A beautiful and luxurious lawn seems a work of magic, but it couldn’t be farther from that in reality! Having a perfect lawn consists of a significant investment of sweat, effort, dedication, and love. Understanding the ins-and-outs of lawn maintenance is a must for any homeowner.
How many times have you passed by a house with a beautiful lawn and wondered how to get one for your own? Well, if you take proper care of your existing lawn, you might just get one!
The key to having a great lawn is proper maintenance, proper maintenance, and some more maintenance! If you follow appropriate methods and take good care of your lawn, you can soon be the proud owner of a thick, green velvety turf.
The most common maintenance tasks involve mowing, watering, weed and pest control, and fertilization. Let us take a closer look at the importance of each of these and take some pointers while we are at it.
Mowing is one of the most important parts of a lawn maintenance program. A proper mowing not only makes your yard look cleaner and visually appealing, but it is also great for the grass itself. It increases the thickness of your lawn when done right. The length you should mow and the frequency will depend on the type of grass you have. Some grasses grow quicker while the others are a bit slow. Adjust your mowing schedule accordingly.
Always stick to the 1/3 rule: never remove more than 1/3 of the length at any one time. If your lawn is very healthy, it can sometimes survive a closer cut but repeated close cuts will cause a myriad of problems including stunting the growth and increasing the susceptibility to pests and weeds. Follow these general tips when you mow:
- Always mow the lawn when it is dry. If the blades of grass are wet, they will clump up on you making it difficult to mow and result in an uneven cut
- Always mow moving forward, whether you are using a hand mower to a powered one
- Leaving the clippings on the lawn can be a great idea. It is called grass re-cycling and can help return the nutrients back to the grass. Just make sure that the clippings don’t form clumps or rows
- Consider a mulching mower or adding an attachment to the existing one. Also, if you collect the clippings, consider composting them
Water is the most essential requirement of a lawn. Without proper watering, the lawn will suffer dearly. An extended period of dry weather with no rain can parch the land and watering becomes an immediate need. Many people over water or under water their lawns. Here are some tips to help you do it just right.
- When to water is a critical question. As a rule of thumb, always water deeply but not too frequently. It is best to water your lawn between 6-10 am as there is less wind during the morning and your lawn has a full day ahead to dry. Watering during the night is not a particularly great idea as it invites fungus and mildew growth. If you have to water at night, aim for 4-7 pm. That being said, in the dry conditions of the Southwest, this generalization does not hold good. In those regions, watering in the evening causes less evaporation, which is good.
- It is essential to make sure that you are watering enough. If you happen to use sprinklers, apply about 1/2 inch water about twice a week. One great tip I picked up from a veteran lawn expert was to use empty food cans to measure the amount of water sprinklers put out. That way you can estimate how long before you can switch the sprinklers off.
- The new varieties of grasses are resilient to drought, and they can easily survive a couple of months without water. So if you find yourself in a drought with water restrictions, you’ll likely be fine long term!
Weed-free lawns are any homeowners dream. Weeds are tenacious and persistent. If left unmanaged, they can completely engulf the lawn making it your worst nightmare. Thankfully, there is help, a lot of it. The market has many herbicide options from harsh chemicals to more gentler natural ones. Also, there are many weeding techniques available to get rid of these pesky spawns of green menace. Here are some tips which might help you to not only wage war against weeds, but to win it.
- A good plan is half the battle won. Remember that if you have a particularly weedy yard, no single herbicide or a weeding technique is going to get rid of all of them.
- Crowd them out. Weeds need some open space to grow. If you follow a good lawn care program and don’t let your lawn develop patches or bald spots, this problem will take care of itself.
- Don’t use too much fertilizers. Too little fertilizer may cause a spacious lawn which will provide an opportunity for the weeds to grow. On the other hand, too much will nurture the weeds. So, striking a balance is essential.
- Watering is also important in weed control. Frequent, shallow watering will cause grass to have shallow roots and help many weeds such as crabgrass and bluegrass to germinate. Water deeply and less frequently.
- Hand weeding is an excellent option if you have enough time, and if there are not too many weeds in your yard. The best time to pull the weeds out is when they are young before they flower and produce seeds. Try and pull them out when the soil is moist so that you can get them completely. Any root piece left behind may cause more weeds to germinate.
Pests in your lawn can be very frustrating. If you find moths flying up from the lawn when you mow, or billbugs are common sightings on your driveway, its time to do some pest control of your yard. Some insects such as bees and butterflies benefit your lawn but others such as grubs, make the grass sick.
There are a number of pests and insects that can invade your lawn. One of the easiest ways to tackle them is by using pesticides on the lawn. Here are some tips you might want to consider if you decide to use pesticides on your lawn.
- Buy quality pesticides and buy only as much as you need.
- Pesticides can be hazardous, and hence, proper care is a must when you are using them. Always make sure that you are using appropriate safety equipment.
- It is imperative to follow the instructions on the packaging of the pesticides. It the package says it needs to be watered down, make sure you do it.
Fertilizers can be a boon to your lawn. Proper fertilization ensures that your grass will never starve out and have that lush green look. There are three major types of fertilizers that you can buy:
- Natural, organic fertilizers: Examples include compost, manures, and agricultural by-products. These are the safest fertilizers that you can use, but they are relatively low on nutrients. Thus, you will need to apply them more often than other chemical ones.
- Slow-release chemical fertilizers: These are more concentrated than the organic ones and have precise amounts of nutrients. They are designed to please the nutrients slowly over extended periods so that you don’t have to apply them very frequently.
- Quick release fertilizers: These are also chemical fertilizers but are designed to release the nutrients immediately after application. They are inexpensive and concentrated, but you should be careful not to use too much.
Once you decide on what fertilizers to use, here are some tips to make the process easy and efficient:
- The best time to fertilize your lawn is in the fall for cold climate grasses and summer for warm climate grasses.
- Make sure to not over or under-fertilize. Read the package instructions carefully to determine how much fertilizer is needed for your lawn.
- Returning mulched clippings to your lawn also makes a great way to fertilize.
Something to take away
Proper maintenance and care of your lawn is imperative if you want a healthy, thick, lush, green lawn.