Lawn Ecosystems in Rochester and Winona MN

Rochester, MN Lawn Ecosystems

Maier Tree & Lawn | Information about Rochester, MN Lawn Ecosystems

Lawn maintenance in Rochester and Winona, MN, is about more than just keeping the grass trimmed. Our lawns have come to symbolize safety, comfort, and nature. Your lawn’s ecosystem returns your maintenance investment with a number of financial and environmental benefits. According to a recent Gallup poll, a well maintained lawn and landscape can add up to 15% to your home’s value by increasing your home’s “curb appeal.” Lawns also hold storm water, reducing nutrient and pollutant run-off into lakes and rivers and filter pollutants from both water and air, improving our quality of life.

Speaking of the air we breathe - grass takes in carbon dioxide and produces oxygen through a process you learned about in grade school - photosynthesis. Trees and forested areas get a lot of press, and they are certainly important, but the humble grass plant is out there on the front lines too. A well-balanced lawn ecosystem has numerous benefits to you and your home.

Unfortunately, we don’t always treat our lawns as well as they treat us. Over fertilizing and indiscriminate herbicide applications, along with poor mowing and watering practices, can stress a healthy lawn. This approach is common, as people push for the perfectly weed-free, greenest lawn on the block instead of working with the lawn’s natural ecosystem. The good news is you can have a great looking lawn without the negative impact some chemicals can have on the health of your grass, trees and shrubs.

Spice Up Your Lawn

The biggest issue that people always want to discuss when it comes to their lawn is weeds. Often homeowners have difficulty identifying weeds, which is a challenge because determining what a weed is remains entirely subjective. The simplest definition is a weed is a plant growing here it is not wanted. The most common weed plants we see are broadleaf plantain, clover, wild violets, creeping Charlie, common purslane, chickweed, and dandelions.

Certain herbicides do have their place in a low input lawn. Often when beginning a lawn care program, spot spraying or even cover spraying of weeds is necessary to give your grass a fighting chance. Spot spraying weeds will give you 90 - 95% control.

The best way to keep weeds out of your lawn is by having dense, healthy turf. The application of this is called integrated pest management, or IPM. A good IPM program is crucial to the success of low input lawn care, and will include aeration, seeding, good mowing and watering practices, potentially some minimal herbicide use, and fertilization.

What Maier Tree & Lawn Can Do

Aeration and seeding go hand in hand. Core aeration pulls plugs of soil from your lawn. This helps alleviate soil compaction which, in turn, promotes root growth and helps break down the thatch layer of your lawn. Always leave the plugs on the lawn after aeration; they will break down in a matter of weeks. Seeding immediately following aeration is the most cost effective and easiest way of introducing new grass cultivars into your lawn. A seeding rotation will help fill in bare and thin spots. This not only improves the appearance of your lawn but reduces the areas where weeds are likely to grow. It is important to use high quality seed. Though there are many things important to your lawn’s health, it is still only as good as the varieties of grass growing there.

What You Can Do

Watering and mowing are vital components of reducing weed cover. In general, weeds flourish in areas where grass has a more difficult time growing. This can include particularly dry or wet soil conditions. The exact amount of water your lawn needs varies greatly with soil and site conditions. On average, watering once a week for 30 minutes to an hour should be sufficient. Watering this way helps your lawn develop a deeper root system, and increases its resistance to drought.

Mowing properly is also important for weed prevention and control. The vast majority of weeds will die from being mowed, but most annual and lower growing plants will survive mowing. Mowing at the correct height is incredibly important for both weed prevention and the health of your grass. Never mow lower than 2 ½ inches; optimal mowing height for turf grass is between 3 and 3 ½ inches. High mowing fosters deep root growth for the grass and shades weed seeds in your lawn which prevents them from germinating. When mowing, never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at one time. If you take too much off the top, your grass plants will sacrifice root growth and use their resources to regrow as quickly as possible. Finally, always use a sharp blade. If you aren’t sure how to sharpen your mower blade, you can check with the manufacturer or with the dealer. Sharp mower blades slice cleanly through grass, while dull blades batter and tear the ends. This damages the grass and provides sites for disease entry.

From the Bottom Up - Fertilizing

Fertilizing is the last part of a successful IPM program, and is the cornerstone of any lawn service. A good portion of your lawn ecosystem exists in the soil in the form of beneficial microbes and fungi. There are three main types of nutrition you can use on your lawn: a refined elemental fertilizer, a refined elemental fertilizer with an organic base, or a top dressing organic matter. Each of these options affects your grass plants and the lawn ecosystem in different ways.

All commercial fertilizers show an N-P-K ratio on the front. This stands for nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. You may also hear these referred to as macro-nutrients. Nitrogen levels are the major factor in all plant growth. The more nitrogen your lawn has, the greener it will be and the faster it will grow. But the type of nitrogen is critical.

In Minnesota, it is illegal to use any fertilizer containing phosphorous unless you are starting a new lawn, or a soil test has shown that you need it.

Planning and Prepping

Now it’s time to design your lawn program. You can do this on your own, or with the help of a professional, like those at Maier Tree & Lawn. Soil testing and site analysis are key in the design of your program. Used together, they provide a roadmap for caring for your lawn. At Maier Tree & Lawn we offer comprehensive soil testing which includes testing for various site conditions, expert analysis and recommendations.

Meeting your expectations is of the utmost importance to Maier Tree & Lawn. In all cases your priorities are the deciding factor in how you care for your lawn. There are endless possibilities for your lawn maintenance program. What they all have in common is responsible usage of all products and a commitment to building the lasting health of your lawn. Our services are available throughout Southeast Minnesota, from Winona to Rochester to Red Wing. Contact Maier Tree & Lawn today to get started on your personalized lawn care plan.

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