Give your yard a better image
By Kathy Feist
It’s that time of year when caring for your lawn can make or break the image of your home. Grass left to grow too tall can make it look junky. Grass cut too short can kill the lawn, inviting weeds to take its place. It’s important to take the right steps now while spring is just getting started. Rick Underhill, owner of A Better Image Lawn and Landscape, has over 30 years in the lawn maintenance business. Here are his suggestions for an enviable lawn this summer.
Step 1: Core Aeration. “Soil preparation is everything,” says Underhill. “It’s important to do aeration when the soil is compact, otherwise there is nowhere for the roots to go,” he says. An aeration machine, which can usually be rented, creates open circles or plugs that are pulled from the ground..
Step 2: Pre-Emergents. Underhill recommends putting down a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass from germinating. Crabgrass is a low-lying spreader grass that can quickly take over a lawn. That process should be done in early spring, as in right now.
Step 3: Post-Emergents. A post-emergent herbicide should be applied to the lawn to control broadleaf plants such as dandelions and cloverleaf.
Step 4: Fertilizer. As summer begins, fertilizer should be applied on the lawn. Fertilizer provides higher nitrogen levels to the lawn which greens the grass, says Underhill.
Step 5: Mowing. The level at which you want to cut the grass depends on which kind of grass you have. “Creeping type grass such as Zoyzia or Bermuda (which are still yellow right now) are low lying grasses and should be cut low. Grasses such as bluegrass and fescue should be cut as high as possible,” he says. He warns against cutting the grass too short. “One-inch tall grass can only carry so much water to the roots. Grass cut at 5 inches carries a lot of water to the roots.“ Taller grass also acts as shade. “It’s like keeping the sun from beating on your head,” he says.
Step 6: Seeding. The best time to plant grass is the first week in September. He recommends putting seed down while verticutting. As the verticutting machine loosens the hard top soil, the seed should be spread and then gone over again with the verticutter. “That way you are planting the seed like a farmer,” he says.
Step 7: Winterize. Fertilizer applied in the fall will provide more food for the lawn during the winter and encourage thick grass and better rooting in the spring.
And lastly, “Water, water, water,” he says.
A great looking lawn takes time and work but is also rewarding. “But for those who might want to spend time in their yard doing something fun,” he says, “there are always the professionals who can do it for you.”
(A Better Image is known for its reasonable costs for lawn mowing services. Call 816-761-9693 for more information.)