Handy Tips for a Healthier Lawn
There are approximately 30 million acres of lawn in America. While some look better than others, the key differentiator is the care they receive. If you long for a lush, green and healthy lawn then you’re in the right place. In this guide we’re going to discuss some simple yet devilishly effective tips for success, allowing you to confidently sit back and enjoy the look of envy on your friend’s faces.
Water Your Lawn
Starting with the obvious, water your lawn. This doesn’t mean turning on your sprinkler for a few minutes, it means giving your lawn a good soak. Do it deeply, and less regularly. Doing so ensures that your grass develops roots that reach deeper into the soil.
A light sprinkle of water forces your lawn to grow shallow roots. This is because only the grass and the top surface of the soil becomes wet. As such, frequent watering becomes more necessary, and during summer the grass can dry out completely.
The right amount of water in a week, according to experts, should be between 1 and 2 inches. Nevertheless, this is a rough guide and can vary depending on the type of soil, the local weather conditions, time of the year, and the species of grass in your lawn. For instance, sandy soils drain water faster than any other type and may require more water.
How do you know if you are watering your lawn the right way? Use a simple apparatus like a pan. Place it on your lawn and turn on the sprinkler. Determine the amount of time it takes for the water to reach the recommended 1-inch depth. This test will also allow you to deduce how long the sprinkler should run, and if it is soaking the lawn appropriately.
Some gardeners opt to use several containers, and place one in each corner of their lawn. In this way you can be certain that your whole lawn is receiving the water it needs, rather than your watering being focused just in the center.
Watering should ideally be done early in the morning. This avoids water loss due to evaporation. At night, the wet ground will act as a predisposing factor for diseases caused by fungi or molds breeding in moist soils.
Aerate the Soil
Several factors contribute to compacted soil. If your lawn is used as a playground for your kids, if you have pets, or you mow regularly, the soil is bound to become hard. Compacted soil has no room for breathing, which can affect the health of your grass.
Aeration and dethatching can be carried out once a year during spring or fall. The simplest option is to use a garden fork. Push it deeply into the lawn and wiggle the prongs around gently. Alternatively, a less energy-intensive option is to invest in aerators that attach to the bottom of your shoes. While the holes produced are shallower, all you need to do is walk gently around on your lawn to open up the soil.
The dethatching process can be done manually with a grass rake, though gardeners with larger lawns often opt to use a powered dethatcher. Some models are simply pushed across your lawn like an electric mower, while others can be towed behind a garden tractor for maximum ease.
Mow the Top
It may sound strange but mowing just the tip of your grass can have its benefits. By adjusting the mower to its highest settings, only the top parts of the grass, which are healthy and thin will be trimmed. On the ground, the blades will decompose and add to the nutrients. Moreover, the blades contribute significantly to the nitrogen needed for growth.
The light layer of thatch created as you “mow high” prevents weeds from growing and it also keeps moisture evaporation in check. Mowing low means cutting the tough grass, which is hard to decompose. The stemmy clippings may contribute to slow absorption of water, air and the seeping of sunlight.
Remove Weeds, Scarify, and Apply Fertilizer
Remove all the existing weeds in the lawn by uprooting them with a weeder or your hands. If the weeds are persistent, depending on their species, you can apply an herbicide. Do not wait until the whole lawn is infested to begin the weed removal process. It is very important to attack the weeds before they get a chance to develop fully. Check regularly to keep the process manageable.
Similarly, as a human skin would require exfoliation, so does your lawn. Scarifying the lawn allows for the elimination of molds, fungi, and some types of weed. This can be done using a spring-tine rake before re-seeding or applying fertilizer. Do this to rejuvenate root development in the spring, and to repair or restore to grass to a healthy state. Meanwhile, you can feed your lawn some fertilizer occasionally to maintain a healthy green look.
Before getting rid of the weeds or applying the fertilizer, ensure that you have the right product for the task. Some herbicides might destroy your turf altogether.
Apply Some Compost
Decomposing organic matter has many advantages, including aeration, preventing rapid moisture evaporation, and adding nutrients to the soil. The clippings resulting from lawn mowing can be collected and, together with other kitchen waste, heaped to make compost.
Add compost to the soil during re-seeding or after aeration to increase the growth of your grass as well as your other landscape plants. The compost will drive away pests, stimulate root development, balance the soil pH and attract helpful microorganisms that contribute to soil fertility.
Cut the Grass to a Proper Height
Maintaining a certain height for your grass is key to ensuring it stays green and healthy. Different types of grass have varied cutting needs, which is why the mowing process alone isn’t enough.
In general, experts recommend between 3 and 4 inches during the cool season, and 1 to 2 inches during summer.
Cut the grass using a well-sharpened blade to avoid causing damage to the grass.
You may opt to use corn gluten meal both in place of an herbicide and a fertilizer. It is a natural substance that is efficient in the elimination of weeds while at the same time giving nutrients to the soil and your grass.
Minimize the use of your lawn if it is in an unhealthy state. You may want to temporarily give up your Frisbee games or barbecuing. This will allow your grass to develop without interference.