When it comes to gardening one of the hardest areas to maintain is the lawn. Everyone wants a lush green lawn, but many of struggle to achieve it. Jason Henderson, associate professor of turfgrass and soil sciences at the University of Connecticut joined me recently to discuss why fall is the perfect time to get your lawn ready for spring. He also dished his favorite tips on how to maintain your lawn, and the must haves every homeowner needs in their lawn care arsenal!
Candace Rose: Most people think of fall lawn care as merely just raking up leaves, but you say there’s much more that needs to be done now?
Jason Henderson: “Absolutely. Fall is not a typical time we think about management intensity of our lawn areas, but it’s really a great time to take care of some key components and get it ready for the winter and certainly a better spring.
One of those key components is mowing. You’ve got to make sure your mowing that grass at the right height of cut, right frequency of mowing and also make sure you’re keeping those blades as sharp as possible.
Another component that’s important is weed control. Fall is not a time we typically think of being a great time, but it’s actually better than spring, and certainly better than summertime. If you have weeds that have been becoming a problem- things like dandelion or clover, fall is an excellent time to do that.
The other thing that’s important is fertilization. The first step in starting a fertility program is getting a soil test. Now a soil test is not something that a homeowner is going to do on their own, but they are going to obtain that sample. Getting that sample and submitting it to a soil test lab and getting those results, and that’s going to tell you what type of nutrients to put down and certainly tell you how much to put down, which is a key component. The other thing it’s going to tell you is what the PH of your soil is, which is very important for nutrient availability and it’ll tell you whether or not you need to apply lye to adjust that.”
Candace Rose: What causes the most damage or problems to lawns?
Jason Henderson: “In terms of pests, weeds and insects are probably the most damaging if you will. Diseases can be a concern as well. And if you’ve got some kids at home and you have some large pets, that can certainly cause some problem areas. They love to run around out there and play soccer and hit the baseball…and those types of things. You can certainly address those issues with more seed and certainly keep your nutrients at the optimum level.”
Candace Rose: What products should be a part of a homeowners lawn care kit?
Jason Henderson: “What I like to tell people when they start talking about selecting products is to make sure they’ve identified their target pest correctly. The first part in doing that is referring to certain textbooks that cover the topic and the web for identifying those if that’s an interest that you have. If it’s not an area that you want to deal with, I suggest you reach out to your local lawn care professional or University Extension person that can identify those potential pests before selecting the right product that can be applied at the right time and the right rate.”