The Proper Mowing Height for Kentucky Bluegrass

The Proper Mowing Height for Kentucky Bluegrass

Mowing your grass is just one step in many to maintain a healthy lawn. Each time you cut you are stimulating growth and creating an ideal environment for turf to grow. The art of mowing may seem simple, but grass needs to be cut to the right height in order to thrive. And since there are so many varieties of grass–all which require different mowing heights–it’s not always easy to know how much is enough. Read on to learn the proper mowing height for Kentucky bluegrass.

About Kentucky Bluegrass

The most popular cool-season grass for our climate is Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), which is found throughout North America. Considered a perennial, this turf provides a dense, medium-to-dark green lawn that is coveted by parks and athletic areas, as well as residential homes. More than 100 varieties exist that differ in color, density, texture, and hardiness. Generally winter hardy, it adapts well to many environments, but prefers slightly moist, well-drained soil and lots of sun.

Why Is Mowing Height Important?

Choosing the correct mowing height is vital because the right height keeps your lawn healthier underneath the ground and on top. Roots grow deeper and stronger, creating a thick carpet above. This thick, healthy grass tolerates heat and drought better, keeps weeds at bay, and, of course, looks beautiful. And it means less maintenance for you!

There are many factors to consider when choosing the proper height. The most important factor is the type of grass that is dominant on your lawn. How often you mow, irrigation, temperature fluctuations, pests, diseases, sun exposure, and weed infestations also play a role. Grass requires more frequent cutting during its growing seasons. For cool-season grass like Kentucky bluegrass, the most growth takes place in the spring and fall.

Proper Mowing Height for Kentucky Bluegrass

The most important thing to remember when mowing any type of grass is not to remove more than one-third of the blade height during a single cutting. In general, cool-season grasses perform best when they are cut higher. The proper mowing height of Kentucky bluegrass usually ranges between 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches, depending on the specific variety.

Cutting the grass too short damages the lawn by obstructing the photosynthesis process it needs to survive. It’s best to keep on the higher end of the range when mowing, because taller grass has deeper roots and also shades the soil from the sun’s drying rays. But don’t go too high, because then you risk creating a flourishing environment for insects, small animals, and other pests.

For general guidelines on mowing a particular variety of Kentucky bluegrass or for seasonal modifications, contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] and we’ll help you create a healthy, strong, beautiful lawn.

What Does Aeration Do?

What Does Aeration Do?

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But maybe it’s because your neighbor puts a little extra effort into maintaining his lawn. He mows, waters, fertilizes, and even aerates. You’ve heard the term, but what does aerationdo to make a lawn so lush and green?

What Is Aeration?

Often called core aeration, coring, spiking, or soil cultivating, aeration is the process of boring holes in the soil below the grass. This allows air, water, and nutrients to better penetrate the soil and reach the roots. In the simplest terms, these holes let your lawn breathe, which in turn, encourages growth.

The process involves tools that range from manual equipment to powered machines. All of them have spikes that leave behind a series of perforations in their wake as well as a scattering of soil plugs. The plugs eventually dissolve back into the soil.

Why Do It?

Year round, your lawn experiences a lot of wear and tear. People and pets trample on it regularly during the warmer months, compacting the soil and leaving behind a layer of thatch, a buildup of dead grass and debris. Snow, ice, and rain contribute to soil compaction as well. Even the act of mowing takes a toll on the turf. Aeration helps combat this kind of damage.

What Does Aeration Do?

Overall, aeration improves the health of your grass by promoting growth and strengthening the root systems. More specifically, it helps your lawn in the following ways:

  • Enables the flow of oxygen to the root systems.
  • Helps manage thatch.
  • Reduces soil compaction.
  • Improves grass health and resilience.
  • Minimizes maintenance needs.
  • Reduces stress from drought, heat, and temperature fluctuations.
  • Improves the soil’s intake of nutrients.
  • Enhances water absorption and minimizes runoff and puddling during irrigation, therefore saving you money on water bills.

Timing Is Everything

Healthy lawns benefit from a yearly aeration. But if your lawn is lacking, do it twice a year. The best time to perform the task is during the growing season. Cool season turf grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass should be aerated in the spring or fall. Aerate warm season grasses like zoysia and Bermuda anytime from the middle of spring through the summer.

A few more tips for aerating:

  • Make holes around 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch diameter, 2 to 3 inches deep, and 2 to 3 inches apart.
  • Your lawn benefits from a thin layer of thatch, but more than a half-inch thick requires aeration.
  • Aerate when the soil is moist, after a rain or good watering.
  • Performing this task is most productive before seeding and after fertilizing.
  • Equipment with hollow spikes pulls out plugs better than solid ones.

Proper aeration is labor intensive and requires professional-grade equipment, so it’s often best to call in a lawn-care expert. Contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone] today. We’ll do the dirty work and you can enjoy the results.

Lawn Weed Library: Chickweed

Lawn Weed Library: Chickweed

One of the most common weeds found in lawns, chickweed (Stellaria media) originated in Europe, but now makes itself at home throughout North America and across the globe. Consumed by some as a flavorful green, this edible annual has a history as an herbal remedy for a variety of symptoms. But don’t let this pretty little plant fool you with its medicinal, aesthetic, and nutritional value—it’s definitely a weed. Its competitive nature threatens the well being of your landscaping as it vies with the grass and plants in your yard for space, light, and water.

Identifying Chickweed

Also known as chickenwort, winterweed, and starweed, chickweed gets its name naturally by being a preferred treat for chickens and other birds, and also by being a stubborn weed that’s hard to get rid of once it’s established.

Identify this plant easily by its small, white, star-shaped flowers that bloom from June through September. Although each flower has five petals, it appears to have double that amount because each petal is divided. Forming a thick mat, stems branch abundantly at the base, but seldom grow higher than two inches. Common chickweed differs from other plants in its family in that a thin line of white hair grows only on one side of the stem, while other relatives have stems completely covered in hair. Its oval-shaped, green leaves are tapered at the tip and grow opposite of each other.

Chickweed Signs and Symptoms

A prolific seed producer, common chickweed can also reproduce by creeping stems that root from nodes. This widespread weed grows easily in a variety of environments, but enjoys well-watered areas. It germinates most abundantly after heavy watering or rainfall. Plants can produce thousands of seeds in pods at the tip of each stem. With shallow, fibrous roots, this pesky plant is easily uprooted, yet recovers quickly.

Chickweed Control and Prevention

Chickweed is difficult to eradicate because of the way it sets seed. Hand weeding is effective in small amounts, but must be done before the plants flower. This is often difficult because of chickweed’s short germination period. If you choose this route, be sure to remove the entire root system from the ground and dispose of it away from the property. Another natural way to prevent this weed, and many others, is by using mulch. This helps minimize germination by blocking light and creating a barrier.

It’s best to consider non-chemical methods first when controlling chickweed, but bigger infestations often require the use of an herbicide treatment. Use pre-emergent herbicides before seeds germinate in late fall or early winter, and post-emergent herbicides after the weeds have appeared. Be sure to follow directions on the label carefully. Timing is everything when applying any chemical, so it’s best to contact a professional.

To find out more about identifying and controlling common chickweed or other weeds, call Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone].

10 Spring Tree Pruning Tips

10 Spring Tree Pruning Tips

The days are getting longer, the air is a little warmer, and the sound of birds can be heard again. It’s the time of year when our thoughts are turning eagerly to spring. Are you itching to get outside and do some spring cleaning in the yard? Many people think this is the right time to prune trees. But is it? If you’re ready to put your pruning skills into practice, we have 10 spring tree pruning tips to help you out.

The Why and When of Pruning

There are many reasons to prune trees. We take tools in hand to remove hazardous limbs, get rid of dead wood, or aesthetically shape a tree or shrub. Also, we do it for the tree’s health, like to rid it of diseased branches.

Pruning at any time of the year puts stress on a tree, but it heals better if the cuts are made when it’s not actively growing. The best time to prune most trees is while they are dormant, during late fall to early spring. Coincidentally, this is when the tree is bare of leaves, making it easier to inspect them for damage. Avoid pruning in late spring and early summer, when trees and shrubs are actively growing.

Planning to Prune?

Before you prune, do a little spring cleaning to prepare.

  • Get rid of remaining holiday decorations, like light strings which could hamper growth.
  • Take off protective wrapping used to cover young or weak trees against winter weather.
  • Get rid of twigs, dead branches, leaves, and other debris that has congregated under and around trees in your yard.
  • Finally, do some research and learn the natural shapes your trees and shrubs should achieve.

10 Spring Tree Pruning Tips

Okay, it’s time to grab your tools and cut. Here are 10 spring tree pruning tips to help you on your way.

  1. Prune a tree is while it is dormant. Some trees, like pines, can be pruned at any time. There are exceptions, though, like if the tree is a hazard.
  2. Flowering trees. Generally, prune spring flowering trees after they bloom. Trees and shrubs that flower later should be pruned in early spring while still dormant, and early enough to give them time to heal.
  3. Try to keep branches that have strong U-shaped angles and trim ones with weaker or narrow angles.
  4. It’s easier to manage younger trees, they heal quicker and adjust to change better.
  5. Never damage the branch collar. This is the point where a branch joins the trunk or another branch. By preserving the collar, and cutting at the same angle, the wound heals quicker and is less likely to get infected.
  6. Use the three-cut method to remove larger branches. First, make a cut on the underside of the branch one to two feet out on the branch to be removed. Saw about half way through the limb. Make another cut on top of the limb a couple inches farther out from the first cut. Finish by removing the stub.
  7. Don’t prune when it’s wet outside. Moisture encourages mold and bacteria growth.
  8. Use the right tools and keep them clean. For smaller branches under an inch in diameter, bypass hand pruners provide the cleanest cut. A bypass lopper works well on branches that are around an inch thick. For branches up to three inches, use a tri-edge folding saw.
  9. Never prune too much if you are thinning the crown. If you need to remove more than a quarter of the living crown, don’t do it all at once. Spread it out over a few years.
  10. When raising the crown to create a clear path for pedestrians, make sure the tree’s living crown is at least two-thirds of its height.

We’re Here to Help

Of course, safety comes first. Always cut with care and call in a professional for more difficult jobs. Call Free Spray Lawn Care today at [phone] with any questions or concerns about pruning your trees and shrubs, and let us help you get your yard ready for spring.