Highly desired by homeowners, a thick, lush, green lawn can seem almost impossible to achieve for the uninitiated. But a simple maintenance program, consistently performed, is the key element when creating a lawn that will be the envy of your neighbors.
Mow your lawn regularly. Try to mow often enough to only remove a quarter to a third of the blade length with every mowing to avoid stressing the grass. For cool-season grasses such as fescues and bluegrass, set the mower to a height of 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches. For zoysia grass or Bermuda grass, set the height at three-quarters to 1 1/2 inches. Leave the grass clippings on your lawn to help enrich the soil; doing so will not cause thatch build-up, according to the University of Maryland Extension.
Lawns require infrequent but deep watering to keep them at their best. Do not water every day as the grass will form a shallow root system and be more susceptible to future droughts. Water during the early part of the day to minimize evaporation and ensure the grass dries before nightfall. Grass that is left wet overnight is more susceptible to diseases. When watering, run the sprinklers long enough to emit the equivalent of 1 1/2 inches of rainwater at least once a week. This watering schedule, consistently applied, will keep cool-season grasses from going dormant during the heat of summer. If water is withheld the grass will go dormant and will not recover until cool fall weather arrives, even if it is heavily watered.
Cool-season grasses like fescues and bluegrass should be fertilized no earlier than September. Fertilizer applied to these grasses during the heat of summer can cause the grass plants undue stress. Warm-season grasses should be fertilized no later than mid-August.
Apply a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring to keep the seeds of annual weeds such as crabgrass from germinating. In midsummer and again in early fall, apply broad-leaf herbicide to kill perennial weeds such as dandelions and ground ivy.