Lawn problems equal a homeowner's or gardener's worst nightmare. Maintaining a lush, green, healthy lawn presents a challenge. Additional care besides the basics creates all the difference for your grass and garden, steps such as testing the soil for nutrient levels, following the 1/3 rule when mowing and paying attention to specific grass variety's needs.
The 1/3 Rule
Consistent mowing is a basic rule of lawn care, but the way it is accomplished makes a big difference. Avoid mowing the grass when it is wet, and follow the 1/3 rule. Refrain from cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade during each mowing session. Cutting more puts excess stress on the lawn, which makes it weaker and more susceptible to disease and insects. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn and apply water for about 10 minutes. The clippings help retstore nutrients to the soil, as well as more hydration since they contain about 75 percent water.
Understand Your Variety's Needs
The grass on your lawn is a variety that is specific to your region. It is important to know what variety of grass is on your lawn to cut and care for correctly. For example, cool-season grasses cannot be cut short because taller blades help establish the root system more deeply, thus deterring weed growth. Mowing heights of warm-season grasses vary throughout the year. The blades should be kept at about 1/3 an inch in the summer and can be cut shorter in cooler months for less maintenance. For slow-growth grasses, mow about once every two weeks. For regular to fast growth, mow once a week.
Test the Lawn Soil
Understanding the nutrients your lawn needs will help to avoid problems on a large scale. Knowing the pH will help to keep the lawn's health consistent and strong. A soil test reveals the levels of macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) necessary for proper growth. To lower the pH, distribute coffee grounds or manure evenly throughout the soil. To raise the pH, use egg shells or limestone. Obtain a soil testing kit from a local gardening store and test several different areas around the landscape.