Is your lawn experiencing problems? Are weeds and insects winning the battle?
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Q. I have a lot of green moss in my lawn. What can I do about it?
A. Moss on your lawn surface usually indicates poor soil drainage and possibly too much shade. Your ALMA Lawn Care Operator can advise you on what is wanted to correct the problem.
Q. I continually have trouble with my lawn in shady areas. I try to grow grass there but it is always weak.
A. Unfortunately there are no easy answers to growing grass in shady areas. All grasses, including the weedy ones require a certain amount of sunlight each day.
Q. What will kill weeds on my newly-sown lawn?
A. You don’t need a weedkiller. Mowing the grass will rid majority of them. Just pull out any big ones.
Q. How often should I cut the lawn?
A. As often as possible (recommended: twice a week if you can manage it). Don’t let it get really long and then scalp it. To really get that bowling green finish, you need to do as the greenkeepers do – mow daily!
Q. How do I get rid of those thick-bladed grasses in my lawn?
A. Spot spraying can remove small clumps or patches of weedy grasses. However, if weedy grasses are throughout the lawn, renovation of entire area may be needed.
Q. How can I keep moss from growing in my lawn?
A. Moss growth is encouraged by a variety of soil and environment conditions. Area with high acidity, poor drainage, compacted soil, and low fertility are most susceptible to moss. Also areas constantly shaded by tall trees or buildings are susceptible. Vigorous grass growth is the key to moss control. Reduce soil acidity.
Q. My lawn looks dry in spots, but I water it regularly. What is it?
A. Check the spots for signs of insect feeding.White larvae found in the soil beneath these dry patches could be grubs feeding on the roots. If no insects are found, excessive thatch build-up can prevent water from reaching the soil.
Q. In the spring I’ve noticed a lot of large brown areas in my lawn. I water it well with our sprinkler system but the dead areas just seem to be getting bigger. What am I doing wrong?
A. It sounds like “brown patch” which is a lawn fungus that develops in the spring and early summer when there are warm nights and plenty of moisture. This combination is a perfect scenario for fungus to grow and spread. To remedy the situation, turn off the sprinklers until the rains subside. Apply a systemic fungicide to prevent a future outbreak. Also, mowing the lawn higher with a sharp blade and removing clippings can help with this situation.
Q. When is the best time to aerate my lawn?
A. Any time of year is a good time to aerate, but late summer and early autumn are the best times. Your grass is working hard during this time to develop a stronger root system and aeration aids in that process. If you aerate during this season you allow pockets of air to transmit water and nutrients to the root system. You want to encourage growth of the root system during autumn and early winter months. This will help ensure a thick, green, healthy turf in the spring.
Q. I have a low area in my lawn that stays soggy for a long time after a heavy rain. The grass just doesn’t seem to do very well there. Any suggestions?
A. Poor drainage and landscape design can be a detriment to a great looking lawn. The saturated turf actually starves the roots of oxygen and aids in the development of fungus. If the problem isn’t too bad, you could try aerating that area several times during the year to help the water drain into the soil better. If the problem is more serious, more drastic measures may be required. Consider having that area filled with additional topsoil or have the whole garden regraded for better runoff. Drainage pipes can also be installed to help the water drain to a lower area.
Q. When is the best time to seed my lawn?
A. We recommend seeding tall fescue lawns only in autumn. The temperatures and weather are more stable, and university research proves that you can receive as much as 4 times more germination response from your seed. Warm days and cool nights with soil temperatures around 15oC to 20oC are optimum temperatures for seeding germination. Occasionally an emergency arises where spring seeding is required. Bare spots or new lawns can be seeded in the spring with proper planning. Warm weather grasses can be seeded in the spring successfully.
Q. Is it better to seed or use instant sod to put in a lawn for a new house? What kind of soil should I ask my builder to bring in?
A. Like most projects, the fundamentals make or break the job. The proper soil can help your lawn perform better and help cope with the stresses we experience during our weather extremes. Ideally, a perfect mix of sand, silt, and clay will not only drain well, it will also hold nutrients in the soil. Most suburban soils have a decent mix of sand, silt, and clay, however during the construction phase of a home the topsoil is removed by the builder. This leaves the owner with a heavy top layer of clay that makes for a poor soil to grow plants in. Any soil brought in must be thoroughly mixed with the subsoil by rotary hoeing, otherwise layering of the different soil types almost guarantees failure in the long term.
Q. I want a nice green lawn but I am very concerned about the environment. Are there ways to have both? Are there products and services that you offer that are “environmentally friendly”?
A. We believe a thick, healthy lawn is the best defence against weeds and insects. By promoting proper seeding, watering, and maintenance practices, we believe that there is a lessened need for lawn chemicals. We practice a pest control strategy called “IPM” (Integrated Pest Management) which calls for intelligent, judicious use of pesticides.
Q. What kinds of things can I do to help my lawn look better and be healthier?
A. It is always important to realise that the success of anyone’s lawn depends on a team working together. Keeping the lawn mowed regularly at an optimum height for that particular grass species is one thing. Making sure the lawn gets enough water during the hot, dry summertime is another. Be sure you have proper drainage throughout the garden. Keep the lawn clear of debris such as heavy leaf cover or pine needles. Seed, aerate, dethatch and lime when necessary. Keep heavy traffic (children, pets, cars) off the lawn. Have a soil test done to determine the correct pH for your lawn. Even the simple act of being observant of the condition of your lawn can be very important. Keep an eye out for little problems so that they can be taken care of before they become big problems. And as usual, don’t hesitate to call us if you see anything unusual in the lawn.
Q. What is thatch and what is the best way to treat it?
A. Thatch in turf is a layer of dead and living shoots, stems and roots that develops on the surface of a root zone below the green tops. Decomposing thatch that becomes mixed with soil particles is called “mat”.
Q. How often should I water my lawn ?
A. a good soaking of water every few days is more useful than frequent light sprinkling. Avoid watering late in the day; leaves remain wet for hours during the night, increasing the possibility of germination of fungal spores. One to two waterings per week totalling 25mm are best. Frequent light waterings create shallow root systems which cannot sustain the plants during hot weather.
To find out how long to water, place 2 or 3 jam tins under the sprinkler or irrigation sprays. Determine the time it takes to put 25mm of water in each tin and from then on operate the sprinklers for that length of time for each watering.
Q. How often should I mow my lawn ?
A. How long between mowing depends on the rate of growth, so that only one third of the grass is removed. This also depends on the kind of grass and its growth habit.
Bowling greens are cut daily !!! During the summer growing season, to encourage a prostrate habit, with many lateral shoots.
So, ideally some lawns need to be cut weekly during their active growing period, more often if the owner goes berserk with watering and fertilising, but generally, mowing every 7 to14 days is a reasonable compromise. As the grass lapses into winter dormancy, so the interval between cuts can be extended, but still apply the one third off criteria.
If the grass is too long at the next cut, and you remove more than a third, the amount of green foliage that photosynthesises plant food is severely reduced. During winter with fewer sunlight hours anyway, the plant is unable to cope, and the turf suffers.
If you cut so low that all the green growth is removed, the lawn has an overall yellow appearance and is dramatically stressed, finding it difficult to cope with low overnight ground temperatures. The grass in its weakened state is also susceptible to attack by various diseases.
If you set the mowing height high to compensate for less than optimal mowing frequency, then spongy or thatching of the turf is likely, which will require later scarifying, an additional expense.
How long between mowing also depends on the kind of grass. Different grasses should be cut at different heights. Lawn care should not be equated to rotary mowing of a green patch as low and as infrequently as possible. Together with excessive wear on the mower, this is the most damaging maintenance program possible.