Monday, May 24, 2010

Rental Girl's tip # 2 - Aeration

Keeping it healthy is all about the holes

Once you have a perfectly mowed lawn - grass at the optimal height and mowed at the optimal intervals, sit back, relax and pat yourself on the back. Oh yeah, and aerate your lawn. And not just with the "as seen on TV" aerating shoe attachments (though they look fun to use - can anyone say lawn aerating party?). For this segment I turned to the experts at Ryan, a turf and lawn equipment manufacturer for more information. Click here for their site.

Aeration is a step that many do-it-yourselfers miss, but one that has the potential to give you one of the lushest lawns on your block. Aerating your lawn is like allowing it to take a deep breath of air and a gulp of water. In addition to allowing the grass to absorb more water it also increases the resiliency and cushioning of your lawn and allows the root systems to really take hold. This in turn will help your grass survive and flourish through the drier summer months or while you're gone on that long vacation.

Here's how it works
The idea is simple, that by creating holes or plugs of even size (usually about 1 1/2- 3" deep), more air and water will have the chance to get to the grass roots which otherwise become compacted and too dense to absorb the nutrients they need. In the Bay Area, this problem is often amplified by the dense clay soil right beneath the surface. Within a week, your lawn should begin to fortify its roots and you'll see the holes fill with the new, white root system. Some of the results of these stronger roots should be a softer, lusher and healthier lawn.

5 quick tips

#1 Prep the lawn. Be sure to mark your in-ground sprinkler heads!

#2 Set the right depth. Aerating depth ranges between 1 1/2" to 3" and can be adjusted on the aerating machine depending on how thick the dead organic matter is beneath your lawn.

#3 Aerate the lawn in a cross-hatch pattern. Go across the lawn in parallel lines in one direction, then change and make another set of parallel lines at a 45 degree angle to the original lines for maximum coverage.

#4 Don’t remove the “plugs” that will litter your lawn afterward,they will decompose and feed the turf and new roots.

#5 If you live in an area with clay-rich soil, aerating twice a year in the Spring and Fall is most beneficial.

For more information on renting an aerator at AAA Rentals Redwood City click here.

Let your lawn breathe!

Until next post,
Rental Girl Redwood City

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rental Girl’s Musings on Lawn Care: Mowing

Common problem: Cutting back on monthly expenses = laying off your gardener
Common side effect: Having to take care of the yard yourself...

As I begin, I have to note that I'm VERY grateful that my own lawn care is included in my rent, as I'm not really the type that would love to take care of my lawn. By the way, I think my husband's also secretly relieved that he doesn't have to spend hours more a week working on the yard. But don't tell him that I know it. :)

I have been thinking about this topic lately, wondering what we would do if we were responsible for keeping a nice green, trim lawn to match the others in our picture perfect neighborhood. What equipment would we need? And what the heck do you do with it? Is it enough to mow it once a week and leave it alone?

Mowing - I guess there's more to it
I think we all remember the neighborhood kid mowing our yard for some extra cash, something that seems to be a bit of a relic here in California or at least in our neighborhood. I was somewhat surprised to learn from some friends (but then also not) that there are still enterprising young teenagers mowing lawns in Dallas, TX. At any rate, mowing should be the simplest task in lawn care - we often relegate this task to teenagers and our husbands after all! As I began to do research I learned that it's pretty straightforward, but not as simple as I thought.

First I found that there are many different varieties of grass. Ok. And that they have to be mowed at different lengths in order to flourish. This is a bit trickier. Apparently each variety of grass should be mowed at an optimal height for that species, somewhere between 0.5"-3". In general, warm climate grasses are mowed at a shorter height and cold climate grasses at a higher height. If you cut the grass too short, it is more vulnerable to disease and water runoff which causes all that precious water run off your grass and into the street instead of being absorbed (Hmm, I think I need to have a talk with our gardener). To adjust the cutting height you'll need to make sure that you "set" the blade on your mower at the correct height, or ask someone to do this for you when you rent a mower at your local rental center.

To find the type of grass that you have I found this site helpful - you can find pictures and names of common warm and cold climate grasses. To find the optimal mowing height for each one, click here.

4 Tips for Mowing

#1 Mow early in the day, but when the grass is dry.

#2 Set the blade on your mower to the optimal height for your grass type. Don't overmow!

#3 Mow in an organized pattern, back and forth across the lawn to make sure you don't miss any spots - sorry, no zigzags! Also try alternating the direction in which you mow each week.

#4 Leave some of the grass clippings on the lawn for a free and natural fertilizer.

For more information about renting a lawn mower visit AAA Rentals Redwood City

Don't miss my next post..."it's all about the holes"