A hard winter like the one we’ve just escaped can cause major damage to your lawn, but you can counteract that with a few relatively easy steps now. One of the most damaging things to your lawn in the winter is having people walk on it. After the first freeze of the year, grass plants go dormant, which gives them protection against the snow and cold but makes grass more vulnerable to being crushed underfoot. It’s also important in all four seasons to ensure that your lawn has adequate drainage. If standing water freezes on your grass, it will damage the delicate crowns and tissues of the plant.
Aeration is a great way to promote a properly drained lawn. It involves perforating small holes throughout your lawn to remedy compacted soil, making it easier for the roots to absorb water and nutrients. Early summer is the best time to aerate your lawn as this is prime growing season for grass.
Nova Scotia’s soil isn’t the best for grass; it’s usually quite acidic, low in organic matter, and has naturally occurring chemicals like aluminum and manganese, which can be detrimental to growth. We fix this by liming our lawns. Lime prevents your grass roots from absorbing these harmful chemicals while also adding things your soil needs, like phosphorous and calcium. Soil microorganisms flourish when you lime, which is beneficial because they create nutrients essential to plant growth. Liming also stabilizes the soil structure, helping to prevent soil erosion. Ideally, you should lime your lawn in the fall, however if you haven’t, spring is also a good time to administer it to your grass.
It is also important to fertilize your lawn. It feeds the grass giving it nutrients it needs but will not otherwise have access to. In the past, chemical fertilizers were your only option, but they could damage the lawn and were dangerous for people and animals. The new corn gluten weed suppressant fertilizers are a much better choice. They’re non-toxic and provide a natural source of nitrogen fertilizer, which kills weed seeds without harming your lawn or soil. It’s important to apply this type of fertilizer on pre-emergent weeds so that it can kill the weed seeds before they spread. Late spring/early summer are a good time to apply fertilizer to your lawn, and you should do a second application in late summer. When it comes to liming and fertilizing your lawn, it’s important to remember that lime and nitrogen (in fertilizer) neutralize each other and change into ammonia, which plants do not like living in. To ensure your lawn gets the benefits of both lime and fertilizer, lime first then wait thirty days for your grass to absorb it before applying the fertilizer.
Caring for your lawn means mowing it. Once your grass is really growing, you’ll probably need to mow once every seven to ten days. In the summer, mow at your highest setting to encourage deep root growth and to provide some shade for the grass plants. It is better to mulch your grass rather than bag it, as the grass clippings will return nutrients to the soil, feeding your lawn just like fertilizer. Clippings can provide as much as one-third of your lawn’s feeding requirement! You should bag your grass clippings if you suspect lawn disease (this will prevent the fungus from spreading).
It is also important to water your lawn. In the heart of summer, giving the lawn a deep, thorough watering twice a week should be all it needs. If you overwater the grass, it’s a waste because the plant can’t absorb the water. This can also lead to standing water, which as mentioned earlier, can harm your lawn.
A lush green lawn adds major curb appeal to your home, and can play a surprising role in the re-sale value of your property. With just a few easy steps, you can keep your grass happy and healthy.
Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.