Grass, full frame

Ryan McVay

Yearn for a lush lawn? Area landscape experts share tips of the trade on how to attain, as well as maintain, green grass.


■ Perform core-aeration before April 15. This is especially important in our area because our soil is overly compact due to the high clay content, which inhibits water seepage.

■ Every other year in early spring, de-thatch (also known as power raking) to remove the build-up of dead grass and other debris, allowing air to reach the lawn’s root structure and create a better footing to encourage growth.

■ Mowing frequency and cut height are key factors. Mow every week with a cut height of 3 to 3.5 inches during spring and summer. Cutting any shorter during warm months shocks the root system, dries out the root and results in brown grass.

■ If you plan on seeding, don’t apply a pre-emergent herbicide—it’s counterproductive. Use a starter fertilizer rather than a broadbased



■ In early spring, clean leaves off the lawn before mowing. Mulched leaf matter cannot break down fast enough to provide immediate benefits to the lawn. Built-up particles can smother the grass, causing the turf to

thin out and encourage weed growth.

■ Maximize the benefits of watering by moving sprinklers frequently; most soils in the area absorb less than ½ inch per hour. Permanent irrigation systems with timing controls for interval watering are most


■ Pay special attention to steep slopes, hard spots and hot areas—these may require mechanical aeration, extra-slow watering and

wetting agents to ensure water saturation.


■ Fertilize your lawn with an organic fertilizer such as Espoma Phosphate free lawn food.

■ Apply an over seeding of a seed blend appropriate for your lawn’s sun exposure. I recommend George’s Magic Mix, which is locally blended for our area.

■ Apply a systemic disease control such as Bonide Infuse to deter fungus growth—the potential for fungus growth increases in the wet months of spring, especially in shady areas.

■ Apply a liquid broadleaf weed killer such as Bonide Weed Beater as needed when dandelions start to appear.

More Special Features articles.