Jeff’s Perfect Lawn Care Secrets – Week 15 of 2010
This is a good time to fertilize with a slow-release type of lawn fertilizer if you do not plan to do major renovations or over-seeding. If such projects are planned, hold off fertilizer till mid-June. Options include Ringer’s Restore, Espoma Organic Lawn Fertilizer, or Milorganite. For complete fertilizing tips go to www.yardener.com – Fertilize Lawns
Optional – Late April and all of May are the times to over-seed the lawn or to take care of any repairs that are needed. If you can, use a grass seed mixture that is predominantly perennial ryegrass. In the fall you can use a mixture that is predominantly tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass. Perennial ryegrass withstands the heat of summer in seedling stage better than the other two common species. Overseeding advice is at www.yardener.com – Overseed Lawns.
Optional – If areas of your lawn are uneven from frost heaving or rodents tunneling, add a thin layer of topsoil to bring the low spots up level with the high spots. Rolling the lawn, trying to flatten the high spots, just compacts our already compacted soils. Adding topsoil, raking it smooth, and over-seeding will level the yard surface.
Set the mower height to 2 to 2½ or even 3 inches in anticipation of a new mowing season. Having the blade sharpened is a very good idea. If the blade is over three years old, buy a new one. Mowing advice at Mowing the Lawn.
New Herbicide On The Scene
The first step in overseeding is killing all the broad-leaved weeds in your lawn about two weeks prior to laying out the seed. PBI Gordon (www.pbigordon.com) has introduced a new herbicide called SpeedZoneÒ Lawn Weed Killer which you may wish to consider. Like many competing products, SpeedZone kills just broad-leaved weeds and does no harm to the turf grass. What makes this new product attractive is that it works about twice as fast as the other lawn weed herbicides. It will work in cooler temperatures down to 40 degrees, which means you can use it now. In addition, it uses less active ingredient per thousand square feet which means it introduces less toxicity into the environment. A 20 ounce bottle of concentrate will cover 16,000 to 18,000 square feet while the same amount of most competitors will cover 5000 to 8000 square feet.
SpeedZone is labeled to handle virtually all the weeds found in a lawn including the tough-to-kill creeping Charlie (ground ivy) and clover. It will not kill any grassy weeds such as creeping bentgrass.
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Posted in Landscape care, tagged Fertilizer on November 11, 2009|
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Fall is the best time to fertilize shrubs and small trees that have been in the ground for at least a year. A few handfuls of slow-release nitrogen fertilizer under the dripline in the next few weeks will be greatly appreciated by those plants.
An application of herbicide in the spring is not always totally effective because various weeds have different times when they break dormancy. Herbicides, sold for use on lawns, only work if the target weed is actively growing, rather than sitting dormant. While the spring application of herbicide will deal with many of the common pests such as dandelions, it is not so effective on the late starters such as creeping Charlie, oxalis and others because they don’t really begin growing until long after the spring herbicide has been applied. On the other hand, the whole blooming family of broad-leaf weeds is growing very well right now in October, so now is the best time to strike.
Most broadleaf herbicide products have a mixture of two or three of these chemicals: 2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP and triclopyr. You can get good results with any combination of these herbicides over the next two or three weeks.
Using Rotary Spreader
Fertilizer applied to the lawn in late fall is used by the grass plants to build more roots and to store food for next spring. It does not cause the foliage to grow any more this season. A side benefit is that the lawn is likely to stay green longer into the winter months.
The timing of the late fall fertilization is very important. You want to apply the product just as the lawn no longer is growing enough to need any more mowing and is still green. That will be about a month or more before the ground really freezes. In Metro Detroit, the time for late fall fertilizing is the first two weeks in November.
You are looking for a product that is high in nitrogen (N), low in phosphorus (P) and high in potassium (K); the three NPK numbers will be something like 15-4-12. Some of the fertilizer companies have products with the word “winterizer” somewhere on the label. These are appropriate if they have slow-release nitrogen and are used according to the label in terms of how much you spread. Avoid the “weed and feed” products. They are convenient but not very effective in killing weeds.
My organic fertilizer of choice is either Espoma Organic Lawn or Milorganite. They are both granular and easy to spread. They can be found at English Gardens, Bordine and many other garden centers.
Jeff Ball, a Metro Detroit free-lance writer, has authored eight books on gardening and lawn care. You can visit his yard care Web site at http://www.yardener.com . E-mail him at email@example.com.
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The leaves are falling, the cider is flowing, and we are still wondering what happened tosummer. Since the kids have to take exams to measure how they are doing in math, I’ve put together a final exam for yardeners who take care of a lawn. It might be a good way to see how you did this year, and what you might change for next year.
Mowing grass (1 point): Did you mow your grass no shorter than 2 inches? Are you leaving the lawn at 2 inches over the winter? Short grass stresses the lawn badly.
Leave the clippings (1): Did you leave the clippings on the lawn as it was mowed? That equals one application of fertilizer.
Depth of roots (1): Take a trowel and dig out a 6-inch plug of your turf. If the roots are more than 4 inches deep, add a point. If your roots are at 2 to 3 inches, your grass is growing in stress 24/7. Mulching the lawn is the only way to fix this problem
Fertilizer (1): If you fertilized your lawn, did you use a slow-elease granulated nitrogen fertilizer whether it was organic or synthetic? You can fertilize into November.
Watering (1): Did you wait to water your lawn until you had determined that it, in fact, needed watering? And if you did water, did you water deeply and infrequently rather than a little bit every day? With the wet, cool season, you probably should not have had to water more than five or six times all year.
Over-seeding (1): Have you over-seeded your lawn in the past three years? If you have never over-seeded, think about doing it next spring and again next fall, then go on a three- to five-year over-seeding cycle. Turf will thin out with age.
Mulching the lawn (1): Have you left a half-inch layer of finely chopped leaves on your lawn this fall? An eighth-inch of Canadian sphagnum peat moss does the same job. If you don’t feed the soil food web, you are growing grass in dead soil.
Drain gas (1): Have you drained the gas tank on your mower or ran it until it was out of gas? If you have gas stored in a 2- to 5-gallon container, have you added gas saver so the gas is fresh next spring?
Sharp blade (1): Have you had the lawn mower blade sharpened in the past two years? Think about buying a new blade every few years.
Lawn roller (1): Have you stopped using a lawn roller on your lawn forever? It is the most destructive tool for lawn soil invented by man.
I’m not going to tell you my score, but it is not a 10. Scanning these 10 issues can help you plan your strategy for next year.
Jeff Ball is a garden writer living in the Detroit region. His website is http://www.yardener.com and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about fertilizer and recommended Espoma Organic Lawn Fertilizer or Milorganite. I forgot to mention Ringer’s Restore as a good, slow-release lawn fertilizer. For years I have been high on Turf Nurture, so why not now, many of you have asked?
The Turf Nurture brand and formula was sold to a company in Pennsylvania, and that company does not intend to distribute Turf Nurture in Michigan.
This is a good time to reiterate the lawn fertilizing scheme a good friend has developed using Milorganite. He calls it his holiday system. He applies Milorganite to his lawn four times a year — on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Halloween/Thanksgiving. He has been doing this for more than 10 years and has an absolutely beautiful lawn.
Thanksgiving may seem to be too late to fertilize a lawn. The folks at Milorganite suggest making that fourth application just before the soil freezes, which around here is usually after Thanksgiving. They call this “dormant feeding.” Because it’s so late in the season, there is still fertilizer available to give the lawn an early greenup in the spring
Check out Fiskars’ new reel mower
As a student of the art of mowing grass, I have always known that the reel-type mower is better for the health of grass than any rotary mower. The rotary mower bludgeons the grass while the reel mower cuts it cleanly.
Reel Lawn Mower by Fiskars
As a kid I spent a lot of time pushing a reel mower when I could have been having fun. During the past 20 years, I’ve tested a number of new models from various companies, but the basic weakness of the reel mower had not been solved. It is hard to push if the grass has gotten a little taller than you would like. It can’t cut grass at 2 inches or higher, and it always needs sharpening.
Next spring, you will be able to take advantage of the benefits of the cutting action of a reel mower with none of the disadvantages. Manufactured by Fiskars and called the Momentum, this machine doesn’t look like any reel mower you’ve seen before.
A large diameter cutting reel and heavy blades store energy much like a flywheel, so the Momentum delivers twice the power to cut through small twigs, weeds or dense grass that clog other reel mowers. The mower also requires 30 percent less push force than standard reel mowers when cutting long grass.
The Momentum can cut grass up to 4 inches high, it cuts the edge of the lawn three times closer than any other reel machine, and the blades never need to be sharpened. This jewel will be sold by Lowe’s next spring for $199.
Jeff Ball is a freelance garden writer living in the Detroit region. His Web site is http://www.yardener.com and his e-mail is email@example.com.
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