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End of Summer Lawn Care

Post Date: October 24th, 2012

As of September 22, 2012 summer officially ended in Vancouver. By most accounts, this summer has been a pretty good one with plenty of sunny days before the most recent overcast and rainy days.

 

It’s now time to get your lawn prepared for fall and winter. After spending time making your thick green lawn the envy of your neighborhood, don’t let the cold get the best of it. Here are a few tips to help your lawn survive the colder seasons:

 

mower on lawn

 

1. Increase Trimming Length

Mow your lawn and maintain the grass height of 2 to 2 ½ inches.

Tip: The height of the grass should be inversely related to temperatures. Higher temperatures mean that you should cut your grass shorter so that your lawn uses less of the available nutrients. With lower temperatures, you should start leaving the blades of grass a little bit taller. Taller grass has longer roots and can retain more nutrients to survive the colder seasons.

 

When you finally decide to give your lawn its last cut, you can cut it to a height similar to the short summer height. In a typical Vancouver winter, you won’t have to worry too much about colder winter damages.

 

manual core aeration

 

2. Aeration

Aeration (or Core Aeration) is done by creating small holes throughout your lawn by extracting plugs of soil (also known as “coring”). The benefits of aeration:

-   creates passageways for water, essential nutrients and beneficial worms to reach

under the soil and nurture the grassroots

-   oxygen gets to the roots and soil, allowing it to breathe

-   organic fertilizers and nutrients are absorbed by the root system

-   water soaks more thoroughly into the soil and reaches the root system

-   tight, compacted soil is loosened up allowing the roots to grow.

 

The end of the season is a good time to perform aeration on your lawn after all of the summertime use. Aerators can be found in most home and gardening stores or you can rent an aerator machine. One quick way and inexpensive way to aerate your lawn without using specific aerating equipment is to use a pitchfork to manually create holes in your lawn. This may be tedious and slow but it does get the job done in the pitch and you’ll get some exercise too!

 

overseeding a lawn

 

3. Seeding

Grass experts know that the best way to defend your lawn from invading weeds is to maintain a thick and healthy lawn that can fight them off. A simple natural way of controlling weeds is to “overseed” your lawn. A thick grass competes for soil nutrients and makes it harder for weeds to claim the territory. Fall is a good time to add seeds to your lawn because your lawn uses the cool fall days to regenerate itself and get ready for winter after the heat and dryness of the summer.

 

Seeding is perfect after aeration because the seeds can fall into the small grooves in the soil, improving seed-soil contact. There are many grass seed mixtures designed for different conditions. There are mixtures for shady areas and for areas under direct sunlight. Choose what is applicable to your lawn. Use a rotary spreader at the recommended rate when applying seeds for better distribution. In Vancouver, the fall weather is wet enough to keep the seeds hydrated but it is still a good idea to monitor your lawn and water it if you see dry spots.

 

grub on soil

 

4. De-Grubbing

Grubs are larvae that grow into bugs and can be often found beneath your lawn, near the surface of the soil. They feed on the grass roots, causing ugly brown patches of dead grass to form. Rings of dead grass can be pulled effortlessly if tugged by hands. Grubs usually become active by the end of the summer and early fall, killing the green grass and attracting skunks, raccoons and moles who are look for food.

 

raccoon on lawn

 

If you have small armies of raccoons digging your lawn up for a treat, consider controlling grubs by giving your lawn a dose of nematodes. They are nature’s grub killers and they work by infesting grey and white grubs in the soil before the family of raccoons rips your lawn up looking for their dinner. Selecting the right species of nematodes is important because they have different effects on different grubs. Fall is the best season for controlling grubs because the newly hatched larvae are still small and easy to kill. It is a proactive approach to contain lawn damage until next spring.

 

5. Fertilizing

The last important step is to fertilize the lawn. The most favorable application of lawn nutrients is in the fall because the grass roots are building up and storing natural sugars for the potentially long, cold winter. A good fertilizer in preparation for the winter should have high potassium content to help build a strong root system and moderate amount of nitrogen to avoid a surge in growth. Choose a slow-release nitrogen formula so that it can evenly spread the distribution of nutrients.

 

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Common Lawn Care Terms

Post Date: May 9th, 2012

 

A well taken care of lawn shows pride in homeownership and it also increases the value of your investment. A little bit of forethought in the landscape can go a long way for all types of budgets.

 

Whether you are considering seeking professional help or are interested in doing your own lawn care personally, it really helps to know the basics. Below are some of the most common lawn care terms you need to know.

 

1. Core Aeration

 

manual core aeration

 

Core aeration (cultivation) is the process of mechanically removing plugs or cores of soil and thatch from your lawn. This process loosens the compacted soil which then creates channels for oxygen, water and nutrients to better penetrate the soil, especially if your lawn takes a lot of punishment from either kids, pets or outdoor parties. Core aeration is usually accomplished using a lawn aerator with hollow tines. For narrow areas, hand lawn aerators may do the job.

 

Generally, compacted soil results from lawns that are exposed to heavy foot traffic. One of the tell-tale signs that your lawn is suffering from compacted soil is the growth of moss plants. Most people make the mistake of applying herbicides to kill the moss, but this doesn’t actually solve the problem in the long term. Core aeration may be the answer to this problem.

 

It is best to to aerate during early fall because the grass is transitioning from blade growth to root growth. Core aerating at this time really stimulates strong root development. Do not aerate in the summer because during this period, grasses are at peak growth, possibly coping with heat and reduced moisture as well, so aeration will add unnecessary stress.

 

Core aeration is usually tied to topdressing/mulching the lawn with some kind of organic material such as finely chopped leaves or peat moss. Faithfully topdressing the lawn each fall will be required in the first year or two. After that, aeration can be done every few years.

 

2. Dethatching and Power Raking

 

dethatching and power raking

 

Dethatching and power raking are processes used to remove a thick layer of organic matter made up of decaying grass leaves, stems and roots (thatch) that build up in between the lawn and soil surface. Dethatching and power raking are performed with the same machine. The difference between the two is the type of cutting knives used and how deep the cutting knives are set.

 

Dethatching is only recommended for lawns that suffer from an extremely thick thatch layer (more than three inches thick). When it becomes this thick, dethatching can be very labor intensive and can cause extensive damage to a lawn. On the other hand, power raking is a more gentle way to remove a small amount of thatch from the lawn without causing the same amount damage that dethatching can create.

 

The best time to dethatch your lawn is in late summer or early fall to give the lawn time to recover before winter. It is also during this period that there is less competition with a variety of weeds that germinate in Spring. Power raking is best done in the spring or fall.

 

3. Overseeding

 

overseeding a lawn

 

Overseeding is one of the most important yet overlooked lawn care tasks. In combination with power raking and core aeration, overseeding ensures that the lawn remains dense and thick. If you have a lawn that has thinned out or has developed ‘bald spots’, overseeding will revive your lawn back to a healthy state again.

 

The overseeding process compensates for the natural decline in grass reproduction and it will also help your lawn resist the growth of weeds. New seeds sown will have better disease resistance than those varieties already planted in the lawn.

 

It is advised that core aeration be done prior to overseeding. Usually, overseeding is done in early September or in Spring. Besides a generous amount of seeds sown, the secret to successfully overseeding a lawn is to keep the sown area moist. The overseeded lawn should never be allowed to dry until full germination of the seeds is reached.

 

If you have a property anywhere on Vancouver’s North Shore and are interested in professional landscaping services, call us at (604) 987- 1221 to discuss the lawn care package we offer. Karen can answer any questions you have.

 

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