A beautiful lawn can make all the difference to the appearance of your home and is a great enhancement to your landscaping. Keeping it in prime condition, however, does take a little effort and a bit of experience.
From all the questions I have been asked over the past few weeks, it is clear there is some confusion over the various lawn care steps that need to be taken each year.
The first step is moss control. Moss thrives in areas of shade, acidic soil, poor drainage and low fertility. You can't usually do much about the shade, but lime, while not eliminating the moss, will correct acidic soil by raising the pH level and allowing grasses to pick up more existing nutrients in the soil.
The easy to apply `Dolopril' lime contains magnesium and releases quickly to get the pH level up in wet spring weather. A lOkg bag covers about 2,000 square feet (200 square metres) for twice the coverage of older Dolomite limes.
There is also an organic eggshell lime now available that is fast acting and contains five nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potash.
You should leave at least five days between an application of lime and an application of other nutrients.
Poor drainage is the primary reason moss thrives and is best handled by proper aeration, which means using either a hand or machine aerator to remove plugs of soil. Follow aeration by an application of a quarter inch layer of coarse sand. This is the most important thing you can do to not only improve drainage but to also allow oxygen into the soil and around your grass roots. Moss also prefers soils that are low in nutrients. An application of a slow release high nitrogen fertilizer will not only give lawn grasses a jumpstart, but will also help discourage moss.Once applied, be sure to water it in or apply ,just before a rainfall. Follow this up in eight to 10 weeks with another application to maintain the green.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. endorses timed release fertilizers because the nitrates are kept in the roots of the turf. Slow release nitrogen fertilizers will not usually burn, but it is always best to water them in just in case.
If you wish to stay organic, there are several excellent alternatives available. Scotts `Eco Sense 10 1 5, for example, is very effective and covers 3900 square feet per 9kg bag.
To burn moss, you can use either liquid or granular moss controls. The secret of success is to apply these products when the temperature is above 8 - 10 degrees C, and you're likely to have two dry days after application.
thatch is also a real problem in older lawns that have been mowed continually in one direction or have been left too long.
If you have an older lawn and find the grasses are laying down (thatch) purchase a Roto Rake bar. This blade, which fits nicely on the bottom of your rotary mower, does grass and overseed with great perennial rye grasses, like `Elka 1I', at the rate of five to 10 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. Perennial rye grasses are fine, resilient grasses that add great strength and beauty to any lawn, new or old.
Weeds are the next most pressing problem. You can stay 100 per cent organic by pulling out most weeds with either a long or short handled weed puller, or you can spot treat your lawn with new liquid home garden organic weed control products as soon as the weeds begin to show signs of life.
For the best results, you need two days of warm, dry weather after each application.
In coastal areas, keep your lawn grasses short for the best looking lawn and mow in a different direction each time.
A great lawn can give you a sense of pride and is a tremendous asset to the rest of your landscape.
It's also important to remember that an average size lawn provides enough oxygen to keep a family of eight alive.
Lawns also sequester carbon and act as a collector for many pollutants.