Townsquare Media

On Monday, Alex Feuz Interviewed David Mellor, head groundskeeper at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox. He gave 5 pieces of advice to help our lawn look as best as possible. 

  1. Should we be fertilizing our yard? 

Contact your county extension agent or local university for information on collecting a soil sample and where you can have your soil tested for PH and nutrients before fertilizing. Using those results set up the fertilization program for your turfgrass. 

Information on the types of particles within your soil ( the percentage of sand, silt, and clay) is helpful in determining drainage and water retention habits of your soil to indicate watering practices. Follow the directions carefully on the fertilizer bag. Use only what is recommended. The label is the law. Slow-release products will provide a continual feed, but not prompt a flush of growth causing you to have to mow more and stress the plants. 

When looking at the letters on the fertilizer bag think: up, out and down.

  (N) Nitrogen- promotes foliage growth

  (P) Phosphorus- Aids germination and helps the plans spread out and fill in.

  (K) Potassium- Helps with drought tolerance and wear and tear and root.

 

Apply Micro-nutrients; that is iron (Fe++) and Manganese (Mn) to get a lush, dark green color without prompting a flush of growth. This will help with the contrasting of the light and dark green stripes in patterns you see on professional fields.

Lessen the chance of uneven chemical applications on your lawn by using a broadcast spreader to apply fertilizer and micronutrients. Always water after an application of fertilizer, or fertilize before rain to let nature give you a hand. Don't ever think that a little bit is good so a lot will be better. You will only cause problems for the plants, turf, trees, and the environment.

Never fertilize in hot weather. Fertilizers are made of salts and too much salt will suck the moisture right out of the plant.... commonly called "burning". Use caution and smarts in storing your remaining horticultural chemicals. When not used properly or stored right they could harm not only the environment but worse yet, a person or pet. Fall is the best time to fertilize your lawn if you can only apply nutrients once a year.

  1. What is the Importance of seeding, and how to do it correctly?

Investing in quality grass seed makes a big difference in having a quality lawn. It is better to seed an area as it starts to show wear rather than let it die out. Use a little seed every 2-4 weeks rather than a lot of seed at one time. Too much seed at once can increase susceptibility to diseases, stunted growth, immature weak, and unhealthy seedlings. Good seed-soil contact is vital to the proper establishment. Be patient. 

There are many different factors that influence seed germination- the type of seed, site preparation, nutrients available, watering habits, planting time and environmental conditions. Seeds take different amounts of time to germinate. When seeding or overseeding, make certain you use the right seed for the growing conditions. There are varieties specifically for sun, shade, and high traffic areas.

 

  1. How can we water the grass the right way?

You can do one of two things:

1) Do not water, which allows the grass to go dormant until the fall, or

2) Irrigate

Keep this in mind if you choose to water, always follow any water restrictions in your area. It is best to water lawns in the morning, between 2-7am as opposed to after sun down. Doing so will give time for the water to soak in and evaporate, lessening disease risks. Grass setting wet overnight can be more susceptible to disease. Useful irrigation equipment to consider: water train, irrigation clock, timer attached between your faucet and hose, or whether station connections between your irrigation clock and satellites to monitor rainfall Conduct an irrigation audit to know how long you should water to obtain recommended moisture.  

https://www.landscapemanagement.net/step-by-step-how-to-do-an-irrigation-audit/ 

  1. Now the important part.. Mowing the lawn. What should we do first before we start?

Service the mower! It is always important to check your lawn care equipment. Lawnmowers should always have the proper fluid levels to run efficiently. Make sure the mower blades are very sharp to ensure a clean cut (blades should be balanced and sharpened at least 2 to 3 times a year depending on conditions). Dull mowing blades tear the grass, stressing it and detracting from the beauty you are trying to make. consider purchasing an extra set to swap out monthly

When mowing, never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at any cutting. Mow more often if necessary to achieve this. When you follow the 1/3 rule you don’t need to bag clippings as they can biodegrade and add nitrogen to the soil. Mow more often if necessary to achieve this. Mow as little as possible when the turf is under heat stress to aid the turf health. Proper mower height for New England home lawns is recommended 2.5 to 3 inches height of cut. This foliage canopy helps shade the roots, reduces water consumption, and maintains proper growth. 

  1. How can we keep weeds under control?

The best way to prevent weeds from getting established is by having a dense, lush, actively growing turfgrass. A healthy turf will not allow weeds to become established reducing or eliminating the need for herbicides. However, if you have a thin weak turf, weeds can fill in because they can be more aggressive than the grass. You can always learn tolerance or physically remove weeds as they appear. Should you choose chemical control here are some guidelines to follow.

By mowing the lawn at a higher height of cut, you give the grass a chance to compete with the existing weeds. The shorter the lawn, the less likely the grass will survive against the weeds. 

If you choose to use a post-emergent chemical application, make sure it is recommended for control of your problem weed, read and follow label directions precisely, and use recommended PPE. Failure to do so could result in damage to your lawn, the environment, and yourself. Use caution in storing your remaining horticultural chemicals. When not used or stored properly they could harm the environment, a person or pet. 

Now that you know some of the secrets the best of the best use to make a professional baseball field look amazing, send us pictures of your lawn as you start making it look like a ballpark field!

As David said, "As always, please have fun with your yard. This is a place for memories to be made. Mow Like a pro and have fun."