Grower's Notes

Caring for Your New Landscape

Your new home includes a landscape designed to enhance the beauty and value of your home. The first few months and especially the first two weeks after planting are a critical time for the establishment of your plants and lawn. Landscapes planted during the summer months are most sensitive to drying out during times of high temperatures and high winds. Following a few simple guidelines and giving a little extra care during the establishment period of your landscape will ensure that it thrives and develops into a beautiful and easy to maintain planting.

Establishing a new lawn from seed

The areas of your lawn which have been seeded require extra attention during the time the lawn seed is germinating and growing into mature plants. Your lawn has been seeded with a high quality turf type perennial ryegrass blend. The advantage of these grasses is they require less cultural care (fertilizer, water etc.) than bluegrass lawns and they germinate very quickly, in 6-8 days at summer temperatures. During this 6-8 day period the surface of the soil must be kept uniformly moist. This may require 3-4 light sprinklings per day during hot weather. Don’t water for more than 5 minutes or to the point of puddling, as you risk washing the seed away or redistributing it. During spring or fall plantings, no supplemental irrigation may be required at all, if the surface of the soil remains constantly moist. In spring or early summer, a light sprinkle once or twice daily may be required, depending on the temperature.

The most common cause of seed failure is wetting a lawn so the seed begins the germination process and then letting the surface totally dry out and bake. This kills lawn seeds. Once the lawn shows an even green colour (seed raked a little deeper into the soil may require a little longer to come up, so initial germination may appear a little patchy) you can begin to reduce the frequency of irrigation and increase the time. A week to 10 days after germination you should be watering your lawn 2-3 times per week (depending on how hot it is) The length of time you irrigate depends on the type of sprinklers you use, but you should be wetting the soil to a depth of 6 inches or so. Don’t be afraid to dig down with a trowel in a few spots to check whether the water has penetrated to sufficient depth. After a few checks you will get to know how long you have to irrigate with your equipment to achieve that depth.

Frequent light irrigations, although practiced by some, are not recommended after the germination period, as they encourage a lawn to be shallow rooted.

All soils contain great quantities of weed seeds. It is normal for these seeds to germinate with the lawn seed. Most of these weeds will not tolerate constant mowing and many of the remainders will be crowded out by the lawn as it grows. The lawn may eventually require a treatment with a selective weed killer if you want your lawn to be totally weed free. If the grass is well cared for, it will generally thrive more than the weeds. If care is inconsistent, the weeds will have an advantage as they thrive under poor conditions.

Establishing a new lawn from sod

Sod is rolled turf which includes the upper leaf portion of the grass plant and 1/4 -3/8" of soil and roots. The grass is typically 1-2" in length so this amount of root and soil is not enough to sustain the leaves of the plant until it is rooted in. This is especially true during hot summer weather. The lawn should initially be watered intensively enough to wet it to about 6". This is usually done by the landscaper immediately after installation, except when conditions are cold and wet. After this, the sod should be watered sufficiently to wet the soil portion of the sod. This usually takes about 10 minutes with a spray type sprinkler or a little longer with an oscillating or rotary sprinkler. Water frequently and lightly during hot weather, at least once, preferably twice per day. During rainy periods in the summer, or in fall and early spring, no irrigation may be required. The surface of the soil should never be allowed to totally dry out during the period of initial establishment.

The sod needs to be watered every day, during hot weather, for the first 7-10 days, until rooting into the underlying soil occurs. Rooting can be tested by lightly tugging on a portion of sod to see if it is adhering to the soil. After rooting, you can gradually decrease the frequency of irrigation to every second day, and after about a week, every third day. Lawns should then be watered 2-3 times per week during the summer (depending on temperature and wind conditions.) During rainy periods in the summer, or under fall and early spring conditions, no water may be required. Once the lawn is established, sufficient water should be provided during an irrigation to wet the soil to 6".

Extra care during the rooting in period of the sod will pay off in a deep rooted evenly green lawn. Starter fertilizer has already been applied to your sod. It is a challenge to establish sod during periods of hot weather (23 degrees plus) SOD THAT IS NOT WATERED FREQUENTLY DURING THE FIRST WEEK WILL DRY OUT AND TURN YELLOW AND THEN BROWN. It can often be brought back with careful watering if it has been allowed to dry out. Dried out sod shrinks exposing seams between the pieces of laid sod. SOD THAT IS NOT WATERED DURING THE ROOTING IN PERIOD WILL DIE WITHIN TWO DAYS IN HOT WEATHER. (Maybe sooner).

Once the sod has rooted in and started to grow it may be mowed provided the surface is firm enough to walk on. Take care during the initial mowings to not cut the lawn too short. The rule is to not remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade per mowing. Close mowing of new lawns will result in a flush of leaf growth which will occur at the expense of root growth. In spring, as well as on new lawns, cutting lawns moderately encourages deep rooting which will make lawns easier to manage during the hot, dry conditions of summer.

We wish you success with your new landscape, if you have questions please feel free to approach Horizon Nurseries staff on site.