Like most things in life the quest for a picture perfect lawn starts with the basics. Here are some simple yet effective tips in helping you achieve a successful lawn.
Start with a good foundation. This means good quality soil. If you do not have the right soil makeup no amount of seeding, watering, fertilizing , etc.. is going to grow anything.
If you don’t know how to test your soil take a sample to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County located in Toms River for a soil analysis. For a simple PH test you can bring a few samples down. If you want the complete analysis you will need to pick up a soil sample kit first. This sample is then sent to Rutgers University Agricultural Dept for Lab work. Last we checked a PH Test was about three dollars and the comprehensive analysis was about twenty. You can't beat that. You'll save a lot more than that in just knowing what lawn chemicals to buy or not bother with. Click here for State of New Jersey Flyer
Choose the correct type of grass. Grass that will actually grow on “your” property. This means pay attention to the climate range of the seed, and if its for shade, part shade, some sun, full sun, or a combination. Also the species of grass is important in that some are great for looks but not so good for foot traffic. Other my be great for foot traffic and back yard play but lack that certain refinement of a “turf” lawn. Some others strike a happy medium. Climate has a lot to do with what grass you chose. Not sure ,ask the Cooperative Extension for recommendations. Of course you can call us - that’s what we do.
Plan your slopes and curves. Do this with an eye for style and also ease of cutting. Make it easy for the mowers to cut along lines and turns so there is not so much backing up and repetitive turning. This results in less stress to the lawn from the equipment. With inclines the more gradual an incline the less likely to have scalping issues. If you cut your own grass this will make it a lot easier. If a professional service cuts your lawn, it costs less because it takes less time.
Have a watering plan. Most lawns do well with one or two really good waterings a week. The old school wisdom on watering is true - water weekly and deeply. Avoid sprinkling your lawn daily. If you lightly water you will be training your grass roots to stay close to the surface, and this will reult in weak root systems while encouraging weeds and lawn disease. How much is enough? Use a simple tuna fish can as a guide. If you fill it, your more than done. Anymore is a waste. If you have an automatic sprinkler system put a rain gauge sensor on it. This will prevent it from watering a lawn that has just been rained on. Click here for State of New Jersey Flyer
De-thatch. Nothing lives if it cannot breath and that goes for your lawn too. Thatch is not the lawn clippings left to decompose on your lawn but rather a unhealthy buildup of organic matter at the root base - the first few inches - of soil. Some thatch builds up so badly that water just runs off the lawn. That’s one of the reasons some people water all the time but never get a green lawn. The water never gets to the roots because the lawn is choked with thatch. Click here for State of New Jersey Flyer
Core Aerate The other reason water and fertilizer may be ineffective and is often overlooked is aeration. Aeration is the process of pulling up small plugs of earth with a “Core Areator” or Plugging Machine. These three to four inch plugs are punched and pulled then left on top of the lawn to break apart and rejoin the soil. Doing this is the single best way to un-compact a compacted lawn. As a bonus if you have a yard that pools or floods after a heavy rain core aerating may be all it takes to restore the lands ability to properly drain water away.
Use the Correct Blade. Know what blade to use for your specific task. High-lift blades are for lifting the grass clippings up the chute when you bag. Mulching blades are for pulverizing the grass clippings into tiny bits so they can decompose right back into your lawn adding nutrients and reducing the need for fertilizer by 25%
Cut with a SHARP Blade!!!!! Nothing rips and stresses a lawn worse that a dull mower blade. And it doesn't take that long to dull a blade. Additionally, every time you hit a stick or a twig or stir up dirt or sand from a bald spot or worse yet hit a pebble or a rock - you dull and dent the blade. If you cut your own grass please remember to sharpen your blades, and when they have had it and are worn out - replace them.
Never cut the grass when it is starved for water. If it is extremely hot out and the grass has not been watered it is dehydrated. If you roll over it with hot lawn tractor tires that have been baking in the sun you are going to crush what ever life is left in the grass and possibly leave tire marks in the lawn. If you have a lawn service (preferable Magic Touch Landscaping) remember to time your weekly watering a day or so before they show up. That will help get the grass hydrated before it’s cut.