A bright, luscious lawn is the dream for every homeowner, and after winter has faded away, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start getting your grass ready for spring and summer. With changes to laws in Ontario relating to herbicides, there are also a few different techniques homeowners should plan when taking on their lawn care duties this year.
Plus, there’s more than one reason to keep your grass fresh and healthy over the summer months.
“A lush, green lawn around your home does so much more than simply add aesthetic value to your property,” says Denis Flanagan from Landscape Ontario. “It provides fresh air and retains storm water, while helping cool the temperatures during the heat waves of summer.”
Here are seven tips and tricks to keep in mind this year when you work on your lawn, and how to keep it healthy while enjoying all of the benefits. Keep in mind as well that many of these steps are things you should start doing right away, to prepare your lawn ahead of time, while the growing season is just starting out.
1. Aerate and thatch control.
Aerating your lawn in the spring breaks up thatch — a layer of dead grass and organic matter that accumulates just above the soil — and loosens compact soil that allows water, air and nutrients to penetrate deeper, producing stronger roots. Break up thatch so there is no more than a 1 cm layer. Anything more than that will harbour insects and diseases, while preventing water from getting to the grass’s root system.
2. Improve soil quality.
The ideal soil for grass is moist, but not waterlogged. Soil can be sent for analysis to ensure it has the right levels of phosphorous, potassium, pH and lime. Top dress your lawn with less than 1 cm of top soil or compost, and then…
Spring is an ideal opportunity to introduce drought-resistant grass mixes, like perennial rye and red fescue that are durable and will help prevent insects and disease.
4. Proper mowing technique.
You don’t want to cut your lawn shorter than 6-8 cm (three inches), and ensure your mower blade is sharp to prevent tearing of the grass plants. It recommended that you cut your lawn regularly so you don’t remove more than a third of the grass blade at one time. It is also recommended that you leave the clippings on the lawn to provide a natural source of nitrogen.
A slow-release fertilizer is vital to grass health. The nutrients provided will help you grow a thick lawn that is better able to choke out weeds. Use a spreader for even application of a good quality fertilizer.
6. Spot check for weeds and insects.
Through the season, pull broadleaf weeds by hand to prevent flowering and seeding. Nematodes can be applied to your lawn to help control grubs and overseeding with perennial rye grass will minimize chinch bugs, bluegrass billbugs and sod webworms.
7. Proper watering.
A healthy lawn does not need frequent watering — less than once a week. But ensure it is watered deeply and early in the morning to prevent evaporation. Don’t fret during drought periods. Your lawn will be able to survive four-to-six-weeks without adequate water; obey local watering restrictions, check your lawn regularly for pests, keep traffic off it, stop mowing and don’t fertilize.
For more from Landscape Ontario, follow them on Twitter at @Green_for_Life, or visit landscapeontario.com.
Photo by Sergiu Bacioiu.