Taking Care of Your Lawn 101
How To Take Care of Your Lawn
Taking care of your lawn is easier than you might think. You don’t need a wide range of chemicals or hours and hours of work in order to keep your lawn looking beautiful, as long as you do things properly and carefully and prioritize the important things. You can easily keep your lawn healthy with carefully applied mowing and watering, as well as occasional dethatching and aerating. With a bit of care, you can get your lawn healthy enough that it can resist disease, weeds, and dehydration on its own without needing further maintenance.
We at Best of Machinery have put together a guide to help you out with maintaining your lawn. Just follow our simple steps and suggestions, and you’ll bring your lawn up to its best and healthiest state in no time, significantly reducing the amount of maintenance you’ll need to put in later.
If your grass gets too long, it requires more water and nutrients in order to grow healthily and properly. As such, keeping your lawn short and well-trimmed reduces the strain on your grass, making it easier for the plants to stay healthy. In addition to this, mowing your lawn can encourage thicker grass with better coverage, as the act of cutting the blades encourages the plants to grow more leaves, thickening the surface of your lawn.
During the growing season, you should mow your lawn frequently in order to keep it in the best condition possible. It is, however, bad for the plant to lose too much surface area at once, as this significant change in photosynthetic ability can cause problems. As such, you should only remove up to a third of the plant’s height at once, and you should avoid cutting your grass to a height shorter than 2.5 or 3 inches overall.
During spring, winter, and fall, you can cut your grass a little shorter, as the temperatures are lower, but during the summer you should let it grow a little longer to protect the soil from drying out in the heat. You should also sharpen the blades of your mower a couple of times a year to keep the mowing smooth and easy without tearing the plants too badly.
Watering is one of the simplest and easiest parts of taking care of your lawn. You shouldn’t need to do it very often unless you live in a particularly dry area. In general, you should water your lawn heavily and only when your lawn really needs it, rather than more frequent lighter watering.
You need to give your lawn enough water to soak about 6 inches into the ground, encouraging the roots to grow properly. Lighter watering won’t soak into the soil properly, and this will not encourage the roots to penetrate very far into the ground. When the grass starts to dry out, you’re going to need to water it. You can tell when it needs watering because its color will change, becoming less vibrantly green, and it will become less springy.
If you step out onto your lawn and the grass stays flat rather than springing back up a few seconds after you remove your feet, then it’s time for watering. For the best results, water early in the day, as it will take longer for the water to evaporate as well as keeping your lawn cooler as the temperature climbs later in the day.
Weeding is a constant and regular process when you’re taking care of a lawn, but once your grass is properly established, it is actually relatively quick and easy to do, as long as you weed relatively regularly and don’t let the weeds take over completely.
Grass is a very competitive plant, and once your lawn is well established, the grass plants should be easily able to crowd out most weeds, reducing the level of weed growth substantially. Newer lawns need help, as the poorly established grass plants are not yet able to crowd out weeds, but once the lawn is properly established, you should only require minimal weeding.
If a lot of weeds continue to grow even once your lawn is well established, then your grass is unable to compete properly. This could be because you are cutting it too short, or because the grass is unable to obtain enough nutrients or water from the soil; try cutting it a little longer, or adding fertilizer or more frequent watering to your lawn care routine.
Weeds will always grow in healthy lawns, but not so much. Almost every lawn has a few weeds, and as long as they aren’t too numerous and aren’t crowding out the grass, they aren’t a problem at all. If you object to the appearance of the few weeds present in your healthy lawn, simply pull them up by hand to keep your lawn looking its best. You can use a weed killer, also.
Pests and Disease
Pests are surprisingly similar to weeds, in that a healthy lawn is easily able to survive the natural level of bug presence in the grass, while a newer and less well-established lawn may struggle to defend itself properly. Any lawn will have a number of bugs living in it, but they shouldn’t be too much of a problem and shouldn’t do much damage to the grass growing in your lawn. Sometimes, though, a significant infestation will crop up and cause problems.
When that happens, just spray insecticides or specific insect-killing bacteria over the lawn. Always make sure that your insecticides only target harmful insects, however; ants and spiders actually eat the problematic bugs that can harm your lawn, so you don’t want to kill those!
Lawn disease is another similar problem that is more of an issue for newer, less well-established lawns. In most cases, lawn disease is caused by fungal infestations feeding on the plants. Healthy grass can usually fight off fungal infections on its own, but sometimes diseases occur even in a healthy lawn. If lawn disease occurs and doesn’t seem to be going away on its own, just use a standard fungicide to get rid of it.
Aerating and Dethatching
Aerating and dethatching are different processes, but combining the two of them will help to keep your soil in the best condition possible. We’ll start by covering aerating, as it is the more difficult process that requires more specialist equipment. So why do you need to aerate your lawn? Well, the act of walking across it or mowing it compresses the soil beneath your feet and mower slightly, and every time you do this, it compounds the effect.
This compacts the soil, pushing out the air between soil particles and preventing oxygen from reaching the microbes that live in the soil and break down dead organic matter to create nutrients. Opening up this compacted soil allows the microbes to breathe, keeping your soil healthy and letting your lawn live comfortably and stay strong.
Aerators are helpful garden tools, and both manual and powered aerators provide similar services. These remove small sections of the soil in your lawn to create channels through which air, water, and organic material for fertilization can penetrate into the soil. If you get a lot of traffic over your lawn, you should aerate it at least once a year, ideally during the spring or the fall.
Dethatching is a related process; thatch is the mass of dead grass plants that form around the base of individual grass plants, and it can similarly clog up the soil and prevent it from breathing properly. A little thatch is helpful, as it reduces evaporation and helps to conserve water in the soil of your lawn, but too much can choke the grass, preventing air and water from reaching the soil beneath.
If there’s more than about a quarter of an inch of thatch built up on your lawn, either rake it up by hand or use a powered dethatching tool to remove it.
Fertilizers add valuable nutrients to the soil of your lawn, enabling it to provide better nutrition to the grass growing there. Grass requires a lot of nutrients, particularly if mowed regularly, as the process of growing new leaves takes a lot of energy and nutrition. Most plants will cope just fine with the natural nutrients of the soil in your garden, but grass can require so much nutrition that you may want to add fertilizer in order to help your lawn to stay healthy.
The best way to fertilize your lawn when taking care of it is to only do so once or twice a year, using granular fertilizer. Granular fertilizers are slow-acting, releasing nutrients gradually over several months for a longer-lasting nutritional boost than water-soluble spray fertilizers are capable of providing. Natural fertilizers such as composts and manure are also a great choice and have a lower environmental impact than commercial fertilizers.
Fertilizing your lawn in the fall helps to strengthen the roots of your grass plants as much as possible, making your lawn more robust and better able to fight off weeds and drought.
Lawn care does not have to be too complicated or time-consuming. As shown above, if your grass is healthy and well established, it can fight off most common problems on its own without needing your help. Sometimes, though, issues can arise despite your best efforts, but this usually does not reflect badly on your lawn care routine.
As long as you’re taking care of your grass properly, this should not happen very often, and you should not need to engage in complex and challenging lawn care exercises in order to keep in in good condition.
Newer lawns are harder to look after, and far more prone to disease and other problems. If your lawn is not yet well established, you’re going to need to keep a closer eye on it and make sure you remove weeds more regularly. If you spot signs of disease on a new lawn, it is worth dealing with it as fast as possible, as the grass will be unable to fight off infestations on its own.