We are approaching April here and soil temperatures are still in the mid 40’s. Once we hit 50, the grass will start to wake up. Over the past few years, we have been using a liquid aeration product and have been very impressed with the response in our lawns. It is more of a wetting agent that helps with gas exchange in the soil allowing it to drain and breathe better. That exchange provides a quicker green-up on our lawns without excessive nitrogen to wake them up and force growth. We will be continuing with this approach in 2021.
You may recall hearing about some lawn testing we started over the past year. The information found was extremely beneficial and we plan to expand this research on some additional lawns this year. I could go on and on about the information we gathered, but will share some high-level findings:
We were able to stop an invasion of leafhoppers that were feeding on the lawn by adding a few nutrients that were low on the test results. These missing nutrients or enzyme cofactors converted the free ammonia and nitrate into a complete protein for the grass. In other words, the insects could no longer digest the grass, their stomachs aren’t capable of doing so. Many insects see in the infrared spectrum and if that ammonia isn’t there, they don’t even see your lawn as a possible meal and will move on to an unhealthy one. It also increased the total nitrogen in the grass by 71% which was cool to see but needs closely managed.
From looking over each month’s results, there was an inverse relationship with total nitrogen and total sugars. I made sure to take samples at the same time of day and on a sunny day. The sugar levels tell us how well the grass is photosynthesizing, and throughout the year it was consistent that as total nitrogen went up, total sugars went down and vice versa. When your lawn is photosynthesizing better, it sends those sugars down into the soil as root exudates in exchange for nutrients from the biology in the soil.
Your grass knows what it wants and needs in terms of nutrients and has a symbiotic relationship with the microbes. They can do a way better job of managing its diet than we can. The challenge is getting to that point of good health and then maintaining it. It is our job to provide what is lacking and boost that exchange in the root zone.
The information we were able to gather has been awesome and gives us full confidence in what we are doing and how we are managing inputs on our lawns. Reach out if you would like to learn more or would like help with your lawn.