Many people find lawn work tedious. All that mowing, watering, weeding, fertilizing, and other chores can be tiresome, especially under a hot sun. Check out the following advice that will teach you the essentials of an easier way to a green lawn.
The amount of work your lawn requires depends on the type of grass you’ve chosen, as well as on the climate and your own personal standards.
“You may be satisfied with a serviceable lawn or you may want the greenest, freshest, most weed-free lawn in the neighborhood. It’s your choice and your time and effort,” says Barbara Damrosch, author of The Garden Primer, the best-selling reference guide
The most important job in lawn care is mowing. Use whatever type of mower you prefer and follow these general principles that Damrosch stresses:
- Mow grasses to the correct height, as every type is different.
Cool-season grasses can be mowed shorter in spring to let the ground warm, but higher in hot weather so they’ll be less stressed. Mow a bit higher in shaded
- Most people mow too short, either because they feel it looks tidier or because they think it’ll take longer to grow back and need mowing again. Neither is true. Mow too short and you get a yellow, scalped look and your lawn grows faster to make up the loss of blade surface.
- Mow regularly. This controls annual weeds by cutting stems before they can go to seed and restrains the vigor of perennial ones. If your grass grows too long between mowings, you can end up with a hard-to-cut, weedy lawn that may turn brown when mowed because the part of the blade that’s been shaded isn’t used to direct sun.
- Cut no more than a third of a blade’s length. And don’t cut when the grass is wet or it’ll cut raggedly. Keep your mower sharp. Dull blades will fray and chew up your lawn.
- Leave clippings to decompose and return nutrients to the soil, unless you have big piles or clumps of tall grass cuttings that can smother the grass beneath. You can also rake them up for compost or mulch.
“Often we mow once a week, simply because weekends are the only time available or because the person you hired is on a schedule,” says Damrosch. “But if you can be flexible, mow more often when the grass is leaping, such as in spring or after a rainy spell. Hold off when it’s growing slowly.”
If you’ve prepared the soil well and chosen a grass that likes the climate, you’ll only need to feed the lawn rarely, if at all. Producing too much lush growth by overfeeding can make grass prone to disease and cause a thatch layer to build up.
Putting chemical fertilizer on a lawn can burn it and over-frequent application can cause harmful salts to build up in the soil. It can harm needed soil organisms or make the lawn chemical-dependent and lacking deep, strong roots.
“To boost your lawn, try top-dressing it with compost,” suggests Damrosch. “A dusting does the trick, though you can apply more heavily over bare patches. If needed, sprinkle on some seed.”
When it comes to watering, too much can be bad. If you’ve built a good lawn with the right grass and plenty of organic material in the soil, it should survive dry periods. Even if the grass looks dormant or brown, don’t panic—the lawn usually revives when wet weather returns.
The most important watering tip, stresses Damrosch, is to water deeply. A shallow surface sprinkling causes roots to grow toward the surface rather than down deep.
Water at the beginning or end of the day when less will evaporate, and when wind won’t cast water astray.#
For more lawn care and gardening advice, read Damrosch’s The Garden Primer, sold at bookstores and workman.com.
Courtesy of StatePoint