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our lawns and gardens are the first thing that people see when they come to our home and by them, we are often judged by those who don’t know us well. Keeping them fit and green isn’t always an easy task but is well worth our time to accomplish. A properly cared for and well landscaped lawn can add a great deal to the overall value of your home and property.

Should you start over?
Very often landscaping professionals will evaluate a lawn based on what is called a 50/50 rule. If more than half of the lawn is weeds, invasive grassed or fungus, it is usually less work to completely reestablish the lawn than to do a hundred spot repairs.

Test your soil to get your lawn off to a good start so that you can determine what nutrients your soil is going to need. The soil test will also help you to determine the soils ph for adjustment.

Tilling to a depth of 4 to 6 inches not only lets you work the fertilizers and ph materials into the soil but also aerates the ground so that the grass roots can take a better hold. After tilling rake the soil well to remove rocks and debris and to create a smooth level planting surface.

Seed, Sod or Sprigs?
You can plant a new lawn in one of these three ways. Whichever you select firm the soil after you plant by pushing a roller over the surface which will aid in germination and ensure that the sod and sprigs make good contact with the soil.

The seeding rate depends on the species of grass that you use so make certain that you follow the recommendations on the package of seed. It is best to use a seed spreader to assure even distribution over larger areas, and sow half the seed in one direction and half in another.

Mist the seeds lightly with water each evening to keep them from drying out. Cover the seed with a thin layer of straw to help them retain moisture and protect them from wind and birds. The mulch will disappear as the grass grows and add nutrients so there is no need to remove it.

Sodding your lawn on the other hand, is not a quick fix.

The soil must be prepared as carefully for this as for seed or sprig, and will take just as much time.
Make sure that your ground is level and that the surface is moist enough to encourage rooting. Lay the sod strips in a staggered pattern so that the end seams don’t form a straight line and that the pieces butt together tightly.
When you are on a slope, you will need to run the stripping lengthwise across the face and trim the edges with a spade, using a garden hose or a board as a guide.

Planting sprigs
Sprigs are usually sold by the bushel or square yard. Make certain that they are cool and moist when you buy them and plant as soon as possible after purchase. Dig a 1-2 inch furrow and insert the sprigs 4 to 6 inches apart. Then roll or tamp the soil lightly and water immediately. Plant furrows about a foot apart.

Don’t fertilize immediately but instead wait four to six weeks prior to fertilizing. Excessive fertilizing will stimulate blade instead of root growth and promotes what is called thatch buildup, as well as addicting the grass to nitrogen so that it will require increasing doses of it. Feed your lawn just two times per year, primarily in spring and fall for blade growth in spring and root growth in fall.

Just as it works well on your garden, compost works wonders on the lawn. Use about 1/2 inch of screened compost over the lawn each spring or fall.

Give it air
Aerate your lawn in early spring each year particularly if the soil in your area tends to be heavy. While aerating shoes are available from some garden suppliers a mechanical core aerator is more effective.

Another way, to help your lawn to thrive in heavy soil is to spread gypsum each spring. It lets grass roots to penetrate more deeply and aids in the drainage of your lawn. user four to five pounds per 100 square feet by hand.


Water in the early morning so that the lawn can dry before sundown, grass that stays wet overnight tends toward more disease, and never water in the heat of the afternoon when moisture evaporates quickly. The basic rule is that your lawn needs about an inch of water a week during its growing season. After 24 hours an inch of water soaks the soil to a depth of about 6 inches in heavy soil and one foot in sandy soil.

Patching bare spots
Remove any dead grass and dig some compost into the soil around the spot. Take smooth and at a level slightly higher than the lawn surrounding it. Sew seed and then tamp with the back of a rake to make sure that it makes good soil contact. Mulch and keep moist until new grass begins to sprout.

Repairing Damaged Turf

If a patch of turf becomes ragged cut out the section and make a bare spot. Strip sod out with a spade turn it around and reinstall it so that the spot is in the opposite corner than where it was. Add a little soil to the bar patch to make it level, seed it and them stamp it lightly. mulch with straw and keep moist until blades are sprouted.

A brown lawn may be cause by to much mowing rather than a lack of water. Recommended cutting lengths vary by grass variety, but the general rule is that we should never remove more than a third of the blade of grass when we cut.


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