starting off lawn care

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When it comes to lawn care, there is no “one size fits all” solution that can be applied for all lawns, all turfs and all seasons. The truth is, lawn care practices are seasonal which means that the efforts you put in the springtime and summer days would give the results you should expect all year round.

One great example on this topic is fertilizing. If you don’t use a lawn care company in Pennsylvania and decide to do things on your own, you may want to know when is the best time to fertilize your lawn. Doing that during all seasons is a common mistake and one that only damage your lawn.

Below, we are listing our guide on the best lawn aeration, overseeding, flea removal, lawn fertilization and many other turf care practices.

lawn care basics

Step 1: Choosing The Right Grass Variety

The first step for every homeowner looking for professional lawn care in Emmaus, PA is to know which type of lawn they need for their needs. Nowadays, there are warm season and cool season turfgrass available on the market. The grass-type performance depends on how much their growth patterns match the climate in your area. The truth is, only a few areas are within the optimal temperature for turfgrass.

If you search for “lawn care near me” on Google, you will see the right practices shared by many green turf care companies. Primarily, turf is separated into two categories: warm season and cool season.

While warm-season turfgrasses grow best in temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, cool-season turfgrasses are best grown in temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The optimal period for cool season turfgrasses is from April/May to September/October – while warm season turfgrasses are ideal from May to September (they have a shorter lifetime).

lawn care tipsIn the springtime, you need to fertilize, water and overseed the turf (even though there is a debate on whether overseeding cool-season turfgrasses works in spring). You should also take care of moles, do the proper weed control and make sure there are no spring lawn diseases in your turf.

In summer, you should focus on mowing, watering deeply and protecting your turf from the high temperatures. Weed control in the summer is also important, followed by creating an adequate growing environment for the turf species that are present.

Step 2: The Turfgrass Adaptation Map Zone A, B, C, D, & E

Turfgrass adaptation is another major topic to all of the homeowners interested in professional lawn care in Pennsylvania, mostly because it is complex and requires different approaches.

Basically, as a lawn owner you should know that there are different climate zones within the US. In fact, four primary grass adaptation zones (based on the regions). They include:

  • The Cool/Humid Zone: This zone covers the Northwest region and is known for receiving a great deal of moisture which can be problematic for some grass types. Speaking of, these include fescues, bluegrass, ryegrass, are common lawn grasses.
  • The Warm/Arid Zone: Buffalograss and bermudagrass are the commonly used grass types. This section stretches
  • The Cool/Arid Zone: Located in the west, this turf grass is best adapted for cool season grasses as long as it is irrigated. Buffalograss is one of the examples which is used in many areas because of its drought hardiness.
  • The Warm/Humid Zone: This grass zone is best adapted for warm season grasses. Located in the south, it adapts Bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, Carpetgrass, Centipede grass and Zoysia grass as some of the common types. Cool season types are rarely used.
  • The Transition Zone: This is an area known in turf care as the region where the transition between cool season grasses and warm season grasses appears. There is no one grass type which best fits the area. The winter temperatures can be too cold for some warm season grasses as well as too hot in the summer for some cool season grasses. Tall fescue is probably the most popular cool season grass in this type with Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass being the most popular warm season grasses.

professional lawn careThe truth is, grass responds to light and temperature changes in every climate zone. Each grass species emerge from winter dormancy in spring. Even though there are some exceptions (such as perennial rye), these are the general rules.

Working with lawn care companies in Pennsylvania is the best way to choose the right grass for your needs, region and goals. Their ability to understand the specifics and lay out the grass properly ensures maximum satisfaction and optimal results.

If you want to see an interactive view of the plant hardiness zones in the US, visit this link.

Step 3: Soil pH and Soil Amendments

The next step for you to consider when starting off right with lawn care is to understand soil pH and the corrective materials. Monitoring and adjusting the soil pH is important for optimal plant health. A lot of homeowners have stated that they understand that the pH of the soil is important but are still unsure what to do about it.

The entire world’s plants (trees, flowers, food crops and turfgrass) have a preferred pH range that they grow best in. The tendency is different in every region.

Basically, pH refers to “potential Hydrogen” and represents the measure of Hydrogen ions in the soil. The soil pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 where a reading of 7.0 on the scale means “neutral” while any reading below 7 is considered to be “acidic” or “sour” soil. Any measurement above 7 is considered basic, “alkaline” or sometimes referred to as “sweet” soil.

soil ph tipsSoil amendments are essentially added to soil to change and improve it. Unlike fertilizers which add nutrients to soil, amendments modify the condition of the soil and are suitable for supporting plant roots or what soil experts call “tilth.” When the tilth is right, the plants experience healthy growth.

In new lawns and gardens, soil amendments are mixed down into the soil. Pennsylvania lawn care professionals often apply the amendments to the surface which is watered in, so that grasses and other plants are not disturbed. Unlike mulches which are placed on top of the soil and are meant to stay there, amendments are meant to get down into the soil and get it to work.

While fertilizers impact the plant growth directly, soil amendments affect it indirectly and can sometimes deliver nutrients as a bonus. It is important to understand that soil amendments are not fertilizer substitutes – instead, they help the fertilizers do their job by making most of tilth and other factors.

The common types of soil amendments include:

  • Organic matter: These can be substances such as finished compost, well-rotted leaves as well as other natural materials which work down into the soil and improve the way soil particles fit together and the way air and water move through them.
  • Lime: Lawn grasses and other plants can benefit from lime to raise soil pH.
  • Elemental sulfur: When the soil pH becomes alkaline (with levels over 7.5 or 8) or when you want to grow your own blueberries or other plants that need low soil pH (Azaleas, Camellias, Hydrangeas and Rhododendron) elemental sulfur is recommended.
  • Ammonium sulfate: This is a fast-acting and high-nitrogen fertilizer which contains sulfur. It also keeps acid-loving plants healthy and happy.
  • Gypsum – When the soil pH is right but the other levels are not right, gypsum can help. What it does is modify the soil without any significant change – to increase water penetration, loosen the compacted clay soils and promote easier root penetration.

At this point, you should know that plants rely on 17 nutrients for a healthy and normal growth – and depend on soil for most of them. These nutrients are not optimal but known as “essential nutrients” because plants can’t actually survive without them. Soil pH plays a vital role in determining whether the lawn grasses, ornamentals and edibles get the right nutrients they need.

So, knowing that your soil’s pH is constantly changing, good maintenance practices such as regular irrigation and application of high-nitrogen fertilizers can lower the soil pH over time. This is what many professional lawn care companies in Pennsylvania recommend as well as the optimal strategy for lawn care in Emmaus, Allentown, Easton or any other part and region.

Step 4: Installing The New Lawn + Seeding & Sodding

At this point, you probably know which turf is best for your Pennsylvania lawn and the basics of fertilization, soil pH as well as other factors.

So, now is the best time to see how to install your new lawn and understand the concepts of seeding and sodding. A lot of turf care experts in Pennsylvania know this by heart. However, if you want to actually do it yourself and get to understand lawn care right, we have got a few lessons for you.

installing new lawn tips

Installing The New Lawn

The first part is obvious and comes in the form of installing your new lawn. Before laying the new lawn, you should take the time and prepare your soil so that you can grow a sturdy and healthy lawn. If you want to establish a usable lawn quickly, install sod (turf).

To do this, you should:

  • Remove your old plants with a hoe or a machine
  • Grade the soil
  • Improve the soil (if needed)
  • Send in samples for a soil test
  • Rake in the starter fertilizer lightly
  • Water your soil and let it settle for one week
  • Roll your soil lightly
  • Decide which method of lawn planting you want to use

Laying Sod For A New Lawn

Before laying sod, you need to choose a sod variety. Also known as turf, sod is basically strips of already growing grass that are attached to soil. You should select the one suitable for your climate and purpose (as shared above).

Make sure to purchase freshly cut sod which is moist, not dried out and crumbly. Sod is often sprayed with a light dose of liquid nitrogen right before cutting. To install it, you need to spray it and lay it out in a staggered pattern along the edge of your lawn, placing the sod end to end.

As soon as you lay it out, you should water it heavily during the first ten days. Water is important before fungus can establish itself. However, you need to reduce the watering frequency after the first ten days and continue to water just so that water enters the topsoil in the right way.

Avoid walking on your new law and only mow when the lawn is healthy and well-established.

Starting A Lawn By Seeding

Seeding is an alternative version to sodding (laying out turf). The same concept is that you have to choose seed types by climate (as shared above) and choose between warm and cool season grasses.

Once you choose a specific seed type, you should consider all of its environmental factors and find one suited to your lawn’s sunlight levels, its grass texture, drought resistance and durability to foot traffic.

Next up, you need to work on the lawn in sections as you seed, seeding in one section before moving onto the next one. Sow the grass and drop the seeds by hand if no other options are available. Afterwards, lightly rake the soil and make sure that the young grass sprouts can push the soil.

Water your seeds afterwards just to the point of “puddling” and repeat throughout each day until the sprouts appear. Roll the lawn once the grass is 2-3 inches tall and mow it once it is 3-4 inches tall.

Final Words

geoff gaus noteAs you can see, lawn care is not as easy as many people think. This is why a lot of homeowners in Pennsylvania choose professional lawn care companies to do all of this work but also explain the best-case scenario for their needs.

If you are one of them and are looking for expert help, you have landed on the right page.

At Green Turf Care, we are Pennsylvania’s leading lawn care company. We cover every single part of lawn care and can make your yard look beautiful and dreamy by a grass that looks sturdy, green and healthy.

Want more information and/or advice about your lawn care?

Contact us today via email or call us at 484-452-3595 to reach out Pennsylvania lawn care experts!