image of dead patching grass

Why Curb Lanes Look Bad….

It’ll soon be July, “dog days” for most lawns and lawn care issues, and one about which we hear frequently is that of crab crass and other undesirables in “curb lanes” and the areas adjacent to sidewalks.

“Why are there so many weeds, and why is the grass dying out?”  we hear.

Well, if you think about “curb lanes”, or the area right next to the street on nearly every urban city property, is easy to figure out.

One, the dirt underneath the grass is typically very poor and lacking in nutrient.  It’s whatever’s left over when they pour the sidewalk and paved the street, full of rocks and gravel, and constantly weakened by calcium or salt used for snow and ice control in the winter.  Every time the street is plowed that brackish slush is thrown up on the grass strip between the walk and the curb and grass doesn’t grow well with that type of supplement.  See the accompanying photo (above).

Two, the heat that is radiated laterally by asphalt streets and concrete walks is another threatening factor to healthy turf growth.  If you had a soil thermometer handy you’d find that on a hot summer day the temperature of a curb lane is about 10 degrees hotter than the rest of your yard.  Thus, heat stress weakens your grass and when the grass dies it creates space for weeds, which seem to thrive in the worst of conditions, especially crabgrass.  And this same heat phenomenon is often prevalent along driveways and other concrete walks not adjacent to the street.

The answer, of course, is to prepare the best and most nutritionally rich seed bed possible when you re-seed these areas.  Good topsoil, and a balanced fertilizer in the fall is a “must” for new grass plantings.  You can’t do much about that snow plow and the salt, but early and frequent feedings in the spring and throughout the year will help fortify “curb lanes” and keep them greener throughout the summer.  And oh…don’t forget the water, too.  If you irrigate your lawn, be sure that moisture covers the “curb lane”, too.

Remember, any time and any place your grass is damaged it’s an invitation for unwanted vegetation.  You’ve heard it before.  You can’t beat “Mother Nature”, and asphalt!