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Lawn Care Tips

A beautiful lawn does not come without some effort. Depending upon what type of soil you have, the amount of effort will vary. For instance when raising trees and shrubs, sandy or a gravel base soil is great. Landscape plants like well drained soiled. A lawn on the other hand is different. Lawn grasses grow constantly throughout the growing season, and need an ample supply of both nutrients and water.

The most basic of lawn care tips includes regular watering and fertilization is required to keep a lawn beautiful. If you’re lucky enough to have a lawn that was originally planted in good rich topsoil, you won’t have to work near as hard as somebody like me, who has a lawn that is planted in sandy gravel. The soil at our house has little nutritional value, nor does it have the ability to retain any amount of moisture. By mid May my lawn starts drying out. It is very difficult for us to keep our lawn looking nice.

Lawns are one area where a little clay in the soil is a good thing. Of course standing water is not good, but having soil that has the ability to retain some moisture is helpful. If you happen to be installing a new lawn, here's a news flash from my lawn care tips that will make all the difference in the world: Add lots of organic matter before you install your new lawn if you have sand or gravel type soil. The easiest way to do this is to find some good rich topsoil and spread that over your existing soil. Because most lawn grasses grow so vigorously, they need additional amounts of nutrients added in order to stay looking nice. Just use one of the four step programs offered by the fertilizer companies. Most of these programs also include weed control along with the fertilizer. Here in the north we basically have two concerns with weeds in our lawns. Crabgrass can be a problem, and I do consider it a weed. In order to control crabgrass you must use a pre-emergent herbicide that will prevent the crabgrass seeds from germinating.

In order for this herbicide to be effective you must apply it early in the spring while the soil temperature is still below 45° F. Broadleaf weeds such as Dandelions are another problem, although fairly easy to control with a broadleaf weed control. Most broadleaf herbicides are mixed in with the fertilizers, and must be applied when the grass and weeds are damp. The wet foliage will cause the herbicide to stick to the weed, giving the herbicide time to be absorbed by the weed. Once absorbed the herbicide translocates through the weed plant and kills it completely. These types of herbicides are considered “selective” since they seem to know the difference between a grass plant and a weed. That’s why they only kill the broadleaf weeds and not the grass itself. However, many people have different kinds of thick bladed grass in their lawn such as quack grass. Quack grass is on the ugly side, and can really detract from a lawn. The problem is, it is still in the grass family, and “selective” herbicides leave it alone because it is a card carrying member of the grass family.

So what’s a person to do? In order to get rid of these thick bladed grasses you must use a “non-selective” herbicide, and “non-selective” herbicides don’t care who they kill. Well, at least that’s true in the plant kingdom. When you use a “non-selective” herbicide you must understand that everything that you spray is going to die, but it really is the only effective way to rid your lawn of undesirable thick bladed grasses. This type of treatment is effective if you have isolated areas that contain wide bladed grasses. You’ll have to spray all the grass in the area, then reseed with good quality grass seed. My herbicide of choice for this type of spraying is RoundUp®. It is believed that RoundUp® does not have any residual effect, which means that it does not linger in the soil. That means that the new grass seed or the young grass plants will not be affected by the herbicide. Being a non-selective herbicide you must be careful when spraying, making sure that the spray does not drift onto other plants or lawn areas that you do not want to kill. To keep the spray from drifting, adjust the nozzle so that the spray pattern is narrow with larger spray droplets.

You do not want a fine atomized spray if there is danger of spray drift. It also helps to keep the pressure in the sprayer as low as possible. Pump the sprayer a minimum number of times, to keep the pressure low. You just want enough pressure to deliver the spray, but not atomize it to the point that it can be easily carried by the wind. Buy a sprayer just for herbicides and mark it as such. You never want to spray plants with a sprayer that has been used for herbicides. Once you have sprayed the area you want to kill, wait three days before doing anything else. After a period of three days the grasses that you sprayed may not look any different, but if they have been properly sprayed, they will die. It takes three days for the herbicide to translocate throughout the entire plant, then the plants will die.


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