How to keep your lawn green | Living the Country Life

How to keep your lawn green

Every year it's the same story: The lawn starts out looking great. Then the bugs and fungus hit, and by the Fourth of July, that once-lush-and-lovely lawn looks like a war zone. But it doesn't have to be that way. This season, arm yourself with information to win the battle.
Compacted soil squeezes the life out of the roots of lawn grass, allowing weeds to move in and take control. Don't let the weeds take over. Remember to aerate the soil as part of regular maintenance.

Moss, disease, grubs and compaction

Mostly moss
Moss is difficult to get rid of. Chemical controls aren't very effective, and physical methods, such as raking or hoeing, don't often get the job done. If moss is a problem, turfgrass isn't the best choice for the location. If your lawn receives less than three to four hours of direct sun daily, choose a shade-adapted ground cover or a mixture of shady perennials and mulches.

Disease disaster
Diseases produce dead spots and pockmarked scars. The best solution is to water only in early-morning hours to discourage diseases. If you suspect a lawn disease, check with your garden center about disease-resistant cultivars or call a Master Gardener (available through your county Extension service) for help.

Shady situations
Grasses are full-sun plants. If your grass gets four or five hours of sun, consider shade-adapted species such as fine fescue, turf-type tall fescue, St. Augustine grass, or centipedegrass. If it's less than four hours, forget about it and plant shade-loving perennials or ground covers.

Creeping crabgrass
Ugly, wide-blade grass plants are usually crabgrass. Try to keep the lawn thick and green to naturally shade out crabgrass seedlings. As soil temperatures warm to 55° F., apply a preemergent herbicide such as pendimethalin. Consider a second application six weeks after the first.

Greedy grubs
Substantial dead spots in the lawn often are caused by grubs. Thanks to new products, grubs are easier to control than a decade ago. The key is to identify which species of grub you've got. Apply an appropriate insecticide about three weeks prior to egg hatch.

Common compaction
When soil particles get smashed from heavy traffic, the grass roots no longer have access to adequate air space for good growth. Clay soils are more prone to compaction than sandy soils, but any lawn can be compacted. A common symptom is water puddling after a rainfall. Aerate the lawn when conditions are favorable for growth. After aeration, consider top-dressing with dry compost to create a more favorable growing medium for the roots.

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