Renovating Old Lawns

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Summary: Lawn moss can usually be traced back to bad drainage, the treatment and control can often be “fixed” by improving the soil through lawn aeration, adding organic material and fertilization over a period of time.

Question: We have a lawn moss all over our front yard, what can we do as a treatment to get rid of the moss in our lawn and control the spread? Brent, Charleston, SC

Answer: Brent, moss in the lawn does point to some issues, a drainage issue, but let’s look at renovating a yard as that may be the path you will need to take.

If you have been struggling in vain with a poor lawn, you might just as well do something drastic with it, such as rip it up and rebuild it.

If you do, however, be careful not to build in the same mistakes again. If there are puddles or pools on your lawn for a long time after rain, you may need to lay drain tile or get a good layer of gravel under the topsoil.

If your problem is due to a hard-baked soil and the grass is thin and anemic, spading up or plowing followed by soil preparation and re-seeding, is probably the best procedure.

If limited areas (such as paths or low spots or areas under trees) get too packed, they can be loosened and cultivated, or opened up by aerating to a depth of 6 or 8 inches.

You can do this with an ordinary spading fork, driven deep and worked back and forth to enlarge the openings. Brush sharp sand or compost into the holes to attain better movement of air and moisture through the soil.

Many poor lawns are due to poor soil conditions and can be improved by a better feeding program. Use 4 pounds of plant food for each 100 square feet of lawn. If the grass is too thin, try plant food along with new seed.

If your old lawn is bumpy, level it down, raking top-dressing into the hollows, or peel back the sod, filling in the hollow with good soil and replacing the sod.

A mossy lawn is usually due to poor drainage, not to acidity in the soil, as is widely believed. A mossy lawn may need a change in grading for improved drainage, or raking and liberal fertilization.

Fighting Insects, Diseases, Weeds

Weeds in an old lawn, or in a new lawn, can best be combated with chemical weed-killers such as 2.4-D compounds. Using a granulated chemical with a spreader is sometimes preferable to a liquid spray.

Spray must be used on a day when there is little or no wind as drifting spray kills and harms vegetables, flowers and shrubs.

Feed your lawn after spraying against weeds, so that the grass can thicken up and fill in the bare spots more quickly.

However, one must keep in mind that the best way to prevent weeds in the first place is to have a healthy lawn, with good soil providing sufficient nutrient for the grass you plant. Weeds come in after, when the lawn is badly thinned for one reason or another.

For example, a lawn may be thinned by diseases which are overlooked in our haste to lay the blame on weeds. It is true for diseases that commonly attack turf, too, that preventive steps are the best, and that a healthy turf will be better able to ward off the disorders that occur.

As previously stated, a mixture of seeds is more resistant to disease. Excess moisture in the soil seems to be a cause of many diseases. Another cause is poor circulation of air for the grass roots, due to near-by trees, shrubs, and buildings. You can do a little about this by pruning.

Close mowing causes some diseases since it weakens the grass and causes more succulent growth, which, in turn, brings about fungal attacks. If the mowing height is not below 1 1/2 inches, even though the lower leaves may be attacked, the newer leaves may not be.

Watering late in the evening is a poor practice because if the grass remains wet at night, disease is invited.

And if you use fertilizer to stimulate turf grasses, do so in the early spring and fall when the grass is healthy, not during the summer when the leaf is succulent and tender and easily attacked by disease.

10 Easy Steps to Renovate Your Lawn

A lawn is a must. It keeps the place clean and provides a frame for the garden picture for another. Without a lawn, it isn’t a home.

The odds are your lawn is not the most beautiful in town. But the odds are you’d like it to be, and the odds also are it can be. (And probably with much less effort and expense than you suppose!)

If your lawn is in need of a makeover… follow the link below from BHG for 10 steps to get started on your lawn renovation! Easy Steps to Renovate Your Lawn

Filed Under: Lawns, LG

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