Friday, April 26, 2024

Real Estate: The Green Grass Grows All Around

By Nicole Foster, Broker/REALTOR

No Mow May has been steadily gaining popularity and even receiving official designations in some surrounding communities. This is a concept which helps to protect our pollinators including bees who winter in the “duff layer” of the grass. They benefit from the extra time for flowering weeds like dandelions, which are their first source of food after winter, time to bloom and can continue to find warmth on cold nights.

This new trend is well received by many homeowners as spring in Maine often arrives suddenly, catching many of us off guard as we transition from storm clean-up to yard maintenance. One moment, you're still removing winter's remnants; the next, your lawn is turning green and flowers are beginning to bloom, while your neighbor's Christmas decorations still linger. If you're feeling behind on your spring yard work, don't worry! 

Here are some expert tips to keep your lawn looking its best throughout the year.

Maine's climate, characterized by cold winters and relatively short growing seasons, requires special attention when it comes to lawn care. Start by thoroughly de-thatching your lawn to remove dead grass, leaves, and debris that have accumulated over the winter. Use a flexible metal rake or one that can be weighted and pulled. This will allow your soil to breathe and creates openings for the new shoots to grow.

There will be areas where you will need to add more grass seed to patches. Be sure to purchase new grass seed each year to maximize germination. The best time to overseed your lawn in Maine is in September, but the next best time to is during May.

Making sure that you select the correct type of seed for your site is very important so be sure to read the information label on the back of the bag of seed to confirm that the amount of shade and drainage your area has is suitable for what you are using. A blend that is high in fescues can best tolerate shade and foot traffic. Use a drop seed spreader to evenly coat the area in one direction, then make a second passage in right angles to the first passage.

Help to build nutrient rich soil by top-coating up to half an inch with a 50/50 mixture of compost and loam, but avoid doing this more than once per year. This mixture helps improve soil structure and fertility, reducing the need for additional fertilizers. For homeowners with mature lawns older than ten years, the lawn can often recycle nutrients naturally, eliminating the need for fertilizer altogether.

Mature lawns older than ten years old are able to recycle nutrients on their own. If you do choose to use a fertilizer on your lawn, then it is best applied between Labor Day and Columbus Day no more than once per year and select a phosphorus free product.

The majority of homes in Maine have soil that is acidic which favors the growth of weeds over grasses. Weeds will continue to grow and thrive even with the use of herbicides if you do not take steps to lower the pH in your soil. Contact the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Falmouth to get a soil test box that can be tested in the laboratory so you can raise or lower your soil’s pH and add nutrients that it requires.

Often homeowners will mow their grass too frequently or cut it too short, leaving it more susceptible to drought, insects, and disease. A good rule of thumb is to cut no more than a third from the length of the blade of grass, so allowing it to grow to four inches then cutting off one inch can help to prevent it from turning brown. Leaving the clippings can also help to prevent sun scorch, is nutrient rich, and should not contribute to thatch if minimally fertilized.

If your lawn has been richly fertilized then participating in No Mow May could result in too much lush growth and clumping once cut, contributing to mold or tick habitats so you may opt to participate in Less Mow May by reducing mowing to once four inches in length instead of eliminating for the month. <

Nicole Foster is a real estate broker with Locations Real Estate with 19 years of experience and a Windham parent who loves people and real estate. Follow Nicole on Instagram @207nicolefoster or Facebook

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