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  • Matt Keenan

Pros & cons of common lawn services in Kingston

There are lots of added treatments lawn professionals in Kingston Ontario offer, let's take a look at their benefits and drawbacks.


Core aeration

Pros:

  • Instant reduction in lawn compaction

  • Cheap

  • Synergistic with seeding

Cons:

  • Diminishes soil fertility by reducing organic matter

  • Damages healthy turf

  • Benefits last less than a season

  • Increases compaction in long term

  • Allows germination of weed seeds

Who should aerate?

Lawn aeration is a last resort and can be beneficial because of its low cost and a good pairing with seeding an unhealthy lawn. Aerating each year will do more harm than help. If you're looking to take your lawn to the next level, choosing a compost topdressing may be a better fit.





Crabgrass pre-emergent (corn gluten)

Pros:

  • Corn gluten is a good slow-release fertilizer

Cons:

  • Corn is not an effective pre-emergent in Kingston, period.

  • The suggested application rate is expensive

How to really prevent crabgrass?

The likely reason some turf experts believe corn gluten prevents weeds is that it indirectly "does" sort of. Corn gluten is an organic fertilizer, organic fertilizers grow weed-resistant turf so ANY organic fertilizer or compost will help prevent crabgrass.


Water regularly enough in the summer and follow a proper fertility program to prevent crabgrass and maintain a stellar lawn, two birds, one stone.




Dethatching

Pros:

  • Easy to do yourself

  • "Feels" satisfying

  • Eliminates thatch problem

  • May benefit seeding

Cons:

  • You probably don't have a thatch problem

  • Stunts growth of turf

  • Allows soil to dry out faster

  • May aid weed germination

Should you dethatch?

To find out if you need to dethatch, you will need to take some core samples and examine the depth of the thatch layer. If your thatch layer is 1" or more, you may consider dethatching, about 1/2" is beneficial but if you have 3/4" of thatch, for example, cultural practices like proper watering & fertilization can properly manage thatch without resorting to destructive dethatching.




Kelp

Pros:

  • Adds organic matter to the soil

Cons:

  • Expensive

  • No better than other plant matter

Can kelp help?

The benefits of kelp & kelp extracts are highly contested. Kelp contains about the same content of "natural plant hormones" as any other plant product, alfalfa for example. Even if you are promised that your kelp product contains active plant hormones, it is not likely that your turf will absorb & utilize them. The likely benefit of kelp comes from the addition of undigested plant matter to your soil. Instead of kelp, choose alfalfa for a fraction of the cost.







Lime/sulphur

Pros:

  • Can benefit your soil pH

  • Cost-effective

Cons:

  • Soil test REQUIRED

  • Not applicable to established turf

Can I change my soil pH?

In all likeliness, no. It's true that a soil pH from 6.0-6.5 is ideal for turf but if you already have turf you cannot change the pH any valuable amount. If you are planning to re-sod, you most certainly can take a soil sample to determine if you can and should change the pH of your soil.




Grub treatments:

Pros:

  • May reduce grubs

Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Easy to misapply (even professionals)

  • Grubs are not known to return to the same soil

  • Not the best defense

But I'm grub free, I use grub control each year

Maintaining a healthy turf is your best defense against grubs and chances are if you are using grub treatments you are also fertilizing and watering properly. Animals digging for grubs are habitual and will return whether or not you have a grub infestation. Grub controls may indeed work but absolutely require a proper application and because grubs infestations occur seemingly at random, grub control serves mainly as an insurance policy.


Tip: Grub eggs require moisture, so watering every day can lead to improved egg survival. Choosing an organic lawn care program means you can irrigate much less while encouraging natural grub predators and also maintaining healthy turf. Healthy organic lawns show the least grub damage.




Compost

Pros:

  • Adds valuable organic matter to your soil

  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Many different composts with slightly different benefits can be confusing

Should you add compost to your lawn?

Because there is really no downside to compost, yearly addition is recommended to anyone looking to improve fertility and reduce drought stress. The best type is plant-derived because manure-based composts may have higher sodium, and phosphorus content, that your lawn doesn't need. Fresh compost is a cheaper alternative but several times more labor-intensive and can smother healthy turf if it is clumpy. For fresh compost, 1/2 to 1 cubic yard per 1000 square feet is recommended, if you are using granular compost, you won't come close to overdoing it, apply as much as you can comfortably afford, keep in mind several annual small applications are best for established turf and one large application is best for turf renovation.




Humic products

Pros:

  • May improve soil fertility

  • Will improve seed germination

Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Not guaranteed to improve soil

What are humic products?

Humic products are extracted from what is essentially coal, some think it's what soil humus is made of but it is quite controversial. Humic products inconsistently benefit the soil but do seem to regularly improve seed germination in most cases. Compost is a more reliable alternative and is a more sustainable choice because humic products are essentially mined from the ground to be returned to the ground.




Wrapping up

It is important to know the pros & cons of extended lawn care services, you should always have a goal in mind before going ahead with a supplemental service. Congratulations to anyone that could follow to this point, there is a lot of info to digest here. If you're simply here to find out which services are foolproof, compost is your best bet for a superb lawn.



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