Tips to Maintain a Healthy Lawn in Western Colorado
Yellow spots in your yard? Too many unwanted weeds popping up in your lawn? Bald or bare areas? Moss or funguses appearing at times? Many of these issues are brought to our office every day. Let’s talk about a few easy checks and systems you can implement at home to make sure your lawn flourishes to the best of its ability.
First things first, when it comes to having beautiful grass in the Colorado Rockies you undoubtedly want to use 100% Kentucky Bluegrass. Often grass mixes that come from big corporate stores have a random slew of varieties of seed to keep the mixes inexpensive. If you do happen to buy grass seed mixes from stores such as these always inspect the seed label to make sure you’re getting nothing but 100% Kentucky Bluegrass. Your lawn should be mowed between a height of 2” and 3½” with each cutting taking no more than 1/3 of blade height at one time. Maintaining sharp cutting blades will help decrease plant stress. Leaving the clippings on the lawn, except for the first cutting of the season, will help with the lawns nutrition levels and increase the water retention in soils below. The final mowing of season should be slightly shorter around 1½-2 inches to help get through the winter months ahead.
When watering, a general rule is turf grass should be irrigated with deeper watering’s less frequently overall. As the grass matures the watering times should become progressively longer, but not past point of run-off. The goal is to rotate zones on a 3-5 day cycle, aiming to apply 1½ inches of water per week. Watering should be done in early morning, decreasing evaporative loss while allowing the surface to dry during the day as the roots draw moisture from deeper soil. During the hottest part of the summer, heat stress can be minimized by a doing a light rotation of 2-5 minutes in early afternoons to cool the surface temperature of the lawn. If you’re noticing yellowing in certain areas of your yard, the first thing you will want to check is your sprinkler system. Start by making sure you are watering to the specifications mentioned above, if not, correct this first. If the problems continue, you can hire someone to audit your sprinklers or do it yourself with a rain gauge system. You can find these at our store, online or at Landscape Supply stores near you. (See fig.1) Set these catch cups throughout your lawn to find uneven areas of watering and insure you are not watering more than one and a half inches per week. Most of the time if you solve watering issues you will see the uneven coloration of your lawn fade into one solid color throughout. Fixing your watering will also reduce or rid fungal diseases naturally.
Fertilizing your lawn in the Rockies should be done 3 times throughout the year. The general rule is once in the spring, once in the summer, and once in the fall. For fertilizing we recommend using an organic based fertilizer such as Nature Safe to increase soil health over time. This fertilizer can be used for all three feedings as it breaks down over about a 4 month period. Quality slow release nutrients result in healthy sustainable growth. Try to avoid high salt index fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate, potassium chloride and “weed-n-feed” type combos if possible. Generally, you want to keep your weed suppression and your fertilizing separated. Ensuring proper fertilization of your lawn will continue to keep grass thick and healthy.
For weed control, there are several steps you can take to combat weeds without harmful and toxic chemicals. It’s extremely critical to aerate once a year due to our compaction prone clay soils. Do this in the early spring or late fall, using a coring machine or a knife/tine aerator, this will greatly increase the water penetration and diminish the effects soil layering and compaction. Immediately following aeration is the ideal time to top dress problem areas with fine-screened compost. Over-seeding during an aeration is also super important and should be done once every other year. This keeps the grass growing thick and lush to suppress out unwanted weeds. Healthy vigorously growing turf grass is the first line of defense against all weed problems. We can’t stress enough how much over-seeding and aeration will keep your lawn thick and bare spotted areas at bay.
With the simple implementation of these ideas, we know your lawn will be healthier and happier than ever. Feel free to give us a shout for any other questions or concerns regarding your lawns needs.
Fig1.Rain Gauge Cups