Heavy Traffic on your lawn such as children playing ball, the family dog in your yard, a swing set or soccer net; all of these activities play a role in ruining your chances of having a great lawn. Also, let’s not forget Mother Nature and the role rough weather plays in the health of your lawn. Let’s explore what we all face while trying to achieve the perfect lawn.
Compaction – we find compaction problems with our lawns at home as well as our local recreational areas across the nation. Compaction comes mainly from over use through excessive foot traffic. The result is that grass roots cannot establish in hard compacted soil because the grass plant is unable to absorb nutrients to sustain the plant. Almost every yard has some areas that have compaction that should be addressed.
The best way for a quick fix of soil compaction is aeration to de-compact the soil. Aeration can be accomplished by a machine you can rent that pulls plugs out of the soil. Other machines simply “spike” the soil but sometimes this creates more compaction in the soil. Aeration creates space for water, nutrients and air, yes air, to penetrate deeper into the soil. This allows the grass plant roots to better absorb nutrients and establish. Aeration also creates a nice platform to grow newly seeded grass since the seed can get into the root zone for better germination and root growth.
Aeration alone is not the sole answer to compaction because if you do not deal with the cause of the compaction the symptoms will return over time. One way to avoid compaction is to rotate the ball playing area or the dog run, I know it’s hard to move the swing set every 3 months! Since you cannot always impose a “stay off the grass” policy, if you can move traffic around you won’t have to aerate as often. You will be amazed how well a stressed area can regenerate itself once aeration takes place and/or traffic moves to another area. After aeration, apply Love Your Soil to help relieve soil compaction. Love Your Soil has the uncanny ability help “pull” soil particles apart and spur microbial activity in the soil. It can also help neutralize salt damage from ice melters.
Heavy traffic along driveways and sidewalks can lead to soil compaction and also promote crabgrass growth during summer months. Foot scuffing and dogs scratching the soil helps break the crabgrass barrier created by pre-emergent herbicides. Once crabgrass seeds come to the soil surface and receive some sunshine and water, the crabgrass plant will thrive. Consider a second application of pre-emergence in areas that are crabgrass problems over the years.
The turfgrass industry is developing genetically superior varieties of grass and these advances in grass genetics are creating stronger plants that can better tolerate wear. Remember, while purchasing grass seed “you get what you pay for.” Traffic tolerant grass species include Tall Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass. Once the soil conditions are improved from aeration and Love Your Soil, be sure to re-seed these areas. Follow the New American Lawn Plan to retain healthy turf.
It’s nice to walk in a winter wonderland of snow at this time of the year. However, excessive snow on the lawn for weeks and months at a time can damage the lawn once it melts from snow mold disease. Try to avoid too much heavy traffic on your lawn during winter months. Foot prints can be left on tender grass blades causing damage and potentially the grass will die and have to be re-seeded in spring. I hope you enjoyed the holidays and can take some time to enjoy watching some football or go to the movies. You do not have to worry about your lawn until spring.