Learning Proper Lawn Care

How do I take care of my lawn the right way?

 

Hi! Welcome to our learning section. Here at McGoldrick Property Services LLC we want you to understand how we would be taking care of your wonderful properties! The ideal care for grass is:

 

1) An application treatment program

2) Dethatch

3) Plug Aeration

Why Aerate? https://www.ryanturf.com/

 

LAWN AERATION

Removing small cores of soil from your lawn reduces soil compaction and promotes root growth for healthier grass!

 

WHAT IS AERATION?

Technically speaking, aeration is the naturally occurring process of air exchange between the soil and its surrounding atmosphere. Practically speaking, aeration is the process of mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn to improve natural soil aeration. It’s commonly called “core aeration” in the lawn service industry, and you may have heard of it as soil cultivation (coring, spiking and slicing). Most homeowners simply call it aeration.

 

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF AERATION?

Core aeration can help make your lawn healthier and reduce its maintenance requirements through these means:

  • Improved air exchange between the soil and atmosphere.

  • Enhanced soil water uptake.

  • Improved fertilizer uptake and use.

  • Reduced water runoff and puddling.

  • Stronger turfgrass roots.

  • Reduced soil compaction.

  • Enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.

  • Improved resiliency and cushioning.

  • Enhanced thatch breakdown.

  • Thatch Buildup – Although a thin layer of thatch is beneficial, thatch accumulation should not exceed 1/2 inch. Excess thatch blocks out air, light and water from reaching root zones. Core aeration reduces thatch accumulation and minimizes its buildup.

ROOT GROWTH – Core aeration allows air, water and fertilizer to better reach the root zone. This stimulates root growth to create healthier, stronger turfgrass plants.

RELIEVE THATCH ACCUMULATION

Most home lawns are subject to thatch accumulation. Left unmanaged, it impedes water, fertilizer and pesticide effectiveness. Core aeration combines soil with the thatch debris, so soil organisms are better able to break down the thatch and reduce its accumulation.

  • USEFUL DEFINITIONS

  • COMPACTION: A condition that occurs primarily in the upper 1 to 1 1/2 inches of soil. Compacted soils have reduced air spaces and more resistance to root growth than noncompacted soils. Compacted soils are dense and cause water to puddle and run off.

  • Core Aeration: The mechanical removal of small plugs of soil and thatch from the lawn.

  • Dethatching: The process of removing the thatch layer from turf, the layer of dead and decaying plant tissue located between the soil surface and the green vegetation. This process is usually done mechanically with a dethatching unit or power rake.

  • Power Rake: Turf equipment that mechanically removes thatch with rigid wire tines or steel blades, which slice through the turf and lift the thatch debris to the surface for removal.

  • Thatch: The layer of dead and decaying plant tissue located between the soil surface and the green vegetation. A thin layer of thatch is beneficial because it reduces soil compaction and it increases wear tolerance. However, a thatch layer of 1/2 inch or more prevents air, light and water from reaching the turf’s root zone. Thatch also makes an excellent breeding ground for harmful insects and disease organisms.

  • HOW OFTEN SHOULD LAWNS BE AERATED?

  • Most home lawns benefit from annual aeration. Heavily used lawns, or those growing on heavy clay or subsoils may need aeration twice a year. Golf fairways, sports turf and municipalities may need aeration three to five times per year depending on the amount of use. Again, turf responds best when tine spacing is closer and penetration is deeper.

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  • WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO AERATE?

  • If you have cool season turfgrass such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass, both spring and fall are ideal times to aerate. In spring, aerate between March and May. Perform fall aeration between August and November. Aeration before or at the time of late season fertilization enhances root growth and improves spring greenup and growth.

  • Warm season turfgrasses such as zoysiagrass and bermudagrass should be aerated in mid-spring to summer. Avoid aerating when warm season grasses are dormant – it may encourage weed competition. In addition, avoid aerating warm season grasses during spring greenup, and not until after their first spring mowing.

  •  

  • HERBICIDES, FERTILIZERS & AERATION

  • It’s best to aerate before you apply pre-emergence herbicides, rather than after. Aerating after a herbicide application can reduce the chemical barrier formed by the herbicide, allowing weeds to germinate. Applying fertilizer after aeration helps the lawn compete against weeds. Water the lawn after aeration, particularly in areas where drought and high temperatures are common.

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  • WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?

  • Immediately after aeration, your lawn will be dotted with small plugs pulled from the soil. Within a week or two, they break apart and disappear into the lawn.

  • About 7 to 10 days after aeration, the aerification holes will be filled with white, actively growing roots – a sign that the turfgrass is receiving additional oxygen, moisture and nutrients from the soil.

  • On compacted soils and on lawns with slopes, you should see an immediate difference in water puddling and runoff after irrigation or rainfall. After aeration, your lawn should be able to go longer between waterings, without showing signs of wilt. With repeat aerations over time, your lawn will show enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.

  • Remember, most lawns benefit from annual aeration. And while you shouldn’t expect miracles, especially with poor soil, lawns that receive this care will be healthier, more vigorous, easier to maintain and have fewer pest problems.

  • WHAT IS AERATION?

  • Technically speaking, aeration is the naturally occurring process of air exchange between the soil and its surrounding atmosphere. Practically speaking, aeration is the process of mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn to improve natural soil aeration. It’s commonly called “core aeration” in the lawn service industry, and you may have heard of it as soil cultivation (coring, spiking and slicing). Most homeowners simply call it aeration.

  • https://youtu.be/smh-x8k-v0w

4) Slice Seeding 

Why Overseed?

LAWN OVERSEEDING

Give your lawn thicker growth, better color, and greater resistance to disease and drought!

 

WHAT IS OVERSEEDING?

Overseeding is the planting of grass seed directly into existing turf, without tearing up the turf, or the soil. It’s an easy way to fill in bare spots, improve the density of turf, establish improved grass varieties and enhance your lawn’s color.

If a lawn looks old, or just “worn out,” if it needs growing amounts of water and fertilizer to thrive, or is disease or insect prone, it’s a perfect candidate for overseeding.

THE BENEFITS OF OVERSEEDING

Many older lawns were established with common type turf grasses not suited for the needs of today’s homeowner. They’re often more disease and insect prone, requiring more fertilizer and water.

Overseeding newer turfgrass varieties into an older lawn can help it better withstand insects, disease, drought, shady conditions and heavy traffic. The investment in overseeding pays off by reducing the amount of fertilizer, water and pesticides required. Most importantly, a renovated lawn stays greener and looks thicker and healthier!

BEFORE YOU OVERSEED

For various reasons, old turf sometimes deteriorates dramatically or dies out completely. Overseeding with an improved grass seed mixture can get new turf growing in bare areas as well as “sprucing up” areas where the turf is thin and unhealthy looking.

First, however, you must analyze the problems that caused the original turf to deteriorate. It might be due to conditions that, if not corrected, will eventually cause the overseeded lawn to deteriorate, too.

Correctable problems include:

  • Poor soil condition

  • Improper drainage

  • Soil compaction

  • Insufficient water

  • Poor fertility

  • Poor air circulation

  • Insufficient sunlight

  • Excess thatch

  • Grass varieties not suitable for the area

  • General neglect

  • OVERSEEDING METHODS

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  • Slit-seeding with a mechanical slit-seeder

  • This is the best method for overseeding established turf. Slit-seeders such as the Ryan® Mataway®Overseeder have verticutting blades that cut through the thatch layer and open up a slit or miniature furrow in the soil. The depth of the slit or miniature furrow is based on the type of grass seed used. A general rule of thumb is to go no deeper than half the length of the grass seed husk. The slit-seeding unit should have concave disk blades that follow in the slits and keep them open while the seed is dropped; it ensures the seed gets into the soil where it can germinate.

  • Slit-seeding generally takes less seed than broadcast seeding, because most of the seed gets into the soil so it can germinate. More seed-to-soil contact means a higher germination rate and a thicker better looking new turf.

If you have trouble identifying the problem, ask your local lawn professionals or your county extension office. The main thing is to correct the problem before you establish new grass.

Broadcast seed with a cyclone or drop-type seeder

This second method of overseeding is also effective, if you’re unable to use a slit-seeder. Aerate several times before broadcasting seed; aeration holes should be spaced not more than 2-3 inches apart. Use core-type aerating tines that remove soil plugs for better seed-to-soil contact. After overseeding, give the area a heavy watering right away to wash seed into the aeration holes and help break up the aeration cores on the surface.

One challenge with broadcast seeding is that much of the seed gets “hung up” in the thatch layer and does not get into the soil where it can germinate. Be sure to use grasses (such as bluegrass) that have a “creeping” growth method to ensure even growth; grass types that do not spread will grow in the aeration holes only and give the turf a “clump” or “spotted” look. Remember broadcast seeding requires more grass seed and the germination rate is not as high as with slit-seeding.

 

WHAT ABOUT CARE AFTER OVERSEEDING?

Depending on conditions and type of seed, new grass seed will begin to emerge in 5-7 days after seeding when moisture and soil temperatures are adequate. An overseeded lawn can be fully established in eight weeks or less.

Proper watering is critical to successful overseeding. The following is a recommended watering program.

  • Immediately after overseeding: Water heavily to wash grass seeds into slits.

  • Until grass seeds germinate (first 10-14 days): Water lightly on a daily basis, soaking first one inch of soil.

  • After germination: Water less frequently, but allow for deeper soaking and penetration into soil. This encourages deeper root growth.

  • After grass becomes established: Water at the recommended level for the type of grass planted.

The key is care and patience. Proper overseeding will produce a healthier, better-looking lawn that responds better to mowing, fertilizing and watering. An added benefit is increased property value!

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO OVERSEED?

Late summer or early fall is the best time to overseed lawns. Soil and atmospheric temperatures are most favorable for optimum seed germination and growth. With adequate moisture, fertilizer and sunlight, the new seedlings will be well established before cooler fall weather sets in. Also, weed competition is less of a factor at this time, giving the grass seedlings a better environment to grow and develop.

Spring overseeding risks the chance of weather-related problems (heavy spring rains, unexpected high temperatures) and weed competition. Also, spring seeding may interfere with the application of preemergent crabgrass or broadleaf weed killers; concurrent application of seed and herbicides is generally not recommended because the herbicides may cause poor seedling establishment. It is best to delay herbicide treatment 4-6 weeks after new grass seed germinates. If you choose to overseed in the spring, be sure to follow proper seeding and treatment practices.

Midsummer overseeding faces greater chances of disease, heat and drought stress, and weed competition. Proper weed control and adequate irrigation are musts if overseeding is attempted in midsummer.

Dormant overseeding involves seeding in late fall or early winter, after soil temperatures are low enough to prevent seed germination.

Success usually requires good snow cover during the winter, to prevent wind or water erosion and ensure germination doesn’t begin too early. This method is sometimes preferred over spring seeding, especially in northern areas, because you don’t have to wait for soil or moisture conditions to improve before overseeding.

Note: When overseeding Bermudagrass in southern parts of the U.S., late spring or early summer seeding usually works best. Bermudagrass and other warm-season grasses need warmer weather to germinate and fully develop.

Areas of Turfgrass Adaptation
 Cool Season Turfgrasses, Northern Turf Program
Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Fine Fescue
 Transition Zone, MidSouth Products
Tall Fescue, Zoysiagrass; Common Bermudagrass
 Warm Season Turfgrasses, Southern Overseeding Products
Tall Fescues, Hybrid Bermudagrasses, Common Bermudagrass, Bahiagrass, St. Augustingrass, Centipedegrass

WHAT TYPE OF GRASS SEED IS BEST?

Your choice of grass is generally determined by your area’s climate. Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Bentgrass and the Fine Fescues, are used primarily in western, northern and eastern areas of the United States. They tolerate moderate summertime temperatures but will also survive severe cold associated with northern winter conditions.

Warm-season grasses, such as Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass and Bahiagrass, are used in the south, southeast, and southwest United States. They’ll withstand extreme heat, but are unable to tolerate sustained temperatures well below freezing. Tall Fescues are used extensively in the midsouth and west regions and with the advent of new turf-type Tall Fescues, their use is expanding into other geographic areas as well. For detailed recommendations, contact your lawn care professional or county extension agent.

RECOMMENDED STEPS FOR COMPLETE RENOVATION

  1. Apply a chemical such as Glyphosate (Roundup®) to kill all vegetation.

    • Apply at the recommended rate, when grass and weeds are actively growing.

    • Don’t spray when rainfall is expected within 24 hours.

    • Don’t spray when windy, to avoid drift onto shrubs, trees, neighboring  lawns, etc.

    • Don’t walk from treated onto untreated areas.

    • Allow Glyphosate to work for 7-10 days before starting follow-up renovation steps.

  2. Use a power rake to dethatch and remove excess (1/2 inch or more) thatch debris from the treated lawn.

  3. Aerate thoroughly, using a core-type aerator.

  4. Fertilize with a good starter fertilizer. Apply at the recommended rate.

  5. Re-seed, using a mechanical “slit seeder.”

Tip: Reduce the recommended seeding rate by one-half and cover the area twice, in two directions, leaving a “cross-hatch” seeded pattern at a 45º angle. (See previous illustration above)

Note: Whether or not a chemical such as Glyphosate is used, it usually works better to overseed new grass into the old, undisturbed turf, even if it is dead, rather than start with bare dirt. Overseeding is faster and easier than completely digging up the soil, and it leaves some cover to protect against wind or water erosion of the soil surface.

 

USEFUL DEFINITIONS

Aerification: The process of improving the movement of air, water and nutrients into or within the soil, usually by removing soil plugs or cores. Also performed to relieve compaction of soils.

Annual grass: Any plant which germinates, matures, produces seed and dies within one growing season.

Bahiagrass: A coarse-textured, low-maintenance warm-season grass which is primarily regarded as a clump grass but also spreads by rhizomes.

Bentgrass: A cool-season grass of fine-to-medium texture with stoloniferous growth. Used primarily on golf course greens, tees and fairways.

Bermudagrass: A popular warm-season grass of fine-to-medium texture with vigorous growth from rhizomes and stolons. Quite often planted for sod production.

Bluegrass: A popular cool-season grass of fine-to-medium texture with vegetative growth by rhizomes and tillers. Quite often grown for sod production. A popular component in most grass seed mixtures.

Broadcast seeding: The process of scattering seed over the soil surface or onto an existing turf surface, using a rotary or gravity feed-type spreader. Generally acceptable for seeding new areas, but not recommended for overseeding purposes.

Bunch-type growth: Plant development by tillering at or near the soil surface without production of rhizomes or stolons.

Centipedegrass: A warm-season, medium-to-coarse texture stoloniferous grass which grows best on acid soils.

Cool-season turfgrass: A turfgrass adapted to rapid growth during cool, moist periods of the year. Plants can be injured, or will enter dormancy during prolonged periods of hot weather.

Creeping growth habit: Plant development by stem growth at or near the soil surface, by the spreading of
rhizomes and/or stolons.

Dethatch: The procedure of removing an excessive thatch accumulation mechanically by practices such as vertical mowing or core aerification.

Dormant seeding: Planting seed during late fall or early winter after temperatures become too cold for seed
germination. Seed germinates the following spring when the soil warms.

Dormant turf: Areas which have temporarily ceased growth as a result of extended drought, heat or cold stress, but are capable of resuming growth when environmental conditions are favorable.

Fine fescue: Fine-textured, cool-season grasses reproducing vegetatively by tillers or rhizomes. Generally do well in shaded and low-fertility conditions. Includes creeping red fescue, chewings fescue and hard fescue.

Germination: The beginning of visible growth of a plant as it emerges from the seed.

Hydroseeding: A process in which a slurry consisting of water, grass seed, mulch and/or fertilizer is pumped through a nozzle and sprayed onto a seedbed.

Overseeding: The process of seeding new, improved grasses into worn-out or damaged turf. Used for rejuvenating existing turf with minimal disturbance to the soil or grass.

Pesticide: Any chemical agent used to control pests. This would include fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, etc.

Preemergent herbicide: A herbicide which prevents seedling emergence or growth of a plant.

Renovation: Turf improvement involving replanting into existing live and/or dead vegetation.

Rhizome: An underground stem which is capable of producing a new plant similar in all respects to the parent plant.

Root system: The underground, downward growth of a plant; anchors plants into the soil and absorbs moisture and nutrients from the soil for use by the entire plant.

Root zone: The area of the soil where roots develop, grow and mature.

Ryegrass: Annual ryegrass is used primarily as a nurse grass. It is coarse-textured and persists for only one growing season. Perennial ryegrass is a fine-to-medium textured, cool-season grass generally known for its fast rate of establishment and excellent traffic tolerance.

Slit-seeder: A mechanical seeder capable of cutting grooves into the soil, followed by the placement of seed into the grooves, assuring good seed-to-soil contact. Recommended for overseeding into existing turf.

Spot seeding: The seeding of small, usually barren or sparsely-covered areas within an established turf.

Spray drift: The movement of airborne spray particles from a spray nozzle outside the intended contact area.

Stolon: A stem growing along the soil surface which is capable of taking root and starting a new plant at each node.

Stress: A condition under which a plant suffers due to a lack of moisture, food, extreme heat, extreme cold or a combination of external factors.

Thatch: A loose, intermingled layer of dead and living shoots, stems and roots that develops between the zone of green vegetation and the soil surface.

Tiller: A sprout or stalk that forms its own leaves and originates at the base of the parent plant.

Topdressing: A prepared soil mix added to the surface of the turf and worked in by brooming, matting, raking and/or irrigation for the purpose of controlling thatch-forming materials, enhancing thatch decomposition and covering seed after planting.

Vertical mower: Also referred to as a Power Rake. A mechanical device having vertically rotating blades that cut perpendicularly into the turf for the purpose of controlling thatch.

Warm-season turfgrass: A turf species that is widely distributed throughout the warm-humid or warm semi-arid climates of the south; usually dormant during cool, wintertime temperatures.

Why Dethatch?

Thatch can keep water and air from reaching the soil and, if left untreated, can create an environment that harbors pests and diseases. Dethatching removes those layers of dead grass, roots and debris matted between the soil and the growing grass, keeping the grass greener and healthier while minimizing the chance of disease.

WHY DETHATCH WITH RYAN®?

Ryan® dethatchers combine ultimate performance with optimal versatility. You can match the cutting blade, spacing and dethatcher reels with the job and desired results. All-welded structures and hardened steel shafts ensure long-lasting satisfaction. And each machine is driven by a powerful Honda® or Briggs & Stratton® engine.

WHEN TO DETHATCH A LAWN

Depending on where you live in the country, and if you have cool-season grass or warm-season grass, you should dethatch in early fall before you fertilize, or in the spring after the grass has begun to green.

If you are planning to overseed a lawn, you should plan to dethatch before seeding.

 

USEFUL DEFINITIONS

COMPACTION: A condition that occurs primarily in the upper 1 to 1 1/2 inches of soil. Compacted soils have reduced air spaces and more resistance to root growth than noncompacted soils. Compacted soils are dense and cause water to puddle and run off.

CORE AERATION: The mechanical removal of small plugs of soil and thatch from the lawn.

DETHATCHING: The process of removing the thatch layer from turf, the layer of dead and decaying plant tissue located between the soil surface and the green vegetation. This process is usually done mechanically with a dethatching unit or power rake.

POWER RAKE: Turf equipment that mechanically removes thatch with rigid wire tines or steel blades, which slice through the turf and lift the thatch debris to the surface for removal.

THATCH: The layer of dead and decaying plant tissue located between the soil surface and the green vegetation. A thin layer of thatch is beneficial because it reduces soil compaction and it increases wear tolerance. However, a thatch layer of 1/2 inch or more prevents air, light and water from reaching the turf’s root zone. Thatch also makes an excellent breeding ground for harmful insects and disease organisms.

5) Watering Regements 

In terms of watering, aim for around an inch a week, Joseph said. If you don't have a rain gauge, you can use a tuna can or other shallow can to measure water. Besides keeping grass 3 inches high and making sure the mowing blade is sharp, you should also alternate the direction of the mowing. www.boston.com

In general, ten minutes of watering per session (morning and evening) will provide enough water to keep the top couple inches of soil moist. As your new grass seed grows and flourishes, you can water deeper and less frequently – this will encourage established grass roots to extend deeply into the soil. gilmour.com

6) Top Compost

It will greatly increase beneficial microbial activity in your soil, benefiting your lawn even more. And it's a good way to treat the spots in your lawn that are thin, brown and unhealthy. From Organic Lawns, Healthy Soil: ... However you spread compost on top of an existing lawn, don't apply too much. www.thespruce.com

7) Lawn Cleanups

8) Regular Mowing/Trimming

For womowing that occurs every 10+ days, homeowners and landscapers alike feel that bagging the lawn creates a cleaner appearance and better curb appeal because no clumps of grass are visible. If you tend to mow less frequently and your clippings are long, it's best to bag them. Large clumps of grass left sitting on your lawn can rot, killing the live grass underneath it. If a customer receives a cut every 5-7 days, they would benefit from no bagging to drop nutrients that breakdown atop the soil. www.outbacklandscapeinc.com

9) Removing small cores of soil from your lawn reduces soil compaction and promotes root growth for healthier grass!

What are the benefits of grass?

Lawns are for more than just looks. Maintaining a healthy, thick lawn also benefits the environment. Unlike hard surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, and wood, lawn grass helps clean the air, trap carbon dioxide, reduce erosion from stormwater runoff, improve soil, decrease noise pollution, and reduce temperatures. www.scotts.com