Even though there is snow on the ground in many parts of the country, it’s never too early to start thinking ahead to spring. For us, here in NC, spring can come as early as mid February and certainly by March, we have loads of sunshine and plenty of things starting to grow. I thought it would be a good time to start thinking ahead with these lawn care tips.
These lawn care tips will make sure that you have a lush green lawn all summer long.
My lawn is the LEAST pretty part of my garden. Each year, I swear that I am going to get rid of the spring onions and dandelions, and each year, I start digging in my garden beds. Not this year!! I’ve made a New Year’s resolution that my lawn will rival my garden beds for a change!
Everyone likes the idea of a lush green lawn. You know the type…Lush, even and perfect for a game of croquet. One that you can walk over in your bare feet with comfort. Is yours that type of lawn? Neither is mine! That is where these lawn care tips will help. Put them to use and you may be turning cartwheels on your lawn this summer.
1. Start with the soil. You need to know what the PH of your soil is to make sure that the grass you want growing there will do well. There are soil PH testing kits designed for the home gardener, and many areas also offer testing by the local government. Here in Raleigh, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture will do this test at no cost for residents starting the first of April. This may seem like something you can neglect and get away with it, but don’t consider that. If you do, you could end up throwing money down the drain the grass seed doesn’t grow later. Testing the soil also helps you to purchase just the right nutrients to help your lawn grow well.
2. Nix the weeds. My lawn is a mixture of clover, crab grass, wild onions and dandelions. Oh, and a few bits of actual grass. So what does that mean for me? Unfortunately, it could mean digging off the whole top 6 inches or so, and then tilling what is underneath. Or, I could go out there daily with a bucket and a hoe and hand trowel and dig each one up by hand. Either way, the weeds have to grow. Mowing over them just makes everything LOOK like a lawn, when really it is just well cared for weeds!
3. Timing matters. If you don’t have as many weeds as I do in your lawn, then spot treating can work. Treating broad leaves requires moisture. The best time to apply treatment is early in the morning when there is a heavy dew on the lawn. You will just waste your money if the grass is not wet. So..don’t even think about doing this in the middle of a hot, dry spell. Spring and late fall are the best times to treat for weeds.
4. Use Weed Preventers. Once you have the weeds in check, consider using a pre emergent weed preventer. These won’t do anything for weeds already growing but will help to keep new ones from taking hold. Once again timing matters. Treat your lawn this way before weed seeds have germinated. Early spring is the best time.
5. Get the right tools. Rakes help with leveling and pitchforks help with aerating. You will need a good lawn mower that is well maintained. String trimmers are good to get nice edges. If you have sprinklers in your garden, consider investing in some sprinkler head covers. I recently had the chance to try some very sturdy sprinkler head protector helmets from Cover one. These sturdy covers prevent damage of your expensive sprinkler heads from coming into contact with lawn mowers and weed eaters. They also prevent sprinkler heads from disappearing into the yard or brush.
6. Fertilize. We all need nourishment to grow in a healthy way, and lawns are no different. The more you feed your lawn, the better it will grow. Here the timing is during the growing season, so spring and summer is best. And fertilizing does not necessarily mean chemicals. If you have a compost pile in your yard,you will have the perfect fertilizer that costs nothing but a bit of time.
7. Seed or Sod? If you have a whole lawn to lay down, or just patches, you will find yourself asking this question. Which is better, seeding or laying sod? The answer is how much money you have and how quickly you want results. Quick and expensive? Lay sod. More patient and less money? Seeding is the answer for you. With either method, be sure to research the best lawn type for your area. For me, this year, it will be grass seed. I have 1/2 acre of lawn area and just can’t afford sod.
8. Aerating helps. Aerating lawns will loosen the soil and reduce the amount of thatch that builds up. The best time to do this is when the grass is actively growing and the soil is moist. Spring and fall is best for most lawns, but well watered lawns can also be done in the summer. This can be done with manually with pitch forks, spiked boots, and other lawn aerating gadgets, as well as with especially designed tools for aerating.
9. Mowing tips. This seems like a no brainer, right? When it needs cutting, mow it! But once again, timing is everything. Just because the weekend is convenient for you, does not mean that every 7 days is right for the lawn. During the active growing season, the lawn may need mowing every four or five days. A rule of thumb is to move just often enough to avoid cutting off more than 1/3 the height of the grass at any one time. Your lawn will thank you. 10. Watering. This is one of the most important of my lawn care tips. I know that you are probably sick of the word timing by now, but here I go again. Timing matters. Early in the morning is best, just like it is for any garden. Doing this gives your lawn a chance to get a good drink and the sun, during the day, will dry the grass and make it less likely that the lawn will get diseases of any type. At all costs, avoid night time watering. Once or twice a week, during the growing season, long enough for the soil to get wet several inches deeps is about right. Avoid daily light watering which encourages shallow roots and thirsty lawns.
11. Bare spots. If your lawn is one of those lawns that looks “pretty good, with a few bare spots,” don’t rest on your laurels and think the lawn will grow over the bare spots. This is one of my favorite lawn care tips. Weeds love those bare spots! Have some grass seed on hand to fill them in as they appear and you will help to keep the weeds at bay.
12. Maintenance matters. Keep your lawn mower blades sharp. The grass will cut more cleanly and the lawn won’t have a set back after being cut with dull blades. Test your irrigation system before you need to put it to use, so that it is working when the hot summer hits. Whether you have an expensive sprinkler system or just use manual sprinklers, you will want them to be working.
Lush, green and healthy lawns are the perfect location for barbecues, parties and other summer activities. If you follow these 12 lawn care tips, you will be sure to maintain a lawn that is healthy and beautiful all summer long.
Have I forgotten one of your favorite lawn care tips? Please let us know what it is in the comments below.
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