Lawn maintenance requires a great deal of time during the growing season. How the lawn appears is determined by the amount of time and money budgeted by the property owner or manager. Increasing public expectations of turf quality account for the great success of professional lawn maintenance firms nationwide.
A lawn needs both weekly and seasonal care. In regions of the country where winters are long and severe, spring may find lawns covered with compacted leaves, litter, and partially decomposed organic material termed thatch. The receding winter may leave grass damaged by salt, disease, or heaving.
Small areas can be cleaned of debris with a strong-toothed rake. Larger lawns may require the use of power sweepers or thatch removers.
Where heaving has lifted large areas of sod away from direct contact with the soil, a light rolling with a lawn roller is advisable in the spring. The lawn should be rolled first in one direction, then again in a direction perpendicular to the first. Clay soils should not be rolled, since air can easily be driven from such a soil and the surface compacted. No soil should be rolled while wet. The roller can be used properly only after the soil has dried and regained its firmness.
The first cutting of the lawn each spring removes more grass than cuttings that follow later in the summer. The initial cutting to a height of one and one-quarter to one and one-half inches has the same objective as the first cutting of a newly planted lawn; that is, to promote horizon-
figure 13-12. A plug aerator (Delmar/Cengage Learning)
tal growth of the grass. An additional benefit of the short first cutting is that fertilizer, grass seed, and herbicide can then reach the soil’s surface more easily. Cuttings later in the year are usually not as short.
Patching the Lawn
If patches of turf have been killed by diseases, insects, dog urine, or other causes, it may be necessary to reseed them or add new sod, plugs, or sprigs. Widespread thinness of the grass does not indicate a need for patching but a lack of fertilization or improper mowing.
Patching is warranted where bare spots are at least one foot in diameter. Seed, sod, plugs, or sprigs should be selected to match the grasses of the established lawn. Plugs can be set directly into the soil using a bulb planter or golf green cup cutter to cut the plug, and then to remove the soil where it is to be planted. With seed, sod, and sprigs, it is best to break the lawn surface first with a toothed rake. A reseeding mixture of a pound of seed in a bushel of topsoil is handy for patching where seed is the form of propagation. Mulch and moisture must then be applied as stated earlier.
The timetable for patching is the same as for planting and is related to the type of grass involved.