Use these tips to help you maintain a good looking lawn and contact your Arborist/ Lawn Care Consultant if you have any further questions.
How and when your lawn is mowed has a significant impact on the visual quality of your lawn. The following points are provided to help you enhance the value of our services along with the overall quality and beauty of your lawn.
Timing: Lawns need to be mowed based upon their height. By never removing more than 1/3 of the total leaf blade height at one time you will not put your lawn into stress. If you are mowing your lawn at a height of 2 ½ to 3 inches you should be cutting your lawn by the time it reaches 4 inches in height. When your lawn is under drought stress (grayish silver in color and leaving foot prints when walking across it) or excessive moisture stress you should NOT mow your lawn. Mowing your lawn during stress conditions can cause your lawn to go totally white and dormant as well as leaving lines from where your lawnmower wheels passed.
Mowing Height: Your mowing height should change by seasons. The first and last cuttings of the year can be reduced to 1 ½ -2 inches, once the turf goes dormant in the fall and before it’s actively growing in the spring. Thereafter, a mowing height between 2 ½ to 3 inches is best for most of the season, with the exception being during summer stresses when the lawn mowing height should be raised ½ inch to mow at 3 to 3 ½ inches. Raising the mowing height provides more insulation from summer heat and reduces water loss from your soil.
Blade Sharpening: Having a sharp blade creates a better looking lawn by avoiding shredded leaf tips verses cleanly cut leaf tips. A dull mower blade can create a white cast across the top of the lawn days after mowing.
Clippings: Mulching and returning your clippings is desirable to return nutrients to your lawn and does not contribute to thatch. The only times that it makes sense to collect clippings would be if you had a severe disease and you did not want to further contaminate the lawn, or if the leaf clippings are too long and create clumps of grass throughout the lawn due to mowing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off at one time.
Cutting Grass when it’s wet: If you have the dilemma of deciding whether it’s better to cut the grass when it’s wet or let it get too tall, it’s better to cut it when it’s wet. Although this can create some clumping with your clippings, it’s better to get the grass cut, rake out the clippings, or cut it a second time verses let the grass get too tall. Also, if your lawn has a disease in it, do not mow it when it’s wet. With a diseased lawn, wait until the grass is dry to minimize the rapid spread of the disease.
Mowing is part of the Partnership: Mowing is a critical item and the responsibility of each client in combination with SavATree to maintain a healthy attractive lawn.
How much moisture your lawn has makes a significant impact on the visual quality and health of your lawn.
How much water does a lawn need?: The average lawn needs 1 inch of water per week to maintain a healthy looking turf during normal weather conditions. Since each Irrigation System is different and rainfalls very dramatically, the best way to know how much water your lawn is getting is to use a rain gauge. If you don’t have a rain gauge, put a small broad can with a 1 inch and 2 inch increment labeled on it out in your lawn and look at it weekly to measure rainfall and irrigation quantities.
Best practices if you have an irrigation system:
- Water deep and infrequent to encourage deeper roots and better development of the root system.
- Roots are lazy and will stay at the surface if you water daily.
- The deeper the roots the greater the water reservoir you have to draw from and thus the less water you will have to use to maintain a good looking lawn.
- What deep and infrequent irrigation means varies based on several soil factors, but in general it would be to apply water two times per week for a ½ hour to ¾ hour interval per irrigation. This would be for normal conditions. Under low rainfall, high temperature or very sandy soils, irrigation frequencies and/or times per week would need to be increased.
- Water between 5am – 9am in order to minimize disease and maximize the effectiveness of the water applied. Night watering allows the turf to stay wet all night long which enhances disease development and spread.
- Lawns should be core aerated at least once a year in the fall and more frequently on heavily compacted soils. Core aeration reduces water needs by allowing irrigation and rainfall to percolate into the soil and not run off.
Core aeration is recommended every fall for your lawn. The reasons for this are as follows:
- Aeration improves air and water content in the soil which results in improved rooting and increased root depth.
- Core aeration reduces water needs by allowing irrigation and rainfall to percolate into the soil and not run off.
- Core aeration controls and reduces thatch in your lawn by increasing microbial activity in your lawn.
- Core aeration reduces compaction which results in more pore space and therefore better rooting, water retention and a healthier turf.
- Core aeration can be used to help reduce surface moisture in wet areas of your lawn?
In order for diseases to be present on your lawn they require an environment conducive to disease activity, susceptible plants and a disease pathogen present in your lawn. Here are some tips on how to minimize disease activity in your lawn by dealing with each of these three components… The Environment, The Host Plant and The Pathogens:
The Environment: You can minimize environmental conditions conducive to disease by doing the following:
- Minimize the time that your lawn has wet turf by irrigating between 5am – 9am and watering deep and infrequently (see information on watering)
The Host Plant: Tips for minimizing disease by understanding and selecting grasses that are most resistant to disease activity:
- Since there are hundreds of varieties of grasses and not all grasses are equal in their resistance to diseases, choosing the best grasses (sod or seed) is crucial. The genetics of each grass variety determines its susceptibility to lawn diseases, just like all other living things being impacted by their genetic makeup.
- Choose the least susceptible varieties when establishing a lawn, spot seeding, over seeding or slice seeding your lawn. SavATree has seed mixtures and custom blends which contain only those varieties which are least susceptible to the most common diseases. The SavATree custom selected seeds are the only seeds used during our over seeding or slice seeding services available. In addition, if you wish to buy larger quantities of SavATree seed please contact your Arborist/Lawn Care Consultant.
Slice seeding and core aeration with over-seeding are the two services that SavATree provides to clients in order to introduce new grass types and more resistant genetics into your lawn. If you have a disease issue that is severe and persistent each year, consider a slice seeding service to establish some new and more resistant varieties into your lawn.
Note: This is a long term process and would need to be done annually for a number of years to begin to make a difference, but in the long run it should help to reduce the disease frequency in your lawn.
The Pathogens: Tips to reduce spreading disease within your lawn:
- Pathogens are always present in your lawn waiting for the necessary conditions to become active.
- Avoid mowing your lawn when wet except under special situations where you have no alternative. Mowing a diseased lawn spreads the disease rapidly when the lawn is wet.
- Understand that wind, rain and mowing equipment are three common means for disease getting into your lawn. Avoiding equipment from other sites bringing in disease is the only factor which you can control. Wind and rain will obviously be beyond your control.
There are hundreds of varieties of Kentucky bluegrass, fine leaf fescue, chewings fescue, tall fescue, and ryegrass. In general, bluegrasses and ryegrasses are best adapted to sunny conditions. For shady conditions, the fine leaf fescue and chewings fescues are best. For a lawn that is in a combination of sun and shade, a mixture containing bluegrass, ryegrass, fine fescue and chewings fescue would be your best choice.
The ideal practice would be to use bluegrasses and ryegrasses in your sunny areas and fine fescues and chewings fescues in the shady parts of your lawn when doing spot seeding, over-seeding or reestablishment of lawn areas.
When purchasing seed please look for these grass types or contact your local Arborist/Lawn Care Consultant to have SavATree assist you with your seeding questions and needs.
SavATree has proprietary seed blends and mixtures which are used for SavATree slice seeding and core aeration services provided to clients. SavATree has seed blends and mixtures for the following specific areas:
- Sun & Shade
- Dense Shade
- Tall fescue Seed for athletic fields, lower maintenance turfgrass areas and the Mid Atlantic area.
- Other customized seed blends can be provided for larger turf areas for special client needs.
Weeds can appear in any lawn but can be minimized in a lawn that is mowed, watered, and fertilized properly. Weeds are a result of open areas where the grass is not competitive enough to prevent weed germination and establishment. Selective integrated and spot treatment applications are available when customizing a program to your lawn’s needs. Liquid applications of broadleaf weed control are most effective in the spring and fall and not during hot summer conditions. Granular broadleaf weed control products are much less effective than liquid applications. Organic lawns can be maintained with reduced weed invasion through proper watering, mowing and fertility along with establishment of competitive disease resistant turfgrasses once a thick lawn is established. If you have weeds, look for the symptom. Weeds could be related to your soil conditions, mowing practices, watering practices and/or the types of grasses that are in your lawn.
The type and depth of soil your lawn is established in has a large influence on the quality of your lawn. If your lawn is established in 6-12 inches of a clean quality loam soil, you will have fewer issues with maintaining a thick beautiful lawn. Likewise, if your lawn is established in rocky, shallow, constantly wet, heavy clay, very sandy and/or compacted soil your lawn grasses could be less thick and healthy. Lawns growing in poor soil conditions will be less healthy, thinner and more prone to disease, stress and insect activity.
If you have poor soil conditions the best remedy is to add 4-6 inches of quality loam and reestablish a new lawn by re-seeding with quality grasses. The next best remedy is to core aerate your lawn 1-2 times per year to improve the soil conditions and encourage a healthier root system.
Finally, each soil type requires an understanding of how to manage the quality and frequency of water required for maintaining a thick, green, healthier lawn. If you are establishing a new lawn, spend the time and money to ensure that the soil is of the proper texture and depth and is properly drained. Over the life of your lawn you will be saving more than you would spend to manage a lawn with poor soil conditions.