Don’t Make These Common Summer Lawn Care Mistakes

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by summer lawn care. Taking care of your lawn during the summer months is not rocket science. Still, it can feel like it sometimes – especially when there’s a mainstay of misleading and inaccurate information about how exactly to best care for your summer lawn. Of course, all intentions are in the right place, but where is a weary homeowner to turn when looking to keep their lawns healthy as the temperatures soar and the outdoor fun escalates? The good news is, your easy solution has arrived. The professional lawn care team at Spring-Green has put their heads together to compile a “mistake list” to eliminate the learning curve, dispel any false lawn care myths, and prepare you for a summer full of outdoor fun. Let’s get started!

Avoid These Summer Lawn Care Mistakes & Myths:

Don’t Burn with Fertilizer:

Adding too much fertilizer or adding it at the wrong time is a common summer lawn mistake that homeowners make. Too much fertilizer can burn grass blades and promote disease. By choosing slow-release fertilizers that do not need to be replenished as often, you can nourish your summer lawn with the vitamins it needs while not risking burning or other common problems.

Don’t Overwater or Underwater:

It’s important to find the perfect balance when it comes to watering your summer lawn. Too much or too little can cause big problems. If you water your summer lawn with too much water, you will wash away nutrients and create an environment ripe for fungus, making it susceptible to disease. Too little water can cause your grass to die. As a rule of thumb, most types of grass require one to two inches of water per week to thrive.

Don’t Neglect the Weeds:

Weeds are strong and resilient in nature. They’re especially strong and thriving during the summer months. Weeding is an essential task to keep your lawn healthy. If left unchecked (or “un-weeded” to be more accurate), your lawn could get into serious trouble from overpowering weeds. Be sure to check for weeds routinely and remove as quickly as possible when they appear in your summer lawn.

weeding

Don’t Cut with Dull Blades:

Have you checked the sharpness of your mower blades lately? Cutting the summer lawn is a common mistake that is easy to make, but almost just as easy to prevent. Dull mower blades can injure your grass blades and impact the aesthetic look of your lawn.

Don’t Cut Too Short:

Just like watering, mowing requires a perfect balance between too much and too little. Many overzealous homeowners take the step of mowing their lawn too much or leaving the grass blades too short. As a rule of thumb, you should never cut the grass below the one-third mark. If you do cut your grass too short, you may cause it to lose valuable nutrients and succumb to disease or even die.

Don’t Leave Clumps of Cut Grass After Mowing:

The grass grows like crazy in the summer, and post-cut grass clumps can seriously pile up. Resist the temptation to leave the clumps as they lay after you mow your lawn this summer. The left-behind grass clippings can block sun from reaching your lawn and cause yellowing and even cause your grass to die. Be sure to rake up the grass clippings to keep your lawn healthy.

grass mowing

Don’t Choose the Wrong Grass for Your Area:

Certain types of grass fit your geographic location, and others don’t. It’s that simple. If you choose grass types that aren’t a good fit for your climate and soil characteristics, you will be struggling against the odds to help your summer lawn succeed.

Don’t Neglect the High Traffic Areas:

Summer is the time for increased outdoor activity, raised temperatures, and scorching sun – all elements that can lead to wear and tear of the summer lawn. One way to mitigate against this issue is to install stepping stones or pavers in highly trafficked areas. You may try other ways to minimize traffic on your summer lawn that includes fencing and path lighting.

Don’t Overlook Signs of Insects and Pests:

Summer lawns are prime targets for insect infestations, such as chinch bugs, cutworms, armyworms, sod webworms, fire ants, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. A routine pest preventative maintenance plan can help you keep your lawn from getting overtaken by these common summer insects.

Summer lawns are more important than any other time of the year when outdoor enjoyment needs are at their highest levels. Myths and mistakes for the care of your summer lawn abound. Don’t fall for the common missteps, just call the pros in from Spring-Green to assist you in your summer lawn pursuits. Spring-Green can share professional know-how that fits your unique area, your unique lawn and your unique goals. We’ve been the neighborhood lawn care specialists for over thirty years, so you can trust that we know the difference between summer lawn care myth and reality.

Contact Spring-Green for a consultation today.

Picking the Right Grass Seed

Grass Seed

If your lawn is comprised of cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue or tall fescue, late summer through early fall is the perfect time to reseed your lawn. Soil temperatures are warm to allow for faster germination, air temperatures are favorable for the growth and development of the new grass plants and natural irrigation increases. Having the lawn aerated before seeding is a great way to incorporate the new seed into the lawn. The biggest question is what type of seed should you use to meet your lawn’s needs and grow well in your location.

By looking at the map to the right, determine the zone in which you live. Different grasses grow best in certain zones. For the cold winter, humid zone and the mild winter humid zones, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue are the most popular grasses. In the transition zone, the most popular grass is turf-type tall fescue. There is a push in the transition zone for people to use more zoysia grass, but zoysia is usually installed either as sod or through sprigging or plugging and not as seed. In the cold winter, arid zone, turf-type tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue will all grow in that zone.

For the warmer parts of the US, the lawns are either installed as sod or through sprigging or plugging so this article is not as applicable for lawns that are comprised of Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, centipede grass or zoysia grass. Some homeowners in these areas choose to overseed their lawns with annual ryegrass in the fall for the lawn to remain green through the winter dormant period. Once the heat returns the following summer and the desired grasses green-up again, the annual ryegrass will die off.

It is a good idea to determine the amount of sun the lawn receives and how it is being used to make your next decision. Here is a quick chart to help you make this decision:

 

Grass TypeSun or ShadeTraffic Tolerance
Kentucky BluegrassFull SunLight
Perennial RyegrassFull SunHigh
Fine FescueFull Sun to Moderate ShadeLight
Turf-Type Tall FescueFull Sun to Moderate ShadeHigh

 

Determining the amount of seed to purchase depends on the variety of seed and the size of the area you are seeding. Here are the recommended amounts of grass seed to sow per 1,000 square feet:

 

Seed TypeExisting LawnNew Lanwn
Bluegrass2 pounds4 pounds
Perennial Ryegrass5 pounds10 pounds
Fine Fescue3 pounds6 pounds
Turf-Type Tall Fescue5 pounds10 pounds

 

Once you have determined the type of grass seed you need to plant and how much to purchase, your next step is to go to the local garden center or home improvement store. Some homeowners pick the cheapest seed and often regret that decision. Look at the seed label to determine the types and cultivars included in the seed mix. Be sure that there are not any weed seeds or other crop seeds included in the mix. A good quality grass seed mix should cost between $3 to $5 per pound. That may seem like a lot of money for a pound of seed, each pound off seed contains thousands of seeds.

One thing to keep in mind is the number of seeds per pound. Bluegrass is the smallest seed and contains about 1,500,000 seeds per pound. Ryegrass and Turf-Type Tall Fescue contain between 250,000 to 400,000 seeds per pound. If you purchase a 10-pound bag of seed that is 50 % bluegrass and 50% ryegrass, you are getting about 7,500,000 bluegrass seeds and about 1,250,000 ryegrass seeds. If you want more bluegrass than ryegrass, this blend would work fine. If you want more ryegrass than bluegrass, change the ratios.

Don’t wait too long to start seeding your lawn. It is the perfect time to start the process to make sure the new grass has plenty of time to grow and gain strength before the winter sets in. If you want more information on overseeding your lawn, contact your neighborhood lawn and tree care professional at Spring-Green

Resuscitating a Dead Lawn with Core Aeration and Overseeding

Benefits of Core Aeration and Overseeding to your lawn

Harold Enger, Spring-Green’s Director of Education, received a question from a homeowner about fixing his dead lawn. After hearing about the problem, he recommended core aeration and overseeding to help revive the lawn.

“My lawn is brown with few things growing (even weeds). I believe it’s the result of rock hard soil. Last year a small patch of lawn was ripped up (gas line installation) and that patch now has green, healthy grass. I thought about tilling my entire lawn but its costly ($2k). I have aerated in the past but that has done nothing. But what if I were to aerate it A LOT at once (4-5 times) while throwing top soil down in the midst of aerating?”

Anthony,
Thank you for submitting you question. Your idea of core aerating several times is an excellent one. I suggest you core aerate in opposing directions, but the more holes you make, the better it will be for your yard. You also want to wait until the soil is moist so that the tines of the aerator can penetrate the ground to a decent depth of 2 to 3 inches. Either thoroughly water your yard or wait until it your area receives about ½ inch of rain.

Here are a couple of additional recommendations:

  1. Take a sample of your soil to either your county extension service or to a John Deere Landscapes retail store for a soil analysis. The results can take two weeks to get back, but that should not delay any of the other work that needs to be completed. The soil test will help you to determine the pH and nutrient requirements of the soil in your yard.
  2. Spreading top soil is a good idea, but I suggest you use humus compost to help improve the soil even more.
  3. After aerating and top dressing, I suggest you overseed your lawn with Turf-Type Tall Fescue. Together, core aeration and overseeding help combat lawn diseases and stresses and thicken the lawn with new grass plants ready to take hold in previously bare areas. After deciding on core aeration and overseeding, many people opt for purchasing cheap seed, but the results are usually poor. Again, a John Deere Landscape Store is a good place to purchase seed. You should use about 4 to 5 pounds of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. To find a John Deere Landscapes store near you, go to their website, www.johndeerelandscapes.com, click on “Our Locations” and enter your zip code. I did so and found many stores near Huntington. The closest one appears to be in Bethpage.
  4. Even though you have core aerated and overseeded your lawn, you may have to live with some weeds this fall. Broadleaf weed control cannot be applied until the new grass has germinated and mowed two or three times.
  5. After you have finished with your core aeration and overseeding, the most important recommendation is to make sure to water the newly seeded area for at least three weeks. It does not need a lot of water, but the areas should be kept moist for at least two weeks.

I hope these recommendations help. Feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions. Or, if you need professional assistance bringing your lawn back from the dead, get in touch with your local Spring-Green for core aeration, overseeding, fertilization, weed control, and more.