Toro Aerator Improving the Health of Your Lawn

Let’s face it: when you live in the suburbs, a healthy, well-kept lawn is a must.  Before anyone even steps into your house, it’s your front lawn that makes the first impression of your home.  So what’s something that can help keep your lawn healthy?  Many people seem to forget about aeration.  Aeration, or aerification, is a method of perforating your lawn with small holes to allow for more water circulation and oxygen flow to the soil and roots.  Read more »

tiredlawn Restoring a Tired Lawn

Restoring a tired lawn allows you to improve your lawn without removing the existing turf.  You will have the best chance of success if you do a thorough walk-through of your lawn checking both above and below ground.  Your lawn is a good candidate for restoration if: Some grass blades are thin or have a yellow/green look; Turf cover is even with small areas of soil or wear. Read more »

What's Under Your Soil? Getting a Soil Test

To improve your soil, you need to understand what you have in order to apply the right soil amendments. The best way to test your soil is to send a sample to a Cooperative Extension Service (CSREES) (usually located at or affiliated with a state university) or commercial soil laboratory (check out the print or online Yellow Pages under “Laboratories—Testing” for commercial soil-testing labs).  The best time to test soil is in the spring, before you add any compost or other amendments, although you can test soil any time.
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How much pesticide do we use? Eight Steps to Restoring a Lawn

It takes work, but it is not impossible to give your lawn a facelift.  Follow these steps to help wake up a tired lawn: Step 1: Remove thatch and weed buildup.  The best time to dethatch is in the spring or fall when your lawn is thriving.  Step 2: Fill depressions and level bumps.  As you dethatch your lawn (Step 1) make note of bumps and depressions and mark any irregularities with latex spray paint. Read more »

dethatch Step 1. Remove Thatch and Weeds

The first step to lawn restoration is to remove any thatch buildup.  Thatch is un-decomposed stems and roots that accumulate near the soil surface.  Dig up a small, triangular-shaped plug of turf several inches deep.  If the spongy layer above the soil is more than ¾- to 1-inch thick when you compress it, it is time to have your lawn dethatched.  The best time to dethatch is when your lawn is thriving in the spring or fall.  You must expose the soil between the old grass plants and remove weed colonies using a grape (grubbing) hoe or you will have poor results. Read more »

Fill Depressions and Level Bumps Step 2. Fill Depressions and Level Bumps

Poor grading, uneven settling, or the decomposition of buried tree stumps, logs, or roots can cause depressions and bumps.  While you are dethatching your lawn, check for bumps and depressions.  Mark any irregularities with latex spray paint so you can find them easily when you are ready to level.  Read more »

soil_sample Step 3. Adjust Your Soil’s pH

It is best to test your own soil, or obtain test results from a professional testing service, before applying any amendments. If your soil test shows that the soil pH is low, add lime according to the test recommendations.  If you did your own pH test, see the table to determine how much lime to apply. If you are unsure of your test results, be conservative.  Too much of an amendment can be detrimental to your lawn.  IMPORTANT: do not apply lime with fertilizer mixed in the same spreader.  The resulting chemical reaction will release the nitrogen you want for your grass into the air.  Read more » 

Fertilizer Guidelines Step 4. Add Nutrients

Use a slow-release fertilizer, and avoid putting down more fertilizer than you need.  Adding too much nitrogen can cause rapid growth and a thinning of plant cell walls, which makes grass more susceptible to disease.  The excess fertilizer may also leach and eventually find its way into waterways, polluting them.  Read more »

Compost Step 5. Increase Organic Matter and Microbes

Applying fertilizer will not help if your soil does not contain an adequate population of microbes; you need billions of these microscopic organisms per handful of soil.  Your soil must contain 2- to 5-percent organic material to have a thriving microbe population.  Microbes not only digest grass clippings, dead grass roots, and old stems, they make nutrients available to living grass plants.  A top-dressing of compost mixed with topsoil followed by aeration will eventually incorporate some organic matter into the soil without disrupting the lawn.  Read more »

Aeration Step 6. Aerate Compacted Lawns

Aeration, also called core cultivation, is an important part of any lawn restoration program. Aeration allows grass roots to penetrate the soil deeply, helps fertilizer and organic matter get to the roots, allows oxygen to reach the roots, and makes it easier for water to soak into the soil.  Aerate your lawn once a year in the fall.  Avoid aerating during dry summer months because you may damage an already stressed lawn.  Also, avoid periods when weed seeds are prevalent to prevent further weed infestation. Read more »
Before you begin, choose the seed that is best for your geographical area and buy the amount you need to cover the size of your lawn.  You have several tool options for spreading seed evenly and at the recommended rates. They include your own hands, hand-held and walk-behind spreaders, and slit-seeders (power seeders), which are power machines that cut shallow slits in the soil and sow seed at the same time.  Slit-seeders, available at many rental stores, are the preferred tool, especially if you were not able to remove all thatch prior to overseeding.  Read more »

Take Care of Young Plants Step 8. Take Care of Young Plants

Your work to this point will be in vain if you do not care for the young grass plants as the seeds germinate and begin to grow.  The most critical need is to apply water at least twice a day, assuming no rain.  If the soil dries out, the seedlings will not germinate or will soon wither and die. Read more »