Taking Care of Your Minnesota Lawn
Minnesota residents have to face one major hurdle when it comes to proper lawn care – a harsh winter. The cold, long winters cause a lot of damage to your lawns. If you want to a green, lush lawn, you have to learn how to properly maintain and prepare for the harsh winter ahead.
Proper management means picking the right type of grass for your lawn and learning how to properly mow for each time of year. It also means understanding core aeration and overseeding to ensure your lawn is ready for the winter and summer.
Lawn Mowing Tips for Minnesota Lawns
Mowing your lawn is the most frequent task you need to do to maintain your lawn. Each season requires different heights and recommendations.
Mowing weekly is a good tip for spring and summer lawn care. It keeps your lawn at peak condition. During the summertime, you want to follow the recommended mowing height for your grass type. Most recommendations are between 2 to 3 inches because it gives the grass time to spread the roots down deeper into the soil. Deeper roots help your grass find water during dry periods.
Raising your mower blade height helps to reduce water evaporation and it helps prevent weed seed from germinating.
In the fall, you should keep your lawn around 2 to 2.5 inches tall. You don’t want it to get much longer because the grass could mat and lead to winter lawn disease, like snow mold. Shorter than two inches limit the ability to store food for growth in the spring.
Recommended summer mowing heights:
- Kentucky Bluegrass – 2.5 inches
- Fine-Leafed Fescues – 2.5 to 3.5 inches
- Perennial Ryegrasses – 1.5 to 2.5 inches
No matter the type of grass you have in your yard, you need to follow the golden rule. Never remove more than one-third of the grass blade surface at a time. Doing so can cause stress to your grass and remove food stored in the grass blades.
Make sure that you sharpen your mower blades before the start of the spring mowing season. Dull blades will rip and tear your grass blades, which can lead to the grass being more prone to diseases and pests. Torn blades turn brown easily.
Lawns that have a lot of traffic throughout the year face soil compaction. If your soil is compacted, there is a potential chance that your lawn might not grow to its full potential. That’s because air, water, and nutrients are unable to reach the roots.
Core aeration loosens up the soil by puncturing holes into the soil and pulling plugs of soil out. This allows the water and air to reach down to the roots of the grass.
You can plan to aerate in the fall or spring. Fall is a great time because the ground is compacted after a busy summer. Foot traffic, kids, and pets lead to compacted ground. Spring is also a good time because winter, with a heavy amount of snow, can cause the same problem!
When to Overseed in Minnesota
Fall is the best time of year to overseed your lawn and to do any types of repairs. Your goal is to be done reseeding your law around mid-September. The cool temperatures around this time of year make reseeding successful, preparing your lawn for the winter ahead. A healthy lawn is more likely to survive than a struggling one.
When you overseed your lawn, make sure you use a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Then, use a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer five weeks after your grass germinates.
Picking the Right Grass For Minnesota
The only options for Minnesota residents are cool-season grasses because they prefer cold winters and mild summers. These grasses grow the fastest in temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees F. That means cool-season grasses grow the most during spring and fall.
Kentucky bluegrass is the most commonly picked turfgrass in Minnesota. It is one of the longest-lasting grasses, and it grows rapidly when the weather is cool and moist. Growth will slow down during hot and dry weather. Kentucky bluegrass needs ample water to continue to thrive.
Another choice is a fine-leafed fescue because it tolerates shade and infertile, droughty soil. This grass type adapts well to dry, shady sites, but it doesn’t do well in wet, poorly draining soils.
One of the best reasons to plant fine-leafed fescue is because it requires minimal levels of management, including less water and fertilizer. You don’t want to overwater or use too much fertilizer on this type of grass.
Typically, fine-leafed fescue is rarely planted alone. They do best when in a mixture with bluegrasses. There are several types of fine-leased fescues that grow well in Minnesota, such as red fescue, chewings fescue, and hard fescue.
Perennial ryegrasses are a great choice because the seeds rapidly germinate and establish. You can mix it with Kentucky bluegrass because it takes longer to establish. Common and improved perennial ryegrasses are available, but common tends to be short-lived because it doesn’t handle harsh winters.
Improved ryegrasses have great winter hardiness and are great for when you need rapid cover and wear tolerance is needed. Pick this type when you want to establish a lawn quickly, particularly on sloped areas or where erosion is common.
You’ll find that most grasses in Minnesota are blended together for different needs and uses. It is a good idea to blend the grass seeds because it helps to find the perfect qualities needed for your yard. Think about your lawn when selecting the blend you want.
Lawns with more shade or more foot traffic need different requirements. Fine fescues are needed in a blend if you want any type of shade tolerance. Sunny lawns can be a blend of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrasses.
Survive the Winter
Your goal is to survive the harsh winter of Minnesota. With the proper management techniques, your lawn can survive the winter ahead. Make sure you pick the right type of grass for your lawn. Select the right height for the season, and don’t forget to overseed the bare spots in your lawn!
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