Keep Your Lawn Looking Beautiful by Avoiding these 5 Common Mistakes!
A good number of us feel like we don't have tons of time to nourish and cultivate our lawns. But we do want to keep them in good shape. Summers in places like Southlake, Keller, Trophy Club and other locations in the Forth Worth area can be tough on grass, and having a good lawn requires some dedication to maintenance.
But even if you're not around each and every day, learning more about the fundamentals of lawn maintenance can help you to develop better outdoor green areas and keep them looking sharp. For example, it’s a good idea to know about the big mistakes in lawn care, and how to avoid them.
Here are some easy ways to rework your long-term strategy and get more out of the investment that you make in cultivating your green grass.
Avoid these mistakes like the plague, because they really can inhibit healthy growth and keep you from enjoying a nice, green lawn.
Mowing Too Short
Mowing too short is one of the biggest things that inexperienced property owners do to really kill their lawns. You'll often see this -- outdoor spaces shorn down to about 1-2 inches, so that the result looks almost like astroturf. These naked, short blades of grass can quickly discolor and die.
But even when grass is green, over mowing is a big problem. Professional lawn care experts explain it this way:
Having longer blades of grass allows the grass to develop its own air-conditioning system. With grass up to 5 inches long, there's more of a buffer space between the hot sun and the grass roots.
That really helps lawns to stand up to extremely hot days, droughts and other challenges. This SF Gate Home Guide also warns against cutting the lawn too short, or “scalping” because it can leave grass more vulnerable to weed growth.
By contrast, leaving grass a bit longer adds to the lushness of your green spaces, and it can still look nice and manicured – just mow consistently with a good sharp blade.
Yes, lawns can get too much water. When this happens, various problems can develop. Overwatering might wash away important soil, or even leave grass more vulnerable to getting pulled out by its roots.
That's why it's important to water during the day, for example, and not at night, when the lack of sun can leave standing water all over the lawn. Generally, you want to time sprinklers and hose water applications to make sure that plants are getting a little bit at a time.
It’s like anything else that drinks water, you want a trickle, not a flood. Overwatering is also inefficient, as evidenced by pleas from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to limit unnecessary outdoor watering that makes up such a big portion of American water use overall.
Ignoring the Soil
So many frustrated homeowners put tons of time into things like seeding, watering and other maintenance without realizing that they're simply dealing with bad soil. It's important to test the soil before going forward with a lawn care plan.
Know the pH, and what type of soil you are dealing with, so that you can develop the right strategy for cultivating grass. Soil testing can help with other things, too, like gardening or trying to build a better picture of a property for resale.
Using the Wrong Seed
This is another thing that beginners might not think about. There's really not just one kind of grass. There are different grass types, and all of them have their own needs and requirements.
Different types of grass need different temperatures, and different amounts of light. Again, they may need a particular type of soil, so when you test your soil you know what you have, you can pick grass varieties that are good for that soil.
There are also warm season and cool season grasses, so choose according to your local climate. This article from BobVila.com adds another quick tip: to select grass seed varieties vetted by the National Turf Evaluation Program, with the following endorsement:
“Its approval indicates that the seeds in question are hardy and resistant to disease, pests, and drought.”
Having seed varieties that are supported by the research of established horticultural groups helps.
In addition, a good practice is to use various kinds of seed, not just one. This gives you a kind of mix and match approach that will give you a better chance of having a thriving lawn. A monoculture can lead to horrible results if it's not tailored to the particular soil type climate that you're working with.
Basically speaking, having more than one grass variety gives you better odds when you roll those dice, whether you are setting up a new lawn from scratch, or trying to fix a problem patch.
In general, your lawn needs fertilizer. Leaving the new clippings on the ground adds a ton of nitrogen to the soil, and gives grass a nutrient boost. So bagging all of it up and distributing it somewhere else is really a big waste of effort, and can actually hurt your lawn.
Of course, there are the problems associated with spraying green grass out onto curbs and into storm water facilities, but that can be avoided by carefully aiming the direction of the mower. And your grass will thank you for the green bits you leave behind. Learn more about this and other great sustainable practices for outdoor care at the Green Action Center, where writers address the myth that leaving grass clippings can cause poor conditions for grass.
These are some of the big fundamental rules that people should know about when they're trying to maintain green, healthy lawns. Make it more than a guessing game -- get informed and tackle your lawn with confidence this summer, to enjoy picnics, barbecues, backyard play and everything you associate with a nice green lawn space.
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