There are many important pieces to achieving the perfect lawn. Some of them are simple, while others may require a little more effort. Here are the top seven ways to a perfect lawn. Follow these steps and you are sure to achieve a beautiful lawn you can be proud of.
1) Test your Soil
When you’re dealing with home lawns, the biggest problem of them all is the soil that you’re trying to grow grass in. It is much more accurately called backfill than it is soil. No matter, you can grow grass in anything if you just know what the grass plants need and provide it to them.
Start with a soil test that will measure the available plant nutrients in your soil. Typically, garden centers will have soil test bags that you can purchase or you can contact your local Cooperative Extension Service and use their soil lab services.
When you get your results, there will be recommendations as to what and how much fertilizer and limestone your lawn needs in order to grow healthy.
2) Right Plant, Right Place
Take notice of where you’re trying to grow grass and plant species that can survive in that area. If your lawn gets sun from 9:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon, then you have a sunny lawn. Anything less than that and sun-loving species such as Kentucky bluegrass will have a hard time surviving. Lawns that get less sun should have a significant percentage of fine-leaf fescue, a grass that has much more shade tolerance than Kentucky bluegrass.
3) Feed your Lawn
If you think of the grass plants that make up your lawn as little human beings, it makes it much easier to fathom how to care for them. Do you like to go long periods of time without eating? Neither does your lawn. Cool season turfgrasses are going to use about 0.5 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet per week. For the do-it-yourselfer, fertilizer manufacturers have all of this figured out for you. If you use a professional lawn care company, they will have done this exercise as well.
4) Water your Lawn the Right Way
If Mother Nature is supplying ample rainfall, you do not need to apply additional water through your irrigation system. In fact, “wet feet”, the term we use for a saturated soil, is every bit as bad for your lawn as drought. Fungi require plentiful water in order to cause disease. A flooded lawn cannot exchange toxic gasses with the atmosphere.
During the middle of the summer, lawns can lose the equivalent of 1.5” of precipitation from the soil when temperatures soar and it’s not humid. You should only be applying enough water to offset the amount lost through transpiration. On the other hand, it’s ok to allow the lawn to go dormant during the middle of the summer, but the trade off is that for a few weeks you’ll be looking at a brown lawn.
5) Mow your Lawn Correctly
No one thing causes more damage to the health of a lawn than poor mowing. Mowing too short, not often enough, using a dull blade, mowing in the heat are just some of the ways that a perfectly good lawn can be turned to a moonscape.
Follow these simple protocols to make sure you’re mowing correctly:
Set your mowing height to between 2 ½” and 3” tall. Leave it there – your lawn will appreciate the consistency.
Follow the one-third rule: never remove more than one third of the total height of the lawn. For instance, a lawn that is maintained at 2” should be cut no later than when it reaches 3” tall.
Sharpen your blade at least once per year. Check from time to time to be sure that the blade still has a decent edge. And be watchful for other problems with your mower as well. Things wear out eventually. Not noticing and correcting problems can cause big headaches for your lawn.
Don’t mow at high noon or mow a lawn that is in heat and drought stress. If you think it’s hot outside, imagine what it must feel like to be outside and rooted to the earth, not able to move. Mow earlier in the day, or wait until evening to do it.
6) Protect your Lawn from Weeds & Pests
The best lawn care pesticide of all is a healthy, thick lawn that resists pests naturally. But having said that, there are myriad pests that think your lawn is the best restaurant on the block and will happily pull up a table and help themselves. Be cognizant of what weeds, insects and diseases can pop up in your lawn at different times of year; or if you’d rather not bother thinking about those things, give Lawn Dawg a call and we’ll take care of it for you.
7) Cultivate It
Things get pretty stuffy in the soil after a long summer in the heat and the sun. When fall arrives, a type of cultivation called core aeration can open things up, allow the lawn to breath, to take in more water, and with the soil loosened, allow grasses to stretch out their legs a little bit. It’s also true that lawns do not live forever. You have to constantly invest in the quality of your lawn by replacing those plants that die with new, improved grasses. Annually performing core aeration and immediately following that with overseeding is a great way to keep your lawn looking great.
Follow these steps to the perfect lawn and you’re sure to see results.
Here are more tips on how to grow a perfect lawn.
-Bob Mann, Agronomist