Now is the time to begin your plans for that perfect, healthy lawn this summer by following these simple tips:
1. Plant Seed Now: If you have any bare spots, the late fall just before it snows is the best time to prepare the spot for next summer’s green grass. Prepare the spot by digging it up a little and then smoothing out with a rake. Next, sprinkle some grass seed over the spot. Last, smooth it out with the rake again. Come spring time after the snow and cold, the bare spot will be the healthiest spot in the lawn.
2. Water appropriately: The biggest step to a healthy lawn is to water appropriately. You would be surprised about how much water is wasted by watering with regular sprinklers. You end up with brown spots and extra green spots all over the lawn. Typically a healthy lawn needs about one inch of water a week. If you install sprinklers you might find your summer water bill less and have a healthier lawn due to watering correctly. I did.
3. Get a soil test: In order to determine which type and how much fertilizer to use you need to get an inexpensive soil. This will tell you which nutrients are missing or overabundant in your soil. You can get one here from Amazon.com for nine dollars. Most grasses grow best in slightly acidic soil so you may need to add lime appropriately.
4. Fertilize based on your soil test: Depending on how your soil tests out, get the correct fertilizer for your lawn. For example, if you are short on phosphorus, get a fertilizer with a little more. You can tell which fertilizer has more or less types of nutrients by the three digit number on the package. For example, 10-20-10. Normally, these numbers are in the order nitogren, phosphorus, and potassium, but not always, so check the package.
5. Mow correctly: In the hottest part of summer, keep your wheels up in order to allow the grass to grow a little longer and have the roots put down a little deeper. Not only does this save water, but it also helps strengthen the grass against the harsher summer heat.
6. Take care with pets: Pet urine can damage grass and leave unsightly spotting. This is caused by high levels of nitrogen in the urine. If you have a larger pet, try to dilute the area after each incident. Otherwise, if the burned areas are quite large, you will need to rake it out, put some lime in, and seed over the patch. Better yet, just take your dog for a daily walk.
7. Keep the mower blades sharp: Once a year, perform proper maintenance on the lawn mower. Dull blades cause the lawn to become more vulnerable to pests and lawn diseases. Plus, a nice sharp blade helps mulch up any sticks that you might catch.
8. Leave the clippings: Instead of raking up and disposing of the mower clippings, leave them on the lawn. The clippings contain vital nutrients that then decompose back into the lawn to keep it growing healthily. This reduces the need and amount of fertilizer that needs to be put into the lawn. If the line of mowed grass seems unsightly, use a leaf blower to distribute the clippings.
9. Weeds: Weeds are the bane of all lawns. They are hard to control and difficult to remove. Do not expect to get a 100% weed free lawn. However, if you get the weed control down early enough in the spring and then do it again mid-summer, you can expect to not have too many weeds. I use a general store brand broad leaf weed control that helps keep them from germinating. The few that I get afterwards I dig up by hand.
10. Consult your local horticulturist: Most larger communities have either a radio show or an extension service which can be consulted for free advice. The extension service is usually run out of the local college or university and can be a wealth of information regarding the local specifics of lawn care in your neck of the woods. Often times, you get more information than you bargained for because they treat plants and plant care as a passion.