Having your grass cut to the proper length can be crucial to a healthy lawn. Lawns should be mowed to 2 ¾” – 3 ¾”. The height of the grass is important to create a vibrant root system in the soil. If the grass is cut too short, the root system will become very shallow and have less access to water and nutrients in the soil. With a stronger root system grass will become more tolerant to environmental stress. Also a higher grass length helps restrict the amount of sunlight that reaches the soil. This is important because this will reduce weed germination, growth and hold vital moister in soil.
Mowing frequency is really determined upon by the growth rate of your grass. At different times of the year your grass may seem to grow faster and at other times it may seem like it is growing slower. The changes in seasons and different amounts of water (depending on rain/irrigation) also play a factor in the growth rate. Mowing show be done about once per week during a majority of the season. Mowing too infrequently causes damage to your lawn. This is because when you mow infrequently you have to removal too much of the plant at once, while with the proper mowing only a small portion of the blade of grass is removed. It is important to have you mower set to the right height (see the mowing height section for more details). It is also important to continue to mow throughout the fall until growth completely stops. If the grass is too long in the fall it may mat down during winter months making it more susceptible to winter disease problems. Changing the direction of mowing will help promote upright growth and be better for your lawn.
With proper lawn care you should not have to pick up or bag any grass clippings. If you are regularly moving the clippings will not be to long/thick and will provide your lawn with valuable nutrients. Most believe that leaving clippings on your lawn leads to excess thatch, this is not the case. Thatch is actually a layer of under composed organic matter that builds up between the soil and the surface and is actually caused by infrequent mowing, excessive nitrogen fertilizer and low soil oxygen levels. A light layer of thatch can actually help turf, ½” or less helps hold in moister and prevents weed seed germination. Clipping are decomposable and will break down quickly and not accumulate, with proper mowing.
At Alex’s Lawn and Turf we are always stressing how important safety is. Mowers can be dangerous if used improperly. Your mower should be sharpened and adjusted on a regular basis to ensure a clean cut, not having sharp blades can result in frays at ends of blade and brown tips of grass. Mowers have certain safety features that should not be removed or tampered with. Pick up rocks, sticks and anything else in your yard that may become dangerous if the mower picked up the item and threw it. Children should not operate mowers nor be around running mowers. Wear steel toe shoes to protect your feet and keep you steady. Also wearing safety glasses and ear protection is also important while mowing. Mow across a slope, not up and down, slopes can be dangerous. Be safe!
Water is essential for a healthy lawn. It is best for your lawn to establish a watering schedule to rehydrate the grass from water lost through evaporation and used by the plant. In all months except, June, July, August, and September we usually get more rain than your lawns need. Lawn irrigation during April, May, October and November could be needed, but will usually be minimal. Your grass should be the one to dictate a watering system. If you notice any wilting, color change (usually more gray or blue tone) or if you walk on the grass and footprints remain, your lawn is in need of watering. It is ideal for the roots to water only when needed, but before the grass becomes stressed. It is generally better to water heavy every other day than watering light. If you water frequently with small amounts of water, the root system will grow shallow and become week because the grass does not need to go deep into the soil to find moisture. As a rule of thumb, your lawn needs about 1” of water per week. You can track this amount with a rain gauge in your lawn. Some areas of your lawn may dry faster than others, this is common. It is best to water your lawn early in the morning. During the afternoon the water will evaporate before reaching the soil, which is not efficient. Also, afternoon watering can result in turf burn due to sun reflection and magnification from water droplets. If you water in the evening because of the cooler temperatures, water can sit and cause lawn diseases.
We do recommend that you fertilizer your lawns to provide a rich, lush, green lawn. Keeping a thick full lawn can help keep out weeds and looks much better. Though fertilizer is important, it is also important not to over fertilize your lawn. The grass can begin to grow too quickly and have too much nutrients which in turn can be bad for your lawn. We offer a 5 step fertilization program which includes a pre-emergent, strengthening blend, weed control, another strengthening blend and a winterizer. Apply fertilizers that are key to the time of year and weather conditions is crucial to a healthy lawn. Check out the fertilization page from more information on the fertilization programs we offer.
Aerating is a method of puncturing holes into your lawn to allow water, oxygen, fertilizers, and other nutrients to access the soil which will then help your lawn to become healthier. Aeration reduces problem with soil compaction and excess thatch. If you aerate correctly, you will notice a thicker, healthier lawn that will become more resistant to weeds, disease and even insects. How often to aerate differs between each lawn and the level of thatch and soil type, usually is somewhere between every year to every five years. Your lawn may need to be aerated if; the soil is compacted, your lawn has more than 1” of thatch or you are planning to over seed your lawn. Aerating prior to over seeding helps expose the soul and allows for better seed t soil contact. The best time of year to aerate is in early autumn. The next best time to aerate is in mid to late spring. Aerating while weeds are germinating can cause a threat to your lawn as aeration is beneficial for seed to soil contact for the grass, it is also beneficial for the weeds.
At times even the healthiest lawn can face some problems. Even with a healthy yard, wet conditions can cause lawn disease may arise. Dollar Spot get their name from their small silver dollar like shape, but can be as large as a grapefruit. Dollar spots usually are straw color and as you can see in the top picture is in the middle section of the plant. Fairy Rings are distinguishable by their circular rings that are filled with dark green grass that grows rapidly. Powdery Mildew is where your lawn looks like someone has sprinkled it with flower. It can also occur on lilacs and peonies as well. The best prevention is proper watering (follow our watering tips on the inside of the newsletter) and hot dry weather. Proper fertilization and mowing are also great ways to prevent disease like these from taking over your lawn.
Here in Minnesota we value our summer months, and most of us like to get out in our yards and enjoy them. This is why landscaping and creating a functional outdoor space is vital. When considering landscape options keep in mind that it should be visually pleasing, cost effective, maintainable, functional and environmentally friendly. It is important to come up with a solid landscape design prior to starting any landscape projects. If you are interested in finding out more about the design process and landscaping options check out DreamScapes.
Snow Removal is an important maintenance service needed in Minnesota’s unforgiving winters. Snow plowing, shoveling and snow relocation is necessary to maintain a safe site and to allow you, your guests, and/or customers and vendors to come and go safely from your property. The days of a shovel and an in efficient tractor are gone. At Alex’s we use the most state of the art equipment to clean your site and keep it safe. From state of the art plow trucks to large loaders with containment plows utilizing a rubber cutting edges which nearly eliminates damage to surfaces and reduces salt use.
We also use an extensive fleet of powerful skid loaders with specialty plows and containment plows to get into tight areas with unsurpassed maneuverability and snow placement capabilities. Snow relocation is done with loaders and our fleet of dump trucks to move snow to our off premises dump sites. We also relocate snow with large snow blowers to blow large volumes of snow away. We also move snow with loaders to your onsite location such as a drainage pond or field. Our sidewalk crews have an extensive fleet of snow blowers and man power to keep all pedestrians safe.
It takes 15 million barrels of oil to make all the plastic bottles used in the United States in a year. If we use 1/3 less bottles a year, the United States would conserve enough oil to power 500,000 cars a year on US roadways!!
Want to lower your electricity bill in the summer months and help the environment? If your home is shaded on the south side by a mature tree, it can reduce your electrical bill by up to 30%!! Plant a beautiful tree on the south side of your home and enjoy the splendor of the tree. Also watch your electricity consumption go down more and more each summer!
Only 3% of the earth’s water is fresh water, and we must protect this vital resource! We all know things like turning off the water while brushing your teeth or shortening you shower time, but did you know the green benefits of mulching? Mulch your gardens to reduce water evaporation around your house and landscaping. Mulching provides the benefit of fewer weeds and builds healthy soil.
Have you ever thought about using a rain barrel? A 1-inch level of rainfall on 1,000 square feet of roof with eaves and a downspout produces about 600 gallons of water. Install a rain barrel to water your landscaping and conserve water!
When looking for plants to add to your landscaping, there are many factors to keep in mind:
The care and maintenance for your plants all depend on the type of plants you chose and vary from each plant type.
As a rule of thumb, deer do not like rough textures and thorns. Here is a list of some deer and varmint resistant plants for Minnesota.