Lawn Maintenance Made Easy

Lawn care tips to help you create a perfect yard.

| 2013 Guide to Field and Lawn Care

The extreme heat and drought of 2012 was hard on lawns and gardens. Many gardeners were left facing a blank slate of bare soil, masses of dead patches that were once lawn, or a bit of grass interspersed in a sea of weeds.

There’s no better time than now to renovate and improve your weather-worn lawn. Remember that water is critical to ensure newly seeded and sodded lawns survive. So be prepared to help nature with your lawn’s recovery.

First evaluate the damage, and then use the following lawn care tips to guide you to the best course of action to aid your ailing lawn.

If your lawn is more than 60 percent weeds or bare soil, you may want to start over. Use this opportunity to create a great foundation for growing a healthy lawn. Kill off the existing vegetation and add several inches of organic matter such as compost or peat moss and a low-nitrogen, slow-release lawn fertilizer into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil, and rake it smooth.

Select more drought-tolerant grasses such as rhizomatous (turf-type) tall fescues, buffalo grass, and Habiturf native lawn mix. Make sure the grass is suited to your climate, and plant according to the label instructions. Then sow the seeds, lightly rake, and mulch or lay sod. Water often enough to keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout or the sod roots into the soil below. Water thoroughly when the top few inches of soil are crumbly, but slightly moist, to encourage deep roots.

Fertilize new, existing and stressed lawns with a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer like Milorganite. It won’t harm stressed lawns, young seedlings or newly laid sod. It will encourage slow, steady growth. Southern lawns can be fertilized in April and again in early June. In the north, fertilize around Memorial Day. That way, if 2013 turns into another hot, dry summer, it won’t burn the lawn.

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