Water long and infrequently. Water once a week for one hour or 1 inch of water. The water should be allowed to percolate through the entire root zone. Proper watering encourages long, deep roots which is key to healthy grass. Short, frequent watering encourages short roots and mold.
The two most important applications for lawns are the early spring application and the early fall application. The first spring application should include a pre-emergent herbicide and should be applied when the forsythia begins to bloom. The fall applications should contain higher levels of potassium. An early summer broadleaf weed spay is also recommended. Purchase only quality fertilizers that contain added minerals.
Lime, what does it do? To give an analogy, if you are the lawn and a bottle of water is the fertilizer, the correct pH level is the straw. Properly balanced pH levels help the lawn consume the nutrients in the fertilizer. Turf pH levels should be between 6.0 and 7.0. Delaware soil tends to be acidic, so regular applications of lime are often necessary to balance the pH.
In Delaware, it is recommended to perform core-aeration once every 3 years for your lawn. The benefits are many. Core-aeration loosens the soil allowing water and oxygen better access to the soil, the roots can breathe and the lawn can drain properly. Roots are able to grow deep and strong and new grass seed can take root. Core-aeration helps to greatly reduce thatch (a breading ground and habitat for harmful insects and molds). The number one recommended natural treatment for insect infestations and mold attacks is core-aeration.
What is thatch and what causes it? Why is it bad? A common misconception is that thatch is caused by excess grass clippings. Thatch is actually caused by overheated top growth of the lawn, usually due to over fertilization. Lawns contain stolons and rhizomes. Over fertilizing lawns causes these to grow at accelerated rates. As this plant tissue dies, spongy, intertwined plant matter is left. Mold (causes of many lawn diseases) and harmful grass eating insects bread and live in this habitat.
The higher the better. For most yards, we like to cut at 3.5 inches. Higher grass chokes out weeds, helps retain soil moister, provides more leaf tissue to make food, helps grass resist disease and insects, and promotes deeper roots.