Please refer to the information below for advice on specific areas of turfgrass installation and care. Please note that these practices are recommended for the care of bluegrasses grown in the Great Lakes Region.
Preparation|Installation|Feeding Your Lawn|Mowing Your Lawn|Watering Your Lawn|Controlling Weeds
Controlling Disease|Relieving Compacted Turf|Renovating Worn Turf|Thatch and Thatch Control
- Remove all debris from the area.
- Grade and shape area to desired contour.
- Peat Moss is organic matter that improves the composition of the soil. Use 2 to 4 bales of 6 cubic feet size per 1,000 square feet is desired.
- Top Soil or organic matter should be available to a depth of 4 inches. If this amount of top soil is not available, it must be added.
- Prepare the soil by rototilling top soil and sub soil to a depth of 6 inches, rototilling first one way and then the other way.
- Add fertilizer at the rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet, and rototill or rake to a depth of 2 inches. Recommended fertilizer 5-20-20 or similar ratio.
- Rake the area to a smooth, even surface and roll lightly to show any depressions, then smooth out these areas.
- Have the ground completely prepared before you order your sod.
- People who are not accustomed to physical labor should pace themselves accordingly and if necessary get help from friends.
- Sod must be laid or spread out immediately upon delivery or sod will heat and spoil.
- Locate a straight line, such as a curb or driveway, or run a taut string up the middle of the area to be sodded. Work along this line to establish the first row.
- With a rake, smooth the area immediately ahead of sodding.
- Lay in Brick-Work fashion.
- Staking is advisable on extreme slopes.
- To fit non rectangular edges, and small areas, cut the sod with a knife or hatchet.
- Go over the area with a one-third filled roller to press the roots to the soil.
- Saturate the area with water immediately. One gallon of water in the first hour does more than six gallons three hours later.
Now that you have established your lawn of freshly cut sod, grown by Beck Sod Farm, Inc., you must decide how luxurious a lawn you desire. If it is to be an award winning lawn you should follow the entire program outlined below. If you want a minimum maintenance lawn, attention to the first three points is sufficient.
The amount of fertilizer for any particular lawn depends on the fertility of the natural soil, the degree of growth you want, and the type of grass that you are growing. Bluegrass requires from 4 to 6 pounds of actual nitrogen; 2 to 3 pounds of actual phosphorous, and the same of potassium per 1,000 square feet per year. Fertilizer applications are determined by the amount of nitrogen they contain, because nitrogen is the most difficult of the three materials to handle. We recommend a balanced fertilizer in the ratio 2-1-1 with a controlled release nitrogen. This will provide you with a well balanced feeding for your lawn and the fertilizer will release slowly. You should apply about half the annual amount in the spring and the remaining half in the early summer or fall. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bag. Always water the fertilizer in to prevent leaf burning.
Mowing is one of the most important operations in the maintenance of a fine lawn. Proper mowing will make a good lawn look better, improper mowing can ruin a good lawn in just a few weeks. The most important point to remember is to keep the mower blades sharp. Nothing defaces grass more quickly than a dull mower. Remove all objects from the lawn before you mow to prevent injury to others, and to prevent damage to the mower.
Don’t let your lawn grow so tall that it falls over. It will be difficult to mow and will smother out. Never remove more than one inch of the leaf height at any one time. We recommend mowing Bluegrass at a height of 1 1/2 inches. You can determine the height of your mower blade by placing it on a driveway or sidewalk and measuring the distance between the blade and the sidewalk.
You should remove clippings that clump on the lawn, so that they don’t smother the grass.
In the summertime, lawns generally require about an inch of water every week. Bluegrass, however, does go dormant during dry seasons- the grass may turn brown, but it will green up again when it is watered./
A good rule to follow: If you water, do it regularly. Apply an inch every week ( including rain ) at one setting of the sprinkler. Water evenly and slowly enough so that it penetrates without run off.
Too much water can be as harmful as too little. Soil that is continually soaked does not allow air to reach the root zone where it is required.
Avoid frequent light waterings. This results in shallow rooting.
The best weed control is a good, healthy turf. When your lawn is thick and vigorous, weeds simply have no place to get started…and you have no problem. In renovating lawns, however, or even in established lawns that have had lapses in maintenance, weeds do have a way of intruding.
Two types of chemical weed controls are available- one type kills the weed (post-emergent) and the other type prevents seed germination (pre-emergent).
To eradicate broad-leaf weeds, hormone type post-emergent chemicals are used. They are available under many trade names and can be purchased in combination with fertilizer. You simply mix them with water and apply as directed or apply with the fertilizer. They are most effective when weeds are growing vigorously in the early part of the season and temperatures are in the 70 degree range.
Caution: Follow the manufacturers’ directions on the container.
Crabgrass is easily controlled by using pre-emergent chemicals on the soil surface where seeds may be waiting to sprout in the spring. You must apply your pre-emergent material before the forsythia bushes stop blooming.
Killing the weeds is only half of the operation- you must remember to replace them with grass.
Healthy turf will withstand infestation and recover faster than neglected turf. Here are some guides for healthy turf:
- Use enough fertilizer to keep grass growing vigorously – but avoid the extreme of over stimulation.
- Mow before the grass gets too tall.
- Cut no more than 1 inch of the leaf surface at any one time.
- Keep your mower sharp.
- Don’t allow clippings to accumulate to the extent that they form a mat.
- Remove thatch as required.
- Avoid frequent waterings which tend to keep the grass wet.
- Most important of all- use weed and disease preventatives as recommended by your local landscaper or garden center.
READ THE LABEL, FOLLOW DIRECTIONS, AND TAKE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS.
Soil compaction is a problem which develops naturally under many conditions. Heavy soils and heavy traffic zones are particularly subject to compaction. If soil is trampled, especially when it is wet, compaction will very likely occur.
To relieve compaction without excessive injury to grass plants has been a formidable chore until recent years when power driven aerators were developed. Today, aerators of many types and sizes are available. They usually have prongs or knives which pierce the sod to a depth of two to three inches, or they have hollow tines that extract plugs of soil. In either case, the effect is to open up or “aerate” the soil, allowing water, air and nutrients to reach the turf roots.
If you are an average homeowner, you may not want to invest in aeration equipment. You will be wise, however, to give your lawn the benefits of aeration. Call your landscaper or garden center for information on lawn services or rental companies that have appropriate units. The gratifying results achieved from aeration- plus the savings realized in water and fertilizer, will easily justify the cost.
Turf renovation through use of vertical mowers and aerators was once largely limited to golf courses and athletic fields. Now, it has become a common practice for other turf areas, including home lawns.
Fall renovation is in order where it is practical to renew and rejuvenate turf that has been abused but is still in reasonably good shape. Since roots grow best in Fall and early Spring, loosened soil and fertilizer are most needed at these times to encourage turf growth. Overseed the thinnest areas for best results.
The best practice, of course, calls for a continuous management program to prevent deterioration, thus reducing the need for renovation. Such a program would include: elimination of compaction; application of fertilizer and moisture as the grass plants require it; and good weed control practices.
Thatch in turf is the accumulation of old leaves, clippings, stems, roots and other organic material which has failed to decay. Thatch sheds water rather than letting it percolate into the grass root zone. It may harbor fungus and other diseases, as well as insect pests, and may make fertilizer applications ineffective.
One of the answers to the thatch problem is a vigorous raking. This is difficult to do by hand. A much easier way is to use a powered vertical mower which is self-propelled and equipped with hardened steel blades. It cuts out the thatch and thins matted growth. If desired, you can set the blades low enough to touch the soil; the scarifying action is an ideal pre-seeding treatment for bare or thin areas that need over-seeding.
Unlike diseases, which must be prevented, insects are usually controlled after they appear. It is important that you recognize them quickly before they do too much damage.
A common insect that you should watch for is the white grub. Grubs live in the soil under the grass. If you suspect their presence in your lawn, remove a block of sod and count the grubs. If you have as many as five per square foot, treat your lawn with a good soil insecticide.
The sod web worm is a lively brown worm about 3/4 of an inch long that feeds on grass and causes grass to turn brown. This pest may be controlled by using the same soil insecticide. If in doubt, consult your local landscaper or garden center.