This April as we celebrate National Lawn Care Month, it’s time to be honest about what we do right and wrong when it comes to common goal of a lush green yard. Clearly, it is a goal for any homeowner, as 3 in 4 recently told a survey they’re not at all happy with their grass.
Why should we care about our lawn? It’s not just beautiful but offers tremendous environmental benefits. Healthy lawns prevent erosion, cool the local environment and filter pollutants from air and water. Achieving a healthy lawn requires more than a dousing of water and a weekly mow. Knowledge, skill, and experience are a must. While lawn care pros are trained to revive your turf, those trying to create a carpet of green on their own should avoid these common lawn care mistakes.
Planting Grass Where it Won’t Grow – A healthy lawn is all about grass, but many homeowners are determined to force it where it’s just not meant to thrive. The result? Frustration, wasted time and resources. Grasses are full sun plants with limited abilities to adapt to the shade. If you’re trying to add green to a shady spot, set yourself up for success with ground covers that will thrive in sun-starved areas instead of futile attempts getting grass to grow. Consider ajuga, mondo grass or liriope for success in the shade.
Planting Only One Type of Grass and /or the Wrong Kind – Variety is the spice of life! A healthy lawn needs it, too. When planting grass, choose a variety so your lawn is more likely to weather poor conditions like heat and drought. All grasses won’t grow in all regions – so here in the south we need warm-season varieties adaptable to our unique weather.
Too Much/Too Little Water – Every lawn has its own unique needs, but a good rule of thumb is to assume your lawn needs about an inch of water a week when it is actively growing. With an annual average rainfall of up to 65 inches in these parts you would think that you’re fine but much of our rainfall comes in winter months when you don’t need as much moisture. Consider an irrigation system to take the guess work out of how much is enough. Remember – grasses prefer less frequent, deeper waterings to give roots a good solid soak over more frequent shallow water.
Mowing Too Short – Here’s a guilty offense most everyone has committed. Over-mowing may seem like a way to save energy by trimming the grass shorter, thereby lessening the need to mow again anytime soon. This ill-conceived time saver damages the grass, making root systems shallow and unable to soak up the nutrients they need. Most grasses do best when trimmed to 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches. Never remove more than 1/3 of the height of the lawn in any one mowing.
Improper Use of Fertilizer – Properly applied fertilizer helps lawns grow thick and full, allowing grass to be strong enough to overcome weeds trying to take up root. But rookies can make plenty of mistakes when applying fertilizer: either the wrong time of year or applying too much. Most lawns need 4-6 applications per year, and generally the fall is the most critical time. Best to fertilize when grass is growing. And remember less is more – as too much fertilizer creates too much plant leaf and won’t allow roots to grow well. Excess fertilizer can also burn your lawn.
Healthy lawns require routine maintenance with a regular schedule of mowing, fertilizing, weed, and insect control. While the work may seem time-consuming, the reward to your family’s enjoyment – and the environment – pay real dividends. ##