Fertilize shady areas less than sunny areas.
People tend to over apply fertilizer to shady areas because the grass is struggling. But that is just the opposite of what you should do! Grass loves sunny areas so it's no surprise it does better in those spaces. If your lawn is really struggling in the shade, over-seed with a blend specifically designed for shady areas.
Aerate in the early spring.
Older lawns can become very compacted over time due to traffic and gravity. Perforating alleviates the compaction in your and lawn opens up your soil with small holes that allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate to the grass roots. Roots benefit and will grow deeper: producing a stronger, more vigorous lawn. You can top dress with zeolite afterwards to add drainage and help break up clay.
De-thatch your lawn.
*Compacted lawn compared to uncompacted and fertilized lawn.
Thatch is the bits and pieces of dead grass that accumulate just above the soil over time. A little bit is beneficial. It's organic material that can be broken down by microbes in the soil. When the thatch becomes too much that it can't naturally breakdown, it becomes a detriment - forming a barrier that keeps moisture and air from getting to where the grass needs it. A half-inch or more of thatch can weaken your lawn. De-thatching can also prevent dew worms and chinch bugs. Thatch is a great place for them to set up shop. When dew worms are present there is little control. For chinch bugs, we have now have nematodes that target the grub and is an effective control for this turf pest. The best time to de-thatch is late summer or early fall. That's when your grass is growing most vigorously. Before de-thatching, mow a little shorter than normal. This makes it easier to get it out. You'll achieve better results if you do it after a light rain or watering.
Vary the length of your grass
according to the season and growing conditions. In the spring, let the grass come fully out of hibernation before clipping it down. Don't cut it as short as you may in the fall. Cutting your grass too short weakens it. Longer grass grows stronger and thicker and crowds out weeds. Also, weed seeds can't germinate as easily since they don't get much light. Established weeds have a tougher time competing with the surrounding turf. Alternatively, cutting your grass shorter in the fall can prevent snow mold and other diseases; but in the spring, let it flourish and allow the plant to deepen its roots. A healthy root system means healthy plants.
Experiment with different grass heights.
Typically, most lawns in Calgary are a mixture of several types of grasses. Where you are, will dictate your lawn's growing habit - whether you are out on the prairies or in a highly shaded or sunny area. The type of grass that does the best in each condition will be the predominate grass in that area. The ideal mowing height for our cold climate species to maintain its health and thickness is about 2.5 inches. Take note of which areas and at which height your lawn grows its best in different growing conditions throughout the summer.
The best defense against weeds in your lawn
is to have a healthy lawn. Grass is super aggressive! That's why it's an ideal plant for covering large areas. If your lawn is healthy it becomes difficult for invasive plants to take hold. Although there are ways to wholesale weed kill your lawn such as a weed bar, the best way to choke out weeds is to ensure you have a healthy lawn. This is not only a more beneficial way of controlling weeds; it is also cost effective.
Soil pH (acidity level) is very important,
and just because your dirt looks rich it doesn't mean it's the right pH for grass. Take samples around the yard and test them. If the pH in your soil is too low (acidic) or too high (alkaline), you may have issues with your lawn. Most grasses prefer a pH of 6.0 to 7.2. Lucky for us, this is a typical pH level in our area; so the chances of this being a huge issue are low. If you want to test your soil, we have kits on hand.
Treat dog spots with a lengthy hosing.
Take a good quality sprayer and spray out the affected dead patches with vigor. When you think you have sprayed enough, do it some more. The key is to dilute the urine and clear out the dead grass to expose clean soil as much as possible. Often this "treatment" will be enough to bring back the lawn in a number of weeks. You can over seed with a specifically designed dog patch product to shorten that amount of time. Dog Rocks can be added to your pets drinking bowl to help prevent this particular issue without harming you best friend.
Over seed bare patches.
Simply mix good quality compost with a grass seed blend appropriate for the sunlight it receives. Spread the compost seed mixture over the bare areas in your lawn and keep it moist until it fills in and grows to at least 1.5 inches in length before you mow it. Fertilize the patched areas with a high middle number fertilizer to get the roots growing strong. You can do this in the spring if you know there are areas that will not fill in. Otherwise, late summer and early fall are the best times to reseed any dead areas. Summer is just too hot for the seed to thrive.
Watering is all too important!
Water deeply, not sporadically. Many people have the misconception that short frequent waterings are the best - they're not. If you have an irrigation system, you may be tempted to water often for short periods. Set your system to water deeply less often. You want your lawn to reach deeply with its roots. The key is to water less often and more deeply. Ideally, you want to water about an inch or so with each watering giving it many days in between depending on the weather. Use a rain gauge or an overturned Frisbee to know how much water is being applied at each watering. Monitor how your lawn is doing to know exactly how often to water. Each area of the city - and even areas within your lawn - may have different requirements. If water is pouring off your lawn and into the street, this is a good indication that you're applying too much water. Remember that you can kill your lawn with kindness by watering too much: introducing unwanted pests and diseases.
A final secret hack
is to apply Evolve Rage Plus via a dial a spray bottle in early spring. Water as evenly as possible at the rate recommended on the label. Rage Plus is an excellent fertilizer to get plants flushed out and looking their best.
Spring Lawn Maintenance
Rake lawn thoroughly or use a power rake to break up the thatch. Thatch is interwoven dead grass, which prevents moisture and nutrients from penetrating into the soil.
Consider applying Corn Gluten.
Aerate every few years, which is removing soil plugs. This allows better moisture and nutrient penetration.
Corn gluten is a great fertilizer that has the added benefit of inhibiting the germination of seeds in soil. This means that while fertilizing your lawn, you will also have the added benefit of preventing any weeds that have been deposited in your lawn from sprouting. Seeds can last several years in the soil, so an application in spring can be very beneficial. This is as close to a "weed and feed" as we can get in Calgary. Take note: only apply this to an established lawn that does not need any extra over seeding as the seeds will not germinate after application.