Those professionals use piston-driven aerators with tines that move straight up and down, rather than the lightweight, less-effective aerators you'll find at many rental yards. As the third-generation owner of a lawn and garden center, he has been in the lawn care business “forever.” Plus: Is lawn … Soil with good structure will crumble in your hand (and out of it) when subjected to fairly mild pressure. 3. Mulching is also good for the environment because the clippings won't end up in a landfill. Think big — or perhaps small. Rain runs off or puddles rather than soaking into lawn. A barrier of chicken wire that extends 1 foot deep around your yard might help keep them out. This perennial weed tends to thrive in thin lawns with too little fertilizer. Not only will it be more functional, it may look better, too. Controlling it isn't hard, but timing is crucial; many homeowners apply pre-emergence herbicides in late spring or summer, when it's too late for them to do any good. If you don’t have thick, lush, green grass to begin with, nothing’s more frustrating than hearing about how the best defense against weeds or pests is a healthy lawn. Those spots are most likely to show up during hot and dry weather, when lawns are under greater stress. An on-line search of that office should bring up a list of companies that do such analysis, detailing what precisely each one will test for and how much it costs. The percentage of nitrogen in a fertilizer is indicated by the first number on the bag, so with a 20-10-10 fertilizer (20 percent nitrogen), you should apply 5 pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet. What's more, both chemicals require multiple applications and must be applied during periods of active growth. Chronic lawn problems are often about the soil, not the actual grass. A few grubs aren't a big deal. So why do so many people still have lawn problems—and how do you get rid of them? You might know the answer, but if you don’t (and that would make you like most of us) you’ve got several options. Density. 4. How long your sprinklers must run depends on how quickly they apply the water as well as how quickly your soil absorbs it. Start by mapping your current yard. This powerful, quick-release concentrate builds healthy soil and thick green turf! If children and pets are playing outside, you deserve to have lush grass and a chemical-free yard. Also keep trees and shrubs properly pruned. The No. Early morning is best. The more you walk on the lawn, the faster the soil compacts. Put the collection bag on your mower and then mow the lawn, cutting the grass to just 1½ inches long. Those patches are weed-magnets, and if you don’t fill them with grass, then nature will fill them for you — and probably not with grass. Install an underground watering system with a programmable timer, and adjust the timer according to the seasons. Thatch. While glyphosate and glufosinate-ammonium are effective chemical remedies, the EPA considers glyphosate moderately toxic. Leaves block sunlight. The best time to prune either is in early spring, before the first flush of growth. Lawn. Contains 20% acetic acid and includes yucca extract to work fast -- within a few hours! Water your lawn deeply and less often. It covers a large area with even, light streams of water to prevent washing away seed. Do you care whether you have several kinds of grass in your yard? Seriously, subsoil performs important functions in the structure of soil, but it’s not what you want near the top. Too Much Shade . Search the Internet using the words "soil testing" and your state, look in your telephone directory under county government for "extension agent," or check with your local nursery. Repeat until a full inch of water is applied to the soil. How much water your lawn needs depends on the grass, the soil and the amount of rainfall your lawn gets. Just sticking a shovel into the ground can give you a good idea of how much you have, because there’s usually a clearly visible line dividing topsoil, which is dark, from the lighter subsoil. Made from one solid piece of steel and set into a walnut handle with brass rivets. Structure, which describes how soil particles (or peds) group or amalgamate, is a critical aspect of soil health, but tests for it generally carry Do Not Try This At Home labels, if only because they’re too complex. What's more, baiting is far more effective than home remedies, according to experts. There are 5 steps to reviving a lawn. About half of readers surveyed say they mulch at least some of the time. Step 2. Depth. How much time do you want to spend on your lawn? Prevents crabgrass, dandelions and many other common weeds. Lawn Care Guru. Soil beneath most lawns eventually becomes hard and compacted, even if you prepared it perfectly before planting. Fertilize southern grasses in the spring after dormant lawns are revived and green, then again in July or August. Easy to apply formula works on contact, yet is completely safe around children and pets! The latter are "often problematic, "because people put them on and forget about them," says Ali Harivandi, Ph.D., environmental horticulturist at the. Then fill in the hole with clean topsoil and reseed the area in early fall. Texture: sand, clay, silt. Those small beetle larvae live in the soil and feed on lawn roots. That’s in fact exactly what you are trying to do — but don’t use a lot of pressure. Wait a couple of days and reseed or replant any damaged areas. But because moles can dig deeper than that and occasionally travel short distances above ground, even barriers are only marginally effective. If more than three-quarters is sand, you’re looking at very sandy soil. … One of the simplest (though not necessarily easiest!) Most lawn grasses don't like shade, even "shade-tolerant" varieties. Reduces compaction and thatch to let air, water and fertilizer down to the roots. (Seven inches will often bring you to the end of your topsoil; twelve will usually take you down into the subsoil, making it easier to measure the topsoil — see depth, below.) Spots of dead grass will often repair themselves eventually. If it’s clover, consider that until the 1950s most grass-seed mixes included clover, which has pretty flowers, stays green all summer, and adds nitrogen to the soil, where grass can use it (see Establishing Clover in Lawns). Sink the prongs of an aerator or garden fork into the soil about 5cm … With a sharp, narrow trowel, dig out a “core sample” from your lawn — a grass plug about six inches deep — and look at the root depth. If kids are playing soccer on it, you’ll need a tough, resilient grass. If instead of seeing dirt, you see a matted layer of roots and dead stuff, you’re looking at thatch. In direct sun? Spread by spores, moss is an attractive ground cover that many homeowners cultivate. Aerate the soil. So homeowners wind up treating the symptom—dead grass—not the cause," says Zac Reicher, professor of turfgrass science at Purdue University. But it's a job best left to the specialists. Complete instructions are included, plus a chart of pH and NPK levels on over 100 plants. Experts agree: Fungicides are a waste of time and money. Water thoroughly and slowly until the water soaks at least 1 inch below the lawn's roots, or 4 to 8 inches into the soil. As a locally-based company with decades of experience in the lawn care business, ABC has the experience and know how to advise homeowners on the best and most cost-effective ways to improve … Add a 1/2 inch layer to lawns and gently rake over area. Depth just tells you how much topsoil you’ve got, and whether it’s enough to support your grass. Trapping a mole is the only way to be sure you're rid of it. With the more uniform watering a watering system can provide, your lawn will grow much better. Then we spoke with lawn-care experts to learn which practices work best and why. (When the dirt is hard, the digging is harder.) Lawn grasses grow best in a soil pH between 6.5 and 7. Root Depth. If you consistently feed it the nutrients it needs, you’ll avoid problems in the future. Keep this up for four days, then switch to a deep watering once a day for the next five days. Measure yours by setting empty containers around the lawn, running the sprinklers for 20 minutes, and measuring the depth of the water inside. Obviously, first among these is heavy use, which is why paths are almost always compacted. And follow the directions precisely. Knowing how to handle them can mean the difference between working on your lawn and simply enjoying it. Assuming it holds together, give it a little squeeze and wiggle your fingers as if you were trying to break it up with your thumb and fingers. There’s a more detailed discussion of soil itself in the page on Know Your Lawn; you can go there to get an idea of what precisely humus is, what pH stands for, and so on. It should not “dissolve” into tiny sand-sized particles, but break apart into many pieces of varying sizes. It’s impossible to have a really healthy lawn unless you have enough topsoil, that rich top layer that’s the same to soil as cream is to milk. Don’t stop at finding the best grass seed for your neck of the woods; think also about adding rock, meadow or ornamental grasses, shrubs, and garden beds. 1 broadleaf lawn weed in Mississippi, Virginia buttonweed starts growing in early summer and continues to grow until frost. If the dirt runs loosely through your fingers, like sand, it has poor soil structure. Building new topsoil on an old lawn requires a more gradual approach, a combination of aeration, topdressing, and amending the soil. Watering once a week—long enough to apply 1 inch of water over the lawn—is the old rule of thumb. Use to prevent crabgrass, dandelions and more! There are several informal tests for compaction, but none suffices in itself, so be sure to use several. Grass prefers a slightly acidic soil, so a high pH would go a long way towards explaining an unhappy lawn. How to get a perfect lawn. Each 25 lb bag covers 1500 square feet. One folk remedy is to kill ivy with a borax solution, but it is more harmful to desirable grasses and less effective than herbicides. Replace lawn beneath trees with bishop's hat, sweet woodruff, or other shade-tolerant ground cover as the tree grows and creates more shade. Maintain a healthy and vigorous lawn so that ground ivy has less chance of gaining a foothold. It’s best to perform this test a day or so after a rain (or watering), depending of course on temperature, shade and so on. Once soil is compacted, water and fertilizer can't reach the lawn's roots, weakening them and allowing weeds to grow. 5… A healthy colony of moss in your lawn means too much shade; acidic, compacted, or wet soil; or too little fertilizer. Trees can be selectively pruned to provide a little more sunlight and also improve … Here’s what you do: Cut through the sod in an “average” part of your lawn, so you can get at the dirt beneath. If you leave footprints on the lawn when you walk on it, the lawn needs water. The library and the internet can help you, but landscapers, bookstores, nurseries, neighbors, and local organizations can be great resources as well. It’s difficult to push a trowel or dandelion weeder into the ground when it’s dry. Structure: does it crumble? Check for grubs by cutting into the lawn near the edge of a brown area and lifting the sod. Several options require less water and no mowing — always a plus. Don't bother with animal repellents; they're of little or no use, according to the experts we interviewed. No matter where you live, a soil test is the best way to know what your lawn needs. A soil test requires a good deal more soil than that, and accuracy requires that it be gathered from here and there about the yard, so that results don’t get skewed by odd, local factors. Since earthworms eat humus, their presence indicates a reasonably high organic content. Odds are, you'll see those milky-white, worm-like creatures with brown heads and three pairs of legs curled into a C shape. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, try to identify it using whatever resources come to hand, (friends, neighbors, the many plant ID sites on the web) or dig out a sample and take it, alive, to your local county extension office where for a small fee you can let the experts figure it out. Start your renovation by identifying problem areas of your lawn and removing dead or declining patches of turf. Check with your cooperative extension service for the ideal height for your type. Down To Earth® Bio-Turf Lawn Fertilizer is easy to apply for long-lasting fertilization. Packed earth impedes the movement of air, water, and roots themselves, and the grass suffers. When it comes to growing and maintaining a thriving landscape, homeowners have a lot of options. After all, why renovate lawn in areas where in fact you’d rather be growing something else? Use a trowel if necessary. Combine Heterorhabditis nematodes (sold in paste-like form) with water and apply to the soil in the spring or fall. They're likeliest to invade areas that are drier, wetter, shadier, or otherwise different from the rest of the lawn. pH imbalances can be corrected with appropriate soil amendments. Add a 1/2 inch layer to lawns and gently rake over area. Foot traffic and lawn machinery can compact the soil under your lawn, creating a difficult environment for grass... Reduce thatch Provides organic matter and natural nutrients for flowers and vegetables. Aerators remove plugs of dirt from the lawn and break up the soil, allowing grass roots to spread… Sort through that soil, looking for earthworms. And follow the directions precisely. Sprinklers that apply ¼-inch of water every 20 minutes must run for 80 minutes to apply 1 inch. While you’re in the planning process, cast a wide net. For moss in low-lying or moist areas, water only when you see signs of too little moisture (when footprints in the grass remain and don't spring back, for instance). Don’t be your own worst enemy here, just be honest. Fill the jar with water, shake vigorously, and leave it overnight. If you can’t scoop it up with your fingers, you already know something important about the soil: it’s compacted, and the structure is damaged. Compost is filled with pore spaces for oxygen. If you decide to use those broadleaf herbicides, apply them in fall, not spring. Mowing the lawn. ), or you can pull up representative samples and drop in at your county extension office, where you’ll probably have to pay a small fee, or you can do the job yourself. Easy to use, just place your foot in the stirrup and step down firmly; pull straight up. Moles tend to tunnel closer to the surface in spring when soil is moist, leaving a zigzag trail of raised soil. A motion-activated sprinkler system might help discourage droppings, but it won't distinguish between dogs, deliverymen, and welcome guests. Different tactics are successful with these different situations. How often do you mow? You might need to mow more often during the peak growing season. If they don’t, your grass is not as healthy as it could be. Your local cooperative extension or nursery can tell you the best time. Leaving clippings returns useful nutrients, cutting the amount of fertilizer the lawn needs by about 30 percent. A lawn is typically the basis of most landscapes and can either make or break the overall appearance. Neither extreme is conducive to most plants, and a soil pH too far from that preferred by a particular plant means that it will not be able to gain access to the nutrients it needs. Finally, and this one may come as a surprise, walking on the lawn when it is frozen or snowy will lead to compaction. You’re not trying to squeeze it together, you’re trying to break it apart — gently. It's important to keep an eye on whomever you hire. Raise the pH of acidic soil with limestone, and lower the pH of soil that is too alkaline with sulfur, though the latter is a much slower process. Think outside it. For a quicker fix, cut out the dead spot and fill it in with plugs cut from a strip of sod. Instead, look for typical causes such as too much water, improper mowing, and fertilizing at the wrong time of year. Both will help minimize fertilizer in the runoff. When thatch accumulates to more than half an inch in depth, though, it can cause problems. Fortunately, there is one exception. Measure. Milky Spore is safe, effective and easy to use. They’ll send you a collection kit with detailed instructions. Rebuilding a damaged lawn takes about two years, so figure on investing a fair amount of energy on planning in the early days. But if you're reading this, you're probably not one of them. Silt will feel powdery when dry, and will hold together somewhat if you squeeze a lump or roll it out. Is it one of your pet projects, or is it the step-sister to the garden, which you love? Soil that crumbles at this stage probably has adequate if not stellar structure, but if you keep trying to crumble it and it keeps holding together, it probably has high clay content and poor structure. Dallisgrass, nimblewill, quackgrass, and tall fescue develop into unsightly patches and clumps. The goal is to apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year. If more than half is clay, you’ve got a very clayey soil. It may start choking out the grass, and it may prevent light rain or watering from reaching the soil where it’s needed. What do you do with it? Ice remains on lawn after snow has melted elsewhere. Thirteen fairly common minerals lead a double life as plant nutrients. Next, use plugs, sprigs, or sod to fill in the holes. … So, how do you fix a bad lawn and turn it into a beautiful, self-sustaining outdoor environment? Lawn … When mowing the lawn, the normal practice is to cut the grass, bag it and dispose off away from the lawn. 3. Fertilize? Water Daily An oscillating sprinkler works best for getting your lawn started. You can buy kits to measure pH at home, or you can have it tested professionally, either by a university extension office, a county agricultural office, or a local nursery or landscaper. Step 3. Give your lawn its first cut as the weather starts to warm. These ground covers will also make mowing easier and protect trees from the occasional nicks that can allow disease to take hold. Use natural lawn fertilizers. The soil should not be either soaking wet or bone dry. Top-dressing addresses some common lawn problems, … If you find at least five, you’re doing okay. Pros often do it yearly, but every few years is probably fine unless your lawn looks bad. Burying an existing lawn, however, makes no sense unless you never liked that lawn much anyway and you’re planning to re-seed entirely. Test it yourself using an inexpensive kit or meter, or bring soil samples to a nursery, cooperative extension service, or lab. "Soil analysis is a small investment that pays big dividends; it doesn't take much work," explains Peg Hoovler of Lynchburg, Va., a Consumer Reports online subscriber who was recently certified as a master gardener by her local cooperative extension service. This question overlaps with, Use, of course, because crochet and volleyball, for example, require a fair amount of space, while if you just want vistas of the distant mountains and a path to reach the garage, you may not need much lawn at all. If you have a poor lawn, nothing else will really matter. Adding a few inches of soil to a lawn that hasn’t been seeded is expensive but not impossible. Most U.S. lawns cannot boast so much, largely because most of us have been trained to rake up mown grass and fallen leaves, thus removing the only natural organic additions available. It helps prevent crabgrass and fertilizes. Over time, lawns can compact from regular use. Planet Natural has everything you need to guarantee the healthiest outdoor environment possible. Small brown spots surrounded by dark green grass is a telltale sign of dog urine. Raking only once or twice each fall, as 57 percent of those surveyed did, just isn't enough. If you’re like most people, your lawn is the highest use area of your landscaping, especially if you have kids or pets. The Yard Butler® Lawn Core Aerator reduces compaction and thatch to let air, water and fertilizer down to the root zone. The first attributes (texture, structure and density) determine how easily and freely water and air move through the soil, while its pH and its organic and mineral contents reveal what nutrients the soil contains and how available they are to plants growing in it. The home kits are relatively easy to use, but be sure to get a good one so that you can trust the results. How big is the lawn? Type(s). Use limestone to raise the pH of acidic soil, sulphur to lower the pH of alkaline soil. Amending the soil adds bulk as well, but it also improves the soil’s structure so that it’s better able to maintain its new, more porous state. You can hire an expert to come tell you what’s what (be sure to take notes! 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