Level out an Uneven Lawn With Topdressing

Areas of a lawn can become uneven over time, due to “settling” and other factors. In the least extreme cases, you will want to solve the problem by “topdressing,” which allows you to level out your lawn. Is this problem new to you? If you have never experienced it, you may need a brief introduction to it — and its solution — in order to understand what it is all about. The following exchange between a reader of my Landscaping website and a lawn care expert at CNS Lawncare & Property Maintenance provides a case study that will help bring you up to speed.

The Problem: Low Spots Develop in a Lawn, Making the Surface Uneven

Reader, Springtime writes, “I have a lawn that was put on over a ledge where the house was build in 2006. Now the lawn is very uneven with dips in the surface that can twist your ankle while walking. The grass is in bad shape too and looks dead in places. One side of the lawn is sloping. What should I do?”

The answer to this question follows:

The Solution: How Bad Are Those Low Spots?

Most of us enjoy our turf grass lawns as a great foundation for outdoor activity. Maintaining our lawns properly is very important, in part, to ensure safe and enjoyable outdoor activity. A lawn needs to be smooth to avoid injuries that might be caused from stepping on an uneven surface. Your grass is the “floor” of an outdoor living space, and floors need to provide stability.

A level and even lawn is also easier to maintain. Who wants to mow a lawn with low spots in it, right?

Not only is it uncomfortable (as when you drive your car over potholes), but it can also cause you to scalp the grass (because, as the mower drops down when the tires pass over low spots, the level of the mower blade also drops, plunging into the higher spots and cutting the grass there much too low).

So what is the solution to the problem of low spots? It really depends on the severity: are we talking about some minor depressions, extreme cratering, or something in between? The solution differs accordingly, which is why the response must be broken up into three parts, which we will term Methods 1, 2, and 3:

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Method 1 — Leveling Out a Mildly Uneven Lawn by Topdressing

Topdressing the low spots works well for leveling mildly uneven areas; it is the least invasive approach. Here is what to do:

  1. According to the Lexington Lawn Care, in a wheelbarrow or similar container, mix up a batch of topsoil, sand, and compost — basically, a soil medium that can support turfgrass growth.
  2. Apply 1/2 inch of this soil mixture on top of the low areas. Do not make it deeper than that, because this approach must be gradual, so that you do not smother the grass.
  3. Rake the topdressing to spread it out evenly.
  4. With a push-broom, work the soil mixture in between the blades of grass as thoroughly as possible.
  5. Monitor the progress in the area. Eventually, you should see just grass, no dirt (assuming there were no bare spots before you began the process of topdressing). If it is still uneven, keep repeating these steps until it is level. If the spot is level now, then you are done.

But if you had bare spots in the area before you started topdressing it, you will have to overseed the lawn in these areas.

Method 2 — Leveling Out a Moderately Uneven Lawn: “Sweeping the Dirt Under the Carpet”

The topdressing process described above takes time to work. What if you have a few really low spots in your lawn? Obviously, topdressing would not be very effective, because (since you have to proceed 1/2 inch at a time) you would be waiting forever. Yet, since, it is only a few low spots that we are talking about, there would be no need to take the kinds of drastic measures described in Method 3. Fortunately, there is an lawn care intermediate method. I call it “sweeping the dirt under the carpet,” because you are essentially picking up sod (the carpet) and putting dirt under it. This method works as follows:

  1. Remove the sod over the low spot (if the area is bigger than 1 foot square, cut out multiple chunks, since a piece of sod greater than 1 foot square is hard to move around without breaking) and set it aside.
  2. Shovel enough topsoil into the hole that, once you replace the sod, the area will be even.
  3. As you shovel the soil into the hole, add water. This will remove air pockets. The last thing you want is for the sod to settle after you have finished — which would defeat the whole purpose of the project.
  4. Replace the sod and water the grass.

Method 3 — How to Level Out a Lawn That Looks Like a Moonscape

Finally, we come to the most extreme end of the spectrum. Is your lawn so littered with craters that it looks like the surface of the moon? If the uneven areas are substantial enough and numerous enough that neither topdressing nor the sweep-the-dirt-under-the-carpet method will solve the problem, then you may need to do a more major renovation by regrading the area and establishing a new stand of turfgrass. To accomplish this, you need to take the same steps that you would take to establish a new lawn, except that you are applying these steps to a smaller area.


How to Care for the Lawn in Winter

In most parts of the country, lawn grass goes dormant in the winter. In the south, cool-season rye grass is often over seeded into the turf to maintain a green lawn. In the north, it’s too cold for any grass to grow, so we wait patiently for spring, sometimes under snow cover, sometimes not. However, lawn care doesn’t quite end in the winter. Try these tricks to keep your yard healthy.


Apply fertilizer with a spreader.

As you move the machine back and forth over the grass, grip the handle like a trigger, it releases pellets when you “shoot.” Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package. Apply only the Lawn Care Irmo SC‘s or your local lawn professional’s recommended amount. Be careful because too much fertilizer can burn your grass.

Aerate the Lawn

Lexington Lawn Care will suggest you to provide some extra air for grassroots by aerating your lawn. Use a spade to take out spikes of soil across your lawn to make holes for planting seeds. If your lawn is large, you might want to rent a motorized aerator or a manual one.

Spread Cool-Weather Grass Seed

Purchase grass seed that says “cool season” or “cool weather” on the package, such as most fescues. You can sprinkle the seed over the lawn with the same spreader you used for the fertilizer. Try to spread the seed evenly so you won’t have clumps of grass later.

Rake and Water the Lawn

Drag a rake for the lawn care to break up soil clumps and cover the seeds a bit.

Water the lawn with the garden hose spray. After that, keep the soil moist, don’t let it dry out.


More Winterizing Tips

  • Clean it up. It is extremely important not to leave debris, leaves, or toys out on the lawn. These things can smother the grass, create disease conditions, and invite insects, mice, and other damaging pests.
  • Lower the height of your mower by a notch or two the last couple of times you mow. Excessively long grass can smother itself, cause disease, and is at risk of damage from freezing and thawing conditions. However, do not cut the grass so short that you scalp it, thus exposing the crown of the plant to extreme conditions.
  • Be aware of traffic. Under snow cover or exposed to the elements, dormant grass will tolerate a moderate amount of traffic, but a heavily worn path will be slower to green up in the spring and cause compaction.
  • Monitor weather conditions. Turf is very resilient and can tolerate an extreme winter, but certain conditions can be harmful in the long term. It might be worthwhile to chip away a little-exposed ice in a low spot if you know a winter storm or deep freeze is approaching.

Winters can often be unpredictable and may put your Lawn Treatment Columbia SC through some extreme conditions during the course of the season. The best thing to do is make sure the grass has hardened off, once you’ve “put the lawn to bed” properly, you can focus on keeping your sidewalks clear and building snowmen. Just remember to keep an eye on the weather.

Compost for the Lawn

What is compost?

Simply put, compost is decomposed organic matter but that doesn’t explain much. To a romantic, compost is the very essence of life. The living aspect of the soil responsible for a myriad of the most sublime and complex processes known to man. Organisms nourishing organisms all the way up the food chain from simple bacterium to crops to humans, none of it possible without decomposed organic matter – compost.

Too romantic? Essentially, compost is decomposed organic matter often used as a soil amendment to add organic matter and beneficial organisms to the soil. It is the stuff of life, teeming with microorganisms that become part of the nutrient cycle of Lawn Care.

How is compost made?

Compost can be made small scale; in a backyard or underneath a sink, or large scale; in giant windrows turned by front end loaders or other specialized equipment. Either way, it is all about decomposing organic matter until all that is left is a rich, dark, musty, almost sweet smelling substance with the consistency of potting soil.

Almost any organic substance can be turned into compost, some of the more common items used to make compost are kitchen scraps, leaves, and Lawn Care Columbia SC. Hay, straw, fish gurry, animal manure, twigs, tree bark, and sea shells are often used to make up the composition of compost.

The compost is usually mixed two parts dry material (bark, leaves) to one part wet or green material (grass clippings, fish gurry) and left in either containers, piles or windrows to decompose.

Air movement is important so large piles are turned occasionally and containers are usually open to the air in some manner. Decomposing compost should remain evenly moist but not wet. Depending on the type of composting system, it can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more to finish the process, sometimes referred to as cooking.

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Actively decaying compost is said to be cooking because temperatures can reach anywhere from 120-160 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, compost is not considered properly cooked unless it has reached these high temperatures long enough to sterilize weed seeds and eliminate harmful bacteria found in some manures. The heat is generated from the intense metabolic activity of bacteria and fungi feasting on the raw organic matter. Eventually, more complex organisms like amoeba and nematodes consume the simpler bacteria and fungi, the pile begins cooling while the nutrients in the compost become more and more concentrated from their waste products and further decomposition.

The compost becomes stable as the biological activity reaches a normalized state but the compost is still curing until it finally becomes mature compost you can use the Lawn Maintenance Lexington SC. Compost that is not completely finished can have an ammonia odor to it and may not deliver the desired effects or it can even harm the plants as it continues to cook.

Why is compost so good?

It’s the microorganisms in compost that give it it’s magic. Millions of microbes go to work in the soil, cycling nutrients and making them available to be taken up by the plant. When married with the soil, compost essentially becomes natural fertilizer.

Compost is also loaded with micro nutrients and other complex biology that is extremely beneficial for plant growth. Compost adds life to the food web, ultimately resulting in healthier grass.

Good quality compost contains a high percentage of finished organic matter with the rest being made up by smaller unfinished organic matter like wood chips, saw dust, seas shells and mulched leaf matter. The presence of organic matter that is not fully composted is fine and it will eventually break down in the soil, but when it is used strictly as a bulking agent the compost begins to lose it’s value as a soil amendment.

How is compost applied to a lawn?

Compost can be spread manually with shovels by using a throwing action to try and achieve a layer about 1/4″ thick. It can be smoothed out with a rake to blend it in a little better and after several days it will not even be noticeable on the surface of the lawn.

Lawn Treatment Columbia SC topdressing machines are becoming more widely available as composting becomes more popular as a lawn care activity, ideal for larger lawns and most likely provided as a service from lawn care companies specializing in organic lawn care.

Applying the compost immediately after seeding and aerating is an excellent way to incorporate the compost directly into the soil and provide a jump start for seedlings. Just doing this once or twice a year will benefit the Lawn more than many quick-fix products that are convenient but not always the best choice.

Because nutrients are always cycling, microorganisms are continually reproducing and dying, you can never really add too much compost. Ideally, a lawn would be topdressed with compost several times a year but a composting program will ultimately be dictated by time and money. The target for a composting program should for a lawn’s soil to contain 5% organic matter. It seems like a small amount but it can take years to build up in certain soils. Have your soil tested to determine the amount of organic matter present.

Once organic matter starts to build up in the soil, topdressing can be cut back to once or twice a year. Also, the need to fertilize and water the lawn will begin to decline as the soil begins to provide optimal growing conditions for turf. Weed, insect and disease pressure will decrease as well, resulting in cost savings over the long term as the work of the healthy soil replaces the life support system of synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides.

How to Compost: 7 Essential Steps

Turn Your Leftovers into Black Gold

Fall doesn’t seem like the best time to start a gardening project, but October is the perfect month to begin composting. Simply pile up all those leaves you’ve raked with yard clippings and select food waste, and microbes will naturally break down the organic matter to create a nutrient-rich soil additive. The decomposition process takes a few months, so start your pile today, and by Lawn Ccare Columbia SC you’ll have heaps of so-called black gold to nourish your treasured shrubs and garden plants—for free.

Appropriate Compost Location

Lawn Maintenance Lexington SC, will suggest you to pick a level location about 5 feet square, preferably out of direct sunlight and away from roof drainage. Then clear the ground of grass. Pile up the material directly on this spot, or put it in a composting bin or tumbler bought at your home center. You can also build a simple enclosure from chicken wire, scrap lumber, or cinder blocks. Make it about 3 feet square, and leave gaps in the sides to let air circulate.

Proper Compost Composition

A compost pile needs “browns” and “greens,” shorthand for carbon- and nitrogen-based plant material, respectively, to feed microbes as they break down the scraps. Browns can include leaves, twigs, and wood chips, as well as shredded newsprint and cardboard. Greens would be fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and, not so obviously, coffee grounds and eggshells. Layer browns and greens in roughly equal amounts in your pile. Be sure to chop up or shred bulky stuff like branches first, so it’s easier to break down. Store food scraps indoors in a sealed container before emptying it into your pile. When you start cutting the grass in springtime, you can add the clippings as long as you don’t treat your lawn with pesticides, which could kill the needed microbes. For a complete list of what.

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Correct Compost Ingredients

Microbes have a hard time breaking down things like cheese, butter, milk, cooking oil, or scraps of meat. So avoid using your pile as a trash bin—add only fruit and veggie bits. Animal waste from Fido or Fluffy doesn’t belong in there, either. Besides, you don’t want this sort of stuff sitting around outside; it smells bad as it rots and attracts vermin. Enough said.

Compost Aeration

Aerate the pile with a pitchfork or shovel (or by turning a compost tumbler) about once a week to distribute air and moisture. Or invest in a compost turner, which has a long straight handle and a paddlelike bottom to make turning easier in a bin that’s hard to maneuver a shovel inside. Adding loose, lightweight materials like bark mulch helps create air pockets that prevent compaction. Keep in mind that if the microbes don’t get enough oxygen, they’ll produce hydrogen sulfide, which gives off a telltale rotten-egg stink—so don’t let your pile get to this point.

Correct Amount of Water

It’s easy to forget about watering stuff in wintertime, but proper water for Lawn Care content is key for composting. Your pile should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge—any wetter and the microbes won’t get enough air. As you add each layer of browns and greens, lightly mist the pile with a garden hose sprayer or a watering can. You can test the compost by squeezing a handful of it (wear gloves if you don’t want to get messy). If water drips out, turn the pile a few times to let moisture evaporate. You may notice a few worms in that handful. Never fear—they’re a sign of a healthy pile.

Right Compost Temperature

Even in chilly weather, the pile will get warm as the microbes chomp away. You may even see steam rising from it—this is normal. Ideally, the pile’s internal temperature should be between 105 and 145 degrees F. You can use an elongated soil thermometer to take its temperature. A too-hot pile should be aerated, and it may need more material. If the pile is too cool, it may benefit from a sprinkling of packaged compost starter, available at garden centers. The starter provides an added dose of microbes; use it anytime decomposition slows down. Lawn Treatment Columbia SC

Try Growing Grass

Finished compost looks like rich organic soil—dark and crumbly in texture, with no large chunks of material. To check if yours is ready, grab a handful, put it in a pot, and place a few grass seeds in it. If they sprout within a week, your compost is “cooked” and ready to spread. So go on. Dig in!

How to Protect Grass When Cool Weather Hits Columbia SC

The mild winters of Columbia SC make it easy to slip into football season and holiday planning without realizing cool weather and unexpected cold snaps are on the way.

While your lawn doesn’t need to be prepped like regions that experience months of snow or freezing temperatures, cooler weather does affect the grass in the Pensacola area.

In fact, your lawn will go dormant like a hibernating bear for many months as cooler air approaches.

When your lawn awakes from its winter slumber, you’ll want it to blossofertm so you can enjoy the spring season too. One of the best ways to bring lush and green grass back from winter dormancy is to protect it before cool weather hits. The following winter lawn care tips will help protect your grass as the seasons change.

Mow more precisely

There is a fine line between mowing too much and too little when cool weather approaches. On one hand, you need to keep your grass clean and groomed to prevent it from turning into a nesting ground for pests. However, mowing grass that has gone dormant for the winter can shock turf and cause damage.

To protect your grass before cold weather sets in, begin lowering the deck of your lawn mower to gradually cut your grass shorter. Aim to get the length of your grass blades between 2 and 3 inches as the weather gets cooler, which is typically around October in Columbia SC. Consistent cutting will reduce the chance of grass being shocked by a last minute cut right before an unexpected cold snap to do the landscaping.

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If you regularly mow and keep your grass short before cold weather approaches, you’ll be more aware of it entering the dormant stage. Signs of dormancy include slower growth and blades beginning to turn brown depending on your turf. This typically happens around November in the Pensacola area and marks the time to stop mowing your grass. At this point, it’s time to take a break from mowing and spend that extra time enjoying pumpkin patches and fall festivities.

Fertilize before the first freeze

The healthiest lawns are fertilized on a schedule throughout the year. Whether or not you’ve been consistent year-round, fertilizing before cold weather sets in is a great way to protect your grass. Fertilizing in the fall helps replace nutrients likely depleted during the heat of Columbia’s summer months. Once the weather turns cold, the soil will continue to absorb the fertilizer. It’s like giving your grass a slow release multi-vitamin to absorb for many months.

However, some fertilizer treatments include large amounts of nitrogen, which can have an adverse effect on grass if they are applied too often or in application volumes that are too high. If you notice brown patches on your grass, you might be faced with a battle against lawn fungus, which is important to address before the winter months.

Here is a complete list suggested by the Lawn Care Irmo SC of soil treatments to consider before cold weather sets in.

Water with care

As temperatures drop, so should the frequency of watering your grass. Soil can typically retain more moisture in cooler weather without the hot summer sun absorbing it as quickly. Too much saturation can also encourage fungal growth, which make your lawn more at risk for Large Patch or other diseases.

Keep in mind that the first few months of fall are often prime time for tropical storms in Columbia SC. While we don’t suggest waiting for one to arrive in lieu of watering your grass, we do recommend holding off on additional watering if the rainy season is higher than usual. You may not need to water much at all if the Columbia area receives a lot of rain leading up to the arrival of cooler weather.

For more tips on getting your grass ready for cool weather and keeping it healthy throughout the year, check out our guide on Caring for Lawn Care Columbia SC.

5 Landscape and Lawn Care Trends to Pay Attention to in 2018

Heading into the new year is always a great time to take stock of where you are and where you want to be. If you’re a homeowner or commercial property manager, one aspect of your life you’re likely to consider is how your property looks and whether or not that matches the image you want people to see.

If that strikes a chord with you, you’ll want to take just a few moments to learn about the following lawn care and landscaping trends that are going to be popular in 2018. Maybe there’s an idea or two in this list that can inspire your next outdoor project!


1. Meditation gardens

What used to be a practice exclusive to the far east is now routinely recommended by the local Lawn Care Columbia SC: meditation as a form of stress relief and relaxation. With studies proving the power of meditation to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote general well being, it’s no wonder millions of homeowners are looking into turning a portion of their property into a permanent retreat where they can go to practice mindfulness.

These beautiful oases from the hubbub of modern life can be as simple as a small fenced area with Fertilization and a water element, or as complex and otherworldly as your imagination can conceive. The only rules are: no electronics, and use your indoor voice.

2. Extending the inside out

Many homeowners are seeking a more seamless transition from their inner to their outer sanctuaries, and builders are delivering the goods with indoor/outdoor flooring that looks and functions equally well in both locations.

Various types of natural stone, tile, and concrete can work well for these kinds of transitional spaces. Combined with French doors and a well-designed patio or deck area, these simple, functional flooring choices can greatly expand the look and feel of your living space.

3. More color and more variety

While minimalism and simplicity have been trendy for years now — and they certainly still have their place — many homeowners and property managers alike are enjoying the vibrant beauty of a lush landscape bursting with a variety of trees, bushes, and flowering shrubs.

The key, in most cases, is wise selection of plants based on the level of maintenance you’re willing and able to provide. If you can’t commit to a significant weekly workload, your best bet is to identify the lowest maintenance plants that thrive best in your region and fill empty spaces with plenty of those. Of course, hiring a Mulch Columbia SC service can open up your options, so don’t give up on higher-maintenance plants right off the bat.

4. Fountains and waterfalls

While water elements like waterfalls and fountains have been a beloved addition to outdoor spaces for centuries, they’ve become especially popular on the commercial side in recent years. This trend is likely to continue through 2018.

The real value of fountains in retail spaces or outside your commercial building’s entrance is the effect they can have on customers and employees alike: running water just naturally relaxes the body and soothes the mind. It also provides a comfortable source of low key white noise that can drown out harsher sounds like traffic or the crying of cranky toddlers who don’t want to be out shopping anymore.

Combined with judiciously chosen greenery and well-maintained walkways, a water element can do wonders for the look and feel of your commercial property.

5. A well-manicured lawn

A classic that never goes out of style. It doesn’t matter if your property is huge or tiny, if the lawn is artfully cared for, or just fills the space between the road and your door… if it’s neat, clean, and green, then it’s guaranteed to be a trendy landscaping in 2018 and beyond.

How to Kill Crabgrass

Do you know what crabgrass looks like? Digitaria (the plant’s botanical name) is a warm-season annual; it reproduces by seed. People often ask me how to kill it. The short answer is: applying preemergent herbicides at the right time is the best way to get rid of this weed.

Preemergent Herbicides for Killing Crabgrass: When to Apply

To get rid of crabgrass, it helps to know its life cycle. When spring soil temperatures (at a depth of 2-3 inches) reach 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, the first crabgrass seed will germinate (unless you stop them at this time by applying a pre-emergent herbicide!).

From mid-summer to fall, seeds are produced. The plants, themselves (but not the seeds) are killed by frosts in autumn.

Preemergent herbicides (you will also hear the term, “crabgrass preventer”) come in either granular or liquid form and kill crabgrass seedlings as they germinate. Think of preemergent herbicides as forming an invisible shield for Lawn Care across the soil surface that stops emerging crabgrass dead in its tracks. This shield image will serve as a reminder not to practice core aeration on lawns after applying preemergent herbicides, since doing so would only “puncture” the shield. Aerate lawns beforehand, instead.

As their name suggests, preemergent herbicides kill crabgrass at a specific time: before its seedlings emerge. For success in getting rid of crabgrass in this manner, timing is of the essence. Apply preemergent herbicides before germination, but not too far ahead. Crabgrass germination coincides approximately with the blooming of the lilac bushes.

Thus the old saying (an example of the use of “phenology” to guide one’s landscaping work) that preemergent herbicides should be applied sometime between the time the forsythia bushes (which precede the lilacs by a few weeks) stop blooming and the lilac bushes begin blooming.

Types of Preemergent Herbicides

There are many different types of preemergent herbicides for killing crabgrass.

“Weed and feed” products often contain preemergent herbicides, although some question whether their concentration is strong enough to be effective. I will focus on two preemergent herbicides: Dimension and Tupersan.

Dimension (active ingredient, dithiopyr) is safe to use on most lawn grasses (check label first) and provides long-lasting coverage — an important consideration since not all crabgrass seed germinates at once. Thus Dimension will kill later-germinating crabgrass, too. Dimension also displays some effectiveness as a post emergent herbicide.

Tupersan (active ingredient, siduron) is worth mentioning because, unlike other preemergent herbicides, it will not damage germinating lawn grass seed (in fact, its active ingredient is often combined with starter fertilizers for new lawns). This quality about Tupersan makes it convenient for those starting new lawns from seed. But what if you are using a crabgrass preventer other than Tupersan and also starting a new lawn? You have two alternatives:

  1. For newly-seeded lawns, wait until after three mowings (or three months, to be on the safe side) before applying preemergent herbicides.
  2. Or reverse the order of your projects: that is, use the preemergent herbicide first, wait three months, then sow your grass seed.

Using Preemergent Herbicides for Killing Crabgrass: DOs and DON’Ts

  • Do:
  1. Irrigate afterward: water activates preemergent herbicides. For the same reason, a good time to undertake this project is when steady rain is forecasted for the next day.
  2. Re-apply preemergent herbicides, if you question your product’s coverage. Because crabgrass seedlings do not all germinate at once, re-application can kill some of the later-germinating seedlings.
  3. Follow label directions and apply the proper rate. Measure the lawn area and calibrate your spreader carefully.
  • Don’t:
  1. Dethatch or aerate the lawn after applying preemergent herbicides.
  2. Apply preemergent herbicides on new sod.

What If My Lawn Is Full of Crabgrass in Summer?

The instructions above are geared to readers with the forethought to inquire about prevention, which must be undertaken when seeds are about to germinate in spring.

But what if you’re reading this article in summer, after becoming aware of a crabgrass invasion in your lawn? For you, it’s too late to use a crabgrass preventer.

Luckily, you have more than one arrow in your quiver in your attempt to kill crabgrass. For example, there are also post emergent herbicides for killing crabgrass well after it has germinated (e.g., Acclaim Extra). These are the products to look into if you’re fighting this tenacious weed in summer.

However, post emergent herbicides tend to be effective only at killing young plants. Because these young plants are small, they are very difficult to spot in a lawn. You must be vigilant in detecting them and prompt in applying the post emergent herbicide to kill them. That is why such a herbicide is far less easy to use than preemergent herbicides for killing crabgrass. I present some examples of post emergent herbicides, along with tips on how to use them, in my article on along with tips on how to use them, in my article on the best crabgrass killers.

Organic Control:

“But do I really need chemicals for crabgrass control?” you ask. The answer is, No. While the best way to kill crabgrass is with preemergent herbicides, the best way to control it is by having healthy green grass. Here are some ways to promote lawn health — at the expense of crabgrass:

  • Fertilize (compost is fine) more heavily in autumn than spring. By autumn, frosts will have already killed any crabgrass.
  • Don’t let bare spots remain uncovered for long, else opportunistic crabgrass will take root. In the fall, fill in those bare spots by overseeding.
  • When irrigating the lawn, water more deeply and less frequently. Crabgrass is a notoriously shallow-rooted weed; a regimen of frequent, shallow watering plays right into its hands.
  • One of the most important tips on mowing lawns that I can offer as it relates to weed control is to “mow high.” This means leaving the lawn grass at a height of 2 1/2″-3″. Doing so will allow the lawn grass to “protect its own turf” better, depriving crabgrass seeds of the light they need to germinate.

Final Notes on Crabgrass Control

A great organic “weed and feed” product is corn gluten. An organic preemergent herbicide, corn gluten will suppress crabgrass germination, while fertilizing your lawn.

Don’t forget good old weeding as a method of crabgrass control. Hand-pulling small patches of crabgrass before it goes to seed makes eminent sense. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this method of prevention has the added benefit of being organic. To facilitate weeding, water the lawn first (weeds are more easily extricated from wet soil).

If you do choose to apply an herbicidal product to your lawn, never forget that you will be handling a chemical that is potentially harmful to your health. To help protect yourself, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, gloves, and safety glasses. See my full article for more on yard safety tips.

4 Steps to a Healthy Lawn

Lawn care is not as simple as a four step program. One person’s lawn is not the same as the next. Soil conditions, weather, geographical location, orientation to the sun, budget, usage, previous history – there are plenty of factors that can alter a lawn care program and one lawn should never be treated exactly the same as the next. People love things to be easy though, so a four step program is an ideal marketing tool for lawn care made easy.

Of course, it is not that easy but in the spirit of other Lawn Care Columbia programs, here is a four-step lawn care program. (spoiler – it’s a little more involved than four steps!)


1 . Watering – Providing adequate moisture is a key component to a healthy lawn but time and time again, overwatering is more of a problem than not having enough water. Sprinkler systems should only be used to provide supplemental water, not as the main source of water for the lawn. A healthy lawn planted with the appropriate grass species and properly maintained will need far less water than commonly thought. In the northeast, I often don’t water any turf until June and even then it is rare. The trick is to build the strongest, deepest root zone possible so grass can withstand periods of drought, only turning the water on when it is absolutely necessary.

2 . Fertilization– Timing is key when it comes to fertilizing the lawn.

The lawn should be allowed to “wake up” on it’s own a little before going out there first thing in the spring and fertilizing. Similarly, the grass should be allowed to harden off on its own in the winter. Improper timing in the fall could result in excessive top growth while the focus should be on root zone development.

As important as timing is ​the fertilizer type whether it’s an organic fertilizer derived from bone meal and fish emulsion or water-soluble synthetic fertilizer designed to release slowly over the course of several weeks. Fertilizers higher in nitrogen are used at the outset of the growing season to encourage top growth and fertilizer with less nitrogen and a little more potassium are best for the fall to build the root system of the lawn. A renewed root zone allows for a strong spring start up and the whole process is repeated.

3 . – Choosing the appropriate grass for your lawns is important to the entire lawn care program. The standard Kentucky bluegrass lawn has a nice color and is dense and lush but it requires more inputs than fescues especially newer cultivars bred for drought tolerance and disease resistance. A Kentucky bluegrass lawn requires more water, fertilizer, and mowing than other lawns, while new varieties of turf-type tall fescues are proving to be excellent low maintenance alternatives. Also be sure to plant the appropriate species for your geographic location, climate, and relative position to sun and shade.

4 . Pests and Weeds – Weeds and pests can be a problem but generally only when a lawn is stressed out and not maintained properly.

Weeds and pests are opportunists and will invade bare or thinning turf as lawns with poor soil conditions. Through a basic IPM program, use the presence of weeds and pests as a signal that there may be a deeper problem in the lawn. Have your soil tested to ensure proper pH and adequate nutrient levels. Improving the condition of the soil and many weed and pest problems will disappear.

Can a lawn program really be as easy as four steps? Of course not, within each of my steps there are many other factors and practices that go into growing a healthy lawn. Start with the soil, have it tested, and be wary of quick and easy solutions that seem too good to be true.

Schedule for Fertilizing Lawns

Your grass craves periodic feedings, and it is best to meet this nutritional need by fertilizing lawns with “slow-release” products. You will find such products at local home improvement stores, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. Because these products release their nutrients over time, rather than all at once, feeding your grass with them allows the grass to “eat” at its own leisure. As nutrients are released, the root system fills in any bare patches, depriving the seeds of common lawn weeds of a place to germinate.

Of course, as a substitute for all this, you can stay organic and simply top dress your Lawn Care in spring and fall. The information given below is presented simply as a courtesy to homeowners who are more comfortable following conventional feeding schedules and using products (from Scotts, in this example) with high brand-name recognition.

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Scotts suggests a four-part schedule for fertilizing lawns. The exact schedule will depend on where you live and your grass-type. Ask your local county extension office for tips tailored to your own specific situation. But, as an example, here is the schedule for a Northern lawn composed of a mixture of bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue:

Sample Schedule for Fertilizing Lawns

  • Apply a fertilizer called ” Columbia Lawn Care With Halts Crabgrass Preventer” in April or May. Fertilizing lawns goes hand in hand with weed control, and crabgrass is perhaps the most feared weed. If you prevent crabgrass seed from germinating in the spring, you save yourself the trouble of having to battle it in the summer.
  • CNS Lawncare & Property Maintenance With PLUS 2 Weed Control” can be applied in June. This fertilizer fills the need for additional weed control, as the herbicide component fights everything from ground ivy to purslane to white clover.
  • In July or August, apply “Scotts Super Turf Builder with SummerGuard.” This fertilizer is billed by Scotts as a product that “strengthens and summer-proofs your grass” while “combating a spectrum of harsh seasonal threats like insects, heat and drought.” Another way to fight drought is to grow tall fescue grass, which is drought-tolerant.
  • Finally, Scotts winterizing fertilizer should be applied in fall. Fertilizing lawns with this and similar products will not only prepare grass for winter, but also give you a head start towards achieving the green turf that you will want next spring, bringing us full circle.

Before fertilization with these products, read the instructions on the bag carefully (or ask someone at the store for details). A particular product may not be suitable for your type of grass. Likewise, when applying fertilizers, follow directions to the letter. These directions will tell you how much to apply, how often they should be applied, and under what conditions they should be applied.

The job is best done with a Lawn Care Irmo SC fertilizer spreader, such as a drop spreader. Be advised not to fill the applicator with the spreader parked on the grass. Doing so invites grass-burn, as you may accidentally discharge too much while loading. Instead, fill the applicator somewhere else, then wheel the spreader onto the grass.

5 Good Reasons Why Fall Lawn Care Might Include Compost

Remember when you last ordered a soil test for the lawn? If it showed that organic matter was low or medium (less than four to five percent), your lawn’s future may be less than optimal. Healthy lawn soil has between five to eight percent organic matter.

Compost applications can improve the level of organic matter in soil. The usual recommendation is to apply one-half inch. (Want to know how many yards of compost you need?

Compost can be applied spring or fall, but fall is usually the best time for the lawn care. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Fall and winter weather work the compost into soil passively, especially in rainy or snowy climates. It’s less work for you and less soil disturbance. If you recently aerated the Lawn Care Lexington SC (another good fall practice), compost is absorbed faster. Many turf pros aerate after applying compost.
  2. Fall compost applications help decompose thatch, the dead grass roots that accumulate on the soil surface during the growing season.
  3. Compost provides food for beneficial soil microbes that may remain active well past the apparent end of the growing season. Fall-applied compost also nourishes soil microbes in early spring as they become active.
  4. Fall-applied compost can help overcome soil compaction, one of the top deterrents to a successful lawn. How do you know if soil is compacted? If you can’t sink a shovel deeper than three inches, the soil is likely to be too dense for healthy lawn growth. If water puddles in a section, the soil is probably compact.

Spring-applied compost has some drawbacks. One is that it can be an invitation for grubs. Because the freshly placed compost is likely to hold moisture, it can attract female beetles during the egg-laying period. Female beetles, particularly Lawn Care Irmo SC beetles, prefer to lay eggs on moist areas.


How to Buy Compost

  • If you are making a bulk purchase from a local provider, you might look for one who uses the US Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance (STA).
  • Learn more about the how to buy good compost at USCC’s Buy Compost. Find a list of STA participants by state.
  • Use finished compost that has been properly heated and turned for a sufficient period of time. Avoid compost that uses old building materials.
  • If any of the compost inputs are animal-derived, such as manure, blood meal, bone meal or feathers, the compost should be sufficiently aged. In organic farming, the recommendation is usually six months or more.
  • Municipal sewage compost, while widely available, is not considered compatible with organic land care and food production standards.

Test Compost for Finish

If you are making your own compost, here are two D-I-Y tests for finish:

  • Put three cups of compost in a sealed plastic bag. Let it stand overnight at room temperature. If the bag has expanded when you check in the morning, the compost is unfinished. Turn the pile and test again in a few weeks.
  • Here’s another test for finish: Fill a planting pot with the compost and try to germinate watercress seeds. If there is no germination or the seedlings are very weak, the compost needs further work.

Test Compost for Herbicides

According to the Columbia Lawn Care Compost from grass clippings or cow manure can have persistent herbicides.

Most professionals test for this, but here’s a D-I-Y test for persistent herbicides in compost:

  • Fill a pot with the compost. Add seeds of red clover (Trifolium pratense) or use regular garden beans. Failure to grow is a good indicator of persistent herbicides.

The fall season is a great time to improve lawn soil by applying compost.