Maintaining a good lawn takes a lot of work. While it would be great to simply wave a magic wand and make all lawns look like a golf course putting green, there are many factors involved in helping a lawn to become healthy and maintain its health. Always keep in mind that Utah has a semi-arid climate. Because of that, many times you are forced into fooling your Kentucky Blue Grass into thinking that it is in Kentucky instead of Utah. The Four Keys to having a great lawn in Utah are:
1. Proper Watering: Because of the lack of rainfall in the Salt Lake Valley between June 1st and September 1st, you must water your lawn regularly and carefully during that time. Otherwise, it will suffer from lack of water, and the amount of water it receives from our fertilizer treatments cannot reverse this. 2. Proper Nutrition: As any farmer knows, proper nutrition for plants is essential to their health. Even if you leave all of your clippings on your lawn, they do not break down quickly enough to replace the minerals used to grow the grass blade. Because of the soil conditions in the Salt Lake Valley (remember, chances are good that your yard was once at the bottom of Lake Bonneville), lawns need constant and consistent nutrition. The main nutrients needed for lawns are:
Nitrogen: Lawns need nitrogen in order to grow. If your lawn lacks nitrogen, the rate of growth will slow. When you add nitrogen, the lawn will begin growing rapidly.
Potassium: Potassium helps strengthen lawns to be resistant to drought, disease, and temperature change. This is why potassium is usually applied to lawns in the spring and fall.
Phosphorus: Phosphorus helps with root and seedling growth - the reason phosphorus is usually put on lawns in the spring and an additional small amount is added in the fall.
Iron: The soil in the Salt Lake Valley is infamous for being low in usable iron for lawns. While iron doesn’t help much with the growth of lawns, it has a lot to do with their color. Lawns that are deficient in iron turn a lime-green color even when they are receiving sufficient water. Certain areas of the Salt Lake Valley (i.e. the west side of the Salt Lake Valley) are very low in usable iron and therefore, extra iron is needed in these areas.
Gypsum: Because of the sodium that occurs in the soil in the Salt Lake Valley, gypsum supplements are recommended but not required. Gypsum (calcium sulfate) helps water to permeate sodium rich soil.
3. Proper Soil: Everyone knows that there is a big difference between plants growing in rich soil and plants growing in rocky soil. However, we sometimes forget about the soil because the lawn is hiding it beneath. The soil under your lawn will affect your lawn’s ability to retain water, retain nutrients, and grow healthy roots. Over time, a lawn will develop its own soil beneath the surface, but this takes time and most people do not have the patience to wait for that to happen. So the catch phrase for lawn soil is simple: the better the soil, the greater the chance of having a healthy, green lawn. 4. Proper Sunlight: The amount of sunlight your lawn receives has a great effect on its health. Some grasses are low sunlight grasses that will die out if they are exposed to direct sun during the summer. Some grasses are high sunlight grasses that will struggle if they are planted in shady areas. Almost all grasses will become dormant or die if they are placed in exposed areas with little water during the summertime.
In addition to these four basics of a good lawn, lawns also have to deal with insects, diseases, and plants such as weeds and other grasses. Below are links to pages discussing types of grasses, weeds, insects, and diseases that are common to the Salt Lake Valley.