The common causes of poor lawns are:
- Poorly adapted species or cultivar(s)
- Improper time of planting seed
- Improper use of fertilizers and lime
- Poor watering practices or poorly drained soils
- Too much traffic or compaction of soil
- Mowing the lawn too short or too infrequently
- Mowing with dull blades
- Not treating for weeds, fungus, and insect problems
Turfgrass Species and Cultivars
In general, turf-type tall fescue is the best-adapted grass for Middle Atlantic area lawns. Kentucky bluegrass, while providing a very aesthetically pleasing lawn, requires a higher level of lawn maintenance than tall fescue. Perennial ryegrass is not recommended for use on lawns due to its susceptibility to many fungal diseases. Fine leaf fescues (creeping red, chewings, sheep, and hard fescue) are adapted to low pH soil and moderate shade but do not tolerate mowing or foot traffic in the heat of summer.
Zoysiagrass is one of the best low-maintenance grasses for lawns but is slow and expensive to establish. Many people find the winter dormant brown color objectionable. Another drawback is that Zoysiagrass needs full sun to thrive. It does not perform well, even in partial shade.
Best Time to Plant Seed
Establishing a tall fescue lawn is best accomplished from mid-August through October. A much larger window of opportunity is available for overseeding an existing lawn. Zoysiagrass is best established vegetatively or from seed in May or June.
Fertilizer and Limestone
Soil tests determine nutrient deficiencies and any need to adjust soil pH. Scientific Plant Service determines your lawn’s needs by analyzing soil test results. All Scientific Plant Service fertilizer applications utilize Polyon fertilizer. Polyon is a urethane-coated nutrient that slowly releases nutrients to the turf in a very prescribed manner. Weather, rainfall, temperature, etc., will not create flushes of growth that often cause problems. The turf takes up virtually all nutrients, and the leaching of nutrients is eliminated.
The best time of day to water a lawn is during early morning hours and only when the lawn needs water. It is best to apply water “when needed” rather than on a fixed schedule. When watering, it is essential to water slowly, allowing the water to infiltrate to a depth of 6 inches. Light and frequent watering cause roots to remain in the top few inches rather than reaching deep into the soil profile. Frequent watering also promotes fungal diseases by keeping the leaf blades wet for long periods of time.
Compaction and Traffic Issues
Lawn aeration is a necessary and often overlooked cultural practice. Turfgrass roots need air to thrive. Scientific Plant Service offers core aeration to keep your lawn’s root system strong and healthy.
Low and infrequent mowing are major causes of poor lawns and lawn maintenance. Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf surface at any one mowing. We recommend mowing tall fescue at 3 to 4 inches. Maintaining blade sharpness is important. A sharp blade makes a clean cut, whereas a dull blade tears the leaf blade.
Treating for Weeds, Fungus, and Insect Problems
Despite using sound cultural practices mentioned above, crabgrass and broadleaf weeds often become a problem. Crabgrass is best controlled with a pre-emergence herbicide. Scientific Plant Service offers guaranteed crabgrass and goosegrass control. We also provide guaranteed broadleaf weed and insect control. Fungus control is recommended when certain environmental conditions such as high temperature and humidity exist.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.