Lawn Care for Beginners
Tips for Warm and Cool Season Grasses
These are some of the things you should do if you’re into lawn care DIY projects.
- Finding the right grass for the season
Warm season – Runners for Grass Spreads
For that thick turf/ mat, get the warm-season grasses such as Bermuda, Bahia, Zoysia, or centipede. These grass varieties spread by their runner on and/or under the soil layer resulting in that thick turf you’ve been dreaming about, but only if your yard is well-maintained.
The runners are also excellent in soil erosion control. Also, they grow together as sods with the running stems holding together the pieces of sod.
If you opt for the Bermuda grass, you might want to corral the grass by installing an edging barrier – the grass shoots often appear on flower beds and the other non-lawn areas of the yard, and the barrier will halt their spread.
Cool season grasses – Bunch Grasses
Bunch grasses include ryegrass and fescues. These grasses grow in bunches. Note, however, that a lawn with fescue is often made up of numerous individual grass plants that grow together to form bunches. The grasses are sown from seeds, but they don’t hold together as sods unless you use a biodegradable net during planting. The net makes it possible for the harvesting of the grass, rolling and the sod installation.
The Kentucky bluegrass is a cold-season grass, but it’s a grass spread by the runners rather than a type of bunch grass.
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Overseeding is important if you wish to keep a thick turf or if you have a high-traffic area, you need thick turf. Overseeding will also come in handy after an occasional event because it will help in repairing the damaged spots
Overseeding the cool-season grass is ideally done between summer and early fall or 6 weeks before the first frost hits.
For the warm-season lawns, however, overseeding is ideally done in early summer or late spring.
- Laying of Sod
According to the lawn care experts, laying of sod is ideally done from spring and through to fall, in most parts of the country, although sodding could also take place in the mild-winter areas if installed in winter.
It’s always an excellent idea to have the installation of sod done during the rainy season because nature will keep the sods watered during rooting.
For the cool-season sods, installation is preferable in early spring for establishment before the summer heat. But if you have to install the sods in the fall, you should bear in mind that you’ll need a minimum of four weeks’ growth before frost sets in.
For the warm-season sods, installation should be done in spring, and only if you’re committed to watering the grass when the summer heat hits the town.
- Mowing your lawn
- Best lawn mowing practices
Lawn mowing is the most important, time-consuming activity when it comes to the maintenance of lawns. For the best results, you need to invest in a good quality, sharp lawn mower, regardless of the type of grass on your yard.
The sharpness of the mower is important for clean cutting of the grass rather than their tearing. Clean cutting of the grass blades rather than the tearing is important because a blade tear creates an opening for pests/ diseases.
Besides using a mower with sharp blades, you also need to make sure that you know the height of the turf, as well as the height you wish to maintain.
- The dangers of scalping
If you have bunch grasses, you should know that cutting the grass too low is literally a kiss of death for the plants because the scalping of these grasses means that the grasses will be forced to use up their food reserves in the roots for the plants’ regeneration. So, depending on the season, the recovery of the plants might be impossible. To be on the safe side, you should never cut off more than a third of the length of the grass blade in one cutting.
- Irrigation needs
Your yard’s irrigation needs will vary depending on the type of grass you plant. Generally, the warm-season grasses require about 20% less water than the cool-season grasses. The tall fescue, for example, develops a deep root system hence its resistance to drought.
- When is the right time to fertilize your lawn?
Like irrigation times, the fertilizer timings for lawns vary depending on the type of grass grown. But in most cases, you need to feed the lawn before the grasses enter the peak growth stage – in this case, fertilize your warm-season grasses in early summer or late spring before the grass enters the intense growth stage in summer.
For the cool-season grasses, on the other hand, you should feed your lawn in the fall, once a year since these grasses grow significantly fast in spring/ fall. Feeding in the fall will fuel the strong development of roots before the ground freezes over. Fertilization at this time also ensures that sufficient food is stored in the roots for that beautiful green in summer. Feeding for these grasses should always be done before the discoloration of the grass as the cold weather kicks in.
You will improve the health of your lawn if you keep it aerated. Aeration is as simple as creating holes in the soil, allowing the grass’ roots to get water, fertilizer, and oxygen. Aeration of the lawn is also important because it reduces the compaction of the soil, further enhancing the growth of the roots.
Like fertilizing your lawn, you need to aerate your lawn just before the grasses enter the active growth stage.
For warm-season turf, aeration is necessary for early summer or in late spring, while aeration in early fall is ideal for the cool-season grasses. The fall aeration should be timed well because the grasses will have only 4 weeks of active growth.