There are ways to grow grass that don't require a green thumb, especially if you have tried before and ended up with a yard full of weeds, or worse, bare patches. By doing a bit of work at the start of the growing season, you enjoy the benefits of a lush lawn with minimal upkeep throughout the year.
Pick the right grass seed for your lawn based on how much sun the yard gets, what kind of soil you have and your growing zone. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) divides the United States into regions called hardiness zones based on annual average winter temperature. Cool season grasses are suited for regions with a freeze-thaw cycle, while warm season grasses are for areas with high humidity and hot temperatures for the majority of the year.
For a true measure of what kind of soil you have, have a soil analysis and a pH test. These will help determine what kind of seed you want, how often to water and what type of fertilizer to use. The USDA recommends contacting your local conservation or extension service or a local fertilizer store for more information.
There are two tricks to watering grass for a healthy lawn, according to Jerry Baker in his book, "Green Grass Magic." First, water infrequently, allowing grass to dry out between waterings--it doesn't have to be watered every day. Grass needs only one inch of water a week, Baker says, and this total includes any rain that falls.
The second trick is to water slowly to ensure the soil six to eight inches below the surface receives moisture. This encourages deep root growth, which will help during droughts and contribute to the overall health of the grass.
After the correct grass seed has been selected and the lawn has been watered, the next steps are aerating, fertilizing and mowing. "Lawns and Ground Covers," a Time-Life Gardener's Guide, recommends aerating after watering using an aerating machine or by wearing shoes with cleats and walking back and forth across the grass. If the soil that is pulled up from the aeration is dry, water again, aerating afterward to check moisture levels.
Healthy lawns need macronutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Rely on your soil test to determine which nutrients your grass needs and make sure to follow the directions on the fertilizer's label. Warm season grasses should be fertilized during the peak growing months from May through August. Cool season grasses should be fertilized both in the spring and in the fall.
How high to mow depends on what type of grass you have, according to "Lawn and Ground Covers," although as a general rule, most lawns should be mowed no lower than 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Mow the grass when it's a third higher than its usual level. Waiting longer can sheer off too much grass, shocking the roots and causing yellowing.