Owning your own home is a lot of work, and it’s not just the house itself that requires maintenance. Your lawn and garden also need regular care to stay healthy, functional, and looking good. But caring for your lawn doesn’t have to eat up all your free time every weekend – that is, unless you want it to.
For the most part, your grass should grow well without much help from you. You’ll need to mow your lawn regularly and remove at least the weeds that mar its appearance, as well as dealing with any pests or diseases as they arise. You may need to spread fertilizer once or twice a year, and water your lawn during dry spells. Once every year or two, you should aerate and de-thatch your lawn, and overseed any bare spots.
Water, Mow, and Fertilize
If your area receives regular rainfall, you might not need to water your lawn at all. It’s usually pretty easy to tell if your lawn needs watered. Grass that is bright green, rather than bluish-grey, and that bounces back readily when walked upon is grass that is healthy and well-watered. If, however, your footsteps remain on the lawn, it’s time to water. Water heavily, saturating your lawn to a depth of about six inches, to encourage deep root growth.
How often should you mow your grass? Most homeowners mow weekly, and more frequent mowing is best for your grass. Keep cool-season grasses at a length of about three inches, warm-season grasses at about two to two-and-a-half inches. Don’t cut off more than a third of the length at one time to keep your grass healthy. Nor should you cut grass while it’s wet, because that can encourage the spread of disease.
If you choose to fertilize your grass, you should do so no more than twice a year, in the spring and fall. Many homeowners fertilize only once a year. You can do it yourself with a spreader, but if you apply too much fertilizer, you could seriously damage your grass. Follow the package instructions carefully, or Google “lawn care services near me” to find a lawn specialist to apply fertilizer properly.
Fight Pests, Disease, and Weeds
All lawns will be home to some insects, and many, like ants and spiders, are beneficial, because they eat problem bugs. However, some pests can damage your lawn. Whether you’re seeing dead patches, or chewed, wilting, or spotty grass blades, pests or disease could be the problem. The solution will depend on which specific insect or disease is affecting your lawn, but your local university extension office can help you identify it and recommend a course of action.
As far as weeds go, the best course of action is to remove them before they seed. This can gradually cut down on the number of weeds seeds in your soil, so that fewer and fewer weeds grow over the years. Fighting weeds is a marathon, not a sprint; don’t expect to eliminate them all in one weekend or even in one summer. If you’re pulling weeds, the best time to do it is after a rain, when the soil is soft; there are plenty of tools you can use, from a plain dinner fork to an actual blowtorch. Whether you want to ruthlessly hunt down every weed in your lawn is up to you; many homeowners choose to target only the most unsightly weeds, and most grass varieties do a good job of crowding out weeds.
Aerate, De-Thatch, and Overseed
Aerating removes small plugs of soil from your lawn so that air and oxygen can reach your grass’s roots, allowing the root system to grow deeper and fostering healthier grass. You don’t need to do this every year unless your lawn gets a lot of traffic that compresses the soil. Otherwise, every two or three years is sufficient, but it’s a big enough job that you may want to hire a lawn care service to do it.
Dethatching removes the dead layer of grass from your lawn, strengthening your existing grass. Again, you don’t need to do this every year, but if your grass is extremely spongy, it may be time. You can use a rake and some elbow grease to remove the thatch, rent a power dethatcher, or hire someone to do it for you. As long as it can take to dethatch a lawn, hiring a lawn care service to do it can be worth the money.
Overseeding may not be necessary at all, but it can be a good way to bring back grass in bare or dying spots. Once you’ve addressed the cause of the issue, whether it’s dog damage, disease, or pests, spread grass seed on the area, cover it with straw, and keep it moist until it sprouts and gets established.
A thick, healthy lawn is the perfect place for games of catch, backyard barbeques, and family get-togethers. Caring for your lawn can be a little more complicated than just mowing it every weekend, but the more you put into your lawn, the more it’ll give back to you.