Few things can add as much value to your home as your lawn and landscaping, often known as curb appeal. A beautiful lawn with well-trimmed shrubs and flowers sends the message to all who pass by that this home is well-cared for and a good investment. Not only does it reflect on you but on the community as a whole. That will do more to increase the value of your home than any other thing you can do.
As homeowners you are responsible for maintaining all of your lot, including areas within the right-of-ways behind the curb of the street and sidewalk area, drainage easements, and any other easement areas on your property. When you make the effort to keep your yard looking good, it pays off for everyone in the community. Remember, as per the Rules and Regulations, each homeowner shall use his or her best efforts to keep and maintain attractive, healthy, live and growing conditions, any and all grass, shrubs, trees etc.
Soil Amendments are the proper pH of your soil that is essential to maintaining a rich, healthy soil base in which your lawn can thrive. This can be accomplished through the use of chemical soil amendments.
Chemical soil amendments are inorganic amendments that change the pH levels of your soil. For example, lime reduces the acidity of soil, while sulfur causes it to be less alkaline (having a pH more than 7). Other amendments include potassium, phosphorus and micronutrients.
Most lawn grasses prefer a slightly acid soil (pH 5.5 to 6.5). An alkaline soil has a soil pH above 7.0, while a soil pH less than 5.0 is too acidic.
Lime can be added any time of year, but applying between August and October is ideal. Sulfur may be applied in spring or fall, depending on your specific soil test results. If large amounts are needed, it may be necessary to amend in two stages - once in early spring and again in fall.
Complete fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in the same product and may include other essential mineral elements and balanced fertilizers provide nutrients in a predetermined ratio designed to meet a lawn's individual requirements for those elements. Overall, turf grasses require nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
The analysis: This indicates the percentage (by weight) of the three major nutrients in a fertilizer: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The analysis is printed on the front of every fertilizer package. For example: 4-1-2.
It's best to apply granular fertilizer in the early evening or right before it rains/watering. Applying fertilizer in the early evening gives the lawn time to absorb the nutrients, while rain/watering washes the fertilizer down to the grass roots and will prevent granules from burning the lawn. NOTE: Carefully read and follow the label directions regarding weed controlled, safety for specific plants, application rates and methods, water requirements, and any safety precautions.
Steps for applying granular fertilizer:
Weed and Feed is a common term referring to fertilizer containing weed killer for broadleaf weeds such as dandelions. The weed killers in these types of fertilizers are "contact killers," and are effective only if the weeds are already actively growing. They will not kill weeds, which have not germinated.
Crabgrass is an aggressive weedy lawn grass that emerges each spring from seed. Mow your lawn high to thicken it and reduce the ability of crabgrass to establish in your lawn. Pre-emergents are weed killers that must be applied before the weeds germinate. They are ineffective if the weeds are actively growing. Pre-emergent weed killers are often mixed with fertilizer. Crabgrass normally starts to germinate when the ground temperature reaches 60° F. Many professional landscapers apply at least two applications starting as early as February.
How long does it normally take for weed control products to work? Generally, 10-14 days.
Water your lawn as needed to keep the soil moist to a two to three inch depth. You can measure this by inserting a nail or screwdriver into the soil, which should easily penetrate soil that's properly moist. Symptoms of inadequate water are easily seen: your grass slowly loses its bright green color and starts to fade to yellow. Additional stress will cause it to turn tan, indicating drought dormancy. You may also notice wilting, which causes grass blades to roll or fold. If you walk across your lawn and your footprints remain in the grass, or lawn mower tracks remain visible, your lawn needs water.
Established lawns should be watered deeply, but infrequently. Deep watering once a week encourages deeper root growth, while frequent, shallow watering produces a limited root system. When watering, make sure you moisten the top three to four inches of soil, which covers the root zone. Although watering frequency depends on the type of grass, your soil, and the weather, most grasses require about one inch of water each week for healthy growth. The best time to water is in the early morning. This conserves water that would evaporate if you were to water later in the day, but also allows grass to dry before evening.
Grass that remains wet for long periods of time is more susceptible to disease development. If you're using a movable sprinkler, let it run in one spot just until the water begins to run off the surface, then move to a different area of the lawn. Monitor your underground irrigation or sprinkler system to ensure that you moisten the lawn's entire root zone without overwatering any sections. Water the lawn once grass begins to discolor and wilt. If you can't keep the grass green, water your lawn with at least one-half inch of water every seven to 14 days, which will keep the plants alive even if they are dormant. Once your lawn has turned brown and lost all color during drought dormancy, it will take several weeks of steady watering to spur re-growth from the crown area of the plants.
Spring rains are normally sufficient for a healthy lawn and landscape, but if you do need to water during a dry spell, remember to water deeply so the moisture penetrates three to four inches into the soil. The point is to help turf and plants to establish roots deeper into the soil, making them sturdier and more drought resistant. In contrast, shallow rooted plants are more prone to injury from soil compaction and temperature extremes, and they absorb fewer nutrients from the soil.
Brown patch affects virtually all warm-season turf grasses, but is most common in St. Augustine grass. It becomes a severe problem when high temperatures and high humidity exist for a long period of time. Brown patch is caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia Solani, which lives in the soil, thatch, and crowns of grass.
Because it is widespread geographically, the fungus creates different disease symptoms depending on the turf grass it infects. The first symptoms are water-soaked areas on leaf blades that soon dry, wither and turn light brown. On most lawns, the grass is cut somewhat high and the disease appears as straw-colored circular areas ranging from two to 50 feet in diameter. On closely mown grasses, diseased areas also tend to be circular, but with an advancing gray ring surrounding the brown patches that is most visible early in the morning when the grass is damp.
Brown patch develops quickly when humidity is high and temperatures range from 80 to 85° F. It spreads most rapidly when plant surfaces are wet. Although the lawn may become infected and develop the disease at cooler temperatures, there is little or no activity below 70°. Because brown patch is a soil borne microorganism, it is difficult to control. One key is minimizing leaf wetness at night, so avoid watering in the evening, and prune shrubs and trees to improve air circulation and dry out wet turf. It is also important to mow at the proper cutting height and frequency, and to fertilize properly to boost healthy plant growth. Finally, in cases where fungicides are warranted, the timing of applications is critical for control.
The most common mistakes are mowing too infrequently and cutting grass to short. Here are tips on proper mowing technique: