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That Perfect Lawn and How to Get it (all the steps)

Ever wondered what the guy on your street is doing that year after year has the perfect lawn. He probably has the same soil type with the same problems as you and has the same pests attempting to inhabit his lawn just like you but his lawn stays perfect and yours does not. Well here I’m going to let you know how you can get a lawn that looks like his at your Durham Region home.

First off it does take some effort to get and maintain a perfect lawn though the steps are not that difficult to understand or perform. If after reading this you do not believe you would have the time or frankly enjoy performing these steps, perhaps hiring a landscape maintenance contractor to take care of your lawn is the best option for you, if having a perfect lawn is something you still want to enjoy. For large residential and commercial properties, we do offer lawn care services in the Durham Region for smaller residential properties Landscape Ontario has a list of trusted professionals for all municipalities across Ontario. For irrigation we offer installation and service packages to both residential and commercial clients in the Durham Region and the GTA and again Landscape Ontario has a list of other trusted professionals you can have a look at.

The first step to having a lush green lawn is to remove the weeds that are in your lawn. You can pull them out by hand, use a gardening tool designed for pulling weeds or some herbicides can do a great job at eliminating weeds. Weeds must be removed from the lawn for grass to take over. Once grass has taken over and it is maintained properly weeds will become less of an issue as your grass will have a very good chance to outcompete weeds that are trying to take over. Getting a clean slate to work with is what we are looking for here, we do not want our effort wasted for our grass to become healthy on weeds that have already taken over. If your lawn is more weeds than grass look into re-sodding your lawn to get a fresh start. The cost of getting an average subdivision yard re-sodded in the Greater Toronto Area is quite affordable.

After the weeds have been removed the next step is to aerate the lawn and to remove excess thatch. Thatch is a layer of organic matter that is in between the soil and your lawn made up of decaying grass, leaves, stems and roots. A thin layer of thatch 1-2 cm is good for the health of your lawn as it helps insolate the roots of the plants from temperature change, doesn’t allow water to evaporate from soil as quickly and can help reduce the chances of disease. However, if thatch becomes to thick it can have negative effects on your lawn such as it can stop nutrients and water from penetrating into the soil and it can harbour insect pests for your lawn. To check the thickness of the thatch in your yard you can cut out a small section of your lawn so you can see how thick the layer is inbetween the grass and the soil. To remove thatch, you can purchase a dethatching rake, electric dethatcher or if you have a large lawn you may want an attachment for a riding lawn mower. For most home owners a dethatching rake should suffice for there home if not or you find it to difficult many rental stores will have powered dethatchers. After you have removed thatch you will want to aerate the lawn. Over time your lawn from use will become more compacted which makes it more difficult for the grass roots to grow and for water and nutrients to penetrate into the soil. You want the water and nutrients to penetrate deep in the soil so the roots will follow. Lawns with deep roots are more pest resistant, healthier and will be greener for longer. If your lawn is very hard, water it thoroughly a few days before aerating to make it easier. Often you can rent aerators or you can purchase one for your lawn. You can leave the cores that are removed on your lawn as they will decompose quickly.

The third step is to improve the soil quality of your lawn and this is done with fertilizers. The three main components to fertilizer that are needed are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Each one of these has a different beneficial effect on plants and just like humans need a balanced healthy diet to perform optimally so does your lawn. Without a soil test done on your lawn the general rule of thumb is to use a fertilizer with a ratio of 4 (N)-1(P)-2(K). If this does not work well for your lawn you may want to look into getting a soil test which can be done by Fertilizers can and should be used on your lawn several times throughout the year. At Least once in spring to get the grass started and once in fall to help reduce winter damage is recommended. Landscape Ontario and Ontario’s ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have good charts for fertilizing and other lawn care maintenance practices to perform at different times throughout the year. This youtube video also has many helpful tips for applying fertilizer for the average homeowner.

Overseeding would be the next step to a healthy well-maintained lawn. If you have dead spots after the winter or you had to remove large sections of weeds from your lawn you would likely have to overseed in the spring. This can be done with a couple methods you can top dress your lawn by first adding some soil on top of sections that are bear of good grass or that had large amounts of weeds pulled. Then sprinkle seed heavily over those areas of your lawn to have the best chance that grass will take hold. The second method to areas that have good lawn growth is to simply add some more seed in those areas to ensure that those areas stay thick. If you have no problem spots to start you can skip overseeding in the spring and overseed in summer with more drought tolerant grass strains or in the fall.

Mowing your lawn properly throughout the year can be one of the most if not the most important step to maintaining your lawn apart from proper watering. The main trick here is to not mow the lawn to low. You should try and maintain your lawn between the heights of 2.5 to 4 inches. The main benefits of this is that, when only cutting off a small portion of your lawn the remaining height can help block out sun from weeds. The top third of grass is more fragile than the bottom two thirds. Therefore, it decomposes much more quickly and doesn’t contribute to thatch. It also is high in nitrogen which can reduce the amount of fertilizer you may need by around a quarter. Mowing your lawn in different directions regularly can also help in reducing compaction in certain places and aid in maintaining uniform texture in your lawn.

Proper watering is key to keeping your lawn healthy throughout the year. Grass that needs watering will start to show signs by not returning to its original shape after being walked on within a few seconds. After this it will start to brown. Grass should get about 1 inch of water per week. You can measure how long it takes for you to get an inch of water with your sprinkler system by placing a pan out in your lawn and seeing how long it takes for an inch of water to concentrate in the bottom. This will tell you how long to leave your sprinkler on. If you do not wish to do this you can get an irrigation specialist to install an irrigation system in your lawn and it will automatically apply the correct amount of water, many systems now monitor the amount of rainfall and adjust their watering schedule accordingly. Watering should be done in the morning to allow most of the water to seep into the soil before the heat of the day. Though you can water at night it is more beneficial to water it in the morning as repeated watering at night can in some cases cause fungi or disease into your lawn as it will remain damp for a much longer period.

Lastly when you are out mowing your lawn you should be checking if you have weeds to be removed before they become a problem or if you have any bugs infesting your lawn. If you have done everything above and your lawn still does not look good you probably have an insect invasion. Purchasing nematodes and placing them in your lawn will get rid of many pests. If this does not work perhaps try consulting a lawn care professional to see what they would suggest or look on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, food and Rural Affairs. The ministry has a good chart of which insect causes which problems for your lawn, what to look for and how to get rid of them.

Daniel Hogenbirk

Landscape Foreman

Birk’s Landscaping Inc.

(905) 404-0602

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