How to Keep a Velvet Lawn: Maintenance

If you don’t already know, find out what kind of turf you have and have your soil tested. Follow these simple guidelines and your lawn will stay beautiful and healthy.

Mowing

  • Don’t mow your grass on a set schedule. Mow when your grass is one-third taller than the recommended height. The recommended height varies according to the type of turf you have.
  • Don’t cut your grass lower than the recommended height. Scalping can kill it.
  • Wait until the morning dew has dried. Avoid watering the day before you mow. Let the soil dry slightly after a rain. Avoid problems and ruts in your lawn by mowing when its dry.
  • Keep your mower blades sharp, so you are cutting, not tearing the grass.
  • Keep safety in mind at all times.

Applying Fertilizer

  • Read the label. Apply evenly and at the proper rate.
  • Liquid fertilizer goes on quickly, starts to work immediately, is generally more expensive, and doesn’t last as long as dry fertilizer.
  • Dry fertilizers are either organic (made from the remains of plants and animals) or inorganic, manufactured from minerals.
  • When using a dry fertilizer rent, buy or borrow a drop or broadcast spreader. Apply at only one half the recommended rate. Then reapply at right angles so you have good coverage.
  • Dry fertilizer should be watered in after each application.
  • Fertilize depending on the requirements of your type of grass: bluegrass three times annually; fescues twice annually etc. If you only fertilize once, do it in the fall.

Weed Control

  • As with many things in life, prevention is the best approach. A good lawn maintenance program will help prevent both weeds and pests.
  • The easiest weeds to recognize are broadleaf, like the dandelion. Others are mostly grasses like quack grass and crabgrass. Use a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent weeds, and use it only as directed on the label.
  • Once weeds appear, you will need a post-emergent herbicide or the will to dig weeds out. Some can be pulled. Some like dandelions and crabgrass should be dug.
  • Dealing with weeds before they set seed is the only way to get control. It’s war, after all. Know your enemy. The spring pods of Oxalis toss seeds nearly six feet, and each piece of quack grass will regenerate a new plant.

Pest Control

  • Most harmful insects will be controlled and prevented with good lawn maintenance.
  • Take the least drastic measure first, when it comes to pest control. Remember many helpful insects also live in your lawn.
  • Diagnose your problem carefully. Does the pest live above the soil surface, at the soil surface or under the soil surface? If you can nail down the culprit exactly, you are well ahead in finding the appropriate treatment.
  • If you can’t diagnose the problem, get professional advice.
  • If you use an insecticide, read the entire label and follow directions precisely.

Disease

  • You won’t have lawn disease if you care for your lawn properly.
  • Many problems attributed to insects, are actually caused by improper watering, mowing, soil compaction, and herbicide damage.
  • Get good advice from a professional and follow the recommended treatment exactly.

Fall Lawn Care

  • Although you weed, feed, water and mow throughout the season, fall lawn care is the most important.
  • Apply fertilizer so your grass can form deep roots and store food for the next season’s growth.
  • If your soil is acidic, liming now will produce good growth next season.
  • Rake those leaves as they fall. Wet matted leaves smother your grass.
  • If you plan to overseed do it now. Most cool season grasses can be used.
  • Early fall is the best time to plant and germinate cool season grasses. (Start warm season grasses in spring.)
  • Add water before winter. Be sure your lawn is well watered to keep roots from drying out while it is dormant.