Lawn Care Tips
One of the most common mistakes a homeowner can make is mowing the lawn too short. You should always mow high and mow often! The optimum height to cut grass is at 3 inches. Be sure to mow often enough as not to cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade during any one mowing. In the hotter summer months, we recommend maintaining your lawn at 3.5 to 4 inches. You'll also want to be sure to maintain sharp mower blades. We recommend sharpening your blades every 3 to 6 mowings. A dull blade will tear the grass instead of cutting it. A lawn that has been cut with a dull blade will appear yellow in color from a distance.
We highly recommend grass cycling instead of bagging your grass clippings. Leaving the clippings on your lawn will benefit the lawn by releasing valuable nutrients into the soil that will feed your turf. Studies show that by leaving the clippings you will be helping the environment. Grass cycling will not cause thatch build-up.
Watering – When, How Much, How Often?
When: Watering should be done in the early hours between 5:00 am and 10:00am. Watering in the evenings will greatly increase the chances of a diseased lawn, especially during periods of high humidity.
How Much: When watering, be sure to completely moisten the soil 4 to 8 inches in depth. This will help to ensure a healthy root system.
How Often: Watering should occur two to three times a week, depending on the weather.
Common Grass Diseases
We at Blades of Green thought we would put this page together to help our customers better identify what they see in their yard and also just for there information if they are interested.
St. Augustine grass and bent grasses are often attacked by Brown patch. The leaves first turn purplish-green, wilt and then turn light brown. Rot can set in and lawn will show irregular brown spots from and inch to several feet will show up usually in warm, humid conditions. Feed with slow release ureaform nitrogen. Nitrogen will cause too fast of growth, weakening it and making it more susceptible to disease. Water only in the mornings
and catch and remove all grass clippings.
These fungi prevents roots from taking in water, oxygen, and nutrients. Mushrooms appear in bands or circles and can be from 3-50' in diameter. Grass often appears greener in affected areas. Strip off dead turf, replace infested soil before resodding. Sod will be tight and hard. Use a root feeder to soak nearby grass roots, starting about 2 feet away and working towards infested area. Soak several times.
Attacks sunny lawns with grasses of Kentucky bluegrass, Red fescue and bent grasses. Small brown rings appear in early summer surrounding green growth. Soak lawn deeply, avoiding frequent light soakings. Dethatch and apply lime to avoid acidic soil.
Red thread, pink, patch and corticium
Bluegrass , fescues, bent grass and ryegrass will appear stuck together with red threadlike growths. Cool and moist weather increases development. Apply high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Rust affects Bluegrass, ryegrass, Bermuda grass, zoysia and St. Augustine grass. Orange or red-brown blisters appear, causing grass to wither and die. The blisters burst and the spores infect healthy grass. Mow the lawn as soon as it grows 1/2 inch, catch and remove clippings.
Smut or Stripe smut
Bluegrass and bent grass most affected by this fungus in cool spring and fall weather. Leaves develop black or gray stripes that rupture and discharge black spores infecting healthy grass. Diseased grass is stunted and turns yellow-green. Leaves will curl and shred before dying. Seed lawn with a blend of bluegrass seed as one of them will be resistant to smut.
Warm, humid days and cool nights favor mildew in bluegrass and fescues. The grass shows a gray-white, white, or brown mold on the leaf blades, often in shady areas with low air circulation and poor draining soil. Avoid over watering during hot humid weather. Improve air circulation and increase sunlight.
A healthy lawn is your best defense against weeds. As grass strengthens and thickens, it actually helps prevent crabgrass, dandelions and other weeds from growing by blocking out the sunlight and using up the moisture that weeds need in order to germinate.
The way to a healthy lawn is through its soil. The ideal soil for gardening contains a mixture of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. Also, the pH value, which indicates the acid or alkaline level, should be neutral, or around 7.0. You can test your soil with a pH kit available at garden centers.
A healthy lawn can take some time to develop. Until your lawn has reached this point, you can still fight weeds naturally by mowing your lawn no shorter than three to four inches and by removing any weeds you notice to prevent further damage.
"Burning" Your Lawn
Too little water and too much salt will cause your lawn to turn brown and, in severe cases, can kill the roots. Chemically-derived synthetic fertilizers can burn lawns if over-applied because they contain a high amount of salts. Applying more synthetic fertilizer than the label suggests can actually damage plants. Follow the directions on the package to avoid problems.
"Synthetic, water soluble fertilizers tend to release nitrogen faster than organics, so the result is visibly green grass sooner," says Stier. "However, forcing a burst of nitrogen is stressful to your lawn."
A plant's growth should determine its use of nutrients, not the other way around. Look for a "slow-release" or "water-insoluble" fertilizer that releases nitrogen at rates needed by the plant. Generally speaking, the higher the amount of slow release or water-insoluble nitrogen a fertilizer contains, the closer its rate of release to the rate the plant can use it.
Damaged Shrubs or Gardens
When fertilizing their lawns, homeowners often tend to spread the product too close to their shrubs and gardens. Many fertilizers high in nitrogen are not recommended for these plants. Shrubs and vegetables typically require even less nitrogen than your lawn.
General Lawn Care Tips
Here are a few general lawn care tips to keep in mind this spring.
- Do not mow your lawn when it's wet.
- Keep your lawn mower's blade sharp to cause the least amount of damage to the grass.
- Set mower to correct cutting height (3 to 4 inches).
- Mow often enough so you never remove more than one-third of the lawn height each time.
- Do not allow clippings to "bunch," suffocating the grass underneath.
If you didn't get the lush green lawn you wanted last year, don't give up. Every spring gives you have another chance to make your yard the envy of the neighborhood.