The ground has thawed and the grass in your yard is finally turning green. Are you tempted to turn on your sprinklers? Not so fast!
April is a good time to open your irrigation system and make sure it is working properly. But most lawns do not require any water beyond what Mother Nature provides until the warmer summer months. We suggest waiting until the ground dries to about 4” in mid-June, or even early July. A soil moisture meter will help you know when your lawn truly needs a drink.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, letting your lawn dry out is actually good for it. Periods of dryness allow the grass to develop deeper, stronger roots that are better able to resist pests, weeds, and drought conditions over time. Too much water promotes fungal growth and nutrient run off, and creates ideal conditions for mosquitos and other water-loving pests to flourish. Plus, why waste water that your grass doesn’t need anyway?
Leaves are a Down Parka For Your Landscape
It is a common sight this time of year, homeowners and landscape crews raking and bagging leaves. They’ve got it all wrong!
Leaves are a valuable resource many homeowners let go to waste. Bare soil is naked! It is exposed to freeze thaw and prone to drying out. Leaves are natural blanket that protect your soil, and feed it too. They breakdown over the winter and build the amount of organic matter in your soil, providing natural nutrients that are essential for soil health.
Use your mower not your blower. Mulching mowers chop up the leaves so they make better mulch: more compact and faster to decompose. Mulch mowed leaves can be left right on the lawn or bagged and placed in shrub and flowerbeds. What is a mulching mower? It has different blades. On the outside it looks the same as conventional mower but should be labeled as "mulching" or "3 in 1."
How much to water in the fall? Not at all!
Turn off your irrigation! Your lawn and landscape does not need supplemental water in typically cool, moist, fall weather. This is the time to encourage roots to grow deep and strong: resilient and ready for hot and dry weather next summer.
However, as a final treat to your plants, and their roots, before heading into the long cold winter, you might need to give them a long deep drink, making sure there is plenty of moisture way down in the soil before your irrigation system is shut down for the winter. How to do that?
First, test to see how deep your moisture lies (need a moisture meter?). It needs to be at least 6” deep. If it is wet, all is well. If it is dry down there, water away. It could mean for hours: think the equivalent of a day or two of rain. Consider dividing watering into two consecutive days to allow water to penetrate, especially in heavier soils.
Your Seed is Planted, Germinated, and Growing. Now, how to water PRFCTly?
Now that your new grass seedlings are more than 1.5 inches tall it is time to encourage their roots to grow deeper by watering properly.
Allow the top inch of soil to get dry between waterings. Depending on the weather, this might mean watering two to three times per week for 10 to 20 minutes. Try to restrict this frequency to newly seeded areas.
Do NOT "set and forget" your irrigation system. Overwatering will lead to weak and fungus-prone grass.
Less is more.
Now that you have the PRFCT grass seed, it’s time to lay it down and have a PRFCT LAWN
1. Mow Short: Mow lawn with mower at lowest setting. Open bare patches to receive the seed.
2. Remove Clippings: Make sure the seed will meet the soil.
3. Aerate: Just in compacted areas like paths, and when doing total lawn renovations.
4. Apply Compost or Compost Tea: Allow to dry, then rake or drag the clumps smooth.
5. Freeze Your Seeds (optional): Put seed in freezer for 48 hours to crack seed coat and halve germination time.
6. Spread the Seed: How much? It varies a lot by seed type. Follow the instructions on your seed mix or see our website for typical amounts. Do not over do it! Crowded seeds compete and struggle.
7. Water: Seeds needs to be moist until established: Light watering (i.e. several times a day for 5 minutes each) until grass is at least 1.5 inches.