Did you know April is National Lawn Care Month? This is the time of year when homeowners turn to the care and upkeep of their lawns with the goal of seeing their yard and landscape flourish. It’s also the time of year when we must address some common misperceptions about when and how to tend to the lawn for maximum success.
We would like to address 10 common myths about lawns:
Myth: The best time to replace/ seed the lawn is in the spring, as plants get ready to bloom.
Reality: Sowing seed in the spring sets one up for potential problems. As heat sets in during the summer months teh new grass doesn’t have deep enough roots to withstand the summer heat. Additionally, spring is when the weeds germinate and weeds compete for space with the turfgrass. Weeds are vigorous and will outcompete turf grass for space and nutrients leaving the new turf patchy. The best time to overseed or start a new lawn from seed is in the fall when the temperatures are more consistent and highly competitive weeds, like crabgrass, have gone dormant. The cooler damp nights also reduce watering needs and the lawns grow in much thicker and stronger than the spring.
Myth: Water new plants every day to prevent them from drying out.
Reality: Overwatering kills as many plants as lack of water. It is better to make sure you are wetting the entire root system of your new plant and then allow the soil to dry to the point that it is only moist. This means watering deeply and less frequently. A light surface watering daily actually does more harm than good. This goes for turf grass as well. Give us a call if you have watering questions, we’d be happy to provide you with the info you need to take care of your new or established lawn.
Myth: To have a healthy lawn, dethatch in the spring.
Reality: Thatch is a layer of living and dead plant material, including the crown, roots and stems of the turfgrass plant. The brown on the surface at the beginning of the spring will slowly recede into the background all by itself as new leaves emerge. While detaching is a common and sometimes necessary practice, it should be done only when thatch is excessive.
Myth: It’s a good idea to remove clippings after mowing.
Reality: There is a misconception that grass clippings contribute significantly to thatch. Grass clippings are mostly water and decompose rapidly, returning significant amounts of fertilizer to the lawn. Research shows that up to one-third of applied fertilizer can be recycled by simply returning clippings. The clippings decompose quickly in the lawn feeding the microbes in the soil that return these nutrients to the earthworms that help aerate your turf and the turf itself.
Myth: Golf courses cut their grass short, so it’s a good idea to do the same.
Reality: Golf courses use incredibly sophisticated and expensive mowers to achieve a short height of cut and also plant varieties of turf that are meant to be cut at these short heights. Additionally, these greens are cut daily to maintain this short height. The appropriate height for cool season grasses (the types we grow in New England) is 3″ and in general, never cut more than one-third of the grass leaf at a time. Cutting the lawn once a week is recommended for cool season grasses maintained at 3″.
Myth: Lawns are not “organic.”
Reality: Sometimes, lawns are thought of as areas that don’t provide environmental benefits. However, they are actually highly complex and dynamic organic systems that not only contain turfgrasses but also earthworms, fungi, soil microbes, and other life forms that coexist and make possible the lawns we all enjoy for recreation, sports and aesthetics. The best part? lawns produce massive amounts of oxygen. An acre of turfgrass can produce enough oxygen for 64 people- EVERY DAY!
Myth: The best time to fertilize your lawn is in early spring.
Reality: Different varieties of grass like nutrients at different times of the year. You need to use the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place. Cool-season grasses, like Kentucky bluegrass, rye and fescues are usually given nutrients in fall and early spring when it is cooler, turf requirements in the late spring and summer change and our fertilization programs change to accommodate this. Applying the same products throughout the season is a waste of materials since the turf’s needs change with the seasons.
Myth: The products lawn care companies use are dangerous and more powerful than what a homeowner can use.
Reality: Most of the products professionals use can be purchased at the garden center, but the difference is that professionals are regulated and, by law, have to use the proper amounts, apply them correctly and dispose of them properly. Additionally, we have the training and expertise to apply only what and when is needed. Our goal is to reduce chemicals in our environment and we are constantly researching organic options to eliminate chemicals all together.
Myth: While digging in my lawn, I saw a grub worm. I should apply a grub control application every year.
Reality: Most of the time, grubs don’t attack fescue lawns because of their deeper root zone, so the type of lawn you have will determine the risk of damage. Grubs in small numbers are not harmful to a lawn; in fact, they are beneficial, as they aerate the soil. It’s having too many that can be harmful, healthy turf can withstand up to 12 grubs ber sq’ . Give us a call to evaluate your lawn if you have grub concerns.
Myth: I found grubs in my beds, I need to treat the beds for grubs
Reality: Grubs in planting beds are hardly ever an issue. They tend to occur in smaller numbers and the plants roots are much hardier than turf grass. Grubs really don’t cause damage in beds and aren’t a concern.
Myth: When I find a grub and squeeze it, it will make a satisfying pop
Reality: This is true, I suggest you try it.
Myth: Watering the lawn with the garden hose saves more money than installing an irrigation system.
Reality: Consider installing an irrigation system that uses smart controllers which have sensors that only allow for watering when conditions require it. Smart irrigation can offer a cost savings of approximately 15-20 percent on water bills. Convert irrigation spray nozzles from sprinklers to rotating nozzles which spread heavy droplets of water at a slower pace which makes them more targeted and effective. An irrigation system will also provide an even amount of water across the lawn where using a hose is very difficult to.