Lawn Care Tips
Simple steps to great lawns
The best defence, the saying goes, is a good offence — and it’s as true for creating healthy, weed-free lawns as it is for winning hockey or football games.
The best defence against dandelions is healthy grass itself. Well nourished, deeply rooted, properly managed grass crowds out weedy invaders and starves them of what they need to grow.
Here are some of the top tips for achieving a healthy lawn without using chemical pesticides:
Care for your soil – and make it deep
Soil is the foundation of plant life; without deep soil that is rich in organic material and well aerated, roots will be shallow and weak. Great lawns require deep soil – a minimum of four to six inches of good topsoil, but the more the better. Since Oakville soils are notoriously poor, consider spreading a top dressing like black loam, "triple mix", or even garden compost onto your lawn in the spring to boost soil depth and organic content.
Green Horizons is where you can purchase bulk soil and mulch with our Big Yellow Bag unique discount code. As a guideline, one cubic yard of soil covers approximately 650 square feet at a depth of half an inch.
And more about soil. . .
Soil acidity (or its opposite, alkalinity) can have a big effect on plant health and it is measured on a scale known as pH. Dandelions love a soil with a high pH (around 7.5), while lawn grass thrives in soil with a lower pH (about 6.5). A good garden supply centre will assist you in getting your soil's pH professionally tested and to adjust it accordingly — sprinkling lime on your lawn will increase its pH (increase its alkalinity), while sprinkling sulphur on your soil will decrease pH (increase its acidity).
Water the right way
If you water too frequently or too shallowly, your grass will not develop the deep roots it needs for hardiness and optimum health. Shallowly watered grass will send out runners along the top of the soil, instead of propogating below the soil with rhizomes. When these runners become tightly woven and matted, you have "thatch", a sure sign of an unhealthy lawn that will be vulnerable to pests, disease and drought.
Lawn grass responds best to a thorough and deep soaking on a well-spaced schedule, such as providing an inch of water once a week. Garden supply centres carry rain gauges that you can place in your lawn to help you measure the right amount. However, some experienced gardeners choose not to water on a schedule at all, preferring to water deeply just when the grass shows that it needs it (it will start to curl).
Avoid watering during the heat of the day, because evaporation will prevent the water from soaking in deeply where grass roots need to find it. Try watering in the early evening or early morning if you can.
Use the right kind of fertilizer
The all-important nitrogen that your lawn needs can do more harm than good – burning the grass – if it is released too rapidly into the soil. Therefore, if you are using a fertilizer with a high nitrogen content, make sure that it is a slow-release product like our 21-7-7, with 50% sulphur-coated urea, or our 18-2-14 Complete with 60% sulphur-coated urea.
Organic fertilizers are excellent choices, not only because they generally have lower nitrogen content and are therefore very gentle on grass, but because the all-natural sources used for their ingredients make them safer for pets, children, and other visitors to your lawn. Our TopCut® Lawn Food 4-4-0 is one of the best organic products, while our new weed-controlling corn gluten, Amaizeingly Green, not only suppresses dandelions and crabgrass but also serves as a non-burning source of nitrogen (10-0-0).
Mow high, and leave the cuttings
It is time to stop disposing of grass cuttings. Grass cuttings, left scattered on your lawn, return vital organic matter to your soil, further enriching and nourishing the plants from which they came. A mulching style of lawn mower will chop the cuttings up in such a way that they decompose more rapidly — if you don't own a mulching mower already, consider making this investment in your lawn's long-term health and vitality. If you must rake up your lawn cuttings, put them in your compost barrel to decay, and then spread them as a top dressing on your lawn.
The height at which you set your lawn mower can make a huge difference to your lawn's well-being. Mowing short weakens the grass plant's ability to feed its roots, leaving your lawn more susceptible to damage from drought and to invasions by weeds. Set your mower to its maximum height, and resist the temptation to create a golf green in your yard. Longer grass will be healthier grass, not only with deeper and stronger roots but with denser turf that will more successfully repel weeds.