Achieving the perfect lawn isn’t an unassailable dream. While a lush, beautiful lawn isn’t likely to happen by chance, most homeowners can maintain a good-looking lawn by following a good lawn maintenance routine. A perfect lawn is a healthy lawn, so it’s important to understand certain lawn care basics that support healthy grass. Use these lawn tips to give your landscape the care it needs to turn heads–and have your neighbors seeing green!
Choose the Right Grass Seed
Not only does a great lawn begin with premium grass seed; it requires the right grass seed for your climate, soil, and local conditions. You’ll want to stick with cool-season grasses in the north, warm-season grasses in the south, and, possibly, a mix of the two if you live in transition zones. Perform a soil test to see if your soil needs amending before planting. Most types of grass thrive in slightly acidic soil. Also, consider growing conditions. Not all grass species will tolerate shade. If you have lots of shade, choose a species that doesn’t require full sun. If you expect your lawn to get heavy use–lots of traffic from kids and pets–be sure to choose a durable grass type or grass seed mix.
1. Feed Your Grass
Most lawn care experts recommend fertilizing your lawn about four times per year. Some suggest two, while others bump that number to five. What should you do? The perfect lawn needs lawn food, but if two or three fertilizer applications per year work for your lawn, stick with that. Too much fertilizer can cause problems like burnt grass blades. Fertilizing at the wrong time can also boost broadleaf weeds and other grassy weeds.
Plan to feed your lawn in early spring when your grass is beginning to green up. Another rule of thumb is to use fertilizer right around the time you need to mow for the first time in spring. After spring, deliver a summer feeding of fertilizer about six to eight weeks after that first early spring or mid-spring feeding. Many gardeners also opt to apply fertilizer in fall to help the lawn repair and stress incurred during the hot summer season. There’s no need to give your lawn fertilizer in winter; the roots of dormant grass will be unable to take advantage of soil nutrients.
Example feeding schedule for cool-season lawns
- Early Spring: Pre-emergent + Fertilizer (19-0-7)
- Incorporate micros such as Kelp4Less
- Late Spring: Grub Control + Fertilizer
- Micros and humics
- Early Summer: Pre-emergent + Fertilizer (21-0-10)
- Micros and humics
- Late Summer: Aeration + Overseeding
- Early Fall: Fast-release fertilizer (24-0-11)
- Micros and humics
- Early Winter: 10-0-20 winter fertilizer
During the spring and fall, your lawn doesn’t require as much watering with a hose or sprinkler. Depending on the level of rainfall and the grass type’s specific needs, you may only need to water it once per week. During the warm weather of summer, plan to water more often. As a rule of thumb, opt for about one inch per week, including rainfall. It’s best to water deeply but infrequently to support a strong root system.
Watering in the early morning is best. Watering in the evening leaves your lawn vulnerable to lawn disease. If you use a sprinkler, move it around to ensure all grass roots get the hydration they need. Remember that drought tolerant lawns may need less water than other grass types. Also, if you seed your lawn, you may need to water more frequently as it the grass establishes itself.
Before the growing season, have your lawn mower blades sharpened. Dull mower blades will damage grass blades, leaving your lawn looking less than perfect. When it comes to the perfect grass height, research your grass type. Cool-season grasses typically ‘prefer’ to be left a bit longer than warm-season grasses. Most gardeners try to mow weekly. Be sure you don’t mow more than one-third of the grass’s height for best results. Adjust your mower height to ensure you’re not scalping the lawn, which will detract from its health and appearance.
4. Weed Control
The perfect lawn for most people is a weed-free lawn. Sprouting weeds will detract from the look of a uniform lawn, but they can also spread aggressively and undermine the health of your grass. Following a good lawn care routine that supports the health of your grass will go a long way to combating weeds. Even so, lawn treatments that include spot herbicide or, ideally, an herbicide that’s designed for your grass type can help you prevent a weed infestation. If you have thin areas of lawn or bare patches, be sure to aerate with a garden fork and seed them before weeds move in. If you pull weeds by hand, be sure to dispose of them properly so they don’t take root in your compost pile, for instance.
5. Pests and Lawn Disease
No lawn, even the perfect lawn, is immune to pests. Grubs are an especially nuisance to lawns, but keep a look out for dead spots in your yard that could be caused by pests or by a lawn fungus. Also, you can deter moles from your lawn simply by getting rid of their food source in the soil–grubs. If you spot signs of pests or lawn disease, treat them accordingly. Read product labels carefully before you treat your lawn to ensure they’re safe for your grass type. Remember not to water your lawn too frequently as they can leave it vulnerable to disease.
If possible, spot-train your dog to use a specific small area of your yard. Dog urine can result in dead grass, leaving your lawn with many unsightly spots. The urine adds too much salt and nitrogen to the soil. You can repair dead grass spots by aerating them with a garden fork and reseeding them. You might want to consider a grass species like tall fescue or Bermudagrass as they stand up better to dog urine.
Lawn Care Tips FAQs
What grass seeds are best for a perfect green lawn?
As a general rule, the best grass seed is a type that is conducive to your climate, soil, weather conditions, and other factors like shade/sun and use. For instance, if you expect a lot of yard traffic from kids and pets, opt for the seeds of a durable grass type or grass type mix.
Do I need professional lawn care services?
Many people choose to hire lawn care service providers to apply lawn treatments and care for their lawn. However, anyone can achieve a healthy lawn by following the lawn care tips we’ve outlined here. Remember to feed your lawn fertilizer as specified, mow properly, water, and treat pests, weeds, and lawn disease right away.
How can I make my grass thicker and greener?
For a healthy lawn, mow your lawn frequently, incorporate micronutrients along with your fertilizer feedings, and follow the tips outlined in this post. Your grass will grow healthy, vibrant, and awesome – both northern lawns and southern lawns.