Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lawn Maintenance Tips

Lawn Maintenance Tips

These easy maintenance tips will provide you with a beautiful lawn without the back breaking work! You will never have to rake your lawn again.

The mistake most people make when it comes to lawn care is that they mow their grass too often and too short. For optimum grass health try to maintain a longer length. Grass that is maintained at a length of 3 to 3-1/2 inches will retain its moisture and color. Because it can retain its moisture the lawn won't require as much watering during peak summer months.

When cutting your grass, always make sure your lawn mower blade is sharp. A dull blade will rip the grass out by its roots. A dull blade can also tear the individual leaves of grass and cause it to disease and die. If your grass is turning brown after you've mowed it, chances are you have a dull blade. The lawn mower blade can be removed easily with a ratchet, and any hardware store will sharpen it for you for less than $10.

When mowing the grass, never cut off more than ¾ of an inch at a time. This will leave you with shorter clippings. It is better to leave what clippings there are on the lawn, do not rake them up. The clippings will break down quickly and feed your lawn.

Mulch your clippings, without having to purchase a special mulching lawn mower. Simply keep your lawn mower aimed in the same direction for the entire duration of cutting the grass. The lawn mower will cut the clippings from the last row mowed when you continue a frontward then backward pattern without actually turning the mower around. This method of lawn mowing will automatically mulch your clippings. When you are done mowing it will appear that someone magically raked up the clippings for you.

Try to vary the direction you mow each time. For example this week mow in north and south rows. Then next week mow in east and west rows.

The last step to having a great lawn is fertilization. The easiest and most inexpensive way to fertilize is to use a lawn spreader. There are several different models on the market today. If your lawn is fairly large, half an acre or more, then using a broadcast spreader is best. For lawns smaller than half an acre, a drop spreader is recommended.

Each lawn spreader comes with its own set of manufacturer's directions. It is best to follow the directions that come with whatever model spreader you choose that suits your lawn's needs. Note: it is extremely important that your lawn spreader has the correct setting on it for whatever mix you are using. Too much fertilizer can kill or burn your grass. Follow all directions carefully!

In spring its best to use a mix in your spreader called weed and feed. This mix will nourish your grass and prevent weeds from growing before they start. In summer you can fertilize again with a mix that feeds the grass, kills the weeds and 'greens' up the grass. If you have a problem with pests, such as mosquitoes or fleas, there are mixes with added pesticides that work very well and will not hurt your pets or children if used as directed.

The next best time to feed your lawn is in the fall. There is a winter feed mix that you add to your spreader that will give your grass some nourishment until spring arrives.

Many people opt to have their lawn treated professionally, however using a spreader and doing it yourself is not only easy but will save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

Following these easy tips will improve your lawn, save you time and your back too!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Easy Tips For A Well Maintained Lawn

Easy Tips For A Well Maintained Lawn

tips to maintain a beautiful home lawn inexpensively, including how to cut, water and fertilize.
There are essentially only four things you need to do to maintain a beautiful home lawn. Thay are cutting, weeding, fertilizing and watering.

Cutting
A home lawn should be cut whenever it is long. For the average lawn that means once a week, less frequently at the beginning and end of the season, and perhaps more frequently if you excel at the other tips in this article. Cut no more than one third of the blade of grass off at one time. It really doesn't matter the type of lawn mower you use. My personal favorite is a recycling mower that chops up the cuttings into very tiny pieces so that they fall to the base of the lawn and decompose faster into fertilizer. The use of a recycling mower just saves a little time on step three ahead. If you use a gas powered mower NEVER refuel over the lawn. If you spill any on the grass you will kill the grass in that area. Never cut the grass immediatly after a rain, or very early in the morning when the grass is wet or damp. It is much more likely that you will tear the grass.

Weeding
There are several effective ways to weed, but the best way comes with time. A healthy thick lawn will choke out the weeds, and prevent them from finding space to take root in your lawn. If you do have weeds, there are several ways to eliminate them. First, you can simply dig them out one by one. While it is certainly the cheapest and most environmentally friendly, it is also the most tedious. Second, you can use an herbicide that is in powder form and broadcast with a spreader over the entire lawn. Third, you can use an oversprayer (available for modest cost at most hardware and garden centers) which is also spread over the entire lawn. If you choose either of the last two remember to keep children and dogs off the lawn for at least several days after the application. If children or dogs are a concern, and you don't want to remove each weed by hand, you might try a spot spraying herbicide which is safe for lawns. In that case you just spray each weed as you see it. Keep the bottle hooked on your lawnmower and you can spray the weeds as they are encountered when you mow.

Fertilizer
Again several choices here. You can buy a commercial dry mix and use a broadcast spreader. A liquid can also be applied with an oversprayer. If you are recycling your lawn, (see above) then you won't need to fertilize as often. The super cheap method is to buy a generic brand of unscented amonia. Amonia is essentially nitrogen, the most important ingredient in commercial fertilizers.

Water
Grass, like most plant life, is 90% water. Simply put, if nature has not provided water often, You need to give the grass a drink. Use a sprinkler, stand there with a hose, invite the neighborhood kids over for a water ballon fight, it doesn't matter just get it wet.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Do It Yourself Lawn Care

Do It Yourself Lawn Care

Do it yourself lawn care: the proper way to grow and maintain a velvet-like inviting lawn
WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR LAWN?

Just like we need nutrition to nourish our mental and physical growth, plants need nutritional supplements too. Otherwise they function abnormally and perish. In a similar fashion, your lawn needs attention to grow thick, healthy and velvetty grass, seasonal flowering plants and make things unfavourable for the harmful weeds that can act as hosts to various diseases, fungal or not. Detrimental effects caused by negligence may lead to unhealthy conditions affecting the overall appearance of the lawn. Inadequate water, sunlight and nutrients will lead to a horrible looking lawn choked by weeds, dry grass and empty patches.


STEPS TO IMPROVE LAWN CONDITION

If you are seriously interested in giving your lawn the damn good look then go forward and read the rest of the page.

Getting started:

Before indulging yourself in this task, you should make a plan and prepare yourself. Stroll around the lawn and observe keenly the appearance. Some areas may seem dry, with yellow grasses, while there may be patches with no grass at all. The grass just around the house may be full of weeds while the shaded areas may be damp and mossy. This is just because of the non-uniform distribution of all the essential elements, sunlight, water and nutrients and lack of proper care and maintenance that have led to a revolution to damage your lawn.

The dull, somber, deserted look in winter makes us all anxious for spring and reminds us of a luscious, green lawn. At the onset of spring when all the snow has melted away, take a plastic bag and collect all the fallen things in your lawn such as leaves, twigs, cones, sticks etc. Rake the soil to break up mud clods, loosen and aerate the soil containing the grass roots. Knowing the type of grass is very important as you should dig your land accordingly to oxygenate the roots. With the help of a sharp blade, trim the grass tops evenly. Make sure that they are not torn down in the process. If you need to cut tall grown grasses, then it is recommended that you mow them in 2-3 passes.

THE DETAILS:

How To Mow
During the very early times, Darwin has put forward the nature's unbeatable law "Survival of the Fittest". The weeds and the tender grasses fight for their survival in your lawn and whom do you want to win? The grass of course. So act accordingly.

The lazy people mow their land too low to avoid another mow. But experience and research say that mowing should be done at appropriate times to avoid choking of the lawn by weeds giving it the most pitiful look. The weeds and the grasses fight for sunlight with the help of which they photosynthesise to produce glucose that they intake as food for their growth. Without sunlight they fail to photosynthesise resulting in weakening and ultimately, death. So sun is their main source of energy, their strength, their life. If one outgrows the shades other, it might block the essential light from reaching it's enemy thus weakening and destroying it. Mowing of the grasses should thus be done just to trim their heads so that they remain tall for their enemies (the dandelions, mostly). Also, tall grasses are more healthy and supportive of their body, I mean, short grasses have less chlorophyll containing cells (green cells) thus producing less food which leads to drawing of food from all body parts weakening the blades in the process. Weak blades become susceptible to various kinds of fungal infestations and develop black or brown patches , presenting an allover dull look. Tall grasses, on the other hand, utilizes their extra stored food to develop rhizomes which develop into more turf under favourable conditions.

Frequent mowing also helps to decapitate the weeds whose sensitive growing point lies near the top. Thus their growth is severly hampered. The fallen clippings serve as humus for the rest of the grass. So do not throw them away. Secure them in a pile or let them decay in the lawn in a natural process enriching the soil texture by adding organic nutrients.

How to Water
All plants need an optimum level of water to survive, to maintain their health and vibrancy. For this, a steady use of water, effectively and efficiently, is needed to ensure proper plant growth. Plants lose water by evapotranspiration. Without enough water, plant cells lose turgor pressure and wilt. But too much water can also have similar effects on the plant by choking it's roots and cutting down air supply by blocking the pores. So water your lawn at the right time with a dependable water source. Depriving most landscape plants of water at critical times during their growth cycle can leave a plant susceptible to disease and damage all year long. Watering too much wastes a valuable resource and creates other problems such as stunted growth, nutrient runoff and erosion.

If your lawn has newly planted woody plants, the first two growing seasons after they have been planted are the most vital periods since it the stage of development of roots. Well developed roots can themselves absorb and maintain plant growth.

It is recommended that you water your lawn infrequently. This forces the grass roots to grow deeper into the soil than the weed roots from where they draw water. Repeated and frequent watering leads to the development of grass runners above the soil rather than rhizomes underground. These runners form a compact wire mesh like structure above the soil thus cutting water and air supply to the roots below. The grass propagated through these runners but under unfavourable conditions when there is an intense heat, the soil dries up quickly leaving very less or no water for the above ground runners leading to the yellowing of the grass blades. On the other hand, daily watering is just what is cherished by the notorious weeds.

So be careful and determine by yourself when to water. The best indication is that the grass starts curling due to water shortage or shows any sign of drought stress. Or, you can dig about 6 inches into the soil to get any hint of moisture. If dry, then it's time you watered your lawn.

   # Soil condition

Different soils have different water holding capacity and porosity. It is very important to know your soil type and check soil moisture absorption and retention rates. Sandy soil is very porous and has very low water holding capacity while heavy soil absorbs slowly and holds water for a long period. Clayey soils also retain water for long periods. Light soils absorb water faster but dry out quicker. Loamy soils are said to be the best as they are the balanced mixture of clay, silt and sand with organic matter and 50% open pore space that can be filled with air and water. The plan of irrigation should be made according to the different soil conditions. Remember, the grass roots are down deep and most weed roots are near the surface. The idea is to keep the top three inches of soil as dry as you can for as long as you can. Frequent watering only becomes advantageous for the weed roots and they would love it more than anything.

Apply water slowly and steadily ensuring that it reaches deep down to the roots helping in extensive root growth and does not run off. If the ground is too dry, sprinkle a little water and wait till it is fully absorbed. Water again on the moist ground. You will be amazed to see that if you water a stone hard ground, the water runs off fast and only a little is absorbed. Moistened soil has a better absorption capacity than a bone dry soil. Physics says that water molecules has a strong cohesive property and they tend to stay together than fall apart.

   # Roots
A knowledge about the root structure and depth of it's branches helps determine when, how much and where to water. Shallow-rooted plants need more frequent watering than deep-rooted plants. The deep water are available to the latter plants while that water on the surface dries up soon. Once water works its way below a plant's rooting zone the water is not available to the plant any longer.

Fertilizer application
In a similar fashion as we intake food and nutrients, plants feed on nutrients too for their proper growth, development and maintenance. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) , together known as NPK, are the 3 essential elements absolutely necessary for a plant growth.

Sprinkle a little lawn fertilizer early in spring and then again during the beginning of fall. If your lawn is in serious need of fertilizer, apply the fertilizer every three weeks during the spring otherwise twice a year would be sufficient. Cool season grasses are semi-dormant in the summer. Fertilizing in the summer feeds the weeds, not the grass.

Increased organic matter also helps hold water in the soil so that roots can access it.

   # pH
It is a recomendation for the expert to have the pH of the soil professionally tested. Add lime if it is below 6.0 and gardener's sulfur if it is above 7.0. Dandelions love a pH of about 7.5. Grass loves a pH of about 6.5. So if your pH is 7.5 or higher, your grass will probably never beat out the dandelion. Lower the pH to 6.5 and your grass has the advantage.

   # Mulching
Mulching is an easy way to add organic matter to the soil. It is especially practical for established shrub and tree beds. This is the easiest way to condition and enrich your soil when you spread the mulching material on top of the soil and let weather and soil organisms such as earthworms till the material into the soil. Mulch, being high in nutrients, reduces weed growth, increases water infiltration rates, helps moderate the climate immediately around the plant, and retains soil moisture improving the local soil environment and keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter. Mulch remains on soil surface and protects the soil and underground plant roots organs from erosion, heat, and evaporation.

Avoid Weeds
The weeds love to make their nests in the lawns and compete for sunlight, water and nutrients with the other desired sensitive plants for their survival and threaten their well-being. They act as hosts to diseases and fungal spores that affect the lawn vegetation disastrously and are extremely hardy and can propagate profusely. Their profuse pollen grains produce numerous air and animal borne seeds which are easily dispersed thus facilitating their successful reproduction. Insects are repulsed by their defensive mechanisms and they go on propagating merrily through innumerable seeds and undergroung rhizomes. Some of them are even immune to the various chemicals formulated to iradicate them.

The two of these notorious impossible-to-get-rid-if weeds are Bindweed and Canadian thistle that allow to extend their elaborate root systems deep down under the soil and intermingle with the rhizomes of our so favourite grass.

Proper maintenance of the grass by watering at the desired time and periodic mowing are the two very uncomfortable situations for them. Dig and cut them out to weaken and kill them to the root at the very first sight.

Another enemy of the grass is the Dandelion growing mostly in alkaline soil. They might be pretty but their average life span is about 5 years during which they fight for their supremacy with the tender grass.

Black medic and Clover thrives best in low nitrogen soil. They have desirable looks and also provide nitrogen to the soil but as long as they do not put up a strong fight, their presence in the lawn is not unacceptable.

Knapweed tries to poison plants around it with niacin. A little water washes the niacin away and the plants around it can have a fighting chance. Mow a little more frequently in late june and early july to wipe out knapweed.

To minimize bursting of weeds in your landscape, eliminate the conditions that give them a competitive edge while planning, planting, and maintaining your landscape. Try to eliminate weeds from adjacents lots, nearby vegetable gardens or around the fencing. This will prevent weeds from creeping up in your land and gain foothold. The more you fill up your space with desired plants the better leaving less space for the weeds. Occasional spraying of glyphosphate containing herbicides somewhat helps controlling their outbreak. Covering the soil after planting immediately with 3-4 inches of mulch also helps keep the weeds at bay. Look out for weed seeds during planting or rotating the soil and remove them at the first sight.

Enhance your Lawn
Additions like flowering herbs, shrubs and trees to the lawn enhances it's beauty to a great extent as does a bouquet to a room. Vines twining around tall trees, small flower beds around the house and hegdes placed equidistant from each other lining the fence are some of the tips for your lawn enhancement. These are easy to take care of, need regular food and occasional shielding from the harmful elements. An annual or biennial pruning and disease and pest control along with weeds checking are their secondary requirements and you won't regret the toil you put up for them once they bloom up vibrant and luxuriant in their full colors with the green foliage, flowers and fruits.

Woody, Coniferous and Deciduous plants

The woody plants grow up to give you life long shade and cool breeze rich in fresh oxygen. They are the easiest to maintain and propagate. Pruning helps to remove apical buds and paves the way for the appearance of the axillary buds. These buds grow up to become a branch. Thus pruning leads to a fast growth and development of a dense foliage with a lot of buds with a healthy look. But inefficient hands may cut down essential parts leading to sick, malformed branches. So it is recommended that pruning be done with the help of a manual or guide.

Extensive studies in the field of genetics have led to various sized conifers with their different branching patterns and variously shaped male and female cones. They have been geneticised to adapt and thrive in different landscapes and thus need very little care and pruning if correctly chosen from their varied species and genera to adorn your lawn. Their conical shape can be transformed to round or bushy or "Christmas tree" forms in expert hands by pruning.

In case of deciduous trees, you need to take a little more care. Pruning time varies according to the various plants and some plants may need more than one pruning in a season. Remove damaged or broken, old or diseased undesirable plant parts like branches, fruits or flowers and then trim. Apply fertilizers, fungicides, water and mulch around the plant after the shaping.

The hedges have a pattern that need a different type of cutting. A broad base and a converging top is recommended to allow sunlight to be evenly distributed to all the branches and leaves. Otherwise these hedges tend to become the home of abundant growth of fungi and flourishing bacteria.

Remove the Pests
You are your lawn's physician.
The various inhabitants of your lawn include bugs, crickets, flies, butterflies, scales, grasshoppers, crickets, larvae of various insects, namatodes, worms, mites and ants. They feed on the grass blades and roots, draw the sap, eat the chlorophyll cells and discolor and weaken the grasses. Sometimes they lay eggs on the underside of the blades. The larvae hatching from the eggs are light and easily dispersed from one place to another posing a threat to the lawn health. The turf suffers from wilting, water scarcity, root drying and the grass loses it's color. Certain adults are harmless while their larvae or grubs bore their way through the roots and can eat up the whole lawn if not taken care of early. Other may be harmful at both the stages. While some are shade-loving other may be sun-loving. Some are almost even invisible to the naked eye. Under these conditions, pesticide application will be the best provided you identify the affected portion correctly, apply it in correct doses with the correct applicator according to the directions in the product's manual and secure away any pet or children from the area until the chemical has dried up properly after spray. Young grubs are easier to kill and it is recommended that you start spraying at the slighest hint.

Keep yourself posted with the knowledge of the various insects infesting your lawn and their signs of presence and control measures. Different insects have different ways of control and one may not be applicable for the other. While some are harmful at the young stage and and harmless when adult, other help eat away other bugs and worms thus saving you some labour. One example is that the cricket eats away various bugs and earthworms. Then again it is a voracious eater of the grass blades, roots and runners. So an up-to-date knowledge regarding their behaviour, food habit and life cycle will help you control their spread in your lawn more efficiently.

The other frustrating life forms that we are forgetting are the moles, rodents, gophers, rabbits, snails, slugs, deer, dogs and crayfish. Some of these are underground creatures burrowing holes deep down in the lawns making their homes building clumps of mud aboveground in the process. Traps, poison baits, repellants might be used to get rid of them. Some of these feed on the insects in the lawn. Killing them might kill the larger creatures when they fail to survive in absence of food. Liquid or pellet baits are highly effective in case of snails and slugs once you find out their hiding places under the dead, dried leaves. Fencing may keep out dogs and deer from your area.

Care for the Soil

Soil is the source of minerals and organic matter along with air and water for the plants. Plants draw nutrients from the soil. Soil is the home of the roots. So proper maintenance of the soil is needed to reduce fertilizer and pesticides applications, which can be detrimental sometimes, and enhance root growth and development. So soil needs replenishment on a regular basis with sufficient air, water, fertilizer, pH balance and organic matter. Test your soil, determine the soil type to understand it's aeration and water holding capacity, fortify it with sufficient amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, iron and potassium, correct the pH by increasing or decreasing according to need you will have a luscious, green, velvetty, spongy and inviting lawn. Gypsum is said to improve soil as well as plant conditions.

Healthy soil ensures a healthy lawn and can better resist insect attack and weed infestation.


Keep the Lawn Clean
Last but not the least, keep your lawn devoid of wastes. Leave the grass clippings and plant trimmings on the soil to act as a natural source of nutrients to the plants. Other than that, remove dead plant parts, dead and decaying animal remains, dog's droppings etc to maintain a clean, healthy lawn.

HAPPY LAWNING!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How To Repair A Lawn With Bare Spots

How To Repair A Lawn With Bare Spots

Bare spots are found in every lawn. There are simple ways to repair them.
Bare spots in lawns happen for simple reasons, but bare spots once you locate the reason, can be repaired quickly.

Bare spots should repaired to prevent more damage. Bare spots start out in usually a small area, but with continued traffic, will increase the size and add more to repair. Bare spots in grass can be caused from pets, children playing or from heavy foot traffic. In some cases insects may be the culprit. Insects can cause thinning or dying grass.

The method of repair depends on the cause. If insects are the problem you will need to spray the area with an insecticide before trying to grow new grass. High traffic areas, may present an ongoing problem. You may consider placing stepping stones to walk on, or a gravel pathway, or a barrier.

When you decide to repair, early spring is the best time. The lawn will just be starting to grow, which will allow the new grass to blend into the existing grass.

How to repair Large bare spots:

You will need:
  • Sod
  • compost
  • shovel
  • rake
  • roller

1. Dig up the area and remove a one inch layer of soil. Incorporate a thin layer of compost, and gently rake out the surface.

2. Use a roller to firm down the surface of the spot, the area will be one inch lower than the surrounding area.

3. Lay the strips of sod to fit the area, trim any access .

4. When the sod is fitted , make sure the edges are entwined with current lawn. Then water heavily so the sod and grass are soaked.

How to repair small bare spots:

Dig up the area , mix grass seeds with soil completely, then water the area completely. Cover with straw or pete moss to prevent seeds from blowing away.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lawn Care Advice

Lawn Care Advice

With this lawn care advice you can have that perfect lawn without laboring as much as your neighbors. Make them green with envy as you enjoy plush grass the easy way.

The real keys to maintaining a nice lawn are making sure it's well fed, watering correctly and keeping the weeds out. If you fertilize regularly and keep an eye out for disease, dryness or other problems, you can do it without working on it every day. A few laps with the spreader, weed sprayer and some irrigation are all it takes.

As far as fertilization, the more you do it, the greener your grass will be. However, that means it will also grow faster and stronger, making it a little more work. There are some ways to maximize your fertilization. First, don't fall behind. A lawn that's underfed is prone to disease and other distress. Most turf responds well if fertilized every six to eight weeks. You can certainly fertilize every three of four weeks, but your lawn will demand more water and maintenance. Also, be careful not to overdo it. Too much fertilizer can burn your lawn. Follow directions for the fertilizer you're using.

Use the weather to your advantage. If you usually get a month or two of solid rain, it's not a good time to fertilize. Wait until it's not such a chore to mow the wet grass. Your lawn will need water with its fertilizer, though. How would you like to sit down to a rich meal and have nothing to drink?

When it comes to watering the lawn, there are a few basic rules: water in the early morning or at night when the water won't evaporate; give a good soaking and try to break up watering times. Instead of over-soaking a lawn and watering the street and the sidewalk, two waterings with the same amount of water would be better. Irrigation systems that use spray heads should run 7-10 minutes twice a day on turf in usual, dry weather. Rotary heads should be run for 20-30 minutes. These times are just guidelines as you must monitor what areas need more or less water. If you're hand watering, keep the same things in mind: a good, even soaking a couple of times a day. This routine is required every two to three days, depending on weather.

Controlling weeds can be accomplished by a number of means. Nothing beats good old-fashioned hands and knees weeding, but it's not always practical. An easy alternative is spot spraying a selective herbicide. It will kill the weeds, spare the grass and it's available at most lawn care and hardware stores. Another method is to use a weed-and-feed combination that fertilizes the lawn and kills and prevents weeds.

With less light in the winter, a lawn needs less fertilizer and less food. One or two fertilizations during the winter should suffice. There's also no need for irrigation when it's raining, the days and nights are cooler and the sun's a little more scarce.

There's nothing wrong with letting a lawn go dormant by not watering it. It's a more Earth-friendly approach and your lawn will be as green as ever when it gets wet again. Wait until it starts growing back on its own before jumpstarting it with fertilizer.

Keeping a nice lawn is also a matter of getting to know it. After a year or two of seeing what areas need water, don't get light, etc., you'll know exactly how to keep it green.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Basic Guide To Fertilizing Lawn

A Basic Guide To Fertilizing Lawn

Use fertilizers properly. There are ways to keep that grass looking good all year round.
Fertilizing your lawn on a regular basis is the best way to keep weeds out and luxurious green grass in.

Lawn fertilizer is a mix of nutrients that grass needs to stay healthy. There are two types of fertilizer: Natural organic or synthetic chemical mixture. Natural fertilizers are the best, they have a slower process, but last longer, and Synthetic fertilizers are easy to use and show quick results. They are not as long lasting as natural fertilizer. The main ingredients in fertilizer are, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Nitrogen provides a rich, green color and promotes growth. Phosphorous promotes root growth and potassium helps the lawn resist disease and survive through changing climates.

Fertilizer is needed because the grass uses a lot of energy to regenerate after being mowed. Fertilizers supplement the roots with nutrients drawn from the soil. It will keep your lawn healthy and green.

When fertilizing use one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn during growing season. This will keep your lawn healthy year round. When purchasing fertilizer, their packages have a three-digit number that shows how much of each nutrient the fertilizer contains by weight. If the lawn has an abundance of weeds use a fertilizer with more phosphorous.

There are two basic types of fast acting fertilizer that can be purchased from many lawn and garden supply stores. There are liquid and granular fertilizers, both are easy to use and both use water.

How to Fertilize: Broadcasting

You will need:
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Garden gloves
  • Granular Fertilizer

Set the rate of flow lever according to the setting listed on the fertilizer. Close the hopper vent and fill with fertilizer. Walk slowly and evenly and cover the whole lawn. When the whole area is covered, water the entire lawn.

How to Fertilize: Spraying

You will need:
  • Hose end sprayer
  • Garden gloves
  • Liquid Fertilizer

Fill sprayer canister with liquid fertilizer. Move at a steady pace to cover the entire lawn. Spraying side to side.

Avoid the lawn for 24 hours while the lawn is absorbing the nutrients.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Organic Lawn And Garden Fertilizers

Organic Lawn And Garden Fertilizers

What are some different types of organic lawn and garden fertilizer alternatives?
How are they used?
What are the benefits?

If you are uncomfortable using synthetic fertilizers on your garden or lawn, consider an organic alternative. Organic fertilizers are made from plants, minerals, or animals, and contain natural elements that are beneficial for plants in order to grow. Synthetic fertilizers may be chemically altered and mixed with non-natural materials. If you feel uncomfortable using synthetic fertilizers, organic fertilizers are a natural contrast. They are likely physically processed, but lack the chemicals and synthetic materials. Here is a list as provided by the American Horticultural Society that will help you know what different types of organic fertilizers can and should be used for.
  • Sul-po-mag. You should use this fertilizer if your plants lack potash, or if they suffer from iron chlorosis. This can be a natural treatment.
  • Seaweed. This fertilizer is naturally found in the ocean and contains growth hormones that can be effective on plants.
  • Fish meal. This fertilizer provides nitrogen to your plants and can help get rid of unwanted dead vegetation and other products your plants don't need.
  • Fish emulsion. This is a good liquid fertilizer that should be applied in the early spring months.
  • Cottonseed meal. This fertilizer acidifies soil.
  • Compost. This fertilizer provides your plants with calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, sulfur, and zinc. Compost can be a valuable source of these minerals for your plants.
  • Cattle manure. This fertilizer can add quite a bit to your soil, and if it's fresh, it can burn unwanted materials out of the soil.
  • Bone meal. This fertilizer provides excellent minerals to your soil such as phosphorus. Bone meal is particularly effective on bulbs, flowers, and fruit plants.
  • Blood meal. This fertilizer contains quite a bit of nitrogen. It can help your plants if they need additional nitrogen levels. It also increases the rate of compost decomposition.
  • Alfalfa meal. This fertilizer is known for its ability to break itself down quickly and easily in order to provide additional nitrogen levels to your soil and plants.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chemical And Fertilizer Burn In Lawns

Chemical And Fertilizer Burn In Lawns

Definite lines and curves of damage in your lawn?
Could be chemical or fertilizer. Find out what it is and what to do.
What is it?

Fertilizers, pesticides, gasoline and other chemicals may burn the lawn if accidentally spilled or applied incorrectly. Excessive amounts of these chemicals will cause the lawn to dry out and die.

What does it look like?
Damage can be in the form of irregular patches, or definite curves and lines. These areas turn yellow and die while surrounding gò`ss remains gòädn and healthy.

How does it manifest?
Typically, the damage appears within three days of the spill on the lawn with patches identifying the exact area of the spill. These areas do not spread or widen once they show up.

What can you do about it?
If you spill on the lawn, clean up quickly by rinsing away water-soluble materials 3 to 5 times longer than you would usually water the area. In non-water soluble products such as gasoline, flood the area with water and dishwashing detergent diluted to a strength that you would use to wash dishes. Let it set a few minutes, and rinse away as above. Some substances cannot be washed away from the soil. If this is the case, such as with preemergent herbicides, work activated charcoal into the soil to deactivate the herbicide. The best way to prevent damage of this sort is to never take your chemical containers or sprayers onto the lawn itself, but keep them in the back of a wagon, on cement or a driveway and always apply fertilizers and other chemicals exactly as directions indicate.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How To Shade Your Lawn

How To Shade Your Lawn

Shady borders are used to add shade to that dull area in the lawn that needs perking up.
Shady borders are used to living up a dull corner with tall, flowering shrubs and beautiful flowers.
Before you begin look at the area you will be planting is it, dry shade or damp shade? When purchasing flowers and seeds, remember to read the facts about the plant to make sure it will grow properly in the designated area.

A shade border will consist of four layers, planted from tall to groundcover. Plant shrubs in the background such as a smoke tree. The smoke tree will produce ball shaped flowers towards the end of summer. The third row should consist of a ligularia, it will produce orange flowers in late summer, or a hydrangea, which produces blue or pink flower heads in summer. Foxgloves, Rosa rugosa or crocosmia are all good plants for the front row, their flowers range in color from pink to orange. For ground cover use hosta, hebe or bugleweed. These make a great border for the bottom border and produces purple, white and pink spring flowers.

To plant a shady border :

1. Using sticks or string make a border measuring 4 yards by 4 yards, dividing it into individual 1 yard squares.

2. Plant two smoke trees one yard from the back and one yard from the sides. Leave a two yard space between shrubs to allow the smoke tree to grow.

3. In the next row, you will be planting the medium height flowers. Plant two to three hydrangeas, four to five ligularias, one rose bush and five to six foxgloves.

4. In the front row, in each 1 yard square plant three hostas, three hebes, four to five crocosmias and one to two rose bushes. Fill in with bugleweed.

5. If large gaps exist, chose some bulbs that flower in spring and summer to add color while the shrubs are maturing.

6. After you have planted all the shrubs and flowers, spread a thick layer of compost and mulch between the plants. This will prevent weeds from taking over, and retain moisture.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lawn Grub Control

Lawn Grub Control

Is your lawn brown,irregularly shaped and dying? It could be lawn grub damage from one of several beetles. Find out what they are how to control them.
What is it?

Grubs are larvae. They come from a variety of different beetles, including Asiatic, Japanese, May and June beetles.

What does it look like?
In late August and early September, the lawn grass will turn brown. There will be large patches of discoloration, irregularly shaped, which roll easily like a carpet. Grubs will appear milky white, anywhere from 1/8 to 1 inch long. They have brown heads, three pair of legs and lie curled in the soil.

How does it manifest?
Adult beetles are not the cause of damage in the lawn; it is the grubs, which hatch from the eggs they lay that do the damage. When the eggs hatch, grubs feed down 1 to 3 inches in the soil on grass roots. They can survive the winter by burrowing deep into the soil, and when thaw comes in the spring they will begin feeding again.

What can you do about it?
Apply an insecticide containing diazinon, chlorpyrifos or isofenophos when you first notice the grub damage in your lawn. The younger the grubs, the easier they are to kill off. Preventative control consists of applying the insecticide just after eggs are laid. You can find out the proper time to do this by contacting your local cooperative extension office. After applying insecticide, thoroughly water the lawn to be sure the insecticide hits the root zone. Grubs often remain active up to 30 days after treatment, and occasionally successive treatments may be necessary to completely eradicate the grubs.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lawn Fusarium Patch

Lawn Fusarium Patch

Wet lawn developing pink and yellow patches of damage?
Could be fusarium patch. Find out what it is and what to do about it.
What is it?

A grass disease caused by the fungus, fusarium nivale that attacks lawns when they are wet from conditions such as rain, snow, or poor surface drainage.

What does it look like?

Areas of damage are between 2 inches and 1 foot diameter and will be pink around the edges with a pale yellow center. Blades will be a light tan color and stick together easily. Occasionally, a white cottony growth appears on blades.

How does it manifest?

Fusarium patch fungi often will grow beneath the snow, and spread as it melts. This is the reason for its other name: pink snow mold. Often only the blades will be affected, but occasionally in sever disease crowns become affected and kill of the lawn. Fusarium patch thrives in humid weather where daytime temperatures remain beneath 65° F.

What can you do about it?

At the first sign of disease in the spring, treat the lawn with a fungicide containing benomyl, methyl thiphanate, or iprodione. Repeat a second application in 14 days. Treat the lawn twice more in the fall while daytime temperatures remain below 60° F and conditions are wet. You can discourage fusarium patch by mowing your lawn until growth stops in the fall, and by applying high nitrogen fertilizers in late fall.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lawn Mole Crickets

Lawn Mole Crickets

Bahai, bermuda or other grasses dry, brown and dying? Could be lawn mole crickets. What they are and what to do about them.
Several of the Scapteriscus species of mole crickets attack lawns. They are greenish brown insects with short front legs and wide flat feet about 1.5 inches long.

What does it look like?
Areas of damage are large, brown, dying or dead. You will find small piles of soil scattered around them. You will find mole cricket damage most often in bermuda or bahai grasses, but they also enjoy feasting on centipedegrass, zoysia and St. Augustine grasses.

How does it manifest?
Mole crickets damage lawns by tunneling the top 1 to 2 inches of soil, which uproots plants and causes them to dry out and die. The crickets also feed on grass roots at night and may tunnel up to 20 feet of soil before sunrise.

What can you do about it?
To check for mole crickets, make a solution of 1 oz. dishwashing detergent in 2 gallons of water and drench a four square foot area of the lawn. Mole crickets will come to the surface within 5 minutes if they are present. If they are, treat the lawn with a chemical containing acephate, chlorpyrifos, or diazinon. Wait 36 hours before watering again. Retreatment may be neccessary to eradicate all mole crickets. Preventative treatment includes mowing and watering the lawn in early June or July after eggs hatch and before young nymphs do a lot of damage to your lawn. Mole crickets are non-active in dry soil.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Killing Lawn Thatch

Killing Lawn Thatch

Techniques for killing lawn thatch.
Thatch is a thick, spongy carpet that forms between the soil and living lawn grass. When it dries out, it turns into a waterproof ceiling on your soil, preventing water, air and fertilizer from percolating down. Its dense, tangled layers invite insects and diseases to breed and grow, and it can even cause your lawn grass to turn yellow and die.

Thatch is made up of whole grass plants decaying at different rates on top of your soil. The leaves, cut off by the mower, decompose the quickest. Stems and roots take longer to break down, and the nodes and crowns are last to go.

BUILD-UP

Ideally, grass plants should decompose and fade effortlessly into the soil. If all is well with your lawn, there is only a thin layer of thatch, usually about half an inch. However, if that matted pile is more than three-quarters of an inch, you have a problem.

Thatch piles up when dead grass plants accumulate faster than they can decay. If you fertilize and water your grass too conscientiously, it grows like crazy. Anything you do to stimulate an excessive growth of grass, or inhibit its decomposition, increases the rate of thatch accumulation.

Modern turf grasses are bred for high shoot density, to create a lawn that is thick and carpetlike. Unfortunately, the most beautiful and luxuriant kinds of grass are likely to create thatch. The turf grass varieties that have a tendency to thatch include Kentucky Bluegrass (especially the variety 'Merion'), Creeping Bentgrass ('Toronto'), Bermuda Grass ('Tifgreen') and Colonial Bentgrass. Fescue and Zoysia are species that tend to be especially tough and decay resistant, so the thatch from these grasses is long lasting.

The most satisfactory way to hold thatch in check is to modify your lawn management. You can alter the ways you fertilize, mow and water the lawn. You can aerate it, top dress with soil, or add some commercial microbial inoculants to break down the thatch. If the mat is dense, you can go over your lawn with a cultivator or a de-thatching machine.

FERTILIZATION

A well-fertilized lawn may look green and healthy, but excessive fertilization with nitrogen causes the growth of soft, succulent grass that needs frequent mowing and encourages thatch buildup. It is best to give your lawn light, frequent applications of fertilizer that do not exceed the minimum needs of the plants.

Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescues should be fertilized most in the fall and winter, and not as much during the spring and summer. Bermuda Grass and Zoysia need the treatment in reverse. They should receive the bulk of their fertilizer during the hot weather, not in the fall.

Most grasses have a basic requirement of two pounds of nitrogen per one- thousand square feet, applied every year. A typical lawn fertilizer with a NPK ratio of 10-6-4 (ten parts nitrogen, six of phosphorus and four parts potassium) has only ten-percent nitrogen in the bag. If you buy a hundred-pound bag, you are actually getting ten pounds of nitrogen to spread on the lawn. Therefore, during the course of the season, you would need to apply twenty pounds of that kind of fertilizer on each thousand square feet to meet the basic requirement. Lawn fertilizers with a higher ratio of nitrogen can be applied in proportionately smaller doses -- and should be -- if you want to reduce thatch.

LIME AND WATER

The health of your lawn is also affected by the alkalinity or acidity of your soil as indicated on a pH scale. You can make the soil more alkaline by applying lime, but this has to be done in measured amounts, depending on the type of grass you're growing and the nature of your soil.

You can find out must how much lime to put on your lawn by sending a sample of the soil to your county agricultural extension agent. Be sure to specify the type of grass you have, so the agent can recommend the rate of limestone to put on your lawn. Limestone raises the alkalinity. Once the pH reaches the right level, you can keep it there by applying lime every two or three years.

Ground agricultural limestone is the safest kind to use. Apply it in the fall, so that the rain, snow, freezing and thawing of the soil will help to work the lime into the ground.

In the desert Southwest and other arid parts of the country, many homeowners have a problem with alkaline soil. To correct for alkalinity, apply sulfur, either in the pure form or as a compound, ferrous sulfate. Then water the lawn thoroughly. It takes about twenty pounds of sulfur per one thousand square feet to reduce the pH by one point.

Over watering, like over-fertilizing, can cause excessive growth and, as a result, excessive thatch. Do not water until you have to. However, during the driest periods of the growing season, drench the soil until water seeps down a full six inches. It takes about an inch of hard rain or steady irrigation to wet the lawn this deeply. If you are using a sprinkler, do not make the mistake of turning it on for a few minutes every evening. Shallow watering causes shallow roots to grow. Both disease and crabgrass seem to flourish in grass that only receives a light sprinkling.

AERATION AND TOPDRESSING

Water and nutrients percolate down to the grass roots. If all is well, there is a free exchange of gases between the soil below and the atmosphere above. However, if the ground gets packed down around the grass, that hard compacted layer can barricade gas exchange. Pick up a section of grass and look at it. If the soil around the roots is compacted as little as one-fourth to one-half inch, then growth is being stifled.

To keep this from happening, aerate your soil periodically with a machine that removes plugs of soil from the turf called an aerator or coring machine, or a cultivator or spiker that slices through the thatch. The time to do it is when the lawn is growing vigorously, and it can restore itself from the damage your machine inflicts.

After you have aerated your lawn, you can hasten the decomposition of thatch with topdressing, a thin layer of soil, or soil and sand mixture, spread on top of your lawn. With the soil comes a host of microorganisms that help the thatch decompose. The result will be a rapid breakdown of the thatch into good organic fertilizer. Topdressing has been proven one of the best methods of controlling thatch. Unfortunately, there's a drawback it is messy.

MOWING


One of the most important things about controlling thatch is to mow your lawn to the right height and at the right time. The best policy is to mow the lawn frequently with the mower set high. If you cut the grass short, you reduce the leaf surface so the plant has difficulty making enough food for growth. If you do not cut often enough, or you let the grass grow long, it will create dense roots. Since thatch is sixty-percent roots and rhizomes, the denser the growth, the greater the possibility of thatch.

The worst thing you can do to your lawn is to cut it too short. As a rule, grass should be cut so that less than one-third of the whole blade is taken off each mowing. Kentucky Bluegrass and Fine-leaved Fescue should be mowed to a height of two inches. Zoysia and Bermuda grass, which are smaller plants to begin with, can be mowed to three-quarters of an inch.

Mowing frequently at these levels, you do not have to worry about the grass clippings. Let them lie where they fall. After all, the leaves decompose most quickly -- much faster than the crowns and roots -- so they will soon break down and return their nutrients to the soil.

THE DETHATCHING ALTERNATIVE

If that thick, spongy carpet has already settled in about your lawn, you will need more than a rake to take it away. The alternative is a dethatching machine, which can be rented from a hardware store or garden center. There is one kind of machine that makes vertical cuts into the sod, and another that combs out the thatch with tines. Either method has the same result: machines pull organic matter to the surface of the grass. Once this thatchy material has been pulled up, it should be raked away immediately.

The dethatching machine does some ruthless tearing at the roots, so your grass will need some time to recover. Rent the dethatching machine when the grass is growing vigorously and you can look ahead to at least thirty days for the grass to recover. Bluegrass or Fescue lawn should be dethatched only in the fall or spring, never in summer. Thatch in Bermuda grass and Zoysia lawns should be removed in early summer. Apply one pound of nitrogen per one thousand square feet and water deeply soon after dethatching. With newfound air around their roots, your grass will recover quickly.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Dog Urine And Your Lawn

Dog Urine And Your Lawn

Dry stawlike patches on your lawn?
Dogs in the area?
Could be urine damage. Find out how to prevent and control it.
What is it?

The salts in dog urine burn lawn grass. Various stages of damage may occur, from mild discoloration to patches of killed grass.

What does it look like?
Spots, usually 8 to 10 inches in diameter will form on the lawn. They are circular and the light brown color of straw. Rings of deep green grass may surround the spots. The surrounding grass no longer mats down, and may be either dark green, contain other strawlike patches or have no spots at all.

How does it manifest?
Dogs have been in the area and urinated. The nitrogen in the urine may either immediately, or some time later encourage rapid growth of affected grass which results in the dark green ring. Depending on the concentration of urine salts, grass may discolor and die off. Lawns suffer the most damage from dog urine in hot, dry weather where it sits without washing away.

What can you do about it?
The simplest remedy is to keep dogs off the lawn. When this is not possible, water affected areas thoroughly to help wash aware urine. This will not eradicate the damage, but will help with the initial discoloration and may stave off lawn death. If the urine is washed away, the surrounding grass will quickly fill in the damaged areas with new, undamaged growth.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chinch Bugs In Lawns

Chinch Bugs In Lawns

Yellow or brown areas of damage on your lawn?
Hidden cause? Could be chinch bugs. Find out what they are and what to do about them.
What is it?

Blissus species insects which feed on lawn grasses, with St. Augustine being a favorite. Adults and nymphs are both problematic.

What does it look like?
Areas of damage turn yellow brown and die in sunny areas like along sidewalks and driveways. Cinch bugs are 1/8 to 1/4 inch long, black to brown with white wings with nymphs being pink to brick red with a white stripe around the body. To check if your damage is caused by them, cut the ends off a tin can and push one end 2 to 3 inches into the soil. Keep it steadily filled with water for about 10 minutes, and if you have chinch bugs they will float to the surface.

How does it manifest?
Adults and nymphs suck the juices out of grass blades, and in turn inject a poison back into the blades which causes them to discolor and die. Heavy infestations can kill an entire lawn in as few as four days. Chinch bugs are sun and heat loving, and will rarely attack a shady lawn.

What can you do about it?

At the first sign of infestation, water the lawn with up to an inch of water to bring insects to the surface. Once you've done this, apply insecticide containing isofenphos, daizinon or chlorpyrifos. To prevent recurrent damage from newly hatched eggs, treat the lawn again every two months until frost.