Grass can comprise the perfect canvas for a landscape's colors or act as a tough ground cover to withstand your family's weekend games and picnics. Although the specific care needs for grass varies by species, several general care tips can help you keep your lawn green, lush and the envy of all your neighbors.
Homeowners have dozens of choices when it comes to choosing the type of lawn grass to grow, from the drought-resistant zoysia species to the cool weather-loving perennial ryegrass. Each choice can be further divided into hundreds of hybrids and cultivars, many that are bred to thrive in a specific environment. Contact your regional cooperative extension office to discover what types of lawn grass grow best in your region. It's easier to keep green a lawn that's been bred to do well in your weather and soil than it is to struggle to raise a species that's not meant for your area. For example, Oklahoma State University created the Guymon variety of Bermuda grass specifically to survive the state's winters.
Mowing your lawn is about more than just keeping the grass manicured. Mowing also boosts healthy lawn growth for a greener turf surface, according to Ohio State University. Cut your grass every week or as needed to keep it trimmed at the height recommended for your specific species. For example, creeping bent grass should be kept a half inch high while annual ryegrass can be trimmed to 2 inches. If you're unsure, consult the University of California's table of recommended cutting heights. For the greenest results, cut the grass at the higher end of its recommended spectrum. The university says that this encourages deeper root growth and also gives the lawn more foliage surface to absorb the sun's rays.
Contrary to what it may seem, frequent watering won't keep your grass green. For a truly lush and green lawn, water on an as-needed basis. Colorado State University recommends applying water only when the grass begins to turn blue-gray, or when walking on the lawn leaves footprints that don't fade immediately. When you do water, spray enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 8 inches. This encourages the lawn to extend a deep root network, making it more drought resistant and increasing its nutrient uptake for a greener appearance.
An application of pre-emergent lawn herbicide, made once every spring before weeds have sprouted, will keep weeds at bay by preventing their seeds from germinating. This keeps out invasive plants that would otherwise compete with your grass for soil space, food and water. Such herbicides can be purchased from most garden stores. Apply them according to their labeled guidelines.
Regularly fertilize your lawn with any standard fertilizer labeled for use on lawns. Spread the fertilizer according to the rate listed on its label, since potency varies by product. For the greenest lawn, Purdue University suggests fertilizing in the fall--fall fertilization is the most important application and will ensure a healthy and green lawn all year, according to the university--and again in the spring and early summer. The university doesn't advise fertilizing in the middle of summer, since this will encourage excess foliage growth and discourage the deep root growth that's necessary for a healthy lawn.