Charleston SC Do It Yourself Lawn & Grass Care
Let me start by saying I am no expert landscaper, but I think my yard is pretty nice most of the time.. On a handful of occasions a few of my neighbors /people just driving by have stopped me to ask what I do or what kind of grass I have. This year in an effort to help my fellow Shellpoint neighbors I said would write out what it is I do.
I live in Mount Pleasant, and it took me about 6 years to figure it out and devise a system after having talked to a few landscape buddies, trial and error etc.. I finally got it a few years ago. I didn’t know a thing about taking care of a lawn really because I had never had one until I built my house in 2006 so I was just winging it without a clue. As you can imagine it was a serious learning process of problems. Luckily, for the readers of this blog I have made it a very simple step by step to a perfect lawn.
1.) There are some things you’re just going to have to accept – It is work.. There is no magic trick to a great yard, it requires a lot of attention. So if you’re not willing to do the work it will show.
2.) We have A LOT of moles and you probably know this already if you have lived here for any length of time and already own your house. You need to come to terms with the fact you’ll never get rid of them completely. You can kill some with traps like No Mole (what I use), or if you have a dog that digs them up, but then you’ll just have a torn up yard from the dog. However, they are rodents and they breed quickly and spread fast so if you kill a few in your yard it will only be temporary until new ones find your yard (new territory) and take over. Just for you to start over again. It is what it is.. The best solution for this is I have found from suggestions from others admittedly..
—– Bug and Grub killer put down at least every 3 months minimum.. The moles eat worms and grubs, so putting down the bug and grub killer keeps the insect young (i.e. grubs) to a minimum and therefore there is much less food for the moles and they tend to go elsewhere in search of more food, but rest assured they will be back.
—– If you have irrigation this will help keep your yard pretty even with a mole problem (but you’ll still notice their tunnels). I know it sounds obvious, but when you do have moles the problem is that our stifling heat cooks up the grass roots they push up with their tunnels and the sun’s heat will dry up and kill the turf where they have been. However, if you keep the lawn regularly and properly irrigated the moisture keeps the roots from getting dry and dying. If your sprinkler system applies water at the rate of 2 inches per hour and you wish to apply 0.75 inches of water, then you would need to run your sprinklers for about 23 minutes.
3.) Chemicals. Most people have one of 4 species (St Augustine [most popular], bermuda, centipede, zoysia) and sadly my yard has 3 of them which are the most common and my process works for all of them. I have mostly St Augustine, but have filled in dead spots with centipede, and the neighborhood had bermuda already so it has also grown in.
—- About mid February you will want to put down “weed & feed”. You’ll know it’s time to put this down because you’ll start to see weeds popping up, and growing, (thistle, dollar weed, etc). I do think Scotts bonus S for southern lawns does work best and just follow the instructions on the bag. This kills or at minimum seriously inhibits growth of weeds, as well as fertilizes the roots of the turf. The thicker the grass the more it kills off the weeds from ever growing. If you still need to spray for weeds but don’t want to kill your grass I use (recommended by landscaper) Weed Free Zone. You can spray dollar weed and all weeds and it will kill it but not your grass (assuming you follow the directions).
—- There are really two things that kill your lawn: Fungus (happens when lawn stays too wet for too long), and bugs, mainly chinch bugs, which (have killed my yard in the past) and that’s how I learned that lesson. Luckily, the bug and grub killer will also take care of these. Don’t forget about the moles, because moles are also looking for the chinch bugs’ larvae, and mole crickets which can damage your yard.
—- About 2 weeks after I have put down ‘Weed & Feed”, then if nothing else for safe measure because it is so common, I put down a fungicide because I don’t even want to roll the dice so to me it’s better to start of the spring with a clean slate. Not to mention the spring and beginning of summer is when we get so much rain that the lawn can stay too wet too long so staying on top of the potential risk of fungus is key. Learn to recognize them when you’re walking around your yard so you’ll know when to put some down. Although the bag says it lasts for 3 months or whatever, I don’t trust it and won’t risk it. I know how hard it is to recover from it. It can quickly take over. I have been down that road with half my yard destroyed. So I keep a bag around at all times. It can easily be spread from the front yard to the back of the yard as well through your lawn mower and that’s why new mowers have a rinsing nozzle attachment on them so you can run water through your mower after cutting and get the fungus out so as not to spread it around from one side of the yard to the other. Fungus is going to also be more likely to start in the shaded areas where the grass gets less sun and can’t dry out adequately.
- OPTIONAL – I like to de-thatch my grass as well in the spring. Thatch is last year’s growth that is interwoven together that is now dead. This dead grass will make a harder for new growth to “break through” if you will. So in order to facilitate a healthy lawn, if you take rake and semi abrasively scratch out the old grass from last year this will open up dirt for the new shoots to pop through more easily and get sunlight & fresh air. As well as loosen up the top soil for better growth. It’s not necessary really, but you will have a nicer yard if do this.
4.) My landscape friend at New Leaf told me that it’s best to keep my lawn about an inch tall, cutting it too short can kill your lawn as well because it is too short and the heat will cook it up and kill it. Plus it looks much better if it’s lush and thick. Raise the mowing height of the lawn mower during summer months; a higher mowing height encourages root growth and reduces heat stress.
5.) When it gets really really hot about the end of July and beginning of August is when the chinch bug grubs start to “grow up”, and if you haven’t killed them already through putting down bug and grub killer then you definitely want to put it down the end of July because they will begin to suck the water from the roots of the turf and that’s what kills the yard. I always put down a bag of bug and grub killer the end of July or first week of August to be safe..
If you follow these simple steps you’ll be good to go and be the envy of the neighborhood too..