Summer is almost here: the season of sunscreen, bike rides, and (most importantly) green grass. During this time of year, having the best lawn in the neighborhood can feel like a great accomplishment. However, if your house doesn't have the greenest grass, it's hard not to feel disappointed.
If you're looking for some tips on how to make your lawn the most enviable on the block, you've come to the right place. Whether you have questions about organic lawn care or soil structure, here are our best tips for getting a healthy lawn you can enjoy year round!
Test Your Soil
When striving to achieve your dream lawn, it is essential that you know your soil condition. A good place to start is by getting a soil test.
Soil tests will tell you crucial information about your lawn, such as soil pH and nutrient levels. You can purchase a soil test kit at most garden and hardware stores.
Rutgers Soils Laboratory suggests that you collect about 10 to 15 samples of soil. These can be randomly selected from areas in your yard.
To get your samples analyzed, send your test kit to your local cooperative extension office. For a small fee, they'll send you a comprehensive report of your soil pH and nutrients. The report will usually also include recommendations on the best treatments to develop healthy soil.
One treatment that your cooperative extension office may recommend is liming. So, what is liming?
Well, the first thing to know is, no -- liming does not involve pouring lime juice on your grass! Liming actually refers to the use of calcium and magnesium rich materials, such as limestone.
Liming is a method used to restore proper pH balance in your soil if it is too acidic (very common in states like New Jersey and New York). When applied properly, lime helps guarantee that your grass can obtain the nutrients it needs to grow lush and green.
According to the Rutgers Soil Laboratory, the best time to apply lime is in the fall and early winter seasons. If it is done correctly, you will not need to do it every year.
Picking Your Grass
If you're starting from scratch, picking a type of grass for your yard can seem daunting. While soil tests may provide recommendations, the region you live in can also inform your choice.
Some grass plants will work best depending on the climate they are grown in. If you live in the northern zones or locations with cooler temperatures in fall and spring, select a cool-season grass, like Kentucky bluegrass. Meanwhile, warm-season grasses, like Bermudagrass, thrive in hot summer temperatures and warmer climates. These are more appropriate for southern areas.
In middle areas of the country (called transition zones), you may select a mixture of cool- or warm-season grasses. But, most of the time, cool-season types will have the best plant growth.
Whether you want to completely redo your lawn or just have sparse patches, you'll have to think about seeding.
When investing in grass seeds, picking the best type is vital. As we discussed in the previous section, consider your soil type and region before purchasing.
In addition, timing is key. The perfect time to seed your lawn is in the early fall.
With a mix of high soil moisture, warm ground, and cool air, the germination process will be faster and grass will develop deep roots for winter.
Before seeding your entire lawn, remember to read the label. Grass seed labels will give you crucial guidance on optimal seeding ratios.
If you apply too much grass seed, the plants will compete for light and water, leading to unhealthy grass. If you apply too little, your lawn will be bare and thin.
Nitrogen is essential to achieving a healthier lawn. Using an organic fertilizer will provide the nitrogen and nutrients needed to make your lawn lush and happy.
As we explain in our first blog of the Lawn Tips series, synthetic fertilizers (also called chemical fertilizers) have detrimental effects on the environment and can overfeed and damage your plants. Organic lawn fertilizers, like Shin Nong's PRO ORGANIC, are not only better for the environment but encourage plant growth and improve soil texture.
Natural slow-release fertilizers also have the added advantages of providing nitrogen over a long period of time and reducing the potential for nitrogen leaching.
Because organic lawn care consists of slow-release fertilizer, you won't have to apply it as frequently as chemical fertilizer, saving time and effort.
Simply put, organic fertilizers are safer, more effective, and more convenient. If you're looking to take your lawn to the next level, switching to an organic lawn care system will be your best bet.
If you're striving for the best yard in the neighborhood, then you already know that a lawn mower is a key tool for proper lawn maintenance.
When it comes to lawn mowing, it is important to mow high and frequently. Cutting your turf at 2 inches or lower will weaken your grass and make it more susceptible to weed growth and pests.
Typically, some grass types will require a greater cut than others. For instance, Bermudagrass is best kept short. However, most others thrive when kept at a higher length.
When determining your mowing schedule, plan according to grass growth, not time passed. Mowing your lawn short and infrequently might appear to be a time saver but it will leave your grass dull and weak.
Finally, remember to keep your mower blade sharp so as to not tear the grass. There's no need to clean up grass clippings when done, either. These can introduce healthy nutrients to your soil, allowing your lawn to thrive.
While you want to mow high and frequently, your approach to watering should be nearly the opposite. When it comes to your lawn, you'll want to water deeply and infrequently.
Applying heavy amounts of water helps ensure that grass roots grow deeply in the soil, strengthening your lawn and allowing it to last through periods of drought. Meanwhile, frequent watering can make shallow roots more susceptible to drought.
As for the watering schedule, it is best to water your grass in the late evening to early morning. The ideal time to do this is when your grass has become grayish and less resilient.Generally, your lawn will require more water in the summer, but watering rates will also depend on grass type.
Weeds are bad for your lawn and garden as they will deplete the soil for nutrients and compete with your plants for sunlight and water. In short, your yard won't have the healthy, lush look you desire.
When it comes to weeds, it is essential that you identify and remove them as soon as possible. This ensures that they don't spread. If you only have a few weeds, like Broadleaf Weed, you can just remove them by hand.
Herbicides can be an effective option for eliminating weeds. However, only apply herbicides to your plants when completely necessary. When you do so, use a spot-treat method, applying to only the area of the infestation.
When it comes to lawn care, following these easy, cut and dry tips can take your grass from drab to fab. Being the envy of the neighborhood can be as simple as switching from a harmful synthetic fertilizer to an organic fertilizer or changing your watering schedule. Before you know it, you'll have a beautiful lawn!