Do you want that perfect weed-free, green lawn that is the envy of everyone on the block?  Everyone wants their lawn to be a rich even colour with nary a weed poking its nasty head through the surface.  If you maintain a healthy, well-fertilized and watered lawn, weeds will not be able to germinate in a thick, established lawn.  Any existing weeds will get choked out as the grasses thrive since weeds don’t like competition for light and water. 

Below, are some helpful tips to nurture your own “green carpet” lawn to its best year ever.

Apply fertilizer three to four times per year —  early spring (as soon as the snow melts); late spring (late May/early June); mid-summer (July), but not in high heat conditions;  early –  late fall (depending on spring and summer application times). 

Use the recommended application rates on the bag.  Slow-release nitrogen (organic or synthetic sources) improves efficacy of the fertilizer and extends the nutrient disbursement for long-lasting results.

Water  Use a rain gauge and empty after every rainfall. Count weekly accumulation — lawn requires 1″ water per week.  Infrequent, deep waterings are better than frequent, shallow waterings.  Open, sunny areas require more water.

Mowing   Keep grass blades at least 5 – 6 cm. (2″- 2 1/2“) long.  The leaves can hold more water and are better able to choke out weed seeds.  Avoid cutting more than 1/3 of the blade per cutting, especially in the heat of summer.  If you cut more, it exposes the tender crowns to sudden heat/sun and will sunburn.

Keep your mower blades sharp.  A dull blade shreds the tops instead of a clean cut, making your lawn look brown at the tips.  Mow when the grass is dry to keep clippings from clumping — Clumps left on the lawn can prevent proper re-growth.  Unless excessive, leave clippings on lawns to return nutrients and organic matter back into the lawn.

Weed Control — A healthy, dense lawn will keep weed seeds from germinating.  The key is to start with a weed-free lawn and keep it that way by feeding it well from then on.  If possible, hand-pull any weeds as they appear and trim weeds before they have a chance to go to seed.

Broad-leaf weeds  Hand-pulling can control isolated weed growth in your lawn but large infestations of broad-leaf weeds can not be controlled any longer with chemical sprays or weed ‘n feed fertilizers.

  • You can use Vinegar (acetic acid) as part of your weed-control program.  Fill a clean spray bottle with undiluted vinegar.  Set the spray nozzle to the stream setting.
  • Spray the weeds directly in the center or in the middle of the flowers. Spray again at the base of the stem, saturating the stems so the vinegar soaks into the roots.
  • You should take precautions and not use a spray bottle that has a wide spray or non-adjustable nozzle setting.  Be careful when spraying the weeds, as spraying the surrounding grass will result in killing the grass, too.  Immediately soak the area with water to dilute the vinegar if the spray accidentally gets on the surrounding grass.

Crabgrass —  If there was a crabgrass problem in your lawn last summer, substitute the first fertilizer application in early spring with a fertilizer containing a pre-emergent crabgrass control product called corn gluten.

 Insect Control — Insects are often difficult to detect and even harder to control once found.  Repair insect-damaged lawns with clean, weed-free topsoil and insect-resistant grass seeds.  Look for grass seed mixes with high percentage of perennial, turf-type ryegrass and fescues.  These often carry a type of beneficial fungus, called endophyte, which insects find repulsive.

Grub Control  –If grubs and grub damage are your concern, keeping your lawn watered well, especially on the high, sun-kissed areas, will deter grubs from thriving in that location as they prefer drier soil.  Wet summers are our best defense against grubs as it makes for undesirable soil conditions.  The best time to repair seed your lawn is in early spring and/or early fall.

By following these guidelines, you should be able to enjoy a healthy green lawn all summer long and be the envy of all your neighbours.

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