Lawn_Care_Tips by marcusjames


Lawn Care Tips

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Looking for help on how to plant or maintain your lawn? This excellent
article explains everything you need to know about a lawn, from preparing
the soil to ridding it of weeds to selecting grass seed.

lawn care,lawn planting,grass,lawn,lawn weeds

Article Body:
A beautiful lawn does not come without some effort. Depending upon what
type of soil you have, the amount of effort will vary. For instance when
raising trees and shrubs, sandy or a gravel base soil is great. Landscape
plants like well drained soiled. A lawn on the other hand is different.
Lawn grasses grow constantly throughout the growing season, and need an
ample supply of both nutrients and water.

The most basic of lawn care tips includes regular watering and
fertilization is required to keep a lawn beautiful. If you’re lucky
enough to have a lawn that was originally planted in good rich topsoil,
you won’t have to work near as hard as somebody like me, who has a lawn
that is planted in sandy gravel. The soil at our house has little
nutritional value, nor does it have the ability to retain any amount of
moisture. By mid May my lawn starts drying out. It is very difficult for
us to keep our lawn looking nice.

Lawns are one area where a little clay in the soil is a good thing. Of
course standing water is not good, but having soil that has the ability
to retain some moisture is helpful. If you happen to be installing a new
lawn, here's a news flash from my lawn care tips that will make all the
difference in the world: Add lots of organic matter before you install
your new lawn if you have sand or gravel type soil. The easiest way to
do this is to find some good rich topsoil and spread that over your
existing soil.

Because most lawn grasses grow so vigorously, they need additional
amounts of nutrients added in order to stay looking nice. Just use one of
the four step programs offered by the fertilizer companies. Most of these
programs also include weed control along with the fertilizer. Here in the
north we basically have two concerns with weeds in our lawns.

Crabgrass can be a problem, and I do consider it a weed. In order to
control crabgrass you must use a pre-emergent herbicide that will prevent
the crabgrass seeds from germinating. In order for this herbicide to be
effective you must apply it early in the spring while the soil
temperature is still below 45° F.
Broadleaf weeds such as Dandelions are another problem, although fairly
easy to control with a broadleaf weed control. Most broadleaf herbicides
are mixed in with the fertilizers, and must be applied when the grass and
weeds are damp. The wet foliage will cause the herbicide to stick to the
weed, giving the herbicide time to be absorbed by the weed. Once absorbed
the herbicide translocates through the weed plant and kills it

These types of herbicides are considered “selective” since they seem to
know the difference between a grass plant and a weed. That’s why they
only kill the broadleaf weeds and not the grass itself. However, many
people have different kinds of thick bladed grass in their lawn such as
quack grass. Quack grass is on the ugly side, and can really detract
from a lawn. The problem is, it is still in the grass family, and
“selective” herbicides leave it alone because it is a card carrying
member of the grass family.

So what’s a person to do?

In order to get rid of these thick bladed grasses you must use a “non-
selective” herbicide, and “non-selective” herbicides don’t care who they
kill. Well, at least that’s true in the plant kingdom. When you use a
“non-selective” herbicide you must understand that everything that you
spray is going to die, but it really is the only effective way to rid
your lawn of undesirable thick bladed grasses. This type of treatment is
effective if you have isolated areas that contain wide bladed grasses.
You’ll have to spray all the grass in the area, then reseed with good
quality grass seed.

My herbicide of choice for this type of spraying is RoundUp®. It is
believed that RoundUp® does not have any residual effect, which means
that it does not linger in the soil. That means that the new grass seed
or the young grass plants will not be affected by the herbicide. Being a
non-selective herbicide you must be careful when spraying, making sure
that the spray does not drift onto other plants or lawn areas that you do
not want to kill.

To keep the spray from drifting, adjust the nozzle so that the spray
pattern is narrow with larger spray droplets. You do not want a fine
atomized spray if there is danger of spray drift. It also helps to keep
the pressure in the sprayer as low as possible. Pump the sprayer a
minimum number of times, to keep the pressure low. You just want enough
pressure to deliver the spray, but not atomize it to the point that it
can be easily carried by the wind.
Buy a sprayer just for herbicides and mark it as such. You never want to
spray plants with a sprayer that has been used for herbicides.

Once you have sprayed the area you want to kill, wait three days before
doing anything else. After a period of three days the grasses that you
sprayed may not look any different, but if they have been properly
sprayed, they will die. It takes three days for the herbicide to
translocate throughout the entire plant, then the plants will die. So
even though the weeds and grass plants look fine, you can start digging
and chopping and not worry about them growing back. If you start digging
and chopping before the three day period you will interrupt the
herbicide, and the weeds and grass you were trying to kill may come back.

If you happen to be installing a new lawn, make sure you spray all the
weeds and thick bladed grasses before you start. Once you have the lawn
installed, you sure don’t want to go through all the trouble of killing
areas of your lawn and reseeding. If you make sure that all of these
undesirables have been killed before you start, you’ll be way ahead of
the game.

When selecting grass seed, you should always use a blend that is
recommended for your area. Here in the north a popular blend contains
fine bladed perennial rye grass, fescue, and blue grass. Keep in mind
that it takes blue grass seeds 28 days to germinate, while most perennial
rye grasses germinate in 5 or 6 days, so you never want to plant a lawn
that is 100% Kentucky blue grass. Before the blue grass seeds have a
chance to germinate, every kind of weed imaginable will already be
actively growing in your lawn.

With a blend, the faster germinating grasses come up quickly, and act as
a nurse crop for the slower germinating seeds. Having a blend also gives
you some protection in case some new pest comes along that attacks
certain types of grasses.

People often ask if they have to have their lawn hydro-seeded in order
for it to be nice. The answer is no. Hydro-seed is not some kind of magic
formula. It is nothing more than a fancy way to apply grass seed. A
hydro-seeder is just a machine that mixes water, grass seed, fertilizer
and mulch into a slurry that is sprayed onto your lawn. The ingredients
are exactly the same that you would use if you seed by hand, with the
exception of the mulch.

And contrary to popular belief, hydro-mulch is no better than good old
fashioned straw. In my opinion straw is a much, much better mulch. The
primary advantage to hydro-seed is that the grass seed is thoroughly
soaked before it is applied, which assures germination. That’s a huge
advantage if you’re seeding along a freeway where it is not practical to
wet the seed after it has been applied. At your house, it really doesn’t
mean much. Hand seeding works just fine.

With either method, you still have to water just as much once the seeding
is done. Many people are led to believe that hydro-seed doesn’t have to
be watered as much as hand seed. This is a huge misconception. If you
fail to water hydro-seed once it is applied, it will still germinate and
little tiny grass plants will appear. But just a few hours without water
on a hot day, and those little tiny grass plants will wither and die.
This is a big problem because once the seed has germinated, it is spent.
All the water in the world will not make that spent seed produce another
grass plant.

Hydro-seed has its benefits, but for the residential lawn it’s not all
that important. Why do I claim that straw is a better mulch than hydro-
mulch? Think about how the hydro-mulch is applied. It is mixed with the
seed, fertilizer and water as a slurry, and sprayed on the lawn. The
mulch has not been applied over top of the seed which is how mulch is
supposed to be applied, it is all mixed together. Some of the seeds are
under the mulch, and some of the seeds are on top of the mulch. Mulch
can’t do much good when the seeds are resting up on top of it. They might
as well be sun bathing!

Now think about the process of hand seeding. The seed is spread on the
soil, then you should take a push broom and drag it backwards over top of
the seeded area. This applies a very thin layer of soil over most of the
seeds. Then you spread the straw over top of the soil. The pieces of
straw are scattered in all directions, with many of them criss-crossing
each other.

Remember the movie, “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”? The part where they are
walking through the lawn and the blades of grass are huge compared to
them? This is what it’s like to be a grass seed under a mulch of straw.
Those little tiny grass seeds are lost under the straw, and that's
exactly what you want to protect them from the intense rays of the sun.

As the sun works its way across the sky the grass seeds actually receive
filtered sunlight. Enough sun to warm the seeds so they grow, but also
enough shade to protect the tender young grass plants. As the grass
plants grow, they also raise the mulch with them to a degree, providing
additional shade for the seeds that haven’t germinated yet. The shade
that straw mulch provides also helps to retain the moisture around the
seeds. Grass seeds will never get this kind of protection from hydro-

Another trait of hydro-seed is that as the slurry dries, it becomes a
blanket over the lawn. In the event of a heavy rainfall, running water
tends to get under this blanket and carry it away, leaving big areas with
no seed at all. They make a glue that you can actually add to the hydro-
seed mix, but my experience has shown that the glue will hold the hydro-
seed in place a little longer, but when it does wash out much larger
areas wash because they are glued together.

With hand seeding, each seed is independent, and they fall between the
nooks and crannies of the soil. In the event of heavy rain, the running
water must be severe enough to wash the soil away before the seeds can be
moved. I’ve installed hundreds of lawns using both techniques, for the
difference in cost I’ll take the hand seeded lawn any day.

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