Julie D'Arcangelo - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Julie D'Arcangelo on 5/15/2018

For some people, caring for the lawn is a tedious, but necessary chore. For others, it’s a quiet way to enjoy the outdoors on the weekends.

Regardless of your feelings on lawn care, it’s important if you want your grass to look green throughout the warm months.

There’s a lot more to lawn care, however, than simply mowing and pulling weeds. In this article, we’re going to focus on one factor in particular: soil quality.

How can you ensure your grass remains well-fed and watered during those hot summer months? The answer is underground, in your yard’s topsoil.

Read on for tips on caring for your soil.

Salvaging your soil

Most people don’t have the time or money to remove their entire lawn and start from scratch with seeding or turf. So, how can you begin to help your soil now?

There are several ways to improve soil quality to encourage grass growth. Let’s start with the consistency.

Regardless of whether your soil is more sand, silt, or clay-based it can become compacted throughout the years. Compacted soil makes it difficult for roots to take hold and to reach vital nutrients.

Furthermore, when soil compacts it often builds a layer of debris on the top called thatch. A small amount of thatch isn’t a bad thing. It can help build your grass’s resiliency to impact, namely the feet of your pets or children when they’re playing in the yard. However, if you have too much thatch, it can create barriers to new growth.

There are two ways to manage thatch effectively: remove and prevention. To prevent the buildup of thatch, avoid mixing too much fertilizer and clippings into your lawn. While clippings and fertilizer are both useful ways to improve the quality of your soil and protect your grass, too much can be suffocating to the lawn.

Removing thatch is more difficult than prevention, but you can achieve it will a vertical mower, as well as by raking and collecting trimmings when necessary.

Why acidity matters

In the same way that we need proper nutrients to maintain or health, grass needs the right fertilizer and pH level to grow. Acidity levels range from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic (things like battery acid, lemon juice, and vinegar are all acidic), and 14 being the most alkaline (things like lye and ammonia).

A good pH for grass varies depending on the type of grass you have in your lawn, but a base level would be 6.5 or slightly acidic.

To test your soil pH, you can purchase a kit online or you can send a sample to a lab and they will report back to you. Once you know the pH of your soil, you can find the right type of fertilizer.

Fertilizing

Choosing a fertilizer can seem difficult, but there are a few main things you’re looking for. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are the three main nutrients required by most plant life, and they are the top three ingredients in most fertilizer. There are, however several “micronutrients” that grasses need as well. These include copper, iron, boron, and zinc.

Follow the instructions on the formula you choose. Over-fertilizing your soil can cause harm. You might notice that the tips of the soil like “burnt” or that the blades turn yellowish. This is a good sign that you’re applying too much fertilizer.




Tags: lawn care   soil   yard soil  
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Posted by Julie D'Arcangelo on 10/3/2017

If you're a dog owner you know well that caring for a dog is like caring for a small child who stays a small child for their entire life. They're a lot of work, but dogs are a part of the family and anyone lucky enough to have a canine companion will tell you that they're more than worth the trouble. One difficulty many dog owners face is burn spots on their lawns. Most people assume that dogs are going to kill their grass one way or another and it's useless to try to prevent it. However, with some diligence and training you can prevent dead spots from taking over your lawn.

What is lawn burn?

Dog urine is very high in nitrogen. While a little bit of nitrogen is healthy for your soil and your grass, too much makes the soil extremely acidic which kills your lawn causing "burn" spots. If you've ever gardened before you might be familiar with the concept of soil's pH number. A pH number describes how acidic (0-6) or how basic (7-14) a substance is. Different types of plant life require different levels of acidity on the pH scale. When you buy fertilizer or plant food at the garden shop you're really buying a mixture of chemicals that alter your soil's pH. The ideal pH for growing healthy grass is 6.5-7, roughly midway on the pH scale.

What can be done?

Ok, so now you know the science behind why your dog doing his business kills your lawn. But what can you do about it? There are a number of different techniques that have been proven to be effective at mitigating or eliminating the damage caused by lawn burn.
  • Training. The most effective methods of preventing lawn burn is through proper training of your dog. Find a part of your yard that you ideally want to train your dog to do their business in. This part can be dirt, rocks, or an out of sight patch of lawn that you don't mind taking some damage. Lead them over to this area when it's time for them to go out and give them treats and verbal praise when they do their business in that area. If they start to urinate in another area, correct them by calling them over to the area they should be in. Don't punish them, as this will confuse dogs and they might not feel safe urinating outside at all.
  • Water down. An effective method of preventing burn spots is to simply saturate the area where the dog urinated with water immediately afterward. This will dilute the nitrogen from the urine and limit damage.
  • Healthy nutrition. Dog food is sometimes very high in protein which increases nitrogen in their urine. Pick a food that has healthy amounts of protein in it. Similarly, dehydrated dogs will have urine with a higher nitrogen level. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water.

Myths about lawn burn

Many myths about dog-related lawn burn have appeared over the years. Some people argue that female dogs' urine burns a lawn more than males. This is untrue. If a female dog's urine does burn the lawn more it is simply because female dogs have a tendency to stay in one place while doing their business. Other myths include the usefulness of feeding your dog supplements to eliminate spots or that certain dog breeds have more acidic urine and cause more spotting. These are also misconceptions. The best options are to work together with your dog and make sure they are well-fed and hydrated. Soon your lawn will regrow to its former glory.




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