Is your lawn looking tired? Are there brown or empty patches? Do you have more weeds than you’d like? And do you keep trying to fix these issues and not getting the results you’re looking for?
To build a thick, healthy lawn, a combination of good turf management practices along with introducing nutrients and weed control are needed to get the best result. Many homeowners are not aware that there’s more to building a healthy lawn than fertilizer. Here are seven common lawn care mistakes to avoid to get the result and the curb appeal you want.
Mowing Too Short
If you think the summer heat is uncomfortable, imagine how your grass must feel. It’s outside all day! Most lawn grasses in our area, like bluegrass, fescue and rye are adapted for cooler temperatures and does most of its growing in the milder spring and autumn seasons with temperatures under 60 degrees. Its growth slows dramatically in the summer.
You may like the putting green look for your lawn, but your does no like it, especially when its hot. Remember, the local golf course superintendent babies those putting greens everyday to make them hold up to traffic and heat. Most homeowners don’t have that much time so there is a better way.
Since grass makes food for itself in its leaves, cutting short limits the amount of energy it makes and starves the plant. Its like removing its stomach and asking it to grow. And this will stress the plant. Constant stress in people leads to all kinds of health issues and its the same for your lawn.
Let your grass grow to 4” in height for maximum health and resilience. Stressed grass is brown grass, so avoid cutting more than ⅓ of the plant at a time. Your lawn loves regular haircuts, but only a little off the top.
Mowing with Dull Blades
Sharpen your mower blades each season. Using dull lawn mower blades tears the greenery, increasing water loss and increasing the risk of turf diseases. This means dull, yellow or brown grass. If you’re only going to sharpen your mower blades once a year, do it during the summer, when your grass needs all the help it can get staying green.
Most new lawn mower blades you’ll buy are pre-sharpened, but be sure to check beforehand. You’ll know it’s time to replace your blades if you see large nicks or dents on them, or if they’re bent or warped.
Watering Your Lawn Too Little or Too Much
Everything in moderation.
Your grass needs water to survive, but not that much water. Too much water drowns the deep roots of your turf. Deeper in the soil, roots can access more water and food. Farther below the surface, roots also find protection from temperature extremes. If you want a lawn that is thick and dense, you want deep roots.
On the other hand, rainfall by itself is rarely enough to support a healthy lawn. If you never water with the hose, your turf will never quite hit the “lush” mark.
Typical residential lawns of blue grass, rye or fescue need between 1” and 1.5” of water every week, considering both irrigation and rainfall. A good way to gauge this amount is to place an empty tuna at the farthest spot your sprinkler can reach. When the can is full, move the lawn sprinkler.
Remember, even a cactus needs water. And in moderation.
Almost as important as getting water onto your lawn is getting water out of it. Is there standing water or puddles in your yard? Do you squelch when you step, even days after it rains? You may have drainage issues. This is more than just an issue of dead grass; improper drainage can lead to leaks in your basement and cracks in your foundation.
The most common source of drainage problems is gutters and downspouts. Take some time twice a year to make sure your gutters are clean and free of debris. If water is accumulating next to your foundation, a simple downspout extender could save you a fortune.
French drains, channel drains, catch basins: there are many ways to amend your drainage.
And there’s hydrophobic soil. This is soil that has become so compact that it resists water penetration. If water can’t get in, how is a grass plant going to break through? Think about mechanical, core aeration to break up these areas to help drainage.
Choosing the Wrong Fertilizer
Liquid fertilizers are less expensive but less effective in the long term than slow-release, granular alternatives. Liquid fertilizer is designed to work fast and is taken up through the blades of your grass, but they’re quickly used up or washed off. These fertilizers deliver nutrients effectively to the plant, but don’t enrich the soil. Think of the impact of liquid fertilizers as a caffiene or sugar buzz. There’s a quick burst and then a crash.
For a healthy lawn, even during the summer heat, use a granular, slow-release fertilizer. These are formulated so that the nutrients are in the soil, promoting both root growth and plant growth while avoiding the buzz, crash and burn cycle of liquid fertilizers (See “stress” above).
The consistent, even feeding of your grass will get you a yard you’ll love.
Using Too Much Fertilizer
Dose is the difference between a medicine and a poison. In too high of a concentration, the nutrients from fertilizer become deadly to grass. Always follow the recommendations found on the container of fertilizer you intend to use, whether it’s quick- or slow-release.
If you’ve got patches that are bare or weedy, the ground around your home may have become compacted. Soil compaction is a natural result of weather extremes, rain, snow accumulation and foot traffic.
Aeration, an easy but time-consuming process, puts little holes in the ground. These holes help to circulate air, nutrients and water.
Not Seeding Your Lawn
There’s a common misunderstanding that fertilizing your grass will fill in bare spots in the lawn. Proper fertilization practices will help your lawn by feeding and strengthening the plants you have. However, fertilizer does not grow new grass.
If you have bare or thin grass areas in your lawn, seeding is needed for growing new plants and filling in these areas. For full lawns needing maintenance, 4 to 5 lbs of seed per 1,000 square feet will get you a good germination yield. For large, bare areas, consider using more seed of laying sod.
On Your Way to a Thicker, Healthier Lawn
There’s more to getting a thick, healthy lawn than spraying weed control a few times per year. Applying good turf management along with proper feeding will get you the results you’re looking for and increase your curb appeal and property value.
And for more expert advice or help with getting the results you deserve, consider contacting Tee Time Lawn Care.