Nursery Sod Growers Association of Ontario

Lawn Care

Owner's Manual for Lawn Care

Preparation

Remove all debris from the area.

Grade and shape area to desired contours.

Peat Moss can be added to improve the composition of the soil. Use 2 to 4 bales of 6 cu. ft. size per 100 sq. metres if desired.

Top Soil should be available to a depth of 8 to 10 cm. If this amount of top soil is not available, it must be added.

Prepare the soil by rototilling to a depth of 8 to 10 cm. rototilling first one way, and then the other way.

Add Fertilizer at the rate of 10 Kilograms per 100 sq. metres and rototill or rake to a depth of 5 cm. Recommended fertilizer 5-20-20 or similar ratio.

Rake top 3 cm. to a smooth, even surface, and roll lightly to show up any depressions.

Sod should be laid as soon as possible. In no case later than 24 hours after delivery.

Installation

Have the ground completely prepared before you order your sod.

People who are not accustomed to physical labour should pace themselves accordingly and if necessary get help from friends.

Lay sod immediately upon delivery.

Locate a straight line, such as a curb or driveway, or run a taut string up the middle of the area to be sodded. Work along this line to establish the first row.

With a rake, smooth the area immediately ahead of sodding.

Lay in Brick-Work fashion.

Make sure all joints are butted tightly together without overlapping.

Staking is advisable on extreme slopes.

To fit non rectangular edges, and small areas, cut the sod with a knife or hatchet.

Go over the area with a one-third filled roller to press the roots to the soil.

Saturate the area with water immediately. Twenty millimeters of water in the first hour does more than sixty millimeters three hours later.

Your newly sodded lawn generally needs mowing after 6-7 days.

Now that you have established your lawn of freshly cut sod, grown by a qualified nursery sod grower you must decide how good a lawn you want.

If it is to be a top maintenance lawn you should follow the entire program outlined below. If you want a minimum maintenance lawn, attention to the first three points is sufficient.

Feeding your Lawn

The amount of fertilizer for any particular lawn depends on the fertility of the natural soil, the degree of growth you want, and the type of grass that you are growing.

Bluegrass requires from 2 to 3 kilograms of actual nitrogen: 1 to 1.5 kilograms of actual phosphorous, and the same of potasium per 100 square metres per year. Fertilizer applications are determined by the amount of nitrogen they contain, because nitrogen is the most difficult of the three materials to handle. We recommend any special turf type fertilizer made by a reputable manufacturer using a controlled release nitrogen. This will provide you with a well balanced feeding for your lawn and the fertilizer will release slowly. You should apply about half the annual amount in the spring, and the remaining half in the early summer and fall. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bag. Always water the fertilizer in to prevent burning.

Mowing your Lawn

Mowing is one of the most important operations in the maintenance of a fine lawn. Proper mowing will make a good lawn look better, improper mowing can ruin a good lawn in just a few weeks. The most important point to remember is to keep the mower blades sharp. Nothing defaces grass more quickly than a dull mower. Remove all objects from the lawn before you mow, to prevent injury to others, and to prevent damage to the mower.

Don’t let your lawn grow so tall that it falls over, for it will be difficult to mow and it will smother out.

Never remove more than 3 cm. of the leaf height at any one time. We recommend mowing of Bluegrasses and Fescues at a height of 4 cm. You can determine the height of your mower blade by placing it on a driveway or sidewalk, and measuring the distance between the blade and the sidewalk.

You should remove clippings that clump so that they don’t smother the grass.

Watering your Lawn

In the summertime, lawns generally require about 25 mm. of water every week. Bluegrass however, does go dormant during dry seasons - the grass may turn brown, but will green up again when it is watered.

A good rule to follow is this: If you water, do it regularly. Apply 25 mm. every week (including rain) at one setting of the sprinkler. Water evenly and slowly enough so that it penetrates without run off.

Too much water can be as harmful as not enough. Soil that is continually soaked does not allow air to reach the root zone where it’s required. Avoid frequent light waterings which result in shallow rooting.

Controlling Weeds

The best weed control is a good, healthy turf. When your lawn is thick and vigorous, weeds simply have no place to get started . . . and you have no problem. In renovating lawns, however, or even in established lawns that have had lapses in maintenance, weeds do have a way of intruding.

Controlling Disease

Healthy turf will withstand infestation and recover faster than neglected turf. Here are some guides for healthy turf:

1. Use enough fertilizer to keep grass growing vigorously - but avoid the extreme of over stimulation.

2. Mow before the grass gets too tall.

3. Cut no more than 3 cm. of the leaf surface at any one time.

4. Keep your mower sharp.

5. Don’t allow clippings to accumulate to the extent that they form a mat.

6. Remove thatch as required.

7. Avoid frequent waterings which tend to keep the grass wet.

Relieving Compacted Turf

Soil compaction is a problem which develops naturally under many conditions. Heavy soils and heavy traffic zones are particularly subject to compaction. If soil is trampled, especially when it is wet, compaction will very likely occur.

To relieve compaction without excessive injury to grass plants has been a formidable chore until recent years when power driven aerators were developed. Today, aerators of many types and sizes are available.

They usually have prongs or knives which pierce the sod to a depth of 5 cm to 7 cm, or they have hollow tines that extract plugs of soil. In either case, the effect is to open up or "aerate" the soil, allowing water, air, and nutrients to reach the turf roots.

If you are an average homeowner, you may not want to invest in aeration equipment. You will be wise, however, to give your lawn the benefits of aeration. Call your landscaper or garden centre for information on lawn services or rental companies that have appropriate units.

The gratifying results achieved from aeration - plus the savings realized in water and fertilizer, will easily justify the cost.

Renovating Worn Turf

Turf renovation through use of vertical mowers and aerators was once largely limited to golf courses and athletic fields. Now, it has become a common practice for other turf areas, including home lawns.

Fall renovation is in order where it is practical to renew or rejuvenate turf that has been abused but it is still in reasonably good shape. Since roots grow best in the Fall and early Spring, loosened soil and fertilizer are most needed at these times to encourage turf growth.

The best practice, of course, calls for a continuous management program to prevent deterioration to the extent that it requires renovation. Such a program would include: elimination of compaction; application of fertilizer and moisture as grass needs it; and good weed control practices.

Thatch and Thatch Control

Thatch in turf is the accumulation of old leaves, clippings, stems, roots, and other organic material which has failed to decay. Thatch sheds water rather than letting it percolate into the grass root zone. It may harbour fungus and other diseases, as well as insect pests, and may make fertilizer applications ineffective.

One of the answers to the thatch problem is a vigorous raking. This is difficult to do by hand. A much easier way is to use a powered vertical mower which is self-propelled and equipped with hardened steel blades. It cuts out the thatch and thins matted growth. If desired, you can set the blades low enough to touch the soil; the scarifying action is an ideal pre-seeding treatment for bare or thin areas that need over-seeding.

Controlling Insects

Unlike diseases, which must be prevented, insects are usually controlled after they appear. It is important that you recognize them quickly before they do too much damage.

A common insect that you should watch for is the white grub. Grubs live in the soil under the grass. If you suspect their presence in your lawn, remove a block of sod and count the grubs. If you have as many as five per 1/10 sq. meter, treat your lawn with nematodes.

The sod web worm is a lively brown worm about 2 cm. long that feeds on grass and causes grass to turn brown. Chinch Bugs are small black insects about 1/2 cm. in length that suck the juices from the grass plant. The damage shows large irregular yellowish brown patches, usually along the edge of a sidewalk, curb or foundation.