Category Archives: Lawn Care

Watering Digest

To do:

  • Calibrate sprinklers
  • Watch for dry spots
  • Water deeply and infrequently
  • Don’t waste water

Basic rules of watering

  • Moisten the root zone every time you water, usually with at least 1/2 inch of water.
  • Water deeply and infrequently, at least twice a week 1/2 inch at a time

Become a watering pro

To water accurately, you need to know how much water your sprinklers apply. To find out, all it takes is an hour and some empty cans. Place them around the yard to measure how much water gets collected from the sprinklers.

Hose Smarts

Tips for selecting a hose you’ll use

Look for hoses with four or five layers of reinforcing materials, or plies. Rubber hoses last longer but are heavy and expensive. Larger diameter hoses deliver more water faster. A 75-foot hose is convenient for larger yards but is heavier and more expensive than a shorter hose. A 50-foot 5/8 inch diameter hose is suitable for most home lawns.

The Screwdriver Test

Lawn watering theories, rules, or even timing make no difference if water doesn’t soak 6 to 8 inches into the soil. You might water long enough to apply several inches of water, but if it doesn’t soak in, it’s wasted. There is only one way to know for sure. That’s by testing. After watering, poke an 8-inch long screwdriver into your lawn. If it goes in easily at 6 inches, you’ve watered enough.

Q & A

Question: When is cycling (on-off-on-off) good for your lawn?

Answer: When your soil is heavy clay or when your lawn is on a slope. Cycling your sprinklers (on-off-on-off) three or more times ensures the water moves into the soil without runoff. A timer can do much of the work for you.

Rain Gauge

Lawns need at least 1 inch of water a week. To ensure they receive that amount, measure rainfall, then make up the difference with your sprinklers.

Follow The Footsteps

A sign your lawn wants water

If you see footprints in your lawn, ignore your watering schedule and the time of day and turn on the sprinklers. Visible footprints mean the grass is so dry it has lost its resiliency. The color of such weakened turf will be off too–silvery blue instead of green. Wait too long and the color will change again–to brown.

Lawn Watering During Drought

If the grass is still growing, mow higher to encourage roots to go deeper. Stretch time between irrigation to the maximum; water expediently efficiently, wasting no water to runoff, and water thoroughly. Don’t water just a little bit; that encourages weeds. During severe water shortages, let the lawn go brown. A healthy lawn of perennial grass, though completely brown, can survive months of no water and recover quickly once rains return.


Myth: The best sprinklers are the ones that deliver the water fastest.

Fact: True if your soil can absorb it, but most soil can’t. Sprinklers that water fast may be the most wasteful. If the soil can’t absorb the water, it runs off.

Advice: Match your sprinkler’s application rate to the soil’s absorption rate. Watering slowly, like a gentle rain , is usually best.

Myth: Brief, daily watering is more beneficial to lawns than deep watering several days apart.

Fact: False. Deep watering with a several-day gap in between creates deep roots for a healthy lawn.

Advice: Watch your lawn and wait for the first signs that i needs water (footprints remain in the lawn), then let the water run so that moisture reaches several inches into the soil.

Most importantly, don’t forget to call us for your lawn mowing service needs.

Fertilizer: Understanding Labels

Federal and state laws require that all fertilizer labels supply the same information. Once you know the code, reading a label is easy.

Analysis: All fertilizer packages display three numbers, the fertilizer’s analysis. The analysis refers to three essential nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Each number stands for the percent of the package made up of the available form of each nutrient by weight. The analysis shows the nutrients as a ration to one another. For example, a 29-3-4 fertilizer has approximately a 10-1-1 ratio. How do you compare two fertilizers with the same analysis ratio? Look at the pounds of nitrogen delivered per thousand square feet and the source of the nitrogen.

To convert the analysis to pounds of nitrogen, multiply the package weight by the percentage of nitrogen. For example, a typical 15.5 pound bag of 29-3-4 holds 4.5 pounds of nitrogen (15 1/2 * 29%). Divide that number by the number of 1,000 square foot units the bag covers – 5 for the 5,000 square foot coverage of a 15.5 pound bag – and you see that 29-3-4 fertilizer supplies 9/10 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet (4.5 pounds / 5).

The available forms of phosphorus and potassium are P2O5 and K20. Determining their actual amounts in a fertilizer is less straightforward and rarely necessary.

Surge vs. Steady Growth:

Surge Growth: Fast-release fertilizers dissolve and move quickly. Grass grows rapidly, then slows.

Steady Growth: Slow-release fertilizers dissolve slowly. They spoon-feed nutrients, so the grass has steady, controlled growth.

  • Inorganic fast-release sources are salts that pull water from the air; they provide quick growth.
  • Liquid fertilizers contain fast-release nitrogen, which must be reapplied often.
  • Slow-release sources are safer to plants. Uniformly sized particles are easy to spread.

Liquid Or Dry?

Fertilizer can be applied to a lawn in liquid or dry form. People often ask which is best. The truth is, lawns down’t care, both contain the same materials and both provide satisfactory results, although liquids are quick release fertilizers and must be applied more frequently.

The question is more a matter of convenience and skill. It takes more skill to uniformly apply liquid fertilizer at the right rate. Most homeowners generally find dry materials easier to handle, especially if they have a good spreader that accurately and uniformly distributes the fertilizer.

Of course if you need grass cutting, we can help.

Stewart Bros. Turf, LLC
Servicing Wimington, Brandywine, Pike Creek, Newark, Hockessin, Delaware

Grass Nutrients: Stuff a healthy lawn needs

Nutrients for a healthy lawn
Nutrients for a healthy lawn

Nearly all lawn fertilizers contain large amounts of nitrogen and small amounts of phosphorus, potassium and other elements. This is because nitrogen is the element missing from most soils and its the stuff that grass uses the most.

While nitrogen may be the top nutrient, its not the only one required. Actually there are 17 nutrients that are essential to lawns. All 17 are equally important and must be present for a lawn to survive. They vary only in how much the grass uses. Macro-nutrients, such as carbon, hydrogen, magnesium, and calcium, are picked up by the plants in the largest quantities. Micro-nutrients, such as nickel, manganese, molybdenum, chlorine, boron, copper, zinc, and iron, are used in small amounts. Most come from the soil, but some are obtained from the atmosphere.

Because yellowing and poor color are common symptoms among most nutrient deficiencies, its difficult to identify which element is missing from the lawn.

The Big Three


A key component of many chemicals within a plant, nitrogen takes part in nearly every plant function. It is critical to chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their green color and allows them to manufacture their own food. When nitrogen is low, lawns turn pale to yellow and grow slowly.


Most soils contain plenty of phosphorus, which is a mineral. However, it may not be readily available to plants. The main role of phosphorus is in shoot and root growth. Deficiencies are rare. If grasses do need phosphorus, they first turn unusually dark green, then purple, and they may be susceptible to disease.

The main time you might see problems is when starting a lawn. Phosphorus is immobile in soil and a small developing root system may be unable to tap the supply. Once the roots grow, they are better able to obtain phosphorus.


Potassium is in involved in overall plant health, resistance to stresses such as excessively high and low temps, disease resistance, wear tolerance, and cold hardiness. No easily recognized color changes occur, so it’s hard to identify a deficiency.

Other Important Nutrients


Iron is the most likely micro-nutrient to be deficient, particularly in high pH soils. It is involved in chlorophyll production, so a deficiency turns the grass yellow. Many high quality lawn fertilizers contain iron.

Calcium and magnesium

Because of its involvement in cell wall development, cell division, and growth of young shoots and roots, calcium is important to plant vigor. The main symptom is slow growth.

Magnesium is a constituent of chlorophyll, so the primary symptom of a deficiency is yellowing. Lime, used to raise soil pH, supplies both calcium and magnesium.

If you need grass cutting, we can help.

Lawn Care Basics: How grass grows

How grass grows
How grass grows

The way grass grows is what allows it to form a lawn. It’s how it is able to withstand abuse.

Lawn Grasses

Most plants can’t survive mowing. This is because their growth points are on the ends of stems at the top of the plant. Grasses, however, grow from the base of their leaves, close to the ground. Below the mower’s reach. Of the more than 10,000 species of grass, only about 50 can be grown as a lawn.

Food Sources

Grasses get their green color from chlorophyll, a key component in photosynthesis. Through photosynthesis, plants take carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the plants food, which fuels shoot and root growth.

Any excess carbohydrates are stored within the plant as food reserves. Stored carbohydrates allow grass to form a dense turf in the spring.

Mowing removes the leaf tissue the grass uses for photosynthesis. Lawn grasses compensate for the loss by becoming a denser turf, i.e. growing a larger number of leaves. The plants must use carbohydrates to constantly replace the leaves at the cost of root growth and storage. The shorter you mow the grass, the greater the effect.

Fertilizing helps to compensate for mowing. By fertilizing, you ensure the grass leaves are loaded with chlorophyll so that they continue photosynthesizing at a normal rate.

Keys to Success

Grow a grass right for your climate. Feed it at least 3 times a year during the appropriate seasons. Mow often and high. Give the lawn long drinks of water.

If you’re not the do-it-yourself type, give us a call and we’d be happy to help with your lawn mowing service needs.

Landscaping Tips: Mulching Best Practices

Delaware Mulch and landscaping
Brandywine, Delaware Mulch & Bush Trimming

Nothing gives a property sharp curb appeal like well trimmed bushes and freshly mulch beds with well defined edges.

Here are some proven steps we have found through experience to help make your yard look its best.

Where to get the mulch?

If your up in North Wilmington, Holland Mulch is the closest location. If you live down in the Newark / Pike Creek area, Copelands Mulch is the place for you. All things being equal, we prefer Copelands because they always give us fatter scoops of mulch.

What type of mulch to get?

Tripple shredded is the cheapest, however we prefer the dyed varieties. The two choices being black and brown. We prefer brown. The color holds up better over the course of the season and is cleaner to work with; black dyed mulch is messy. A purely personal preference, we think it looks better too.


1) Spray the lawn beds liberally with “non-selective, systemic” herbiced such as Roundup Weed & Grass Killer. A broadleaf weed killer won’t kill grass and grassy weeds. We recommend spraying over weed pulling. Many weeds such as dandelions will regenerate if even a fragment of the root remains in the soil. Take a break for a few days (7 days would be best) to let the herbicde spread throughout the plant and get down into the roots. After the prescribed wait time, use a weedwacker to reduce the standing weeds to pulp.

2) Trim all bushes. This would be the time to shape up the bushes, before you put down the fresh mulch.

3) Rake up the beds and remove the debris.

4) Defining the bed’s edges. Using an edging spade, cut along the edge of the bed at a 90 degree angle. Straight, deep, edges are best. Push the loose dirt into the beds and break up the chunks. You’re going to spread the mulch down right over them.

5) Lastly, spread the mulch and use a rock rack to smooth out the mulch. The spreaded mulch should be at a depth of 3 inches.

If you’re not the do-it-yourself type, give us a call and we’d be happy to help with your mulch and bush trimming needs.

Stewart Bros. Turf, LLC
Servicing Wimington, Brandywine, Pike Creek, Newark, Hockessin, Delaware