Lawn maintenance tips for a healthy disease free lawn

Posted: Dec 19 2016

Lawn maintenance tips for a healthy disease free lawn

Lawns are the central landscape feature of many homes.  Generally, conventional lawns are made up of  turf grasses that require regular lawn maintenance i.e. weekly mowing, watering on a regular basis and scheduled fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide applications.  Certain Lawn care practices, i.e. the application of chemical fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, can adversely impact the health of humans, animals, plants and the environment and reduce soil fertility. 

Lawn disease can be prevented or significantly reduced by implementing a proper lawn maintenance program that addresses  fertilization, drainage, watering and mowing.  Typically, lawns thrive in  well drained soils with high biomass levels and high organic matter. Excessive watering and fertilization (especially excessive nitrogen applications) can be problematic to most lawns. 

Topdressing can be beneficial to most lawns. A good topdressing consists  of peat moss and/or composted manure mixed with sand and/or topsoil. Apply a thin layer over the entire surface of the lawn.

Compaction is prevalent in clay soils but can occur in any soil that is subjected to high traffic. When irrigation water fails to percolate into the soil, it may be time to aerate.

Aeration reduces soil compaction and enables oxygen, water and nutrients to penetrate deeper into the soil encouraging healthy root growth. Aeration is required only in compacted soil and should be carried out in the fall. Aerating in the spring can cause weed seeds to germinate. When aeration is complete, apply a thin layer of organic matter i.e. composted manure and/or peat moss mixed with sand and/or topsoil to the entire surface of the lawn.

An inch of water once a week is about right for most lawns. This may vary with environmental conditions, soil composition, and time of year.

When filling in bare spots, loosen soil in the affected area and apply compost or top soil. Spread grass seed over the affected area and use a tamper or roller to push seeds into soil. Apply a natural soil conditioner to promote healthy plant growth.

Typically, the appearance of mushrooms on a lawn points toward healthy soil. Though unsightly, mushrooms pose no threat to a lawn and generally disappear as quickly as they appeared.

Unnecessary lime applications can result in serious lawn damage.  Typically, lime raises soil pH and, under certain soil conditions, this swing in pH can result in an iron deficiency and other potential problems. A soil pH in the range of 7.0 is ideal for most turf grass. When in doubt, conduct a soil analysis and add lime based on the results of this analysis. Simply put, a healthy vigorous lawn that is responding to normal fertilizer applications does not require the addition of lime.

Pre-emergence herbicides applied too early in the spring may expose the herbicide to soil microbes may break it down. Conversely, applying too late may miss the early germinating weed seeds.  Applying herbicides, at the proper rate in late fall and early spring,  will provide adequate control throughout the summer.

Growth fertilizers, with high N content and relatively low P and K content, promote shoot growth but are virtually ineffective in supporting root development and plant health.. To promote root development and sustain plant health use a natural fertilizer or soil condition containing trace elements i.e. iron, magnesium and zinc, etc.

  A 1,000 square foot, that is intensively managed, requires about 50 to 60 inches of moisture per year.

Complete fertilizers  provide nutrients in a formulation that satisfies most lawn requirements. Complete fertilizers are recommended to those who make less than three fertilizer applications per year.

Typically, Creeping Charlie flourishes under moist and shady conditions and is difficult to control. When all else fails, "Borax" might be the solution.

  Natural fertilizers, formulated with, sea plants, macro and micro nutrients, carbohydrates, amino acids, enzymes, microbes  etc., stimulate soil biomass and promote healthy root and shoot growth.  Chemicals do not provide essential  nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth. In fact, chemical fertilizers can kill soil biomass and inhibit plant growth. Fertilize at the right time of the year using complete fertilizers that satisfy the nutrient needs of the grass.

Contrary to popular belief, grass clippings, left on the lawn, do not cause lawn thatch. In fact, grass clippings benefit the lawn by adding nitrogen,  Phosphorous, Potassium and organic matter.

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