Lawn Care Tips

LAWN CARE TIPS BY DOWN TO EARTH DISTRIBUTORS INC. 2020 

illustration of a lawn

 

LAWN AND GARDEN

 


PLANTING A NEW LAWN

If considering planting a new lawn, it is optimal to have 6 to 8 weeks of good growing weather after seeding.
Grass seeds germinate best when the air temperature is between 60 ºF and 85 ºF.

 

WHEN TO SEED

In the Northwest, mid-August to mid-September presents a near perfect environment, from mid-April to mid-June.
Check with your region's extension service for the optimal season in your area. Soil Preparation: If you need to bring in additional soil, lightly rototill your existing soil first. Then, spread the new soil and work it in. You will want to rototill in order to loosen the first 6 to 8 inches of soil, as well as allow the soil to be graded. A pebble-like texture is ideal. If it is tilled too fine, like powder, it can damage the soil structure and reduce infiltration. It is best to till the soil when it is relatively dry, but not dusty and crumbly.
After tilling the area, add your topsoil, compost, lime and other soil amendments, as needed.
Consider using Biochar to help refresh the soil by enhancing aeration, nutrient and water availability, and improved soil texture. Spread amendments uniformly over the entire surface and till again to achieve an even mixture. Grading your ground is an important step to help level out your lawn. You want to scratch down any high spots and fill in low spots. Using a larger lightweight grading rake (which can be rented), rather than a small garden rake, can make the job much easier. Creating a level, gradual slope away from buildings and flush to the concrete can help prevent drainage problems.
 

SEEDING 

When seeding, the objective is to spread seed over the area so that your grass will germinate and grow uniformly. If you do not have access to a calibrated seed spreader, then divide your grass seed in half. Spread the first half of seed over the entire surface of the lawn while walking back and forth. Next, spread the second half of seed while walking back and forth perpendicularly to the first orientation. For amount of coverage, refer to the requirements for the variety of grass seed you choose.
 

FERTILIZING

Apply fertilizer just before or after seeding. For establishing your lawn, you can use fertilizer relatively high in nitrogen and phosphorus, such as Down To Earth’s™ Bio-Turf 8-3-5 that has extra potassium for reducing seasonal stresses related to temperature and watering changes.
 

LAWN MAINTENANCE

A typical home lawn gets more complex each year. In the first year, it contains mostly grass species found in the seed mix, but over time, it evolves to 3 or 4 species that have adapted to your climate. This new mix is referred to as a “climax lawn” and is a natural process as your lawn adapts to its environment. By concentrating on mowing, irrigating, fertilizing, dethatching and aeration, you can maintain a healthy and attractive lawn. Fertilizing: You should fertilize at least twice a year in order to maintain a relatively healthy lawn. If you only fertilize twice, fertilize in April/May and again in September. If you fertilize more than twice, do so in April/May, July and October. 
BIO-TURF 8-3-5 AND OYSTER SHELL
Depending on soil test values, you might use Down To Earth Bio-Turf 8-3-5 to add additional phosphorus and potassium.
Add Down To Earth Oyster Shell for calcium lime once a year and dolomite lime every 3 to 4 years to supply calcium and keep soil pH neutral in areas with naturally acidic soils.
 

DETHACHING YOUR LAWN

Turf problems are often the result of excess thatch. Thatch is a tightly intermingled layer of grass stems and roots, both living and dead, that form between the soil surface and the green foliage, a result of inadequate watering and lack of organic material. Grass roots will grow into thatch rather than the soil. Dethatching can be done with a vertical mower (also called a verticutter or dethatcher), or you can use a steel rake to rip up the thatch. The optimum time to dethatch is when the turf is starting vigorous spring growth, usually around MidApril.
 

WHEN TO WEED

Turf dethatched in the spring recovers faster, and is less prone to weed encroachment than when dethatched at other times of the year. Moss: As much as 75% of moss can be removed by dethatching. Cryptocidal or moss-killing soaps are safe to use on sidewalks, roofs and other structures. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions for application on any weed control or natural weed control products.


HOW TO DEAL WITH MOSS
Using Oyster Shell in the soil can reduce acidity and help to discourage the growth of moss. Moss growth typically starts with fall rains and reaches a peak in early spring. Moss is generally associated with thin turf, low fertility, high acidity, shade and wetness. It is impossible to control until these problems are corrected.


WATERING LAWNS 
Grow grass in a sunny location with good drainage. From June through August, lawns need to be watered deeply once a week for proper hydration. If a dense, vigorous lawn is not your priority, watering deeply every two weeks is sufficient. Instead of following a predetermined watering schedule, it is better to observe your turf and check the soil moisture regularly. If it is dark green and doesn’t spring back after stepping, it needs watering. Check the moisture by inserting a 6” screwdriver into the turf. If it takes some effort to push it in, it’s time to water. If it penetrates easily, hold off on watering. Typically, lawns in the Northwest need 3 to 5 inches of water in July and August, 2-4 inches in June and September, and even less in May and October. Check for your region's optimal water levels. If you have clay soil, water more frequently with shorter irrigations to avoid runoff.

For additional guides and gardening videos, visit our information website online at www.downtoearthfertilizer.com
 

MOWING LAWNS

If you choose to do only one maintenance task, you should mow, but mow often. Weekly mowing from spring through fall will produce good quality turf. Turf quality drops dramatically when the height is maintained over 2 inches. Bentgrasses or annual bluegrass prefer a shorter mowing, down to 1/2 to 1 inch. Perennial rye grass, fescues, and Kentucky Bluegrass optimum height is from 1 1/2 to 2 inches. An occasional mowing during winter might be necessary to keep the turf in good shape before the spring growth spurt.


AERATING LAWNS
Aerate all lawns once or twice a year to allow air, water, fertilizer and roots to penetrate deeper in to the soil. After aerating, add fertilizer, spray with compost tea and top dress with 1/2 inch of fine compost.


LAWN CARE TIPS
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