All The Tips To Keep Your Lawn Hydrated This Summer

lawn watering tips

Watering the lawn is not rocket science, but it sometimes feels like there’s a hidden formula to watering the lawn that only few among us know. Add to that the deluge of summer rains, droughts and/or water restrictions and homeowners are left wishing for winter.

Wait, what, no – we love summer, but just want to keep our lawn looking hydrated until the temperatures begin to drop. So, of course, cherish the hot and sultry days of summer and enjoy a lush, green lawn that has the perfect amount of hydration with no stress or confusion! July is SMART Irrigation month, so it’s the perfect time of year to gather up all the tips to keep our lawns watered and happy.

All Your Lawn Watering Tips In One Easy Guide

  1. Best Time of Day to Water Your Lawn. Much of the complexity of lawn watering stems from myths, fallacies and rumors spread by the well-meaning homeowners among us who probably heard things from their parents, friends or, dare we say it, the internet! Let’s dispel the myths and prove (or disprove) the rumors about when to water your lawn once and for all. Here’s your answer: it depends.

    As a general rule of thumb, that you can adjust based on where you live, the best time of day to water your lawn is when temperatures are at their lowest and even better if there is dew on the lawn. So, that probably translates into before the sun’s up and before the temps start to climb in the early part of the day or later in the day when the sun is down, and temps begin to lower.
  2. Optimal Lawn Watering Frequency. Next up on the most popular lawn watering tip list is watering frequency. Of course, this answer does depend on a myriad of variables, but here are some watering guidelines you can follow to keep your lawn hydrated and looking great this summer. As a rule of thumb, two to three times per week is a good frequency for watering your lawn.

    However, if you have had a pattern of rain or a drought, this frequency might need to be adjusted. Also, keep in mind that watering your lawn regularly creates a shallow root system that allows your lawn to be more resilient during weather fluctuations as well as more resistant to resistant to disease.
  3. Length Of Time To Water. So, how long should I leave my sprinklers on? An obvious next question. Don’t worry, we’ve got that one fielded as well. Be sure to calculate your local precipitation levels, but in general, you’ll keep your lawn healthy with approximately one inch of water per week. This will vary depending on your lawn size, but could for an average lawn it might translate into three ten minute sessions per week.
  4. Tips For The Hose Versus Sprinkler. If the lawn you are caring for is very small, a hose might do the trick, but for most homeowners, the sprinkler is more effective and more convenient. By installing sprinklers that are turned on by a timer, you won’t run the risk of forgetting to water and can even set them to come on at times that you might be sleeping or otherwise busy.
  5. Lawn Watering Tips During Drought. Water shortages and drought are more common than ever before. It’s important to follow your municipality’s guidelines for water usage, but trying to keep your lawn healthy at the same time can be challenging.

In some cases, your only option may be to let your grass go dormant. But in it’s possible you can choose types of grasses that can survive tough conditions like Zoysia grass, Bermuda grass, St Augustine grass, buffalo grass, Bahia grass and Fescues.

Understanding how to water your lawn effectively can be challenging, but if you follow a few rules of thumb, your lawn should be looking green and lush all summer long. Of course, the best way to keep your lawn green and lush is the find the perfect amount of hydration to keep it moist, improve the quality of the soil and retain some of the moisture even when the temps heat up.

Spring-Green, your neighborhood lawn care professionals, is here to help with all your irrigation and maintenance needs. Take the guesswork out of lawn watering with the help of the pros at Spring-Green. Get a FREE QUOTE today!

Sprinkler Maintenance Tips For This Fall

sprinkler maintenance

If your home has a lawn/landscape irrigation system, regular inspection and sprinkler maintenance are key to keeping it operating efficiently and effectively. In addition to utilizing a professional service, such as Spring-Green’s Irrigation Maintenance Program, homeowners can take an active part in their sprinkler maintenance program periodically by walking the property and looking for visual cues to verify that their sprinkler system is working properly or that adjustments or repairs are necessary.

This can be done anytime you are out on the property, but a as a rule of thumb, the more traffic or use an area receives, the more often it should be checked.

What to Look For: Sprinkler Maintenance Tips

When something goes wrong with an irrigation system, the consequences generally fall into two categories: wasted water and plant damage or loss. Water is wasted if too much of it is applied or if it goes where it shouldn’t. Plant damage or loss, as the result of an irrigation issue, can occur if too much water or too little water reaches the affected plant(s). As you might imagine, these consequences can be quite costly.

Here are some things to note for sprinkler maintenance:

● Persistent puddling or saturated areas, even when the sprinklers are off, may indicate a line break. There are many possible causes for this, including winter damage, unusual activity, and ordinary deterioration.

● Misdirected water—i.e. a sprinkler head is watering the driveway or the side of your house instead of the lawn or bed—may mean the head requires adjustment or an obstruction needs to be cleared.

● Sprinkler heads and rotors are the parts that distribute the water to where it belongs. When these parts become worn or damaged or end up missing, the evidence is fairly easy to spot when the system is running, but may also be apparent while the system is off. Rotors that don’t rotate will cause over-watering in one direction and brown spots in another. Pop-up mechanisms that no longer retract are easy to spot, as are missing or physically broken heads.

● Leaks may occur many different ways. Water lines, valves, fittings, spray heads and rotors are common areas where sprinkler system leaks occur. Look for water squirting or streaming out from behind a sprinkler head or from anywhere water should not be coming.

● Dead zones—entire sections of a sprinkler system not receiving water—may be caused by a line break, mechanical issues, electrical issues, or some combination of these. Diagnostics will determine which of these is the case and what needs to be repaired or replaced in order to resolve the issue.

● Electrical gremlins in the form of failed sensors, faulty controllers, broken wires and more can also cause sprinkler systems, in whole or in part, to be on when they should be off and vice versa. Like any other electronic device, the “smart parts” of your irrigation system wear out. And just like smartphones and tablets, smart irrigation systems and controllers  require updates and upgrades from time to time.

End-of-Season Sprinkler Maintenance

It’s fairly easy to spend a lot of money on irrigation repairs. If you want to see a big repair bill next spring, all you have to do is ignore your irrigation system this fall. Proper winterization to remove all water from the irrigation system will help prevent freeze damage to the lines, valves, rotors and heads.

This is often done by introducing carefully controlled air pressure to individual zones until the entire system has been cleared. While this does not guarantee there will be no damage from shifting and movement of the ground during freeze and thaw cycles, it does remove the threat of freeze damage caused by water left within the sprinkler system components.

Fall winterization is a key component of Spring-Green’s Irrigation Maintenance Program. Do you have any questions or concerns about the current state of your irrigation system or sprinkler maintenance? Please do not hesitate to call on your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. We will be happy to share our expertise with you.

How Rust Lawn Disease Develops and Ways to Prevent It

rust lawn disease

If you have ever walked across your lawn in the late summer and notice that your shoes have taken on an orange hue, there is a good chance that your lawn is suffering from a common turf disease called Rust. The lawn disease appears as orange or yellowish-orange powder on grass blades, usually in the late summer to early fall, although I have seen in develop in the spring.

How Does Rust Develops On Lawns?

The disease can develop on turf that is not growing normally due to several stress factors including drought stress or low fertility. It can also develop during periods of heavy rain fall. Cool nights with heavy dew is another environmental condition that can favor its development. On the other hand, warm, cloudy and humid weather followed by hot, sunny weather can also lead to its development. In other words, just about any type of weather we can get in August can benefit the development of Rust.

The grass species that are most prone to develop Rust include Perennial Ryegrass, Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Zoysia Grass and St. Augustine Grass. Not all cultivars of these grasses are prone to Rust, which is a good idea to check for the cultivars that are less susceptible by searching the NTEP or National Turfgrass Evaluation Program by going to www.ntep.org. Some of the data may seem too technical, but if you scroll through the various reports, you will find a list of the species and cultivars that were tested, where they were tested and the quality ratings of each cultivar.

Rust starts off as small. Yellow flecks on the grass blades and stems. Over time, these flecks grow and expand into raised pustules that are also orange or yellow in color. Once the pustules reach maturity, they will rupture and spread a powdery mass of spores across the turf along with your shoes, pants, lawn mower, dog, etc. In heavily infected areas, the turf can thin out and clouds of rust spores will rise as the turf is disturbed. Once all the spores are released, the pustules will turn black. The spores that are left behind are present to re-infect the turf once the optimal environmental conditions return.

Preventing Rust On Your Lawn

You can reduce the likelihood of the disease developing again by following good cultural practices for proper mowing, watering and fertilizing for the type of turf that is in your lawn.

Proper watering is one of the more critical cultural practices to help prevent outbreaks of Rust. Water deeply, but infrequently to encourage roots to grow deep. Allow the turf to dry out between watering and avoid watering in the evening hours.

There are disease control materials that can be applied as a preventative, but once the pustules form, it is too late to control the disease as it is at the end of its life cycle. Often, an application of fertilizer with nitrogen will stimulate new growth and help the lawn recover from the effects of the disease.

If you see that your shoes are turning orange after walking on your lawn, contact your local lawn care professional at Spring-Green to have your lawn checked for Rust. Spring-Green will develop a program that combat the effects of Rust.

Summer Lawn Care: Mowing and Watering Tips

summer mowing and watering tips

It’s summer, which means it’s hot, and in many cases, dry. Lawns are showing the effects of these stress factors. It is critical to the health of the lawn to water properly and to set the mower to cut the lawn at a higher setting.

Mowing Your Lawn Properly

One of the most common problems that Lawn Care Operators face involve lawns that are mowed too short. Many homeowners are under the impression that if they cut the lawn short, they don’t have to mow as often. To a certain extent that is true, but by mowing short, the lawn will not grow well since it is trying to recover from the loss of food that was being produced by the grass blades. This is NOT a healthy practice to follow as it will weaken the lawn.

Here are the four main reasons why a lawn needs to be cut at a longer length:

  1. The grass blade is the food producing part of the plant. When mowed short, less photosynthesis is taking place until the plant grows a new grass blade.
  2. The longer grass blade will shade the ground underneath, keeping it cooler and inhibiting water evaporation. The lawn will require less water when cut at a higher length.
  3. By shading the ground underneath, less sun will reach the soil and there will be less chance for weed seeds to heat up and germinate. Having longer grass will help reduce weed growth.
  4. It is a natural balance of nature that the roots will grow in depth to match the height of the lawn. This does not mean that the grass should be mowed at 6 inches, but it does mean that the roots will be better developed and grow deeper than a lawn where the grass is cut short.

Many commercial lawn maintenance companies mow too short, stating that is what their customers want. It is important to discuss the mowing height requirements with the company that mows the lawn and find one that will mow at the proper height. These are the recommended summer mowing heights for common lawn grasses in the US:

• Bermuda Grass 1-1/2”
• Zoysia Grass 1-1/2”
• Centipede Grass 2”
• St Augustine Grass 3-1/2 ”
• Tall Fescue Grass 4”
• Bluegrass 3”
• Perennial Ryegrass 3”
• Fine Fescue 3-1⁄2”

Watering Your Lawn

Watering is the second most misunderstood lawn care practice. Unless the lawn has an automatic sprinkler system, watering can be a laborious task. Moving around hoses and sprinklers can be tedious and remembering to turn on and off the water can be difficult, especially when not at home during the day. The best time to water a lawn is during the early morning and try to avoid watering at night. The prime conditions for diseases to develop in a lawn is when it is cooler, there is a good deal of available moisture on the grass blades and the sun has set for the day.

Either water a lawn on a consistent basis or allow it to go dormant. Except in extreme drought conditions, most grasses can survive for about 30 days without water. Watering enough to stimulate new growth and then allowing the lawn to go back into dormancy, time and time again will use up the plant’s carbohydrate reserves – increasing its susceptibility to disease and insect infestations. If you are going to water, be consistent and provide one inch of water per week, regardless if you are doing it manually or have a sprinkler system.

If you do have a sprinkler system, be sure you have your system checked by a professional company. Many Spring-Green locations offer lawn irrigation system maintenance check-ups during the summer. This is a great idea to ensure that all sections of the lawn are receiving adequate water and there are no leaks or damaged heads. It is also a great time to update your system with rain gauges and moisture sensors to provide water when it is needed and not every day.

Feel free to contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green if you’re interested in learning more about our Irrigation System Maintenance program.

Mowing and Watering Tips to Avoid a Brown Lawn

bad mowing brown lawn

Spring-Green often gets asked, “why is my lawn turning brown?” or “why do I have a brown lawn and my neighbors don’t?”Often people think that the reason their lawn is brown is due to insect or disease activity. In most cases, the damage is usually the result of improper mowing and watering. Learn these mowing and watering tips to help avoid a brown lawn, and ensure a healthier and greener one.

Mowing Tips To Avoid a Brown Lawn

The number one reason for most lawn damage and having a brown lawn is improper mowing. Here are the proper mowing heights for the most common grasses found in home lawn areas:

  • Bermuda Grass 1/2 to 1-1/2”
  • Zoysia Grass 3/4 to 1-1/2”
  • Centipede Grass 1-1/2 to 2”
  • St Augustine Grass 3-1/2 to 4”
  • Tall Fescue Grass 3 to 4”
  • Kentucky Bluegrass 2 to 3”
  • Perennial Ryegrass 2 to 3”
  • Fine Fescue 2-1⁄2 to 3-1⁄2”

There is a rule in regards to how much to cut off each time a lawn is mowed and it is called the “one-third” rule. The goal is to mow so that no more than 1/3 of the grass blade is removed at any one time.  That is not always practical, especially when it seems to rain every weekend, which is the only time most people mow their lawns. If the lawn mower is set at the proper height, even if more than a third of the grass blade is removed, the grass will still look like a green and healthy lawn after mowing.

It is important to understand why mowing at a higher setting is important to the overall health of your lawn.

4 tips why the lawn should be cut at a longer length:

  1. The grass blade is where photosynthesis takes place. That is how the plant produces food.  When too much of the grass blade is cut off, less food will be produced by the plant.
  2. The longer grass blades will shade the ground underneath, keeping it cooler and, therefore, moister for a longer period of time, so watering requirements are reduced.
  3. By shading the ground, less sun is able to reach weed seeds that are always present in the lawn and prevent them from germinating. Mowing tall is one of the best ways to control weeds.
  4. It is a natural balance of nature that the roots will match the height of the grass plants. Short mowing will result in short roots.

How Much Should I Water My Lawn?

Watering is the second most misunderstood cultural practice. Homeowners either water too much or too little. As a general rule, a lawn needs about 1 inch of water per week to stay green and healthy.  Automatic sprinkler systems in the spring and summer make watering great, but watering too much can lead to turfgrass that is more water dependent than it needs to be. Too much water also saturates the soil, filling up the air space between the soil particles with water, causing the plant to drown. Watering less and letting the turf dry out between watering will develop deeper roots that need less water.

Turfgrass is a remarkable plant and can recover even after some extremely dry weather or drought. For the most part, cool-season grasses can go about 4 weeks without water. Warm season grasses can last much longer with little to no water and, in some cases, will survive through the entire growing season. There is no mistaking that lawns will go dormant and and cause a brown lawn. This is the plant’s defense mechanism – to shut off all unnecessary growth in an attempt to keep the crown and roots alive. At a minimum, supply about one-half an inch of water to the lawn each month to protect the crown and roots.

Before thinking you have a brown lawn due to an insect or disease problem, determine if you are mowing and watering the proper way. Contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green to have your entire lawn evaluated today.

 

What You Should Consider Before Watering Your Lawn?

green grass

The Irrigation Association promotes the efficient use of water on lawns and landscapes throughout the US. They also provide training, resources and certification in sprinkler design, installation, maintenance and auditing of water usage.

To maximize this effort, the association has named July as Smart Irrigation Month. July is typically the month with the highest water consumption, so it is the best time to highlight those practices that will save water.

The Irrigation Association stresses 5 important strategies to save water, save money and provide better results. These strategies are:

  • Plant right – landscape and gardens altered to better suit their terrain.
  • Invest in an irrigation system
  • Water wisely
  • Maintain and upgrade your system
  • Work with an irrigation professional

You can read more about these strategies at www.smartirrigationmonth.org, but since July is Smart Irrigation Month, it is appropriate to highlight the practices that use water on a more efficient basis. Here are some of the practices that the Irrigation Association highlights. in the section on Water Wisely:

Get in the zone

  • Almost all sprinkler systems use a controller to provide water to different zones throughout the lawn and landscape.
  • If your controller hasn’t been updated in more than three years, it is a good idea to upgrade to a new controller. This will allow you to set different time schedules per zone to meet the water requirements of the plant material and types of sprinklers in that zone. Different zones will usually require different watering schedules.

sprinkler system

Consider soil type

  • Soils absorb water at different rates depending on their makeup. Avoid watering more than your soil can absorb. It is a waste of water and it will have detrimental effects to your plants.

Don’t send water down the drain.

  • The most common misuse of water comes from sprinklers that water sidewalks, driveways and other impervious surfaces. Having your system checked for efficiency by an irrigation professional will save money on your water bills.

Water only when needed.

  • Once thoroughly watered, allow the soil in the lawn and landscape to dry out before watering again. By following this practice, the roots of the plants will grow deeper in search of more water.

Water at the best time.

  • Although it will not hurt your lawn or landscape, watering during the heat of the day is not an efficient practice as much of the water will be lost to evaporation. The best time to water is early morning. Avoid watering in the late afternoon to evening as this may increase the chance for disease development.

Water is a precious resource and the supply is not endless. Make sure your sprinkler system is working at peak performance and water wisely.

Should You Overseed Your Lawn This Spring?

lawn

A common question we receive in the spring is in regards to overseeding your lawn.  If you live in an area with warm season grasses, like Centipede or Bermuda grass, reseeding is not a very common practice and it does not work all that well. For those who live in areas where cool-season grasses like bluegrass or turf-type tall fescue grow, seeding can be a successful and a necessary part of caring for your lawn.

The best time to overseed an existing lawn is late summer until early fall. If you did not have a chance to do so last year, it might be something you want to take care of this spring.

You can overseed in the spring, but here are 4 important aspects that you should consider:

  1. Be conscious of the season for crabgrass preventers – If you seed in spring, you cannot apply most standard crabgrass preventers. These materials keep crabgrass seeds from germinating, as well as the new seeds. In the past if crabgrass has been a problem in your lawn, it would be advisable to wait until the fall to start overseeding. For most crabgrass materials, there is a 16 week waiting period between seeding and applying a crabgrass preventer.
  2. Be conscious of the season for broadleaf weed controlBroadleaf weed control is the same as crabgrass preventers, except the waiting time is less. If a broadleaf weed control is applied to an area, the standard wait time before seeding is 3 to 4 weeks. Once the new grass has germinated and become established, it has to be mowed two or three times before any weeds can be sprayed.
  3. Aerate before broadcasting seed – One of the best methods to ensue good germination is to aerate the lawn first before broadcasting seed across the area. Broadcasting seed across an established lawn will result in little to no germination.
  4. Water, water, water – Finally water is critical to the success of seeding at any time of the year. Once the seed germinates, the roots are tiny and have an immediate need for water.  If the roots dry out, the seed will die. Be sure you have some way to provide adequate water once the seed has been broadcast across the area. The best method is to have an automatic sprinkler system. If the system has not been started for the year when you complete the seeding, you may have to manually water the areas until your system is turned on. Depending on the variety of seed, you may need to keep the area moist for 4 to 6 weeks after seeding.

As you can see, seeding in the spring is not the easiest thing to do, especially when dealing with weeds. It is often better to keep the weeds down throughout the summer and then complete the seeding in the fall.  If you are a Spring-Green customer, contact your local Spring-Green and they will advise you with the best information on helping your lawn looks its best.

An Arbor Vita in Distress

arbor vitae's

One of our Field Service Professionals, Trey Tefft from Huntersville, NC who recently attended one of my Professional Development seminars sent in the picture below of an arbor vita that he saw on one of his customer’s lawns. In the seminar we spent several hours discussing identifying indicator trees and the insects and diseases that affect those plants. Since our discussions covered arbor vitae he thought I could help him identify the possible cause of the decline of this particular tree.

Thank goodness for cell phones as they have become one of the greatest tools in helping me identify lawn and landscape problems. Many models have high definition cameras that can take phenomenal pictures at a very high resolution. They allow me to magnify the picture to easily see the possible causes. This is especially true when trying to determine if the problem is disease related.

arbor vitae

Trey also sent in a close up of one of the branches in hopes of giving me a better look at the issue. From What I could tell the only disease that could cause this specific sort of damage is called Tip Blight and the only insect that could would be a spider mite, which is not very common on an Arbor Vitae. Upon closer inspection, I did not see any indication of disease or insect activity.

I always ask for a picture that shows where the plant is growing to get a better idea of the environment where the plant is located. The majority of problems associated with trees and shrubs are related to poor cultural practices, such as:

  1. Watering
  2. Plant selection
  3. Plant location
  4. Poor planting practices

In the case of this plant, the problem appears to be more related to plant location and watering practices.
If you look at the base of the plant, it is surrounded by decorative stones, which are okay, but most plants will grow much better if mulch is used around the base of the plant. Mulch helps the plant to hold in moisture and as it breaks down, it is great food for the numerous microorganisms in the soil, which in turn, benefit the health of the plants. In my opinion, this tree is suffering from a lack of water.

Many of the branches on the arbor vitae are showing the internal needles and leaves browning, but the newest growth on the outside still looks good. Arbor vitae’s do go through a normal fall needle drop as they let go of the growth that is less efficient at photosynthesis. The browning in the picture above is much more severe than normal needle drop.

I spoke with Trey about this problem and he is going to discuss possible options with the customer. The good news is that they may be able to bring some of the growth back, but unfortunately once the needles on an evergreen turn completely brown, it does not turn green again.

Most coniferous plants do not have the same recuperative abilities of deciduous plants. The only option for this customer may be to replace the plant and maybe even change from decorative stone to mulch. By making this change the plants will surely thrive a lot more.

Do your arbor vitae’s look questionable? Contact your local Spring-Green before it’s to late.

7 Landscaping Mistakes That You Shouldn’t Fall For!

Extreme landscaping

Everyone is after a more beautiful lawn each year, so why not avoid simple mistakes that many make and help your lawn to become the envy of the neighborhood. Here are 7 typical landscaping mistakes to avoid this year.

  1. Not watering plants – as winter is upon us make sure that you don’t forget to water. Depending on the region in which you live, watering cannot be completely ignored. Fruit trees, hedges, shrubs and your lawn all need to be watered. Lack of watering will result in dehydration and /or disease.
  2. Manicuring your lawn to the extreme – We tend to get caught up in the immediate appearance of our yards and forget that extreme amounts of anything, can actually end up hurting rather than perfecting. Make sure to know your species of grass and adjust accordingly. In the end make sure you are staying consistent with your recommended manicuring requirements.
  3. Using low quality mulch – When it comes time to purchase mulch, many of us look for the best deal possible. This may seem like a great idea at the time, but can actually end up as a nightmare when all is said and done. Poor quality mulch can bring disease and pests into your plants, with the possibility of spreading to your lawn. Make sure to buy quality mulch from a trusted supplier to avoid any headaches down the road.
  4. Not raking your yard – This always seems to be the dreaded chore each year and ends up getting put on the back burner. However putting it off could cause seriously damage. When raking is neglected, fungus and mold are much more likely to accumulate when it snows. Removing the leaves after the snow has arrived becomes and difficult task and can end up ruining your lawn.
    raking leaves
  5. Avoiding minor pest issues – it’s easy to do, but should definitely not be ignored. As soon as you notice a minor pest issue act quickly. Pest problems usually just get worse over time and become a lot more difficult to get rid of.
  6. Not stocking up on yard supplies – as fall approaches it becomes the perfect time to stock up on yard supplies. This is when you see great deals and discounts on tools, soil, pots, seeds and more. Spend in the fall to save more in the spring.
  7. Delay spring plantingStart your planting early. When your planting gets delayed, it gives your new plants less time to mature and grow.

Make sure your yard is set up for success. Avoid these 7 landscaping mistakes that always seem to get the best of us and make your landscape stand out from the rest. Share in the comments below about landscaping mistakes you have made and how you avoid them.

Tall Fescue Lawn Care

spring lawn care tips

A reader sent in this latest question about his Tall Fescue grass not looking its best. Harold gives him some great advice on how to care for Tall Fescue, a common transition zone grass type.

“Harold, I have a tall fescue grass in southern California, and cannot get it to stay a deep green. I have a few dead spots that even reseeding won’t cure, and my entire lawn is starting to turn a light brown. Any suggestions on getting my lawn normal? I water once a day for 4 min, also. Thanks!”

Dear reader,

Thank you for sending in your question. First of all, I have the deepest sympathy for anyone trying to grow grass or any other plant for that matter during the long drought California is enduring. Of course it is hard to say exactly what is happening with your lawn without actually seeing it, but I can provide you with some basic steps to follow.

First Step: Soil Test

Based on your comment, the first suggestion I have is to have your soil tested to determine if the pH is at the proper level. It should be between 6.5 and 7.0. Having the soil tested is always a good starting point when developing a treatment plan for your Tall Fescue grass.

Second Step: Change How You Water

The second thing I recommend is to change your watering schedule to 30 minutes a week, but provide the water all at the same time. The turf in your lawn, Tall Fescue, is a drought tolerant grass, but it can still thin out if it does not receive enough water. By watering once a day, you are only penetrating the top inch of soil, which causes the roots to grow closer to the service. Tall Fescue is a deep rooted turf, but if the water is only at the surface, that is where the roots will grow instead of going deep to look for more water. Your goal should be to supply 1 inch of water per week to your turf. To properly care for Tall Fescue, it’s much better to water for a longer time and less frequently.

Third Step: Core Aeration

The third thing I suggest is to core aerate your lawn by using a machine called a core aerator. These are available to rent at many hardware stores, rental agencies and home improvement centers. You can also employ a certified professional to do the service for you. A core aerator, as it is runs across your turf, will take out cores of soil and thatch and leave them back on the top of the lawn. This will open up your lawn to allow more air, water and nutrients to reach the root zone. The cores that remain on the lawn will break down with normal irrigation and melt back into the lawn. The microorganisms in the soil will work to break down the thatch. Your lawn does need to be moist to allow the core aerator tines to penetrate into the soil, so try to schedule this for a day after you water or, hopefully, after it rains.

Fourth Step: Reseed

Reseeding your turf after it is core aerated is a very good practice. Tall Fescue has a “bunch-type” growth habit and does not spread out to cover bare areas quickly. The core aeration holes provide a great place for the seed to germinate. You should spread 5 to 6 pounds of good quality Tall Fescue seed per 1,000 sq. ft. I suggest seeding this time of year as traditionally winter is a wetter time for California. I also suggest you reseed every year in the fall to early winter.

Fertilizing Your Lawn

Once you’ve received the results from your soil test, it will be much easier to determine the amount of fertilizer your lawn needs. Tall Fescue does not require an abundance of nitrogen to stay green. Generally, 2 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year is what Tall Fescue requires. The most nitrogen should be applied in the fall and less in the summer. The soil test will provide recommendations on the amount of Phosphorus and Potassium your turf will require.

I am confident that by following these basic steps, your lawn will respond and look better. If your lawn has Tall Fescue turf that needs some TLC, contact your local Spring-Green professional today!