Lawn lovers know that grass across Fairfield County took a hit last year in the wake of an intense drought and watering restrictions. “Water is paramount to the health of your lawn, particularly in July and August. Given the restrictions that began last summer and continued through the fall, many yards never got back up to par,” says JIM WATERS, PRESIDENT OF EARTHSCAPES, a full-service landscape company in New Canaan. So, as temperatures rise this season, how can you make your grass green again? Waters offers these tips.
GUIDELINES FOR MAKING YOUR GRASS GREEN
PLANT THE SEED
“Hopefully, by the time you read this, your lawn-care company has already seeded your lawn or intends to soon,” says Waters. During a normal year, the ideal scenario is to seed in late May and carefully water as you move into June. But given the potential for watering restrictions again this year, it’s even more important for seeding to be done in early May so grass can reap the benefits of humidity. “In early spring, there’s plenty of natural moisture in the soil to get seeds to germinate without watering,” says Waters.
To grow a healthy lawn, you need to get seeds in the ground and weed products set before weed seedlings sprout. During drought conditions this can be difficult, as weeds can pop up before seeding is complete. Given this challenge, the only pre-emergent weed control product that works is a synthetic called Siduron, which should be used judiciously, says Waters. Once seeds begin to germinate and new grass has been mowed three or four times, apply a post-emergent weed product. “There are some great natural products for post-emergent care,” he says, “including Adios, which can be used with peace of mind.”
“Once grass is thriving, pay close attention to grass height,” says Waters, as cutting too low can dry it out, especially during a drought. Typically, a spring mowing height should be two-and-a-half inches; a summer height is four inches. “This spring, begin with a longer cut—around three to four inches—if you can live with it,” he says. “The lawn may look a little shaggy, but when blades are left longer they shade themselves and grass is less stressed.”
“Resist the urge to bag your grass clippings,” he says. Instead, leave them scattered on your lawn, by blowing if necessary. “Grass clippings are 90 percent water so they’re able to keep the soil hydrated and grass healthy. If they are evenly distributed, clippings break down within three to four days.”
Natural and organic fertilizers are more eco-friendly than ever, so use them whenever possible. “These products have really evolved,” says Waters. “They’re less harsh on the environment and have a slow release of six to eight weeks.” He advises fertilizing your lawn three or four times a year: early spring, late spring, late summer and again in the fall.
“If you want to hire a lawn professional, know that there are many companies that can cut grass, but not all can handle lawn care well,” says Waters. He recommends having the same company do both because one consistent supervisor can assure proper timing of product applications.