How green does your grass grow?

Se­cret to su­perb lawn is aer­a­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Steve Whysall

IF you love your lawn, you will want to keep it healthy and happy. The key is not to use chem­i­cals to kill moss or high-ni­tro­gen fer­til­izer to keep it green, but to prac­tise reg­u­lar main­te­nance. Here’s a sim­ple project you can do each spring to keep your lawn in top shape.

There is a rea­son grass on many sports fields and golf cour­ses al­ways looks per­fect — it is aer­ated and aer­ated and aer­ated.

Aer­a­tion is the best fer­til­izer. By us­ing an aer­a­tor to pull tiny plugs of grass out of your lawn, you al­low more air to reach the root sys­tem.

This in turn pro­motes a healthy lawn and re­sults in vig­or­ous growth.

You can rent a gas-pow­ered aer­a­tor for $90 a day, but this is a heavy-duty ma­chine that takes some strength to han­dle. For small lawn ar­eas I find a hand-held aer­a­tor, such as the one made by Fiskars, works great.

Press down on the stir­rup and the aer­a­tor pushes two three-inch plugs of soil out the ground. It can be a rather te­dious and time-con­sum­ing process, but you’ll quickly get into a rhythm and be­come more adept at it.

Make sure there is a hole ev­ery eight or 10 cen­time­tres. The more holes, the bet­ter.

Once the whole lawn has been aer­ated, it will look like a mess. Don’t worry, the soil plugs will soon break down and dis­ap­pear.

Next, sprin­kle sand evenly over the aer­ated ground and rake it into the holes.

The sand will not only re­lieve com­paction, it will im­prove drainage and re­duce soil acid­ity. Moss grows in soil that is acidic, poorly drained and com­pacted. To elim­i­nate moss, you need to change the con­di­tions: im­prove drainage, change soil chem­istry (by adding lime to make it less acidic), re­duce com­paction and in­crease light lev­els by ju­di­ciously prun­ing a branch or two off shade trees.

The last part of this ren­o­va­tion project is to top-dress and over­seed the lawn.

First, mix up sand with top soil to cre­ate a light and airy medium. Spread this lightly over the lawn to no more than a depth of 0.5cm. Take peren­nial rye seed and sprin­kle it lib­er­ally over the area. Rake the ground lightly af­ter over­seed­ing to scratch some of the seed un­der the soil. Walk­ing over the area will press any loose seed into the soil to aid ger­mi­na­tion.

Grass seed ger­mi­nates quickly when ground tem­per­a­ture is 18 C (65 F), but it will take off, al­beit more slowly, when the soil is only 13 or 15C (55 to 59 F).

Lim­ing should be done a week or two in ad­vance of aer­at­ing and over­seed­ing to al­low the lime time to leach into the soil.

— Van­cou­ver Sun

High-ni­tro­gen fer­til­izer is not the key to a healthy, green lawn.

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