It’s generally accepted that those who own a home have reached adulthood. Successful adulthood requires “adulting”, which includes taking care of your stuff, among other things. Most dwellings come with a free lawn, and like a house, a lawn needs tender love and care–or at least, regular care. And who is responsible for taking care of their house and lawn? That’s right! The owner. Who cares about your lawn?” Well, your neighbors do, for starters. Welcome to adulthood.
The good news is that you don’t need to have a degree in horticulture to have a lush lawn. Basic grass maintenance is pretty straightforward. The three most important lawn care tenants are fertilization, water, and mowing. Oh, and weeds—get rid of those. Let’s dive in.
Fertilize. Your grass gets nutrients, like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, from the soil. Eventually, the grass will deplete the soil of nutrients, so you need to replenish them by fertilizing. Don’t start throwing granules into the air like Tinkerbelle with fairy dust fertilizer. Instead, test the soil in your yard to determine its precise needs. Your local cooperative extension office can test a soil sample for acidity level and missing nutrients. You can also buy soil testing kits at nurseries or large home improvement stores. Then you buy the needed elements (from the same place you bought the test—how ‘bout that?) and spread the precise type and amount of fertilizer your soil needs to grow healthy grass. It also helps to spread grass clippings when you mow the lawn. Clippings contain nutrients that will decompose into the soil. A fertilizing hack, basically.
Water. If it’s alive, it needs water. When to water, and how much to water, matter. The key is to water less often, but more thoroughly. Most lawns need 1 to 1.5 inches per week. Sometimes rain alone provides it, but a lot of times it doesn’t. Place a bucket outside to measure water. The general rule of “green” thumb is if you can’t push a 6” screwdriver into your lawn, you’re not watering enough. It’s best to water in the morning to avoid mold and help slow daytime evaporation.
Mow. Many people make the mistake of cutting grass too short. Short grass is stressed out, so set your mower at max height for a happier and healthier lawn. Don’t cut more than ? of the grass blade at one time. Again, use grass clippings from mowing as mulch with nutrients. In the high growing season (a.k.a. the summer), you may need to mow more often than once a week. Keep blades sharp and don’t water when the grass is wet, or it will clump on the blade. You shouldn’t water midday, as the heat makes it harder on both you and the grass. Mow forward and change your mowing pattern every time, which helps it grow upright.
This concludes part one of basic lawn care (stay tuned for part two in the coming months). Following these basic tips will have your lawn in tip-top shape.