For many gardeners, the lawn can be more trouble than it's worth. It needs regular watering, mowing, and often, an active approach to weed and pest management. A lush, emerald green lawn can be a lot of work and expense, but it shouldn't keep you slaving over it all summer long. Good lawn care means keeping your grass and soil healthy, which also helps prevent weeds, pests and disease.
Choose a type of grass that is suitable for your region, soil, climate and local watering restrictions. This will result in stronger grass that is better able to resist weeds, diseases and pests. Bluegrass, fescues and rye grass work well in cooler regions, while Bermuda grass and zoysia are better suited to warmer areas. Buffalo grass is a warm season grass that fares well with little water, while Canada bluegrass works better in cool regions with tight watering restrictions.
Water your lawn in the morning when the weather is still cool to prevent evaporation. Evening watering can encourage harmful fungus growth because the blades stay wet all night. You should aim to water as infrequently as possible. Wait until the lawn's color starts to dull, then give it an inch of water. This encourages deeper root growth and slows germination of weed seeds that live near the surface. Deep, infrequent watering also discourages thatch because a wet soil surface can make grass spread rhizomes on top of the lawn instead of underground.
Set your mower as high as it will go, and only mow when the grass is taller than 3 or 4 inches. Never mow more than a third of the lawn's total height. Tall grass is healthier because the blades have a greater surface area for more effective photosynthesis. Taller grass also helps the grass compete with weeds by shading out seeds and weed seedlings. When you mow, let the clippings fall back onto the lawn to replace lost nutrients and improve the topsoil.
Fertilizing & Amendments
Most lawns should be fertilized once in the fall and once in the spring. Grass is a heavy nitrogen feeder, so use a fertilizer that is suitable for lawns. Consider using an organic fertilizer if people and pets will be playing on the lawn. Good organic lawn fertilizers should contain ground seeds or beans with bone or feather meal. Adding a layer of compost or composted manure to your lawn once a year will improve topsoil and encourage earthworms and beneficial microbes that help nourish plants naturally.