Lawn grasses depend on healthy soil to grow and thrive. Whether you grow warm-season or cool-season grass, your lawn requires suitable soil compositions, as well as adequate moisture and sunlight. Keeping your lawn healthy involves regular care to improve the texture and nutrition of the soil, while reducing the appearance of weeds and pests. Perk up your lawn and encourage healthy growth by improving the physical condition of your soil and providing necessary treatments.
Thatch is a layer of plant and soil debris that forms a blanket around the base of your grass blades. Although a thin layer can improve the health of your lawn and soil, too much thatch interferes with your lawn’s ability to absorb air, moisture and nutrients from the soil. While firm hand raking can reduce the thatch in small areas, you may require a power rake for large expanses of lawn. A power rake pulls the layer of thatch from between the grass blades, allowing the roots to penetrate easily into the underlying soil. Check the layer of thatch on your lawn yearly and perform thatch removal when the layer reaches more than half an inch in thickness.
Many types of lawn soils, especially those high in clay, tend to pack down around the roots of your grass plants. Heavy traffic may increase the rate of compaction, causing the soil to form a hard surface that resists drainage and airflow. Rent a core aerator in the spring, after your lawn grass begins to show signs of new growth. Aerate when your soil is slightly moist, several days after a rainfall or through watering. Allow the removed plugs of soil to remain on the surface of your lawn. These plugs will decay, providing helpful nutrients to your lawn soil. Aerate your lawn once every two or three years, depending on the rate of compaction and amount of clay in your soil. Heavy clay soils may require aeration that is more frequent.
Improve the health of your lawn grass with a nitrogen fertilizer. Plants, including grass plants, tend to deplete the soil of its available nitrogen, creating a poor environment for growing healthy specimens. Choose a fertilizer listed for use on your variety of grass. Apply the commercial fertilizer, according to the instructions, in the springtime, after aerating your lawn.
In addition to your spring fertilization, an application of natural organic fertilizer can boost the nutrients in your soil. Spread a fine layer of grass cuttings or decaying leaves over your lawn in the late fall or early winter, once the grass becomes dormant. A fine layer, less than an inch thick, will help the soil retain moisture and encourage healthy new growth in the spring.