While none of us are going to straight-up admit this, most of us want our house to be the talk of the neighborhood. That is why we invest in its curb appeal as much as we can and try to fix up everything from the façade to the front yard. If you’ve already done up your house’s exterior, cut the dead branches and trimmed all the bushes, it might be time to start working on your lawn. Keep on reading for some essential tips when it comes to having the most beautiful and healthy lawn on the block.
Test the soil
In order for the grass to be healthy and thrive, you first need to be aware of the kind of soil you are working with. Different types of grass have different requirement so testing the soil will allow you to know how much nutrients the grass might have access to. Furthermore, you will also check the pH levels of your lawn and see whether it’s acidic, alkaline or normal.
Luckily, you can easily purchase a home testing kit online or in a local nursery and conduct the test on your own. However, it might be better to have it tested by professionals seeing as how their examination might provide you with more accurate results and home tests are typically only used for establishing the pH levels.
Choose the right type of grass
Once you have the results, you will know what type of grass is best suited to your area and the conditions of the soil. While it is always recommended to opt for a grass that is native to your territory as it will have the highest chances of succeeding, it’s also normal that you want an exotic ornamental variety that will really catch the eye of the passers-by.
In that case, you have to make sure that kind of grass has all the necessary nutrients in order to grow. On the other hand, even if you are opting for a local variety, the soil might still need some amending.
Amend the soil
When it comes to amending, you might have to add some vital nutrients or you might have to adjust the pH level of the soil. To raise the pH level of acidic soil, you can add pulverized lime, for example. On the other hand, adding organic materials like peat moss can lower the pH level of moderately alkaline soil. If the pH is extremely high, sulphur or iron sulphate should help amend it.
Then, according to the tests, you need to find the right kind of fertilizer that will provide the soil with all the necessary nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and calcium among others. Look for a slow-releasing organic fertilizer and see whether you can find some that suppress weeds while they fertilize.
In addition to fertilizing the soil, you also need to think about adding organic matter to it. For instance, you can make your own compost or purchase some from the local home center. If you start composting, be aware of the fact that it should not be used while it’s steaming as that means that it is not fully decomposed.
Once it smells earthy and slightly sweet, spread a thin layer of it over your lawn and rake it in. This will replenish various organisms and bacteria that help the soil stay healthy. Plus, these organisms will make the soil less compacted.
Aerate the soil
Speaking of compacted soil, it is quite possible that you are dealing with this issue. Compacted soil is most often caused by heavy machinery and foot traffic so if you walk or drive over your lawn on a regular basis, you will need to minimize this practice. You will also need to aerate the lawn once or twice a year to allow the soil to better absorb the nutrients, water and oxygen you are providing it with.
Check with a local expert whether you should do it in the spring or autumn and find the best equipment to do so. You can get a simple garden fork that will create some small holes in the soil which will loosen it up and give the roots more space. On the other hand, you can also rent a small gas-powered aerator that might help you get this done faster.
Know when to water it
To have a healthy lawn, you need to know how and when to water it. Some people think that just turning on the sprinklers for a few minutes a couple of times a week is enough but, unfortunately, that will not help your lawn thrive. What you need to do is water the grass deeply and not as often as then the roots will grow deeper down into the soil and keep the grass green during extremely hot weather and droughts.
Using a soaker hose, sprinklers or a water sprayer, you should water your grass once a week with one inch of water. Of course, this will also depend on the type of soil and species of grass as well as the weather conditions. Something else that you must keep in mind is that the best time to water the lawn is early in the morning as then the water can be properly absorbed. If you do it late in the evening, that can result in various diseases developing due to too much moisture. The more grass you have to water, the quicker your hose may show signs of wear, but this does not necessarily mean you need to buy a new hose. Sometimes it’s a better idea to just buy hose parts instead and repair any damage yourself.
Feed it regularly
Just because you used fertilizer to amend the soil, it doesn’t mean that you are done feeding it. You should feed the lawn in spring, summer and autumn if you want it to be healthy all year long. While all of this depends on the grass variety and the area you live in, it’s recommended to do it in April, then 10 to 14 weeks after that during summer and finally in September to prepare it for winter. A general rule to feeding is that you should do it right after mowing the grass to allow the fertilizer to properly settle into the lawn.
Don’t forget to weed it
How unsightly are lawns full of various weeds? Not only are they not pleasing to the eye but these invasive and unwanted plants can also harm your lawn. To prevent them from stealing space and nutrients from your grass, you need to find a way to deal with this issue.
Prevention methods like regular maintenance, mowing and aeration of the lawn will all help but some weeds will probably still find their way to the lawn. You will have to get rid of them manually by hand or with a garden fork or turn to some weed killers if you’re faced with a lot of weeds. Just like with fertilizer, the timing of when you will use these weed killers is vital.
Cut it properly
While doing everything in your power to help the grass grow, you also have to mow it properly in order for it to be healthy. Mowing the lawn seems like a simple task that everyone can do but there are some serious dos and don’ts that you have to remember.
For example, never cut the grass too short. Keep it around three inches tall and never mow more than a third of its height. People often cut it too much as they think they will not have to do this chore again for some time. However, if you want your lawn to be the envy of the neighborhood, you have to put in the work. If it’s too short, it will be more susceptible to drought and disease. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn as they will quickly decompose and give the soil the necessary nutrients.
Then, never mow wet grass as that not only makes it more difficult but it will also damage the grass and your mower. Furthermore, you need to ensure the mower blades are sharp as dull blades will hurt the grass and cause it to become brown. You can sharpen the blades on your own or take them to a professional. Lastly, you need to alternate mowing patterns to prevent the mower from creating compacted areas in the ground as well as the grass laying in one direction. So, change your patterns and mow in alternate directions.
Protect the lawn
Seeing as how you are putting this much effort into your lawn, you should also look for various ways how you can protect it. For example, if you have dogs, you should spot train them to use a specific area as dog urine can damage the grass.
If training them to use only one spot is not possible, make sure you clean up after them as soon as possible by spraying the area with some water to prevent grass burn. Moreover, make sure there is no rubbish, debris and leaves on the lawn that could damage it in the colder months.
From picking the right kind of grass and ensuring the soil is in good condition through knowing when to water the lawn and how to mow it all the way to finding ways to protect it, there are many things to consider when taking care of a lawn. However, if you put in enough time and effort and do your best to repair it as soon as you notice damage, your lawn will surely stand out in your neighborhood.
Bio: Patrick Adams is a freelance writer and rock-blues fan. When he is not writing about home improvement, he loves to play chess, watch basketball, and play his guitar. More than anything, he loves to spend his time in his garage, repairing appliances and creating stuff from wood.