We can't all be the guy at the end of the street that spends all day EVERY Saturday in the yard. Sure, he has won multiple accolades from the homeowners association and even gotten a feature in the local town gazette, but the lawn is his top priority. Many of us are busy, plain and simple. We run the kids to soccer, go to the grocery store, or just simply value our quiet and peaceful weekends. Yet, we still want a lush green lawn that beckons bare feet, cartwheels, and games of catch. How do you get the most bang for your buck? Follow these 5 commandments of lawn care and you'll get the grass you want without yard work becoming your second job. Trust us, it's easier than you think.
Mowing is the single most influencial practice. Raise those mower blades up folks. You should be cutting no more than 1/3 off the top of your grass. Longer grass blades encourage deeper root development which makes for healthier turf. An added benefit is shading. At longer lengths, grass acts as shade to prevent weed seeds from germinating (they need sunlight to do this) and also keeps grass from drying out as quickly. Many people are under the myth that shorter cutting will decrease the frequency of mowing. Not the case. You'll end up mowing the same amount and have browner grass.
Aeration basically consists of putting small holes in the ground. You can use one of many aeration devices like a walk behind machine, pitchfork, or even sandals equipped with long spikes. The most important benefit is relief from soil compaction. The holes open up the soil allowing water, nutrients, and oxygen to get down to the roots where it's needed most. Aerating is most effective when done every fall.
Balance is the key for proper nutrient uptake by plants and grass. Your grass is a living and breathing ecosystem. It needs water, sunlight, and nutrients to thrive. Do you know if your lawn is acidic, alkaline, or neutral? A soil test will answer this question as well as provide information about what your lawn needs from a nutrient perspective. Proper fertilizer at the right times of year will pay dividends all year long.
4. Weed Control
Besides being unsightly, weeds can starve out grass. They compete constantly for water and nutrients making it essential to stay on top of weeds. The best way to do this is by applying pre-emergent treatments as recommended (see our lawn care calendar) and to pull or spray a post-emergent as they come up.
Topdressing is the last commandment of lawn care. If you are unfamiliar with this term, it refers to the act of spreading compost over your lawn. Compost comes in many forms and you generally get what you pay for. The less fillers, the better. There's more than one way to spread it; manually with a shovel and rake or with a dedicated machine. It is quickly gaining popularity now that homeowners are more and more focused on natural lawn care. Done once per year, the results are worth it. A few of the many benefits include adding organic matter and microorganisms to the lawn, reducing lawn stresses, and it can act as a long term natural fertilizer. For the greatest benefit, topdress after aerating and overseeding in the fall.
Water - Honorable Mention
You probably noticed that we didn't talk about watering. Although it's important, watering happens naturally most of the time. Over-watering is just as damaging as under-watering. A good soaking once per week of about an inch is sufficient during the growing season. As for the best time to water, aim for bewteen 3:00 am and 6:00am. As a rule, the healthiest turf is on the thirsty side which encourages root growth as they seek moisture deeper in the ground.
If you have questions about the health of your lawn, give our experts a call.