The adage is, “The customer is always right.” But when it comes to lawn care for condominium properties, the first question is, “What does the customer want?” According to Matt Lindner, the service line director for SavaLawn in Bedford Hills, New York, the bottom line is that “the demands of the property owner determine the inputs needed for healthy turf.” Perpetually lush, green, weed-free lawns require a lot of care and regular maintenance. Condominium owners who are willing to budget for and endorse the necessary means for sustaining such lawns will receive their just returns.
Nourishing lush green lawns in New England is not without its challenges, however. “Water,” says Michael Quirk, director of sales and marketing for Greener Horizon in Middleboro, Massachusetts, “is one of the biggest challenges condo properties face in terms of maintaining their turf. Many sites have fully automatic irrigation systems; however, many do not. This is key to having lush, healthy turf.” Quirk also says “another factor that affects lawns in New England is the high level of clay soils. Lawns with clay soils require more frequent core-aeration to help reduce compaction from clay.”
Patrick Lindquist, the lawn care division specialist for Leahy Landscaping in Lynn, Massachusetts, adds that one more “challenging variable is the inconsistent and fluctuating weather patterns. Weather has a huge influence over conditions of turf grass and can be the leading cause of turf grass disease.” Also, condominium properties may have “different micro climates and micro environments. Due to the size of a lot of condo complexes, turf grass can be growing in very different environments from one area to another. When looking to maintain a condo complex, it is difficult to just keep a cover-all program for the entire complex.”
Unfortunately, though, the biggest mistake held in common when it comes to lawn care is misunderstanding the needs of different lawns. “You can’t just drive to your local Lowe’s and pick out a bag of mixed grass seed,” says Lindner of SavaLawn, which has offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut. “The most important service a lawn care company does is a soil test. This is the ‘blood test’ for the needs of the lawn, or, for that matter, the landscape. The results of the test will determine what inputs are required to keep your plants and lawn growing and healthy.” Lindner indicates that matching the right grass to the appropriate conditions is imperative. If an area of the property gets full sun and has adequate irrigation, he might choose a Bluegrass for that part of the landscape; but another parcel on the same property may be very shady and not receive as much irrigation, in which case he’d plant fine Fescues which can “survive on much less water, around 3 to 4 hours of sunlight, and go dormant during times of stress.”
Just A Little Off the Top
Even if appropriate grass seed is planted, however, “choosing proper mowing heights is essential throughout the year,” says Lindquist. “A common mistake that is made is to cut the grass short to reduce the total number of cuts — but cutting the grass too short in times of high heat or humidity can cause tremendous stress on the turf grass plant, leading to greater problems such as disease or weeds.” He indicates that “another mistaken practice that exists and causes damage to turf grass is being on the lawn when there is a frost. When there is a frost it is best to stay off the turf grass completely. The damage that exists will not kill the turf grass plant, but it will bend and break the shoots of grass, causing stress.”