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Five Steps to a Greener Lawn:
Step 1- Start with the Soil
The first thing you have to do to have a greener lawn is make sure the pH of the soil is close to neutral. In West TN, most of our soils are acidic which means the pH is low. In order to raise the pH you have to add lime. It is best to have a soil analysis done on your lawn to know how much lime and other nutrients (such as Potassium, Phosphorus, & Sulfur) you need. Southern Lawncare can have the analysis done for you. Regular price is $35 but for a limited time when you agree to a 8 treatment program its FREE!! CLICK HERE for a free estimate on our 8 treatment lawn program
You may be asking yourself, “Why should I care about the dirt? I just want a better looking lawn with no weeds.”
I understand completely, but in order to do that your dirt has to have the right pH and nutrients. If not your lawn will be more susceptible to weeds that thrive in acidic soils. Not only that but if your pH is out of whack then your grass won’t even be able to use all the fertilizer you put on it. So you are literally throwing money away.
Step 2- Prevent weeds from growing before they start.
There’s only one way to do this. And that is by applying the right pre-emergent herbicides in the right amount, at the right time of year.
Applying pre-emerges can be a bit tricky. Timing is everything. You have to get the pre-emergent down before weeds emerge and the only way to know when weeds are about to emerge is to know the soil temperature that the seeds of those weeds germinate.
Poa annua typically germinates as the soil temperatures fall below 70oF in the fall. Crabgrass tends to germinate when the soil temperature reaches 60oF in the spring. So as you can see you really can’t set your time to pre-emerge by a calendar. You have to go with the weather.
If you are wanting to over-seed your lawn in the fall Do Not Put a Pre-Emerge Down in the Fall!
Step 3- Choosing the right fertilizer
Usually when I go visit with a potential client I’ll ask them if they have been doing there own weed control and fertilization. If they say yes I’ll ask them what they use to fertilize. 9 times out of 10 they will be using a 15-15-15 or a 13-13-13. In most cases using these blends is a wate of money because your lawn doesn;t need an equal amount of all 3 nutrients. That’s why I recommend getting a soil analysis before beginning any lawn care program.
Your lawn needs 1lbs of Nitrogen per 1000 square feet every 6-8 weeks three times throughout the growing season. There are so many types of fertilizer that it can be a bit confusing. Unless you want to do a lot of research I recommend hiring a lawn care professional to take care of this for you.
Step 4- Keep sharp mower blades and mow often
This is critical. Dull mower blades not only make the lawn look rough in appearance, they also make the grass plant itself more susceptible to disease.
On my lawn, I try to sharpen the blades after every third mowing. The general rule of thumb is that a sharp blade will last for about 10 hrs of use.
I also encourage my clients to use the 1/3 rule when it comes to mowing frequency. You should never remove more than one-third of the plant during a mowing. So if the grass is 3″ tall you can safely remove 1″.
Lawns mowed more often are thicker and healthier because everytime you mow you are making the grass more vigorous.
Step 5- Proper Watering
There is no one size fits all approach to watering. Several factors contribute to the amount of water a lawn needs each week.
First, there is soil type. In our area, soils are usually high in clay which means they hold water more so than sandy soils. However, you have to take into consideration the hard pan that lies below the soil layer. If the bedrock layer is 3 inches below the soil layer more frequent watering will be needed.
I recommend that you aerate at least once per year to make it easier for water to get to the roots of the grass. The best time to aerate is late spring or early summer. Renting an aerator is typically $100 per day and in most cases hiring a professional to handle this for you is close to the same price. Call us at 901-476-8188 or Click here to get an estimate on aeration.
It’s best to let the lawn tell you what it needs. If your lawn goes from a dark green to a lighter shade of green or a bluish gray green then you need to water it deeply with about 1/2″ to 1″ of water.
Be sure you always water within 48 hours of fertilizer being applied.
There are several good watering techniques. The best is to have an automatic watering system installed. It is expensive but it is the most efficient and user friendly choice. The best time to water in my opinion is just before the crack of dawn. You can program these systems to come on whenever you want them to and they do all the work. With the technology available today, you can have ground sensors installed throughout your lawn and the system will program itself based on your lawn’s needs.
The second way is to have a traveling sprinkler. These are very user friendly. You do still have to drag a hose but you can set them up on a timer and there is a “stop block” that comes with most Once the sprinkler makes it back to the block it will stop and shut the water off.
The last way is to just set a sprinkler up in your yard and move it when you have put the desired amount of water on your lawn. With all these methods you need to use a rain gauge to know how much water has been put out.
If you are looking for help with your West TN lawn care, call Southern Lawn and Pest today at 901-476-8188.