The Q&A Archives: brown, spotty, and crunchy grass

Question: I just moved into a new place and lawn car has never been my best point. I mow the grass as needed but, that is all I have ever needed to do. The new place imoved into has brown, crunchy grass and is spotty. The guy who lived here before us (July 1st) let the grass get very high before he mowed it and then cut it and left the dead grass on the ground (which looks like short straw). What can i do?

Answer: You may be able to help your lawn recover if you put it on a regular maintenance schedule.
Good lawn care can be summarized in three cultural practices: mowing, watering and fertilizing. If you will do these three properly, your lawn will be the best on the block! Frequent mowing is better than infrequent mowing. Mow on a 5-7 day schedule, removing no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade with each mowing. While many homeowners like to water 15 minutes a day, your turf will benefit from a good soaking applied less often. Apply 1/2 to 1 inch of water once or twice a week. A coffee can makes a good rain gauge to test out how long it will need to be run to apply an inch. Frequent wetting promotes disease problems and a shallow rooted turf. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings and the grass will develop a deep root system and do much better. Fertilize with no more than 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen in spring after you have mowed the grass twice, again in June, another feeding in September and again in late November. Apply a product with a 3-1-2 ratio of nutrients as this is roughly the ratio of nutrients grass takes in. So, for example, if you purchased a 15-5-10 fertilizer (15% nitrogen), you would apply about 7 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .15 = about 7). If you purchased a 21-7-14 fertilizer (21 % nitrogen), you would apply about 5 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .21 = about 5). Healthy turf will choke out most of its weed problems. When the turf is thin and soil is exposed to the sunlight, weeds will sprout and you have a battle on your hands. So first concentrate on the above 3 cultural practices. If it does not respond over the next couple of months, you can renovate this fall by renting a core aerator and overseeding. A core aerator will remove one inch by three inch plugs from the lawn. Leave the plugs on the lawn and they will dissolve in rain or water from the sprinklers. After aerating spread a thin layer of sand or compost over the area and water it in well. The sand or compost plus the soil from the plugs will work their way down into the holes left by the plugs. You can then overseed your entire lawn.

Either approach should improve the lawn and help it grow lush and thick, which will help crowd out any future weeds.

Best wishes with your lawn.

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