Mistaya Land and Water Corporation
Alberta Eco Grass Lawns | Toll Free 1-877-894-9378 | Cell (403) 519-8200
Do You Need a New Lawn This Year ?
We can fix your old Lawn !
This is a lengthy article with a lot of detailed info. We are striving to help you understand the many reasons your lawn is failing and provide you with good information to help you decide on a treatment option.
If you can spare the time please read through this material below. The treatment options are at the bottom of the page if you wish to get to that info quicker.
History of the problem
Lawns are a community of plants that act much like a single organism. Lawns have a lifespan and once you reach that or exceed that, it's time for drastic measures.
An average lawn has a life span of about 15 to 20 years, but that is subject to many variables so it's pretty hard to pin point at what age a lawn is no longer viable. I have seen lawns that are 60 years old and still growing, but they look very sad .
These lawns are existing by growth from the root stock each year, but the grass strain is becoming weaker year by year as it has not been renewed by new seed.
In nature grass regularly reseeds itself each year, it does this to keep itself healthy and flourishing. However there is a problem. Our beautiful manicured lawns are NEVER allowed to get to the stage where they produce a seed head. We cut them off before they can even start to get to that stage every time we mow!
So basically our lawns are not being refreshed as nature intended. This process of mowing the grass before grass can produce seed means we are reducing the life of the grass community drastically. Even though the grass keeps growing, it gets weaker each year until the weeds can get a better foothold.
The Bigger Hidden Problem.
In many places we have poor soil, in Alberta this is especially true, we have truly awful soil in most areas. Our predominant soil type is clay and clay is not a great base for lawns. The good news is that we can often fix it with the proper treatments and soil amendments for a reasonable cost.
Clay soil is sticky, heavy and does not
allow water to penetrate very far. The high content of
sodium in the soil also binds micro-nutrients up so they
are not available to the plants.
Clay soil also has very low organic mass which means it can't hold moisture very well compacts like concrete and has trouble getting air below the surface. The combination of low moisture and organic material means microbe life has trouble staying alive in it. If your soil does not have a healthy population of soil microorganisms your lawn will never prosper and cannot sustain itself properly.
If you are getting a complete lawn renovation from us, we an also add our proprietary cutting edge clay soil treatment, Clay Doctor soil modifier at the same time.
Clay Doctor can work miracles on older compacted clay soil based lawns.For more info on Clay Doctor click here.
Lawns that are still decent, but have hard compacted clay soil may benefit from a single Clay Doctor soil modifier treatment in a big way.
Why Fertilizers are a big problem
Many people attempt to help their lawns by adding fertilizers thinking this is beneficial, in most cases it is doing the exact opposite. Chemical based fertilizers can help certain issues and even make your lawn look better for a short while, however they also do a lot of damage to both the soil and the grass. The chemical salts in the fertilizer can mess up the soils PH balance very quickly, the build up can burn the roots of the grass and can kill the microbes in it as well.
The single biggest problem with using Nitrogen based fertilizers is that they will cause you lawn to grow at a faster than normal rate..you may ask..isn't this a good thing ? if it's growing faster it must be because it's healthier from the fertilizer ! This is only partially true.
I guess the best way to compare it to practical life experiences is to compare it our human bodily functions. Say we are feeling low in energy and are maybe not too fit, but we need to get a lot of work done in a short period of time. We conclude that we should take some amphetamines to give us energy beyond what our body is currently providing. So we take the drug over a week or so and spend the time working 18 hours a day, WOW look at all the work we got done !
During that week with little or no sleep or appetite , when it's over we crash and burn, we lost weight and now feel like crap.. NOT good.
Your body was tricked and now it's likely all screwed up as well. The drugs gave you energy, but you burnt up your bodies vital reserves and possibly could have caused damage to your immune system, heart or other organs.
This is what too much fertilizer can do,
it sends the grass into overdrive, it grows like crazy, sucking more and more nutrients
from the already exhausted soil to produce the plant
mass, you are busy cutting it off and taking the
clippings away in bags instead of returning it to the
soil..effectively strip mining the organic material,
trace nutrients and other substances found in soil that
grass needs to survive.
Consider that you have been doing this for 10, 15, 20, 30 years or more, no wonder the lawn can't go on. The soil is now devoid of organic material, microbes, trace elements and nutrients, it's all been used up. It's dry, lumpy, hard and won't hold water. It's been weakened so severely the weeds are now getting in, the ants are flourishing, clover is taking over and the lawn looks like sickly person, a living skeleton with no flesh under the skin.
Chemical Fertilizers sold in most of the
stores and garden centers only add a few compounds to
the soil, they cannot replace all the other nutrients
required..drastic measures are now needed to reverse the
As we told you, chemical fertilizers used in clay soil will quickly build up toxic concentrations of nitrogen salts and compounds into the soil that cannot be dispersed. This stuff crystallizes and locks itself into the soil and stays there causing damage to the root system of the lawn and killing beneficial soil microbes. These compounds can only be dispersed using a specialized treatment, like Clay Doctor that disperses the strongly charged compounds by ionic transfer.
Our program has been designed to replace a lot of these materials plus repair the soil and it's vital microbial life which will then continue to provide the necessary elements the grass needs to live a healthy life.
Golf courses regularly reseed and top dress with organic material, soil and other materials to keep the turf vigorous and lush.
The WRONG type of grass
A healthy thick lawn often will choke out weeds before
they can establish. If your lawn is patchy and is starting
to get filled with weeds or clover it can be due to the
fact that it is no longer vigorous.
Extensive clover in the lawn indicates that the soil is
pretty much dead. Clover is a legume, a plant that can
pull nitrogen from the air. Clover can maintain itself in
trash or waste soil due to this fact. Grass plants cannot
do this and start to die off. Soil microbes that fix
nitrogen are the number one source most plants have for
getting bio-available nitrogen.
Fix the soil and you go a long way to fixing the
lawn. Chemical nitrogen fertilizer is not a replacement.
Throwing chemicals at the grass does not address the fact
that soil is the problem, the chemical fertilizers are
just making it worse, causing more damage and imbalance.
Now the weeds adapted to poor soils have a huge advantage
over the struggling grass plants and take hold. Trying to
spray the weeds is hopeless now.
We have many new grass varieties that are much more aggressive and hardy these days. These new varieties produce very lush and thick lawns that resist weeds better than older weaker strains do.
Other factors include having the wrong type of grass for our climate here in cold, windy and dry Alberta. We live in a place of extremes - very hot in the summer, very cold in the winter and mostly extreme dry conditions 10 months of the year!
A good example of what I mean by this is our most common grass variety found in residential lawns is derived from the use of sod. Sod is a blend of mostly blue grasses. Blue grass is one of the only grass types that can be cut into sod. No other grasses produce a mat of roots that can be cut and rolled up as easily as Kentucky blue grass.
Why is this a problem?
It's a problem because blue grasses are the most water
loving and high maintenance grass blend usable for lawns.
Blue grasses require a lot of water and fertilizer to stay
healthily and lush.
If all this extra work and product is OK with you and
water is not a problem, blue grass is great. Golf courses
have an army of people working the turf and pounding in
vast quantities of chemicals, fertilizers and herbicides
every day to keep it in top shape.
In these days of water conservation and concern for the environment, blue grass is not a great alternative in many areas. All of Southern and Central Alberta falls into this category.
As we mentioned before we also treat the soil with all of our programs, replacing the grass is not enough.
Aeration and other soil problems
Many lawn problems in Alberta and other places are due to
clay soil and alkaline soil...if you have these (and most
of us do) this is likely the biggest cause of your lawn
Aeration, dethatching and often even fertilizing a lawn
with clay soil is useless.
Aeration of soil in
Alberta is overall completely ineffective as clay
soil will not absorb air through the holes
punched in. We have cutting edge liquid soil treatments
that will aerate your soil and literally change into a
more porous loam.
Thin, weedy and dry lawns are often symptoms of this poor soil, fix that and things can change fast. The good news is that we can often fix the existing soil in your yard by applications of Clay Doctor, mineral solutions and enzymes that can transform the clay soil into fertile loam.
Solutions to fix your old lawn
Just so you know the answer to the question about digging
up your old lawn, the answer is NO. We do have other
options that are less dramatic, disruptive and cost
intensive. Digging up an old ugly lawn and totally
replacing both the old soil and grass with new sod and
soil is one way to replace an old lawn.
This method is also the most drastic, labour intensive
and need I say most expensive way to replace a lawn. In
many cases it's not even possible in older homes to access
the yard due to mature trees, buildings, decks, patios and
The other draw back is that you have an almost 90% water loving high maintenance blue grass lawn again unless we put in our low maintenance Eco Grass sod.
In some cases this may be the quickest way, but Mistaya Land And Water has other options that can cost a lot less and actually work better.
NOTE: for larger areas like acreages we have other options like no till drill seeding that places the seed deep into the soil under the existing turf and mechanical seeding for open soils.These methods are dramatically less costly for larger areas over 1 acre and up to 20 acres.
If your lawn is reasonably level without too many dips
and lumps and is just a bit worn looking we can do one or
more things...We can use our proprietary liquid soil
matrix with the seed blended in and coat the surface of
the lawn with the mixture. The mixture binds to the old
grass and grows explosively after germination. This method
has outstanding results and is cost effective. It also
includes a complete soil treatment.
The third option is to manually or mechanically seed the lawn and then top dress compost or soil/compost mix over the newly seeded areas. Top Dressing insures a good moisture layer and also incubated the seeds as it tends to absorb more heat from the sun and at the same time it is producing it's own heat through decomposition..this accelerates the germination and growing process by a large factor.
We have 2 ways of top dressing , the standard dry top dresser can lay down one or more layers of this new soil and grass seed mixture right over you old lawn. We can also use a liquid soil matrix containing much the same materials. This process is very cutting edge and uses a lot more effective nutrients, microbe inoculation and soil amendments. The liquid penetrates quickly and to a greater depth which yields excellent speedy results.
In a very short time the new soil is absorbed into the grass thatch and the new more aggressive grasses will grow in and eventually replace the old grass.
Even one top dressing treatment can start the process of switching over your old lawn to a new, healthy, community of multiple species of sturdier, fescue grasses.
We also add a concoction of organic enzymes, microbes and nutrients at the same time along with some soil amendments required for Alberta's clay soils. These items do a myriad of things that can drastically help both the soil and lawn...all products are fully organic and safe to use.
Once the new lawn has established properly, the homeowner has two choices :
1) You can have our company come each year or second year to lay down a new layer of organic compost fertilizer and grass seed. This will keep your lawn in top shape and alleviate the need to add chemical fertilizers during the year.
2) Many homeowners can do much of the maintenance
themselves if they choose. A simple material spreader like
those used for fertilizer can be used to apply granular
compost or organic fertilizer annually. We also liquid
products that can be used with a hose end sprayer.
This method is for seriously degraded lawns. Usually method #1 above will work for most cases.
We will do an evaluation of the lawn and decide whether or not to kill the old lawn, usually with Round Up or an organic non selective herbicide like Top Gun and then reseed over it using liquid soil matrix or Enhanced hydroseeding. We only do this when the weeds have taken over so much of the lawn it's beyond saving.
Or in some cases even dig up the old sod and remove it
(rare) or we will use our soil conditioner unit to
basically grind up the old lawn and prepared it for new
sod or Enhanced
hydroseeding . If new soil is required we can
also replace that. We will then either hydro seed,
mechanically seed or top dress new grass seed into the new
Standard hydroseeding over old lawns does not work very
well if at all, the wood fibre mulch used is totally
inert, meaning it adds no value to the exhausted soil. The
wood fibre just sits on top of the old turf and does not
create a proper bond to the soil as well. Enhanced hydroseeding uses
a very different type of machine and completely different
materials to apply a layer of nutrient rich organic
material mixed with soil replenishment agents and new,
hardier grass seed.
This method will result in a decent growth of new grass within about 3 to 6 weeks depending on grass species requested, weather conditions and how often you can water. Eco grass is a little slower growing than other grass so some patience is required if you choose that blend. First mowing will be within those first 4-10 weeks.
We have had situations where the old lawn is not that bad, but has dips and low spots in it, not bad enough to have to replace the entire lawn and soil substrate. If done right we can roll and smooth out the entire old lawn and hydroseed right over the resulting surface. This can save a lot of money and make a huge improvement.
While we can also put in (blue grass) sod, remember we don't recommend blue grass due to it's high maintenance requirements, If you want it, we'll do and do it right. We recommend Eco Grass sod if you are resodding.
We can do any combination of the above methods to suit a specific site or problem. We have a lot of other ways of repairing, replacing or renovating lawns not mentioned here. Our company has pioneered a lot of cutting edge techniques that are not available with most traditional landscaping companies.
No Soil NO problem
We have a cutting edge, but proven spray on soil
substitute that uses a soil like natural fibre matrix with
a fast acting soil microbe that within days forms a living
biotic carpet like mass that holds together on sand, clay
or gravel. The matrix is laced with grass seed that
quickly germinates and grows a mat of roots and fibres
that quickly resist erosion. The grass grows fast and a
living soil bed is created in areas unable to support
grass before.This process is not suitable for every site,
but has been a huge help in areas where there is no good
soil options. Call us to discuss it
If you absolutely need a green lawn fast we can lay Eco Grass sod down and if that's not available in your area then we can immediately overseed standard KBG sod with Eco Grass. This way you get a green lawn right away, but have already started the process of switching the grass over to lower maintenance Eco Grass. The overseeding will cost a wee bit more as you are basically installing the lawn twice, but we have done it for a few clients who requested it. Results are good and by the second season your lawn is mostly Eco Grass.
All of the above options generally cost less than having sod installed. Please inquire for a more accurate quote as there are so many variables to factor in. Our prices are very competitive and affordable .
Our Eco Grass sod is only slightly more than regular sod, so it's cost is not a major issue. We do not sell Eco Grass sod for Do it yourself applications, we install all of our sod ourselves.
Please call us an inquire about your specific needs and we can discuss prices and methods. Book as soon as possible to insure your space. Grass grows best at specific times of the year . May and June are best with August and September after that.
NOTE: for larger areas like acreages we have other options like no till seeding into existing turf and mechanical seeding for open soils.These methods are dramatically less costly for larger areas over an acre and up to 20 acres.
Grass seed will not germinate until the soil temperature
is above 64 F or 17 C so planting earlier is not
necessarily advantageous. Even though the grass in your
yard may be turning green in early April, that is due to
the fact that it is growing from root stock, seeds will
not grow until it warms up. Every year is different so
it's hard to tell
when the ideal time to plant will be, some years April is fine, other years it's May.
Sod often cannot be cut and planted before May or even June most years. Seeding a new lawn can be done in April to early May and be well established by late June. This is quite a head start over sod.
Weeds : Weeds will always be an issue. Where ever you have open soil, there will be weed seeds in it. even new soil bought from garden centres is fully contaminated with weeds unless it has been sterilized. Packaged soils are usually sterilized , however the popular "big bags" of soil are not. They will contain weed seeds.
The Hydroseeding process and mechanical seeding does not introduce weeds into the soil, our seed is certified 95% weed free and we cannot guarantee in any way shape or form that weeds will not grow along with the grass, in fact I can assure you that weeds will grow in the soil, that is a given. This also applies to sod lawns. the weeds in the soil beneath the sod will produce weeds if not treated first. It is naive to think sod will choke out all the weeds in the soil it is laid on, weeds like thistles and dandelions if they exist in the soil will still come through the sod within a matter of weeks.
However weeds can easily be controlled after the grass
has reached the 3 leaf stage (about 3 weeks) . For people
not wanting to use a herbicide, your options are limited
to digging/pulling or carefully applying an eco-friendly
herbicide to each individual weed. These products do work,
but are slow and more labor intensiveness.
Herbicide - Spraying a mild but effective in-turf broad leaf specific herbicide like Killex will kill about 95% of the weeds. usually 1 or 2 treatments the first year will suffice and allow the lawn to establish to a thick enough cover to prevent weeds from being a major issue again. With any lawn , sod or seeded regular spot weeding is required to maintain a weed free lawn. A healthy established lawn will not allow a lot of weed incursion in most circumstances.
Mistaya Land Can provide the following services to complete the installation of your new lawn or to re-invigorate your old lawn.
Organic Fertilizer Program - Mistaya Land & Water has a very good eco friendly fully natural and organic program for those people wishing to get away for the standard chemicals that are causing so many environmental problems like toxic algae blooms and fish kills due to storm drain runoff. Read more on our Eco friendly Organic fertilizer and soil treatments.
To find out more about our other services visit our main web site @ http://www.purewest.ca