Below are measures to consider for a healthy lawn. Note that not all steps will be required every year or on every lawn.
Spring is the time to prepare your lawn for it’s long growing period. Early April is the time to remove any debris that was left from the prior year and anything that has fallen on your lawn throughout the winter. Left on your lawn, debris including pasted down leaves will shield your lawn from the sun and prevent it from waking up. A leaf rake is generally all that is needed to remove debris unless your lawn also has excessive thatch. Contact us for a quote for spring lawn cleanup.
Step 1: Dethatch (if needed)
Thatch is a layer of dead grass and other vegetation on the surface of your soil. Some amount of thatch is normal in any lawn. Excessive thatch is caused when your lawn is producing dead foliage faster than it is breaking down that foliage into the soil. To test for excessive thatch, cut a small sample of your lawn with a knife down 3-4 inches. If the thatch layer is thicker than half an inch your lawn needs dethatching. A dethatching rake can be used to remove thatch on small lawns. Larger lawns will require a dethatching machine. Armdale Lawn Care provides lawn dethatching services before the lawn growing season.
Step 2: Aerate
Aerating is the process of loosening compacted soil to allow for air and nutrients to penetrate into the soil and roots to grow deeper. High traffic lawns such as those on which children play will often have compact soil. Soil also settles over the winter months leading to compact soil which isn’t an environment to allow nutrients into your lawn. Aerating requires a machine that pokes small holes into your lawn to loosen the soil. Armdale Lawn Care generally provides its clients with aerating services in April prior to lawn growing season.
Step 3: Lime
Nova-Scotia is a rainy climate. Our rain is highly acidic which reduces the pH level of the soil which makes it difficult for your grass to absorb essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. Adding lime to your soil increases its pH level which helps it absorb these nutrients. Lime should be applied in the Spring or Fall every year.
Step 4: Fertilize
Fertilizing provides your lawn with the necessary nutrients for your lawn to look its best and feel healthy. Fertilizing should be applied regularly throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. We recommend 3-4 applications a year. Timing and quality of fertilizer is important. Spring fertilizing should be done once the grass has started to grow. Fertilizer applied to dormant grass will not promote the growth of grass and may only lead to weed growth. Apply a Winter fertilizer in the late fall once grass has stopped growing. This fertilizer helps the lawn store nutrients for winter survival and spring growth.
Step 5: Seed
Some patches of your lawn will often look thin or bare after the winter. Don’t panic just yet. It can take a few weeks for your lawn to recover from winter dormancy. Any spots that haven’t recovered by the middle of May will require re-seeding. Remove any debris and dead grass from the affected area and apply 1 inch of high quality soil (soil with a high degree of organic matter is ideal). Apply grass seed and lightly rake the seed into the soil with care not to bury the seeds too deep under the soil. Apply a starter fertilizer with a low nitrogen content (6-20-20 or similar.) Lightly soak the area and continue to water regularly until the grass reaches maturity. The amount of watering depends on the weather. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that the soil stays moist at all times but don’t over soak the soil.
Step 6: Mowing
Most varieties of grass in Halifax are known as cool season grasses. The following are guidelines for a healthy lawn with cool season grass:
Mowing height – 2” to 3”
Mowing frequency – every 6 to 10 days depending on growth rate
Length of grass removed – Never remove more than 1/3 of the blade at once. Removing excessive grass length will stress the grass.
Mulch clippings – Mulch grass clippings into the lawn. This helps to maintain the nutrient rich soil. (note: bag the clippings when dandelions are flowering to avoid the spread of seeds)
Sharp blade – Keep your blade sharp. Cutting with a dull blade causes tearing of the grass which leads to diseases
Step 8: Weed Control
It is important to keep on top of weeds in your lawn to prevent them spreading. Weed prevention can range from simply removing weeds by hand regularly to replacing entire sections of your lawn depending on the extent of the weeds. The following are tips to reduce weeds:
Fertilize lawn regularly – fertilizing strengthens the grass helping it fend off weeds
Repair thin or bare spots – bare patches allow weed seeds to grow. (see seeding above)
Hand pull weeds – for lawns with only a few weeds hand pulling them saves money over having weed killer applications
Bag the seeds – when dandelions are flowering attach the bag to your mower to bag the flowers before the seeds can spread
Weed killer – “Fiesta” weed control and “Scotts Weed B Gon” can be applied to prevent and kill broadleaf weeds. These products can be applied during Spring, Summer and Fall when weeds are actively growing. It should be applied on a dry day in temperatures between 15 and 30C. Both products are legal in HRM. Armdale Lawn Care offers Fiesta weed control. Please contact us for a quote.
Fall is another great time of the year to re-seed sections of your lawn that have died throughout the summer. See the seeding tips above. Once the leaves have fallen it’s good to remove them from your lawn. Leaves and other debris left on the lawn will need to be removed before the growth season the following Spring. Another option for disposing of leaves is to use a mulching mower to shred them into the soil. As these shredded leaves decompose they release nutrients into the soil. Finally, apply a Winter fertilizer in the late fall once grass has stopped growing. This fertilizer helps the lawn store nutrients for winter survival and spring growth.