Whether it’s in the backyard or in front of the house, the lawn is the pride and joy of every homeowner. There is hardly a more pleasing scene that a freshly painted white picket fence behind which there is a verdant, freshly mown lawn.
Unfortunately, this idyllic scenery can turn into a scene from a horror movie unless you maintain your lawn in the correct way. Parched earth, a littered lawn, and brown grass are something you should avoid at all costs! Luckily, every household can apply these 12 simple lawn maintenance tips.
1. Weeds are your worst enemy
The key to growing a healthy green lawn is the creation of the right conditions for the grass to grow. However, other species, such as weeds find this habitat inviting as well. Weeds invade lawn, sucking the water and nutrients from the soil and killed off the grass in the process; nit to mention the fact that they look awful.
Getting rid of weeds requires the use of the oldest method in the book: ripping them out from the ground together with every inch of their root system. This can be done by hand or you can use a neat little tool called a weeder. In order to ease the weeding out process, you can apply low-toxicity chemicals that will weaken the weed’s roots so it will be easier to pull them out.
2. Mowing basics
You can buy the best grass seeds on the planet but the look of your lawn is still going to mainly depend on how you mow the grass. Although this chore seems simple enough, you still need to gras(s)p the basics.
The most important rule you need to memorize is that the grass is cut only to about two-thirds of its height. In other words, you shouldn’t more than a third of a blade0s height in a single go. On the other side, there are no general rules on how many times during the year or a particular season the lawn needs mowing. It all depends on the weather conditions at the time.
Usually, the grass will grow slower during cold spells so the lawn will require less mowing. In summer, when the ground gets plenty of sun and water, you’ll need to mow the lawn more frequently but again, take out only a third of the blades’ height.
3. Landscaping through mowing
If you thought that pruning shears were the only tool used for landscaping in the garden, you were wrong. Modelling scrubs is one way to beautify your garden but you can use the lawn as a horizontal canvas as well.
The land mower is the most efficient way to mow your lawn but suing a roller allows you to create patterns. We are not referring to eye-catching patterns seen at sporting venues but rather alternating the direction of mowing in each go.
Furthermore, you have the possibility to use edging tools, like the aforementioned shears to trip the edges and borders after mowing. This is going to depend on whether your lawn ends with a fence or the sidewalk directly continues after the lawn stops.
4. Moss is not welcome
Just like the weeds we’ve mentioned above, moss is another invasive plant species that will ruin the look of your lawn. Moss is a non-flowering plant that makes its appearance in the sections of the lawn in the shade and that are exposed to excess moisture. In addition, low-quality turf can increase the chances of moss appearing.
Moss doesn’t thwart the growth of grass as weeds do but in the areas where moss starts to appear, grass will slowly disappear. Getting rid of moss is easy, as all you need to do remove the conditions in which it thrives: shade, soil full of clay, poor drainage, drought, and over-quenching the lawn.
5. Better drainage
Speaking of drainage, it is essential that your lawn has excellent drainage so no pools of waters form. If you have ever seen a sports field with puddles straddled across its surface, then you know what we are talking about.
When landscaping the yard, you need to take care of soil permeability to prevent any drainage issues. As stated earlier, soil types with high clay content prevent the ground from imbibing water evenly.
Furthermore, thick sections of thatch on the surface of the lawn can also reduce drainage. Finally, dense root systems of nearby trees and soil compaction around them can also tamper with the lawn’s drainage capability. Planting trees with shallow root systems can help assuage this problem.
6. Rake and thatch
A downside to planting tall trees in the garden is the pileup of dead leaves that fill the yard in autumn. In fact, there are different types of organic waste that are not beneficial to the lawn, such as thatch and root stems. For drainage purposes, thatch, in particular, should be raked throughput the year.
Unlike weeding, removing thatch is easy when using a garden rake which is easy to store and it’s usually made from a light material. You will have no trouble wielding it because modern rakes are light enough for a child to use (although we do not recommend that). There are even extendable models that don’t take up a lot of space inside the garden shed.
Growing an organic vegetable garden, organic waste is desirable because it acts as a compost. However, the main reason for removing organic waste from the surface of the lawn is that it prevents sunlight from reaching the grass’ root systems and it prevents water from draining evenly.
7. The role of yard topography
Another issue inherently connected with drainage is the yard’s topography. If your property is flat, then you don’t have much to worry about but if your yard is sloped, even as little as 5%, then you need to be proactive about improving drainage.
The best solution for a sloped garden is to add earth to level the ground off with a roller. However, if there are too many slopes, there are unevenly shaped or they are simply too step, then you can create agricultural terraces. If the ancient Mayas could do it, why can’t you?
8. Feeding your grass
Letting your grass grow naturally is by far the best option. However, if you want your lawn to thrive, then it will need some help from feeders. They are available from most gardening and even DIY stores, as these fertilizers aren’t as strong as the chemicals used in commercial agriculture.
Choosing the right type of fertilizer might prove tricky at first, so consult the shop assistant if available. Generally, the choice of feeder going to depend on the composition of soil and the climate you live in. Once you settle on a particular feeder, be sure to follow the instructions on the label to the letter.
9. When is the best time to water the lawn?
We have already discussed the importance of watering but many homeowners are asking the same question: when is the best time to water the lawn? You will notice that your lawn is in dire need of watering when the blades start changing colour from dark green to a yellowish shade and finally brown,
Unfortunately, by the time blades become brown, it is too late to do anything. The first sign that your lawn needs watering is the inability of the grass to spring back into its upright position after you step on them.
This loss of spring should prompt you to water the lawn immediately but do this moderately. Even with the best natural drainage in the world, a lawn can “process” only a certain amount of water at once. Therefore, avoid watering the lawn when the ground is still wet from previous rainfall.
Also, avoid watering the lawn in the late afternoon or after dark. The grass and the ground should be given a chance to imbibe the water before the sun goes down. Like with other plants, the best time of the day to water the lawn is early in the morning so sunlight has enough time to take effect and evaporate excess water.
10. Use over-seeding to rejuvenate the lawn
Buying grass seeds might seem odd if you’re not planning on planting a brand new lawn. However, an existing lawn can benefit from over-seeding which covers the areas where the grass is thin, as well as damaged patches.
An extra benefit is the grass’s improved ability to fight weed and moss invasions. Before you are ready to actually spread the seeds, the lawn needs to be perfectly healthy. This means it should be mowed, watered well, and aerated.
Spreaders are machines that will help you spread the seeds evenly because achieving this by hand requires quite a bit of experience. Ideally, over-seeding should be done once a year.
11. Why do I need to aerate the lawn?
Having already described proper procedures for watering and mowing, it’s time to turn our attention to aerating. Essentially, making tiny holes in the lawn allows water and air to penetrate deeper into the root system of the plant above.
When aerated, the lawn is able to get more nutrients from both air and the ground. Aerating should be practised in particular on lawns that are prone to drought and waterlogging.
The process of aerating is quite simple, as all you need is a garden fork or a special slipper with spikes at the bottom, resembling a menacing soccer cleat. The spikes are set at a predetermined distance from one another and they are not all the same length.
Like seeding, aerating doesn’t have to be performed often. Once every few years is more than enough for the entire surface of the lawn. However, if you notice that certain patches of the lawn could do with some aerating don’t be hesitant to don aerating shoes and start poking the ground!
12. Make sunlight your friend
Like all plants, grass needs two essentials to grow and blossom: sunlight and water. So far, we have only mentioned sunlight as something bad that can damage your lawn. In reality, the lawn needs as much sun as it can get throughout the years. The only danger of the blades getting sunburned exists in the summertime when the lawn is directly exposed to sunlight all day long.
Although it might seem complex at first, proper lawn maintenance is not that hard once you grasp the basics. Understanding how watering, sunlight, seeding, aerating, weeding, etc. affect the lawn will make you an excellent gardener.