Do you suffer from yard envy? Does the grass seem greener in your neighbor’s yard? Let the Weingartz experts help you improve the look and health of your green grass, while considering today’s environmentally friendly choices.
There are plenty of sound facts to help you justify your time investment in a beautiful yard. Well-maintained grass is far more than just nice to look at. It provides a great benefit to our environment. We all remember learning that healthy green plants convert harmful CO2 to oxygen. This principle applies to all plants, both indoors and out, and grass is no exception. In addition to its oxygen-generating capabilities, there are also some benefits to the environment that are unique to grass.
Grass and plants help moderate the heat of summer with the daily dew and evaporation cycle. Just think of the look of scorched earth that you see in August on any empty lot, and you can visualize how much healthy turf cools the soil. Furthermore, the combination of healthy, aerated soil and grass is very effective in absorbing and dampening sound waves. This helps insulate us from some of the sounds of traffic, voices and other neighborhood noises.
Healthy turf traps dust and many other airborne contaminants, giving us cleaner air to breathe. Strong root systems also assist with minimizing water runoff from heavy rains by capturing and retaining water in the soil and roots, thereby decreasing the stress on sewer systems at peak flow periods and protecting against erosion.
So what strategies can you use to create the healthiest yard, both for the turf and ecologically? It’s not as complicated as you might think. In fact, the two generally go hand in hand. All it takes is consistency and some attention to a few details. The older your yard, the more likely you will need to address issues like compaction or a heavy thatch layer. Both of these conditions will prevent crucial nutrients like water and fertilizer from reaching the important root system of the grass.
Compaction occurs naturally over time, especially on grass with heavy foot traffic like our typical active families. The soil in the yard compresses to the point that water cannot soak in, but rather becomes run-off and ends up in the sewer system. Likewise, thatch can build up between the grass blades and cause the same run-off – becoming a barrier to water and nutrient absorption. By aerating the lawn and removing the thatch layer, the soil opens up again.
Proper aeration takes cores of turf from the lawn and breaks up the compaction. Those cores then break down and become an excellent top dressing for the healthy turf. Also, remember that some thatch is good, but when the buildup is more than ½” thick, it’s a good time to rake (or power-rake) to remove some of that layer. Once you are assured that the grass is able to accept water and nutrients, you can decide on an effective fertilizer. All plants, including grass, benefit from a boost of nutrients.
To guarantee the most effective treatment, try performing a soil test to determine what mix of fertilizer will be most important. Soil tests are relatively inexpensive and can save a lot of money on fertilizers by showing you exactly what the soil needs. Unfortunately, many homeowners have a tendency to go overboard on fertilizer, which can be harmful to both your grass and the environment. Locally, you can go to your MSU County Extension Office to receive personalized results from soil tests performed through Michigan State University. For more information, go to www.css.msu.edu/spnl.
As your grass starts to grow, reconsider the height your mower is set at for cutting. The new rule of thumb is to allow the grass to grow slightly taller than previous years; approximately 3 to 3½” tall and never shorter than 2½” tall. You’ll need to mow more frequently, but will have much healthier grass. Cutting more frequently is the same as pinching back flowering plants to achieve more blooms and thicker, healthier growth. Also, longer grass blades store more water and are less susceptible to heat.
The final, most effective detail of cutting the grass is to use a clean, sharp mower blade to assure that the grass is cut, not torn, and that any possible disease is not transferred across the lawn. One thing that is wonderful about summertime in Michigan is the overwhelmingly green landscape. It is something that many of us have grown up with and would have a hard time leaving. It’s our reward for hard, cold winters.
We may not have realized that these wonderful landscapes are not only beautiful for the green color, but also “green” for the environment.
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Weingartz, family owned and operated, began in 1945 as a farm supply store for local Michigan families. In the 1970s, we began to focus exclusively on outdoor power equipment. Over time, we morphed into the “power equipment superstore” that now defines all of our locations. The staff and experts at Weingartz work diligently to provide the best service possible and give honest and helpful advice to each and every customer.
Weingartz also sells parts for all outdoor power equipment at https://weingartz.com/parts-lookup.
11875 Northland Dr.
Cedar Springs, MI 49319
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