May 15, 2008 13:30 ET

The Grass Is Always Greener at RONA

After a tough winter, how-to tips you can use for an amazing lawn this summer

BOUCHERVILLE, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - May 15, 2008) - It has been a difficult winter for lawns, particularly in Eastern Canada where abundant snowfalls translated into a late melting period and significant damage to the ground. RONA (TSX:RON), Canada's largest distributor and retailer of hardware, home renovation and gardening products, is happy to provide Canadians with how-to tips on lawn care.

Tip no. 1: Reseeding

Reseed every two or three years for denser grass coverage and to fill bald patches that could be invaded by weeds. This is a natural method of combating weeds, and one that can be done at any time during the season. Annual aeration at the beginning and end of the season involves piercing the grass mats and soil surface to increase porosity, so air and water can more easily reach the roots. It also makes it more difficult for weeds to grow.

Tip no. 2: Aeration

Aeration will be very helpful this year, especially in heavy grounds, compacted by snow. It is important that oxygen circulates in the first inches of the ground to stimulate growth. This operation involves removing plugs of compacted ground using a motorized aerator, or for small lawns, a manual tool. Aerating lets oxygen and water get down to the roots, helps thatch decompose and prevents the ground from compacting. Leave the little carrots that the aerator pulls out on the surface; in a few days they'll disappear.

Tip no. 3: Dethatching

The purpose of this operation is to eliminate the blanket of thatch on your lawn, using a dethatching rake or a power dethatcher, so more water gets to the roots.

Tip no. 4: Top dressing

Every year, simply scatter a fine layer of organic top soil to nourish the soil and improve its structure. After analyzing the loam, you may also wish to add granulated lime to rebalance the pH. To increase penetration of this organic material in the soil, dethatch before top dressing.

Tip no. 5: Fertilizing

Fertilizing is all about giving your lawn the necessary nutrients. You'll want large quantities of three nutrients: nitrogen (growth and greening factor), phosphorus (disease resistance and improved rooting), and potassium (cold and disease resistance). The percentage of each of these elements is represented by a three-number code on the packaging. 10-4-8, for instance, means there's 10% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus and 8% potassium.

Tip no. 6: Mowing

Lawn mowing can actually compromise the health of your lawn. Never cut more than a third of the height of your grass at a time, and leave the leaf cuttings on the soil to trickle nitrogen into it. During heat waves, your lawn is dormant, so don't mow it at all. Clean cuts heal more easily, using less of the grasses' energy. Roll-type mowers, which are usually push-mowers, are the most effective - plus they're quiet! Just make sure the blades are sharp.

Tip no. 7: Watering

Watering intelligently means maximizing the water that reaches the roots when and where it's needed, and minimizing the amount of water used. It's better to water deeply and less often; ideally 1 inch (2.5 cm) early in the morning. To measure the depth, place a leak-proof container on the lawn surface. Did you know that if you water at midday, 50% of the water evaporates before it can do your grass any good?

Tip no. 8: Creating a healthy, pesticide-free lawn

To create a healthy lawn without the use of pesticides, seeding should be done in at least 15 cm (6 in.) of quality soil and the grass should be kept at a height of 6.5 cm to 8 cm (2.5 to 3 in.). A lawn that is too short promotes weed growth and prevents the grass from establishing deep roots. Do not remove cut-grass as it can supply up to 30% of the lawn's nutritional requirements. If there is more than 2 cm (3/4 in.) of thatch, remove it; the excess can provide prime nesting areas for certain pest-insects and makes it more difficult for air and water to penetrate into the soil. Finally, manually remove all dandelions, whose presence is actually a sign of poor soil condition.

As for flower and vegetable gardens, use only 100% natural fertilizers and choose plants that are resistant to disease and insects or ones that repel the latter or that attract pest-insect predators. A clever blend of these types of plants and other types, which do not possess the same properties (companion planting), is an effective alternative to pesticides, especially in vegetable gardens. Make sure that the plants you choose are adapted for your garden conditions (quantity of sunshine, humidity, soil quality, etc.), that you use a diverse selection and that you rotate your crops in order to maintain soil quality. As for those pesky weeds, nothing works better than a good old-fashioned weeding.

About RONA

RONA is the largest Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, home renovation and gardening products. RONA operates a network of more than 680 corporate, franchise and affiliate stores of various sizes and formats. With over 27,000 employees working under its family of banners in every region of Canada and more than 15 million square feet of retail space, the RONA store network generates over $6.3 billion in annual retail sales. Visit to learn more.

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