Whether your lawn is already lush and green or you want it to look more beautiful, you'll need to follow basic lawn care steps. Without proper care, even a beautiful lawn can fall into disrepair. And with a little time and effort, even a poor lawn can look like a golf course if you just pay attention to the details.
This is key for any lawn. The exact amount of water your lawn needs depends on the type of grass that's in your yard. Some varieties are prone to disease if you overwater them. Others need lots of water. If you're not sure what kind of grass you have, take a sample into your county extension office or a garden center. When you water, no matter how often, be sure to water as deeply as possible. Use a soil probe to see how deep the root system goes. Try to water until the moisture reaches the bottom of the roots. This will help keep your root system deep, and this gives your lawn its best chance for staying health. Be sure to stay on a regular watering schedule. The best time to water is early in the morning between 4 am and 8 am. This allows the soil to absorb the water yet gives the grass a chance to dry, avoiding fungus problems that can occur when you water at night.
This is perhaps the second most important step for a lush lawn. Many people cut their grass way too short. The correct method is to set your mower's cutting height based on your grass variety and the season. In the early spring or fall, most grasses will be fine with a mower height set at 3 inches. For the last mowing in the fall you can go as low as 2 inches. During the summer you may want set the wheels on your mower higher. Taller grass helps choke out weeds. Additionally, the length of the grass blade is the part that absorbs the sunshine, which keeps your grass healthy. Never cut more than 1/3 of your grasses length at one time. If you have to mow twice, mow twice. It'll save you headaches in the long run.
First, fertilizer is not lawn food. It enhances the soil and gives the grass good earth to grow into. Grass draws its energy to grow from the sun. Second, don't over-fertilize your lawn. This creates poor soil conditions and your grass won't grow. When people over-fertilize, the grass actually "burns out" or turns brown. Also, the run off from too much fertilizer harms local waterways. Three or four fertilizer applications a year are more than enough -- early spring, early summer, early fall and, for cool season grasses, right after the first frost. Follow the directions on the package carefully.
Weed preventers (pre-emergent herbicides) should be applied in the early spring and perhaps again in the early summer. In between treatments, spot treat weeds with weed killers that won't harm your grass. Repair bare spots as soon as possible. Insects can ruin even the healthiest lawn within just a few weeks, so be on the lookout for grubs. Some experts recommend a regular pesticide be applied to lawns every summer. Consult your garden center or county extension office to see if this is necessary in your area. Dethatch your lawn every few years and have your lawn aerated at least once a year, preferably in the fall (some experts recommend an additional aeration in the early spring).
Get to know your soil. What's the pH level? Is it compacted? Is it mostly clay or loam? These questions are easy to answer. Simply take a soil sample to your county extension office. Most run analyses for free. If it's more convenient and you don't mind paying, you can take your soil to a garden center and either ask an expert (they may give you free advice), or buy a testing kit. Once you know what your soils like, consult with an expert, either at your county extension office or at your garden center. The information they provide will help you select the right fertilizers and treatments for your lawn. It will also help you select the best grass seed for your lawn when it comes to reseed. You'll find out what grows best in your climate and is the easiest to maintain.
Follow these basic steps and your lawn will become the showcase of the neighborhood.