Lawn Care Tips
Your lawn is an extension of your home and it provides an outdoor space for you, your family and your friends to enjoy. We can help take the some of the guess work out of caring for your property with these helpful lawn care tips. If you are one of our customers, we also provide during-the-season tips and information on the back of your invoice that may not be below. These tips are tailored for the Greater Toledo area, though residents outside of our service area may also benefit from some of this information.
As our season warms up, it's important to move your mower blade up too. Mowing at the 3 - 4 inch height allows the canopy of the lawn to shade the soil which slows the evaporation rate of moisture from the soil. This higher cut will also alleviate stresses from the lawn keeping it greener and healthier during our hot, dry months!
Keeping your lawn looking it's best can be a fun and rewarding activity! Below you will find some tips that will help your lawn throughout the growing season.
Every lawn is different and requires different watering techniques for optimal results. Soil type, amount of sun light and turf types are a few things to consider when planning a watering plan for your lawn.
General lawn watering techniques:
Turf, ideally, wants 1" of water a week. Watering should be done infrequently and daily watering is rarely recommended. The goal is to water deeply every other or third day (depending on temperatures and natural rain fall). This helps promote deeper root growth for a healthier plant.
Watering heavy clay soil types:
Clay soil types will hold moisture for a longer period of time than other soil types. Watering sessions can usually be done in one cycle (unless the clay is very dry, then runoff may occur) and should be anywhere between 1 - 3 times per week, depending on the temperatures and sunlight (the higher the temperatures, the full sun areas may require additional waterings for optimal results).
Watering sandy soil types:
Sandy soil is soil that has larger, irregular particles. This means that moisture and nutrients can leach easily past the root zone. Depending on how much sand is in your soil, it may be recommended to water, take a break, and water again (same day). The goal is to try and keep the root zone moist. Sandy soils exposed to full sun will need watered in the middle of the day when summer hits for optimal results.
Grass Types and Watering:
- Perennial Rye: Short root structure, susceptible to turf disease. Water late morning to noon. Do not water the lawn while dew is present on the grass as this will extend leaf wetness and create and environment for fungus and disease to thrive.
- Kentucky Bluegrasses: Susceptible to some common turf type diseases. Prefers 1" of water a week for optimal results. Water late mornings into early afternoon depending on temperatures and humidity. Do not water the lawn while dew is present on the grass as this will extend leaf wetness and create and environment for fungus and disease to thrive.
- Tall Fescue: Deep Root structure. Requires less water than the types listed above due to it's deep root system; however, this turf type does take about 2 years to fully establish. A good solution for sandy soils in full sun if the ability to water is an issue or undesired.
With all that said, turf has a natural survival tactic when moisture is less than ideal... it will simply go dormant and wait for better conditions to come along. You don't NEED to water your lawn for it to survive, but if you want it to stay green all summer long, you may need to water it. Watering is also needed for newly seeded lawns.
The rule of thumb is the hotter the temperature, the higher the grass should be. This is to protect your lawn from the summer heat, though during the cooler months the grass can be cut shorter. One the first and last cut of the season, it is recommended to mow on a lower setting. This will help prevent snow mold through winter and prompt thicker growth in spring. It also allows earlier pop from dormancy as the crown of the plant receives more heat.
Mow your lawn in opposite directions [per mow] to keep from creating trenches from your mowers wheels.
During summer, do not mow your lawn during the hottest part of the day. This will lessen the chance of heat tracking occurring.
Having a pet is a wonderful experience, though cleaning up after them is not so fun. Dog urine contains high amounts of urea, this can damage the lawn by burning out the areas your pet frequents (like fertilizer burn). Female dogs tend to cause more damage because the urine is usually concentrated since they squat to urinate. There are products on the market that will lower the nitrogen in your pets urine, though you will want to talk to your vet first to see if any of those products are right for your pet.
Another thing homeowners can do is water in the urine after the dog visited the spot or apply a product like gypsum to the lawn which will help leaching occur and move the excess nitrogen past the root zone.
With fall comes leaves - and lots of them! Leaves can be dealt with in a couple different ways:
- Rake them up and put them in a pile for the leaf truck to come and suck them up.
- Mow right over them. This will help get nutrients back into the soil although it will leave the lawn looking littered with leaf pieces.
The goal is to remove the piles from the lawn so sun light and moisture and still get down to the surface of the soil. If there is heavy leaf build up, it may take a couple of rakes and mows. Another tip for mulching leaves: some organic material can change the soils PH.
Aeration can help your lawn by de compaction the soil. This will help increase air to the root zone of the plant, and allow nutrients and moisture to more readily be available to the plant. It is recommended that some soil types be aerated more than others, especially heavy clay types.
We prefer to seed in late summer/early fall, though in some instances, a spring seeding may turn better results (usually due to heavy leaf drop in fall if the property has a lot of trees). Seed germinates when soil temperatures are 55 degrees and higher. Depending on the turf type, seed may take 6 weeks to germinate (or can also lay dormant for longer periods of time if the conditions are not right). Newly emerged turf requires regular waterings until established.
- Do not apply a crabgrass prevention to the lawn during the season after seeding. The herbicide will most likely halt the germination process of the grass seed.
- Apply a starter fertilizer for your new seedlings so they can get the needed nutrients to develop healthy roots.
- Do not bag your grass clippings for the first few mows after seeding.
Some turf types are susceptible to disease activity. Some of the more common diseases we see in our area are pythium blight, red thread and dollar spot.
You will notice your lawn discolor, start to thin out and/or become matted down. We usually see this activity during higher temperatures coupled with high humidity. If you see this activity in the lawn, you could first try changing your watering routine to late morning/afternoon. If you need a technician to evaluate the lawn for disease activity, feel free to call us.
Tree & Shrub Tips
Keeping your trees and shrubs healthy is our priority; whether it be chemical care or simply sharing our knowledge, Grounds Services wants your landscape to thrive.
Location, Location, Location
Pruning can be tricky at best. There are right ways to prune and if done incorrectly, you may actually put your tree at risk for decline. The USDA Forest Services has compiled some information on pruning.
Water your landscaped plants deeply and infrequently during times of drought (6-12 inches soil moisture). For trees, the moisture should be targeted under the outer canopy of the tree (do not water the trunk of the tree as this may lead to rot)
One of the most common mistakes we see is mulch mounded up around the trunk of the tree.
Penn State University has a great article about proper mulching: Penn State University: Mulching
Susceptibility to Disease
Some trees are susceptible to diseases.
- Some species of spruce may be likely to get needlecast and should be treated with a preventative fungicide in spring. If your tree has needlecast, you may notice the older needles either browning out or turning a purple color. Damage usually starts on lower branches, then moves up the tree.
- Crabapples. There is a disease called applescab that is wide spread and very common in our area. One of the signs you will notice is your crabapple starting to develop spots on the leaves and defoliate in August (as if it's shedding its leaves for fall). A fungicide can be applied as a preventative annually. Our fungicides are applied in spring and should be done in a set of three sprays throughout spring.