Who will be maintaining your property this year? Will it be you or a professional company? If you decide to care for your lawn yourself, plan to take these steps to maintain a basic landscaping appearance. Start with your winter clean up. Make sure the yard is clear of winter debris. If you did not fertilize in the winter months, then it's time to start. You should water your lawn after putting down any applications unless, of course, it rains. Get your mower ready. A quick safety check is recommended and a tune up probably is in order.
Every year I am faced with questions regarding the brown stuff mixed in with a good green grass blade. The brown material is called thatch. Thatch is organic matter that has accumulated on your lawn. A small amount of thatch is OK to have on your lawn. It retains the moisture and adds some nutrients back into the soil. Too much thatch, however, will cause problems in your yard.
I use two methods to keep thatch under control. First, I use a machine called a core aerator. The core aerator pulls out plugs of soil. If your lawn is dense or compacted, aerating it will allow air flow, fertilizers and water into the soil. It is recommended that you aerate once a year to avoid thatch and soil compaction. The little plugs of soil can be left on the surface of your lawn. They will break down on their own.
Another method of dethatching is power raking. Power raking involves cutting through the thatch and pulling out the debris. There also is a dethatching rake that you can purchase at your local home improvement store. Using the rake is much more labor intensive. The goal is to pull up all the dead material in your lawn, allowing the lawn to breathe again.
If you follow an annual fertilizing program, water properly and get a soil test, you can manage thatch better. Timing is everything when it comes to dethatching. Your lawn might be more susceptible to weeds but it will thrive by late spring. I recommend that you follow up with a pre-emergent to discourage weed growth. If you decide to use power equipment, locate all your sprinkler heads, or underground dog fences. Mark them visibly then began rejuvenating your lawn.
Anthony Farris is the owner of Garden Medic, a landscaping company in Bluffton. He can be reached at 843-987-0984