How long your sprinklers must run depends on how quickly they apply the water as well as how quickly your soil absorbs it. Place a second layer of compost over the lawn in the fall to break down over the winter months and improve the lawn in the spring. Over-seeding a grass lawn with clover seeds will help improve the existing grass and can be carried out from spring through until September, the warmer and wetter the quicker the seeds will germinate. Pelleted for easy application. Remember all those movies in which the farmer squats down, picks up a handful of earth, and feels it? Made from one solid piece of steel and set into a walnut handle with brass rivets. Contains only SAFE and NATURAL ingredients -- NO manures or chemicals! Here's PM's brutal but effective strategy: Kill it off, then start fresh. Thatch. Not only will it be more functional, it may look better, too. But if you're reading this, you're probably not one of them. The simplest, safest solution is to dig up the weeds and their roots and throw out both and the soil in which they grew. While harpoon-type mole traps work best, handling them is risky and requires skill. (Just be aware that some hardy survivors from the old lawn will probably make it to the top of the new one.). Weeds. Is your main problem the occasional dandelion? Down To Earth® Bio-Turf Lawn Fertilizer is easy to apply for long-lasting fertilization. Low numbers indicate high acidity; high numbers indicate high alkalinity. So why do so many people still have lawn problems—and how do you get rid of them? (Dig to check. While selective herbicides with a combination of 2,4-D, MCPP, and dicamba are effective chemical alternatives, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considers 2,4-D and MCPP possible human carcinogens. Dallisgrass, nimblewill, quackgrass, and tall fescue develop into unsightly patches and clumps. Easy to use, just connect to your garden hose and treat problem areas. Repeat every 6 to 12-inches or more often in highly compacted areas. While you’re in the planning process, cast a wide net. (Seven inches will often bring you to the end of your topsoil; twelve will usually take you down into the subsoil, making it easier to measure the topsoil — see depth, below.) And we even checked up on the neighbors. Organic content: worms and humus. However, if your curiosity runs rampant, or your lawn seems not to flourish no matter what you throw on it, or you have reason to suspect some sort of mineral deficiency, you can test the mineral content of your dirt. For too many of us, the lawn becomes a box. Hand pulling is effective when done consistently for a season or two. Vigorous, adaptable, and fast-growing, crabgrass thrives best in lawns that are underfertilized and mowed too low. Your local cooperative extension or nursery can tell you the best time. The Rapitest Soil Test Kit contains 40 tests (10 each for pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) with easy to use tablets. What kind of use does your lawn get? Type(s). … To perform an easy, time-honored test for soil texture, you’ll need to dig about five inches of loose dirt from under your grass (and it’s important to dig, as what’s right on top may not resemble what’s three inches down) and put it in a quart-sized jar. From: Keep this up for four days, then switch to a deep watering once a day for the next five days. About 4 of every 10 people in our survey water at the wrong time, and almost half are probably watering too often. Azalea, Canada hemlock, common boxwood, flowering quince, Japanese boxwood, Japanese holly, lilac, myrtle, privet, rhododendron, roses, and winterberry can be cut back as far as needed. The library and the internet can help you, but landscapers, bookstores, nurseries, neighbors, and local organizations can be great resources as well. If water is running off the lawn, the sprinklers are applying water faster than the soil can absorb it. ), or you can pull up representative samples and drop in at your county extension office, where you’ll probably have to pay a small fee, or you can do the job yourself. If you’ve got twenty-five worms or more, you soil qualifies as “rich.” Congratulations! If you don’t have a laptop, or a perfect memory, you’ll do a lot of running inside and out unless you pull a sprig (with a bit of root) and take it with you to wherever you’ll be doing the job. That’s our test. An online survey of our readers conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center revealed what worked—and didn't work—for them and their lawn services. ways to check for organic content is to do an earthworm count. When it comes to the lawn, less can be more (see Less Lawn More Life). The best time to prune either is in early spring, before the first flush of growth. Don’t stop at finding the best grass seed for your neck of the woods; think also about adding rock, meadow or ornamental grasses, shrubs, and garden beds. What's more, that patch of dead grass is likelier to have been caused by your neighbor's dog than by fungus. If you don’t, you need to add compost, worm food. Regular top-dressing is the only way to improve the soil under an existing lawn; if the soil is seriously poor, you can top-dress in both spring and autumn for quicker results. It's important to clear leaves off the grass frequently. Ice remains on lawn after snow has melted elsewhere. Chronic lawn problems are often about the soil, not the actual grass. Its NPK ratio promotes strong growth and keeps your yard looking good through the ups and downs that each year brings. Although there are plenty of grass varieties available that can tolerate a fair amount of shade, lack of sun can still be a factor in a failing lawn.Using shade-tolerant grasses like fescues is part of the solution, but other measures may need to be taken. A SAFE alternative to RoundUp® that's trusted by cities and municipalities. If the soil is compacted, have a pro aerate it using a piston-driven aerator. Most use branching algorithms, so you make a basic choice between two possibilities, which takes you to another page, where you make another choice. Clay can be so hard that a dry bit will be hard and sharp as a pebble. Those professionals use piston-driven aerators with tines that move straight up and down, rather than the lightweight, less-effective aerators you'll find at many rental yards. Instead of bagging leaves, use your mower to mulch them or add leaves to your compost pile. Having a soil test done is the best $10 to $15 you can spend. Some areas may need something other than grass. In most cases, organic lawn-care practices including the use of compost and other soil amendments as needed should ensure that soil maintains an adequate supply of these. The goal is to apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year. The first attributes (texture, structure and density) determine how easily and freely water and air move through the soil, while its pH and its organic and mineral contents reveal what nutrients the soil contains and how available they are to plants growing in it. 8 Easy Ways to Improve Your Lawn. Those spots are most likely to show up during hot and dry weather, when lawns are under greater stress. Shorten common hedges such as arborvitae, English laurel, firethorn, and Japanese yew only a few inches each pruning, and don't cut into bare, leafless stems. Also known as creeping Charlie, creeping Jenny, and gill-over-the-ground, ground ivy spreads by seed and by the vining stems that root at each node. About half of readers surveyed say they mulch at least some of the time. This powerful, quick-release concentrate builds healthy soil and thick green turf! Neither extreme is conducive to most plants, and a soil pH too far from that preferred by a particular plant means that it will not be able to gain access to the nutrients it needs. But too many cause irregularly shaped sections to wilt and die. What parts are in shade for most of the day? A freshly seeded lawn will need a light watering twice a day. Different tactics are successful with these different situations. The first two steps can be done in either order, as it really doesn’t matter whether you explore your imagination or your yard first; that’s a matter of temperament, and I’m not ready to take a stand on which is superior. Once soil is compacted, water and fertilizer can't reach the lawn's roots, weakening them and allowing weeds to grow. If you did the worm count mentioned above, check the sides of the hole. Fungus must be diagnosed and treated before grass begins to die—a challenge for most homeowners because it's hard to spot or identify. Aerating “fluffs up” the soil that’s already there. It’s a good thing as long as it’s only about a quarter to half an inch thick, as it helps slow evaporation from the ground, provides organic matter to the soil, protects both soil and roots from summer’s heat, and to some extent slows seed germination, thus providing a minor barrier against weeds. Use a trowel if necessary. Do the weeds grow in dense patches, or are they interspersed in the grass? Use natural lawn fertilizers. 3. 4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Lawn Aerate How can you tell? Assuming it holds together, give it a little squeeze and wiggle your fingers as if you were trying to break it up with your thumb and fingers. The amount of seed you should use varies based on the size of your lawn … Packed earth impedes the movement of air, water, and roots themselves, and the grass suffers. And you should do so before the flowers mature and spread their seeds. If your lawn is under the 50% mark, then how many weeds does it have, and what sorts? Don’t be your own worst enemy here, just be honest. There are three steps to this process: finding out what you’ve got, figuring out what you want, and then planning how to get from the one to the other. Pull out any plants that become established in or near your lawn. If you use either herbicide, be sure to wear rubber gloves, eye protection, long pants, closed shoes, and a long-sleeved shirt. Lawns that have not been recently aerated are likely to be compacted, as are those in recently built subdivisions where building and landscaping were done by machine. Root Depth. 1 broadleaf lawn weed in Mississippi, Virginia buttonweed starts growing in early summer and continues to grow until frost. “Grass-cycle” your grass clippings. Structure: does it crumble? 2. He has been teaching lawn care classes since the 1970s and has helped thousands of homeowners improve their lawns. Remember, climate determines not only the type of grass that grows best in your yard but also problems that might beset your lawn. To improve your lawn, though, you need to know your soil’s texture, structure, and density; its pH, organic content, and mineral content; and finally its depth. Trapping a mole is the only way to be sure you're rid of it. Good topsoil need only contain three to five per-cent organic matter, but that much is essential. The dirt will settle out in easily visible bands with sand on the bottom, silt above that, and clay on top (see How’s Your Soil Texture?). This perennial weed tends to thrive in thin lawns with too little fertilizer. Soil pH, measured on a scale from 0 to 14, is a measure of soil acidity, with 7 being neutral. Start by removing a square foot of sod from your lawn; lay it aside in the shade while you work. They’ll have moved out to more appealing quarters, deeper down or under a tree. Soil should be damp 4 or 6 inches deep.). Power raking will remove excess organic material and aerate the soil to allow your new lawn to take root, so you want to leave just the barest layer (about 1/4 inch) of thatch on the … First, digging in bone-dry dirt is really really difficult. Choose a variety of grass to grow that can thrive even in … How often do you mow? Now we get to the highly technical part of this test: scoop up a handful of dirt and feel it. Measure yours by setting empty containers around the lawn, running the sprinklers for 20 minutes, and measuring the depth of the water inside. A Healthier Lawn is a Better Lawn. How to fix the top 10 lawn problems will provide you with cures for some ailments that might be afflicting your yard, like crabgrass, dandelions, moss, and grubs. A perennial, it spreads as an expanding clump as well as by broken shoots or roots and seeds. It's important to keep an eye on whomever you hire. Those patches are weed-magnets, and if you don’t fill them with grass, then nature will fill them for you — and probably not with grass. Leaves block sunlight. Or wait until grass-planting time—usually in the fall—and sow fresh seed after clearing away the dead grass and loosening the soil. Figure on applying slow-release fertilizer three times a year if you mulch and five times a year if you don't. The simplest way to assess the curb appeal of your house is to walk to the curb—or to the street—and view it with the critical eyes of someone who has never looked at it before. Adding a few inches of soil to a lawn that hasn’t been seeded is expensive but not impossible. Don't bother with animal repellents; they're of little or no use, according to the experts we interviewed. Easy to use, just place your foot in the stirrup and step down firmly; pull straight up. A motion-activated sprinkler system might help discourage droppings, but it won't distinguish between dogs, deliverymen, and welcome guests. What do you want your lawn and garden to look like? Density: compaction. If children and pets are playing outside, you deserve to have lush grass and a chemical-free yard. So, how deep is your thatch? What kind or kinds of grass have you got? It may start choking out the grass, and it may prevent light rain or watering from reaching the soil where it’s needed. It’s best to perform this test a day or so after a rain (or watering), depending of course on temperature, shade and so on. If trees, shrubs, or structures prevent you from regrading the area, use underground drainage pipes or create a sump drain—essentially a hole in the ground with a grate over it. You don’t need to know these with great precision (at least not all of them), but you need a ballpark estimate. How big is the lawn? Products with dithiopyr, prodiamine, or pendimethalin are typical chemical alternatives. Aerators remove plugs of dirt from the lawn and break up the soil, allowing grass roots to spread… What happens to them? It turns out the grass is not always greener next door: More than 40 percent of you had complaints—neighbors who don't mow their lawns, let their leaves pile up, or let trash, leaves, or other debris blow onto your property. And they were glad they did: 62 percent of readers were completely or very satisfied with local companies, compared with only 46 percent for regional or national firms. If the dirt runs loosely through your fingers, like sand, it has poor soil structure. If your poor drainage area is a relatively small one and not too severe, you can lighten the soil by working in lots of organic matter. Trees can be selectively pruned to provide a little more sunlight and also improve … That’s in fact exactly what you are trying to do — but don’t use a lot of pressure. Think outside it. See this book for great tips on how to figure out how compact your soil is, how healthy your grass is, and so on. But a thin layer of topsoil, for instance, will compact more quickly and completely than a thick one, so building up your topsoil helps to relieve and prevent compaction. Roughly a third of readers reported some problems with their lawn services. If you do start by assessing, don’t let what’s actually there keep you from seeing what could be. Planet Natural has everything you need to guarantee the healthiest outdoor environment possible. Fertilize southern grasses in the spring after dormant lawns are revived and green, then again in July or August. This test, which requires digging out a lot of dirt, should only be conducted when the soil is moist, for two reasons. While you'll find a plethora of chemical herbicides and pesticides, the healthiest lawns resist weeds and pests without them. Use granular products on wet grass, liquids on dry (but not droughty) grass. Also, figure out how much sun different sections of your yard gets. An easy way to improve the look of your grass is to apply some lawn fertiliser. Turn the sprinklers off at the point of runoff, wait a half-hour for the water to soak in, and then run the sprinklers again. Each 25 lb bag covers 1500 square feet. Even if your lawn already makes the neighbors green with envy, you're likely to face a few of those common lawn problems. For a quicker fix, cut out the dead spot and fill it in with plugs cut from a strip of sod. 3. Water your lawn deeply and less often. As a locally-based company with decades of experience in the lawn care business, ABC has the experience and know how to advise homeowners on the best and most cost-effective ways to improve … (When the dirt is hard, the digging is harder.) "Soil analysis is a small investment that pays big dividends; it doesn't take much work," explains Peg Hoovler of Lynchburg, Va., a Consumer Reports online subscriber who was recently certified as a master gardener by her local cooperative extension service. One note of caution: don’t grab a pinch of earth from the yard, throw it in a plastic bag and mail it off with a note asking for a soil analysis. A soil test requires a good deal more soil than that, and accuracy requires that it be gathered from here and there about the yard, so that results don’t get skewed by odd, local factors. Mix with grass seed and add to bare spots. Distances don’t need to be precise, so “sketch” might be a better term, except that there’s no need here for artistry. The best way to keep your lawn looking great year after year is to fertilize, water, and mow it properly. Teufel’s Compost provides a microbially active source of organic matter, humus and other important soil builders required by turf to thrive. The EPA considers the latter two as possible human carcinogens, however. So homeowners wind up treating the symptom—dead grass—not the cause," says Zac Reicher, professor of turfgrass science at Purdue University. The home kits are relatively easy to use, but be sure to get a good one so that you can trust the results. The seeds are moved about by water, the reason this weed often appears first where water collects. The percentage of nitrogen in a fertilizer is indicated by the first number on the bag, so with a 20-10-10 fertilizer (20 percent nitrogen), you should apply 5 pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet. Also keep trees and shrubs properly pruned. Most grasses are best mowed to 2½ to 3½ inches high. As the third-generation owner of a lawn and garden center, he has been in the lawn care business “forever.” Plus: Is lawn … Put the collection bag on your mower and then mow the lawn, cutting the grass to just 1½ inches long. If more than three-quarters is sand, you’re looking at very sandy soil. Soil beneath most lawns eventually becomes hard and compacted, even if you prepared it perfectly before planting. In nature, nutrients are recycled back into the soil through grazing animals. In soil science, texture refers to the size of the ground-up rock particles in soil. 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