HELPING CALGARY'S PROPERTIES REACH THEIR POTENTIAL
4) Weekly Mowing
Mowing your lawn every week may seem tedious or like a lot of work but it will help your lawn in a number of ways.
Something many people are unaware of is that when you cut your lawn, you are only supposed to cut off a third of the overall length. For example, if you went on vacation and came back to a 6” long lawn, you would only want to remove 2”, leaving you with a 4” long lawn.
The reasoning behind this is if you remove more than a third of the length, it puts your lawn into shock. This means that the lawn puts all of it’s resources into growing back it’s grass blades to maintain photosynthesis. Since all of your lawn’s resources are going into growing back the grass blades, things like root growth are neglected. This creates problems because without a robust root system your lawn will struggle to absorb water and nutrients from the soil.
Another key benefit of weekly mowing is that if you bag your clippings, it can keep weeds under control. Since most weeds grow faster than grass, they are easily “nipped at the bud” by weekly mowing. As the weed grows, it tries to get high above the grass so it’s leaves can absorb sunlight for photosynthesis and so it's seeds are easily spread over a large area. When you cut and bag your grass weekly you will be removing the weed’s leaves and seeds, putting it into shock and stopping the spread of it’s seeds.
Much like a grass plant, the weed will divert it’s resources to replace it’s leaves and neglect the growth of it’s root system. While this is happening the grass surrounding it will be growing healthy roots and becoming thicker. As this happens the lawn’s roots will choke out the weed’s roots and thick grass will shade out the weed’s leaves, eventually starving the weed of water, nutrients and sunlight.
It is worth mentioning again that weekly mowing only helps with weeds if you bag your clippings. While mulching your clippings is a great way for your lawn to recycle nutrients, it will also spread weed seeds around your lawn leading to more weeds.
What is mulching? It is also known as grasscycling and it means that the cut grass isn’t bagged and is left on the lawn to break down. This is something that you should only attempt if you mow your lawn weekly. If you leave it for too long and try grasscycling you will have what looks like a layer of hay on your lawn that can take weeks to break down.
Many people say grasscycling is better than bagging as it allows the lawn to recycle it’s nutrients and reduce it’s need for fertilizer. This is true but you will be leaving yourself open to weeds taking over your lawn. In our opinion, it is better to bag your clippings and fertilize your lawn than to grasscycle and rely on herbicides to keep the weeds in check. This is because as far as chemicals go, herbicides are far more toxic and bad for the environment than fertilizers.
Probably the most important thing you can do for your lawn is to make sure it gets enough water. Grass needs an inch of water a week to stay green and healthy. Failure to do so will lead to crispy, yellow grass that doesn’t grow and becomes overrun by weeds.
While it is important to make sure your lawn gets enough water, there is such a thing as too much. Too much water will wash the nutrients in your soil below the root system of your grass. Once the nutrients are out of the reach of the roots they are gone for good and you will have to fertilize again.
Another water related issue is a lawn that doesn’t drain properly. This is typically caused by compacted soil and can easily be fixed with core aeration. Tell tale signs of poor drainage are mushroom patches and patches of lawn that stay wet for a long time. Poor drainage is a problem because it can lead to disease and unhealthy grass.
If you end up needing to water your lawn, the best time to do it is early in the morning before the sun gets too strong. This allows the water time to soak into the soil before the sun’s heat starts evaporating it. It is also better to do one heavy watering than multiple short waterings. This is because a heavy watering will allow the water to soak deeper into your soil. This will encourage deeper roots which are important for the overall heath of your lawn.
Making sure your lawn gets enough water is easy even if you don’t have an irrigation system. All you need to do is put out an empty tuna can on your lawn as a rain gauge. If you don’t get an inch of water in the can from rain, water your lawn until you do.
Many cities have bylaws regarding watering so it is always a good idea to check with your city if you are using their water. These bylaws are meant to conserve water and the fines for disobeying them can really add to the cost of your lawn!
Is your New Year’s resolution for 2020 to get your lawn into shape? Even if it isn’t, if you want to improve your home’s curb appeal with a beautiful lawn check out our list of the 5 steps for a great lawn in 2020!
Lawn aeration is something that can really revive an old lawn. It loosens up the soil by making holes in it, allowing water, nutrients and air to reach your lawn’s roots. It also frees up space for new roots to grow making your lawn stronger overall.
Lawn aeration really helps lawns that see a lot of traffic and have compressed soil. If you enjoy using your lawn to play sports, host parties or simply walk on it a lot, having your lawn aerated can make a huge difference. Lawn aeration is also very helpful in spring time to revive a lawn that has been under a heavy amount of snow all winter.
There are a few ways to aerate your lawn and not all are created equally. There are two main types of machines - spike aerators and core (plug) aerators. Spike aerators use spikes to make holes in your lawn while core aerators use hollow tines to cut plugs out of your lawn. While the immediate results of either of the lawn aeration techniques are very similar (many small holes all over your lawn), the long term results are very different.
A spike aerator makes holes by stabbing solid spikes into your lawn. Each time the spike enters your lawn, the soil around it is compressed to accommodate it. Due to this compaction of your soil, the long term benefits of spike aeration are minimal.
A core aerator makes holes by cutting plugs from your lawn with it’s hollow tines. Since this process actually removes the soil in the hole instead of compressing it, it has far better long term benefits. The plugs that are cut from your lawn are left on the surface where they break down and return nutrients to the soil.
Lawn aerators are available to rent from most tool rental services. That being said, lawn aeration is often best left to the professionals for a number of reasons. First, a lawn aerator is a large machine that weighs over 300 lbs. You will need either a truck or a trailer to get the aerator from the store to your property. Secondly, if you are thinking of aerating your lawn chances are many others in your area are as well. This usually results in all the aerators at the rental store being booked for weeks. Thirdly, aerators are powerful and dangerous machines. If not operated by someone with experience, personal injury and property damage are very real possibilities. Finally, for about the price it costs to rent an aerator you can have a professional, insured company aerate your lawn for you.
FT Property Services Inc.
2) Power Rake
Power raking is another thing you can do to revive your lawn. It removes material called thatch from your lawn’s root system. Your lawn likes this because power raking gives it’s roots room to breathe, grow and absorb water and nutrients. This translates to a greener, thicker lawn.
Power raking is done with a specialized machine called a power rake. This machine is the best tool for the job when it comes to removing thatch from your lawn. Don’t be fooled by “Power Rake” lawn mower blades. These do not remove thatch effectively and can really damage your lawn!
While you can rent a power rake from most tool rental services, they are dangerous machines that can really chew up your lawn (and you) if you haven’t used one before. On top of that, power raking your lawn will generate a lot of thatch that you will have to rake up and dispose of.
If you want to power rake your lawn but don’t want to deal with the power rake, you can hire a professional lawn service to take care of it for you. They will do it right, with the correct machine and even collect and dispose of the thatch for you.
Your lawn needs three primary nutrients to grow: nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. As your lawn grows, it pulls these nutrients from the soil, leaving it depleted. If these nutrients aren’t replaced your lawn will eventually run low on food and struggle to stay healthy.
When used in conjunction with the other steps listed here fertilizing will help your lawn green up quickly, thicken up and put down a robust root system. It can make the difference from having an okay lawn to having an amazing lawn you want to walk on in your bare feet.
Fertilizing does have its dangers though. If fertilizer isn’t applied properly it can burn your lawn and actually kill it. If over-applied, fertilizer can wash into storm drains and damage local ecosystems. Fertilizer should always be applied with a fertilizer spreader to ensure an accurate, uniform distribution on your lawn.
There are a number of different lawn fertilizers available to use. If you’d like to go the organic route you can use fertilizers made of animal manure or another decomposed biological matter. Organic fertilizers are good because they are a natural part of the ecosystem. The downside of organic fertilizers is that they have less nutrients per pound than chemical fertilizers, meaning that more of it must be applied to achieve the same result. Organic fertilizers also have an inconsistent distribution of nutrients which can lead to you lawn not getting enough of what it needs or too much of what it doesn’t.
Chemical fertilizers yield better results than organic fertilizers because the desired nutrients are more concentrated and in the correct proportions. Once you factor in the amount of fertilizer needed to do the job and the time it takes to apply, chemical fertilizers often end up being the cheaper option.
If you want to fertilize your lawn but don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, a professional lawn service can help. They will take care of everything, from making a fertilizer schedule to selecting the right fertilizer to applying it correctly.
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5 STEPS TO A GREAT LAWN IN 2020
Written By Steve Hyde | February 12, 2020 | Calgary, Alberta