Whether you allow us to perform regular maintenance, or choose to do it yourself, here are a few tips and tricks to help keep your property looking its best year after year.
CUT GRASS BETWEEN 2.75 – 3.75 INCHES, ESPECIALLY DURING THE SUMMER
Although you may be tempted to “scalp” your lawn to keep it shorter and reduce the frequency of mowing, be aware that this will impact the health of your lawn. The length of your grass is important because it provides needed shade to the root zone, which slows transpiration (sweating) and allows your grass to stay hydrated. OakTree will cut grass at a length of 2.75 – 3.75 inches on a weekly basis. Anything shorter than this may cause your grass to go into drought stress earlier in the summer, and the resulting exposed bare spots will provide a perfect germination window for noxious weeds.
WATER LAWN 1" AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK, INFREQUENT AND DEEP WATERING IS BEST
Water you lawn at least 1" a week (if you find that the water is running off, and not being absorbed, then you should stop). This is frequently the situation with a new home that has a non existent top soil profile. Watering once a week deeply, will train your grass to grow deep roots, chasing the water. Your grass will be better prepared in times of drought. If you water a little bit every few days keeping the surface wet, your grass will grow roots where there is water and keep its roots shallow. Then, during a drought or even hotter weather, the surface will quickly dry and as the roots dry, the grass will quickly go into drought stress. Grass drought stress proceeds from lush green to silver green to dull green to brown dormant. Dormant brown turf is not dead but without irrigation, at least enough to keep it just dormant (.5" approximately every 10-14 days) it will die.
NEVER CUT GRASS WHEN IT'S BROWN OR IF IT CRUNCHES WHEN WALKED ON
When your grass is brown, it means that it is dormant and conserving its energy for the next rain driven growth. If you walk on your grass or mow it when it is dormant, it will likely sustain damage that will show up quickly and not be repaired if an until the grass starts actively growing again. You are in essence destroying additional cells in the grass, and damaging the crown, which will cause additional water loss, further the drought stress and could ultimately kill at least parts of your lawn.
TAKE A SOIL TEST
Only a soil test can tell us if Phosphorus, Potassium and pH levels are in the desirable range. Low levels of Phosphorus and Potassium, which affect overall turf health and root growth, will keep your grass from reaching its potential. OakTree initially proposes a 5-6 application program that assumes your soil chemistry and pH are within a desirable range, actual applications are based on the results of the soil test.
The pH of our lawns is often below and occasionally above the desirable pH range, either can result in only a small percentage of the fertilizer we apply actually being available to the grass. The application of lime or sulfur based on soil test results can have dramatic impact on the quality of your turf.
FERTILIZE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
There is a widespread myth that fertilization should only occur in the Spring and Fall, when in fact, your lawn will benefit most if you fertilize lightly throughout the year. Heavy fertilization in the Spring or Summer when grass is actively growing, provides the lawn with more food and will make it grow faster than desired and will likely result in fungal outbreaks. This will also require you to mow your lawn more often than necessary.
In the Fall and Winter, your grass is slowing down in preparation for the colder months. Fertilizing during this time will give you lawn extra amounts of plant food in the form of Nitrogen, which the grass will store in its roots as carbohydrates. This will give your grass a boost when it is ready to start growing again in the early Spring, making it look healthy and green faster even without any additional fertilizer.
NOT ALL FERTILIZERS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Make sure you check your fertilizer label. A good quality slow release fertilizer will release the valuable nutrients into your lawn over a long period of time. Water Insoluble Nitrogen (WIN) is a good start to a high quality fertilizer, but the proper fertilizer must also take into consideration the time of year. Quick release fertilizers have a higher likelihood of causing fertilizer damage particularly in hot weather.
AERATION AND OVER-SEEDING
Aeration is the most effective way to improve the soil structure of your yard, and should be performed at least once a year to once every two years. The cored holes that result from an aeration treatment will reduce compaction, allow deeper water penetration, and will allow roots to easily grow down the sides of plugholes. There are other ways...you can roto-till but is is usually prohibitively expensive or buy heaps and heaps of worms and wait...…
Although aeration can be done at any time during the year, we typically perform aeration in the fall along with over-seeding. Grass should always be planted in the early Fall . Once soil temperatures drop below 50-55 degrees tall fescue seed will not germinate. Planting in the fall allows the grass to establish roots so that it is ready for the Spring growth burst before the heat of Summer.. If you seed in the Spring, the grass will barely have enough time to germinate and establish roots before the heat of Summer , making it more susceptible to drought stress.
Mulching is a necessary part of maintaining your landscaped garden. Not only does it look great and put a nice finishing touch on your yard, but it serves a practical purpose as well by preventing erosion, impeding weed seed germinating, retaining moisture and keeping root zones cool slowing transpiration on hot days , and helping to insulate the roots and retain moisture during the colder months.
If you decide to mulch on your own, please avoid making Mulch Volcanoes around trees! Besides looking ridiculous , these mounds will result in undesirable root growth above the root flare and into the mulch. These new roots tend to dry out and die very quickly in the heat of Summer, stressing out and possibly killing the plant. Additionally these mulch volcanoes will keep constant moisture around the trunk of the tree (like wearing a wet band-aid for days or weeks at a time) that will potentially attract borers and other insect problems, which can damage your trees. Always keep excessive mulch away from the trunk.
When mulching your beds, mulch at a maximum depth of 2-3 inches and spread it evenly throughout the designated area. Keep in mind that frequently plants are installed a bit higher than surrounding soil in order to facilitate drainage, so try to keep the 2-3 inches steady when mulching around the plants.
FALL LEAF REMOVAL
Leaves should be removed from your grass as soon as possible since they tend to become bunched and matted. The bunched matting when combined with water, will smother and kill your grass - your grass needs the sun, even in winter. If leaves are not removed and the grass dies, these patches will need to be re-seeded in the following Spring to avoid the ugly bare spots in an otherwise beautiful green lawn. In the long run, it is cheaper to remove the leaves and maintain a beautiful lawn than to recreate your beautiful lawn every year.