Suddenly, your lawn’s richer. And so are you.

The first area will dry out long before the second area needs to be watered again.

 

3. Question:  When is the Best Time to Water?
Answer:  The best time for the irrigation system to water the yard is in the early morning before 9:00 am. Watering early in the morning prevents the water from staying on the turf longer than it should. When irrigating early the dew that normally forms on grass early in the morning washes off any airborne disease spores. As the suns rises the leaves or grass blades can dry quickly. Also early in the morning the air is usually calm and evaporation is low. One disadvantage to evening watering is that wet grass is more susceptible to diseases during cooler nighttime temperatures.



4. Question:  What about Fertilizing?
Answer:  Most yards would do fine if the grass only received one application of fertilizer per year. However, if you apply 2 to 4 fertilizer applications throughout the year the turf should experience lush growth. A quick walk through the garden center and you’ll discover a wide selection of brands and formulations. Before applying any fertilizer to your yard make sure you’ve read the label and selected the right formulation for the grass. Also follow the label and do not over fertilize or the grass may show spots of fertilizer burn. When feeding lawns always apply fertilizer during the growing season. Warm season grasses like Bermuda, St. Augustine and zoysia need applications in early spring or summer. Cool season grasses which include fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass need fertilizer applications in early spring and late fall.

If your are going for only one fertilizer application per year then fertilize in the spring with warm season grasses and in the fall for cool season grasses. When applying fertilizer make your applications when the turf is dry. After pushing the fertilizer spreader around the yard, turn on the irrigation. The sprinklers will help move the fertilizer nutrients into the soil and down to the root system. Plus it keeps the fertilizer from sitting on the grass blades which care burn the lawn.



5. Question:  What about Mowing?
Answer:  When grass is rapidly growing during the warm spring and summer months mowing the yard is an every week occurrence. How much of the grass blades should you cut when mowing? As a good grass cutting rule of thumb – don’t cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time.



Determining The Proper Mower Height Setting

To produce healthy quality turf proper mowing is essential. Remember, grass is a plant. When part of the leaf blade is removed – the leaf surface is reduced. The quantity of leaf surface combined with the sugar making process called photosynthesis helps determine how much food the root system will receive.
More leaf surface help produce a root system that is healthier. The more developed and extensive the root system in a yard, the better the roots more efficiently use the moisture in the soil. Mowing grass at the proper height increases the yards ability to combat weeds. Grass when mowed short is less dense and weakens the roots system. In contrast, a healthy, thick lawn helps prevent weeds from establishing themselves.
Mowing grass at the proper height in shady areas is very important due to the limited sunlight. The "turf management practice" of mowing grass too low and scalping areas with a weed eater is probably the ruin of more lawns then many of us care to believe.

Determining How Often To Mow The Lawn

The picture of a fresh cut thick carpet of grass can be a reality with regular, frequent cutting of the lawn at a constant height. When grass is cut root growth ceases temporarily. The grass has less leaf surface translating into less moisture needs for the grass. When the grass is cut it under goes stress. The more leaf surface removed the more stress the grass experiences. As we stated earlier never cut more than 1/3 of the turf’s leaf surface at any one mowing. Proper mowing goes beyond physically cutting the yard. It also includes cutting the yard with sharp balanced mower blades. When grass is cut with a sharp blade it cuts the grass tops cleanly instead or ripping the tops off. A clean cut "heals" much easier and the leaf loses less water.



Recycling Grass
Is mulching grass clipping is beneficial or harmful? The University of Florida reports that by allowing the grass clipping to drop onto the lawn instead of bagging the grass the yard does get some benefits. In fact, the UF claims that about 3% nitrogen is contained in the dry weight of grass clippings. Put another way. One hundred pounds of dry grass clippings hold an equal amount of Nitrogen as a 50-pound bag of 6-6-6.
Allowing the cut grass to return to the soil puts valuable nutrients back into the soil. Not only Nitrogen but also other essential elements like Phosphorus, Potassium, Manganese and Iron. Grass clippings quickly decompose. Some "mowers" bag their clipping since they believe the clippings contribute to the build up of thatch.
Fact is, grass clippings contain sugars which stimulate microbes that help with the decomposing of thatch. So keeping grass clippings on the lawn can actually offer benefits. Another benefit is environmental. There are estimates that we could save 10% of the space in our landfills if we did not bag the grass clippings when mowing our lawn. Plus there is also the time saving factor. Less time mowing – less time bagging.



6. Question:  What about Weeds?
Answer:  If your yard does not have many weeds the easiest way to control them is by pulling them by hand. The important part in hand weeding is to make sure the entire plant is removed. The plant, roots, runners and all.



Four Cultural or Environmental Conditions For Turf Decline

• Excessive Moisture
• Inadequate Moisture
• Insufficient Sunlight
• Mowing Turf too Low

For heavier weed infestations chemical applications may be required. A pre-emergence herbicide can help control weeds before they get a chance to sprout. Once weeds are established pre-emergence herbicides will not work. Depending on your location apply pre-emergence herbicides in the spring or fall to stop weed seeds from sprouting. For broadleaf weeds like clover and dandelions a post-emergence weed killer will be required. These can be applied as a spray or incorporated with a fertilizer as a weed-n-feed product.



Weed Control

Weeds are defined as a plant growing where it should not be. Most weeds fit the profile of a native plant. Weeds usually grow well and thrive in their native environment and growing conditions of your yard. The problem is… the conditions which allow weeds to thrive usually are conditions which are unfavorable for your turf grass. As the turf declines, weeds then have room to expand and put down a more established root systems. Crabgrass and dollar weeds do well in wet conditions. Bahia and St. Augustine grasses don’t do well in wet conditions. This makes for a great combination of grass and weeds. The grass becomes weak and the weeds are in a perfect environment to grow and take over then start their journey to begin choking out the weak turf. The best defense and first step in weed control starts not with chemicals but by growing thick healthy yard of grass by following good solid cultural practices.

Four Cultural or Environmental Conditions For Turf Decline • Excessive Moisture

• Inadequate Moisture
• Insufficient Sunlight
• Mowing Turf too Low

Excessive Moisture – With grass getting too much moisture, weeds as we stated earlier do well under wet conditions. These weeds include dollarweed, crabgrass, sedge and many others.

Inadequate Moisture – The flip side is grass not getting enough moisture to grow strong. Weeds that do well in dry conditions include Brazil pusley, Alexandergrass and spurge.

Mowing Turf too Low – The grass is cut too low becoming weak. Since there is less leaf surface to make sugars and the grass is thinned out by cutting the weeds again have a great place to get themselves established.

Mowing Turf too Low – The grass is cut too low becoming weak. Since there is less leaf surface to make sugars and the grass is thinned out by cutting the weeds again have a great place to get themselves established.

A quick look at the above 4 conditions and you can see the "fixes" for these environmental problems is not difficult to find. A visit to the irrigation timer can increase or reduce the amount of water put on the lawn during each scheduled irrigation session. Raising the mower blade to take off less leaf blades help with the low mowing issue and gives the grass an change to grow and fill out. It may even mean removing the grass and replacing the area with other plant material.

Trimming the trees will let sunlight penetrate the ground below. Improving drainage my go beyond adjusting irrigation timers and may require improving the drainage in the yard.

It is very important to look at the watering and mowing practices for your yard as both play a big part in lawn weed control.

Hiring lawn care services to provide professional care with fertilizer, pest and herbicide applications can greatly improve the health of your lawn. These applications can help control insect populations, keep weeds from taking over and provide yards with proper nutrition.

Fungus which can hit turf from time to time can be treated and the occasional bout of crabgrass can be brought under control.

Despite these professional services with all the equipment, personnel, chemicals and knowledge they bring to lawn care the homeowner must do their part.

What part does the homeowner play? Homeowners contribute their part by working to improve the environmental growing conditions. There may be no way to control when Mother Nature wants to share water from the heavens on the yard, but homeowners can do their part in making sure the grass is not over or under-watered.