Tired of looking out the window at your dull, dormant lawn? A little prep now will give you a green lawn all summer long.
First things first, gently rake leaves, twigs, and dead grass off your lawn, and remove snow mold if you live in colder climates. This allows air and sunlight to reach down to the grass roots. Avoid power-raking, as hacking away at the ground can damage shallow grasses and good soil.
Weeds like dandelions, hairy bittercress, common chickweed, and henbit go dormant in winter and re-emerge in the spring. For best results, pull as many weeds as possible by hand or use a hoe. Be sure to get the entire plant, roots and all. If you use a pre-emergent weed killer, make sure it’s a calm day. Wind can spread the chemicals onto plants you don’t want to kill and into waterways you don’t want to pollute.
Aerating — making small holes in your soil — lets air, water and nutrients reach the roots of your lawn, encouraging healthy growth. On newer lawns (1-3 years old), aeration is encouraged twice a year, in the spring and fall. After that, you can switch to once a year in the spring. Don’t rake the plugs; leave them on the lawn as topsoil. Mow over them, and they will decompose naturally.
Overseeding is the practice of spreading grass seed over your existing lawn. Cover bare and thinning patches of grass using a mix of seed that includes slow-growing and low-growing grasses — fine fescue or centipede grass, for example. Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass and annual ryegrass benefit the most from overseeding.
Watering early in the morning prevents wasteful water evaporation and lets the grass blades dry before evening, which helps prevent insect and disease issues. Watering deeply and less frequently makes the roots stronger and deeper. Soil should be moistened to a depth of 6 inches a couple of times a week. Avoid overwatering, as soggy roots will rot and attract disease and insects. As a test, take an 8-inch screwdriver and push it into the lawn. If it goes in easily, your lawn is moist enough.
Fertilizer helps keep your lawn healthy, so it can resist disease and weeds. Grass often needs more nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than the soil naturally provides. Use fertilizer before the heat of summer but avoid fertilizing when the ground is wet, or you risk fertilizer burn.
When the grass is growing well, it’s time to mow. The proper mowing height will depend on your type of grass, but for good lawn health, follow the “one-third” rule: Never cut off more than one-third of the length of the grass. Mow more often when growth is peaking and back off when grass growth slows. It’s also best to “grasscycle” by leaving the grass clippings on the lawn. They return moisture and nutrients to the soil, so you’ll need less fertilizer.
3 Signs Your Crawlspace Needs Professional Attention
1 – Moisture:
Moisture can seep into the foundation of a house and cause damage over time. If that’s not bad enough, a dark and moist environment like a crawlspace can offer an excellent breeding ground for mold. Most of the air in your house goes through your crawlspace at some point. That air can carry mold spores into your home and reduce the air quality of the entire house.
Keep an eye out for moisture in your crawlspace, especially after it rains. You can detect it in the air if you have a good nose. You can also touch the ground and the walls looking for wet spots.
2 – Rodents, insects, and other pests:
Keep an eye out for critters and signs of their presence, such as animal feces, nests, and gaps in the crawlspace that could serve as entrance and exit points. Insects and rodents should be eliminated quickly, as unchecked activity can quickly grow into an infestation. A pest control professional can help you determine the extent of the problem and recommend the best mitigation strategies.
3 – Wood rot:
Rot can be a very costly problem. This form of fungus grows inside the wood, weakening it as it spreads. The good news is that there are lots of chemical products on the market that can kill and remove rot from wood. The bad news is that these methods don’t work when rot damage is too extensive. Detecting the early signs of wood rot can save you the expense of having to replace huge chunks of a house’s foundation.
There are two types of rot that may affect your crawlspace: wet rot and dry rot. Signs of wet rot include the wood becoming darker, feeling soft or spongy when pressed, and the appearance of cracks in the affected area, as well as localized fungus growth, which may resemble mushrooms.
Dry rot will also cause wood to feel weak and spongy. This tends to be a more destructive variety of rot, but it’s also easier to spot due to the growth of the mycelium — a white substance that looks a bit like cotton or wool and clings to the affected wood. If you spot that, or any other sort of fungal growth or rot, get a professional involved.