Everyone wants to be that house. You know…the one in the neighborhood with the impossibly lush green lawn? The reality is that attaining such a status requires thoughtful planning, a lot of hard work and consistent maintenance. Read on for some tips that will put you on the path to an improved yard, no matter what condition your lawn is currently in. Get ready to go outside, get your hands dirty and inspire a little green envy of your own!
1. Have your Soil Tested
First things first, you need to know what you’re working with! Soil is the basis of a healthy lawn. Your lawn requires several nutrients for growth and the soil provides a reservoir for these nutrients (which need to be replenished from time to time). Testing your soil will determine what type and quantity of fertilizer is needed for your lawn to grow. This process will help you avoid the over-application of fertilizers, which can pollute water resources, reduce the quality of your lawn and waste money. The results of a soil test help to customize fertilization to meet your lawn’s need and help to safeguard the environment.
2. Fix Bare Areas
Bald is not beautiful when it comes to your lawn…and unless you repair those spots, they may continue to grow! Repairing unsightly bare patches in your yard is a simple project you can do yourself. Seeds will grow once the ground temperature warms to about 55 degrees or when daytime temps reach about 65 to 70 degrees. Making sure you have adequate seed-to-soil contact will ensure quicker seed germination. To do this, use a sharp spade or shovel and cut the area around the dead spot and lift it off. Fill in the area with clean topsoil to make up for the grass and thatch you removed and to level out the area with the rest of your lawn. Go over the area with a rake to smooth it out, making sure there are no large clumps in the soil. Spread a thin layer of grass seed on the topsoil and gently rake it in. Cover the area with straw to retain moisture and protect the seeds from birds. With regular watering, germination should start happening within 10-14 days.
3. The More You Mow
Keeping your grass taller results in a healthier lawn. It’s understandable that mowing the lawn may not be your favorite leisure time activity. And it even makes sense that to save time, you may be tempted to mow a little shorter, to stretch out the time between. However, it’s not the best idea, and here’s why: it can damage your grass and allow weeds to set root. It will also require more water to keep it healthy and shorter grass is more insect-friendly. Experts recommend that you mow every 1 to 1 ½ weeks, never cutting more than a third of the grass blade to maximize healthy growth. A general rule of thumb for the types of grasses we have here in the Midwest is about 3 inches. Another suggestion, if the tips of your grass blades are brown and jagged, it means your grass is stressed and it’s time to sharpen your mower blade. The final tip on mowing, instead of bagging your clippings, set your mower to mulch. It’s best to leave your grass clippings in your lawn after mowing as those clippings end up back in between the grass blades, decompose and add important nutrients to the soil. If this is not your favorite idea, an alternative is to collect your lawn clippings and place them into a compost pile, which can be spread later.
4. Give Your Lawn a Drink
Lawns get thirsty! Grass is a resilient plant and overwatering can cause more damage than lack of water, so moderation is key. Most grass can handle dry spells, but not flooding. Turf grasses require 1 to 1 ½ inches per week, including rainfall. This amount will provide adequate hydration for healthy growth (depending on the heat and sun exposure of course). You can invest in a rain gauge to measure the amount of moisture your lawn is getting or you can use an empty soup can next to a sprinkler to monitor watering. It’s time to turn the sprinkler off when there is about ½ an inch of water in the can. The best time to water is in the early morning. Water will trickle down into the soil and not remain on your grass for a prolonged time. Watering at night can result in water sitting on the blades which can lead to fungus growth and provide a hospitable atmosphere for insects.
5. Maintain, Maintain, Maintain
Your soil has been tested, the bare spots are filled in, you have your mowing and watering under control, what’s next? Timely feeding and weed control. You need to feed your grass to encourage a dense, healthy green lawn, but don’t want weeds competing for the nutrients. That’s why fertilization is so important. It adds much-needed nitrogen, a lawn’s best friend and helps give weeds the boot. Keep in mind that fertilizers are chemicals, and too much of a good thing could burn your lawn, killing your grass and leading to brown spots. Where do you get the information you need to fertilize properly? You could snap a picture or two or your lawn and head to the garden center of your local home improvement store to see what products and methods of application they recommend. For the cool weather grasses here in Michigan, heavier fertilization happens in the fall, with a winterizing formula that promotes root growth, aids in recovery from foot traffic and pest damage and ensures a quicker greening of your lawn in the spring. Typically, a lighter application is done in early spring, before the onset of hot summer weather. You can certainly make this a DIY project, or you can leave it to us. Our team can tackle treatments and applications to ensure your lawn is in tip-top shape.
A healthy, lush lawn is the cornerstone of an attractive landscape. When you follow the guidelines here (or even easier, let us to handle it), you’re on your way to achieving the lawn of your dreams. This is the year to make your lawn green, and the neighbors green with envy.
Interested in finding out more about our maintenance programs? Drop us a line…we’d be honored to meet you!