The Q&A Archives: starting a green lawn

Question: I am having trouble with crabgrass and weeds. I have tried to start a green lawn but end up with crabgrass and weeds choking out the new grass i have seeded. what can i do to have a nice green lawn? please help. My husband is threating to have my yard covered in rocks!

Answer: Good soil is the foundation of a healthy lawn. To grow well, your lawn needs soil with good texture, some key nutrients, and the right pH, or acidity/alkalinity balance.

Start by checking the texture of your soil to see whether it's heavy with clay, light and sandy, or somewhere in between. Lawns grow best in soil with intermediate or "loamy" soils that have a mix of clay, silt, and sand. Whatever soil type you have, you can probably improve it by periodically adding organic matter like compost, manure, or grass clippings. Organic matter helps to lighten a predominantly clay soil and it helps sandy soil retain water and nutrients.

The right type of grass - one that suits your needs and likes the local weather - will always give better results. Grasses vary in the type of climate they prefer, the amount of water and nutrients they need, their resistance to pests, their tolerance for shade, and the degree of wear they can withstand. In Sierra Vista, bermuda is the grass of choice, overseeded with perennial rye in the fall. This will give you a green lawn year around.

Watering properly will help your lawn grow deep roots that make it stronger and less vulnerable to drought. Most lawns are watered too often but with too little water. It's best to water only when the lawn really needs it, and then to water slowly and deeply. This trains the grass roots down. Frequent shallow watering trains the roots to stay near the surface, making the lawn less able to find moisture during dry periods.

At this point, you'll want to kill out the crabgrass, reseed, then put your lawn on a regular watering, mowing and fertilizing schedule. A thick, lush lawn will crowd out most weeds. Ortho's Weed-be-Gone will take care of the crabgrass for you.

Best wishes with your lawn!

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