Grass Maintenance

Henderson Turf’s printable Complete Guide for your new lawn

The initial watering of your new lawn is the most critical of all. It should begin as soon as possible. All areas should be moistened first, to prevent any drying or stress. A deep watering of 1 or more inches should immediately follow. The soil below the sod should be saturated at least 3 inches deep, after this you need to water daily, (or more often) at a lighter rate, keeping sod moist until it is firmly rooted (approximately 3 weeks). After this time, less frequent watering should begin. If the sod is allowed to dry out on the initial watering, it may become stressed. Stressed sod will turn brown temporarily. Continue to water these areas. After ten days, the grass will start to green backup and should fully recover within 21 days.

We recommend that you fertilize with a balanced fertilizer for the first few years. A balanced fertilizer is one with equal amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and pot ash (K), (15-15-15). We recommend three applications of fertilizer be put on during the year, one in the spring and two in the fall. The reason we recommend a balanced fertilizer is to build pot ash and phosphorus levels in your soil for root growth while insuring adequate “green” top growth with nitrogen. The rate of fertilizer that we recommend is about one fifty pound bag per 8,000-10,000 sq. ft. per application. The spring application should be in mid-May and should consist of some type of slow release nitrogen to carry on into the summer. Do not fertilize in the hot part of summer. The next fertilizer should be in mid-September, this will stimulate root growth and help develop a thicker lawn. The last fertilizing should be in mid-November, this is when your grass is storing nutrients for winter; by fertilizing at this time your lawn will be more winter hearty and will green up quicker in the spring without excessive top growth. We normally stock a balanced fertilizer and can deliver upon request.

Mow High:
Tall Fescue grasses for lawns should be mown at a height of 3” to 3.5” leaving the grass clippings on the lawn. Mowing at this height will give the lawn an even textured finish. For athletic fields, mow to a height of 2 to 3 inches.  Do not mow under 1-1/2 inches. This will keep the sod from drying out due to heat and loss of moisture. Mowing too low will also cause tall Fescue grass to thin out. Look for pest damage at the time of mowing. This is also an excellent time to inspect the lawn while mowing to notice changes in color, health and density.

Rotary or reel type mowers can be used to cut grass. No matter what type you use, be sure you can set it to the recommended cutting height. Set the mower on a flat surface when you are adjusting it in order to obtain the correct height. Many reel type mowers cannot be adjusted to cut at a 2-inch height. When the grass is cut too short, the beauty and vigor of the lawn will be reduced.

How Often to Mow:
“Cutting high” does not mean to let the grass get tall before you cut it. You should cut often enough that not more than one inch of blade is removed at one time. This means cutting the grass at least twice a week during periods of rapid growth. Never allow the grass to become so long that two inches of growth is removed. When grass is cut after being allowed to grow too tall, the lower part will be bleached and unsightly. Mow as early in the spring and as late in the fall as the grass grows tall enough to need cutting.

Mowing Shaded Areas:
Mow grass in heavy shade less frequently than the rest of the lawn. Mowing only a few times a season will permit grass to live on many areas where it would die if cut more frequently.

Should Clippings Be Removed?
Allowing the clippings to remain benefits thin stands of lawn grasses. The clippings conserve moisture, keep the soil cooler, and permit re-use of the fertilizing materials in the grass. However, clippings are of little benefit to a thick stand of grass and may hinder it by increasing disease problems, contributing to build-up of “thatch” and marring its appearance. Clippings are left on most lawns because of the time and effort required to remove them. Frequent mowing will reduce to a minimum any problem created by clippings since the short pieces of grass can disappear among the grass blades. If the lawn has gone unmowed until there is a windrow of hay behind the mower, these clippings should be removed.
It may be necessary or desirable to remove clippings after very heavy fertilization. A grass catcher does this with much less work and with less injury to the grass than raking. Power or pushed sweepers also do a good job of removing clippings.

Producing a dense healthy stand of turfgrass is the most satisfactory method of controlling many lawn weeds. However, to have a completely weed-free lawn you may have to use herbicides. Herbicides are chemicals which kill or reduce plant growth. They do not eliminate the need for good lawn management, but if properly used they can be another tool for obtaining a good lawn. Herbicides are sold commercially under various trade names in several package sizes. It is more important to consider the proper active ingredient in the herbicide than to consider the specific trade name.

Herbicides are manufactured in different forms or formulations. Granules are designed to be applied in the dry form. Wettable powders and liquids are designed to be mixed with water and applied as a spray. The label on the herbicide container gives directions for mix-ing and applying the various formulations.

Many types of commercial equipment are available for applying turf herbicides. It is important to get uniform distribution of the correct amounts of herbicide. One of the best sprayers for home use is the hand-operated, compressed air sprayer with a capacity of one to three gallons.

The simplest way to apply the desired amount of material as a spray is to add that amount to a relatively large quan-tity of water (1 gal. to 200 to 300 sq. ft.). Then go over the lawn repeatedly until all the solution is used. After the first coverage, it is best to go crosswise to the previous spray pattern each time.

Hand-operated push-type spreaders are satisfactory for applying granular herbicides. Follow the calibration directions furnished with the spreader or the directions on the herbicide label. The setting with one of the smallest openings is often required for applying granular herbicides. To be sure the setting is correct, apply a given amount of granules to a small area before treating the entire lawn.

Lawn herbicides are useful and relatively safe but must be handled with respect, Keep them away from children and out of eyes and food. Avoid drift (2 while spraying. ALWAYS READ DIRECTIONS AND PRECAUTIONS ON THE LABEL AND FOLLOW THEM CAREFULLY.