Green living: Save Our Earth By Living Green

How to Up Your Lawn Game This Year

With the weather warming up, you’re probably starting to put more focus and attention into how your lawn looks. Here are the tips you need to seriously up your lawn game this year and add to your home’s overall curb appeal.

Lawn Playing

Master the perfect cut.

Upping your lawn game is more than learning to cut your lawn well, but a good cut still rests at the foundation of a truly spectacular lawn. To seriously up your lawn game, you’ll want to start by mastering the basics of mowing, including setting your lawn to the perfect height, following up with a trimmer, and edging along the driveway and sidewalks.

Test your soil.

If your soil doesn’t have an ideal pH level and proper nutrient balance, it isn’t going to give you the grass growth you want. Have your soil tested by sending a sample to a commercial soil testing lab, which can tell you about the soil’s pH level and nutrient content. Once you know the true state of your soil, you’ll know what you need to add to it to bring it to the proper pH and nutrient levels. A soil test can cost anywhere from $20 to over $100 depending on who you go with and what information you request, so be sure to get a quote beforehand.

Fertilize.

Once you know what your lawn needs, you’ll want to fertilize. Select a natural fertilizer that answers to your soil’s needs, and give your lawn a good, thorough watering to prepare it for fertilizing. A day or two later, spread your fertilizer using a broadcast, rotary, or drop spreader. Follow up with a light watering, and then thoroughly water your lawn about two days later to complete the process. Lawns with cool-season grass (more common in northern regions of the United States) are best fertilized in early fall. Lawns with warm-season grass (more common in southern regions of the United States) are best fertilized in late spring or early summer, with a follow-up application in late summer.

Aerate your soil.

The soil under your lawn easily becomes compacted under foot traffic and lawn machinery, especially if it sees frequent use by pets and children. Aerating your soil will help create air passages in your soil and will allow water, air, and nutrients to reach your grass roots more easily. Remove small cores of soil from your hard, compacted soil using either a manual or machine-powered aerator; or you can even invest in aerator sandals that strap onto your shoes, allowing you to aerate your lawn simply by walking on it. Aim to aerate your lawn during the growing season, when new grass can fill in those open areas left by removing soil plugs. This means aerating cool season grass during early spring or fall and aerating warm season grass during late spring.

Address thatch accumulation.

Thatch is the layer of dead grass and roots that accumulates on top of the soil surface. A layer of thatch up to half an inch thick is good for insulating and protecting the root zone, but a layer of thatch that becomes thicker than this will begin to block the flow of air, water, and nutrients. Ultimately, this thatch accumulation could make your lawn more susceptible to drought, pest infestations, and disease. Incrementally work away at thatch accumulation by raking vigorously using a steel-tined rake, or consider renting a mechanical dethatching machine.

Water deeply and less frequently.

It’s better to water your lawn deeply and less frequently than it is to give it a shallow sprinkling multiple times a week. Watering your lawn deeply and less frequently encourages your grass to grow longer roots. Aim to water your lawn between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. on a day that will see less hot sun, when your lawn will have a full day to dry. Spending about an hour watering your lawn once a week. If you have sprinklers, keep them turned on long enough to give your lawn about half an inch of water. (You can set tuna cans on your lawn to help you determine how long it takes to give your lawn half an inch of water.)

Reuse your grass clippings.

Your grass clippings can actually give your lawn about 25% of the nutrients it needs. Consider saving yourself time and money by letting your grass clippings lie on the lawn. It might be a good idea to switch out your standard mower blade for a mulching blade that will cut your grass clippings into smaller pieces.

FYI: This article has all the tips you need to give your grass the perfect cut.

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