Tips for a Perfect Lawn

Homeowners spend hours every month tending to their lawn, poking and prodding and trying to get it to look perfectly green and lush. Don't waste your time on poor lawn maintenance practices. Enjoy a perfect lawn by employing several management tips that can help you achieve your turf goals through giving grass the environment it needs to reach its full growth potential.

Mow at the Right Height

Mowing is one of the most important factors in building the perfect lawn, according to the University of Florida. Every grass species has a specific height at which it thrives. Mow your grass at the height that's recommended for your species. A cutting height that is too low or too high will stress your grass and may lead to stunted growth, dead spots and weed invasions. Approximately 70 percent of gardeners cut their grass too short, according to the University of Illinois. The University of California has an online list of recommended mowing heights (see Resources).

Fertilize Often

Fertilize the grass every 10 weeks, starting in the spring and ending in the fall as the grass enters dormancy. For the best results, use a high nitrogen fertilizer (e.g. a 29-2-4 fertilizer) labeled for lawn use, according to Florida State University. Apply the fertilizer according to its labeled guidelines, since potency varies by product. Sprinkle the grass with water after you fertilize to dissolve the fertilizer and carry the nutrients to the turf's root level so it can immediately begin feeding the grass.

Don't Remove Clippings

After mowing the lawn, don't rake away the grass clippings. Leave these on the turf's surface where they will slowly decompose and return valuable nitrogen to the earth, according to the University of Illinois.

Dethatch Biannually

Dethatching removes the underlying brown growth in the lawn and helps water, air and fertilizer better penetrate the turf, according to "The Lawn Bible." Dethatch the grass every other year in the spring or fall using a dethatcher, which is available for rent or purchase at most nurseries and garden stores, or by ordering dethatching from a local landscaping service provider. Operating guidelines vary by device; consult the included user manual for model-specific guidance if you choose to dethatch the lawn yourself.

Minimize Irrigation

A lawn that's watered too much will develop a shallow root system that leaves the turf more vulnerable to disease and drought, according to "Lawns: Your Guide to to a Beautiful Yard." Instead, water the grass only when the lawn shows signs of drought stress. Signs include a bluish hue to the grass, wilted grass blades and visible footprints or mower tracks. The University of Florida recommends adding water when at least 50 percent of the lawn shows such symptoms. When you do water, apply moisture so the soil is wet to a depth of 6 inches.

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About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.