Taking care of your lawn may seem like a no brainer. Get rid of the weeds, mow it regularly. And sure, at its simplest, that’s all there is to it. But there are so many things that go wrong if you aren’t informed leaving you with a dead lawn that doesn’t look great.
If you are hoping to keep your lawn lush, green and looking good at all times then you’re going to have to put in a little effort. By making sure you’re treating your grass correctly for your climate and the variety of grass you actually have is going to be vital to having a great looking lawn.
On top of figuring out your specific lawn care needs, there are a few general tips that can help anyone maintain their lawn as the professional lawn care businesses do. Following these 5 suggestions can keep your lawn healthy and attractive, giving you the curb appeal you long for.
1. Mow Grass to the Correct Height
Mowing the grass seems pretty straight forward. But if you are mowing it incorrectly it can certainly cause irreparable damage to the grass. It is understandable if mowing isn’t your favorite household chore but don’t make the mistake of cutting the grass super short to go longer between mows. Short grass is stressed grass!
When grass is cut too short you’ve essentially scalped it, and have made it prone to disease, sunburn or an infestation of weeds. Once the soil is exposed in your lawn you run a greater risk of weed seeds taking root, which can choke out the grassroots causing even more lawn issues. So keeping the length of your lawn longer can reduce the chances of this happening.
Taller grass will have a stronger root system which will keep your grass healthy. The ideal length for grass to be after it is cut is 2 ½ inches tall. You may need to adjust your mower height from time to time to ensure that your grass will be cut correctly, but switching up the wheel height is a small price to pay for a healthy lawn.
If your lawn is primarily shady you may even want to have a slightly longer grass height to give the grass a greater surface to absorb the nutrients from the sun to photosynthesize. If a lawn isn’t getting adequate nutrients it will die so a longer lawn in shade will give the grass the best chance to thrive.
While it may sound silly to suggest that you should mow your lawn in a different pattern every time this is important to help your grass growing straight up. When grass is cut the same way every time it starts to learn the pattern and will grow leaning in the direction it will be cut. For healthier grass and a full lush lawn, switch up your pattern so the grass just grows up!
Mowing the same way each time can also compact the soil which may cause ruts or an area where water can pool up during rainstorms. Compacted soil will lead to unhealthy grass and become more prone to weeds.
It is important to mow your lawn when it needs it, not on your schedule. If you only mow on Wednesdays your grass runs the risk of being longer than is recommended which could actually cause you to do more work in the long run.
2. Mower Maintenance
It is important to keep the blades on your lawnmower sharp for the best possible results. Sharp blades will cut the grass cleanly while a dull blade will actually tear the blades of grass. When grass is torn it becomes jagged and makes the grass susceptible to diseases or pests. Keeping on top of mower maintenance will help the overall look of your lawn.
You’ll know if your lawn has been cut by a dull blade because the tips of the grass will turn black, white or brown as the ends of the grass die. Avoid this unfortunate reality by making sure your blades are sharpened a few times a year for the best results. If you’d like, keeping an extra sharpened blade on hand will ensure your lawn is mowed correctly.
If you run into the problem of your grass clumping up on the blades frequently then consider using some cooking spray on your mower blades. A little spray will help to avoid clumps and allow the grass to fall naturally. You can also avoid clump by not mowing when the grass is damp, and not allowing the grass to get unusually long by mowing more frequently.
3. Keep It Watered
You are going to want to make sure your lawn gets plenty of water, a good rule of thumb is to water it with 1-1 ½ inches of water a week if you want your grass to stay optimally healthy and green. However, you don’t want to drown your lawn either so watering deeply a few times a week is preferable to one heavy weekly soaking.
If you don’t have in-ground sprinklers and you are hoping to cut down on your water bill investing in a rain gauge to check if Mother Nature has provided enough water for your lawn is a great idea. But if you’re without a rain gauge consider the screwdriver test. If you can push a 6-inch screwdriver into your lawn without resistance, your lawn has been watered enough.
Grass can go dormant in the summer heat (as it does in winter) if it doesn’t get enough water so keeping up with a regular watering schedule can get you through the hot months with a great looking lawn. There isn’t a great need to water every day, 2 to 3 times a week is fine, so if you live in an area with watering restrictions you can still have a great looking lawn.
Watering grass is best done when the air temperature is lower and there is dew on the grass naturally, meaning the early morning or evening tends to be the best times of the day. When grass is already moist from dew it will absorb the water faster and more efficiently. Watering when the sun is at it’s hottest can also scorch your grass so it is to be avoided.
4. Don’t Bag Your Clippings
Don’t buy yard waste bags and save your time and energy by letting the grass clippings stay in your lawn. So long as you have been mowing regularly your grass will actually benefit from the mulched grass clippings.
Grass that hasn’t been mowed often, or when you are going to cut more than a ⅓ off the top of the grass should be raked and bagged, however. When you have larger clumps of grass remaining they could potentially smother your lawn as they break down. If they are left too long they can also cause mold to grow on your lawn as well.
There are special mower blades that will break down the grass clippings to smaller mulch pieces but even if you don’t invest in one of those the grass will still be fertilized. Grass clippings also benefit the root system of grass by insulating the root from the heat that can cause stress to the grass and cause it to die.
5. Wait to Mow New Grass
If you have recently put down grass seed or new sod it is important to wait for the roots of the new grass to take hold before you mow the lawn so you don’t undo all the work you’ve done to fill in your lawn with new grass.
You don’t want to uproot the new grass or cause it any stress so even if you think it’s getting long follow the recommendations on when to cut based on the type of grass you’re growing. It’s often grass that is 2-3 inches tall prior to the first cutting. And then when you do cut the grass consider cutting it to a higher height in order to help it thrive for the first few cuttings.
Remember if sod is firm enough to walk on without sinking in then it should be ready to be mowed. Don’t hesitate to wait if you’re not sure if the roots have fully taken to the soil, especially if you’re hoping to keep your lawn looking great for a long time.
Getting a lush green lawn can take a bit of effort on your part but it can be worth it to have it looking great and being a lawn you can take pride in. It may seem counterintuitive that mowing regularly can help a lawn grow to its fullest potential but it’s true. Taking some time to mow while following these tips will help your lawn be maintained expertly.