Lawn Care & Maintenance Tips for a Perfect Lawn
Do you have a lawn competition going on in your neighborhood? Maybe your neighbor down the street works their lawn every weekend. Coaxing it into the lushest, healthiest patch of green this side of Pebble Beach. Meanwhile you match their mastery with a brilliant lawn of your own.
Or maybe you struggle with brown patches and prolific weeds. Whatever the state of your lawn, you’ve probably asked at one time or another: How do I get good grass? As you know, the answer depends on where you live and what you plant. To help you take a step in the right direction towards a perfect lawn, we have put together a guide of DIY lawn care tips.
Preparing your yard for a new lawn is an important step to ensure you have a proper canvas for lush green grass.
Test Soil pH
If you’re planting new grass, be sure to test the pH level of your soil before you begin. The pH of your soil will indicate the grasses ability to draw nutrients from the soil. Hardware stores and nurseries sell do-it-yourself kits, as do gardening catalogs. Take a sample of your soil and after you’ve determined its pH, you’ll know what grass seed to plant and the soil compounds to grow the healthiest grass.
For optimum growth, soil must have the proper pH, which is measured on a scale of 1 to 14, with 7.0 considered neutral. Numbers below 7.0 indicate your soil is acidic and a reading above 7.0 suggest alkalinity. Most plants prefer nearly neutral soil with a pH between 6.2 and 7.2 .
The best way to adjust your soil’s pH is to add organic material , such as compost , to your soil. This method balances both acidic and alkaline soils, while improving the structure of your soil. Raising soil pH is achieved by adding lime to the soil and lowering pH is accomplished by adding sulfur. For either method, it’s best to consult your local nursery or gardening store for the proper amounts to add.
Prime Your Soil
After you’ve brought your soil to its proper pH, be sure to prime it by removing all weeds and roots then rototilling several inches (six inches is recommended) to loosen compact heavy soil. You may want to also add loam, which is equal parts sand, silt and clay and compost the mixture to the soil to enrich it. Pack the soil with a roller and groom it with a metal rake.
Choose the Right Grass Seed
Assess the sunlight available in the areas you will plant. If your lawn receives less than four hours of sun a day, select a grass that grows well in the shade. Some grasses prefer full sun, others tolerate shade better.
You want to select a seed that’s right for your climate, usage level (i.e. is your lawn for show or actual use?), and available sunlight. Popular warm-weather grasses include Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Carpet grass, and Zoysia grass. Common cool-climate grasses are Ryegrass, Fescue grass, Bluegrass, and Bentgrass. For areas that have both cool and warm seasons (transition zones), cool-season grass types will be a better choice. If you need help, your local nursery will be well versed in the types of grasses that grow best in your climate.
Of course, you can go the native grass route, which means you’ll grow grass that is original to the part of the country you live. These are usually grasses that look like a grown over field and are punctuated by wildflowers or other native plants. Native grasses. while not always groomed and suited for the look you’re going for, are usually impervious to climate, disease, and insect damage because the grasses have evolved over time to handle these common lawn problems.
Whichever grass you choose, when you’re ready to plant, you can seed your soil yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Additionally, you can hydroseed, where you evenly spray a mixture of grass seed, water, fertilizer, and mulch from a tank over your prepared soil.
Whether you are planting your lawn or refreshing the lawn you have already nurtured – cutting, watering, fertilizing, and weeding will keep it looking green and happy. The following are a few lawn maintenance tips to keep your yard looking fresh:
Mow the Grass High
Mow only the top third of your grass to encourage healthy root development, repel weed growth, and eliminate brown spots and drying. Also, taller grass provides more ground shade. Ensure you are cutting the top third by raising your mower to the highest notch and keep your blades sharp.
You may opt to keep the grass clippings (the mown grass) on the lawn as they’ll return nutrients to the soil. Grass clippings shouldn’t be confused with thatch, which is dead grass and root “tissue” that actually blocks water and prevents nutrients from reaching the grass roots.
Water Deep Weekly
Most lawn experts suggest weekly deep watering for lawns because daily watering can cause your seed to drown and leads to blown out brown areas (thatch). Watering deeply and infrequently encourages roots to grow down into the soil to get the water they need.
However, if you have a freshly seeded lawn, water every day for five or 10 minutes until the seeds sprout. Then, adjust the time to every day for 15 to 20 minutes.
Also, be sure to take your soil into account. If you have sandier soil, it will dry out more quickly while clay-rich soils retain more water. Other watering tips include watering in the morning so your lawn dries during the day and using organic fertilizers/soil add-ins like leaf mulch or compost to increase the soil’s water retention.
Fertilize Twice a Year
It’s recommended to fertilize your lawn at least two times a year – once in the spring and again in the fall. Apply a fertilizer with micronutrients such as copper, iron, and sulfur. Use a drop spreader for precision fertilization or a broadcast spreader for larger areas. Both types of spreaders are available at your nursery or can be rented.
Control and Prevent Weeds
Less weeds can develop when you maintain a healthy grass lawn. Mowing the top third of your grass helps because rampant weeds like dandelions and crabgrass are cut off before they spread their seeds. If you still have weed issues despite good lawn maintenance, try a natural herbicide treatment to eliminate exposure to pets and children.
The thing to remember is that most weeds will grow back unless soil conditions are changed. That’s because the weeds are well suited for growth in your particular soil and until the soil is modified, the weeds will stay. It’s a good idea to keep some grass seed in a cool, dry place and when any bare areas left by pulled weeds appear, spread some seed on the soil, cover with a thin layer of compost and keep moist until the seeds germinate. Actively growing grass like this can “outcompete” the weeds in that area.
Aerate Your Lawn
If your lawn is heavily walked on or mowed, it can become compacted. This is where aeration can help. By cutting “cores” out of the soil with a machine or hand tool, your lawn is aerated with holes through which air, water, and fertilizer can enter.
You can rent an aerator and other lawn care equipment from a local supply store. As for timing, fall is the best time of the year according to experts, while heavy clay soils may need to be aerated twice a year and sandy soils, only once. Lawns with heavy foot traffic may need aeration several times yearly.
A beautiful lawn is a process and may take a few seasons to achieve. But with our lawn care tips and practiced maintenance, you’ll be the winner of your neighborhood lawn-off this year!
If you decide that maintaining a lawn is too much of a burden, we can help install artificial grass ! Reach out to us today for a free estimate by calling (858) 925-3000 or clicking the “Free Estimate” button below!