The Green Green Grass of Home
The early spring weather we have been experiencing has many homeowners outdoors working on their lawns. A healthy, green, attractive-looking lawn doesn’t just happen, it takes some work, and the work starts now! As soon as the lawn is dry enough to walk on, it can be worked on. The first step is to rake out all the old dead grass, leaves, and any other debris that accumulated through the winter months. When that has been done the lawn can be aerated. This may not always be necessary, but in those high traffic areas where the soil becomes compact it is a good idea to aerate the area so that moisture, air, and nutrients can easily get to the grass’s roots. Aerating the lawn also helps in preventing moss and algae from forming in the lawn. Aerating is done by perforating tiny holes into the soil. Small areas can be done by using a pitchfork. When the soil is slightly moist, push the tines of the pitchfork into the ground as far as it will go and then slightly rock it to enlarge the holes. Continue to move forward every 10-15 cm until the area is done. For big jobs an aerator can be rented. When renting any lawn or garden machinery or tools, always make sure that it has been properly cleaned before using it, as you don’t want to spread any unwanted diseases in the lawn.
De-thatching the lawn in the spring is another step towards having a healthy lawn. Thatch is the buildup of old grass clipping, roots and other debris tat accumulate on the soil base. A small layer of 1-2 cm of thatch is beneficial as it keeps the soil moist and helps retain moisture, but too much thatch will prevent water, and nutrients from getting to the roots of the grass because it becomes a barrier. Thatch can be removed by using a lawnmower. Remove the regular blade off the mower for this job and replace it with a de-thatching blade. A de-thatching blade has springs on it and the springs loosen the thatch and bring it to the lawn’s surface. Once you have gone over the lawn with the de-thatching blade, you will need to rake up all the old thatch, which can be thrown into the compost.
This is a good time of year to do a soil test on the lawn and make any changes if you need to. Do a pH test and if the pH level is below 6.5 is should be raised by adding lime. Doloprill lime is a good lime to use because it is in a granular form, making it easy to apply and it is fast acting.
Not everyone minds have dandelions growing in the lawn, but if you don’t like dandelions, this is a good time to remove them. They are easy to spot as they are the first things to emerge and in some areas they are already blooming. They can be removed manually by using a dandelion puller which is inserted into the moist soil next to the dandelion root and then it is yanked out.
After the lawn has been raked, aerated, and de-thatched it is ready to be fertilized once the grass shows signs of growth. I suggest using a early spring fertilizer such as 13-5-7 or 13-16-10. These are both good as they are well rounded and will provide nutrients to the roots as well as give the lawn colour.
A strong, dense healthy lawn will make it harder for weeds to establish themselves in the lawn. After a few weeks you can fertilize the lawn with a lawn fertilizer that has a higher first number (nitrogen) such as 24-4-16 which will provide lots of green colour.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill road