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How-to : Fertilize Lawn
Now is the time to fertilize the lawn.
Conditions : Sun
Sun is defined as the continuous, direct, exposure to 6 hours (or more) of sunlight per day.
Conditions : Light Conditions
Unless a site is completely exposed, light conditions will change during the day and even during the year. The northern and eastern sides of a house receive the least amount of light, with the northern exposure being the shadiest. The western and southern sides of a house receive the most light and are considered the hottest exposures due to intense afternoon sun.
You will notice that sun and shade patterns change during the day. The western side of a house may even be shady due to shadows cast by large trees or a structure from an adjacent property. If you have just bought a new home or just beginning to garden in your older home, take time to map sun and shade throughout the day. You will get a more accurate feel for your site's true light conditions.
Conditions : Full to Partial Sun
Full sunlight is needed for many plants to assume their full potential. Many of these plants will do fine with a little less sunlight, although they may not flower as heavily or their foliage as vibrant. Areas on the southern and western sides of buildings usually are the sunniest. The only exception is when houses or buildings are so close together, shadows are cast from neighboring properties. Full sun usually means 6 or more hours of direct unobstructed sunlight on a sunny day. Partial sun receives less than 6 hours of sun, but more than 3 hours. Plants able to take full sun in some climates may only be able to tolerate part sun in other climates. Know the culture of the plant before you buy and plant it!
Conditions : Light and Plant Selection
For best plant performance, it is desirable to match the correct plant with the available light conditions. Right plant, right place! Plants which do not receive sufficient light may become pale in color, have fewer leaves and a "leggy" stretched-out appearance. Also expect plants to grow slower and have fewer blooms when light is less than desirable. It is possible to provide supplemental lighting for indoor plants with lamps. Plants can also receive too much light. If a shade loving plant is exposed to direct sun, it may wilt and/or cause leaves to be sunburned or otherwise damaged.
Conditions : Full Sun
Full Sun is defined as exposure to more than 6 hours of continuous, direct sun per day.
Conditions : Regular Moisture for Outdoor Plants
Water when normal rainfall does not provide the preferred 1 inch of moisture most plants prefer. Average water is needed during the growing season, but take care not
to overwater. The first two years after a plant is installed, regular watering
is important. The first year is critical. It is better to water once a week
and water deeply, than to water frequently for a few minutes.
How-to : Lawn Soil Preparation
Soil should provide a good rooting environment that supplies adequate moisture, air, and nutrients. The new lawn site should first be worked to insure uniform drainage and water penetration. Remove old sod or existing weeds, which can prevent new seeds from rooting properly. This can be done by hand or with a nonselective herbicide that will kill roots too. Add limestone if the pH of your soil is too low (6.0 or lower); consult your garden center for specific rates to properly adjust pH. Also add a starter fertilizer, which is high in phosphorus (important for new root growth). Organic matter in the form of peat moss or rotted compost may be added at a rate of 1 cubic yard per 1000 sq. feet area . Rake all these materials together, smooth, then firm the seedbed with a roller prior to seeding. Finally soak the seeding area and keep it moist until you are ready to seed.
How-to : Lawn Seed Selection
When planning a lawn consider your climate and the use the lawn will get. Some species do not grow well when subjected to excess foot traffic, others form a denser mat which resists wear.
Grass seed are characterized according to temperature. Cool season grasses are best suited to the northern half of the United States, while warm season grasses are best for the southern half of the US. Cool season grasses, generally grown from seed, withstand cold winters, but suffer in hot, dry summer conditions and should not be mowed too closely. They are usually established during their active growing season, the cooler months.
Warm season grasses, can be seeded, grown from plugs (small circles of turf), sprigs (stolons or rhizomes) or sodded, and are more heat, drought and wear tolerant than cool season grasses. They also can be mowed more closely and will lose color when temperatures creep below 50 degrees F. Warm season grasses are usually established during their growing season, the warmer months. Sod can be layed any time of year.
Instead of a single type of seed, it may be preferable to go with a mixture of different types of seed. While a single type of seed will produce a lawn which looks more uniform, this lawn will be more susceptible to disease and other damage resulting in loss of the lawn. A mixture of seed will provide you with some insurance as a population of different grass types will be better able to survive any adversity.
Warm Season Grasses include: Common Bermuda, Hybrid Bermudas, Centepede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Buffalo Grass, Bahaia. Cool Season Grasses include: Fescues, Perennial Bluegrass, Rye, Bentgrass.
How-to : Locating a Lawn
Lawns are the welcome-mat of the American suburban homestead. Many people take pride in showcasing their house with a thick, green, well maintained lawn. However a lush lawn doesn't just happen. Proper planning and maintenance is needed to get good results. When choosing a lawn site, remember more sun, the better. Red Fescue is probably the most shade tolerant grass, but even it does not take full shade well. Opt for ground covers in shade or beneath dense shade trees. Do not establish a lawn over exposed surface roots of trees or on slopes that would be dangerous to mow. This next step is to decide which type of grass is best suited to your area.
How-to : Laying Sod
Sod, is a ready-made lawn that was grown on a sod farm and harvested to be transplanted elsewhere. It is more expensive than seeding but it saves significant time compared to seeding. It is also useful on slopes or areas where erosion is a problem. Sod is essentially mature top growth, roots, and only a minimal amount of soil. When laying sod, first prepare the soil as you would when seeding. Then lay the rolls out on the bed and stagger the seams where strips end, pushing edges together tightly. If sodding on a slope, you may want to secure sod to ground with long pins or nails, which should be removed once roots have established. Keep well watered until the roots become established.
Weeds : Preventing Weeds and Grass
Weeds rob your plants of water, nutrients and light. They can harbor pests and diseases. Before planting, remove weeds either by hand or by spraying an herbicide according to label directions. Another alternative is to lay plastic over the area for a couple of months to kill grass and weeds.
You may apply a pre-emergent herbicide prior to planting, but be sure that it is labeled for the plants you are wishing to grow. Existing beds may be spot
sprayed with a nonselective herbicide, but be careful to shield those plants you do not want to kill. Non-selective means that it will kill everything it comes in contact with.
Mulch plants with a 3 inch layer of pinestraw, pulverized bark, or compost. Mulch conserves moisture, keeps weeds down, and makes it easier to pull when necessary.
Porous landscape or open weave fabric works too, allowing air and water to be exchanged.
Conditions : Pollution Tolerant
Air pollution is becoming a bigger problem each day. Pollutants in our air damage plants. The plants are damaged by absorbing sulfur dioxide, ozone, peroxyacetyl nitrate, ethylene, and nitrogen dioxide through their pores. Cell membrane damage may result in leaf drop, blotched or burnt looking leaves, or off-colored tissue between veins. Vehicles and industrial processes are the key culprits and conditions worsen on hot summer days. Though planting only pollution tolerant plants is not the solution to this problem, it is a visual band aid. Your Cooperative Extension Service may have a list of plants that are more pollution tolerant in your area.
Conditions : Slope Tolerant
Slope tolerant plants are those that have a fibrous root system and are often plants that prefer good soil drainage. These plants assist in erosion control by stabilizing/holding the soil on slopes intact.
Glossary : Naturalizing
Naturalizing refers to planting in a random pattern, much as itwould occur in nature. If you spend any time in the woods, you've probably noticed that plants often grow in groups. The center of the group is dense and towards the edges, plants are located farther apart. Narcissus bulbs are easy to naturalize if you use this method: fill a bucket with bulbs and toss them out. Plant them where they fall. You will notice a portion of the bulbs are close together while the others have scattered farther away.
Glossary : Some Sand
Some Sand refers to a soil that drains fast, but has lower water holding capacity due to the presence of a little organic matter. A good workable soil that needs added fertilizer due to lower fertility levels and adequate water. Usually gray in color. Forms a loose, crumbly ball that easily falls apart when squeezed in the hand.
Glossary : Sandy Loam
Sandy Loam refers to a soil that drains well, with excellent air space, and evenly crumbled texture when squeezed in the hand. A good workable garden soil that benefits from added fertilizer and proper watering. Dark gray to gray-brown in color.
Glossary : Loam
Loam is the ideal soil, having the perfect balance between particle size, air space, organic matter and water holding capacity. It forms a nice ball when squeezed in the palm of the hand, but crumbles easily when lightly tapped with a finger. Rich color ranges between gray brown to almost black.
Glossary : Clayey Loam
Clayey loam refers to a soil that retains moisture well, without having a drainage problem. Fertility is high and texture good. Easily forms a ball when squeezed in the hand, and then crumbles easily with a quick tap of the finger. Considered an ideal soil. Usually a rich brown color.
Glossary : Some Clay
Some Clay refers to a soil that is loam-like, but heavier. Drainage
is not bad, prolonged periods of rain cause bog-like conditions. Rich in nutrients, but
needs the addition of organic matter to improve texture. Easily forms a ball
when squeezed and requires a firm tap with finger to crumble. Light brown to
slightly orange color.
Glossary : Annual
An annual is any plant that completes its life cycle in one growing season.
Glossary : Grass
Grass: A member of the Poaceae family, usually having round, hollow or solid stems with regularly spaced nodes. Seed are produced on spikes in the form of a raceme, panicle, or spike.
Glossary : Plant Characteristics
Plant characteristics define the plant, enabling a search that finds specific types of plants such as bulbs, trees, shrubs, grass, perennials, etc.
Glossary : Foliage Characteristics
By searching foliage characteristics, you will have the opportunity to look
for foliage with distinguishable features such as variegated leaves, aromatic
foliage, or unusual texture, color or shape. This field will be most helpful to you if
you are looking for accent plants. If you have no preference, leave this
field blank to return a larger selection of plants.
Glossary : Soil Types
A soil type is defined by granule size, drainage, and amount of organic material
in the soil. The three main soil types are sand, loam and clay. Sand has the
largest particle size, no organic matter, little to no fertility, and drains
rapidly. Clay, at the opposite end of the spectrum, has the smallest particle
size, can be rich in organic matter, fertility and moisture, but is often
unworkable because particles are held together too tightly, resulting in poor
drainage when wet, or is brick-like when dry. The optimum soil type is loam,
which is the happy median between sand and clay: It is high in organic matter,
nutrient-rich, and has the perfect water holding capacity.
You will often
hear loam referred to as a sandy loam (having more sand, yet still plenty of
organic matter) or a clay loam (heavier on the clay, yet workable with good
drainage.) The addition of organic matter to either sand or clay will result
in a loamy soil. Still not sure if your soil is a sand, clay, or loam? Try
this simple test. Squeeze a handfull of slightly moist, not wet, soil in your
hand. If it forms a tight ball and does not fall apart when gently tapped
with a finger, your soil is more than likely clay. If soil does not form a
ball or crumbles before it is tapped, it is sand to very sandy loam. If soil forms a
ball, then crumbles readily when lightly tapped, it's a loam. Several quick, light
taps could mean a clay loam.