Watering a lawn improperly is one of the most common, if not the most common mistake we see homeowners make. There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to watering. One of the biggest misconceptions is to water your lawn nearly everyday for best results. Do not do this! All you are doing with frequent, shallow watering is causing the root system to remain shallow. Shallow roots do not make for a healthy or drought tolerant lawn. What you need to aim for is deep roots. The way we achieve this is less frequent watering, but watering for a longer period of time. Most cool season turfs are best served by once per week watering. Be sure to put down an inch to an inch and a half of water once per week. Don’t know how much you’re putting down or if your irrigation is set evenly? We recommend putting rain gauges on your lawn when you water to make sure your lawn is getting the water it needs and coverage is even. The last thing to remember about watering is that the best time to water is in the mornings. Set your irrigation to start around 5 or 6 in the morning. If you don’t have an irrigation system, make the time to get out in the morning and water your lawn. Your lawn will thank you. Watering mid day isn’t good because a lot of the water can be lost due to evaporation, watering in the evening is not good either because not only is it best to work moisture into the ground for when the lawn is actively growing (which is during the day), but the biggest reason not to water at night is this can result in fungal diseases if moisture is worked into the ground when the sun has gone down. This water will not be used by the plant like it would in the early morning or during the day. The evening is the worst time to water, but unfortunately for many homeowners who don’t have the luxury of an irrigation system this is when they will find the time to water. On that note, if we apply fertilizer and weed control products to your lawn in the morning and advise you to water after 8 hours, please still water at this time, but don’t make a habit of this being your regular watering time. Moreover, if your turf is very healthy and not under any stress after we’ve applied products you may wait and hold off with watering until the following morning.
Pro tip: If watering in the afternoon is so bad, then why do I see grounds keepers at golf courses doing so?
In this case, usually what they are doing is giving the turf a quick watering to cool it off. On a very hot day, it doesn’t hurt to give your lawn a quick watering to cool it off. When temperatures rise, this can be very stressful on our cool season turf in Alberta. Most cool season turf varieties thrive in temperatures between 15 Celsius and 25 Celsius. Obviously our turf can stand up to temperatures above 30 Celsius, but if this continues to be a theme day after day or you already know that your turf is under stress, consider a quick mid afternoon watering to bring that grass plant down to a more optimum temperature to help it survive the heat!
Mowing height will vary throughout the season. In the spring it is a good idea to mow at 1.5 to 2 inches to pick up any debris and thatch. After your initial mowing, gradually raise the mowing height so you are mowing at 3-3.5 inches by mid June. This raised mowing height will help your soil better retain moisture. This becomes especially important as we move into periods of higher heat, especially if there is a lack of moisture during these periods too. Summer mowing heights are one of the most common mistakes that we see our non mowing customers making. Some homeowners want their grass to look like a golf green, however homeowners need to remember that bentgrass (type of grass used on golf greens and most fairways) is intended to be mowed short and undergoes a vastly different management routine. Our cool season grass varieties such as Kentucky Blue Grass, Fescue, and Rye Grasses should be kept at 3-3.5 inches during the summer months and no more than 1/3 of the leaf structure should be removed at the time of mowing. As we move into the cooler months of September and October you may gradually lower your mowing height. For the final mowing of the season mow off as much top growth as possible without disturbing the roots of the grass. This is much like the initial lawn mowing in the spring. Generally a mowing height of 2 inches is optimal on most lawns. This lower mowing height will make your lawn less attractive to mice and voles which can damage your lawn. It is also important to mow short before winter because the extra top growth can bend under the weight of the snow, resulting in trapped moisture leading to greater potential of snow mold or other diseases and funguses the following spring.
One final tip on mowing while we are on the topic: Keep those mower blades sharp! A clean cut where your grass does not tear at the tips of the blades will keep your lawn healthy and less susceptible to funguses or diseases.
Fairy rings are one of the toughest lawn problems to combat. One thing you could always consider is digging the fairy ring out and re-planting the turf. This must be done with precision as to not spill any of the mycelium (the white fungus under the ring itself) on other parts of the turf. If you’re going to go this route make sure you dig down at least two feet and at least a foot away from the fairy ring itself on all sides. A good way to prevent spillage is with tarps. This is going to be a lot of work and no guarantee of success, but if you are serious about completely eradicating the issue, this is probably your best move. Just make sure that you can actually move the next day, this is going to be an extremely physical job depending upon the size of the fairy ring. If you’re not in peak condition consider the help of some friends but make sure they know what they are dealing with and are careful to not spread the disease.
If you’re like most people and the above doesn’t sound overly appealing there are some things you can try. There is no proven way to completely eliminate fairy rings other than removal itself, but proper turf management goes a long way in terms of preventing fairy rings and lessening the problem. If you are serious about getting control over your fairy rings but not willing to dig them out, please contact us and request our free PDF on how to combat fairy rings. There is just way too much to explain here if you are wanting to dive deeper on the topic. Contact us and request your fee PDF!
If you are not managing your turf properly (and no shame in this, not everyone does or can be bothered) and we experience extremely dry conditions you may skip your weekly lawn service.
Here is how it works:
You may skip up to 3 lawn mowing visits per season at no charge to you. Simply give us 48 hours heads up and we will make sure you are not mowed and you will still be scheduled in your normal spot for the following week. Some lawn care companies will charge a fee to hold this spot for you, which is completely fair, but at Scott’s Quality Lawn Care we give you the flexibility to skip up to 3 services at no charge to you.
Should you wish to skip more than 3 services in the season, you will then be charged 50% of your normal visit price to hold the spot. We believe this is one of the most flexible weekly mowing programs in the industry!
Remember that in September, the lawn mowing program is scaled back such that each customer receives 2-3 visits. The skipping rules do not apply in September. Although you are automatically scheduled for 2-3 visits in this month, you are free to make scheduling requests and decline mowing services with no penalties. Just make sure you contact us to find out when you are scheduled in case you do want to make specific requests.
A spring clean up is where we power rake and/or aerate your lawn. Our power rake will remove dead grass and debris from your lawn, commonly referred to as thatch. The removal of thatch is important for the health of your lawn. Thatch starves your lawn of much needed nutrients, moisture, and water by preventing these components from reaching the roots, however it is also important to have a healthy level of thatch to protect the roots of your grass.
We recommend having your lawn power raked every spring.
Our aerator will remove cores from your lawn. The removal of these cores also removes a layer of thatch and allows moisture and nutrients into the lawn, while reducing compaction of the soil. By reducing compaction, you are giving new roots the opportunity to grow and expand.
Regular core aeration is important in order to have a healthy lawn. We recommend having your lawn aerated every spring and fall, however if you are on a budget, core aeration can be done once per year. We often offer a discount on aeration in the fall.
This is a very valid item to be concerned about, as this can be a common problem in the lawn care industry, however as a Scott’s Quality Lawn Care customer you need not be concerned. We use a special formula to spray down our power rakes and aerators on each job site if we feel that there was even the smallest risk of picking up contaminants at another job site. We are committed to not spreading disease between lawns and have the necessary preventive checks in place to prevent such an occurrence.
All lawns have thatch in them. All lawns should have a healthy layer of thatch, however too much thatch is a bad thing. This is why it is a good idea to schedule professional power raking and aeration every spring. A good test to find out if you have too much thatch in your lawn is to take a knife and cut out a core from your lawn. If the layer of thatch is more than three quarters of an inch we would recommend power raking. The thatch layer will be the reddish/brown layer above the soil portion of the core. Of course you can always have us look at your lawn. We will not power rake a lawn that we believe does not need power raking, unless you absolutely insist on having it done.
Yes, during the month of September, or even August if leaves begin falling early, We will clean-up any leaves on your lawn. If this adds time to mowing your lawn then we will simply charge $75/per man hour for leaf, apple, or debris pick-up off your lawn. This is usually a fairly minimum charge because we invoice this time right down to the minute with no minimum charge since we are already on site for mowing. For example, if a two person crew services your lawn and one person stops to do 10 minutes of raking then this would be an additional charge of $12.50 on top of what you normally pay for mowing.
A select few of our customers like to tend to their own leaves in September whether its for the exercise, the unsightliness of the leaves between the time we service them, or just to avoid the charges for clean-up, you are certainly free to do so. Just make sure you contact us to find out when we are coming if this is something that is important to you.
For the month of October we offer fall clean-ups. Remember in September we tend to any leaf clean-up on the lawn only. For the fall clean-up in October, we will do a thorough leaf clean-up of the entire yard. This means blowing leaves and debris out or off of all surfaces, and raking and mowing up all the debris with a final cut and trim of your lawn at a lowered height to prepare your turf for the winter months. This service is simply billed out at $75 per man hour with a minimum charge of $50. We typically put out information on fall clean-ups at the end of August or first part of September. At this time you can book a date range, weather permitting that best suits your yard and your unique trees’ leaf shedding situation.
Unfortunately, the health of your lawn is usually a function of the amount of money spent. With this said, be smart about when you water. Water at times when the lawn can maximize the benefits of water. Early morning is the best time to water. It is also better to give your lawn a “good soak” once or twice a week as opposed to minimal frequent watering. This will allow the root system to strengthen and grow deeper as opposed to shallow watering which will not penetrate as deeply and encourage the growth of weeds if a weed control program is not present.
You can also have your lawn cut every week by us. Having your lawn mowed weekly with sharp blades at a proper height encourages healthy turf. Mowing is a practice that is often overlooked by homeowners as essential to lawn health. We will mulch your lawn if the conditions warrant mulching. Mulching reuses the clipping that we cut. These clippings act as fertilizer for your lawn which will minimally reduce the need for fertilizer inputs.
Watch for our aeration discount. We almost always offer a discount on fall aeration.
Fertilizing in the spring is important for root development. We recommend a balanced fertilizer to ensure that your lawn receives all the nutrients it needs for the growing season. The spring is perhaps the most important time to fertilize in order to assure that your lawn is strengthened for the year, not to mention that nice green-up that most homeowners look for.
Fertilizing strengthens your root system. The summer is hard on your lawn because of heat, foot traffic and sometimes dry conditions. It is always important to keep your root system healthy to combat these conditions. Remember to water after you fertilize, especially in hot and dry conditions.
It is essential that your lawn stores nutrients during the winter in order to develop a healthy root system in the spring. Our 4 Application Program includes a 4th liquid treatment in the late summer or early fall to ensure that your lawn receives the proper nutrients before the winter season.
Ok, maybe this isn’t a frequently asked question, but it is a term worth explaining here. Memory build up is a term we like to use for the tracks that a lawn mower leaves on your lawn. Some lawns are more susceptible to this than others and can be worn down due to this phenomenon. To prevent memory build up we will cut your lawn in a different direction the next time we service your lawn. Memory build-up is different than striping. Striping refers to the beautiful stripes that our mowers leave on the thicker and lusher lawns.