GREEN GUIDE


How do I water my lawn properly?

Proper watering techniques are absolutely essential to an Ecology Friendly Lawn, and can result in water savings, and reduce disease & insect and weed infestations.Watering techniques should be adjusted during the growing season to compensate for precipitation and lengthy hot and dry periods. The amount of water and the duration of each watering period should be adjusted according to soil types and grass types. A high cutting height will also help to retain moisture.

Measure the Water with a Cup

Every home has different water pressure, pipe size, and sprinkler types, so you need to measure your system in order to determine the amount of time required to apply the necessary water. Place a flat bottomed, straight sided cup, like a coffee cup, under the water sprinkler and measure the time it takes to collect 1 inch ( 2.5 cm) of water in the bottom of the cup. You can use this time to determine how long your sprinkler needs to run to apply the necessary amount of water. You can also ask your local Nutri-Lawn for a free watering measuring cup.

Apply 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water, once per week in early morning (vs. mid-day or evening).

Avoid watering in the afternoon because a large percentage of the water is lost to evaporation. Avoid evening watering because the lawn will remain wet for 12 to 15 hours, until the following morning sun dries off the lawn. This prolonged wet period can increase fungal disease incidence.

With sandy soils apply 3/4 inch (2 cm) once every 5 days.

Sandy soils cannot retain as much water as clay loam soils, and require more frequent watering of smaller volumes.

Increase watering frequency during hot periods.

To maintain a lush lawn during the hot periods of the summer more frequent applications are required. Generally one application of water every 4 to 5 days is adequate. Sandy soils may require an application of water every 3 to 4 days.

Watering on Slopes

If you have lawn area on a slope, it is important to use a low volume water sprinkler or order to allow the water time to be absorbed by the lawn. If the water is applied too quickly much of the water will not be absorbed by the lawn and will run off down the slope. Soil aeration greatly enhances water pentration on slopes and is recommended as an annual service in these areas.

Watering Near Trees

Trees take up an enormous amount of water every day, pulling the soil moisture away from the surface via an extensive network of fiberous roots. Because of this, the surround grass is often the first to show signs of drought stress. It's important to remember that when watering grass around large trees that you need to increase the frequency of watering in order to prevent the grass from turning brown.

What is thatch? And what can I do about it?


Description

Thatch can be described as a tight and fibrous layer of living and dead matter, primarily roots of the grass, which develops between the plant and the soil. Many people think that grass clippings contribute to thatch, however grass clippings consist primarily of water and dry up and disintegrate. Thatch consists of woody plant material like roots, rhizomes and stolons that are slow to breakdown.

What Causes Thatch?

Heavy fertilization can cause rapid thatch development. Nutri-Lawn's programs are designed to create healthy lawns and do to use excessive fertilizing. Excessive fertilizing can create a lush green lawn in a short period of time, but it leads to a variety of problems in the long term, including excessive thatch.
Acidic soils, waterlogged soils or fungicide applications inhibit soil micoorganism activity. It is the microbes that biodegrade or breakdown the thatch layer, and if they are inhibited the thatch layer will accumulate.
Excessive watering will encourage thatch development as well as shallow roots. Excessive watering saturates the soil and roots will not grow into a water saturated soil. The roots will grow on the surface of the soil and in the thatch layer, rather than deep into the soil. This creates a lawn that is susceptible to drought and root feeding insect damage.
Some grass species are prone to excessive thatch development. Kentucky Bluegrass, Fine Fescues and Bentgrass tend to thatch up quickly. Perennial Ryegrass is not prone to thatch development because it is a bunch type grass that does not spread by rhizomes or stolons.

Advantages

A thin layer of thatch of about 1.5 cm is beneficial because it acts like a mulch, buffering temperature extremes at the soil surface and helping to retain soil moisture. A thin thatch layer is also beneficial because it will inhibit weed seed germination and establishment.

Disadvantages

When the thatch layer grows thicker than 1.5 cm it becomes detrimental to the health of the lawn. Excessive thatch inhibits the movement of water, nutrients and air into the soil, resulting in shallow roots and a lawn highly susceptible to drought and root feeding insect damage. Excessive thatch also makes it difficult to control root feeding insects. The thatch layer impedes the movement of pest controls into the soi, reducing the efficacy of the treatment. A thick thatch layer is the perfect environment for some insects. Chinch Bugs will flourish in a thick thatch layer and can cause extensive damage. Disease organisms reside in the thatch layer and when environmental conditions are conducive for the disease, an outbreak can occur.

What Can Be Done to Control Excessive Thatch

Annual soil core aeration is strongly recommended as the best method to manage thatch development in a lawn. Soil core aeration pulls plugs of soil and thatch out of the lawn, breaking up the thatch layer and allowing the roots to grow into the soil rather than on the surface. Organics Plus Topdressing applications help to mange thatch layer development by inoculating the thatch with billions of micro-organisms that will biodegrade and breakdown the thatch. Power Raking slices and cuts the thatch layer, enhancing the penetration of water, air and nutrients into the soil which leads to an increase in microbial activity and biodegradation of the thatch. Compost Teas or other microbial application innoculate the thatch with billions of microbes that biodegrade the thatch. Aerated compost teas that have been professionally brewed can have over a billion microorganisms per ml.

How do I fertilize my lawn?


Choosing the best fertilizer

Always use granular fertilizer with a significant proportion of its nitrogen in slow-acting form (WIN, or water insoluble) to deliver basic nutrition to turfgrass. It provides steady, constant sustenance over an extended period, minimizing the time you spend fertilizing. Organic fertilizers whose nutrients are derived from plant and animal sources are always slow-acting. Liquid fertilizers, either granular or powders to be mixed in water, are almost always quick-acting. Because their nitrogen dissolves in water, it is absorbed so rapidly by grass plants that repeat fertilization is necessary many times over the season. The strong doses of nitrogen it delivers each time may stress grass and acidify the soil somewhat, irritating soil organisms. Store left over granular fertilizer in an airtight bag or container. If you have only a few pounds left, use it on other parts of your property. Slow-acting lawn fertilizer is suitable for planting beds and under shrubs, hedges, and trees. Sprinkle it lightly to get good coverage around the yard. The rain will soak it into the soil.

Choosing the best spreader

Spreading granular fertilizer by casting handfuls over the turf is appropriate and easy for small lawns (under 1000 square feet). However, it is very difficult to get a uniform application this way. Use either a drop or rotary (spinner or cyclone) spreader for large lawns. The drop spreader is cheaper, but the rotary spreader is more effective in getting uniform coverage. With the rotary action the throw pattern of the fertilizer "feathers" out along the edges so that the margins of each pass blend together uniformly. They are available in hand held (good for under 5000 square feet) models or on wheels. Never store leftover granular fertilizer in your spreader. Fertilizer absorbs moisture from the air and cakes up. Then it promotes deterioration from chemical reactions with the metal of the spreader. If your spreader is caked with fertilizer, clean it out thoroughly. Use water if necessary, but do not put any more fertilizer into the spreader until the interior is absolutely dry. Use some penetrating oil on the moving levers and parts periodically to keep them operating smoothly.

Fertilizing Techniques

When spreading granular lawn fertilizer there are two problems -- using too much fertilizer and missing spots that become embarrassingly obvious later when the rest of the lawn turns green. Mow the lawn first, so you can see the distribution pattern easier. All spreaders have numbered devices to control the flow of the granules from the spreader as you push it. They are sometimes difficult to use. When in doubt, adjust the setting by sight. Correctly dispersed, the density of fertilizer granules should resemble the decorative sugar sprinkles on a cookie. There is more bare space than granules. Test the dispersal rate of your spreader on bare soil or on a paved surface. When in doubt, spread less rather than more fertilizer. Drop Spreader on the left and Rotary Spreader on the right To avoid making obvious "fertilizer stripes" in the lawn with a drop spreader divide the fertilizer supply in half and set the spreader to apply at one half the recommended rate. Then cover the lawn twice, pacing the pattern of the second application perpendicular to the first one. While it is not necessary with a rotary spreader, the technique of spreading half, then the other half of the fertilizer in different directions is still a good idea. It takes more time, but the coverage is much more uniform.

Watering in fertilizer

It is not essential to water in slow-acting fertilizer, but it does not hurt. It insures that the fertilizer begins working right away. Otherwise, the next rain will soak it in. However, quick-acting granular fertilizer must be watered in immediately after spreading to prevent it from burning the grass plants. Watering also triggers the release of the nitrogen right away, since that type of fertilizer is water soluable.

Sources: Nutri-Lawn: Ecology Friendly Lawn Care( www.nutrilawn.com ), Yardener ( www.yardener.com )

Watering your New Sod


Water is essential to all life... too little water and we die, too much and we drown. The same is true of the grass in our lawns. Water makes up 70% to 80% of the weight of our lawn grasses and the clippings alone are nearly 90% water. While most people are concerned about not watering their lawns enough, the fact is that more lawns are damaged or destroyed by improper watering.

The first watering of newly installed turfgrass sod is the most important.  Begin watering immediately after installation of new turfgrass.  The first watering establishes how well the grass will perform for years to come.



WHEN TO WATER NEW TURFGRASS SOD

It is essential to begin water new turf within a half hour after it is laid on the soil.  Apply at least 1 inch of water so that the soil beneath the turf is very wet.  Ideally, the soil 3 to 4 inches below the surface will be moist.

Watering Tip #1 : Pull back a corner of the turf and push a screwdriver or other sharp tool into the soil. It should push in easily and have moisture along the first 3-4 inches, or you need to apply more water.

Watering Tip #2 : Make absolutely certain that water is getting to all areas of your new lawn, regardless of the type of sprinkler system you use.  Corners and edges are easily missed by many sprinklers and are particularly vulnerable to drying out faster than the center portion of your new lawn.  Also, areas near buildings dry out faster because of reflected heat.

Watering Tip #3 : Runoff may occur on some soils and sloped areas before the soil is adequately moist.  To conserve water and insure adequate soak-in, turn off the water when runoff begins, wait 30 minutes to an hour and restart the watering on the same area, repeating as needed.
For the next two weeks (or until the turf is well rooted), keep the below-turf soil surface moist with daily (or more frequent) waterings of approximately 1/4 inch each.  Especially hot, dry, or windy periods will necessitate increased watering amounts and frequency.

Watering Tip #4 : As the turf starts to knit its new roots into the soil, it will be difficult, impossible, and/or harmful to pull back a corner to check beneath the turf, but you can still use a sharp tool to check moisture by pushing it through the turf and into the soil.

Watering Tip #5 : Water as early in the morning as possible to take advantage of the daily start of the grass's normal growing cycle, usually lower wind speeds, and less loss of water by evaporation.

Watering Tip #6 : If the temperature approaches 100 degrees F, or if high winds are constant for more than half of the day, reduce the temperature of the turf surface by lightly sprinkling the area.  This does not replace the need for longer, deeper watering.
During the remainder of the growing season, most lawns will do very well with a maximum of 1 inch of water a week, coming either from rain or applied water.  Soil conditions may dictate that the amount be applied in two settings, two to three days apart.  This amount of water, properly applied, is all that is required for the health of the grass, providing it is applied evenly and saturates the underlying soil to a depth of 4 to 6 in.

Watering Tip #7 : Infrequent and deep watering is preferred to frequent and shallow watering because the roots will only grow as deeply as their most frequently available water supply.  Deeply rooted grass has a larger "soil-water bank" to draw moisture from and this will help the grass survive drought and hot weather that rapidly dries the upper soil layer.


HOW TO WATER YOUR TURF

Proper watering techniques are a critical aspect of lawn watering, equal in importance to the issues of when to water and how much to water.  Here are several key factors to proper technique:

Avoid hand sprinkling because it cannot provide the necessary uniformity.  Most people do not have the patience, time, or "eye" to adequately measure what is being applied across any large areas of lawn.  The only possible exception to this guideline would be the need to sprinkle the surface of the grass to cool it, or to provide additional water near buildings or other heat-reflecting surfaces.  Note:  Hand watering can be used during initial installation of sod until a large enough area is installed to set up a sprinkler.

Understand the differences between sprinkler designs because each type has its advantages and disadvantages.  Its proper use will be determined by the type of sprinkler you select.

In-Ground systems require professional design and installation and they require routine adjustments and regular maintenance to be the most efficient and effective.  The greatest mistake made with most in-ground systems is the "set it and forget it" philosophy, because it fails to account for changes in seasonal water requirements.  Another frequent problem is when heads get out of alignment and apply water to the sidewalk, street, or house rather than to the lawn.

Hose-End Sprinklers range in complexity, cost, and durability, but are highly portable and can provide uniform and consistent coverage, when properly placed on the yard. Sprinklers that do not throw water high into the air are generally more efficient, as are larger drop generators, because they will not be affected as much by wind and evaporation.  Plus, trees and shrubs will not block the pattern.

To check watering uniformity , arrange cans at varying distances from your sprinkler, but within the effective watering range of that sprinkler.  Run the sprinkler for a specific amount of time (say, a half-hour).  Measure the amount of water in each can, checking for uniformity.  Some variation is expected, but a difference of 25-30% or more between any two cans should be addressed by replacing or adjusting the sprinkler system.


HOW MUCH WATER IS NEEDED AND APPLIED

The amount of water your lawn requires and receives will determine its overall health, beauty, and ability to withstand use and drought.  Keep in mind that too much water can ruin a lawn just as fast as too little water.

One inch a week is a watering "rule of thumb" suggested for most lawns; however, this will vary between different turf species and even among cultivars within a specie.  It can also vary with season and soil type

Look at your lawn to determine its water needs.  Grass in need of water will have a grey-blue cast, rather than a green color.  The grass blades will shrivel up and appear needle-like.  Also, a lawn in need of water shows footprints for over 1/2 hour, while footprints disappear within a few minutes on a well-watered lawn.

Water timers can help provide consistency and even be programmed to turn on and off when no one is around.  Some timers measure just the amount of time that water is flowing through the device, while others measure the actual amount of water flowing through it.  Be sure to read the directions with your timer to determine how it operates.


Mowing Your New Sod

About two weeks after installation, your new lawn may need mowing. It is important to let your lawn dry out for a day or two so it firms up before going over it with a heavy machine. Make sure that the mowing height is set at about 3 inches. Letting your lawn grow a little longer is good for the grass because it encourages a strong root system. Never mow shorter than 2 inches and never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at any one mowing. Using a mulching mower is a great idea. It returns the clippings to the lawn so they can decompose and provide added nutrients.

Sod Installation Methods

Our Original Rolls : You can choose to do your sod installation yourself and purchase sod in our original rolls. Our premium quality bluegrass rolls are 24" x 60" and contain ten square feet of sod. Thickness of sod runs 1/2" and each roll weighs about 45 lbs. Give us a call for delivery areas or pickup locations.

Our Big Rolls : Central Sod has big rolls and is one of the areas first to use this technology. Available through landscapers, each roll weighs about 1000 pounds and requires a special big roll installer. This process of installing sod greatly reduces the number of seams and allows your landscaper to install Central Sod very quickly and efficiently. Specifications: 30 inches wide X 90 ft. long = 225 sq. feet.

For more information go to ( www.healthylawns.net )