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Turf Care: A Homeowner’s Guide

May 31, 2024
 · 
6 min read

Turf Care: A Homeowner’s Guide

Every homeowner dreams of a healthy, green landscape, but achieving one and maintaining it throughout the year requires consistent effort.

It’s no secret that professional turf care involves many moving parts that most of us don’t have time for. From regularly mowing and watering to aeration, fertilizing, controlling thatch buildup, and pest control, the workload adds up quickly. If you’re a homeowner, that can mean spending more time caring for your lawn vs. enjoying it.

Turf vs. Grass: What’s the Difference?

In landscaping and lawn care, the terms "turf" and "grass" are often used interchangeably, but they refer to different things.

  • Grass is a general term for the green, leafy plant that covers the ground in lawns, fields, and meadows. 
  • It refers to living, natural vegetation typically composed of species such as Bermuda grass, Kentucky bluegrass, Fescue, and Zoysia.
  • Grass is grown from seed or sod.

In contrast, turf refers to the grass and the underlying soil held together by its roots. It can be:

  • Natural turf, which is the result of grass growing in a specific area
  • Or artificial turf, a synthetic alternative to natural grass. 

Natural turf is commonly found in lawns and parks, while artificial turf is used for sports fields or landscaping where natural grass may be too difficult to maintain.

What Your Grass Says About Your Lawn

Not all grasses are equal. Different varieties thrive in specific environments due to unique characteristics that make them more suitable for certain locations than others.

For example, Kentucky bluegrass is considered the most desirable turfgrass for our region because it thrives in climates with colder winters and offers excellent aesthetic qualities. This type of grass has a fine texture, rich green color, and good tolerance to foot traffic.

Other types of grass varieties include:

  • Bermuda Grass, which is recommended for warm, humid climates
  • Zoysia Grass, which can withstand heavy foot traffic and is heat and drought-tolerant
  • Fescue, which is known for its shade tolerance and adaptability to various soil types 
  • Ryegrass, which is often used for overseeding warm-season lawns.

Due to these differences, certain grass varieties have different needs for watering, mowing, fertilizing, and turf maintenance. Therefore, understanding your grass’s unique requirements can help you provide the best turf care for your lawn.

Turf Care and Maintenance

Lawn mower cutting green grass in backyard.

The following turf care practices can help your lawn thrive this summer. The best part? Our property care team can handle them all.

Mowing

Apart from controlling the height of your grass, regular mowing promotes lateral growth, resulting in a thicker, denser lawn. As a general guideline, it's recommended to mow frequently enough so that no more than one-third of the grass blade is removed at a time. Kentucky bluegrass, for example, is typically mowed to a height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches.

For most lawns, you may need to mow once a week during the growing season. However, more frequent mowing may be necessary during rapid growth, particularly given the current rainy season. 

Watering and Irrigation

Proper watering can also help control thatch buildup and minimize the risk of certain turf diseases. However, overwatering can be detrimental to the turf's health, leading to shallow root systems, increased susceptibility to diseases, and even water runoff. 

How Much Should You Water?

In the summer, it's generally recommended that you water your turf 1-1.5 inches per week. However, this amount can vary depending on whether we experience more or less rain than usual. It's best to monitor your lawn's moisture level and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Moisture and Rain Sensors

There are options for additional items that track moisture in the soil as well as active rain activity. Both of these options are great additions to most irrigation systems and can be a smart way to assist in water savings throughout the year.

Aeration and Fertilization

Aeration involves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grassroots, promoting healthier and stronger turf. This process helps alleviate soil compaction and is typically done using a core aerator, which removes soil plugs from the ground.

The frequency of aeration depends on your soil type, your lawn’s average foot traffic, and other key factors, but it's generally recommended that lawns be aerated once a year. Aeration is a highly recommended activity in our area due to our high clay soils.  It will help tremendously with moisture retention, nutrient intake, and compaction in your turf

Fertilization is also vital for providing essential nutrients to your turf, promoting healthy growth, and enhancing the overall color and density of the grass.  

Treating Soil in The Black Hills

Soils in The Black Hills region are generally low in available nitrogen and tend to be on the more basic side for pH. Soils in this region also tend to be heavy clays while also lacking organic matter. With these factors, a fertilizer that can supplement the nitrogen and also balance out the pH is recommended.

Pest Control

Pests such as grubs, chinch bugs, and other insects can cause significant damage to turf grass by feeding on the roots, stems, and leaves.

If left untreated, grass will usually thin, yellow, or even die. Certain pests can also attract larger animals in search of food, which can further damage your turf.

You can use natural pest control methods such as introducing beneficial insects, using organic pesticides, and regularly inspecting your turf for signs of pests. Certain situations may require the use of insecticides for treating pests. Note that many of the practices we mentioned above, such as aeration, can also help minimize pest problems on your turf.

Overseeding

Overseeding is typically done to fill bare or thin areas. It can also help rejuvenate an aging lawn. For cool-season grasses, early fall is the preferred time for overseeding, as the soil is still warm, but the cooler air temperatures help promote seed germination. Late spring to early summer is generally the ideal time for warm-season grasses.

The frequency of overseeding can vary based on the condition of the lawn and the desired results. In general, overseeding every 1-3 years can help maintain a thick and healthy turf, especially in high-traffic areas or lawns prone to thinning. Other benefits of overseeding include: 

  • Increased turf density
  • Improved resistance to pests and diseases
  • Enhanced color and appearance

Additionally, overseeding can introduce new grass varieties better suited to the local climate and growing conditions, thereby improving the resilience and longevity of your lawn.

Leave the Turf Maintenance to the Pros

Gardener laying turf.

We get it. Life gets busy, especially during the spring and summer months. So, why not trust Aspen Ridge Lawn & Landscape with your turf care and maintenance?


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