Dogs can be a great addition to a family. They often give us as many hours of entertainment and companionship as we give them. But unfortunately they can create a lot of problems for our lawns. The wear and tear from running around in the same areas will thin out quickly and prevent the grass growing back. If they have a favorite spot on the lawn for their bathroom habits, it’ll deteriorate a root system quickly. And then when you throw in all the other frustrations of keeping your lawn healthy it creates quite the headache. We can’t just get rid of our best friends. But we can incorporate some best practices to eliminate some of the wear and tear to our lawns.
Dog urine is loaded with nitrogen, especially the first release of the day, because all the protein they eat. And too much nitrogen is a killer for a lawn. Just don’t let your friend out to go where he wants, he’ll just keep going to same spot or where he smells other animals. Take a few minutes, specifically in the morning, to show them where you want them to go. Hopefully with time, they’ll learn to stay off the lawn. There are also supplements at your local pet store that help regulate the nitrogen they produce.
Don’t forget to pick up after them. Dog stool is a killer too. It contains high levels of nitrogen as well. As it break down it will transfer higher than recommended levels of nitrogen to the ground. Over time it will burn the grass as well. I know it’s not our favorite chore. But if you make sure you cleanup after your friend a couple times a week. It’ll go a long way to preventing dead spots.
Aerate and over seed your lawn routinely. Whether you have a warm or cool season lawn, it’ll be important that you repair those areas that get most of the wear. The aeration is needed to help with the compaction to help get nutrients back to the roots again. Then the over seeding will help restore grass to those areas. You’ll just need to keep your friend off the reseeded areas for a few weeks after it’s done.
Make sure the grass is getting the right amount of sun and water. Depending on the grass, too much or too little light will speed up the process of a thinning lawn. Your grass will also need a certain amount of water each week, typically one inch, to keep the root system from stressing too much. Any added stress will certainly make the problem worse. But consult your local lawn professional to see what is best for the type of grass you have in your yard.
When all else fails, you do have an alternative. Go artificial! There are several companies around the country that offer artificial alternatives to grass. With today’s technology in artificial grass, you’ll have many choices that will give you a similar feel and look to natural grass. It’s typically a sizable investment because of costs in material and preparation. But if you’re looking for a long term solution, it will certainly be money well spent.
After the snow comes and the cold sets in, it’s easy to forget about the lawn in the winter. Especially for those of us in the South, the last thing we want is to spend hours outside in the cold when there’s football on inside. But we do need to put a few hours here and there over the next few months to help promote new growth. Here’s a couple thoughts to be mindful of from your friends at ALF as we make the slow winter’s crawl to spring 2018.
1. Do a quick sweep of your lawn every couple weeks. Any objects that are left on the ground, even leaves, will leave impressions that could lead to dead spots in the lawn when it’s time for new growth. It will likely leave those areas stunted and thinner most of the year.
2. In periods of winter weather, you need to keep your driveways and walkways clear of snow and ice. Guests won’t be tempted to cut through the yard. And they won’t mistake your yard as part of the driveway. Even the smallest of cars or excess foot traffic can stunt or kill the grass as well as promote weeds when the temperature is just right.
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Snow in the Deep South is unusual in early December. But it’s a welcome sight this close to Christmas especially since we’ve seen spring like temperatures over the past couple years. Even though the snow is sometimes a fun by product of our winters. It can have some negative effects on our warm season lawns here in the South.
Bermuda and Zoysia lawns are susceptible to winter-kill when there are prolonged periods of ice, snow, or cold temperatures. The cold and wet conditions could create a fungus that infects the areas. Or the conditions could simply kill the crown of the grass keeping the area from generating new growth next growing season.
ALF recommends these four simple steps to give you the best chance of preventing winter-kill next spring:
1. Remove the ice/snow within 3-4 days.
2. Ask you turf care company about Fungicide Programs.
3. Eliminate any drainage issues where water sits more than 2 days.
4. Make sure your irrigation is off for the winter.