John Quincy Adams once said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." (The Paradox of Power) That is pretty close to my definition of leadership - The ability to inspire greatness in others.
Well, I've been asked by several of my turfgrass troops what MY lawn looks like. Besides telling them it is none of their business, I usually show some photos - or, I bring them over to the house. Here, below, is a photo of my backyard in 2011:
Just to the left of center in this 2011 photo, you will see a tree that is almost directly behind another tree. That second tree, behind the front tree, died. Not sure what happened. I didn't see any presence of disease. In the spring of 2012, it just didn't come back, bloom again. And, it started to really look bad. So, I had it removed. The stump was ground down. I removed all the wood debris. Put down lawn soil , seeded and fertilized. In the pictures below, in 2012, (third one down) you will see the place where it was - and it looks like it was never there. Now that's turfgrass management!
Here are the pictures taken in 2012 below:
Okay, below here's some pics of my yard taken just recently - June, 2013. Not too bad. All the other, earlier pictures above are taken much earlier in the growing season.
These are taken much later...by at least a couple months. You can perhaps see some signs of heat stress already. I quit watering a few years back - too expensive. I just let it go dormant.
You can see I got lots of dense shade.
I've experimented with all sorts of things over the years.....fertilizers....fish guts....all sorts of things. Now, I am a "minimalist."
But, this year I have been experimenting with a mulching kit for my mower. That means it has special blades and a block for the discharge chute. The jury is still out. I don't think the blades do as good a job as regular blades. They have seemed to get awfully dull awfully fast this year.
The clippings I have seen do seem to be a bit more chewed up....much smaller in size.
Here are some pics from May of 2014. Not too bad either - considering the winter we had. There was some cold weather damage. Any time your turf remains under water, or under ice, for long periods of time, you can have a difficult recovery in the spring.
I also had some salt/de-icing compound damage along the street. And I had some of that damage around my back patio and along the front walkway. I knew that would happen. But, I'd rather sacrifice some turf, in this case, than have someone slip and fall.
This is a shot of the north side of the backyard.
This is a shot of the south side of the backyard.
An update on the mulching attachment and mulching blades - I think they do not cut as finely as the regular blades. Sometimes I have to go over an area more than once. But the evidence of excessive clippings is not there. The thatch that is generated is minimal and it soon decays.
Do the right thing - purchase a mower (or get an attachment) that can do mulching. It is environmentally responsible.
And, this is a shot of the front yard looking from NNE to SSW. Everything is beautiful and green now. But, this will all look a little brown once the summer sets in. Like I said earlier, I do not water any more. Too expensive.
If we get a real hot summer, I'll post some pictures of my turf when it goes dormant.
Again, note all the shade. That also has an impact. Turf needs photosynthesis just like all plants. Part of that process is a requirement for light.
Like my recent post on heat tolerance, and my future post on shade tolerance, you need to find that difficult balance between turf and trees.
These two shots are from fall, 2014. The leaves are just starting to be an issue. I've already aerated, overseeded and fertilized for the winter. But, as the weather cools off, I begin to cut a little lower, much lower than during the spring and summer months. A nicely cropped yard will look real good when the snow falls.
Here are some pics from May of 2015. It is not often that my backyard looks better than my front yard. My front yard is the first pic - w/ the walkway on the right hand side of the pic.
Here are some pictures of my yard from the fall of 2015. I mean late fall. We had warm weather like up to Christmas. These pictures were taken just before the first day of winter @ 21 DEC. You can see some leaves have been chopped up (mulched) by my mower. Read my blog post, "Fall Leaf Removal". I talk about what to do about leaves and some of the options for dealing with them. Most of my leaves were removed but I still had to mow in between leaf removal visits. Heck, I usually have all my lawn care equipment winterized and stored for the winter before Thanksgiving. I was mowing almost up to Christmas this year.
Even as late in the fall growing season as these pictures were taken, I did not get full recovery from my fall aeration, overseeding and fertilization. We had a fairly dry summer and fall. It was super difficult to get those aeration cores into the hard soil. (Same with all my customers.) Although I usually recommend aeration in September, I was unable to get it done until after some rain around Columbus Day. That not only gives you little time for growth before the first frost, it also makes you run up against the close out time the law demands for fertilizer applications.
Below are some shots after my second mowing, around late April, 2016. I did all my work in the fall. I put down my fertilizer after the date of the last killing frost in my region, usually early April. Took my mower out of hibernation. Put on fresh blades and leveled the deck.