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Established Lawn Care

Lawn Care For Established Lawns:

Full establishment of a new lawn generally takes a full growing season.  After a lawn is fully established the lawn care regiment changes substantially.   A healthy, established lawn is more forgiving and durable that a newly laid lawn.  The goals in maintenance also begin to reflect this.

Fertilization:
Fertilization is critical to maintain plant health, durability, and appearance.  A cool season lawn area should be fertilized 3-5 times per year with a balanced fertilizer suited for this region.

Fertilizer analysis:

A fertilizer’s nutrient analysis is required by law to be printed on every bag of fertilizer sold.  A balanced fertilizer is an analysis that has the three first numbers of the analysis in a relatively balanced ratio.

Example:

20 N(Nitrogen) -20 P(Phosphorous) -10 K (Potassium)

The example above means that this bag is composed of 20% Nitrogen, 20% Phosphate and 10% soluble potash.  These first 3 nutrients on a fertilizer label are macronutrients, those nutrients that a plant requires in the highest quantities.  Many fertilizers also include other trace minerals or micronutrients that can also be important in plant heath and appearance.  Common micro nutrients include Iron, Sulfur and Zinc.  We always welcome visitors to our lawn care show room at 4885 Saphire Dr., Colorado Springs, CO where we have a very wide selection of different fertilizers.

In the above Example a 50 lb. bag would have 10 lbs. of Nitrogen.  If you spread this out over a 10000 square foot lawn the Nitrogen application rate would be 1 lb. of Nitrogen per 1000 square feet of lawn area.  1 lb. of N /1000 sqft tends to be a good application rate per application for most lawns.

A fertilizer program should include 3-5 applications a year with an annual Nitrogen application rate of 3lbs. to 5lbs. of Nitrogen per year spaced out through the growing season.  We also understand that sometimes it is easy to miss a fertilization through the year.  With this in mind, remember that the most important fertilizations are in the fall.  The “winterizer” is the application that prepares the lawn for the cold winter months.  Heavy traffic and high aesthetic expectations will shift the fertilization requirements to the higher end of the 3-5 lb /1000 schedule.  Grass type is also a contributor to fertilizer requirements.  Fescues Including our Survivalist mix tend to require lower fertilization rates than bluegrass.

Nutrients and their roles:

Nitrogen: Required by the plant in the highest proportion.  Nitrogen is essential for plant growth, amino acid production, and green color

Phosphorous:An important nutrient for root production and health.  Also is an important nutrient for tillering and new stem growth and initiation.

Potassium:An important nutrient that has been closely tied to drought tolerance and wear tolerance.

Sulfur: Like Nitrogen, an important nutrient in protein production.  Sulfur also has an acidifying effect on the top layer of the soil and reduces soil pH to make other micronutrients more available.

Iron:Important in maintaining healthy, green color.  Important role in plant chlorophyll synthesis

Mowing:
Proper mowing plays a large role in a lawn’s health.  Maintaining a consistent mowing height and using a sharp balde helps the lawn appearance and health.

Mowing Height:
While most grasses have a wide range of mowing tolerances, mowing height does affect root development and rooting depth.  A very short lawn will have a shallower root system than a lawn with a moderate mowing height.  Bluegrass tolerates mowing heights as low as .5” but prefers a mowing height of 2”-4” for a more vigorous root development.  Our Survivalist fescue does not tolerate mowing below 1.5” and performs best at 3” to 4.5” mowing height.  In most cases 4” or 5” is a maximum mower height for most mowers.

Mowing Frequency:  

NEVER REMOVE MORE THAN 1/3 OF THE LEAF SURFACE WITH A SINGLE MOWING!  Removing a lot of the leaf surface in a single mowing is very stressful for the turf plant.  This practice often causes significant root damage to the grass plant and results can be catastrophic.  This root die back can reduce plant vigor or even cause plant and whole lawn mortality.  While more devastating to new lawns, established lawns also can be adversely effected by extreme defoliation.

Sharp Blade:
Maintain a sharp lawn mower blade to reduce mowing injury on the turf.  A sharp lawnmower blade keeps a clean cut end that improves the color and appearance of the lawn.  A sharp blade also reduces water loss through the grass blade tip.

Aeration:
Aeration is the process of physically removing plugs of soil, roots, and grass to reduce soil compaction and allow air, water and nutrients to more easily penetrate the soil.  Aeration is an important tool in maintaining lawn vigor and decreasing soil compaction.  Aeration can be performed annually or twice annually depending upon site conditions.  Spring and fall are the best times to aerate when soil moisture is adequate to allow the machine to pull large soil plugs.  While aeration is a great tool for established lawns, aeration is not important in new lawns.  Aeration can be used in conjunction with overseeding to repair damaged areas in the lawn. 

Over-Seeding:
One method for repairing damaged turf is to over-seed in the late spring thru early fall.  Over-seeding should be done with the same grass that is currently in the lawn and should closely follow an aeration so that the seed can have some protection in the aeration holes.  We sell a full line of seed to match our turf varieties and can identify your lawn’s grass type if you bring in a sample to our office at 4885 Saphire Dr. , Colorado Springs, 80918.  Check out our lawn seed page here.  Over-seeding is most successful when accompanied by wet weather or diligent and frequent watering.

Top-Dressing:
Top-dressing is the process of adding soil to the top of the lawn area in the hopes of improving the soil structure or increasing fertility.  We strongly recommend against top-dressing.  The process can easily lead to soil-layering which can result in water infiltration problems.  Soil layering often causes very strange interactions between soil and water. 

Weed Control:
The best way to reduce weed incursion is to maintain a healthy and vigorous lawn area.  That being said, even the healthiest lawn can have a weed problem of varying degrees.  Weeds are classified as either broad-leaf weeds or grassy weeds.  There are various tools available for the control of weeds including chemical control or mechanical removal.  Check out our Lawn Chemicals page here for more information.

Pre-emergent herbicides: Used primarily to control grassy annual weeds like crabgrass. This type of herbicide is generally applied in the early spring before these grasses begin to germinate.

Selective herbicides:Used to control weeds once they are in the lawn area without killing the lawn area.  Dandelions, thistle, plantain, and many others can be controlled with different selective herbicide without damage to the turf area.

Non-selective herbicides:  Used to kill all vegetation.  An example of this is Roundup that kills virtually any herbaceous plant.  Unfortunately, this type of herbicide will kill any grass area that it makes contact with so extreme care should be used when using non-selective herbicides near turf areas.