Cincinnati Rules Croquet
|How to Care for Your Course (Lawn Care Guide)|
|The secret to a beautiful lawn is actually pretty simple: Water, Fertilizer, Seed Selection and Mowing. The background for this page and all other grass photos were taken using Bad Thad's very own lawn!|
|Water - Lawn grasses are VERY thirsty by nature. Lawns should be
watered a small amount daily. I know this contradicts what most "experts" tell
you. They say you should thoroughly soak your lawn to have an effective watering. Well,
Bah Humbug, grass only has roots about 1"-3" deep. The most important soil layer
is the first 1". Soaking the lawn will saturate the soil for several inches, which
can encourage mold and fungus. The lawn should only be thoroughly soaked about once every
2-3 weeks or weekly during drought. In between, daily surface watering is the best way to
When: The best time to water is right at sunrise. In areas prone to mold and fungus, early watering reduces the chance your lawn will suffer from these problems. However, I rarely water at this time (I stay up too late working on computer stuff!). Since I practice the surface watering technique, I water in the early evening about 3-4 hours before sunset. As long as you have no mold/fungus problems, this is a great time to water because it allows the lawn to soak up ALL applied water, with only modest evaporation. Early watering is susceptible to huge amounts of evaporation loss thanks to Mr. Sun.
How: Surface watering takes time. The best way is to manually spray the lawn with a hose and nozzle. This also insures complete coverage, whereas, sprinklers do not. Make one pass working on a section of about 20'x 20' in size. Water this area for approximately five minutes then move on. Once the entire lawn has been watered, repeat one more time. Using a hose and nozzle also permits you to concentrate on areas prone to excessive drying.
|Fertilizer - Grass is VERY hungry! Use as much fertilizer as
possible without burning the grass. The 4-step plans you see in stores are totally
inadequate. To have a thick turf, you must fertilize with a solid fertilizer about once a
month (less with Ultra Turf Builder). The absolutely best, longest lasting product is "Scott's
Ultra Turf Builder". This is a very fine
grain material that will provide nutrients for about 6-8 weeks. It is difficult to find
because it is mainly used in commercial applications such as golf courses.
All solid fertilizers should be supplemented with a liquid fertilizer during the summer months, when the turf is growing at its strongest. I prefer a hose end sprayer such as the "Miracle Grow - No Clog" filled with "Miracle Grow Lawn Fertilizer". This is a very weak fertilizer that should be lightly applied with a continuous sweeping motion over the entire lawn surface. If using Ultra Turf Builder, apply it after about 4 weeks of the Ultra application and about every 2 weeks thereafter. If using regular, whimpy solid fertilizer, apply liquid fertilizer weekly.
Other Supplements - Lawns lacking in iron can be pale green. Just once a year, add an iron supplement to the turf. I choose a product called "Ironite" and apply it in early May to help deepen color. In areas susceptable to acidity (depends on soil type and rainfall), it may be helpful to add a lime supplement in Fall to help raise soil pH. My soil is mostly clay and limestone with about 2-3" of top soil. I have found treatment with lime unnescessary for my conditions.
|Seed Selection - This is the most difficult part of developing a
beautiful, durable turf. There are a million varieties of grass and, depending on the
climate where you live, some are better than others. I live in the mid-west so my
recommendations are based on this climate. It is best to have a mixture of grasses which I
define as "fine", "medium" and "course" textures. My lawn is
a mixture of, in order of percentage, Kentucky Bluegrass, Creeping Red Fescue, and
Kentucky 31. Note the turf density in the following close-up of Bad Thad's lawn (Almost as
dense as golf-green bentgrass.):
Bluegrass is a very soft, fine grass with a beautiful, dark blue-green color. The seeds are very small which make it an excellent choice for over-seeding because the seeds tend to work their way into the turf. It tends to fill in any gaps between other varieties (such as Kentucky 31) because of its "fineness". Regardless of what others say, Bluegrass in NOT drought nor heat resistant. It tends to quickly wither under scorching conditions, requiring constant surface watering.
Creeping Red Fescue is a slightly "courser" grass (than Bluegrass) with a dark, green color. In my experience, it is better than Bluegrass with respect to "scorching" resistance.
Kentucky 31 (a.k.a Fescue 31) is a VERY course grass.
It has fairly wide blades, is a lighter shade of green and tends to grow in clumps. Some people mistake it for the dreaded "crabgrass". It does not like to be cut short (2" or less), doing so can cause it to brown. The advantage of K31 is "toughness". It is very resistant to EVERYTHING, drought, heat, cold, crushing, etc. The ideal grass if it weren't so ugly. To make it attractive, I over-seed the clumps, by hand, with Bluegrass. K31 and Bluegrass co-exist nicely. The gaps and "thinness" of K31 get filled-in with Bluegrass.
|Mowing - The "experts" have all kinds of things to say
about mowing and, in my opinion, are generally full of B.S. If you want a thin, whimpy
turf, follow their advise and mulch. My advise, "Bag Your Grass and Get Rid of It
". Don't mulch your grass, but DO use a mulching mower so anything that escapes the
bag is very fine. Thatch build-up chokes your turf and makes it thin, even if
you aerate it. There is a ton of thatch generated by the natural cycle of grass
growth. Adding to the natural thatch cuts off air to the roots and surface light, stunting
new growth (tillers).
For Yard Golf, the turf height should be a maximum of 3" with the optimum around 1½"-2".
The best "experts" rule-of-thumb I've seen anywhere is to cut no more than 1/3 the height of the grass off. Cutting low for Yard Golf in the summer causes rapid loss of moisture. It is very important to surface water daily if you cut this low. If you are not playing Yard Golf, you should cut to a height of 4"- 5" during the summer to help maximize water retention and 3"- 4" during Spring and Fall to promote root growth.
Keep your mulching blade sharp! A dull blade "rips" the grass which increases moisture loss and causes the "cut" area to brown within a day or two...ugly!
Bad Thad's Schedule for Awesome Turf
This is a very, tough schedule...I warn you. But if you want a high turf density and beautiful appearance, it works wonders.
Just look at the background to this page. (355k version)
For ton's of info I intentionally left out, check out these links: