The proper soil
Whether you are starting your lawn from scratch or growing grass in a new area or patching a damaged area, you need to make certain your soil is correct. The pH of the soil has a lot to do with how the grass will grow. You can either call a professional to test your soil or purchase a soil test kit at a local big box store or something similar to the one below from Amazon.
Out of balance soil can be adjusted easily. When the pH is below 6, the soil is too acidic, and you need to add lime. If the pH is above 7.5, the soil is too alkaline, and you will need to add soil sulfur. Both of the items can also be found at a local garden center.
Clear the area that you plan on growing grass of all weeds and roots. You’ll want to rototill the soil about 4-6 inches down to loosen any soil that has been overly compacted over time. This will also allow for better drainage once the grass has taken root. Make sure the ground is level or has a slight grade/slope away from your home’s foundation to prevent water from traveling back to your house during storms. Once you are graded properly use a roller and pack down the soil. One last final metal rake will ensure you are properly graded and ready to accept seed or sod.
Seed or Sod
If you are the type of person who likes to see immediate results then sod is the perfect choice for you. You can order sod from a local grower or garden center and have it delivered. You then roll it out on the dirt and presto, instant lawn. I will warn you that sod can be extremely costly if you are covering a large area. When we installed our inground pool we opted for sod from the front of the house to the back where the excavation trucks drove. We decided on sod because the yard was so devasted by the construction that we couldn’t wait to see it all finished. I will warn you that watering your new sod is critical or your costly investment will turn brown very fast.
If you have patience seed is the best way to go for strong grass. Growing grass from seed will provide you grass with deep roots which help prevent against weeds. A mix of seed is always best based upon the area of the country you live in. Seeding can be done with a hand seeder or via a spreader. A spreader is what is used for fertilizing as well.
When it comes to proper lawn care the rule of thumb for mowing is to never cut more than a third of the length of the grass or you will stress the grass. Also cutting your lawn too short will allow it to burn in warmer weather. Taller grass also allows for the roots of the grass blades to grow deeper into the soil promoting a strong lawn. Make sure you have a mower with a sharp blade and if possible use a mulching mower. Mulching mowers leave the grass clipping on the lawn promoting natural fertilization. We have several dogs so I don’t mulch as the dogs tend to carry the grass clippings into the house so we bag our clippings. You can also use your clippings to create a compost pile to feed your plants and vegetables.
It goes without saying that everything grows best with water including your lawn. Proper lawn care requires roughly 1 inch of water per week. That can either be from rain or sprinklers. It doesn’t all have to be at once, you can break it up into smaller segments of 1/2 inch twice a week. Check the soil about six inches down, if it’s wet your lawn is getting enough water. Proper watering will help your lawn to grass to grow deep roots.
Another way to test how much water you’re using is to place a can (tuna fish cans work best) on the lawn and allow it to fill up during the week. If it has an inch of water in it then you are watering enough.
For a freshly seeded lawn 15-20 minutes, a day is all you need. You want to keep the new seed from drying out but not apply too much water that the seed washes away.
The best time to water your lawn is in the morning before 10 AM. This time allows the water to penetrate the lawn before the hot sun evaporates the water. If you absolutely must water at night do so between 4-6 PM so that the lawn is dry before nightfall. Lawns that stay wet all night have a greater chance of developing disease.
In order to practice top notch lawn care and have the greenest grass possible, you have to feed your turf! If you had to fertilize at only two times during the year it would be spring and fall but I always follow the rule of 4 feedings per year.
- The first feeding in Early Spring helps to restart the lawn after a long winter and also to prevent crabgrass from growing.
- The second application should be roughly 6 weeks after the first and that application will focus on weed killing and further lawn strengthening.
- The third application is typically applied in the summer months Mid-July or so and helps to protect your lawn from the summer heat while providing further nutrients.
- The final application is a Fall application and this helps to protect your lawn for the pending winter. Apply this final application in or around late September or Early October.
Use a broadcast spreader to distribute the fertilizer on the lawn. Check the fertilizer packaging for the correct setting on the spreader. Applying too much fertilizer can burn your grass.
You may also want to look into grub protection. Grubs are small white insects that feed on your lawn and usually begin to emerge in late spring.
I have always used Scott’s brand products as I believe they are of high quality and provide me the nicest lawn. Check out Amazon if you don’t want to drive to your nearest garden store.
These are the basics when it comes to practicing proper lawn care. There isn’t too much work involved with having a green lawn but you do need to make sure that your grass is getting what it needs to survive.
For more tips on Seasonal Lawn Care visit the experts at Scotts.
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