5 Common Lawn Challenges

Filed in Landscaping by on February 19, 2014

 

grass1Everyone wants a nice lawn, but maintaining that perfect patch of green grass requires a lot of work. While generally considered a very fertile area, Minnesota’s lake country has its own share of challenges for homeowners looking to keep up a beautiful lawn.

Experts in the region’s lawn care industry have identified overwatering, inproper watering, weeds, insects and mowing practices as some of the most common problems.

Overwatering

“The most common challenge is too much rain,” says Trevor John, owner of Lakes Area Lawn Care & Landscape of Crosslake. Adding to this natural onslaught of water is overwatering by property owners.

“A lot of times people will have irrigation systems set up, and they don’t always have a rain sensor set up on them. If the grass stays wet for too long, fungus starts growing,” John cautions.

These microorganisms can fester and end up killing large sections of the grass. This is an even greater risk for people who don’t have sandy soil or who have deposited black soil underneath their grass.

When lawns get too thick, a layer of thatch forms, and the grass is no longer being properly aerated. “If you water your grass a lot, the roots won’t grow deep into the ground,” John explains. “People need to water longer,  but less frequently. This will help the grass grow deeper toots to search out the water they need.”

Improper watering

For all of the hazards of overwatering a lawn, it is also possible to not water grass enough. Depending on the soil in the area where you live, an optimal watering schedule for your lawn may be only twice a week. The frequency of watering should also be altered with the changing seasons. Its important to make sure a lawn gets time to dry and grow before being watered again.

When it is time to water, make sure to do it early in the morning rather than in the late afternoon or evening. If grass is watered too late in the day, there won’t be time for the moisture to absorb into the ground properly.

“Don’t come home from work and turn on the sprinklers,” says John Landsburg, owner of Landsburg Landscape Nursery in Brainerd. “You want the turf as dry as possible going into the evening.”

Weed control

It is a tricky balan e, working to reduce chemical use and still maintain a healthy lawn. “It’s always a tightrope that you walk in the business,” says Gary Edlund, owner of Barefoot Lawns LLC in Detroit Lakes. “Everybody wants to have a heatlthy, green, weed-free lawn, yet people are concerned about the overuse of chemicals.”

Although people like an organic approach to lawn care, he says, there is no easy organic approach that will totally eliminate the us of chemicals. The way he sees it, the key is to use a minimum amount of herbicide and fertilizer. For property owners desiring a completely organic solution, weeds can always be removed by hand.

“When you let the weeds grow, they compete with the grass for space and nutrients. They grow deeper roots than the grass does,” Edlund cautions. He believes using some fertilizer and keeping a lawn weed-free is ultimately better for your environment than letting a yard go without any upkeep.

Insect issues

Landsburg says insects are another common lawn nuisance face property owners. “The insect issues tend to be cyclical,” he explains. This is due to both the lifecycles of the insects and the environmental conditions allowing them to thrive.

When dealing with these small lawn destroyers, preventative actions are the most effective. Making sure a yard is watered and fertilized correctly will lessen the chance of an insect issue.

“If you follow proper turf health, you’ll have fewer problems with both insects and disease,” Landsburg says.

Mowing practices

How a lawn is mowed is another important factor in maintaining a healthy yard. It can be tempting to cut grass short to lengthen the amount of time until it needs another trimming. This practice will damage a lawn. “Proper mowing height is important,” advises Landsburg. “If people mow too short, it stresses the plant.”

Also, he says, mowing the grass in the same pattern year after year creates compaction issues. When grass is too densely compacted, the damp conditions can lead to numerous disease-related problems.

“A good natural fertilizer is to leave a few clipping on your lawn,” says Wes Pare, owner of Lakes Area Services Landscaping & Lawn Care in Pelican Rapids. Weekly mowing, done with the proper mulching blades, will result in clippings that aren’t to plentiful. These will provide the correct amount of natural fertilization for a lawn.

 

by Heidi Kratzke

 

 

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