What are Dog Spots?
In a couple words, nitrogen burn. It's caused by ammonia, which over-fertilized the lawn. This is why the lawn is always greener around the edgees of the damage. There have actually been a few papers published on the matter, and outside of a dog run, the only solution is to water often. if watered within a few hours, the grass will not die, but after around 8 hours, the damage will have been done. Many of our customers have us dethatch the area in the spring, then top dress and overseed the area.
How Often Should I get my Lawn Cut?
Generally, weekly is best to keep the lawn from becoming "stemmy". This is what happens when the lawn is cut infrequently. When the grass grows taller and reaches up for the sun, very little of the blades are left close to the soil in the shade. This is the same reason trees have their leaves at the top. When cut infrequently, all that is left are the "woody" sections of the grass.
We do cut bi-weekly as well for low-maintenance lawns.
How do I get My Grass Seed to Grow
Water. Consistent water as often as possible. In nature, our cool season grasses grow throughout the season, go dormant, then fall on the cold or frozen ground. This is where it sits dormant (and hopefully) under the snow until the early parts of the Spring. As the snow melts, it provides and ideal environment of consistent moisture to the grass for approximately 3 weeks. This cool wet environment are what our grasses have evolved expect and will thrive within it.
The good news is we can follow nature's example and do the same for best results. With decent soil and even the cheapest grass seed, if given plenty of consistent water for three weeks- the grass seed will grow very well indeed.
The Truth About Dethatching.
One size does not fit all. Our cool season grasses need a small amount of thatch to stay healthy. Its when we give lawns ideal conditions when we get a little too much thatch. This eventually causes the roots to grow within the thatch, and can cause dead/dying spots. This also causes the lawn to become difficult to mow and become prone to disease like spots, mildew and mushrooms. Aerating also helps the roots to grow deeper within the topsoil.
However, if the lawn is thin or compacted, I do not suggest dethatching, aerating is far more beneficial. Dethatching too deep or in a thin lawn will open up the soil for weed seeds to take root and proliferate. I've seen this happen from time to time with inexperienced lawn care companies power raking too deep. In thin or compacted lawns, aeration, overseeding and/or fertilizer are far more suitable.
How Long Should I Mow My Lawn?
2.5-3" in our climate (or longer). In our semi-arid climate, our water loving cool season grasses will suffer if cut too short. Some length is a good thing, and will hold water far longer than a short lawn will. This will also help prevent weeds from taking root. We've found that cutting any shorter (unless early or very late in the season) will require far more maintenance to keep the lawn healthy.
Power Raking or Aerating or Both?
Aerating in the spring always helps, no matter what the condition of the lawn. If the lawn is very thin, compacted or growing slowly, aerating and fertilizer is best and power raking should be avoided. If the lawn is green and maintained and you'd like to see it stay that way long term, both are recommended. Fertilizer along with either or both services will have your lawn looking amazing year after year.