Lawn Cutting


Lawncare

As more and more homeowners are staying put and investing in their homes, lawn care is becoming a priority. A healthy lawn says a lot about the homeowner. From a strong root system, to lush green grass, to vibrant plants and flowers, a beautifully manicured lawn enhances the overall look and value of a person’s home. Good maintenance practices are therefore essential throughout the growing season and in particular, proper mowing, fertilizing, irrigation, aeration and thatch control are the keys to maintaining a thick, healthy lawn.

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Lawn Cutting

Mowing has a major influence on the turf density, uniformity and aesthetic quality of your lawn.

Cutting Frequency and Height of Cut
Your lawn can be mowed frequently, provided no more than one-third of the grass blade is removed in a single cut. Mow high leaving your grass at a height of 2 1/2″ – 3″ if possible. Longer grass shades and protects roots, reducing evaporation and encouraging the development of a deep, extensive root system. Lower mowing on the other hand produces a shallow root system. Shallow grass roots cannot take up enough water and nutrients, making the lawn susceptible to drought stress. Low mowing also encourages broadleaf weed invasion and invasion from grassy weeds such as creeping bentgrass and annual blue-grass. It is best to mow a lawn when the leaves are dry as dry grass cuts cleanly, and clippings distribute more evenly.

Clippings
Leave clippings on the lawn. If they are excessively thick (0.5 cms or more), rake them up to avoid smothering the grass. Otherwise, clippings contain nutrients and water, breakdown rapidly and do not contribute significantly to thatch. You can reduce the amount of fertilizer you use (especially nitrogen) by 20%-35% by leaving them on the lawn!

Mowers
All mower blades should be sharpened in the Spring and thereafter regularly sharpened to ensure a good quality cut. Grass recovers more quickly and easily from a clean cut than when it is torn. Also, the use of a mulching-type of mower is recommended as it recycles grass clippings.

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Watering

When normal rainfall is insufficient to sustain your lawn you may notice:

  • footprints remain while walking across the lawn
  • grass colour changes to a dark blue-green
  • grass blades fold inwards

During extended hot, dry periods your lawn will even wilt, turn brown and go dormant. Common grass varieties like Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues will turn green again however when regular moisture conditions return. Proper watering therefore is essential and the key to doing this effectively is to water your grass deeply, on an as-needed basis only, at the correct time of day.

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Timing

The ideal time of day to water is in the early morning when there is little or no wind. This provides for even water distribution. Watering before mid-day also maximizes use of your water as this is when the evaporation rate is lowest. Watering in the evening is least desirable as moisture sits on the grass longer encouraging the development of disease-causing fungi and infection

 

 

 

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Amount of Water

Too much water applied frequently can cause thatch, fertilizer leaching, and disease. It also exacerbates the growth of grassy weeds such as creeping bentgrass, annual bluegrass or rough bluegrass. Too little water applied frequently is equally undesirable, causing shallow rooting of the turf, which makes the lawn susceptible to disease, drought stress or winter injury. Infrequent, thorough watering is best. When the lawn wilts, wet the entire area to a depth of 10-20 cm. To measure how much water has been applied, place a straight-sided can or jar in the area being watered, and run your sprinkler for 15 minutes. Check the water level in the can or jar. Approximately 2.5-4 cm of water in the can corresponds to an adequate irrigation of the lawn. If the sprinkler delivered 0.5 cm in 15 minutes, you will need to water for 1.25 hours to get the required 2.5 cm accumulation in your container.

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Soil Type and Surface Features

As a general rule, the above guidelines will satisfy the requirements of most lawns. Grass growing on compacted, fine (ie. sandy) soil or on slopes, areas near buildings, curbs and sidewalks, or near large trees however will require more water whereas low-lying areas, shaded areas, and heavy soils will require less.

 

 

 

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Irrigation Equipment

Hose watering is suitable for small lawns. For average lawns a sprinkler attachment provides adequate coverage, but is often wasteful of water and inconvenient in that it requires being moved from section to section. Most efficient, yet unfortunately also most expensive, is the underground irrigation system. Designed principally for use on larger lawns or industrial properties, permanent, in-ground sprinkler heads positioned at opportune locations throughout the lawn assure for maximum water coverage. Controlled by the flick of a switch or use of a timer, the homeowner is able to direct exactly when and where water is used, thus minimizing water wastage, while ensuring that each section of the lawn receives different amounts of water as needed.

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Over-Seeding

Overseeding is a method of thickening up a lawn that has become thin or damaged by insects, diseases, weeds, drought, excessive traffic or other types of damage. To ensure success, add compost, peat or top-soil before overseeding. Overseed at double the seeding rate for establishing a new lawn. The best time to overseed a lawn is in the fall (mid-August to mid-September). Keep the overseeded area moist by watering several times a day. One week after seeding, reduce watering to twice a day until seedlings are established.

 

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Aeration

Aeration is a process which either pokes holes in your lawn manually with spikes or removes cores of dirt from your lawn mechanically with a core aerator. The holes thereafter provide direct access to plant roots for water, air and vital nutrients, making it easier for them to grow. The stronger and deeper the root system the more heat and drought-tolerant the lawn is likely to be.

Benefits of Aeration:

1. Breaks up harmful thatch
2. Brings up beneficial soil micro-organisms that help break down thatch
3. Alleviates soil compaction
4. Improves water and nutrient infiltration
5. Increases oxygen to roots
6. Encourages new and deeper root growth
7. Reduces water runoff and puddling

Aeration is best done in conjunction with overseeding and/or topdressing and is generally of little benefit for soil types containing clay.

Signs that you need to aerate your lawn:

1. The ground is hard and compacted (Do not roll your lawn)
2. Thatch is building up
3. Water does not penetrate well
4. Weeds such as prostrate knotweed and clover are present

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Sodding

Sodding is another method of repairing damaged lawns. Cut out dead or damaged areas to a depth of roughly 4 cm. Rake the soil, add fertilizer and place the sod on top of the soil. Insure good sod/soil contact by stepping on the sod or rolling it. For the best results, sod should be watered within an hour of being laid. Water sod frequently and make sure it does not dry out until it is fully rooted. Newly sodded areas will be rooted in 10 days to 2 weeks.

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Hedge Trimming

Coniferous hedges are a phenomenally practical part of any landscaping architecture.  Relatively inexpensive to purchase, they are easy to transplant, grow rapidly, provide excellent privacy, protect from the wind, provide noise reduction, grow in a wide range of soils, provide excellent backdrops for flowers, replace the need for a fence, and when properly planted and nurtured, have excellent longevity (30 – 60 years) with minimal maintenance!!  Consisting of evergreens planted tightly in single rows, the most beautiful hedges are often of the cedar variety, however informal deciduous hedges, consisting of flowering shrubs like the pink spirea, weigela, potentillas, and lilacs or rosebushes are also popular.

Evergreen Hedge Maintenance

One of the most versatile, resilient and robust evergreens in Canada, the Ontario White Cedar (Thuja Occidentalis) or ‘hedging cedar’ lends itself well to trimming.  The key to proper maintenance of this type of a hedge however, lies in your knowledge of how it grows and the importance of establishing a dense growth habit early in its life.

 

Best Time to Trim

During your hedge’s first year of life, it will expel most of its energy establishing its root system in its new environment.  As such, it is not recommended to trim your hedge during this period.  After one full year has passed however, your hedge will have taken root, and snipping the very tops of the individual trees in the hedge will encourage side growth while still allowing the hedge to gain height.   During year one your hedge may only grow 1 -1 ½ feet in height, but by year three, once the root system is firmly established, you can expect up to 3 feet of new growth a year, which will require you to initiate an annual or even bi-annual trimming program.  While the growing season for cedars typically runs from mid-Summer to late Fall (depending upon moisture levels in the ground and extremities of temperature), trimming during this timeframe is ideal as it sets the hedge’s shape, yet still allows the hedge to benefit from a slight ‘filling in’ of its foliage before the winter hits.

 

Shaping and Proper Trimming Practise

Shearing of juvenile hedges in mid-Summer and again in late Fall encourages growth of side shoots which allows the individual trees in your hedge to grow toward one another, creating a lush, solid hedge.  To maximize side growth branches at the top of the hedge get cut shorter than those at the bottom, allowing even exposure of all branches to sunlight.  By shaping the bottom of the hedge wider than the top, growth at the base of your hedge is maintained, keeping it looking thick and healthy and allowing it to shed snow more effectively in the winter.  Hedges with thin or ‘see through’ bases occur when this practice is not followed.

If your hedge has been ignored for several years you can still bring it under control by removing up to 1/3 of its foliage each year until it looks the way you want it to.  Again, tapered pruning is essential to help any sunlight starved bald spots at the base regain growth.  The best tool for pruning is a simple set of sharp shears or a hedge trimmer.  Although gas types are the most powerful, electric and rechargeable battery powered hedge trimmers can be useful for small hedges, bearing in mind that electric models are limited by the length of their cords, and rechargeable models limited by the duration of their charge (usually about 25 minutes).

 

Ideal Hedge Height

Determining the ideal height of your hedge is important and the best way to do this is to identify what you would like your hedge to cover.  As a privacy fence, the most popular size hedge is one that is 4 – 5 feet in height, or the same height as a chain link fence.  If your intention is to conceal a 7-foot high fence however, your hedge would need to be maintained at this height.

 

Feeding and Watering

Whatever height you set to maintain your hedge at, it will require proper feeding.  This should occur prior to the commencement of its growth cycle in early Spring, after trimmings, and in late Fall so that life sustaining nutrients get delivered to its root system before going into dormancy for the winter months.  Ideally, the best fertilizer for cedar hedges is bloodmeal (high in nitrogen), sheep manure and/or Miracle Gro.  (Be sure to follow label directions closely).

The final component in a well-balanced hedge maintenance program, is water and mulch.  Sun tends to dry out the base of cedars, so applying cedar mulch around the base of your hedge, coupled with regular watering, will help maintain soil moisture assuring proper rooting and growth.   Apart from providing excellent water retention, cedar mulch is also an effective barrier against weeds which, left uncontrolled, will steal essential water and nutrients from the roots of your hedge.

During their first year of life, your cedars should be watered every evening for a period of 30-45 minutes with a soaker hose on a timer.  (A gentle hose setting will prevent soil erosion and ensure equal coverage for all trees.)  After this first year, water should continue to be applied during the evening at a saturation rate that will keep the soil moist at all times.   During dry summer periods or in the Fall (prior to the ground freezing) extra water should be given to your cedars to help them weather drought and store water for the long winter months.  Yes, whichever way you measure it, cedars require a lot of water and without it they will decline rapidly.  So, don’t be shy.  You can never over-water your hedge!

Regardless of whether you have a boxwood, cedar or flowering shrub hedge, Kodiak can help you trim and maintain it.  Feel free to call us at any time for more information or to get a free, no-obligation quote.

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