5 Lawn Maintenance tips
Millions of homeowners seem to be on a never-ending quest to have more perfect, greener grass. That’s because a well-manicured, emerald green lawn in the front yard is a source of personal pride. Plus, your neighbors will appreciate the “curb appeal” you are adding to the neighborhood.
But that’s just the beginning. A healthy lawn can improve the property value of a home, and it can make a house more attractive to prospective buyers when it’s time to sell. Perfect, greener grass might even make your neighbors green with envy.
A gorgeous green lawn might seem unattainable, because healthy turfgrass doesn’t happen by itself—and it doesn’t happen overnight. Yet, when you know what growing conditions grass prefers and you learn how to properly maintain a lawn, it’s not that difficult grow happy, greener grass.
1: Choose the right type of grass
Turfgrass species can be divided into two basic types: Warm Season grasses and Cool Season grasses. Selecting the right grass for your lawn is based largely on what USDA growing zone you live in. Choosing the right grass type for your climate goes a long way toward ensuring a healthy lawn.
Warm Season grasses include St. Augustinegrass, Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass. These are often referred to as Southern grasses since they grow well in warm climates with hot summers. In cooler climates they take much longer to green up in the spring. Warm season grasses typically lack the cold tolerance and winter hardiness of cool season grasses. They look great in the late spring and summer when they are actively growing, but they turn brown in the fall and winter months when they go dormant.
Cool Season grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass and Fescue. Not surprisingly, these varieties are known as Northern grasses since they thrive in colder climates. These types of turfgrasses are vigorous growers in the cooler months of spring and fall, and they grow more slowly in the heat of summer. Cool season grasses stay green longer in colder climates that Warm Season grasses do. In very cold climates, Cool Season grasses go dormant and turn brown in the winter.
If you have an existing lawn and you are unsure what type of grass it is, consult with a lawn care professional.
2: Know when to fertilize
Lawns need to be properly fertilized to ensure a healthy green color and robust root growth. The best time to you feed your lawn depends on whether it’s a Warm Season grass species or a Cool Season grass.
Fertilize Warm Season grasses when they are actively growing—in the spring through summer. Don’t fertilize before they are actively growing in the spring or in late fall.
Cool season grasses should be fertilized in spring and fall, NOT in summer and winter. Fertilizing a lawn at the wrong time of year can actually weaken the turf and make it more susceptible to disease.
Many different types of lawn fertilizers are available, ranging from chemical-based to ultra-organic. Talk to your neighbors or to a lawncare professional about the best turf fertilizers in your area for greener grass.
3: Aerate compacted soil
Over time, soil can become compacted. This compacted soil makes it more difficult for moisture to penetrate the lawn’s root zone. That’s one cause of discolored lawns that no longer look healthy.
It is difficult for roots to grow in compacted soil. Fortunately, the solution is called aerating and it’s relatively easy to do.
Aerating helps to fix compacted soil by poking hundreds (or even thousand!) of tiny holes in the turf. This allows water to penetrate more easily.
Contact a local lawncare maintenance company to aerate your lawn in the spring. Proper aerating will enable your lawn to be more resistant to drought and maintain its healthy green color. That’s why aerating deserves its place on the lawn care tips for greener grass list.
4: Overseed and re-seed bare patches
Sometimes existing lawns start looking tired and old. Pet urine can cause bare spots, and kids playing on the lawn can cause thin spots in the turf. A healthy lawn is comprised of thousands of individual grass plants, and over time some of those plants can wither and die.
Overseeding a tired lawn and reseeding bald spots and brown patches is a great way to revitalize a lawn. Just determine your lawn’s grass type and buy a similar type of seed to overseed and fill in the bare patches.
A little soil preparation will help grass seed sprout and take hold. In bare patches, use a metal rake to scratch the surface and create breaks in the soil/dead grass so the new seed can get just below the soil surface. Scatter the grass seed. Then cover the seed with a thin layer of topsoil and water the seed immediately. The best way to get new seed to sprout and thrive is to water the newly seeded areas twice a day until the new grass can become established. The result is green grass that will make you smile.
5: Raise your mower blades
Many homeowners cut their lawns too short. In fact, experts say cutting the lawn too short is the number one mistake made in taking care of grass.
Yes, cutting the lawn shorter might mean you won’t have to mow it quite so many times during the growing season. But “scalping” a lawn can result in stressing the grass plants that make up the lawn. Each blade of grass is a leaf on a plant. Cutting the grass too short decreases the leaf area the plant has to gather sunshine. Cutting the grass too short also exposes the soil underneath to more sun. That makes it harder for the soil to retain moisture. The result can be drier roots and stressed plants.
Set your lawnmower height to 2.5 to 3 inches. Mow your lawn once a week during the growing season. And sharpen the mower blades so they don’t tear the blades of grass. Sharp mower blades make a quick cut that results in a healthier, better-looking lawn.