The Q&A Archives: Fuller and healthier grass

Question: I have a lot of weeds and trying to get my grass to grow in fuller and evenly. I have grubs and bugs in the grass and these biting flies. In the back have partially shaded area (no grass grows there and need your help desperately. Any help would be appreciated.

Answer: 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. Concentrate on the above 3 cultural practices and you will be amazed at the results.

Lawn has a difficult time trying to grow in the shade. While there are some grass blends sold as "shade tolerant" most will need to be reseeded every couple of years. You might want to consider replacing the grass in those shady areas with a shade tolerant ground cover. The good new is - you don't have to mow groundcover. Best wishes with your landscape!

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