It's that time of year again, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the grass is growing. Time to get that beautiful, dark green, lush lawn you've always wanted. This organic routine will teach you how to establish, and keep a healthy lawn in one growing season.
Before the grass starts growing, walk around and pick up all the sticks and stones left from the winter. Take a rake and lightly fluff up any areas affected from snow mold.
Once the turf has awoken and started to grow, it's time to mow. Mulching your grass will leave the nitrogen and organic matter in the soil, do it!
The first cut of the season in Southern Ontario is usually around the first week of May. Make sure that your mower blades are sharp (doing a tuneup every winter is a great idea), and the grass is dry. ALWAYS take less than 1/3 of the grass blade, anymore and it stresses out the turf. Do this over the course of the coming weeks until your lawn is down to around 2” or 5 cm.
SEED! By Mid May the soil temperatures have hit the sweet spot for seed germination.
In areas with heavy clay, poor soil penetration, or heavy thatch, aerate your lawn first. Buy high quality growing material, with a good amount of organic matter. Spread it over the whole lawn, putting extra emphasis on thin areas. 1/4 - 1/2" thick is perfect.
There are different grass options you can choose from. Choose the grass that is best for the area it is growing in, whether that is sun, shade or a mix.
Keep the new seedlings damp until they start to mature.
3 weeks after your seedlings have matured you can start cutting again. This time you want to raise your mower blade to as high as possible. Giving the grass extra height allows the root system to thrive. Deeper roots are the foundation for a healthy, organic lawn. Also, cutting your grass at a good height shields the soil level from new weeds germinating. If a weed seed has no sun, it can't have fun.
Don't awake a sleeping giant. If it is a hot dry summer, chances are your lawn will go dormant. Without watering, your lawn system goes to sleep to help preserve nutrients. Leave the lawn alone. Too many people think they need to cut for the sake of cutting, but this is actually adding undue stress to the lawn. Relax, grab a margarita, an old fashioned, or an OJ and enjoy the weather.
If your lawn hasn't received a good rain in over a month, give it a good deep soak. ALWAYS WATER DEEP AND INFREQUENT. Shallow and frequent watering makes the root system lazy.
In early fall, it is a great time to aerate, topdress, and seed AGAIN. Topdressing twice a year is not something that you need to do every year. In fact, moving forward you will only topdress the whole lawn in the fall, and only hitting thin areas in the spring. This would also be an ideal time to hand pull any weeds that are bothering you.
Cutting your lawn 2- 2.5" in the fall helps reduce chances of snow mold and helps the lawn breathe a bit before the snow. Be sure to make sure all the leaves are mulched so they don't create a blanket in the lawn. That blanket is what traps moisture in and creates snow mold. Mulching your leaves also let's organic matter work it's way back into the soil.
And Voila! The following season, your lawn will start looking a lot better and will need less work. Lawns aren't meant to be perfect. Let your lawn get long, and cut it high! The idea of a program