Maintaining an amazing lawn does not need to take up all your time, but you do need to make a commitment to having healthy grass. Why? It not only provides a comfy carpet for kids to play on, but prevents soil erosion, absorbs many air pollutants and filters contaminants from rainwater. Keeping your grass healthy also helps to clean. It assists in turning carbon dioxide into oxygen. Your grass serves as a home for insects and worms for birds. So by maintaining your lawn, you help the environment and balance your own backyard ecosystem.
Getting to know your Grass- Determining the type of grass you have will help to decide on the type of care to provide.
How much water? Is it resistant to pests? Can it tolerate shade? What amount of nutrients does it need to thrive?
If you’re starting from scratch, do some research to identify the best grass type for your climate and soil type. If you have an established lawn that isn’t all it should be in spite of proper care, consider replanting with a more suitable type of grass.
Giving your Lawn What it Needs-Test your soil. Whether you chose to use an inexpensive soil pH testing kits found at local hardware and garden stores, use litmus paper, or formally have your soil’s fertility tested by your state's cooperative extension service (usually found under your county government page) or contact a local soil-testing lab. Implementing a routine testing process for your lawn care can help you give your lawn what it needs.
Watering- is the most important facet of lawn care and unfortunately most homeowners water too often with too little water. The key is to water thoroughly and only when needed, as grass begins to wilt, the color dulls and footprints stay compressed for more than a few seconds. Recommendations vary anywhere from one inch of water to soak into the soil two to eight inches.
Types of Watering-Drip hoses are the most efficient method, as they release water slowly similar to rain, therefore soaking the soil more thoroughly. They help to conserve water by cutting down on the evaporation that is commonly lost with sprinkler watering systems. The next best thing is an in-ground automatic sprinkler system.
Wondering how long sprinkler systems should run?-Once you turn them you want the water to penetrate to four inches into the soil. You can test this amount by opening up the ground periodically with a shovel. Lastly, only water in early morning or evening to ensure efficient water absorption and you lessen the impact of the hot sun.
Mowing Tips-Find a balance between healthy grass and water conservation. For best health, mowing frequently is recommended, but frequent mowing stresses the grass, making it require more water. It’s your decision and try to follow your weather patterns and turn off sprinklers when not needed to avoid unnecessary watering.
Mowing with Proper Equipment-Make sure your mower has sharp blades to get a clean cut and don't mow when the grass is wet. When you cut don't cut more than 1/3 of the grass’s length during each time and when you leave your lawn slightly long...you will find that it produces healthier, more pest-resistant grass.
Aerating for Healthy Grass-Thatch is the dead, undecayed material at the soil line that can add to lawn issues. Some problems may include, increased pests, leaching of healthy nutrients and prevention of proper water absorption. To remove the thatch you can give your lawn a proper raking to loosen up and remove the thatch. This is especially helpful prior to mowing but best not after watering or heavy rain.
Choosing Fertilizer-You will find organic and slow-release types. Using your soil test results will indicate a need for a specific ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), expressed as an N-P-K formula such as 5-10-5. The results will indicate specific organic fertilizer recommendations if you requested them, such as so many pounds of cottonseed, bone meal, etc. When purchasing a single fertilizer you can create the desired ratio.
Application of Fertilizer-An easy way to spread fertilizers is by hand, but you'll get more uniform coverage with a spreader (there are drop or broadcast types). You want to pass along twice and making sure to include opposite angles. Always read specific directions and if not mentioned you want to water thoroughly after applying fertilizer or apply it before there is expected rain.