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A Maryland Best Pick Weighs In on What to Do when Grass Won’t Grow

Blades of Green owners Mark and Brad Leahy have been serving the Maryland area for more than two decades. They’ve outline some advice to homeowners struggling with growing grass in areas that will not grow: *

“When your grass just won’t grow, survive, and thrive, there are helpful, proactive approaches you should try before resorting to installing a planting bed, walkway, or patio in a spot where the grass won’t grow. In our 23 years of experience on Maryland lawns, we have found the following reasons for grass that just won’t grow:

-Heavy shade: Deal with the shade problem by making sure that shade caused by tree branches is reduced as much as possible. We recommend that the branches of mature trees be trimmed to at least 40 feet. We also prune trees to create more airflow and allow more sunlight to penetrate the canopy to the soil. This will also help reduce the quantity of moss.

-Moisture problems: Try to improve all drainage issues by grading. Often we need to add soil to low areas to prevent standing water. If there is a sprinkler system in place we emphasize the correct procedures to use the system. It is best to water infrequently but to water heavily to encourage deep root growth. We emphasize that the lawn never be irrigated in the evening or during the heat of the day.

-Soil pH: We check the soil test results. If no test has been done we take several soil samples (often four to five locations) and have the soil analyzed. We then use the results of the test to develop a program for that property. Micronutrients must be present, and the nutrients must have optimum oxygen and water to promote root development of grass. We can add the appropriate amount of lime or sulfur to adjust the pH to the optimum range of 6.2. to 6.8 for Maryland lawns.

-Soil compaction: We encourage our clients to have the soil aerated. Proper aeration will provide necessary water and oxygen into the soil. Oxygen and water are crucial for micronutrient release to occur. By overseeding and aerating in the fall growing season and using the appropriate mixture of seed, shade, and full sun, you can improve the growth of grass.

-Grass cut too short: We recommend that our lawns be cut no lower than three-and-a-half to four inches if possible. By cutting the grass higher the grass will thicken and be less stressed by high summer temperatures. This is often the most serious of all the problems. Grass cut too short can make it difficult for spring growth to be sustained during the summer.

-Presence of diseases: We check for lawn diseases and take appropriate action to eliminate the disease. There are a variety of diseases in Maryland lawns. Most grass diseases can be solved through proper grass cutting and irrigation applications.

-Insects: Primarily the presence of grubs and sod webworms will cause damage to Maryland lawns, and if the insects are not checked the lawn may continue to decline. We apply appropriate materials to combat the presence of grubs and sod webworms.

On a final note, it is always better to deal with grass issues in the fall, because new seedlings will not be established enough to have adequate root systems to survive the heat and lack of rain in July and August. Fall has less high heat and usually cooler evenings, giving grass the opportunity to develop strong, deep roots. By the time spring arrives, the grass should have more than adequate rain for the grass and roots to develop and prepare for the coming heat, humidity, and drought conditions of the summer. If you address the above causes of poor grass growth, you can nearly always can get the grass to grow.”

*For more information on correcting grass that won’t grow, call your local Best Pick company. The information provided above reflects common problems and issues homeowners across the nation deal with when growing grass but may also indicate market-specific conditions. For more general information on lawn treatment, please visit our tip articles.

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