These are the basics of lawn care and maintaining a healthy lawn.
If you want to achieve a healthy lawn without the help of a professional lawn care company in Pennsylvania, you need to know all the ins and outs of proper lawn care.
If you are an average homeowner, chances are that you spend around 3-4 hours per week on yard work and mow your lawn around 30 times a year. What’s interesting is that while you may not realize it, your lawn pays you for this work – depending on how much effort you put into it.
However, effort is not always the best answer to a healthy lawn. You need to gain some knowledge and see all that you need to take care of so that your lawn looks great. Below, we are listing the most important aspects of lawn care in Pennsylvania – and what you need to do to keep your precious lawn healthy and green.
1. Mowing Your Lawn
Mowing is pruning, which means that proper mowing increases the density of the lawn which also decreases weeds. Each type of grass has an optimal mowing height – you need to find out which type of grass is in your lawn and mow it at the proper height.
In situations like these, it is recommended that you stick to the ⅓ rule which means that you should never remove more than ⅓ of the grass blade length at one time. Knowing this, you will know that a healthy lawn can survive an occasional close cut. If you close-cut it repeatedly, you may risk getting a brown lawn which has a several harmful side effects (injury to the crown, weed germination, risk of soil compaction, reduction of the surface area etc.)
So, you should always make sure to mow when the grass is dry and avoid mowing in the heat of the day. This way, you will prevent heat stress on your grass. Your mowing tools need to be sharp and balanced and your mowing pattern needs to change each time you mow. By moving forward when mowing, you will ensure that the grass is properly cut.
If you have a newly seeded grass, it is recommended that you mow it on every three to four weeks and get established after germination before mowing it for the first time. This is mainly because the grass blades are tender and can be easily damaged – which allows the mower traffic to compact the soil.
Mowing Height Recommendations (For Cool Season And Warm Season Grasses)
Expert lawn care in Pennsylvania also means mowing the lawn and sticking to the basic guidelines when it comes to mowing heights. Always keep in mind the weather conditions when you mow. Below, we are listing the recommended mowing height for maintaining a healthy lawn – covering both cool season and warm season grasses.
Mowing Height for Cool-season Grasses
- Bentgrass – 1/2 to 1 inch
- Bluegrass – 2 to 2 1/2 inches
- Perennial Ryegrass – 2 to 3 inches
- Fescue – 2 to 3 inches
Mowing Height for Warm-season Grasses
- Bahia – 2 to 2 1/2 inches
- Bermuda – 1 1/2 to 2 inches
- Centipede – 1 1/2 to 2 inches
- St. Augustine – 2 to 3 inches
- Zoysia – 1 to 2 inches
2. Grass Clippings: What To Do With Them?
“Should I collect grass clippings or leave them on the lawn?”
This is a question that a lot of lawn owners have. If you ask any lawn care expert in Allentown, Emmaus or Bethlehem about grass clippings and what to do with them, they will all tell you that these clippings are the easiest way to nurture your lawn.
In fact, collecting and removing the grass clippings is unnecessary and can be counterproductive to growing and maintaining a healthy lawn. When left in place, the clippings will provide a ready source of fertilizer while helping the soil retain water – all of which promoting root growth and a healthy lawn.
The real benefit of grass clippings lies in the fact that they are a natural fertilizer – containing the same things as the rest of your grass (including all the water and nutrients that your lawn needs in order to stay healthy).
The practice of leaving your grass clippings on the lawn is also known “grasscycling.” Essentially, successful grasscycling allows clippings to quickly decompose and return the nutrients to the soil in a natural way.
However, in order to grasscycle your lawn properly, you need to:
- Cut it down when it is dry (wet grass is heavier and it won’t cut well)
- Cut it down regularly and at the right height
- Cut your grass with a sharp blade
- Leave your grass clippings where they fall
- Wait until your lawn is tall enough so that after mowing it – it will still be about 3” tall
So, when leaving the grass clippings in your lawn, you let them decompose, release water and nutrients and benefit your lawn’s soil. The result is a grass that grows greener, healthier and thicker.
3. Watering Your Lawn
Did you know that there is a smarter way to water your lawn?
No matter how simple you think lawn watering is, the truth is that lawn experts in Pennsylvania are the best people to ask when it comes to giving your lawn the right amount of water.
Our advice for maintaining a healthy lawn and a deep and strong root system comes is based on watering your lawn:
- In the early morning – Watering your lawn before 10AM is the best time, mostly because of the cooler temperature and calm breeze which keeps the evaporation to a minimum. This way, your lawn actually gets the water that it needs. If you can’t water in the morning, late afternoon is the next best time.
- Soak 6 inches in the soil – You should water your lawn so that it moistens the soil about 6 inches down which is the optimal depth for a healthy grass root system. The easier way to make sure this is the case is by using the screwdriver test: penetrate the soil to a depth of six inches after watering and see if it goes easily. If it doesn’t, you are not watering enough.
- Use pulsating sprinklers – We recommend using pulsating sprinklers over oscillating ones. This is the most efficient system because of the vulnerability to wind and evaporation that oscillating ones have.
- Go easy with new grass – Intense water streams can wash away the seeds in new yards which is why oscillating sprinklers are a better choice for new lawns. If you seed, keep the top inch of the soil moist. If you have planted sod, water it 15 minutes a day for the first two weeks.
- Go all in or let go – If you don’t want to water your lawn, that is fine – you can hire a lawn care company. However, if you start doing it, make sure to do it right.
4. Lawn Fertilization
The next step of maintaining a healthy lawn is lawn fertilization. Fertilizers contain the three main nutrients that are necessary for growth:
- Nitrogen (for leaf growth)
- Phosphorus (for root growth)
- Seed formation and potassium (for vitality)
There are two basic kinds of fertilizers: natural or manufactured. While natural fertilizers combine varieties of substances (decomposed plant matter from grass clippings, manure etc.), manufactured fertilizers are comprised of minerals or synthetics produced in factories.
The best way to apply lawn fertilizers is either by broadcasting dry fertilizers or by spraying them as liquid (the liquid types). Most dry fertilizers are water soluble and enter the soil over longer periods of time.
If you apply fertilizer, you should know the right amount, the right timing, the right weed control opportunities and the right numbers. Each grass type has different requirements and if you are unfamiliar with them, it may be best to hire a lawn care company in Emmaus, Bethlehem or Allentown, PA.
How Often To Fertilize?
- For cool season grasses, the right answer is twice in the fall (September and November) and then again in the spring (May or April) after the first flush of growth
- For warm season grasses, fertilization should be carried out during the active growth periods (but not the hot midsummer months). Ideally, the fertilizer should be applied in three phases: early spring, late spring and once again in late summer.
If all of this sounds too complex, there is a good reason for that. After all, fertilization does involve some science and is not as simple as A-B-C. There is no cookie-cutter approach to a healthy lawn which is why you need to take it seriously.
5. Controlling Thatch
Thatch is a tightly interwoven layer of living and dead tissue that exists between your green vegetation (grass leaves) and the soil surface. It is primarily composed of products from stems, leaf sheaths, crowns and roots that resist decay.
Even though a minor thatch layer can improve the wear tolerance of a lawn, maintaining a healthy lawn involves removing excessive thatch harbors which could disease organisms and insects and make the lawn more susceptible to damage due to disease or drought..
The common factors that affect thatch include:
- Choosing growing grass varieties
- Applying excessive amounts of nitrogen (in spring)
- Growing species that produce large amounts of tough and fibrous tissue
- Compacted soil conditions which lead to shallow root development
To determine the amount of thatch accumulation, it is wise to talk to a lawn expert in Bethlehem, PA. If you want to do it yourself, remove a two-inch deep and pie-shaped wedge from your lawn and measure the thatch between the soil surface and the green vegetation. If the layer is one-half inch or less, it is not a problem. However, if the layer of thatch exceeds one-half inch, you should consider thatch management and control (prevention and removal).
6. Problems from trees
The common tree problems which relate to lawn care include the following.
These cause numerous problems, especially the ones which are at or near the surface. Extensive roots systems from trees such as Ficus, Alder, Evergreen and Casuarina can all cause problems to the garden bed.
This is actually a vegetative formation of a new stem and a root system which can occur naturally or by human action. Suckering can be a real pain for lawns because of the root damage which can extend to the entire place.
Snipping close to tree trunks can lead to ring barking which is actually he removal of bark around the base of a trunk. This can lead to death of the tree.
You may not know this, but keeping your lawn slightly longer in the shaded areas and under trees will keep it in better shape throughout all seasons – especially in winter.
At the end of the day, there is nothing more attractive than a healthy lawn which is smooth, dark green, free of weeds, well trimmed and has the looks of a soft carpet. A lawn like this will benefit your curb appeal, give your prospective buyers an excellent first impression and makes the look of your home much more inviting and satisfying for the entire family.
However, we can also agree that professional lawn care in Pennsylvania is often the best way to achieve these results.
Ready To Get Serious About Your Lawn?
As you can see from the above, all of these factors affect the health of your lawn. Maintaining a healthy lawn is not easy, right?
Well, with the right lawn care company by your side, it can definitely be.
Now, you can get in touch with us and get a quote from our turf experts. At Green Turf Care, we take all the guesswork out of your lawn care. Our fertilization, seeding/sodding, mowing and other services are designed to provide custom lawn care that is specific to the needs, type and condition of your lawn.
For more details and a chance to talk to our lawn experts today, contact us via phone or email!