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How To Get And Maintain A Healthy Lawn
- 1Stop fertilizing your lawn repeatedly. Lots of fertilizer encourages rapid grass growth, making the grass plants more vulnerable to disease and insects. Once in the fall is best. Details below.Ad
- 2Start mowing at the highest setting on your mower--probably 3 1/2 to 4 inches. Taller grass is healthier grass. It shades out weed seeds, preventing them from sprouting. It keeps the soil cooler, keeping it moist longer and encouraging the proliferation of soil microbes. (You want lots of soil microbes because they convert nutrients from the soil into a form that plants can use.) All this encourages grass to spread into bare spots. And it promotes deeper root penetration, which is the secret to drought resistance.
- 3Never apply pesticides, insecticides or fungicides. Those kill living things (those good microbes plus earthworms that naturally aerate soil) that keep your soil richer. If you observe the other steps in this plan, you won't need the killer chemicals. Healthy grass (with lots of leaf area, slow growth and cooler, deeper roots) is tougher and less likely to succumb to disease or insect damage.
- 4Grass does not need to be watered during long dry spells. Leaves may go brown, but the heart of the plant underground can stay alive and dormant for months. But if you want to keep the lawn green all summer long, water deeply but infrequently. Better to run the sprinkler for an hour once every week or two than for 10 minutes every day. Think of it this way: You always want to encourage roots to grow deep. If the soil is dry below the roots, they won't go down. And the deeper moisture will wick its way upward as the soil dries from the top.
- 5Fertilize once a year in the fall, October in northern latitudes, November in mid latitudes. Do NOT use high-nitrogen fertilizer. Most nationally advertised lawn fertilizers have massive amounts of nitrogen that make a lawn grow very fast...and weak. Your lawn will green up fast but be all the more vulnerable to drought and disease.
- 6Why fertilize in the fall when the grass is slowing its growth and about to stop for the winter? Again, it's because of the roots. When the air is cold, grass blades slow and stop growing, but the soil stays warm enough for root growth much longer. Build those roots in the fall, and they'll be there to support a healthy, green lawn next spring and summer.
- 7When shopping for fertilizer, look for the three numbers that tell the percentage of the three main ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The three are always given in that order. Thus, if the bag says 10-6-4, it means the stuff inside is 10 percent nitrogen, 6 percent phosphorus and 4 percent potassium. The highest percentage of nitrogen you should ever apply is 10 percent, especially in the fall. The other numbers are less critical since most soils already have some of each. Only nitrogen is rapidly depleted by growing plants.
- 8The best fertilizers for a low-maintenance lawn are the so-called organic kind.That's because the chemicals in them are slow to break down and seep into the soil. And because they are low in chemical salts that are hard on soil microbes. Because chemical salts are cheap, they are common ingredients in the cheaper non-organic fertilizers. Resist the temptation to buy them. Probably the best well-known brand of organic lawn fertilizer is Ringer's (10-2-6), but it's fairly pricey. Almost as good is Milorganite (6-2-0), typically half the price of Ringer's. Instructions for applying these are on the bag.
- 9One last thing: In the American East and Midwest, it's usually necessary to add lime to the soil to counteract acid rain. A light sprinkling once a year should do the job for most lawns. Any time of year is fine for liming.
Welcome Johnie started his real estate career in 2007 during the economic downturn, and has been able to create a dynamic and growing client base. Even in these tough economic times Johnie has been....