A beautiful lawn doesn’t require a ton of work or chemicals. Careful watering, mowing, and fertilization can keep your lawn healthy, along with annual de-thatching and aerating. With the right approach, your lawn can be healthy enough to resist diseases, weeds, and drought.
Water occasionally but thoroughly. Deep roots help keep your lawn healthy and heavily watering on occasion can help promote root growth. It is best to, after watering, let the top 2 inches of soil dry out before the next watering. The exact amount of watering that needs to be done per week depends on the grass type and season. Watering late in the evening or early in the morning can reduce the water loss to evaporation during the warmer hours.
Mow at the highest setting on your mower. Cutting grass at a taller height (above 3 inches) is very important for lawn health, especially in the summer. Taller grass shades the ground, which blocks weed sprouts from growing and promotes beneficial microbe growth. Leaving the grass taller also helps root growth, which can strengthen disease resistance. Additionally, leaving the grass clippings on your lawn after mowing can help return nutrients to your lawn.
Mow in a different direction (or pattern) than your last mow to help the grass grow more evenly.
Choose a good fertilizer. The three numbers on the fertilizer bag will tell you the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium the fertilizer contains. Nitrogen is the most important for your lawn and should be higher than the other two (a 3:1:2 ratio is ideal). Avoid fertilizers that have percentages higher than 10, since these can easily burn your lawn.
- Ideally, choose a mixture of 30–50% slow-release fertilizer and 70–50% fast release fertilizer. This gives the lawn an instant boost, but still slowly adds more nutrients over the next few weeks.
- Organic fertilizers are better than synthetic fertilizers, since they improve soil health as well.
Fertilize your Lawn. If you don’t have a fertilizer spreader, rent one from a tool rental company. A drop spreader works best for small lawns. A broadcast (rotary) spreader saves time when fertilizing large lawns, but must be kept away from lawn edges, water sources, and vegetable and flower gardens to avoid pollution. Follow instructions on the spreader and your fertilizer packaging. Fertilize once a year, preferable in late fall when the cool weather promotes root growth.
- To avoid stripes of uneven color, set the spreader to ½ the recommended setting and walk over the lawn twice, in two sets of rows at right angles to each other.
- Put on gloves and hand spread fertilizer in corners, edges and small, tight areas to avoid spreading fertilizer outside the lawn.
- If you want the perfect lawn, you may fertilize three or four times per growing season. It’s easy to burn your lawn or cause excessive quick growth with this strategy. For best results, contact a local university extension for advice specific to your climate.
Aerate your yard in fall or spring. Annual de-thatching and aeration is very important for the health of your lawn. Once a year, remove plugs of soil using a lawn aerator with ½ in (1.25 cm) diameter tines. Remove them to a depth of 3 inches (7.5cm), passing over the lawn until you have about 8 plugs per square foot (88 per square meter). This fights soil compaction, disease, and thatch buildup.
- Aerate while the soil is on the dry side, but just wet enough to allow the tines to penetrate.
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