The dog days of summer will soon be upon us and for many that means a battle to keep grass lush and green. Lawn health takes work, follow these five steps in spring and enjoy a resilient and great looking lawn year-round.
1. Aerate – depending on your grass type and the amount of sun and traffic it receives, you may want to aerate every year. For those of us in the South with warm season grasses such as Bermuda, Zoysia or St. Augustine, spring is the perfect time to aerate. This process will allow your grass to breathe and absorb water and nutrients more easily. Mechanical core aerators which have hollow tines are preferable to those with spikes which can inadvertently compact your soil. These handy machines can be rented from most garden centers.
2. Remove Excess Thatch – after aerating, your lawn will be littered with dirt plugs which you can either collect and remove or leave to be worked back into the soil. Rake any excess thatch which can block water and sunlight from reaching the root system. Not a bad idea to do this in autumn as well when you’re raking leaves.
3. Fertilize – like it’s name implies, fertilizer will help your lawn become more fertile and boost growth. By adding nutrients and balancing out the natural acidity of the soil, proper application of fertilizer can help your lawn look and feel more like a golf course. Nitrogen-rich fertilizer can be applied in both the spring and again in late summer but avoid doing so for the month leading up to the peak summer temperatures.
4. Water – watering is best done in the early morning or late evening hours when less evaporation occurs. Most lawns need roughly one inch of water per week (Pro Tip: put an empty tuna can in the middle of your watering area, when it is full that’s about an inch). It’s better to have one good, deep soak per week rather than frequent light waterings which encourage shallow roots. Remember – our goal is to have healthy deep roots so that when the heat comes, they’ll be able to remain moist.
5. Mow – as summer approaches, its best to keep the length of your grass a bit longer in order to provide shade for the soil. Never cut more than one third of the grass during each mowing and doing so on a frequent basis (every week or other week at a minimum) will help strengthen roots. Keep your mower blades sharp as dull or chipped blades will actually pull grass rather than cut it.
Having a great looking, healthy lawn will encourage you, your family and friends to get outside and enjoy it more often. Like a fresh haircut, green trimmed grass will also elevate the overall appearance of your home. Many of us take great pride in our lawns but they can require a fair bit of work. While mowing, watering and weeding are all fairly simple tasks, aeration and proper fertilization can prove more challenging and time consuming. Whether it’s weekly maintenance or annual services, qualified professionals are a quick phone call away to help ensure yours is the nicest lawn on the block.