Whether you're trying to improve an existing lawn or starting a new lawn from scratch, you might be thinking about the easiest, cheapest and most effective approaches. Most people want luxurious green grass, but not all gardeners have the time or inclination to spend all their free time dealing with a lawn. Lawn care doesn't have to be expensive and time-consuming, and with the right approaches you can have a beautiful yard.
What Kind Of Grass Should I Use?
There are hundreds of varieties of grass seed available, but which is right for your lawn? Choosing the right grass for your region is the first step to having a healthy lawn that can effectively out-compete weeds and pests. Cool-season grasses include ryegrass and tall fescue, while Bermuda grass and St. Augustine fare better in warm climates that don't have winter frosts. Contact your local extension service for advice about grasses that grow best in your area.
When Should I Plant My Lawn?
If you're laying sod, you can put it down anytime the ground isn't frozen and it should do fine as long as it gets enough water in the first month. Fall is generally the best time to seed a new lawn, when most weeds and diseases have died for the year. Since new grass seeds may need watering up to three times a day to keep the soil moist enough, autumn's cooler temperatures and increased precipitation are conducive to starting a new lawn. Yards also tend to have less foot traffic as temperatures start to cool off.
How Often Should I Mow My Lawn?
The good news for people who dread toiling away in the hot sun with a heavy mower is that lawns fare better with infrequent mowing. Most grass is healthiest when the blades are 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long because there is more surface area for photosynthesis, which helps the grass develop stronger roots. The tall grass also helps shade out weed seedlings and retain soil moisture. When you mow, aim to cut off no more than one-third of the grass's total height, and be sure to let the clippings stay on the ground to return nutrients to the soil.
How Much Should I Water My Lawn?
The best way to encourage deep, healthy root growth and discourage weeds is to water your lawn infrequently but deeply. Most weed seeds sit near the surface and sprout up when they get wet, so if you let the top layer of soil get dry, the weeds won't thrive. Wait until you lawn shows signs of drought stress, like dulled color or not springing back when stepped on, then give it about an inch of water. You can measure an inch by placing a cup in the watering path.
How Should I Fertilize?
The best time to fertilize your lawn is in fall and spring, using a nitrogen-rich grass food. Grass is dormant in the summer, so fertilizing then just helps the weeds. Since you, your kids and your pets will probably be rolling around in the yard, consider using natural fertilizers like aged manure and coffee grounds or soil amendments like aged compost instead of chemical plant foods. Organic fertilizers are harmless but effective, and they help feed the soil as well as the grass, which makes the plants stronger.