If you’re like most homeowners, 91% to be exact, you think that taking care of your yard and landscape is important. And I agree! Beautiful and clean landscaping can increase your home value by up to 25%, and according to a survey by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, 84% of buyers say that landscaping can affect their decision to buy a home or not. Good or bad, your yard is the one of the first things people see when they look at your house. Despite this, most people who take care of their own lawns make some drastic–yet common–mistakes. Keep reading to find out if you’re making these mistakes when it comes to your lawn care!
Mistake number one when it comes to lawn-care is over-watering. Most homeowners are under the impression that their lawn needs to be watered every day, especially during hot summer months. The reality is that over-watering your lawn can lead to the grass’s pores being filled with water rather than oxygen, effectively suffocating your grass. Over-watering your grass can also lead to lack of established roots, as they don’t need to go as deep to find water; shallow rooted plants tend to be easily stressed, which will make them vulnerable to diseases and pests.
The solution: water your lawn when it is dry 5 inches in, and water long enough that it reaches 5 inches deep. Grass needs to be watered deeply, but infrequently, in order to establish its roots and grow fuller. Remember that your grass will not die if it is under-watered, and that over-watering is more dangerous!
Dull Mower Blades
When it comes to cutting grass, using sharpened blades in your mower is one of the most important things you can do. Regardless of how the grass will look afterward, mowing with dull or rusty blades will pull up each blade of grass, rather than taking just the top of each blade off. This puts unnecessary stress on your lawn, which adds to the vulnerability that the grass will have to disease or pests. Mowing with dull blades also leads to longer mowing times, as well as brown and unhealthy-looking grass.
The solution: sharpen your mower’s blades after 10 total hours of use. Sharper blades will mean that your grass is cleanly cut instead of being ripped out, which means your grass will recover more quickly from its cut. Cutting grass with sharper blades also decreases its susceptibility to disease and pests, and leaves your grass looking green and healthy instead of brown and unhealthy.
Lack of Lawn Treatment
You water your grass, you cut your grass, and you pull weeds from time to time–so why is your lawn still not as green as your neighbor’s? Many homeowners forget that your lawn has more needs than just water, sunlight, and the occasional haircut. In fact, without proper lawn treatments, your grass will never be at peak health. It is important to feed your grass, and to treat it to prevent weeds from taking up all of your grass’s nutrients and water. Without treatments, the grass will not be able to establish its roots, will not be able to bounce back between mowings, and will look patchy and occasionally brown.
Treat your lawn like you would any other plant, with weeding and fertilizer. Aerating, fertilizing, pre-emergent, and weed treatments are all necessary things to keep your lawn looking and feeling fresh. Aerating allows oxygen to circulate through the soil, fertilizer feeds the soil, and pre-emergent kills all unwanted seeds that may germinate in your yard. Having a healthy treatment cycle for your grass will ensure that it will always be at peak health.
One important thing all landscapers wish that homeowners would do is practice proper fertilizing. One common mistake that homeowners make when they are trying to implement fertilizer into their lawns is fertilizing at the wrong time, and fertilizing too much or too little. Applying fertilizer too early in the spring encourages growth before your grass is out of its dormant stage, and fertilizing too early in the fall means that your grass could begin to use the nutrients instead of storing them for the winter. Fertilizing too much can burn your grass’s roots, and leave it vulnerable to disease. Fertilizing too little can attract weeds to your lawn, and will leave your grass unfed.
The Nitrogen in fertilizer is effective for less than one month after application, and so fertilizer must be applied at just the right time. Take a soil test for your lawn to better understand when your grass needs fertilizing, or go by the standard times: when your soil reaches 55 degrees in the spring (around the time that your grass needs its first mow), late summer, and in the late fall three weeks before the first freeze. To know how much fertilizer to use in your lawn is really knowing how much nitrogen your grass needs, and how large your lawn is. Typically, the instructions and rates can be found right on your bag of fertilizer!
Overseeding can be an important step when it comes to making your lawn look green and healthy. Overseeding can help fill in the brown patches in your lawn, as well as encourage new grass growth in your yard. Many homeowners make the mistake of overseeding at the wrong time of year, not watering the grass properly, or even mowing too soon after overseeding.
Seeding your lawn during a dry time of year will be ineffective, as the grass will not be able to establish. Similarly, seeding your lawn in the hot summer or before the frost is over will end in no grass growing at all. If your seed is not properly watered after being planted, it will not be able to grow. If you mow before the seed is properly germinated, it will not set its roots, and will most likely not grow.
In order to overseed the right way, the first step is to pick the right time of year. For Northern grasses, the best time to overseed your lawn is in the spring and fall, when the soil is warm. For Southern lawns, the best time to overseed is late spring through mid summer. Water daily when the seed is first planted, for about the first two weeks. Allow your seed to grow to the height of the already-growing grass before you mow, as a premature mow can harm your new grass. Overseeding helps make your lawn look thicker and greener, but only if you do it the right way!
Over-watering, mowing with dull blades, lack of lawn treatment, improper fertilizing techniques, and overseeding can all contribute to a brown, unhealthy-looking lawn that is not something you want to show off to the neighbors. These common mistakes can be easily fixed by spending a little more time and effort to cultivate your lawn care habits, or by hiring a professional service to take care of it for you!