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Ottawa Lawn Guide: Month by Month to the Best Lawn on the Block

Ottawa Lawn Guide: Month by Month to the Best Lawn on the Block

 

Growing a beautiful lawn in Ottawa can be tricky and it is difficult to know where to start, especially for new home buyers who are caring for a lawn for the first time. There are many factors to keep in mind when caring for your lawn and alot to learn. I have compiled a month-by-month Ottawa-specific lawn guide to help you achieve the best looking lawn on the block!

 

Lawn Clean-Up

Once the snow has thawed, it is time to clean up your lawn by removing larger pieces of debris such as litter, branches, larger plant debris, and dog waste with a rake. Make sure to use recyclable yard waste bags like these from Canadian Tire

Winter Damage

Check for any damage done during the winter. Some of this damage may not become evident until your lawn starts to grow. Look for yellow, dead patches during this time. Check out this blog post by nutri-lawn all about preenting and treating winter damage

Food for Bees

Leave dandelions alone until mid-May as they are the first sources of food for pollinators, specifically bees as they are one of the first out of hibernation. They provide both pollen and nectar for the bees until more pollinator friendly plants grow.

Mowing

Do not cut your lawn util you have a minimum 3 inches of new grass growth.

 

Aeration

Now that your grass has begun to grow, it's time to aerate (perforating the soil with holes to allow air, nutrients, and water to penetrate to the grass roots.). Aeration is done in the spring and fall as needed before fertilizing. This is an essential part of lawn care as it helps break up compacted soil and thatch (a layer of dead and living stems, roots, and grass shoots) by allowing air, water, and nutrients to better penetrate the soil.

You can aerate your lawn yourself with a tool like this one from Lee Valley Tools, or hire a local company to do it for you like Nutri-Lawn or Green Unlimited

Here is some more information about why aeration is important to your lawn health!

Soil Quality & Composition

To balance and improve your soil quality, you can adjust the amount of sand, clay, and moisture that currently exists in your lawn soil. To find out your soil composition, send soil samples for analysis to Agri-Food Laboratories in Guelph.

Top Dressing

Top-dress (placing high quality soil and organic material like compost onto your lawn to help restore the natural balance) soil over your lawn with high quality topsoil (approximately ¼-½” in thickness). You need 4” MINIMUM of soil to ensure that the root system of your grass takes and thrives.

Continue to pull weeds while avoiding dandelions.

Fertilizer

Purchase a high nitrogen, low phosphorus, slow release fertilizer. This is very important for your grass’s health and promotes a thicker lawn. Check out this “How-To” by Landscape Ontario about fertilizer types and application. The Lawn Care Sector Group of Landscape Ontario recommends to use a  phosphorous-free option if possible, especially on already established turf.

The extra rainfall in April and May will help any fertilization take full effect.

4R Rule for Fertilizer

Use the 4R rule by choosing the right fertilizer, at the right rate, the right time, and the right place to help use fertilizer in a sustainable way.

Watering

You will most likely not need to water your lawn at this time unless there is a stretch of time with extreme heat. Follow the watering tips in June.

Mowing

Do not cut your lawn until you have at minimum 3 inches of new grass growth. Once established, cut your lawn once a week. Make sure to keep your blades sharp and take no more than ⅓ of the shoot of grass.

 

Weeds

Pull dandelions and continue to pull other weeds. More flowers have bloomed and the bees and fellow pollinators have more sources of food available. 

Grubs

Keep an eye out for grubs. You will know you have a grub issue if you see irregular dead patches on your lawn that lift up easily. These areas will feel soft and spongy when walked on. Learn more about grubs and other lawn and garden pests here.

You can apply nematode spray to combat grubs. More information available here.

Watering

You do not have to water your lawn unless there is a drought or a series of intensely hot days. If that is the case, water your lawn once a week very early in the morning (before 10am) or in the late afternoon/early evening.

Overwatering

It is possible to overwater your lawn, so be careful not to do this. Overwatering is just as detrimental to your grass as it is to underwater. A great way to know just how much to water your lawn is by:

  • You want at least 6 inches of well watered soil under your lawn. A great way to test this is to shove a screwdriver into your lawn. It should penetrate easily. If you hit hard, dry soil, you know you need to water your lawn. 
  • To ensure you do not over water, time your sprinkler flow rate by setting a container up next to your sprinkler and time how long it takes to reach 1”. That will tell you HOW LONG to water your lawn for. Multiply your lawn square footage by .62 gallons. That will tell you how much water you need per square foot!

Alfalfa Treatment

Apply an alfalfa treatment to improve your lawn’s root development as well as increase the organic matter and microbial activity in your soil naturally.

Mowing

Cut your lawn once a week. Make sure to keep your blades sharp and take no more than ⅓ of the shoot of grass and do not cut unless grass shoots are 3” or longer.  This height allows for sun-loving weeds to remain shaded and deter growth, encourage further root development of your grass, and keeps the soil moist and cool.

Lawn Clippings

Leave your lawn clippings where they fall as they are a natural fertilizer for your lawn and all of the nutrients will go back into your lawn. Make sure to spread out any clumps of clippings with a rake after you mow.

 

Weeds & Grubs

Continue to monitor for weeds and grubs.

Chinch Bugs

Monitor for chinch bugs. You will know you have chinch bugs if:

  • You have irregular yellow patches on your lawn that spread, starting in June.
  • If you smell an offensive odor on your lawn. When crushed, the bugs give off a foul odour. If you walk across your lawn and smell an offensive odor, you probably have a large infestation.

Learn more about Chinch Bugs, how to prevent them, and how to treat them, click here.

Fertilizer

You can further fertilize your lawn with a slow release fertilizer if necessary to prepare it for our summer weather as long as you do not have a grub or chinch bug infestation. Fertilization increases insect activity.

Water

Water your lawn once a week as needed. Use the watering tips from June.

Mowing

Continue to cut your lawn once a week. Make sure to keep your blades sharp and take no more than ⅓ of the shoot of grass.

Weeds, Grubs, & Bugs

Continue to check your lawn for weeds and grubs.

 

Overseeding

Towards the end of the month, overseed your lawn with drought resistant grass varieties like red fescue or perennial rye (most of which contain levels of endophytic fungus which helps your roots take in more water and nutrients. Also, a lot of grubs and worms don't like the taste!). This is the best time of year to overseed.

Fertilizer

Fertilize your lawn further to improve its density to recover from summer weather stress.

Water

Water your lawn as necessary. Continue to use the watering tips from June.

Mowing

Continue to cut your lawn once a week. Make sure to keep your blades sharp and take no more than ⅓ of the shoot of grass.

Weeds, Grubs, & Bugs

Continue to check your lawn for weeds, grubs, and chinch bugs.

 

Fertilizer

Fertilize again if necessary to improve your lawns density and to recover from summer weather stress.

Aeration

You can further aerate your lawn and overseed as necessary (if you did not do so in late August) to thicken and strengthen your lawn as well as remove excess thatch build up. If you do this, water daily for 2-3 weeks as needed to allow for good seed germination.

Weeds, Grubs, & Bugs

Continue to check your lawn for weeds, grubs, and chinch bugs.

Mowing

Cut your lawn once a week. Make sure to keep your blades sharp and take no more than ⅓ of the shoot of grass.

 

Fertilizer

Purchase your late season fertilizer. Choose one that is higher in phosphorus, lower in nitrogen, and quick release. 

Apply this fertilizer late in the season, dependent on weather conditions, when your lawn stops actively growing but is still green. The best time is 2-3 weeks before the first snowfall. This will help your grass come back the following s-pring faster, greener, and healthier. 

Lawn Clean Up

Remove debris like fallen leaves, branches, and dog waste before the first snowfall or your lawn may not receive enough light to survive the winter. Go to this link to learn more about putting your lawn to sleep for the winter. 



A healthy, thriving lawn raises the curb appeal of your home greatly and is an essential part of your outdoor preparation routine if you are planning on selling your home. If you are thinking about putting your home up for sale, give me a call!

 

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