Kevin Durkin's Blog
For some people, caring for the lawn is a tedious, but necessary chore. For others, it’s a quiet way to enjoy the outdoors on the weekends.
Regardless of your feelings on lawn care, it’s important if you want your grass to look green throughout the warm months.
There’s a lot more to lawn care, however, than simply mowing and pulling weeds. In this article, we’re going to focus on one factor in particular: soil quality.
How can you ensure your grass remains well-fed and watered during those hot summer months? The answer is underground, in your yard’s topsoil.
Read on for tips on caring for your soil.
Salvaging your soil
Most people don’t have the time or money to remove their entire lawn and start from scratch with seeding or turf. So, how can you begin to help your soil now?
There are several ways to improve soil quality to encourage grass growth. Let’s start with the consistency.
Regardless of whether your soil is more sand, silt, or clay-based it can become compacted throughout the years. Compacted soil makes it difficult for roots to take hold and to reach vital nutrients.
Furthermore, when soil compacts it often builds a layer of debris on the top called thatch. A small amount of thatch isn’t a bad thing. It can help build your grass’s resiliency to impact, namely the feet of your pets or children when they’re playing in the yard. However, if you have too much thatch, it can create barriers to new growth.
There are two ways to manage thatch effectively: remove and prevention. To prevent the buildup of thatch, avoid mixing too much fertilizer and clippings into your lawn. While clippings and fertilizer are both useful ways to improve the quality of your soil and protect your grass, too much can be suffocating to the lawn.
Removing thatch is more difficult than prevention, but you can achieve it will a vertical mower, as well as by raking and collecting trimmings when necessary.
Why acidity matters
In the same way that we need proper nutrients to maintain or health, grass needs the right fertilizer and pH level to grow. Acidity levels range from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic (things like battery acid, lemon juice, and vinegar are all acidic), and 14 being the most alkaline (things like lye and ammonia).
A good pH for grass varies depending on the type of grass you have in your lawn, but a base level would be 6.5 or slightly acidic.
To test your soil pH, you can purchase a kit online or you can send a sample to a lab and they will report back to you. Once you know the pH of your soil, you can find the right type of fertilizer.
Choosing a fertilizer can seem difficult, but there are a few main things you’re looking for. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are the three main nutrients required by most plant life, and they are the top three ingredients in most fertilizer. There are, however several “micronutrients” that grasses need as well. These include copper, iron, boron, and zinc.
Follow the instructions on the formula you choose. Over-fertilizing your soil can cause harm. You might notice that the tips of the soil like “burnt” or that the blades turn yellowish. This is a good sign that you’re applying too much fertilizer.