Helpful Tips

Helpful Tips

We’ve put together some tips and tricks to help keep your turfgrass looking its best. Click any topic below to read more.

Proper Watering Techniques for Turfgrass Lawns
Proper watering techniques are a critical aspect of lawn watering, equal in importance to the issues of when to water and how much to water. Water is a valuable resource and should be used as efficiently as possible. Several key factors impact proper techniques.

Avoid hand sprinkling because it cannot provide the necessary uniformity. Most people do not have the patience, time or “eye” to adequately measure what is being applied across any large areas of lawn. The possible exceptions to this guideline would be the need to syringe the surface of the grass to cool it, or to provide additional water near buildings or other heat-reflecting surfaces.

Each type of sprinkler design has its advantages and disadvantages. Select the type of sprinkler that best fits your needs and budget.

Irrigation Uniformity
Select sprinklers and systems for uniformity of coverage across whatever area they are designed to water.

Sprinklers that do not throw the water high into the air usually are more efficient. The prevailing winds are less disruptive of distribution patterns, the potential for evaporation loss is reduced and there’s less chance for trees, shrubs and other plants to block the water pattern.

Either inexpensive hose-end sprinklers or in-ground irrigation systems can provide uniform coverage, but they can also be extremely variable and inconsistent in their coverage patterns. Verify watering uniformity when you first begin irrigation and as needed if dry or wet spots or other problems occur.

Whichever type of sprinkler design you select, observe your system in action to identify problems. Check for leaking pipes or hoses, blocked outlets, leaking or missing gaskets, or misaligned sprinkler heads. Plan on routine maintenance several times during the growing/watering season.

For maximum efficiency of in-ground systems, consider an irrigation audit conducted by a certified landscape irrigation auditor (CLIA).

This information provided by The Lawn Institute.

Above-ground, Hose-end Sprinklers
Above-ground, hose-end sprinklers range in complexity, cost and durability, but are highly portable. They can work well when properly placed on the yard and adequately maintained.

Impulse sprinklers are designed to shoot a stream of water relatively close to the ground to minimize evaporation. They deliver water in a circular pattern. Many are adjustable from full circle to partial circle configurations.

Oscillating sprinklers deliver water in a rectangular pattern. They feature a long, hollow bar, perforated with holes, that moves from side-to-side gently distributing water across the full rectangular area. Some models can be adjusted to restrict the arm movement to irrigate a partial section of the full rectangle.

Most whirling sprinklers feature spinning arms with nozzles at the end. Each nozzle delivers a stream of water across either a circular or square pattern as the arms rotate.

An alternate whirling sprinkler design features spinning fan-like blades that channel water delivered from perforations in the base across a circular or square pattern.

Turret sprinklers feature an assortment of watering patterns that can range from full- to part-circle, to square or rectangular. They give you the flexibility to select the pattern to match the area you wish to irrigate and allow you to irrigate multiple area shapes with one sprinkler.

Spinning sprinklers are available in a variety of nozzle types to deliver water in a gentle mist, rather than a spray. They work well where low water pressure is an issue and to replace hand-watering for syringing.

Most of these above-ground sprinklers are available on an assortment of bases: stakes to stick into the ground, stationary to place on the lawn, or wheeled to pull from site to site.

Traveling sprinklers come in several types, but all will follow the path that you create across the lawn area to be irrigated. They work well for large open spaces. Most can follow curving, as well as straight paths. Most are designed with shutoffs that are automatically activated at the end of the path.

In-ground Irrigation Systems
In-ground irrigation systems require professional design and installation. They also require routine adjustments and regular maintenance to be most effective and efficient.

A professional irrigation specialist will conduct a thorough system check-up as part of the spring start-up service.
The greatest mistake made with most in-ground systems is the “set it and forget it” philosophy. This fails to account for the changing seasonal water requirements to maximize turf growth.

A preset in-ground system without an automatic rain sensor shutoff could even operate during or following a multi-inch rain.

Another frequent problem is when in-ground sprinkler heads get out of alignment and apply water to the sidewalk, street or house-siding, rather than to the lawn.

Mowing Basics
For low maintenance, little compares to live turfgrass. You mow more often, yet spend less time mowing than weeding or pruning.

Mowing is the most common cultural practice used on lawns around the world. It’s the most frequently repeated aspect of landscape care. Thus some think it takes more time than other outdoor tasks. Facts prove otherwise.

It takes just 30 minutes to mow the average home lawn. Average is 10,000 square feet (929 square meters) of turfgrass. You will spend only 11 hours annually when mowing once a week during a seven-month growing season using a 19-inch (48.26 cm), walk-behind rotary (or reel) mower.

Use a larger mower to further reduce mowing time. With a 60-inch (152.4 cm), commercial mower you can easily cut 30 square feet (2.787 square meters) a second. At even half that efficiency, and mowing 15 times a year, large areas require only one second per square foot (.093 square meters), per year.

More Mowing Basics
Mowing is the periodic cutting of a turfgrass lawn to a specified height. The ability to tolerate mowing is one of the criteria that separate turfgrass from the rest of the grass species.

Mowing is always a stress on the grass plants. Just because they can tolerate mowing does not mean they like it. Reduce that stress by adopting these practices.

Mow early in the morning or, even better, in the evening. Mowing during the heat of the day can cause the plant to go into shock.

Mow when the grass is dry. Your mower will work better and there is less likelihood that disease will be spread from plant to plant.

Follow the one-third rule. Select a mowing height appropriate for the turfgrass species in your lawn. Then set your mower blade height of cut and mow frequently enough so you cut off no more than the top third of the grass plant. This will encourage stronger roots.

Cutting your lawn too short creates an environment for both weed and disease infestation. It also causes the lawn to lose moisture much quicker.

Keep your mower blades sharp. Sharp blades produce a clean, even cut. Unsharpened blades rip or tear the grass tissue. This often leaves a tan or brown cast to the lawn after mowing. The ripping or tearing can create a breeding ground for disease and other problems.

Leave your grass clippings on the lawn. This is called grasscycling, recycling, or mulching. Clippings are full of nutrients and can actually reduce your need for fertilizers by as much as 25%. Grass clippings readily break down and will only cause an issue if the quantity is excessive.

Mulching (recycling or grasscycling) mowers are great at making the clippings small enough to disperse into the grass canopy. But even standard discharge mowers will not cause a clipping problem if you follow the one-third rule. And, leaving the clippings on the lawn helps the environment by keeping clippings out of our community landfills!
Change directions each time you mow. Mowing causes the grass to lie over slightly. (That is how mowing patterns develop.) When you alternate directions with each mowing, the grass does not lie over excessively. Changing the pattern also reduces wear and compaction by changing the areas traveled.

This information provided by The Lawn Institute.

Common Issues

Below are some common issues encountered in lawns and among foliage. Click any photo for a larger view.

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