Eco-LOGICAL Lawns

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By Nolan Frederick; Owner of Nolan’s Lawn Service- Highlands Ranch
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Doing the same lawn maintenance procedures year after year with the hope of getting better results is not logical. Routine that produces poor results needs to be changed. Developing a new maintenance plan to produce a beautiful lawn involves thinking logically about what grass requires to thrive and how existing soil conditions can be improved.

Why is aerating your lawn important to do in Douglas County, CO?

Because the ground in this region is “hard as a rock”. Aerators pull out thousands of plugs leaving holes which supposedly reduces ground compaction, allows water and nutrients to reach the root zone, and encourages roots to grow deeper. Careful observations of aeration plugs reveals shallow root zones and very little soil even on yards aerated year after year. Clay from below is brought to the surface and continues to leave yards “hard as a rock”.

Do grass roots then grow into the empty holes?

Not immediately. Grass roots prefer to grow in soil, not empty space. That’s why we lay sod on the ground and not suspend it from the trees. Seriously, if roots moved into an aeration hole without soil covering them, the grass would dry out very fast.

What happens next to the aeration holes?

Aeration holes fill up in several weeks with smaller pieces of “hard as a rock” material when the plugs finally break down. One could argue this is compaction reduction.  However, after a few waterings and baking it in the sun, the “hard as a rock” little pieces become “hard as a rock” again, similar to the ash tray you pulled out of the kiln in your high school ceramics class.

Watering extra after aerating helps, right?

Watering a ton is wasteful. Think of the holes as little test tubes filled with water. How long will it take for the ounce of water to evaporate when the hot dry wind blows? Exactly. Remember also, water doesn’t soak into and get absorbed by “hard as a rock” ground, it runs off down the street carrying with it all that expensive fertilizer to the closest retention pond. This is why fertilizer manufacturers are producing fertilizer without phosphorus. We want our lawns green, not our ponds.

What can a homeowner fill all those empty aeration holes with?

Fertile soil specially blended with a mixture of sandy loam and composted manure rich in water absorbing organic matter thriving with microorganisms and nutrients. Spraying liquid fertilizer or spreading granular fertilizer will not improve the “hard as a rock” ground conditions. 

Is filling aeration holes with fertile soil logical?

You decide. The sandy loam reduces soil compaction and allows water and fertilizer to percolate down to the root zone. In addition, space in between sand particles allows roots to grow deeper into the aeration holes and provides a place for microorganisms to live. The composted manure contains the same ingredients as fertilizer - nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients. The organic matter in composted manure is broken down into nutrients available to grass by microorganisms within the soil food web. Organic matter also loosens compacted soil and absorbs water.  All these properties of soil are characteristics of good soil. Additional treatments of fertile soil are recommended to build up the soil base beneath the lawn over several years. Applying organic fertilizer continues to supply the grass with nitrogen and the microbes with organic matter. Earthworms love this lawn maintenance plan and continue to aerate and pull the organic material down into the soil where they grind it up and deposit it as fertile worm castes.

Does this process of adding a soil amendment to aeration holes have a name?

Yes, it’s called TOP DRESSING. Every 1,000 square feet of lawn is top dressed with approximately 1,100 pounds or one cubic yard of top dressing mix. Grass should not be smothered so raking the fertile soil in thoroughly is important.

What lawn service top dresses lawns?

Call Nolan’s Lawn Service at 303-877-5043 for an estimate.

Nolan’s Lawn Service believes the soil beneath a healthy lawn contains a thriving food web loaded with microorganisms, organic matter, nutrients, sand, and worms to sustain the grass while conserving valuable resources. Top dressing a lawn with fertile soil on a regular basis creates the proper soil structure and food web to improve every aspect of your lawn maintenance program while producing a lush Eco-LOGICAL Lawn.

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