Lawn Maintenance

Major Elements

Mowing

Purpose

  • To maintain lawn as such. (Like green velvet).
  • To encourage grasses to tiller (form side shoots freely from their bases), and spread and develop laterally into a tight sod.

DO NOTS

  • Mow too early in spring
  • Mow on a strict schedule (e.g. same day every week). (Weather and speed of growth determine schedule)
  • Let grass get so high before mowing that after cutting it looks yellowish or brownish (This invites weeds, diseases and insect pests).
  • Mow grass in shaded areas less that 1.5 to 2 inches (in hot summer weather 2 to 2.5 inches is best).
  • Do not allow fallen leaves or other materials to accumulate on the lawn.

Please do

  1. Before first cutting in the spring sweep (rake) to remove sticks, stones, thatch, or other debris.
  2. If after (A), turf loose and springy underfoot — dry roll slowly with medium-weight roller.
  3. Mow whenever growth necessitates. With most grasses — 0.5 to 0.75 inch higher than established cutting height. In really hot weather raise an extra 0.5 inches.
    1. kentucky bluegrass best at 1.5-2.0 inches (some cultivars e.g. “Baron” and Fylking” can be cut shorter).
    2. Crested wheatgrass at 1.5-2.0 inches.
    3. Creeping red fescue at 1.0-2.0 inches.
    4. Chewing fescue at 1.5-2.0 inches.
    5. Creeping bent grass at 0.5-1.0 inches.
  4. Mow when the grass is dry.
  5. Last mowing of season — 2 to 3 inches long.
  6. Pick up clippings, put on compost pile and return as top-dressing fall or spring.
  7. Always cut first turning spaces across ends of runs (leave close to trees, shrubs etc. to the last).
  8. Overlap mowed strips slightly.
  9. Cross lawn alternately in opposite directions.
  10. Mow up an down steep slopes.
  11. Make sharp demarcation line between turf and adjacent areas.
  12. Make lawn 1 to 2 inches higher than the patios or beds it borders.
  13. Treat unsupported lawn edges with special respect.

Lawn Mowers – 2 main types

  1. Reel Type — cuts with a sheering action. Gives the finest cut but requires level ground. Motorized models — Golf and bowling greens, push models on home lawns. Reel type mowers can cut very low.
  2. Rotary type— the blade spins horizontally and lops the tops off grass blades. Most common – homw lawns (walk-behind gass and electric and riding).
    • Mulching mowers have rotary blades which cut the grass, chop it into small pieces and blow it back into the lawn to decompose (?).
    • Air cushion rotary mowers ride on a layer of air rather than wheels. Easy to manoever on slopes.
  • Keep Clean. After each use free it of grass clippings, wipe blade(s) with an oily rage, and if it is wet, place it where it willdry quickly. Be sure it is oiled occasionally.
  • Keep lawn mower blade(s) SHARP. Ragged leaf tips turn grey or brown; also heal slowly and are more susceptible to disease entry. Also lawns cut with a dull mower use more water.

Fertilizing

When to Feed

Do not fertilize blue grasses or fescues in summer. They are partially dormant then and added nutrients stimulate crab grass and other weeds. Creeping bent grass benefits from summer feeding. Dress your lawn with fertilizer in early spring (typically early to mid-May). A second appication will be required during the first two weeks of July. Applications late in the growing season are not recommended.

What to Feed

Figure # lists the nutrient requirements of lawn grasses per growing month. Figure # gives lawn fertilizer (inorganic) rates. The most important nutrients provided by fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphates and potassium. The percentages contained are indicated on the bag or package by a series of 3 numbers such as 5-10-5 or 4-8-4. The first refers to nitrogen, the second phosphates and, the third potassium. To find out how much is needed to do your lawn, divide 100 by the first figure of the fertilizer analysis. For example, with a 10-6-4 fertilizer divide 100 by 10; the answer, 10, is the number of pounds of fertilizer you must apply to each 1,000 square feet. In addition to the chemical fertilizers, there are the organic fertilizers (e.g. tankage, animal manures, dried blood, bone meal, fish meal etc.). These are still good soil amendments and release nitrogen slowly over a period of several weeks or months. Excellent for new lawn seed beds (see later).

Fertilizer Analysis Application Rate
kg/100m2 lb/1000ft2
Ammonium phosphate 11-48-0 4.5 9
Ammonium Phosphate Sulfate 16-20-0 3.0 6
Ammonium Nitrate 34-0-0 1.5 3
Ammonium Nitrate Phosphate 27-14-0 2.0 4
Ammonium Sulphate 21-0-0 2.5 5
Complete 6-10-4 8.0 16
Complete 10-32-10 5.0 10
N Phosphate Potash lbs/1000 sq.ft.
Well rotted manure 0.5 % 0.25 % 0.5 % 200
Sewage sludge 6.0 % 4.0 % 4.0 % 16

Herbicide/Fertilizer combinations — used to weed and feed at the same time. Take care herbicide does not drain into flower beds, roots of trees or shrubs etc. In most cases, spot application of herbicide less expensive.

Slow Release Fertilizer — release nutrients gradually over several weeks to a few months. Give slower, even growth rather than sudden flushes. Losses of nutrients to leaching or volatilization reduced significatly. More expensive but very convenient and effective (e.g. SCU — Sulphur coated urea).

Winterizer Fertilizers — lawns that are properly maintained and fertilized as above, have good disease resistance and will speedily green up in the spring. No commended, risky, may encourage tender new growth in late fall or early spring. This king of growth is very easily damaged by frost. Also they may force early leaf growth when root growth is actually needed.

Name Growth habit Texture Moisture requirements Nutrient requirements per growing month Soil Preference Light Requirements Wear Tolerance
Kentucky Bluegrass Poa patensis sod forming rhizomatous fine-coarse, blade width 2-4mm medium drought resistance 0.2-0.6 kg N/100m2
0.4-1.3 lb N/1000ft2
moist, fertile, well drained ph 6.0-7.0 full sun – light shade medium-good good recuperative ability

How to Feed

Fertilizer can be applied by hand but requires practise since even coverage desirable.

Dribble or drop-type spreaders are fairly accurate and drop fertilizer in a narrow band. They must be used with care, missed rows and overlaps are obvious when the grass greens up.

Rotary Spreaders throw fertilizer in a wide arc. A lawn can be fertilized quickly with either the hand-held or push rotary spreaders.

For good results when fertilizing a lawn — Remember these steps

  1. Divide the total amount of fertilizer to be applied in half; Apply each half over the entire lawn, in two directions at right angles to each other. Unevern application show up later as dark green or pale strips.
  2. Spread dry fertilizer on a dry lawn; wet grass (even with dew) can be burned when the fertilizer dissolves on the leaves.
  3. Water the lawn heavily immediately after fertilizing to dissolve the fertilizer.
  4. If this is not possible, try to apply fertilizer just prior to heavy rain (or use less fertilizer e.g. 0.75 lb N/1000 sq. ft.). Or brush fertilizer off leaves.
  5. Mover spreader off lawn when filling it.
  6. Close spreader whenever you stop or turn.

Watering

Principles

  1. Do not water early in season unless really dry (See test later).
  2. When you water, soak to a depth of at least 6 inches; provide no more until needed (5 to 7 days). Usually 1 inch or 1.5 inches over the whole surface will do the job
  3. Avoid frequent, shallow sprinklings. These cause roots to be largely confined to surface 2 inches, where heat and drought can damage (Exception newly planted lawns; sprinkle them every 2 to 3 days if weather dry.)
  4. Do not water faster than the soil can absorb water.
  5. Spray should be put down evenly

To test whether or not water is needed

  1. Yes, if the grass remains pressed down and footmarks show clearly when walked across.
  2. Yes, if the grass wilts slightly and assumes a slight bluish colour.
  3. Remove a few 6 inch deep plugs of turf from different locations and examine the soil. If it appears dry and crumbly, water.

Weed Control

  1. The surest discouragement to weeds is to grow good grass. The appearance of certain weeds may indicate specific lawn problems e.g. sheep sorrel — too acid; clover flourishes in neutral or alkaline soil; chickweed etc. invade when soil too wet and grass weak.
  2. Hand weeding if lawn not overrun with weeds. Start early, do not let them go to seed.
  3. Chemical controls. Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) and creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris) are best controlled culturally (cut at greater than 2 inches, water heavily and infrequently.) A simple, old-fashioned method of killing deep-rooted dandelions and plantains is to place in the center of each plant a teaspoonful of ammonia sulphate, nitrate of soda, or urea. To repair small “bald” spots that may result, use patching technique.