A lush, green lawn is a top priority for many homeowners, but why does it feel like an unattainable goal?
Perfecting your lawn can feel like a tiring endeavor, dedicating endless hours of your time to still find brown patches and a lackluster finish. While getting that perfect green lawn can be pretty simple, there are some common lawn care mistakes that can prevent you from that picture-perfect green finish.
A professional lawn care expert can do a lot to get your lawn looking just right, but in the meantime, our team at Earth Development is sharing the biggest mistakes that are keeping you from that pristine, green yard.
1. You’re Not Performing Soil Tests
Not sure what your lawn needs? A soil test can lend a hand in finding just the right treatment.
To avoid using a fertilizer that won’t work or just planting grass randomly, a soil test can help you get a better understanding of what you’re working with. Typically, grass does best when the soil has a pH between 6 to 6.5. Additionally, a soil test can take a look at the nutrients and minerals your soil may be lacking - helping supplement with the perfect fertilizer. You can get a home soil test kit, or a professional company can do this for you.
2. Mowing Too Short
Did you know you can actually cut your grass too short?
Some don’t know this, but mowing your lawn to the proper height is key to keeping it healthy. Why is this? Well, if you end up cutting grass too short, you can end up starving it. At a shorter length, your lawn won’t be able to take in as much sunlight to promote growth. By simply keeping it longer, you can also allow your grass to create deeper roots to better absorb water - helping withstand any dry temperatures.
A rule of thumb is to aim for a blade height of around 2.5 to 3.75 inches, and don’t cut off more than ⅓ of the blade at a time.
If you already used your mower and are wondering, “I cut my grass too short, will it grow back?” we can reassure you - not all hope is lost. However, you will need to give your lawn a little TLC, hydrating and allowing it to grow back to a better height.
3. Mowing with Dull Blades
Like with your hair cuts, a fresh set of sharp tools is key to getting that perfect cut, and the same applies when taking care of your lawn.
Before mowing your lawn, make sure that your blades are fresh and sharp. This will keep the machine from chewing up the grass, instead of smoothly cutting it as we want. When grass gets ragged ends from dull blades, it is more susceptible to pests and disease. And we certainly don’t want that!
Water is one of the most important things your grass needs to stay strong and healthy, so be sure you’re watering it enough for it to thrive.
When it comes to watering your lawn, we recommend:
- Giving your grass about 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week
- Do this slowly, allowing water to sink into the soil (about 6 inches deep!)
- Water your lawn between 6 and 10 am when possible - there’s less wind and it will have the rest of the day to dry
On the other hand, you can be providing your lawn with too much water. Overwatered grass won’t allow your lawn to create the intricate root system it needs, becoming too dependent on your water supply.
So, what do you do? We recommend watering only once a week, but doing so in a way that provides deeper hydration - so over a longer period, really allowing water to sink into the soil and assist in the hydration of deep roots.
6. Watering at the Wrong Time of Day
Yes, there is a wrong time to water your grass. Who knew simple hydration could be so complicated?
Hydrating your lawn is all about minimizing evaporation loss so that the grass really soaks in the water you’re providing it with. As we mentioned, this means you’ll want to water early in the morning, around 6-10 am. This will give your lawn plenty of time to soak in the water as the sun starts to heat up.
We do not recommend watering at night because:
- Cool water sitting on the grass can cause disease
- You’ll lose water to evaporation
7. Using Too Much Fertilizer
Like with your watering routine, you can also be using too much fertilizer. When you use excess fertilizer, you’re not only wasting your own money as it will wash away with rain, but you’re also causing extra leaf growth that ends up limiting roots.
To avoid this, follow the directions on the bag of fertilizer and make sure you’re applying it evenly across your lawn. We recommend using a slow-release fertilizer to avoid burning your lawn which leaves it looking brown and stripped due to too much fertilizer.
8. Planting the Wrong Type of Grass
There are two types of grass - warm and cool season - that will thrive in different locations.
- Warm-season grasses typically get green in the late spring and are brown and dormant in early fall. However, these will be green all summer long. This type of grass doesn’t do well in shade and typically thrives most when it’s 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cool-season grass is green in the growing season and stays that way through the fall. Unfortunately, this grass will turn brown in the summer if it doesn’t get enough water, as it thrives at a lower temperature - around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This grass can grow in shade, but does still need some sun!
So, what does this mean for you? If you live in a northern state, you’ll want to choose a cool-season grass, but make sure you water it throughout the hot summer! Cool-season grasses include Kentuck bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescues.
If you’re in a southern state, go for warm-season grass. These are options like zoysiagrass, carpetgrass, and bermudagrass.
9. Overlooking the Weeds
Do not let weeds get out of hand! One single weed can blow seeds across your lawn, leaving your entire yard covered in weeds in no time for a messy and patchy looking - not the lush green finish we have been talking about.
When it comes to eliminating weeds and taking care of your lawn, we recommend getting a weed control and immediately addressing weeds as soon as they appear. This will help nip the issue in the bud before it becomes too large.
10. Throwing Away Your Grass Clippings
Wondering, “can I throw away grass clippings?” Actually, we recommend you don’t.
Not only will leaving your grass clippings eliminate an unnecessary chore, but these clippings can return nitrogen and other organic material to your grass so you don’t have to use as much fertilizer. However, you can only really leave these clippings when you cut a third or less of the grass’s height.
If you cut more than that, you’ll want to switch to a mulching mower so that you create smaller clippings that you can leave on your lawn. Otherwise, you can compost your clippings or use them as mulch.
Realizing you’ve been making some of these common lawn care mistakes? That’s okay! There’s a lot to know when it comes to getting the perfect lawn, and by making some small adjustments to avoid the common pitfalls, you can have your lawn looking lush and green. However, this does take a bit of expertise, and a team of professionals can make a world of difference.
For expert help in creating the most pristine, green lawn, our team at Earth Development has the experience to get your lawn back on track. To get help with your lawn, give us a call at 920-406-7501 today.