LAWN CARE AND TOOLS
There are many tools both hand and power that are essential for lawn care maintenance. A lawnmower is the basic tool in your arsenal.It certainly odd to presume that a living thing's first requirement is to be cut in order to maintain a healthy existence. A good lawnmower is a necessary evil and will be more than likely the most expensive tool in your inventory.If you service your lawn mower properly it will no doubt last you many lawn care seasons.
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LAWN CARE INCLUDES A MAINTAINED BATTERY
If you own a riding mower or any mower equipped with an electric start,then the next important step is battery care. It is a good practice to remove the battery at the end of the season. If the mower is stored in an unheated area, you run the risk of the mower not starting in the spring. The storage of the battery means keeping it off the ground or cement in a warm dry place preferably on a shelf. A battery stored on the ground or cement will definitely drain the battery. A little lawn care to a battery keeps your mower running.
The blade must be sharp and the spark plug clean. You can purchase a spark plug remover from your local hardware store and this can be used with your socket set to remove the plug. A very gentle cleaning with a fine piece of sandpaper will generally remove the carbon accumulation from the plug but sometimes the plug will not respond and you have to install a new one. It is also a good idea to replace the air filter and drain and change the oil. If all of this is too much for you find a reliable dealer or local repair person and have your mower serviced. This lawn care is best to do in the spring.
See lawn care tools for how to select a riding tractor
LAWN CARE AND A TRIMMER
A mower however is not the only lawn care tool necessary to keep your lawn looking good. A trimmer or edger is needed for a really neat job. One such type is the no frills early two bladed model with a long handle. The idea here is to run it along the edge of your patio,bricks,and steps giving the lawn that neat and trim look. The modern method however has brought the now familar weed wacker to our rescue.This powerful tool with its whirling head and plastic string makes lawn trimming a whole lot easier. The important thing to watch out for here is careful trimming especially around flower beds. This device eats everything in its path including those beautiful flowers. Gentleman take a clue from me do not trespass into the flower beds or you may suffer the wrath of a female companion. By the way I am sure you know this but the plastic coil needs to be replaced every few months depending on its usage.
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A speader is defintely a useful lawn care tool in the quest for a beautiful green lawn.It dispenses your fertilizer,weed killer, mole deterent,and other lawn stimulating products.There is a hand held device that has a rotary handle. It broadcast your products across the lawn. This was one of my first fertilizer tools but I found it terribly hard to control especially around obstacles such as flower beds,walkways,and open ground patios. Unless your a better judge of distance than I,its not recommended for large sections of lawn. They can be useful for very small applications of seed patching including small areas where fertilizing is necessary after the patching.I prefer the push type of spreader with good old wheels and a handle to hold on to while fertilizing. This kind of spreader can adjust the amount of flow of your material on to the lawn just check on your bag of product to determine the rate of depensing the material on to the lawn. This type of spreader is called a drop spreader and the best method of applying your material is to use a crisscross pattern for the best coverage by alternating horizontally and vertically. This method requires you to use only half of the bag recommended spread rate for fear of spreading too much material on your lawn.
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RUST IS NOT YOUR FRIEND
Lawn tools,rakes,shovels,spades and the like are prone to rust in some areas. The makeup of the lawn care tools usually contain iron which easily combines with oxygen in air or water and produces that redddish look which is iron oxide. This is rust but other materials such as aluminum oxide or zinc oxide should not be a concern with tools.Lawn care includes keeping your lawn equipment clean and dry. This should be your very first primary objective. Moisture only assists in the speeding up of rust. A little lawn care advice here is to suspend these tools off the ground but they can still be subject to the moisture in the air. A better lawn care tip is oiling with a product like 3-in-one oil or a coating of paste wax and of course re-apply after use. If you also use any of these tools in your garden you might want to check to see if the use of these products and the left over residue would damage your garden plants. I have not found that to be true with my plants but it would not hurt to check about the varieties that you may have in your garden.
ACT QUICKLY AT ANY SIGN OF EARLY RUST
If you take action soon enough and prevent the rust from pitting it will stop the pentration of the rust deeper into your lawn care tools. The deeper it goes the harder it is to remove. It would be a good idea to check your tools prior to using them and in the winter I check mine at least once a month. Tools are expensive and it is worth the time and effort to check for rust on a scheduled basis. In most cases the discovery of a light patch of rust can be put in check by use of a little mineral oil and scrubbing with a piece of steel wool. In severe cases you may have to resort to over the counter rust removers. When you do use these products on your lawn care tools,make sure you do not leave the product in contact any longer than necessary.A product such as naval jelly if left to linger on metal surfaces will etch metal and excessive amounts of metal will be removed at an alarming rate rendering your tool worthless.
see lawn care tools on how to select your tools
AERATION AND DETHATCHING IN YOUR LAWN CARE
Aeration is a process of pentrating the soil and the thatch above with tiny holes to remove plugs of soil,thatch,and grass. This will assist in the ability of water,air,and fertilizer to come in better contact with your grass and roots. This in turn will allow your roots to grow deeper into the soil and provide you with an increase in the vigor of the lawn.It is important in lawn care because aerating will improve the compactness of the soil and decrease the instances of thatch being a major problem.
It is necessary to aerate especially when drainage becomes less than satisfactory and your grass refuses to become green after fertilizing and many areas look worn and tired. These are very important signs of the need to aerate. If you are one of those lawn care types that are into heavy maintainance with regular feedings of fertilizer than your lawn should be aerated once a year. Those of us who are more into flowers and shrubs with a lower level of lawn care maintainance should aerate every two years. Areation is best done in the south in the spring and in the north either spring or fall. A word of caution here should be noted if you have St.Augustine grass consult a pro about aerating.
Thatch becomes a problem when it becomes thick enough not to allow the water or nutrients to reach the soil surface. It acts like a water repellent making the soil less resistant to drought as the thatch keeps the roots to itself and the resultant moisture evaporates at a more rapid rate than moisture that would sink into the soil.In your lawn care chores you can test for the need of dethatching by using a knife and removing a plug of soil to determine the depth of the thatch. Dethatching does damage to the grass. The ideal time to dethatch the lawn is right before its greatest growth of the season. This will give your lawn ample time to recover.
AERATION IS THE BEST TREATMENT
Aeration is the best method for modern thatch. A specialized tool is required to remove plugs from the soil. If you think you need such a piece of lawn equipment in your arsenal then you can purchase one however I feel for the times that you need this tool it is better to rent it from your local tool rental store.I would choose the tool that removes a soil plug. There are aerators that just punch spikes that look like nails but do not remove plugs from the lawn. This machine has a tendency to pack the soil around the hole making it less efficient then the machine that removes the plug. If your lawn care ability tells you that you do not want any part of this than consult a professional.
The lawn equipment you are looking for resembles a vertical mower. It has numerous spinning knives that cut and pull through the thatch and push it to the surface of the lawn.You will need to determine the depth and spacing of the vertical blades for the kind of grass that is in your lawn.The blades need to sink into at least the top half of the thatch. The best plan of attack is to move in parallel rows and mow again in a cross direction. The mower pictured here is a commerical type much larger than you need for your lawn.
LAWN CARE MEANS FERTILIZE
It goes without speaking that the most important thing besides your garden tools is to provide your lawn with the proper care. A healthy lawn given the best nutrition will enable the lawn to with stand heat,cold,drought,mowing and other stresses as a result of a better root system.A good control release fertilizer found at your local garden shop will provide the necessary ingredients to enable your lawn to grow evenly and without a lot of heavy spurts of growth. It will also slow down the amount of grass clippings.
I understand that in lawn care it is necessary to feed your lawn so many times a year. However I find it mighty expensive to perform this operation 4-5 times a year by those who sell the fertilizer product. I often feel as though it is a scheme to entice you into the purchase of more product than you actually need. This you understand is my opinion and my opinion alone not to be forced upon anybody else.There are however the extremes as pointed out by neighbor who does not fertilize at all. The fact is unless your a lawn care nut his lawn does not look bad at all if you can take a few weeds.
My feeding regiment is once in the late spring say May to June. It is a good time because the grass is in high gear and using up nutrients so this will give your lawn the food it requires for good growth.It is also the time of year that those nasty broadleaf weeds appear on the scene. Lawn care rule here is to buy a fertilizer combined with a broadleaf weed control. The next feeding that I do is in the early fall September to October. We here in the Northeast have a lot of cool nights couple with some rainfall and this provides the ideal conditions for your lawn to recover from the summer damage. A most important feeding of the year if you jump over the recommended summer feeding.
The early spring feeding in February through March is a joke here because you can not find the ground for snow. The same would be true of a late fall feeding in November to December. This works out fine for me and the grass looks good and it really cuts down on the mowing since 4-5 times a year encourages a great deal of mowing. ALways remember to consult the directions on the back of the bag before using the fertilizer a good lawn care rule.
MOSS ATTACK IN YOUR LAWN
Have you ever tried to ignore a growing problem? I had wrestled with moss before and it was not a pleasant experience. However this time,three years later,it had expanded to epic size. It is quite obvious when moss is present in your lawn that conditions are not good for healthy growth of grass. The conditions that produce the moss epidemic includes: extreme shade,acidic soil,poor drainage,too much water,compacted soil or a combination of the above.
The chemical control is probably the best move in this case and the one I used to control the problem. However there are several,what I like to refer to as cultural controls,such as planting a more shade tolerant grass,mowing the grass in the shady area at the proper mowing height thus encouraging deep roots. You could always plant a ground cover in lieu of grass. You could also remove shrubs and trees to provide more sun into the affected area.
You can also attempt to correct the poor drainage of the area if this is contributing to the problem. You can always trench to remove unwanted water,elevate the area if the area involved is small or install tile drains if the wet area is extensive. If your soil is compacted,than the process of core aeration or aerification can be performed to alleviate the compactness of the soil and provide better growing conditions for your grass.This process is explained on this web page.
Once you have attempted all of these methods,but you are already in the crisis stage,than more drastic methods are in order. You can remove the moss by use of ferrous sulfate monohydrate better known as Scotts Moss COntrol or Ortho Moss-B-Gon. This will result in the moss turning black in color and,by the directions,totally disappearing from sight. Well this is more than likely not to happen with some of the moss. It is recommended to use a spreader,however if you do not touch every moss blade,there will be some standing proud and tall ready to continue their invasion. It's best to apply by hand using a bucket and a small garden shovel ,with a pair of gloves,and really attempt to cover 100% of the moss growing.It is important that you wet down the spots containing the moss so the moss control will stick to the moss. DON'T APPLY WHEN THERE IS WIND because breathing in this stuff may not be healthy and the wind will put your killer where it is not needed.
You may need to rake the area after the moss turns black and has had a few days to disappear. It does not always disappear but some blacken moss is still standing. This is particularly true if the moss was thick to start with in the lawn. Now the most important factor in all of this is changing the pH of the soil. This will prevent the soil from becoming over acidic since our friend the moss enjoys this type of soil. Most lawn grasses perfer a pH of 5.8 to 6.5 and by using agricultural or dolomitic lime will encourage the growth of the grass. It will do no good to apply this before removing the moss,because it will not kill the moss and will take considerable time for the encouragement of grass to grow through the moss.The pH level can be checked by your local Cooperative Extension or buy a kit at your local nursey along with your lime. October is not too late for moss control!
LAWN CARE INCLUDES PROPER MOWING
Now that we have discussed the right tools for the job,aeration and dethatching and fertilizing your lawn we should discuss mowing your lawn. I know what your thinking thateverybody knows how to mow a lawn. I can bet you that someone will benefit from just a little discussion of this subject.
You just planted a new lawn, which will be a subject for later discussion on gardenersgardening, but for now lets look at this delicate grass growing around the house and conclude that it needs more careful mowing than any established lawn.The soil is still soft and the grass is not yet deeply rooted by your first mowing.The real important thought here is by mowing you encourage the grass to spread and get thicker so here are a few mowinglawn care tips.
Once the grass grows a third higher than regular mowing height and you establish that heightshould be maintained at lets say two inches than the the first time it should be cut is at athree inch height or mow off one inch of the new grass.The worst thing you can do is to allow the grass to get too high. It results in two things one being stress to the new grass blades and the grass wants to flop over making it real difficult to mow.
The worst thing you can do in lawn care for your new grass is the use of a mower with nicedull blades.This will surely result in yanking the grass right out of the soil and making youvery unhappy. Soft soil as we mentioned above can also be a hazard especially if you mow witha heavy mower it could mash the grass directly into the soil and result in unsightlytire tracks.It is best to use a light weight push mower for this initial cutting.You willhave to be patient and just wait to mow. Let the lawn continue its growth and gradually cut it to the desired height.
Once you have your new lawn under control a good lawn care rule is remember to mow in different directions using diagonal,horizontal,and vertical patterns to prevent your grassblades from developing the leaning effect. The use of sidewalks and driveways where appropriate is best for turning rather than making sharp turns in the lawn. You can also makeheader strips and turn the mower around at the end of each row when you approach the header strip.
Grass minimum and Maximum Heights are: Fine Fescue 1½" 2½" Kentucky Bluegrass 1½" 2½" Ryegrass 1½" 2½" Bahiagrass 2" 4" Tall Fescue 2" 3" Bermudagrass ½" 2" Buffalograss 2" 3" Carpetgrass 2" 3" Centipedegrass 1" 1½" St. Augustinegrass/Floratam 2" 4" Zoysiagrass ¾" 2"
In spring you may need to mow twice a week since in this season it is growing more rapidlythan in the summer when once a week should be enough. If you follow these lawn care tips you will have a happy lawn.
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