A lush, green lawn can be yours
Saturday, May 10, 2014 06:00 am
A thick, healthy lawn is a source of pride for many St. Albert homeowners – the carpet of green is a sure sign of care and is an attractive complement to a home’s flowers, trees and landscaping. But a healthy yard doesn’t come without cost and effort and, after the ravages of our Alberta winters, spring cleanup is practically a necessity for that hurting lawn.
With the snow finally (hopefully) gone, the matted, dead grass (thatch) needs to be removed so that sunlight and water can reach the new grass. A power-raking, or dethatching, is part of a typical spring yard cleanup, costing about $80 for the average-sized lawn, but less if part of a package that also includes aerating and mowing.
Edward Ramsden, owner of Enviromasters Lawn Care in St. Albert, said dethatching and aerating every year or two is a good idea to break up earth that has become hard and root-bound.
“People like dethatching, but you can do it too often. The idea is to pull away most of the top layer and loosen up the compacted soil so the water and nutrients can get in,” Ramsden said.
After the initial cleanup, a lawn can usually do with seeding and fertilizer, and soon enough, weed control. But with a healthy routine of over-seeding and regularly-timed fertilizer application, Ramsden said weeds can become less of an issue.
“Grass seeding is an excellent, natural way to strengthen the lawn. A long, lush lawn will choke out most weeds,” he said, noting that grass mixes with a large percentage of Kentucky bluegrass are popular but ornamental, sucking up a lot of water.
A trend is to use grass mixes with more native rye and fescue seed, which require less maintenance and less water.
Fertilizers too can cause confusion, with varying ratios of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Local gardening expert Rob Sproule said today’s fertilizers are typically made of slow-release granules that release nutrients over time, and don’t need to be watered in.
Ramsden said Enviromasters adds organic micro-nutrients to its pellet fertilizer, which stays on the turf roots for weeks, an advantage over spray fertilizers.
“Our most popular lawn care package in St. Albert offers three applications of fertilizer and three weed-control treatments per season,” he said.
Ramsden said most homeowners take the less costly synthetic liquid weed control his company offers, but chemical-free, organic options are also available.
“The goal is to wean the lawn off pesticides and get it healthy enough so the weeds can’t grow,” he said.
And what of mowing and watering? Hank Gulaga, owner of Capital Turf in St. Albert, said most homeowners cut the grass too short, exposing it to sunburn and water loss.
“Keep the grass about two-and-a-half inches tall – it shades the roots and keeps moisture in,” he said. “Put the lawnmower up a notch.”
And remember the best way to water your lawn – a deep watering of one inch, once a week in the early morning or evening will keep it green and lush.