Bare Spots In Lawn - Knowledgebase Question

Houston, TX
Avatar for jabroussard
Question by jabroussard
January 25, 1999
I want a thick, healthy lawn. We have some bare spots and also about 6 or 7 pines trees. We have to rake the pine needles up all the time--but the grass needs to be thicker. How can we encourage this?


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Answer from NGA
January 25, 1999
Pine trees are hard on turfgrasses. You are doing the right thing by raking the needles to prevent even more shading. But even so, it will be difficult to get a thick turf established under the trees.

In general, a nice, thick, healthy turf is achieved by the following 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. For example, a St. Augustine turf should be mowed to 2 1/2" when it reaches 3".

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 and again in fall (less is o.k.). 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).

Good luck with your lawn!

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