Lawn Tips

MOWING:

Good mowing practices are critical to the appearance of your lawn.  If you follow these general guidelines, you’ll surely increase the health and appearance of your lawn.

  • Make sure your mower blade is sharp.  A lawn mowed with a dull blade appears gray shortly after mowing and the tips turn  brown within 48 hours.
  • Cut often enough to remove no  more than one-third of the grass blade.  This will help avoid scalping, which puts the grass under stress and reduces its vigor.  Mowing at the correct height also shades the soil, keeping temperatures lower for optimum growth.
  • You may leave clippings if you mow often enough.  The grass clippings will recycle nutrients back into the soil, and they don’t contribute to thatch buildup  This process is called grasscycling.

GRASSCYCLING:

Leaving grass clippings on the lawn not only reduces the problem of limited landfill space, it also provides many benefits for you and your lawn.  Dixie Green recommends grasscycling for the following reasons:

  • Improved lawn quality:  Decaying grass clippings release valuable nutrients, which improve soil and feed grass plants.  This helps you enjoy a greener, healthier lawn.
  • Save time and money:  A recent study found that homeowners who quit bagging grass saved an average of seven hours of yard work at the end of six months.  These same homeowners saved money as a result of not having to purchase as many garbage bags.
  • Clippings don’t cause thatch:  Thatch is caused by the build up of roots, stolons and other plant material.  It has been foudn that leaving clippings on the lawn contributes less than one sixteenth of an inch to the thatch layer each year.
  • All mowers can grasscycle:  No special equipment is needed.  Check with your mower dealer for advice about attachments that improve your mower’s grasscycling performance.
  • Grasscycling is an environmentally responsible practice:  Landscape waste, including grass clippings, accounts for almost 20 percent of all curbside waste.  Grasscycling provides an environmentally important opportunity for you to participate in reducing landfill volume.

THATCH:

Thatch is a layer of partially decomposed stems, roots and other plant parts that build up between the grass blades and the soil in your lawn.  It acts like much to insulate and protect the grass plants.  However, if there is too much thatch – half an inch or more – it can cause problems for your lawn.  Thick thatch can act as a barrier to air, water and fertilizer.  It also harbors disease and insects.

Dixie Green’s beneficial Core Aeration and pH Balancing services are especially important to control thatch in your lawn.

Core Aeration is removal of soil from existing lawns.  Aerating a lawn is similar to cultivating a garden or flower bed.

Cores of soil, approximately 5/8 inch in diameter and 2 to 4 inches long, are pulled from the soil by a core aeration machine.  The cores are allowed to remain on top of the lawn.  The soil disintegrates, top dressing the lawn with soil.

Benefits of Core Aeration Are:

  • Removal of soil cores increases root growth.
  • Loosening the soil encourages root growth.
  • Soil fungi and bacteria are released when the soil disintegrates.  The organisms help degrade thatch.
  • Overseeding can follow core aeration if there is a need to seed an existing lawn.

Core aeration will not solve extremely severe thatch buildup.  However, aeration is an annual maintenance practice which will help maintain the overall health and vigor of lawns.

Your Lawn Care Specialist can check your lawn and advise you of the need for core aeration as well as explain the benefits and techniques of aerating your lawn.

Remember, if you’d like more information about your lawn, give us a call.  We’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Low Soil pH Levels:

Turfgrass is ideally gorwn in slightly acidic soil, which is measured by the pH level. The optimum pH range for lawns is 6.5 to 7.0.  Balanced pH is necessary for plants to receive proper nutrients that help maintain lawn health and vigor.  When soil becomes too acidic or alkaline, nutrients that grass plants need to thrive become unavailable, resulting in unhealthy turf.  To ensure maximum nutrient availability and correct pH, Dixie Green recommends applying lime.

Lime helps restore the physical condition of soil, providing you with the following benefits:

  • Increases fertilizer effectiveness:  When soil pH is controlled with lime, nutrients are readily available, allowing fertilizers to work better.
  • Reduces thatch:  Lime slows the growth of the thatch layer, which becomes a barrier to air, water, and fertilizer.  Lime encourages microbial action that breaks down thatch.
  • Reduces fungus problems:  Proper pH levels promote favorable growing conditions, encouraging healthy plants that are less susceptible to damage caused by disease.

MULCHING:

Using mulch around the base of plants has many benefits, including retention of soil moisture and prevention of heat loss.  However, when applying mulch, one should be careful not to use too much, checking to see that it’s not smothering the base of plantings and is not more than four inches high in the beds.

The key symptoms that indicate over-mulching are off-color foliage, small leaves, poor twig growth and die back of older branches.  Over-mulching can cause many problems, if not corrected in a timely manner, including root oxygen starvation, inner bark death, disease and insect promotion, and chewing rodent harborage.

PRUNING:

Pruning landscape plantings is a useful way to control growth and repair damage.  Follow the tips below for pruning your ornamental plantings:

  • Minor pruning can be done at any time of the year.
  • Major pruning projects should be done in the early spring, before new growth begins.
  • Flowering bushes should be pruned shortly after blooms fall.
  • Plants injured by storms, accidents or vandalism should be pruned to remove damaged areas as soon as possible.
  • Pruning should be done on dry days, when limbs and twigs are dry.
  • After trimming diseased plants, tools should be disinfected to prevent transferring infections to healthy plants.

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