We all dream of having the perfect lawn grass. While a “perfect” lawn may be less than ideal, you can still have a healthy lawn using the best care and maintenance practices. By using the proper lawn care products and practicing good lawn maintenance, you will be able to get the right lawn.
You know a healthy lawn when you see it: a smooth, lush green carpet, perfect for cartwheels and croquet. To get that perfect lawn, you may have to change your mindset. Regular maintenance is the best way to approach a lawn, and may help you avoid the need for renovation later on. It takes work, but it is not impossible to give your lawn a facelift.
A verdant lawn makes a wonderful foil for flower borders and creates an emerald focal point in winter when color is in short supply. There are different types of turf for different situations. But all lawns benefit from regular mowing, care and attention in the spring and autumn.
Many homeowners in Kenya think that lawns need less care in the fall because the grass grows more slowly. In fact, just the opposite is true. During this time of year, grass is actively absorbing energy, moisture, and nutrients in preparation for a long, dormant winter. Give it a little attention now, and you will be rewarded with a lush, healthy spring lawn.
A beautiful lawn doesn’t just happen. Unless you are hiring professional help, you will have to prepare the space for seeding, then do all the follow-up and maintenance. If you are considering hiring a landscaping service to help you maintain and take care of your lawn (grass) in Kenya, contact Appeala Landscaping Kenya today to speak with one of our experts.
1. Remove Thatch and Weed Buildup
Thatch is a layer of decaying plant matter that forms between the green part of the grass and the top of the soil. Too much thatch can keep water and fertilizer from making their way to the soil. If thatch is more than a half-inch thick, use a dethatching machine to remove it. The best time to dethatch is in the spring or fall when your lawn is thriving.
Eliminate flowering weeds by hand. Acidic lawns are prone to moss and weed growth. Apply a lawn weed killer in spring or summer and repeat in early autumn. Organic gardeners can grub out creeping buttercups, daisies and tap-rooted weeds, like dandelions, using an old knife.
No doubt about it, crabgrass is the bane of every lawn gardener’s existence. But that doesn’t mean herbicides are essential to a healthy lawn; in fact, many landscaping experts avoid them. The true secret to banishing weeds, they say, is to grow such healthy grass that it chokes out the invaders naturally. Mowing regularly helps too, because it tops off weeds like dandelions and crabgrass before they have a chance to scatter their seeds. When you do find yourself compelled to do battle against a path of weeds. You can use natural herbicides that derive their potency from corn gluten, salts from fatty acids or other nonchemical sources.
Weeding can help prevent and control pest and diseases. Some of these harmful organisms include snow mold fungus, ascochyta leaf blight, dollar spot fungus, pink fungus, powdery mildew, lawn rust, grass fungus and sod webworm. Other practices that can control pests and diseases include: correcting drainage or fertility problems, adding lime, increasing mowing height and removing thatch.
2. Add Nutrients, Fertilize or Feed Your Landscaping Grass
Before you start flinging fertilizer around, divide lawn into yard squares with stakes. The results of soil pH test will determine how you fertilize your lawn. The amount of fertilizer you need to maintain lush green grass depends on how rich the underlying soil is, and if you occasionally leave the clippings on the lawn, which help top up the soil nutrients.
Twice a year, spring and fall, is the bare minimum most experts recommend for fertilization. Though some add a feeding in the middle of the summer. But beware the common N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphate-potassium) fertilizers popular with most gardeners; they don’t provide everything your hungry grass needs. Instead, landscaping experts recommend a complete fertilizer that includes micronutrients such as sulfur, copper and iron. In addition to regular fertilizing, experts recommend an application of dolomitic lime every few years. This is because watering and fertilizing cause soil to become acidic over time and lime restores the pH while putting important minerals like calcium and magnesium back into the soil.
In mid-spring, use a proprietary spring or summer lawn fertilizer at the manufacturer’s recommended rates. Feeding the lawn will increase vigor and help prevent weeds and moss from establishing. Apply fertilizers when the soil is moist, or when rain is expected.
Most lawn experts in Kenya agree: If you fertilize your lawn only once a year, do it in the fall. Grass leaves grow much more slowly as the weather turns cool, but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. (Rhizomes are the horizontal plant stems that lie just beneath the soil’s surface; they produce the blades of grass above and the roots below.)
3. Aerate Compacted Lawns
Lawn aerating will help break through thatch and increase nutrient, water and airflow to the roots of the turf. Aeration also allows grass roots to deeply penetrate the soil and for fertilizer and organic matter to reach the roots. When grass gets too compacted, nutrients can’t penetrate to the root system where they’re most needed. That’s where aeration – poking holes in your lawn to improve oxygen circulation – comes in. Most people aerate with a simple tool that looks like two hollow tubes attached to the end of a long handle. Of course, you can also just waltz around your lawn in spiked sports shoes – that works fairly well too.
Fall is also an ideal time to aerate your lawn so that oxygen, water and fertilizer can easily reach the grass’s roots. You can rent a gas-powered, walk-behind lawn aerator for about $70 per day. The self-propelled machine will quickly punch holes into the soil and extract plugs of dirt. If you’ve got a very large yard – say, more than 3 or 4 acres – and don’t feel like aerating it yourself, hire a landscaping contractor.
4. Prepare the Surface and Overseed It
Planting a new lawn is like any good adventure: preparation and planning are key. No matter which planting method you plan to use, you need to prepare the area thoroughly. This is to ensure you banish weeds and make sure soil won’t immediately crust over or compact into lumpy ruts. According to landscaping gurus, the most important step – and one that many gardeners skip – is testing the pH of your soil.
Start by stripping the area of all weeds, including roots, even if that means taking off the top six inches. Then till to a depth of at least six inches to loosen compaction and improve drainage. It’s extremely important to add loam and compost to enrich the soil; many experts suggest mixing equal parts of loam, sand and your original topsoil. You’re best off in the long run if you incorporate a slight slope to facilitate drainage and prevent pooling. Finally, use a roller to pack down the soil, then grade the area with a metal rake. Be as thorough as you can – remember, once you’ve put your seed or sod down, you can’t go back and regrade.
Move on to seeding. No question but rolling out a carpet of sod is the quickest way to a beautiful lawn. But sod can get expensive, especially if your lawn is going to cover a large area. The alternative is seeding the area yourself, either by hand or with a method called hydroseeding, which has recently become quite popular. Long used by farmers to sow large fields, hydroseeding solves one of the main problems of hand seeding: even dispersal of seeds.
5. Mow Your Turf
All lawns benefit from regular mowing. Mowing regularly keeps the lawn in good health. Mow grass whenever it is growing, provided the ground isn’t too wet or icy to walk on. Cut your grass to a height of 6 to 8 centimetres (2.5 to 3 inches). This height (instead of cutting shorter) will promote growth, prevent weeds and discourage insect pests. In spring, mow once a week with the blades at their highest setting and gradually lower them as growth accelerates. Use a box to collect the clippings, which can be composted, or use a “mulching mower” which doesn’t remove the grass but chops it into fine pieces, returning nutrients to the lawn. Rake off thick patches of clippings, which will damage the turf.
In summer, a high-quality lawn may need cutting three times a week, but in autumn, as growth slows, once or twice a week should suffice. Over winter, the lawn does not grow much, but once the weather warms up in early spring, you can start mowing. This is also a good time to over-seed any areas damaged over winter.
Continue to water and mow your lawn, as needed, throughout the fall. Then as the season draws to a close, drop the mower’s blade to its lowest setting for the last two cuttings of the year. That will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass, and there will be less leaf to turn brown during the winter. *Note: As you lower the blade, just remember not to trim off more than one-third of the grass blades at any one time. If necessary, gradually lower the cutting height until the time of the final two cuttings.
6. Water Your Lawn
Reduce water evaporation by watering your lawn early in the morning or at night. Sprinklers can be set to a timer making watering easy and convenient. In dry periods, water newly laid turf, freshly sown areas, and high-quality lawns. Leave established lawns unwatered, but stop mowing because longer grass helps protect the roots. The grass may turn brown, but will recover once it rains.
Water a new lawn every week in dry spells, until it is established. You can tell when fine lawns need watering because they lose their spring when walked on. Reduce water evaporation by using sprinklers early in the morning or at night. Move seep hoses by 8 inches every half hour.
For a newly seeded lawn, water every day for 5 to 10 minutes only. Your goal is to dampen the seeds without causing runoff that might wash them away or mar the surface with gullies. After the seeds sprout and the new grass is a half inch tall, water once a day for 15 to 20 minutes.
Watering once a week to every 10 days is normally sufficient. Ensure that the water reaches a depth of 10cm (4in) after each watering. In the middle of summer 1 sq m (1 sq yd) needs about 20-litres (5 gallons) every seven days.
Water your lawn deeply (but not too often) to promote the growth of deep roots. Apply about 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) of water, only when needed (usually no more than once a week). Place a small pet food or tuna can on the lawn to help you measure how much water has been applied. Stop watering when the can is full. Too much water starves the soil of oxygen and invites disease.
7. Rake the Leaves
I know raking leaves is no one’s idea of fun, but it’s important to remove fallen leaves from your lawn as soon as possible. Don’t wait until all the leaves have fallen from the trees to start raking. If you do, the leaves will become wet from rain and morning dew, stick together, and form an impenetrable mat. This layer if left unmoved will suffocate the grass and breed fungal diseases.
An alternative to raking leaves is to use a lawnmower fitted with a collection bag or vacuum system. These methods are particularly effective if you have a very large yard with many deciduous trees. Regardless of whether you use a rake or a lawnmower, just be sure to remove the leaves before they turn into a soggy, suffocating mess.
8. Protect Your Landscaping Grass from Animals and Insects
It is important to protect birds, beneficial insects, earthworms, and other organisms. This is because play an important role in keeping your lawn healthy. Birds and predatory insects (like nematodes) feed on grubs and other pests. Insects, earthworms, beneficial fungi, and other micro-organisms break down thatch and aerate the soil. The best way to protect these beneficial animals and insects is to only use insecticides and fungicides when absolutely needed. Beneficial insects (like ladybugs and parasitic wasps) can keep pest insects in check.
If you are looking for a good landscaping company in Kenya to help you maintain and take care of your lawn (grass), look no further than Appeala Landscaping Kenya. Contact us today. We can also supply and install flower plants, landscaping plants, fruit plants, vegetable crops, cut flowers and lawn grass, among other plants.