Lawn Care Tips
3) Weed Control
5) Proper Mowing
6) Other Maintenance Items
7) Nuisance Animals, Moles, Geese
8) Dog Urine Spots on Lawn
Lawn grasses are divided into two general types, Warm Season and Cool
Season grasses. Meaning they grow best in warmer climates or cooler climates.
This is a broad generalization but you get the picture. Then there is the transition
zone of the United States, where both types of grass will grow, although not as
well as in other parts of the Country. Example: In Tennessee, we can have a
good Fescue or Bermuda Lawn, but not an excellent either one. Too hot for
Fescue in the Summer, and every now and then it gets too cold in the Winter
and we have Bermuda Winter Kill, kills off as much as 50 % to 75% of the
grass. We can't win!
Establishing a lawn begins with determining if you need to work up the whole
lawn and start over or not. Is the grade smooth already? Or do you get a sore
back from mowing it? If the lawn is rough, now is a good time to level it. You
can till it up, rake it smooth and get a good grade, you'll never have a better
chance to get it level than now so take your time and do it right. If your lawn is
smooth, but just thin, you can either rent an Overseeder, Ryan makes a walk
behind that works well on smooth lawns. Or you can aerate the lawn very well,
then seed. Either method works well. Just be sure you aerate the lawn enough
that you can look down at any spot and see holes no farther apart than 2 or 3 ".
The closer the holes are the better the germination will be and the thicker the
lawn will be. My process is to aerate thoroughly, seed, fertilize, then drag a
chain link drag, or a board behind the mower to break up the cores left behind
by the aerating. Then if you have any spots that are completely bare, with no
grass there when you start, you will need to cover them with straw. Put down
enough straw to cover about 75% of the ground. The straw provides the
protection to the soil to hold moisture and prevent erosion. If you are tilling up
the lawn and starting over, the process is almost the same. Till it up, seed,
fertilize, roll it with a roller or cultipacker, then spread straw. 100 50# bales per
acre are needed in most cases. If you slack on Straw, Seed, Fertilizer or Water,
you will not have success, so just don't do it. Do it right. The ground needs to
stay damp, not soaking wet, and not dusty dry, and do not wait for it to rain.
Get out the sprinklers and water the minute you get done spreading straw. NO
WATER, NO GRASS..... Seed amount needed varies by seed type. Roughly, 6#
per thousand square feet of Fescue grass, or 2# per thousand square feet for
Bermuda. Time of year to plant depends on where you are at. In TN. our dates
are set as 3-15 to 4-15 in Spring, and 9-15 to 10-15 for Fescue and 4-15 to
8-15 for Bermuda. Seeding and establishing a new lawn is much more involved
than what this short description can tell you. If you need serious information on
how to establish a lawn from several methods, Click Here for our Lawn
Grass needs to eat too! What it eats is Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Potash. Or N,
P, & K. These are represented by the 3 numbers you see on a bag of fertilizer
like 15-15-15 this means the bag contains 15% of each nutrient of N P & K, in
If you are establishing a lawn, you will need to apply a STARTER fertilizer. This
will have an analysis of 6-12-12 or 8-24-24 or a similar analysis where the first
number (nitrogen) is lower than the middle (phosphate) and the last (potash).
Usually you will need to apply 1 to 2 pounds of nutrient per thousand square
feet of grass area. To determine how much fertilizer to apply, multiply the
number in the analysis you want to apply, (phosphate or 100 / 12 = 8 This is 8#
of 6-12-12 to get 1# of phosphate. Regardless of the type of fertilizer you are
using, use this formula and you will get the desired results.
Fertilizing established grass is a little different. Depending on the type of grass
you have, it will require somewhere around one pound of nitrogen per thousand
square feet per month. Some grasses a little less, some a little more. The warm
season grasses like Bermuda or Zoysia can handle more nitrogen and they are a
little needier for N than other grasses. If you are just after Nitrogen, for fast
green up and a burst of growth, Ammonia Nitrate is a good choice. Be careful
to not over apply it though. It is very strong and you can burn your grass if you
over apply. The Nitrogen content will usually be 34%, so 3 #'s of it will produce
1 # of Nitrogen per thousand square feet. Using Ammonia Nitrate in your lawn
care program is acceptable, but your grass will also need the other two primary
nutrients in fertilizer, Phosphate and Potash. I like to apply a 15-15-15 once a
year to give a dose of the other nutrients. Again, using the formula above, if I
want 1 # of each nutrient, I multiply 15 by the number that will get me closest
to 100, in the case of 15-15-15 that would be 6. So I need to put down 6#s of
15-15-15 per thousand square feet of lawn area to get 1# of each nutrient per
thousand square feet.
Frequency of fertilizing will be determined partly by what type of grass you
have and your climate. In the transition zone where we are, we fertlize 4 times
per year for Cool Season Grass, and as many as 6 to 8 times for Bermuda.
Fall fertilizing changes a little. You mainly want to put down Potash. This
encourages a deep root system through the fall and winter, which in turn will
allow the grass to do better next summer. The deeper the root system, the better
the grass will do in warm weather since it can gather moisture easier. A good
fertilizer analysis is something with Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash like 8-24-24
or 6-12-12 something with a higher middle and last number than the first. Apply
4# of the 8-24-24 per thousand square feet of lawn area, or 8# per thousand
square feet of lawn area if using 6-12-12. You are wanting to put down at least
1# of nutrients per thousand square feet of lawn area. If you are establishing a
new lawn you will need to repeat this lawn application about thirty days after the
lawn is seeded or sodded. The lawn will use up all of the nutrients available in
the first 30 days and the lawn will start to yellow off.
Go ToWeed Control Page
If you are a hard core do-it-yourselfer you may want to do your own weed
control. Keep in mind that we can do it for you for about the same price you
will pay for the products to do it yourself. But if you do want to do it yourself,
there are a few basic principles to know and remember. Here is some basic
information, if you need more detailed information including identification of the
weeds you may have, click the link above and go to our weed control page.
Two basic kinds of weeds are Broadleaf and Grassy weeds. Dandelions,
Plantain, Chickweed, Henbit, Wild Garlic are all examples of broadleaf weeds.
Crabgrass, Goosegrass, Barnyardgrass are examples of Grassy weeds. The Best
Control of most weeds is Pre-emergent, that's before they ever even come up.
Most people are familiar with the generic term "crabgrass preventer". This is
pre-emergent weed control that will keep crabgrass and several other weed
seeds from germinating. The lawn looks better if it doesn't have weeds in it,
alive or dead and dieing. The Broadleaf weeds are easily controlled with
broadleaf weed control products either in liquid form or granules. Depending on
the grass type you have you will need from 4 to 6 applications to keep your
lawn looking good and weed free throughout the year. The farther south you are
the more applications it will take to keep your lawn in great shape, generally.
If you are planning on re-seeding or establishing a new lawn, you will not be
able to do weed control at the same time. In our area, (transition zone) Fall is
the best time for seeding Fescue or other cool season grasses, so you can't seed
and put down weed control products at the same time. You will need to seed the
lawn, then let it get up and growing long enough for you to mow it twice, then
you can apply a BROAD LEAF weed control to take out some of the broad
leafed weeds that will have no doubt sprouted when you seeded. Then in spring
you can start your Pre-emergent weed control. If you use Pre-emergent weed
control when you seed, or immediately afterwards, you will prevent your seed
from coming up, defeating the whole purpose of reseeding your lawn.
Weed control on Warm Season grasses such as Bermuda and Zoysia is a little
easier. Bermuda is very tough, as a matter of fact, you can't kill it once it gets
established. I have tried to eliminate Bermuda from a Fescue lawn just to have it
appear again the next year after spraying it repeatedly with Round up and other
non-selective weed killers. If you have Bermuda grass growing in your lawn,
and you have a full sun lawn, I would embrace the Bermuda and just enjoy it.
Bermuda will develop a 5 foot deep root system. This is what makes it so hard
to kill. Since it has a deep root system it is also hardier in the dry periods, it can
find water when other grasses will have long been dead.
A common inexpensive weed control for Bermuda is MSMA. Used properly,
this will eliminate all of the undesirable weeds and grasses from your Bermuda
lawn. It will wipe out everything except the Bermuda. Most of the time you will
find it available in liquid weed control formula and not in granules. Also as of
this writing, there is a lot of talk that MSMA will be taken off of the market
shortly. Right now, it's the best thing we have going for the price to do weed
control in Bermuda.
You can always use the same weed control products on Bermuda as you would
on Fescue grass. They just aren't as strong and won't eliminate Crabgrass that
has already germinated. Several programs of 4 step weed and feed program are
available and used a lot by many people.
What ever weed control product you decide to use, read and understand the
label! I have seen many times a person will buy a bag of weed and feed at the
local store, go home and apply the whole bag to the lawn using the setting the
spreader was already set on, only to have the entire lawn die. The bag will tell
you that you are to use X number of pounds of product for each 1,000 square
feet of lawn area. You need to measure the lawn to know exactly how large
your lawn is, then you can make an educated decision on how much weed
control product needs to be applied to your lawn.
Most bags of product will tell you, " This bag covers XXXX feet" Use that as a
guideline but know how large your lawn is. If you have some weeds in your
lawn that you do not know what they are, you can click on the link below to go
to a website that has pictures of most weeds around the country. It will be
helpful for you to know what kind of weed it is you have before you start trying
to kill them.
Click Here For Pictures of Weeds
If you have problems with moles there are a few answers. The old tried and
true method of applying an insecticide to the lawn to kill off grubs and worms
which are the food source of Moles has been used for years. Those who are
unsuccessful usually do not make the insecticide applications often enough.
Grubs come closer to the surface twice a year as they prepare to turn into a
June Bug. During late May and Late August are two times that are good to apply
an insecticide. You will get more of the grubs with your insecticide application
during these times. Four applications per year will even control more. But, don't
apply the insecticide unless you have a problem with the moles. Earthworms are
the largest part of the moles diet, and given this proven fact, we recommend
letting us provide a Mole Treatment program for you. We will keep your
property Mole free for the entire summer using a Search, Bait and Kill program
using Talpirid Mole Baits. For a flat fee, we will visit your property as often as it
takes to keep the Moles out of your lawn. E-Mail us for a free estimate on Mole
Control for your Lawn.Mole traps are time consuming, but effective if you use
them properly and have the patience, you can often kill the mole quickly this
way and not have to wait for the insects to die off, then wait for the mole to
figure out he needs to go somewhere else to find his dinner, which is the case
of spaying insecticides. We like the mole trap listed here.
Recently one of the largest chemical companies in the US took on the problem
of mole control. Knowing that the products that were currently on the market
did not work well to control moles, or voles, they spent a large amount of
money to set up a test area to study the lifestyle and habits of moles. In a test
covering several years they shattered some of the long held ideas of mole
problems and mole control. The main one being that Grub Worms are the
primary source of food for Moles. The study proved that the Moles #1 food
source is earthworms, not grubs. Given this information, they then set out to
manufacture a mole bait that would be accepted by the moles fooling them into
thinking they were eating an earthworm. A new bait was formed out of this
study and is being used every day by our company and others across the US.
You can buy a similar bait product at your local home store, however it does
help to know the habits of Moles and the experience a trained Lawn Care
operator can bring to your property will make the program work better, the bait
is very expensive and it's likely you could spend as much on baits using them
improperly as you would pay someone to do the program for you.
If you are in our service area, Northwest TN. and KY. we can make a trip to
your property to give an evaluation and make an application of a new Mole Bait
called Talpirid. It is a bait that mimics the favorite foods of Moles in appearance
and does a better job than previous attempts at baits.
If you need detailed information on How to Seed, Fertilize, Water and
Establish a lawn you can order our E-Book on Amzon. It contains all the
needed information step - by - Step on how to go about it. Ordering by
e-mail delivery is only $9.99 you can order here.
Dog Urine Spots On Your Lawn?
On highly maintained lawns that are well fertilized, you can have dead spots
brought on by the dog taking a "tinkle" on the lawn. This is caused by the high
ammonia content in the dog urine. There are several ways to combat this
problem, and several products available to neutralize the urine so it doesn't leave
spots on the lawn.
CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF Dog Urine
PROBLEM SOLVING PRODUCTS.
Lawn watering is often done incorrectly causing problems with fungus or Lawn
Disease. Simply put, lawns should be watered as infrequently as possible, but
for long periods of time. Long enough to water at least 1" of water per area. A
lot of my customers will tell me that they watered a bunch, but in reality they
only watered for 10-15 minutes per area. This encourages a shallow root
system instead of a deep root system. Deep root growth is what we are after
here. If the roots only have to look 2" deep for moisture, they won't go deep.
Different grass types have different water requirements also. This section is
only meant to be a primer on watering, do some extra research on
irrigation/watering specifically for your grass type.
The biggest mistake most people make is watering at night. Do not water at
night! This keeps the grass blades wet for many hours through the night
encouraging fungus growth. If you experience a fungus outbreak, you will
understand what I mean. Brown Patch is a common Fungus problem in our
area. It loves lush, new Tall Fescue grass, especially Spring seeded lawns.
When Brown Patch gets started, it can march across a lawn in a couple of
weeks leaving it straw colored brown.
There are two main types of watering to be done through the year for your
lawn. The first is when you establish your lawn, whether you seed, sod, or
sprig doesn't matter, it will need the same watering. During the establishment
period you will want to water the lawn deeply the first time to get the soil wet to
the point of being muddy. Then the grass will need to be kept damp, not
standing in water just damp or wet. This may require watering every day or
even 3 times a day for short periods of time. If you have an irrigation system set
it to water 3 times a day for just long enough to dampen the grass. Newly
seeded grass in our area will jump out of the ground in less than a week with
this type of irrigation. Sodded lawns need the same type of watering to get the
root system of the sod to take hold and get growing deep. This watering
schedule will need to keep up until the grass has grown to the point of maybe 3
or 4 inches. Shut the watering off and let the grass dry out for a day or two,
then do your first mowing. Be sure the ground dries out first or you will do
damage to the lawn with your mower. After you mow, go back to watering for
another week. Mow again and now you can start backing off on the water you
may get by with watering only every other day or two by this time. Of course if
you are getting rainfall during this time you may not need to water at all, a little
common sense will help your schedule.
After the grass is established, you will want to change the watering schedule
over to a maintenance schedule of irrigation. This is to keep the ground moist
for what your grass type needs. In Paris, TN. our lawns need at least 1 inch of
water per week. The weather patterns will vary and so will how much you need
to water. During hot dry periods with a lot of wind the ground dries out very
fast and you will have to water longer in order to get the same amount of water
to the grass roots as you would if it is over cast and cool. The basic idea is to
water until you soak down about 6 inches. Deeper is better when watering for
maintenance. Once or twice a week is usually good as long as you are watering
very deeply. Infrequent and deep is what we want when watering lawns in the
If you would like to install an irrigation system yourself check out our Irrigation
Improper mowing kills lots of lawns each year. Every Summer I hear someone
say, "I cut it down low so I don't have to mow it as often". Well, you will
achieve what your after doing this, because if your dealing with Fescue, of most
any Variety, you will kill it. Then you will be mowing just weeds. If that is what
your after, then don't waste the time and money in applying fertilizer or weed
control products. Mowing heights are based on the type of grass you have in
your lawn. Fescue likes to be mowed ant 2.5 to 4 inches high. Just look at the
name of most Fescue "TALL FESCUE" This alone tells you where you should
mow it. The growth habit of the grass determines where it likes to be mowed.
Fescue has no rhizomes or stolons, only tillers and it has an upright growth
habit. Bermuda and Zoysia have Rhizomes, stolons or both, and they are a lateral
growing grass. They will crawl along and fill in bare spots. These are also
considered "warm season grasses". These will tolerate low to very low mowing.
Most golf courses have both of these grasses and routinely mow Bermuda at
less than an inch. To mow this low you have to have a very smooth grade on
your lawn. Most lawns do not unless you have worked on it very hard. Mowing
a Bermuda lawn low that is rough creates scalping marks, these will be brown
spots in the otherwise green lawn. Brown marks can also be caused by routinely
mowing Bermuda too high, and when your mower drops down it will leave the
brown marks. This is caused by the mower cutting off all of the green leaves,
exposing the stem of the plant. By lowering the mowing height that you
routinely use, you will eliminate this. Slowly lower the mowing height each
week until you are at the level you want to reach. Dropping the mower deck
from 3" to 1" on Bermuda during the season will turn it brown and the Bermuda
will struggle to recover. Zoysia likes to be mowed in between the Fescue and
Bermuda. I find most Zoysia Lawns in our area do well at 2" to 2.5".
Also, be sure your blades are always sharp, this will cut the grass rather than
tearing it. This will leave a clean look without leaving a tan haze across the lawn
from ripped blade tips. Another simple tip to increase the appearance of your
lawn is to change mowing directions each week. Change the pattern so your
tires are not traveling in the same ruts every week. From an appearance
standpoint, you want to see the grass color, the mowing pattern, but not the
wheel tracks. And a final suggestion, if you have several trees in your lawn,
don't mow in circles around them. The wheels of any mower will tear out the
grass as you turn around the trees. Either the front wheels from turning, or the
back wheels from trying to get traction. Instead, try to make wide turns or pass
by the trees at 90 degree angles from several directions not turning around the
tree at all. This way you will have no tire marks or dips around your trees. You
will notice the grass will be thicker also, since it won't have to recover from
being torn out all the time.
We are improving our site to give you all the Lawn Care and Landscaping
information you will need to install and maintain your Lawn and
Landscape. If you have a question email us and we will answer for you as
quick as we can.
Ask Us A Question !
LawnMasters Lawn and Landscape
Lawn Care Tips For a Beautiful Lawn
Paris,TN Puryear,TN 731.642.2876 888.664.LAWN
Other Lawn Maintenance Items There are a few other items that will need to be done throughout the year on your lawn. These are items
that a lot of people don't think about, but really add to the vigor, health and overall looks of your lawn. You may see a neighbor who has a beautiful
lawn and all you ever see him doing is mowing, but there are a few things he's probably doing that you just don't see it being done.
Aerating is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your lawn. I have seen it said before that if you could only do ONE thing for your lawn,
aerating would be the most beneficial thing for it. It is very inexpensive, and fairly easy to do depending on the equipment used. As for aerators
there are a few different types.
Spike aerators are just what the name implies, they have a spike, usually just a metal triangle shaped thing that pokes a hole in the lawn. The
problem with this type of aerator is that they actually increase compaction of the soil since all they do is press the soil down and out. No soil is
being removed, so the soil is just being pressed to other areas.
A CORE aerator is the best type to use. These machines will come in different styles also, walk behind motorized, tow behind the mower type, or
large commercial versions that are 3 point hitch tractor type. The core aerator will pull a plug of soil up out of the ground and deposit it on top.
This leaves a hole in the ground and a core of soil laying on top of the soil. This relieves compacted soil, gives a place for air, water, seed,
fertilizer, lime, etc, to get into the soil structure. The cores left on top of the ground will slowly dissolve over time as it rains, there is no need to
remove them on most lawns. This type of aerator is used by golf courses also, and they will remove the cores, then brush sand into the holes.
For most home owners this isn't needed. Regardless of which type of aerator you choose to use, you will need to aerate the lawn until you can
look down and see the pattern of holes in the ground that you want.
Some aerator's will only put a hole every 6 X 6 inches, if you need them closer than this you will have to make 2 or 3 passes to be sure you cover
all of the ground an get holes as close together as you want. Depending on your soil structure and the type of core aerator you use, you may have
a lot of firm soil cores on top of the ground when done. This is not harmful, and is really helpful, since it relieves soil compaction, but if you have
to get rid of them for some reason, just drag a chain link fence drag around behind your mower and it will crumble them up. This helps the soil
build up organic material.
Aerating can be done most anytime of the year, while Fall is the best time. Spring second best. If your dealing with a sports field for your Little
League team, or church or any other public area, you may find that the area gets aerated several times throughout the season.