several natural and chemical techniques that can control them.
Weed control begins with identifying the weed species. There are two main categories of weeds: broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds. Broadleaf weeds have wide leaves and include dandelions, clover and chickweed. Grassy weeds have narrow leaves and include crabgrass, foxtail and pennyroyal. Some broadleaf weeds, such as clover, are beneficial and fix nitrogen in the soil. In addition to preventing weeds, it is important to know how to identify and treat lawn diseases and pests.
The majority of weeds grow from seeds. When a weed grows, it sends out seeds and the number of seeds in the ground increases rapidly. Hundreds of millions of seeds per acre can be present in the soil, waiting to sprout. Weeds are difficult to kill once they begin to sprout, but the weed killers available can reduce their numbers significantly with proper use.
Most herbicides intended for use on lawns are selective and kill only weeds and not grasses, so it is important to read the labels and follow the instructions carefully. Using the wrong herbicide can destroy your lawn. Herbicides are most effective when applied to a freshly mowed lawn or when the weather is cool. Watering in the early morning can help the chemicals soak into the grass and work faster.
For a few stubborn, hardy weeds, hand pulling may be enough to control them. For larger, mature plants such as yellow nutsedge, a girdling technique may be needed. This involves cutting the bark several centimeters around the trunk of the plant, in order to cut the vascular cambium inside. This process can be done by hand, using a rotary hoe or light cultivation, and is far less labor-intensive than mowing and cutting.
For the most difficult, annual weeds such as crabgrass, pre-emergent herbicide treatments are recommended. These are products that are applied to the lawn in the spring to stop the germination of weed seeds. They are usually granular formulations on a fertilizer carrier and must be spread evenly over the turf, to be effective. They are also often combined with a grass-feed, to prevent damage to the desirable turf.
Grass is a heavy feeder that needs lots of nutrients to thrive. Most lawns benefit from a feeding schedule of twice per year, starting in spring and ending in mid-autumn. However, even the healthiest grass needs a good meal now and then, so beware of the cheap N-P-K fertilizers popular with most gardeners; they may give your lawn what it thinks it wants but won’t provide all the micronutrients it requires. Look for a complete, multi-nutrient fertilizer with the ingredients you need.
Before you apply any fertilizer, though, you’ll want to make sure that your yard is free of weeds, sticks and debris. A cluttered landscape will compete with grass for soil space and nutrients, suffocating it in its own growth. If you’re unsure how to get your yard in order, a professional lawn care company can help.
If you want to tackle the job yourself, start by taking a soil sample and getting lab results. A soil test will help you determine what your yard needs, and you’ll be able to correct problems with aeration or soil amendments that improve the texture of your dirt and raise the pH level for healthy grass.
The next step is to water your lawn regularly, but not too often. Too much water can drown the roots, preventing them from drawing up nutrients and leaving the grass vulnerable to insects and diseases. The proper frequency and duration of your watering will depend on factors such as soil type, grass species and weather conditions.
You’ll also want to water the soil, not just the grass, so that it can soak in the nutrients. This is especially important if you live in an area with hot, dry summers. A professional lawn care company can tell you how frequently to water your yard and how deeply to water it so that the grass gets the full benefit of its nutrients.
Watering is one of the most basic yet crucial lawn care techniques. A regular schedule of deep, infrequent watering encourages a deeper root system that is better able to withstand drought conditions. It also reduces weed growth and improves the color and vitality of your grass.
In general, watering should take place in the morning, between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. This is the best time because temperatures are lower and winds tend to be calmer. This allows the water to soak into the soil rather than blowing away before it has a chance to absorb any sun or heat.
If you don’t have a sprinkler or irrigation system, your lawn may need to be watered manually on a schedule set by your lawn service. A professional lawn service will understand that it is important to avoid over-watering or under-watering, and will adjust their schedule depending on current weather conditions and regulations.
For example, if it is exceptionally hot or dry, your yard will need to be watered more frequently than usual. This is especially true for newly planted sod. New sod requires consistently moist soil to grow strong and establish its roots. Ideally, the top 6-8 inches of soil should be moist, but not soggy.
Over-watering causes a number of problems for your lawn and garden, including shallow root systems that are less able to absorb nutrients, a browned appearance from lack of light and air movement and the development of diseases and fungus like lawn grubs and weeds. Another sign that your lawn is receiving too much water is the formation of puddles or streams of runoff on the lawn’s surface.
Aside from lawn care services, landscaping involves transforming outdoor spaces with the installation of hardscape features such as decks, walkways and patios, fences, fire pits, lighting and stone walls. Landscaping companies also provide plant services, transforming properties with privacy hedges, perennial gardens and trees and shrubs. Some of these landscape construction services require the use of chemical products, but organic alternatives are available. These are safer for your family, pets and the environment and promote healthy soil.
Many types of insects can damage grass. Fortunately, good cultural control techniques can often limit their damaging impact. Sound cultural practices include growing appropriate grass species for a given climate, avoiding excessive watering and improper fertilization, performing regular mowing at proper heights, and practicing routine thatch removal and soil amendments to balance nutrients. Fungicides can also prevent the spread of diseases that attract pests.
Practicing sound cultural controls will often prevent insect problems in the first place, but some lawns may require periodic insecticide treatments. A thorough inspection of the landscape will allow our professionals to identify problem areas.
Surface insect control can be done preemptively with a combination of fungicides and targeted spray applications of chemical insecticides. This can be effective against chinch bugs and mole crickets, which are both common turf pests in the Twin Cities. However, this type of control only aids in the elimination of pests that live above ground and does not affect the root structure of grubs, which must be treated with a different method.
Grubs are the primary pest that causes problems in grass. They feed on the roots of the plant and, if left unchecked, can cause serious turf damage and even kill the whole lawn. Typically, a grub infestation can be identified by digging up the lawn in late winter or summer to look for whitish, wrinkled, C-shaped grubs that are about 3/8 th of an inch long.
If a home’s yard is plagued by grubs, our professional technicians can recommend treatment options that will eradicate the problem and protect the lawn. These treatment options are safe for pets, kids, and other people who will use the yard, and are environmentally friendly.
To reduce the likelihood of a grub infestation, homeowners should avoid storing wood piles near their lawns, and avoid overwatering or applying excessive fertilizer. Additionally, removing debris, especially leaf and brush piles, will help reduce the pests’ food sources. Aerating the lawn can also reduce grubs because it loosens compacted soil and promotes better nutrients, water, and oxygen flow. If these methods are not sufficient to control pests, a more intensive application of chemical insecticides can be used.