When do I put lime on my lawn?
Lime neutralizes the soil. Here in Southern New Jersey we have very acidic soil. Its good to spread lime twice a year, once in the beginning of the season and again in mid fall. Grass grows best when the pH is between 6.5-7. Most lawns have a pH between 6-6.5. It is generally good to pick up a quick and easy soil test kit. Generally you need 1-40lb bag of lime per 1000 sq. ft. of lawn. Most residential lawns are 8,000 - 15,000 sq. ft. so that means the average homeowner will need between 8 and 15 bags of lime to properly adjust the pH in the soil. If you don’t put down the recommended application of lime and skimp on the number of bags, don’t waste your money because it won’t have much effect and will just exasperate any pH imbalances further down the road.
The best product to use is a new product from Jonathan Green. MIR-A-CAL is an enhanced pelletized water soluble calcium, will rapidly raise soil pH providing a better growing environment for the desirable grasses in your lawn. These grasses like neutral soil, while weeds do much better in acidic soils. Both the broad leaf weeds such as dandelion and menacing weeds such as crabgrass are easier to eliminate if your lawn has a pH of 6.0 or higher. MIR-A-CAL is the equivalent to ten bags of pelletized limestone! This means that you can now substantially improve your lawns pH, at a lower cost, than in the past and you won't have to lug home a lot of bags to do so.
What do I do to my lawn in the spring?
Giving your lawn the correct care early in the spring is very important to having a good looking lawn all year. You need to apply fertilizer that has a heavy nitrogen content, such as 30-8-8 (where the first number is the nitrogen content). Applying lime is also important to neutralize the soil. In South Jersey we tend to have very acidic soil, which grass doesn't like very much, applying lime helps to even out the pH level and make it more favorable to grass's growth. As usual you need to water your lawn if there is a dry spell. Other than that, just regular maintenance of your yard should be enough to give it a good jump start to the new growing season.
How can I help keep weeds out of my lawn?
Weeds are a constant problem when maintaining a lawn. Generally a well maintained lawn will have few problems with weeds. If you have a very large infestation of weeds, it may be best to start over with 2-3 inches of fresh topsoil and re-seed or sod. That large infestation may not be worth the time, energy, and cost to get your lawn looking the way you want it to, and may cost you more than just starting over, especially in the long term. Follow these simple guidelines:
1 - Keep Your Lawn Watered. It sounds simple but 90% of the problems are usually caused because the lawn was not watered deeply enough and burnt up in the intense summer heat. Summer can be brutal on the lawn, but a good lawn can recover quickly with a quick thatch and seed once the heat is overwith. Generally we recommend that lawns should be watered approx 30 minutes every day if possible or 45 min every other day. Specific conditions will guide you as far as determining what you actually need. Its all trial and error.
2 - Keep the Lawn’s PH Between 6.5-7.0. this means that you will have to lime or adjust the pH at least twice a year. Oakshade Nursery carries simple soil tests to help you figure out what needs to be done, if anything. Your lawn will instantly improve with color and vigor if you improve the pH.
3 - Fertilize Your Lawn. Every lawn will require different fertilization schedules. If you have sandy soil, you will need to fertilize more as the soil cannot hang on to the nutrients long enough for the grass plants to use them all up. Heavy clay soils will not need to be fertilized as much because the soil will hold far more nutrients and water, helping keep a deep root system.
4 - Use Quality Seed. Jonathan green’s line of seeds is some of the best quality in the area. Many times you see sod being laid down somewhere in south jersey that came from jonathan green’s seed. Pay close attention to the packaging as it will stipulate how much weed seed and inert material is in the bag. The smaller the amount, the better the seed is and will usually result in a much easier seeding with fewer problems.
Sod or seed, which is better?
In southern New Jersey, Kentucky Bluegrass is the most common type of grass seed or sod to use. Seed is usually chosen because it is economical. Sod is usually preferred because of the "instant yard" look it gives. The real difference between sod and seed is the time it takes to get a full lawn and the amount of money that you want to spend. The best time to seed a lawn is in the fall. During the fall we have constant weather, with few rainstorms to wash away the seed. Seeding can be done in the summer, but watch out for thunderstorms because they will wash out ungerminated seed. The most important thing when installing a new lawn is to KEEP IT WATERED. The most crucial time, whether you are seeding or sodding, is the first 2 weeks. The seed and the sod need to be kept wet at all times. After that, a vigorous watering schedule should be followed.
How much or often do I water sod or seed?
Sod needs to be kept wet and watered continually for about two weeks when new. After that, a daily or every other day watering schedule should be followed, depending on the weather. Seed needs to be kept wet until it germinates. After germination a rigorous watering schedule should be followed.
When do I fertilize my lawn and my shrubs?
It is a good idea to fertilize your lawn at least 4 times a year. The first application should be in early spring and your schedule should end in late fall. Shrubs only need to be fertilized twice a year to keep them healthy. Applications should be in early spring and late fall.
Is it ok to mow my lawn even though its wet?
It is not a good idea to mow your lawn when it is wet. It can cause uneven mowing and ruts in your lawn. The clippings from mowing a wet lawn will be messy and they can mat and suffocate the grass. It is better to mow the grass when it is dry, even though it may look bad for a couple of days.
If I do decide to seed how do I do it right?
Usually the root of the problem with newly seeded lawns is the neglect or improper care. Follow these simple steps to aid you:
1. Loosen the soil to make sure seeds make proper contact with the soil.
2. Always keep the new seed moist.
3. Water lightly 2 to 3 times a day until the new seed growth is 2 inches high, usually about 2-3 weeks.
4. Fertilize newly seeded areas with a good start-up lawn fertilizer, we recommend you use Green Start.
5. Only use high-quality, fine leafed, perennial grasses.
6. Use a blend of different varieties.
7. The best time to seed is the early spring or early fall, although it can be done whenever you have a long stretch of good weather where the seed won't be washed away by rain. Just remember to keep it watered.
8. Never cut you lawn lower that 2 inches or cut off more that one-third of the height.
9. Always use a sharp mower blade to prevent tearing of the grass. That will cause it to start to die.
10. Do NOT use weed killers on seeded areas until the new grass has been cut at least four times.