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Lawn Maintenance

Maintaining a rough lawn requires only occasional cutting with a suitable machine, or grazing by animals.

Maintaining higher quality lawns may require special maintenance procedures:

  • Mowing regularly with a sharp blade at an even height.
  • Not mowing when lawn is wet.
  • Not removing more than 30% to 40% of the plant tissue.
  • Alternating the direction of cut from previous mowing.
  • Scarifying and raking, to remove dead grass and prevent tufting.
  • Rolling, (to encourage tillering (branching of grass plants) and to level the ground).
  • Top dressing with sand, soil or other material.
  • Spiking or aeration (to relieve compaction of the soil).
  • Additional watering.
  • Fertilizing application.
  • Organic or synthetic pesticide application.

It must be noted that there is often heavy social pressure to mow one's lawn regularly. Not merely not keeping up with the Joneses, an unmowed lawn is seen as a first sign of blight (urban).

Seasonal lawn maintenance

Seasonal lawn care will vary to some extent depending on the climate zone and type of grass that is grown, whether cool season or warm season varieties. In general, however, there are recognized steps in lawn care that should be observed in any of these areas.

Spring or early summer is the time to seed, sod, or sprig a yard, when the ground is warmer. For a new lawn, adding a fresh load of topsoil to the ground is beneficial. Seeding the lawn is the least expensive way to plant, but it takes longer for the lawn to grow and usually needs daily watering, or the freshly-sprouted grass will die. 

Sodding is more expensive, but it will provide an almost instant lawn that can be planted in most climate zones in any season. Hydroseeding is a relatively quick and inexpensive method of planting. A nitrogen-based, slow-release fertilizer may be applied, when needed. Pesticides, which is an umbrella term that include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, may be considered for use on lawns when required, and where legal. 

In Canada, over 130 municipalities and the province of Quebec prohibit the use of synthetic lawn pesticides. Although synthetic pesticides exist, organic solutions are increasingly being used. For example, corn gluten meal controls weed seeds by releasing an organic dipeptide into the soil and inhibiting root formation of germinating weed seeds. An application of beneficial nematodes can be used to combat grubs.

Summer lawn care requires raising the lawn mower for cool season grass, and lowering it for warm season lawns. Lawns will require longer and more frequent watering, best done in early morning to encourage a stronger root system. This is also the time to apply an all-purpose fertilizer. During the hot summer months, lawns may be susceptible to fungus disease. Itís advisable to take a sod sample to a local landscape expert for testing and treating the yard, if necessary.

In the autumn, lawns can be mowed at a lower height and thatch buildup that occurs in warm season grasses should be removed, although lawn experts are divided in their opinions on this. This is also a good time to add a sandy loam and apply fertilizer, one that contains some type of wetting agent. Cool season lawns can be planted in autumn if there is adequate rainfall.

Lawn care in the winter is minimal, requiring only light feedings of organic material, such as green-waste compost, and minerals to encourage earthworms and beneficial microbes.

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