7 Tips for Healthy Lawns [Troubleshooting Guide]
A healthy, lush and green lawn is undoubtedly part of the Tasmanian dream. In fact, a well-kept lawn is often associated with ideas of success and stability. However, growing and maintaining the perfect lawn is easier said than done. Landscaping Hobart has created Troubleshooting Guide containing 7 tips for healthy lawns to help transform your dream into reality. You can use this Ultimate Guide if the lawn in your front yard or backyard is:
growing or dying in patches;
full of weeds;
turning white or brown
going yellow or orange; or
Tip 1: Mow higher if your lawn is sparse
The general rule of thumb is to never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blade. If you mow any lower, the grass will become susceptible to invasion by weeds, heat damage and more rapidly deplete its energy stores trying to regrow. This is commonly referred to as “scalping”. Keep in mind that cool season grasses generally prefer longer lengths, while warm season grasses should be kept relatively longer.
For example, the following:
cool season grasses prefer longer lengths: Kentucky Bluegrass, RPR Perennial Ryegrass, Turf Type Tall Fescue, McKays Elite Backyard Blend, and McKays Parks Blend; and
warm season grasses prefer shorter lengths: Bufallo Grass, Kikuyu Grass and Bermuda Grass.
Always end up cutting your grass too short? Measure the average height of your lawn, calculate 1/3 of that height, then mark the result on the wheel of your lawn mower.
Tip 2: Mow more frequently if your lawn is growing in patches
You should mow your lawn frequently because it stimulates growth, akin to pinching a garden plant. Not mowing frequently enough will mean lost opportunities for thicker, lusher and otherwise healthier lawn. Do remember that the specific frequency which you should mow your lawn will depend on the season and the type of lawn. Mowing too infrequently could be a reason why your lawn is patchy.
Tip 3: Aerate if your lawn feels spongy
A very common question which Landscaping Hobart receives by email is, when do I need to aerate my lawn? The main purpose of aerating lawn is to reduce soil compaction. Compacted soil interferes with the proper circulation of air, water and nutrients which your lawn needs to flourish. Accordingly, the amount of aeration required will depend on the type of sub-soil. For example, heavier clay-based soils will need to be aerated at least once per year, whereas san-based soils will require aeration at most every 2 years. To aerate your lawn, you can purchase aerating sandals or hire a spike aerator from your local hardware store.
Aerating your lawn will also help reduce the spongy feeling which occurs because of the build-up of a layer of dead grass or thatch which builds up at the base of the grass blades.
Tip 4: Change your lawnmower blade if your lawn becomes white or brown
A lawnmower with a sharp blade will cut the blades of grass evenly and cleanly. However, a dull blade will cause jagged tearing of the grass blades which may result in:
increased susceptibility to pests and diseases; and
a white or brown hue as the tips of those individual blades of grass die.
Tip 5: Overseed if your lawn is dying in patches
If your lawn is dying in patches, you should overseed those areas in Spring. Overseeding is a technique by which new grass seed is planted into an existing lawn area. Before overseeding, you need to mow the lawn, rake the surface and aerate using Tip 3 above. Spread the seeds over the patchy area and over with a light sprinkling of topsoil or compost. While the layer of seeds should be thick enough to cover the entire patchy area, seeds should not be piled on top of one another. Lightly water the area and watch your new lawn grow as spring continues.
Tip 6: Fertilize if your lawn appears yellow or orange
If your lawn appears yellow or orange, it is likely that essential nutrients are lacking from the soil. Most commonly, the soil may be missing nitrogen or phosphorous. On one hand, Nitrogen is the key to life in your garden, all living things need nitrogen to create amino acids which are used to make the special proteins. Too much nitrogen however, can cause eutrophication which may result in excessive growth of algae. On the other hand, your lawn needs Phosphorous because it is essential for cell division, being the means by which living things grow.
Before fertilizing your lawn, do a soil test using Principle 3 of Landscaping Hobart’s Guide to the 7 Xeriscape Principles For Your Tasmanian Garden. A soil test will tell you exactly what essential nutrients are missing from your soil. You can then use that information to make an informed decision when purchasing fertilizer. Remember to use the appropriate personal protective equipment when spraying fertilizer.
Tip 7: Solarize if your lawn is full of weeds
If your lawn is full of weeds, in particular crabgrass or broadleef, you may need to consider killing all your lawn and starting over. Generally, this option is best if your lawn contains 40% or more of weeds.
The 5 steps of solarization
First, spray a non-selective herbicide that contains glyphosate. Follow the instructions on the package, however you should aim to treat the lawn at least twice, 2 weeks apart. Second, remove as many weeds as you can using a weed puller. Third, cover the entire lawn in clear plastic – this is called solarization, being a process by which organic matter is killed by extreme heat.
Contrary to much of the advice from the internet, do not use black plastic. As the sun heats the black plastic, heat is transferred to the air above and below it. Any heated air transferred above the black plastic is wasted. Comparitively, using clear plastic will ensure that all of the heat is transferred directly into the ground. Fourth, leave the plastic down for at least a month (secure it with tape such that it touches the top of the lawn) and then remove it. This will kill everything, including the top layer of soil. Fifth, till the soil to a depth of at least 20 cm. You are now ready to plant your new lawn.
Have you tried all of the above lawn care tips and nothing works? Reach out to Landscaping Hobart by emailing email@example.com or using the Quote page.