How to Improve Your Landscape Soil for Better Grass
Posted by Laresa Hays on
Lawns Should be Aerated
Your lawn is most likely the highest traffic area of all your landscaping, especially if you have animals and kids. Throughout the years the soil under your grass will become extremely compacted. Mowing your lawn will also compact the earth under the grass. Hard compacted soil creates problems with water drainage, nutrient absorption and especially the absorption of natural nutrients. Compacted soil does not allow for the earthworms to inhabit the soil under the grass. These conditions lead to various diseases, making it important to prevent early on.
If your lawn is already in poor condition, you may need to aerate your lawn. To aerate your lawn you can simply punch holes about 3 inches deep into your lawn. The holes will allow for your lawn to have better air circulation by loosening the soil. Homeowners with large lawns may want to rent a large aerating machine to do their lawns once a year. For smaller lawns, there is a handheld aerating tool that is simple to use and will take care of improving your lawns quality.
With aeration, your grass will make better use of the natural nutrients in the soil and use water better. Micro-organisms and worms will have a better chance of establishing themselves in loose soil if your lawn is aerated properly.
Water Less Often but Deeper
Watering for a few minutes two or three times a week with a sprinkler will not help to give you a deep, lush, green lawn. In order for your lawn to flourish it needs to be watered deeply, so the roots get nourished and will grow deeper into the soil. During periods of drought or areas with extremely hot weather, grass with deep roots in the soil will survive.
A deep watering is considered to be a one-inch watering over a period of a couple of hours or so once a week. The best way to find out if your lawn is getting a deep watering is to put out small containers that can measure the amount of water that your sprinkler is putting out. After an hour or so, check the dishes by measuring the amount of water in the dish. This will also tell you if you are watering your lawn evenly or if your sprinkler needs some adjustments. If some of your dishes have just a little water in them, it may be the reason your lawn has brown spots. By adjusting the sprinkler, you will see the brown areas nourish with the proper watering.
Do Not Overwater
Overwatering is not good for your grass. You will learn to know when to water again by feeling down about 3-4 inches in the soil. If it is dry, it is time to water. Lawn care experts use an electronic soil tester to test the moisture in your soil. You can use a screwdriver or a trowel to dig down about 3-4 inches and feel with your hand if the soil is dry and needs another watering. When you do water your lawn, the best time is early in the morning and on a day with no wind. Watering under these conditions will help to keep the evaporation down.
Grass clippings will help your lawn to flourish and grow greener. Clippings will give back to the soil the needed nutrients by decomposing quickly and acting like a natural mulch. The grass clippings will help to:
Retain water on the grass
Improve soil texture
Reduce the need for fertilizers
Save time when you mow
Reduce landfill waste
Most mowers can be converted to a grass-cycling mower that will leave the clippings cut in short pieces on your lawn. If you do not like the grass clippings on your lawn you can use a compost bin. You can then use the compost material as a natural fertilizer for your lawn and gardens.
Proper Cutting Heights
To have healthy and strong grass you will need to know the important fact of how to cut your grass. Different grass types need to be cut at different heights. Some examples of proper grass cuttings are:
Kentucky Bluegrass, Rye grass and Fescue: mow at 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches
Tall Fescue: mow at 1 ½ to 3 inches
Bermuda: mow at ½ to 1 inches
St. Augustine: mow at 1 to 3 inches
Bentgrass: mow at ¼ to ¾ inches
Centipede grass: mow at 1 to 2 inches
Zoysia: mow at ½ to 1 inch
Buffalo grass: mow at 2 to 3 inches or you can leave it completely natural
In order to get an effective cutting, make sure the blades of your mower are sharp at all times. Reel mowers will cut your grass like scissors while regular rotary mowers tear the grass.
For Greener Grass, Compost Kitchen and Garden Wastes
Composting is a great way to cut down on waste and will help your lawn and garden grow healthier. Some of the composting benefits are:
In clay and sandy soils it will improve water drainage
Stimulates root growth and generates a slow release of plant nutrients
Garden pests and soil-borne plant disease problems are reduced
Helps to prevent erosion of valuable topsoil
Most soils pH levels are balanced
Kitchen wastes and yard clippings help the grass to go greener and not fill up our landfills
Composting can also attract insects, worms and other organisms that will beautify your lawn.
Adding soil based microbes to your lawn will accelerate the breakdown of dead plant materials such as the grass clippings, turning it into organic matter that will help build soil structure and prevent the need for aerating soil. Microbes such as EM-1 Microbial Inoculant, will also stimulate the growth of roots, feed worms, feed beneficial fungi, and make nutrients more available for the grass. Apply 1 quart of Activated EM-1 per ¼ acre of plants once a week throughout the spring, summer, and fall. You can also add some EM-1 Rice Bran Bokashi as a fertilizer. It is a great slow-release organic fertilizer with a 2-4-4 NPK as well as many micronutrients. Apply about 1lb of EM-1 Bokashi per 100 square feet in the spring and again in the fall.
Corn Gluten Meal
Used as a lawn fertilizer and natural herbicide, corn gluten meal is high in available nitrogen, which acts as a natural herbicide for organic and turf grass crops. It also fertilizes the soil and is a totally natural product. It will also help control weeds and keep your grass fertilized.
Author Bio: Sarah has loved gardening and nature since childhood. She loves to read about new plants and gardening tips. She works for “YourGreenPal” which helps you to quickly find, schedule and pay for Lawn Care Services.