Spring can be a busy time for lawn care. The weather is highly unpredictable, plants are just emerging after the winter cold and can be tender and delicate, and the soil is thawing from the winter freeze. Taking the appropriate steps early in the season can help ensure a lush, green lawn throughout the rest of the year. Check out this step-by-step lawn care guide to help get your lawn ready this spring.
1. Get Rid of Weeds
A few weeds in your lawn are inevitable. These can be pulled by hand or with a handheld weeder or hoe. Make sure to pull them out completely, roots and all. If you have an abundance of weeds, use an herbicide directly on the offenders or apply a weed and feed product to the entire lawn. If dandelions are a problem, they can be sprayed with diluted vinegar. Crabgrass can be treated by raising the mower blades higher and watering less frequently.
Thatch is the matted accumulation of organic debris that collects between grass blades and roots. Thatch can cause dead patches in your lawn and open spaces for weeds to proliferate. Inspect your lawn for signs of thatch. Thatch can be removed with a thatching rake or a power dethatcher. Recovery from dethatching takes about 3 to 4 weeks.
Inspect your lawn to see if aeration is needed. Dig a 1 square foot section of your lawn and examine the roots. If the roots don’t extend deeper than 2 inches, your lawn needs to be aerated. Make sure to water the lawn for 1 to 2 days before you aerate. Use a core aerator over the lawn once. After aeration is done, apply compost or sand over the entire lawn.
4. Reseed and Overseed
Before applying any seed, check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to make sure what seed works best for your lawn. In early spring or fall, overseed with a cool season grass (rye, fescue, Kentucky bluegrass) and overseed with a warm season grass (Bermuda or Zoysia) early in the summer. To get an even application apply the seed with a broadcast seeder. Water the seed to help it establish.
A healthy lawn is denser, making it better able to resist weeds. When mowing, only remove about 1/3″ off the top of the grass. Set your mower deck height so that the grass is about 2-1/2″ to 3″ tall. Taller grass helps shade out weed seeds and prevents them from germinating. Try alternating your mowing pattern by mowing at a 45 to 90 degree angle from your last mow. This helps prevent soil impaction and helps grass grow upright. Also make sure to keep your mower blades sharp.
6. Water and Fertilize
Watering provides adequate moisture to grass, especially during times of heat or drought. If possible, try to water early in the morning when the air is cooler so there is less evaporation. For warm season grasses, spring is the ideal time to apply fertilizer when the lawn is actively growing (approximately 6 weeks after the last frost). Cool season grasses benefit from fall fertilization.
7. Mulch and Clean
Spring is the best time to clean up any leaves, twigs, and other debris left over from winter. Edge your beds, trim back dried branches on shrubs, and replace the mulch.
8. Call a Pro
You always have the option of calling a professional lawn care service to help with your lawn maintenance throughout the year. Proper analysis, treatment, and timing are critical in achieving a green, healthy lawn. Lawn care professionals are experts in all aspects of lawn care and use technologically advanced products for your lawn. Click here to request a free lawn care analysis and get started with your professional lawn service today.
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8 Steps to a Healthier Lawn
Summer is a very stressful time for your lawn. The combination of the beating sun and heat, increased foot traffic, water deprivation, weeds, and pests can be detrimental to the health of your lawn. Because of this, Americans spend about $8.5 billion on lawn care services each year. No matter how much you spend, these factors can combine to leave you with yellow patches or even turn your grass brown under the heat and stress of summer. A brown lawn doesn’t necessarily mean dead grass, though; cool season grasses go dormant in the summer, turning brown as a defense mechanism against the heat and turning green again when they are revitalized in the cooler weather of fall. Nonetheless, there are some things you can do to ensure a lush green lawn despite the heat. Check out these lawn care tips to keep your grass green this summer.
Mow high in the summer months. Grass should be left about 3 inches tall as this provides more shade for the root system and keeps it cooler in the summer. Leaving the blades taller also encourages the grass to develop stronger, deeper root systems. Mowing should be done in the early morning or early evening to avoid the peak daytime heat. Make sure your mower is kept in good repair, as well. A poorly maintained mower can do more damage than good to your yard. Make sure mower blades are sharpened – dull blades tear the grass versus cutting it which can leave brown tips on the grass blades. Make sure the oil, filters, and spark plugs are changed, as well.
Know when your lawn needs watering. You can usually tell grass is ready for a drink when it turns a bluish-gray color or if it stays matted down when you step on it rather than springing back up. Be mindful of how often you water, as well. Be mindful of any drought restrictions in your area before you water. Watering should be done consistently and deeply once or twice per week rather than a shallow watering daily.. Your lawn only needs 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water per week to keep its green color. Water early in the morning so that your lawn has time to dry out over the course of the day. Watering in the evening leaves dampness in the soil overnight that can lead to fungal disease. Don’t water your lawn with hot water. Don’t leave your garden hose out with water in it as this water can get hot enough to scald the grass blades in your lawn. Always empty your garden hose after each use; if you forget, make sure you flush the hot water out before you start watering.
Cool season grasses go dormant in the summer so you should wait to fertilize those in the fall. Fertilizing in the summer can trigger new growth which will ultimately turn brown. Warm season grasses should be fertilized every 6 weeks. If this causes your lawn to grow too quickly, switch to a fertilizer with a lower nitrogen content to slow the growth. Using a mulching mower can also help to naturally fertilize your lawn by recycling the nutrients in grass clippings back into the soil. Fertilizer should be applied evenly and judiciously. Too much fertilizer can also turn your lawn brown.
Maintaining your lawn can also help preserve its green color in the summer. When your pets do their business on the grass, they are essentially over-fertilizing that area with the additional nitrogen in their urine. If you notice yellow or bare patches where your pets often go, overseed them to keep them in good repair. Summer also brings extra foot traffic on your grass. Heavy foot traffic, especially on wet soil, can lead to soil compaction which prevents air from getting to the grass roots. Try to avoid walking on the grass as much as possible.
CALLING THE PROS
While the tips above can help keep your lawn green in the summer heat, sometimes assistance is still needed. Proper analysis, treatment, and timing are critical in achieving a green, healthy lawn. A professional lawn service like Northwest can provide you with a free analysis of your lawn’s current condition to determine an effective treatment plan; lawn fertilization; treatment for insects that cause damage to your lawn, including grubs, chinch bugs, and army worms; existing and preventative weed control with post emergent and pre emergent herbicides; a year-round service schedule for the healthiest, greenest lawn possible; and a service guarantee to come back in between regular scheduled visits, if needed, at no additional cost to you. Contact us today for a free lawn care analysis.
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Winter weather can wreak havoc on your lawn. The cold weather can leave your grass and landscaping weak after the freezing temperatures, ice, and snow. While fall is ideally the best time to prepare your lawn for this brutal weather, spring is also an important time for lawn care. How do you get your lawn ready for spring? Follow these spring lawn care tips to ensure you have a lush, healthy lawn this spring and beyond.
Timing Is Everything
Don’t start too early! While it can be tempting to get out and get started on your lawn as soon as the weather starts to warm up, spending too much time on it before it is green can cause compacting of the grass and soil or killing new grass shoots before they get a chance to fully mature. Best practice is to wait until the lawn has turned mostly green before mowing or aerating. Check your lawn for compaction in the spring. If you find evidence of compacted soil, make plans to aerate in the fall. Aeration isn’t recommended in the spring.
Raking Isn’t Just For Fall
Raking isn’t a chore reserved just for the fall season. Raking in the spring is equally important. That’s because raking in the spring isn’t just for leaves – it also helps control thatch (a tightly intermingled layer of living and dead stems, leaves, and roots which accumulates between the layer of actively growing grass and the soil underneath). More than a 1/2″ layer of thatch is considered excessive. Raking helps break this up and removes it to allow the grass underneath to breathe. It also helps avoid mold and other diseases.
Spring is also a great time to clean up your yard before the high traffic volume of summer. Walk your yard and clean up any twigs, branches, and other debris that may have accumulated over the winter. Rake out any dead grasses you find.
Repair And Replenish
Winter can leave your yard with bare patches as a result of dog spots, neglect, high traffic, or large objects that were left out, such as lawn furniture and toys. These bare spots can be repaired by reseeding in the spring. After applying the new seed, the area should be watered daily for at least the first week and shouldn’t be mowed until the grass is at least 2 inches tall. If your thin grass needs to be thickened, you can also overseed in the spring. After overseeding, water the areas daily for at least 2 weeks. A slow release nitrogen fertilizer should also be applied when you overseed and again at 5 weeks after germination.
Fertilizer with weed killer should be applied in early spring. This not only provides nourishment for your lawn but also allows plant roots the means for strong growth. It is recommended to do a lighter fertilizer feed in the spring and a heavier fertilizer feed in the fall so as to sustain nourishment over the harsh winter months. Too much fertilizer in the spring can lead to disease and can also encourage the growth of weeds.
A good rule of thumb for mowing any time of the year is to only remove 1/3 of the total grass length at a given time. In early spring, cut your grass at the highest setting based on your lawn’s type of grass. Leaving the grass taller sinks deeper roots and also helps to crowd out emerging weeds.
Edge The Beds
Edging flower beds in the spring helps to keep grass growth from invading the beds. Edging can be done by using a sharp garden spade to cut a 2-3″ deep, V-shaped trench along the bed edges. This edging can be maintained with a string trimmer throughout the growing season and the trenches can be recut as needed.
Herbicides come in two varieties – preemergent and postemergent. Preemergent herbicides kill weeds before seedlings can emerge. Postemergent herbicides kill weeds after they have germinated. The application of a preemergent herbicide should be done hand-in-hand with the application of fertilizer. The preemergent herbicide forms a “shield” that prohibits seed germination. If you apply a preemergent don’t core aerate as this will puncture the “shield” and the herbicide will no longer be effective. Postemergents can be applied at any time. However, you should use caution and read the product label. Some postemergents are selective and will only target weeds while others will kill anything green – including grass, shrubs, and flowers.
Get Rid Of The Grubs
Hibernating grubs begin to crawl toward the surface of lawns to chew on grass roots in late spring. Therefore, a grub preventative product should be applied in early spring. It is especially important to treat for grubs if you had a problem with grubs in previous years or if you have a neighbor that you know has a problem with grubs.
Give Your Mower A Tune Up
Mowing season begins to rev up in the spring. Spring is the time to tune up and clean up your mower to get ready for use during the growing season. Change the oil, air filters, and spark plug and fill it up with gas. Clean any dirt or grass clippings that remain on the mower. Sharpen the mower blade or replace it if necessary. Before your first use in the spring, warm the mower up by letting it sit in the sun for 1 to 2 hours before cranking it. This can make it easier to start after the long winter hiatus.
Call A Pro
Lawn care can be daunting. Some people enjoy it while others look at it as a burdensome chore. Whatever the situation, a professional lawn care service can provide you with proper analysis,treatment, and timing which are critical in achieving a green, healthy lawn not only in the spring, but year-round. Contact us for a free lawn care analysis.
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Although the cold of winter has set in and your lawnmower is stored away for the year, don’t relax just yet! Lawn care services don’t end just because the weather has turned cold. While your lawn requires more maintenance in spring, summer, and fall, there are things you can do in the winter months to make sure you have a healthy, green lawn when the weather warms in the spring. Check out these 8 tips for winter lawn care.
1. Clean Up The Yard
Beginning in the fall, clear away any debris that has accumulated in your yard and do periodic sweeps throughout the winter. Early winter is the perfect time to rake up any matted areas as these can lead to old. Raking and mowing the debris in winter also encourages better air flow throughout the grass in your yard to prevent both disease and insect infestation. When new grass starts to grow in the spring, having the debris cleared away will allow them to grow without a struggle.
2. Control The Weeds
Although it’s a little early now, start thinking about how you want to control weeds as winter moves into spring. Pre-emergent crabgrass control should be applied in early spring before the soil temperatures reach 55-60 degrees. Once the temps warm up above 60 degrees, weed seeds have already begun to germinate and the pre-emergent weed control won’t be effective.
3. Core Aerate
Another thing to start thinking about is core aeration which should also be done in late winter/early spring before the soil temperatures warm up above 60 degrees. Once temperatures are above 60 degrees, the voids that are left in your yard from the aeration will only serve as an open invitation for aggressive weed seeds to grow. Core aeration is important because it allows air to reach the root zone faster which leads to new growth and improved root development.
4. Repair Your Lawn
Winter can do a number on your yard with its harsh weather and cold temperatures. When spring comes around, you may need to make some much needed repairs to your lawn. Spring is a great time to reseed any damaged areas that developed over the winter months.
Applying fertilizer in the late winter/early spring can jump start your lawn from its dormant winter state. Fertilizer provides a build up of nutrients that will provide it with the strength it needs to withstand heat stress and drought throughout the warmer summer months.
6. Clear The Clutter
Before winter sets in, clear your lawn of any clutter and do periodic sweeps throughout the winter season. Remove any debris, lawn furniture, logs from around your fire pit, toys, etc. If an object is left on the grass during cold weather or snowfall, it can cause large dead spots on your lawn because of the weight of the object. In spring, the grass in these dead areas will be stunted and thinner than the rest of your yard.
7. Keep Off The Lawn
Try to avoid lawn traffic as much as possible in the winter months; walking on your lawn too much can weaken even the strongest grass, if the same path is walked over too many times. Make use of sidewalks and never allow anyone to park a car or truck on your lawn, as this will leave impressions in the soil and kill grass that’s underneath the tires.
8. Professional Lawn Care Services
If winter lawn care seems like a daunting task, don’t stress! Call a professional lawn care company who can come out and provide you with a free lawn care analysis. The Lawn Care team at Northwest can provide you with expert lawn care services and a customized program that includes lawn fertilization, weed control, lawn pest control, aeration and overseeding, tree and shrub care, and even disease control. Fill out the form below or give us a call to schedule your free lawn care analysis today!
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The weather is noticeably cooler and the leaves are starting to fall. Summer is quickly coming to an end and so is lawn maintenance season… right? Not quite! Fall is the perfect time to do some last minute preparations so your yard is ready for spring. By investing a little time before winter sets in, you can guarantee a lush, green lawn once the weather warms up again. Check out these next steps to take care of your lawn this fall.
- Continue To Mow. Your grass will continue to grow until the first hard frost so don’t put away your lawn mower just yet! Continue to cut your grass to a height of 2-1/2 to 3 inches. Leaving your grass any longer than this can cause it to mat which can lead to fungus and mold. Cutting any shorter than this can damage the root system to the point that it can’t tolerate the winter cold and dryness.
- Continue To Water. Even though there is more rain and dew in the fall, it’s usually not enough to keep your plant roots hydrated and healthy. Your grass needs at least an inch of water per week. If you’re not getting that much in rain, etc., keep your sprinklers and irrigation system running until the end of October. Then you can disconnect your hoses and flush your irrigation system so the pipes and spigots don’t freeze over the winter.
- Rake The Leaves. Contrary to popular belief, leaving a layer of leaves over your lawn doesn’t insulate it over the winter. The leaves, in fact, will block light from getting to the grass and trap moisture underneath which can lead to disease and fungus and kill your grass. Blow or rake the leaves as often as you can – or – mow them and reuse the clippings as a nutritious mulch for your yard!
- Aerate The Soil. Aeration should be done regularly – once every couple of years. Aeration prevents the soil from becoming compacted and covered with thatch (a thick layer of roots, stems, and debris). Thatch blocks water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the soil. The best practice is to aerate your soil right before you fertilize so the fertilizer goes straight to the plant roots where it is most needed.
- Fertilize. Fertilizing not only protects plant roots from freezing in the winter cold but also gives them a boost of energy so they can bounce back in the spring. It is best to fertilize in 2 steps: Apply a weed and feed first so you can kill weeds and nourish your lawn at the same time; then apply a 2nd feeding about 6 to 8 weeks later to give your lawn the last bit of nutrition it needs to store energy for the spring.
- Overseed Your Lawn. Overseeding is is the planting of grass seed directly into existing turf, without tearing up the turf, or the soil. Overseeding not only fills in thin spots and bare patches but also makes your lawn denser which helps protect against weeds. Fall is the best time for overseeding because the ground is still warm, moisture is plentiful, the nights are cool, and the sun is not as hot during the day.
- Clean Out Your Flower Beds. Fall is the perfect time to clean out your flower beds before spring planting. Clean out the remains of any old annuals, dried stems, and other debris. This not only helps keep destructive pests away but also helps prevent the spread of disease and fungus. Cut perennial stems to within an inch or 2 of the ground.
- Clean Your Tools. Once your fall lawn preparations are complete, it’s time to put your tools away for winter. Make sure to clean them before you store them to prevent rust. Perform any maintenance on your mower after the last cut of your yard before you store it away for winter also.
- Check Your Gutters. Falling leaves are a big culprit of clogged gutters and downspouts. Clean out any leaves and debris from your gutters before winter sets in. Inspect for damage and make sure downspouts are pointed away from foundations. Consider installing gutter guards to eliminate the hassle of cleaning your gutters in the fall.
If the thought of getting all of these chores done before winter sets in seems overwhelming, we can help! Contact Northwest by filling out the form below or giving us a call for a Free Lawn Analysis!