Here is a great video from Dr. Kevin Frank of Michigan State University on the benefits of mulching your leaves back into your lawn.
#4- Seeding too heavy- Most people put down grass seed way too heavy. More is better, right? Not with seeding. When seeding too heavily, you get lots of small grass plants too close together without enough space for their roots to grow. As a result, most of the plants die, and you are left with very thin grass. Study the label on your grass seed bag for instructions on how to properly apply the grass seed. The picture above shows the correct density of seed when reseeding.
#3- Lack of sunlight- Many times, people are reseeding because their lawns are thin in the shady areas. As trees grow taller and thicker, the Kentucky Bluegrass under these trees starts to die as it won’t grow in dark conditions. If you don’t improve the sunlight, the new grass won’t survive. Trimming or removing trees may be necessary to grow grass. Take a step back and assess whether trying to plant grass is the best option for your space. Would a mulch bed with shady-loving plants be better for this area?
#2- Poor Soil Preparation- Seeding is all about preparation. Simply broadcasting seed over your lawn is worthless. Grass seed needs to be touching bare, loose dirt to grow. There are two different options for preparing your soil for seed. The first option is to use a hard-tined rake to rake the top inch of soil. The second option is to add a thin layer of dirt. We like to do both; rake the top inch of soil and add a thin layer of dirt. Doing both options will give the roots of your new grass the best chance to grow.
#1- Not watering enough- For grass seed to grow, it needs to stay moist for 21 days in a row. That usually means watering at least twice a day. If you have an underground sprinkler system, we recommend setting your sprinkler system to come on four times a day for 4-6 minutes per zone. You want the seeded area to stay moist, but you don’t want water to puddle. At 10 days, ryegrass and fescue will start to germinate, but don’t stop watering! If you stop watering at 10 days, the Kentucky Bluegrass won’t grow, and it is the most desirable variety of grass. It doesn’t start to germinate until 21 days.
Grass seed needs three things to germinate: It needs to be touching bare loose dirt, it needs sunlight and water. If all 3 of these elements are present, you will win at seeding. But if you are missing any one of these, your seeding will fail.
There is one free and easy change that you can make to improve the health of your lawn. Are you ready to do it?
For a great lawn, you must mow your grass at the proper height. For the summer months, your grass should be mowed at 3.5 inches. Grass that is mowed below 3 inches lacks good color, has more weeds, and needs more water.
Here is how to check that you are mowing at the proper height: After you mow your lawn, take a credit card and hold it sideways in the grass. Your grass blades should be cut at the height of the card or slightly higher. If you are cutting below the height of your card, (like in this picture), you need to raise the mowing height of your lawn mower. Don’t trust the markings on your mower for height as they are rarely correct. Click here for more information on the benefits of a higher mowing height.
Spring is a great time for some lawn mower maintenance. Follow these 5 steps and you will be ready to mow!
Change the oil. This is one of the most important steps. Also, check the oil periodically during the season to make sure it’s at the correct level.
Check the air filter. The air filter typically doesn’t need to be replaced every year. If it is slightly dirty you can clean it, but if it is very dirty or damaged, it is a good idea to replace it.
Check the spark plug. If you are having trouble starting your mower, this can be a common cause. If the plug is very dirty or dark on the end, then it may be time to replace it.
Sharpen your blade. You can sharpen the blade on your own with a metal file or a bench grinder, or you can have a pro do it. Either way, a sharp blade is vital to having clean-cut grass. This practice should be done a couple of times during the season. It may be a good idea to buy a spare blade to use while your other one is being sharpened.
Setting the mower height. For the best results, set the height at 3 inches during the cooler times of the year, and 3.5 inches during the summer months. A higher mowing height can aid you in keeping the weeds and crabgrass out of your lawn. This will also result in thicker grass and a lawn that will not dry out as quickly.
Click on the link below for a more detailed look at lawn mower maintenance.
Mowing is one of the most important cultural practices performed in lawn maintenance. Regardless of whether the lawn is fertilized, irrigated , in sun or shade, proper mowing practices are essential if a high quality lawn is to develop. Properly mowed lawns will have fewer weed populations, better moisture stress tolerance and generally better quality than lawns not properly mowed.
Research has shown the proper mowing height for cool season grass is between 3 and 3.5 inches. Mowing below 3 inches drastically reduces the quality of turf.
Advantages of higher mowing height:
Better Lawn Color
We see a much thicker, greener, healthier turf with lawns that are mowed at heights of 3 inches or above. Here is a picture of 2 lawns that are maintained in a similar way. The major difference in these lawns is the mowing height. The lawn on the right is mowed below 3 inches:
Less Weeds & Crabgrass
Mowing height can play an important role in prevention of lawn weed establishment. Research has shown that higher mowing heights result in fewer weeds per unit area. This is due to higher grass providing more shading and competition to the weed seedlings during the initial establishment phases.
Less Mowing Maintenance
A general rule of thumb is not to remove more than one-third of the grass blade when mowing your lawn. The chart on the right provides different mowing heights and estimated mowing frequency.
Stronger Root System
A direct relationship exists between the height of the turfgrass and the depth and total mass of the root system. Research with Kentucky bluegrass has shown that root growth was more than twice as great when the grass was mowed 1 inch higher. In general, a lawn mowed too short will have shallow root system with little total root mass. The impact of shallow, weak root systems is most apparent during summer stress periods.
Some information provided by: William E. Pound & John R Street, Ohio State University, Horticulture & Crop Sciences
Successful lawn establishment means doing the right thing at the right time. New seed fails because of timing, poor quality seed, improper seed selection, poor soil conditions, improper site preparation, or improper water and fertilizing.
Timing is Everything
The best time of the year to seed is from August 15 to September 15. The warm days and cool night are ideal for seed germination. Spring is the second best time to seed, but could result in crabgrass and excessive weeds.
Most retailers offer grass seed that is clearly marked as “sunny” or “shady” mixes. Shady mixes have mostly fescue and rye grass which are better for low light areas. For a sunny mix, look for one with at least 70% Kentucky Bluegrass.
In order to grow grass from seed, the grass seed needs to be touching bare, loose dirt. Most seeding fails because the seed is not in contact with the soil. This may require raking with a firm rake and/or spreading some fresh topsoil.
If using straw, spread one to two bales of straw per 1000 square feet. Spread it so that 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil is visible. If seeding in the fall, the straw should be left on over the winter. If you do not use straw or mulch, rake in the seed lightly: the teeth of your rake should just lightly touch the soil. Too much pressure will cover the seeds too deep. Cover the seed so that 10 percent of them are still visible.
Sprinkle frequently enough to keep the soil moist, but also avoid puddling. This will require watering several times a day for the first couple of weeks.
Mow as soon as the grass blades exceed 3 inches in height. Keep traffic off the new lawn until the new turf has filled in enough that you cannot see the soil. Expect some weeds to come up along with your new grass.
Fertilizer and Weed Control
Let us know about any seeding in your lawn and we will make the necessary adjustments to your program for optimal growth.
If you want to keep your lawn healthy and green, then watering is important. Warm temperatures will rapidly dry out the soil of a lawn.
Here are a few watering tips you may find helpful:
– Use water or sprinkle 1 inch of water per week, and even more when it is hot.
– If you have an irrigation system, set it to run in the early morning and make sure it is finished by 8:00am.
– If you don’t have an irrigation system, water anytime. Try to avoid watering when evaporation will occur due to of wind or sunshine. Watering during these times won’t harm your lawn, but is just less efficient.
– If you are unable to water, mow your lawn as high as possible and only when it needs it. Keeping your grass longer will help prevent the lawn from drying out.
– Try to begin watering your lawn before it turns brown and becomes dormant.
– If you mow your lawn shorter than 3 inches, then your lawn can dry out quickly. Mowing too short causes increased stress to your turf and encourages diseases, weeds, and crab- grass. Your lawn should be mowed between 3 and 3.5 inches. During the summer months, move toward the higher mowing heights, as this will help your lawn retain more moisture.
Every lawn is different. There are many factors to consider when deciding how much to water: How hot is it? Is the lawn shady or sunny? Is the soil type clay or sand? Is the humidity high or low?
With trial and error, we’re confident you can determine when and how much to water your lawn.
Serving West Michigan
- Byron Center
- Comstock Park
- East Grand Rapids
- Forest Hills
- Grand Rapids
- Gun Lake
8808 Eastern Ave SE
Byron Center, MI 49315 (616) 698-8930