Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Care and Maintenance of your Lawn

There are more and more areas of our country that face water shortages. The cause can be from either Mother Nature in the form of a drought or from the booming real estate market where water supply cannot keep up with the demand. Because there is less water to go around, homeowners should start adjusting their landscape maintenance habits, even if they have not yet been told to restrict their water consumption by their local municipalities.

There are four major areas of lawn maintenance that will help you train your turf to flourish with less water consumption. Let’s start with the most obvious:

  1. Expectations – Everyone wants their lawn to look like a golf green, but most people are not willing to invest either the amount of time or money that it would take to have that nearly perfect lawn. I think most everyone would be quite happy with a lawn that looks nice and is functional, without all the intensive fertilizing, mowing and watering.
  2. Fertilizing – By adjusting our own expectations for that golf green lawn, you can start to maintain a healthy lawn with less fertilizer. When reducing the amount of fertilizer, for example there will be less growth and thus less demand for water. If you use a slow-release fertilizer, the turf growth will be more constant or even. Proper maintenance of your turf should keep your lawn healthy and by doing so, this should cut down on the amount of water requirements and you should have fewer weeds and insect problems.
  3. Mowing – Raise your mower to the highest acceptable level. This should encourage deep rooting. Avoid the urge to drop the blades down as you run the risk of scalping your lawn. Scalping your lawn at the wrong time of year can lead to crabgrass. When you scalp your turf, you open up the turf canopy; the soil becomes warmer faster allowing the crabgrass to germinate. During times of drought, the heights should be at or near three inches. The more green you have on top, the more roots you have below.

    When cutting, it is recommended that only one-third of the leaf blade be removed at a time. Give back to the land by mulching. Mulch mowing returns nutrients to the soil (by decomposing), does not cause thatch build-up (unless you only plan on mowing once every two weeks!) and reduces landfill waste.  It is important to ensure a mower’s discharge chute faces toward the lawn during the first couple of passes to avoid clippings from accumulating on adjacent sidewalks, driveways and streets. Keep those mower blades sharp!!!! A sharp mower blade will cut the grass cleanly and not shred it. Ripped grass blade edges turn brown rapidly and make your turf look think it needs to be watered.
  4. Watering – A lot of landscape problems are from poor watering practices. Did you know that people who water with hoses over-water by 10% while people who have automatic sprinkler systems over-water by 20 to 30%! Automatic sprinkler systems have the potential to be very efficient, but only if the schedule is adjusted frequently to apply the amount of water the lawn truly needs and of course if the system is properly maintained!  Check those sprinkler heads, make any adjustments required and fix those leaks. Studies have shown that providing 20 – 25 per cent less water than amounts listed with your system may actually be ideal for your lawn.

    Become your own Water Manager. How can you do this? By observing how the lawn is doing and monitor the signs of a thirsty lawn.

    What you need to watch for:
    1. Foot Printing – After someone has walked across the lawn, the foot prints are still visible an hour or more later.
    2. Color Change – The grass color changes from a lush green to a bluish-gray color.

    If you see either of these signs, it is time to water. The lawn will recover quickly, do not delay as it could cause the lawn to become dormant and turn brown. Do not apply more water than the soil can hold in the grass root zone. Depending on the type of grass and the soil preparation prior to sodding, most of the grass roots will be about 4 to 8 inches deep (in clay tope soils). If you can push a probe (example: screw driver) easily into the ground to the roots then there is enough moisture, if you can’t then you will need to water more.
Posted by Perfect Landscaping at 12:10 PM

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