Lawn care seems simple enough: a quick mow and trim, watering a few times a week and the occasional douse with selective herbicide whenever dandelions and crabgrass show up. In fact, there are a few more things to consider. A little forethought and care toward regular, consistent procedure make the difference between ratty dead spots and a lush, healthy lawn.
Mowing and Pruning
Before beginning, the lawn care equipment is inspected and repaired if necessary. The blades of gardening shears are honed if they show any sign of rust. Lawn mower blades are sharpened once a year, especially if cut grass shows signs of browning at the tips as this is a sign of grass being ripped rather than cut cleanly. Ripped grass is more likely to die of water loss and infection. Trimming starts with weeding the lawn and pruning back any hedges. Unless topiaries are the intent, hedge branches are pared back in order to keep the hedge itself compact and tidy.
Repeated prunings will cause the hedge to thicken foliage and growth for a healthier appearance. When using a weed eater, many make the mistake of trimming the edges of the grass down to the roots in an attempt to kill weeds edging the lawn. The grass will die, only promoting weed growth. Mowing the next day to allow the clippings time to dry; this way branches and weeds do not need to be raked up, and are instead mulched by the mower.
Mow in a concentric pattern around the lawn, never removing more than one-third of the grass’s total length. Grass clippings are left on the lawn for a few days as they decompose quickly and put a great deal of nutrients back into the soil, though the remnants are raked up afterwards.
Most species of grass require 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water each week to survive. On average, grass can withstand drought more effectively than it can flooding. If there is no automated sprinkler system, this equates to about 10 minutes of saturation by a water sprinkler attached to a garden hose each day.
As most water sprinklers can cover a yard effectively from a single spot, up to an hour is spent each morning while the sun is still low on the horizon moving a sprinkler from one spot to the next in order to cover the lawn as best as possible. This is normally skipped on days during and after heavy rainfall.
Fertilizer and Pesticides
Generalized lawn fertilizer is applied four times a year, at the beginning of each new season. As grass tends to go into a state of slow growth and near hibernation in winter, the fall fertilizer application is particularly important. Fungicides are not normally required provided the lawn is not subjected to flood or standing water.
Pesticides are used sparingly as they can interfere with the function of soil microbes which are responsible for processing nutrients so that they may be used by the grass. Pre-emergent herbicides, both organic and systemic, work as a preventative in keeping crabgrass, clover and other weeds from sprouting.