Lawns are great things. They release a huge amount of oxygen, actively cool down your home in hotter months, and prevent air pollution from getting into your lungs. Whether you’ve got zoysia, Bermuda grass, fescue or bluegrass, here are some useful tips for making your grass grow to its full potential, making it look good as well as serve your best interest.
You don’t need more than a ½ inch cutting blade for lawns which are in warmer climates. The blade tends to be ¼ inch from the bottom of the mower, so simply raise it another ¼ inch in order to achieve that. In colder climates you might need to raise it another 1 inch, to achieve a 1½ inch cutting height. In the height of summer, when it is growing healthily, you might need to increase this by another 2 inches. However, by making sure you cut your grass to the right height, you are enabling more sunlight to pour down through the crowns of the grass, which will bear dividends over the year as a whole.
This isn’t as trivial a factor as it might sound. A blunt blade can actually rip or tear each blade of grass, rather than surgically slice it. This in turn can turn your grass yellowish, meaning that more water will be needed in order for nutrients to be restored; it will also make your lawn more vulnerable to disease. It’s worth sharpening your mower’s blades about three times per year, in order to prevent this.
Soaking Not Sprinkling
Your main goal when it comes to grass management should be to get that much needed water into the roots – deep into the roots, not just into their tops. This further encourages roots to delve down into the water which lies below the surface and makes your grass more independent and long-lasting. Frequent light sprinklings, on the other hand, do not have the same effect and will lead to shallow growth which will make your grass need more and more sprinklings. If you grass is in a sandier soil it may need more regular soakings; those in clay soils might require fewer.
Mow the Top
Another counter-intuitive truth about getting a perfect lawn to emerge is to seek only to remove the top third of each blade, for it is this top third which will help nourish the bottom two-thirds when it is left in its cut state, not raked but simply left. These clippings will decompose rapidly, injecting more nitrogen into your lawn, retarding the evaporation process and even keeping weeds at bay. If you cut the whole blade, those bottom two-third clippings will end up doing the opposite! If raked away then the stems are more vulnerable to sunlight. Thus, if you live in a colder climate, seek to cut your grass when it is around 3-4 inches, whereas if you live in a hotter climate make that 1-2 inches. Avoid cutting when it is really hot, else your grass will get stressed and shocked. Respect it.
Control the Killers
A luscious, verdant lawn doesn’t allow much room for weeds to take root and opportunity for the sun to help them spread, whereas a thinning, febrile lawn does. To get a head-start, commence your weed offensive early on in the spring, stealing a march on those pesky invaders. Weed killers can be used for particularly grassy weeds such as crabgrass, because they prevent such plants from germinating. Some weeds, eg. broadleaf weeds, need to be spray-attacked when young; others like dandelions can literally be encouraged to grow themselves to death! The best time to fertilize your cherished plants and grass is also in spring, although you can make a special effort towards the end of fall, to enable the roots to keep on growing, right through winter. Be sure to read the packet carefully because certain chemicals require moisture, whereas others are effectively nullified by water!
Let It Breathe
Nutrients, water, oxygen are all vital for healthy lawn growth; to this end, a decent lawn core aerator will help. This is, in effect, when clumps of soil are broken up, thus increasing the amount of air that can get into the soil, enabling more water and fertilizer to get deeper down into the grass’ roots, allowing roots more space in which to grow, even preventing ‘thatch’ from strangling the life out of certain areas of your lawn. Gas-powered aerators are often available for hire, so you may not have to purchase one outright.
Timing is the key thing, however. Spring is a good time in which to ‘aerate’ your lawn; winter is even better, though, because little feet are less likely to be stomping all over it and there are not as many weeds with which to contend. Your best bet is to completely aerate your lawn and then immediately apply weed killers, so that all those gaps and holes which are opened up are then more fully inoculated against potential weeds. Grass roots also have more opportunity to grow, due to an increase in nutrients, moisture and oxygen.
This could also be the ideal time in which to plant more grass seed, investing in seasons to come. A seed spreader might be a good investment, particularly if you have a larger sized lawn. You can roll it around your area and ensure a more even dispersal of precious grass seed. It is then best practice not to cut your lawn again until the seed has had ample time to take root and grow. In warmer months you can reap the rewards of such an investment, looking forward to a greener, more luscious, less weed-strewn garden. If you want to crown your achievement then a lawn roller will help achieve that smart, parallel-lined look, which will be aesthetically pleasing and will complement your property, being as pleasing to the eye as the grass’ texture will be for any children or pets who wish to frolic thereon.