Spring Lawn Maintenance
If you want to have a lawn that is something to be proud of here are a few easy tips to get you started.
- Never have your grass cut too short. Cutting more than 1/3 off of your grass at any one time could cause damage. Leaving it longer does not necessarily mean that your grass will have to be cut more often because as the average temperature increases, grass growth decreases.
- Have your lawn de-thatched yearly. Thatch is a layer of stems, roots and shoots that are on top of the soil. It prevents water and nutrients from getting into the soil. You can remove thatch by rigorously raking your lawn, or using a power rake. De-thatching will leave your lawn a mess, so to promote quick recovery; it’s a good idea to time it with fertilizer application, over seeding, and watering or rain.
You can also have your yard aerated. Aerating is the process of putting holes in the soil with spikes. This will also reduce the amount of thatch in your yard and allow more nutrients to reach the soil and the roots of your plants and trees.
- Removing weeds now will minimize their growth over the season. You can either have your weeds sprayed with an herbicide or have them pulled if you are into organic lawn and garden practices.
Fall Lawn Maintenance
There are a few things that can be done in the fall to help your grass look healthier when spring finally arrives.
- Raise the deck! Have your lawn trimmed one last time before the first snow fall but ask that the mower deck be raised a few notches. If it is cut too short, the first frost of winter can kill the grass
- Rake up any fallen leaves or branches that will decompose under the snow and surely damage your lawn.
- Avoid walking on snow covered grass. Walking on the snow will compact the grass and choke your yard. If you or your animals must walk on the grass, clear a path with a snow blower or shovel.
Purpose of Mulching
- Suppress Weed Growth – Mulch creates a barrier making it harder for weeds to grow, plus it is harder for them to push through the mulch. So, most weeds die quickly.
- Adds Nutrients – If the right mulch is added to your plant bed, it will add nutrients to the ground and improve the quality of the soil.
- It Looks Good! – Mulch dresses up your lawn and makes it look beautiful by adding color to your flower beds.
Types of Mulch
There are basically two types of mulch: Organic and Inorganic.
The most common organic mulch used in Central PA is Pine Bark Mulch. It is dark colored mulch, and comes in a variety of sizes.
Hardwood Mulch and Wood Chips are sold in different sizes. Like Pine Bark Mulch, they also improve the soil structure as it rots. The larger sizes rot much slower than the smaller sizes. The disadvantage to bark is it can change the acidity of your soil over time, so be sure to know which plants will be suitable.
- Inorganic mulch includes gravel, pebbles, and crushed stone. Gravel, pebble and crushed stone are permanent material, so they typically only need installed once whereas organic mulch breaks down over time. Inorganic materials can create a very hot landscape environment during the summer.
Typically before installing inorganic mulch, either plastic or landscape cloth is placed on the soil to create a weed barrier.
- Black plastic is excellent at suppressing weeds due to the fact that light cannot penetrate it to warm the soil. It holds water so it is best used in areas where there is sufficient drainage. Black plastic breaks down fast so it needs to be buried lower in the soil.
- Clear plastic is not recommended as it does not suppress weeds since sunlight can pass thru the film and warm the soil.
- Landscape cloth is excellent at controlling weeds. It is treated to resist decomposition, and allows air and water to pass through them easily.
Common Lawn Maintenance Mistakes
There are a few common mistakes that are made when having your lawn cared for.
- Don’t let your grass clippings be bagged. Leaving the clippings on the yard - they are a great source of nutrients.
- If you have grass planted be certain that it is the proper type to prosper in your geographical location.
- If you want to have your yard seeded or over-seeded, be sure to have it done in the fall when grass is getting ready to go into dormancy, not in the spring.