There are few things better than coming home to the sight of a freshly cut lawn and the invigorating smell of the grass after mowing. I love kicking the soccer ball around with my kids, on a clean and manicured lawn, and the pride I feel while driving up to the house after the crew has finished mowing. I love the way my lawn looks under my mature Red Oak trees. A clean edge along the sidewalk and driveway, weed eating along the borders and fence, and the clean concrete where leaves and debris had accumulated during the week.
We love our lawns. For many of us they are the pride and joy of our landscapes. Whether we envision replicating what it would be like to live just off “Amen Corner” at Augusta National, or in the romantic setting of an English Tea Garden, or we just want to beat the Jones’s out for yard of the month; possessing a beautiful lawn is part of the American story.
Did you ever wonder what really goes in to having a great looking lawn? Of course mowing comes to mind, but have you thought through what it really takes, to get that great looking, weed free, soft on the feet, yard of the month? Here are the four things you should be doing RIGHT NOW, in order to achieve the lawn you want.
Proper watering of the lawn is critical to the health of your turf grass. Water is responsible for protecting the internal tissues and cells of the grass, as well as an integral part of its food production and distribution processes. Overwatering can lead to problems including root rot and disease, as well as increased drainage problems and expensive water bills. Underwater and your lawn becomes susceptible to decline, sun scorch, weed invasions, and all kinds of damage.
The best practice for watering the lawn is to apply 1” of water per week. A simple way to measure this is to place a tuna can out in the middle of the lawn and time how long it takes to fill the tuna can. To avoid wasteful run off, divide out the station run times to two or three cycles per watering day. Also, be sure to water after 6am and before 10am or after 6pm up to 10pm. These are the optimal watering times to avoid fungal issues.
Along with watering and mowing, fertilizing your lawn throughout the season will ensure that it has the proper nutrients to maintain vigorous growth and a healthy deep green color. Just like human bodies, plants require the right enzymes, macro and micronutrients to function properly. A balanced quality fertilizer can easily provide these needed elements.
A balanced 3-1-2 ratio, applied at 1# per 1,000 square feet the recommended application for most residential lawns. One such common analysis is the 15-5-10 granular lawn fertilizer, which can be found anywhere fertilizers are sold. This product is typically placed into a fertilizer spreader and broadcast across the lawn. Once the spreader is calibrated to the desired setting, (see back of the bag) the fertilizer is distributed by traveling back and forth, up, down and across to make sure the fertilizer is applied evenly.
Weed Control is a very important part of creating and maintaining a healthy lawn. Weeds can steal nutrients from the soil that turf grass needs in order to survive. They are also unsightly and make it difficult to cut the lawn properly. In the case where a lawn is infested with weeds, post –emergent weed controls can be applied to remove the weeds from the lawn, giving the grass back that space to grow in.
Another important and often overlooked weed control method is pre-emergent. Pre-emergent stops weed seeds from germinating so that they cannot infest the lawn in the first place. Pre-emergent is a very effective preventative control and is highly recommended for both lawns and planting areas. Organic pre-emergent herbicides are also available which give environmentally conscious home-owners peace of mind.
Now that we have established the three other elements of effective lawn maintenance, LETS TALK ABOUT MOWING! Mowing the lawn at the recommended height, at recommended times really brings out the beauty of a healthy lawn. I liken this process to our favorite performers. How they rehearse and train for the big moment. All that work that goes on behind the scenes, and then they show up ready to inspire when the curtain opens. Proper watering, incremental fertilizing, and the controlling of weeds is that “behind the scenes” training, while mowing is the BIG SHOW!
Weekly mowing during the growing season is always recommended for maintaining healthy lawns. This encourages the active recovery and growth of the lawn. Different varieties of grass will have varying recommendations on mow heights, so check with your local extension service for the best heights in your area. It is also important to mow with a sharp blade and change directions with each mowing. Leaving the clippings on the lawn is beneficial for maintaining the soft pad of thatch and organic matter to create an ecosystem the produces a golf course quality stand of turf.
We hope you have found these four elements of a great looking lawn helpful. Continuing following our blog for other helpful information on caring for your lawn and getting the most out of your lawn service.