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Checklist for Spring Lawn Care

Checklist for Spring Lawn Care

It’s early spring in Minneapolis and your lawn is just waking up. That yellowish, brownish tinge is starting to turn a fresh, wonderful, and hopeful shade of green. What are the next steps? And what can you do to give your lawn a head-start this spring? Aside from getting back into your mowing routine, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as a spring lawn care checklist.

1. Rake and Remove all leaves, sticks, and debris.  Also, lightly “dethatch” your lawn with a lawn rake; this will help to remove some of the thatch and allow the grass to “breathe” more.

2. Aerate. Aerating a lawn reduces compaction and allows the free movement of air, water, roots, and living organisms–all key components of a healthy soil ecosystem. We tend to think of soil as a solid substance, dirt, but it is more than just that. A good loam soil is comprised of 40 to 60 percent pore space–air and water.

3. Repair any bare spots by spreading compost or topsoil, and over-seeding with a high-quality grass seed. Making these repairs sooner rather than later will allow you to take advantage of the favorable spring weather. Keep in mind that come summer, it will be nearly impossible to get grass seed to germinate.

4. Repair automatic sprinkler systems. Spring is an ideal time to carefully check all of your irrigation zones, and make any necessary repairs or adjustments. Change the battery on your irrigation clocks–this should be done once per year–and replace any broken lines or broken sprinkler heads. Set your clock, but don’t “set it and forget it.” Your irrigation system will likely need to be adjusted once the summer weather hits.

5. Begin your fertilization program. In Minneapolis, April is a good month to begin fertilizing your lawn. I like to use a slow-release, organic fertilizer so that my lawn is fed over time, and throughout the course of the season, rather than all at once. Look for a fertilizer with a high percentage of “water-insoluble” nitrogen. This will also reduce pollution from runoff, and is better for the environment.

6. Get a soil test. Check with your local cooperative extension service for soil testing. It’s easy and relatively cheap to get a good sense of what your soil needs. A soil test is a great basis for understanding how much, and what type of fertilizer will benefit your lawn most.

7. Sharpen your mower. Keeping a sharp mower blade is essential to creating a clean cut, and sharpening should be done at least once a year.

8. Bag your clippings after your first mowing, and mow it slightly lower than you normally would. Even if you usually mulch your lawn clippings and leave them on your lawn, you should bag them the first time that you mow after winter. This gets rid of any fungi or diseases that may have overwintered on your grass. After this, you can go back to your normal mowing program.

Why Aerate Your Lawn?

Why Aerate Your Lawn?

What Are The Benefits of Aeration?

Core aeration can help make your lawn healthier and reduce its maintenance requirements through these means:

  • Improved air exchange between the soil and atmosphere.
  • Enhanced soil water uptake.
  • Improved fertilizer uptake and use.
  • Reduced water runoff and puddling.
  • Stronger turfgrass roots.
  • Reduced soil compaction.
  • Enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.
  • Improved resiliency and cushioning.
  • Enhanced thatch breakdown.

 

Equipment Affects the Outcome

The type of aeration equipment can determine how effective the treatment will be. In general, turf responds best when core holes are close and deep. Equipment with hollow tines removes soil cores. Equipment with open tines divots the soil surface. Aeration equipment also varies in tine size up to 3/4 inch diameter and in depth of penetration up to 4 inches, depending on the manufacturer’s specifications. In most home lawns, fertile topsoil may have been removed or buried during excavation of the basement or footings, forcing grass to grow in subsoil that is more compact, higher in clay content and less likely to sustain a healthy lawn.

Why Is Aeration Necessary?

In most home lawns, fertile topsoil may have been removed or buried during excavation of the basement or footings, forcing grass to grow in subsoil that is more compact, higher in clay content and less likely to sustain a healthy lawn.

Walking, playing and mowing will compact soil and stress lawns. Raindrops and irrigation further compact the soil, reducing large air spaces where roots readily grow. Compaction is greater on heavy clay soils than on sandy soils, and it is greatest in the upper 1 to 1 1/2 inches of soil.

Aeration can help relieve soil compaction, allowing your grass to grow deeper roots and make better use of water and fertilizer.

ROOT GROWTH – Core aeration allows air, water and fertilizer to better reach the root zone. This stimulates root growth to create healthier, stronger turfgrass plants.

Relieve Thatch Accumulation

Most home lawns are subject to thatch accumulation. Left unmanaged, it impedes water, fertilizer and pesticide effectiveness. Core aeration combines soil with the thatch debris, so soil organisms are better able to break down the thatch and reduce its accumulation.

How Often Should Lawns Be Aerated?

Most lawns benefit from annual aeration. Heavily used lawns, or those growing on heavy clay or subsoils may need more than one aeration each year. Again, turf responds best when tine spacing is closer and penetration is deeper.

When is The Best Time to Aerate?

If you have cool season turfgrass such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass, both spring and fall are ideal times to aerate. In spring, aerate between March and May. Perform fall aeration between August and November. Aeration before or at the time of late season fertilization enhances root growth and improves spring greenup and growth.

Warm season turfgrasses such as zoysiagrass and bermudagrass should be aerated in mid-spring to summer. Avoid aerating when warm season grasses are dormant – it may encourage weed competition. In addition, avoid aerating warm season grasses during spring greenup, and not until after their first spring mowing.

Herbicides, Fertilizers & Aeration

It’s best to aerate before you apply pre-emergence herbicides, rather than after. Aerating after a herbicide application can reduce the chemical barrier formed by the herbicide, allowing weeds to germinate. Applying fertilizer after aeration helps the lawn compete against weeds. Water the lawn after aeration, particularly in areas where drought and high temperatures are common.

What can you expect?

Immediately after aeration, your lawn will be dotted with small plugs pulled from the soil. Within a week or two, they break apart and disappear into the lawn.

About 7 to 10 days after aeration, the aerification holes will be filled with white, actively growing roots – a sign that the turfgrass is receiving additional oxygen, moisture and nutrients from the soil.

On compacted soils and on lawns with slopes, you should see an immediate difference in water puddling and runoff after irrigation or rainfall. After aeration, your lawn should be able to go longer between waterings, without showing signs of wilt. With repeat aerations over time, your lawn will show enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.

Remember, most lawns benefit from annual aeration. And while you shouldn’t expect miracles, especially with poor soil, lawns that receive this care will be healthier, more vigorous, easier to maintain and have fewer pest problems.

Why Aeration and Overseeding Are A Must In The Fall

Why Aeration and Overseeding Are A Must In The Fall

It’s hard to imagine but before you know it summer will be gone and the leaves will start to fall.  All those water fights and baseball practices in the back yard were fun but they also caused a lot of wear and tear to your yards grass and soil.

We often don’t think about “wear and tear” on our lawns but the fact is all those summer activities have compacted your soil torn some of your weakened grass’s roots from the soil.  As fall approaches, the warmer days and cooler nights provide just enough moisture in the ground that make it optimal for you to help your lawn heal itself.

Aeration

Aeration is important because it de-compacts the soil.  Putting all those little holes in the ground allows air, water and food to reach the roots and allows the roots to grow deeper into the soil.  Furthermore, aeration makes the lawn less susceptible weeds, insects, drought and disease.

Overseeding

Overseeding is important because your lawn is not invincible!  Overtime, individual blades of grass grow weaker and eventually die off.  Overseeding promotes the growth of new blades of grass and helps your lawn maintain its fullness and thickness year after year.  A fuller and thicker lawn also helps keep unwanted weeds from popping up in your lawn come spring.

Aerating and Overseeding?

Yes, aerating and overseeding go hand in hand.  Aeration punches the holes in the ground so the overseed can penetrate deep into the soil and grow deep healthy roots.  You should aerate your lawn every fall and overseed at least once every three years to keep your lawn healthy.

If your lawn is starting to look bare, ask yourself, when was the last time I had my lawn aerated and overseeded?  If it has been over that 3 year mark, you really should consider getting done this fall.  That is, if you want a healthy lawn come next spring.

At Peter Doran Lawn and Landscaping, when the leaves start to fall the phones start to ring.  Ensure you get on our schedule early enough by giving us a call now at (763) 315-0052 or fill out our online free estimate form.

Why Aeration is Important

Why Aeration is Important

Lawn aeration is process of perforating the soil with small holes that allow water, oxygen and nutrients to be absorbed by the roots of your lawn.  This allows the roots of your grass to grow deeper, stronger and fight off disease.

The main purpose of aeration is to alleviate soil compaction that prevents the proper circulation of air, water and nutrients throughout the soil.  Aeration also helps eliminate the excess lawn thatch and heavy organic debris under the lawn that can starve healthy roots of the elements it needs to grow strong and healthy.

Furthermore, aeration helps with the removal of CO2 from the soil atmosphere.  Accumulated CO2 hampers the growth of plant roots and starves them of the nutrients it needs to survive.

Should You Be Aerating Your Lawn?

One of the most common questions from homeowners is how to determine if they should be aerating their lawn. Your lawn is probably a good candidate for aeration if it:

  • Gets heavy use, such as serving as the neighborhood playground or racetrack. Children and pets running around the yard contribute to soil compaction.
  • Was established as part of a newly constructed home. Often, the topsoil of newly constructed lawns is stripped or buried, and the grass established on subsoil has been compacted by construction traffic.
  • Dries out easily and has a spongy feel. This might mean your lawn has an excessive thatch problem. Take a shovel and remove a slice of lawn about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is greater than one-half inch, aeration is recommended.
  • Was established by sod, and soil layering exists. Soil layering means that soil of finer texture, which comes with imported sod, is layered over the existing coarser soil. This layering disrupts drainage, as water is held in the finer-textured soil. This leads to compacted conditions and poor root development. Aerating breaks up the layering, allowing water to flow through the soil more easily and reach the roots.

When Should You Aerate Your Lawn

Aerating is most effective when done every fall, especially if it is done in conjunction with over seeding and fertilizing as part of a complete lawn care program.  Aerating your lawn first gives your lawn time to de-compact so over seed and fertilizer can effectively penetrate deep into the soil and provide extra nutrients to help your lawn survive the cold and snowy Minnesota winters.

What to do for Best Fall Lawn Care Results

What to do for Best Fall Lawn Care Results

Fall is the most critical time to pay attention to your lawn because what you do now will determine how healthy your lawn will be come next spring and summer.  For the best fall lawn care results you should do your best to complete the following tasks in order.

Aeration

lawn-aerationAerating your lawn early during the fall season is the first step you should take for a healthy yard through the winter and into the spring.  Aeration encourages good root development before the upcoming winter by loosening compacted soil to create a better growing environment for your lawn. 

You want to aerate your lawn early enough in the fall when the air starts to cool but also while the soil temperatures remain warm.  This will allow the soil in your lawn to de-compact and allows your lawn to absorb water and nutrients before the snow starts to fall and the ground begins to freeze.

Seeding

seeding-lawnNext, you will want to apply seed to your lawn before temperatures get too cold so it has a chance to get deep in the soil.  It is recommended that you apply new seed to your lawn about every 4 or 5 years because, just like everything else in this world, your lawn is not immortal.  After 4 or 5 years your lawn will slow down its reproduction rate which gives an environment for weeds to take over your lawn.

You can tell the difference in lawns that have been seeded every 4 or 5 years by their thickness.  Well seeded lawns will reproduce healthier, thicker, greener lawns for years to come.  Plus, well seeded lawns look professionally maintained, even if they’re not, and helps your lawn maintain its health.

Fertilizer

fall-fertilizerOnce the new seed has been down and has had a chance to dig deep into the soil, it is time to feed it!  A slow release fertilizer is essential in Minnesota because once the snow falls you will have to wait months before you can do anything with it again.  A slow release fertilizer will ensure that your lawn receives the nutrients it needs through the winter to give your grass the strong deep roots it needs to be healthy.

When choosing a fertilizer for the fall, besides using a slow release fertilizer, you will want to make sure it contains nitrogen.  A high nitrogen fertilizer such as a 25-5-5 will promote lawn blade and foliage growth to help your lawn look greener for the upcoming season.

Leaf Raking

Fall Leaf Clean Up MNBy now, the leaves should be falling off the trees and its time for the most labor intensive job of the year, raking leaves. It’s not a fun job but somebody has to do it because your lawn needs to breath and a lawn covered in leaves and snow will simply suffocate and leave you with a mud pit once the snow melts.

There are several ways one can “rake up” the leaves from their lawn.  If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can always hire a professional service.  If you don’t want to hire a professional service, you can grab the rake and leaves and manually rake up all the leaves yourself.  Alternatively, you can run your lawn mower over your lawn and either mulch the leaves into the ground or use a bagging system on your mower to bag your leaves.

Winterize Lawn Fertilizer

winterize-lawnThe final step to preparing your lawn for the cold months ahead is to winterize your lawn with fertilizer.  This application of fertilizer, unlike early fall fertilizer, should contain a higher level of potassium.  Potassium promotes a cellular level that strengthens and hardens plants from top to bottom that makes them more tolerant to cold Minnesota winters.  Potassium also helps your lawn absorb nutrients which balances the feeding of your lawn.

If you follow the fall lawn care steps in the order listed above, your lawn will survive the winter and be ready to sprout once the snow is gone and the temperatures warm up.  Peter Doran Lawn is a year round, full service lawn care company based in Minneapolis, MN.  If you need help with any of your fall lawn care needs, we are here to help.  Simply request a free estimate and we will be in contact shortly.