7 Steps to reviving your lawn

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With another cold, harsh winter on the horizon, many local residents will once again, face a number of challenges with their lawn and landscapes this upcoming spring.
Here's an effective 7-step recovery plan that corrects most lawn problems. Follow these simple rules, and your lawn will cure itself and be the envy of the neighbourhood.
1. Assess and care for your specific plants.
90% of Toronto's grass is Kentucky bluegrass. Kentucky bluegrass thrives during cool seasons, like our current cool summer.It grows best during the fall, winter, and spring months when temperatures are cool. Its growth slows during the warm summer months. Kentucky bluegrass prefers full sun, but will tolerate some shade. This species is used widely throughout the Greater Toronto Area where it is well adapted, but it has a poor summer performance in warm to hot temperatures.
When stressed by temperatures, lack of water, or poor soils, Kentucky bluegrass can be susceptible to disease and weed invasion. 
2. Get the rocks, clay, bricks out of your soil.
Plants have these things called roots. And if you can't drive your shovel more than 3 inches into the ground because the soil is hard as a brick, how far do you think the roots (and water and nutrients) are going to get?
Good topsoil, the kind of soil that grass needs to grow well, will be easy to dig to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. But because we allow building contractors to create our lawns, there's a rock-hard layer -- called a hard pan -- about 3 inches deep.
Cracking this hard pan before planting is imperative. Don't use a tiller -- it will simply turn your soil into a powder that will settle out into a layer harder than what you started with. And don't turn it. You want to keep the topsoil on top.
Instead, simply use a garden fork to crack it. Then spread two or three inches of fine pinebark mulch before laying new sod.
You can gradually build topsoil depth and quality by leaving clippings on your lawn, by mulching up tree leaves with the lawnmower, or by spreading a half-inch of pinebark mulch over the top of your grass each year.
3. Raise the mower height.  Don't mow low!
You think mowing short means you don't have to mow as often? That only works if you kill your grass. Low mowing means you have to mow MORE OFTEN to maintain the health of the grass and to control the weeds that will proliferate with low mowing.
4. Feed your grass and landscapes sunlight.
There is no substitute. Grass is green because it feeds itself, using sunlight to transform air and water into energy-rich starches. The grass under your live oak is dying because it's literally starving for sunlight. If you can't remove the trees, maximize the amount of sunlight the lawn gets before 11 o'clock and after 3 o'clock.
5. Easy on the fertilizer.
Fertilizer is not food and it's not medicine. It won't improve soil and it's no substitute for sunlight. Heavy doses of fertilizer can make lawns more likely to suffer disease and insect attacks and can easily kill outright.
Think of fertilizers as a vitamin that works correctly only when applied sparingly. Centipede lawns are particularly vulnerable to fertilizer damage. Use cottonseed meal or cut in half the recommended application of fertilizer or don't bother. On good soils that are properly maintained, most lawns don't need regular fertilization.
6. Water responsibly.  Don't drown your grass. 
Water in moderate amounts is good for you and your grass, but too much of it, and you both die of drowning. Water-logged soil kills grass rapidly because the roots can no longer breathe. Keeping grass blades constantly wet can be almost as damaging, because it fosters disease and insect attack.
Young, newly planted lawns require frequent watering. But once your lawn is established, frequent, short bursts of irrigation foster disease, so you'll want to reduce the frequency as soon as possible while increasing the length of time you water. Most established lawns on good soils won't need watering more than a few times a year in our climate. Water well when you water _ as long as it takes for the water to reach 6 inches deep _ and don't water again until the ground is dry 3 inches deep.
7. Set pathways to limit the amount of crushed and damaged grass seeds
Most  lawn grasses don't stand up to heavy wear and tear. Best accept the fact that your dog's favorite run will always be dirt. Use flagstones to define a path: People will walk on the stones rather than scuffing up the grass. For areas that get a lot of foot traffic, you may need to consider some of paths or landscaping to make your yards more accessible.
We are always looking to help you improve and maintain your property.  We invite you to contact us with your concerns so we can help you create the  lawn and landscapes that you both desire and deserve.  We look forward to helping you.


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