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Mow high to improve the health of grass roots. Use a herbicide to control weeds, but follow instructions carefully.
A healthy lawn is not just a pleasure for homeowners to enjoy, it can also increase property value. It takes time and effort to achieve a lush, attractive landscape though, and issues like weeds or insects can pop up, hindering your efforts. Fortunately, there are several solutions that you can follow to keep your yard looking its best.
Start with a clean slate by raking up leaves, dead grass, and debris. This removes blockages to sunlight and water that are essential for a healthy lawn. It is a good idea to test your soil in the spring, so you can determine what nutrients it needs to thrive. This will also give you an idea of what type of fertilizer you should use, based on the season and your soil’s needs.
Mowing is an important lawn care solution you can follow, as it promotes deeper and healthier roots. Keeping the grass taller also helps with weed control. Typically, there is a 1-to-1 relationship between the height of your grass and the depth of its roots. When mowing, avoid cutting the grass more than one-third of its length in any given cut.
Another key to a healthy lawn is dethatching, which is the process of lifting up an organically rich layer that builds up over the winter in the lawn. Leaving too many grass clippings, however, can prevent moisture and applied lawn food from reaching the grassroots. That’s why it’s a good idea to mulch the clippings, rather than bagging them, after mowing.
A healthy lawn needs water on a regular basis. Watering can be done using rainfall, automatic irrigation systems, or hand watering. In general, the grass should receive about an inch of water a week to stay healthy and avoid damage or drought. Watering is best done in the morning to limit evaporation and allow the roots of the grass to absorb the water as it soaks in. Avoid watering at night, as this can lead to mold or fungus in the soil.
When a lawn starts to thin or have bare patches, patch them with new seed and water well until the seed has grown an inch tall. Grass seed is best chosen for the local climate and unique yard conditions. Applying a good quality fertilizer in spring and fall is another great way to maintain the health of your lawn. Weed control and aeration are also beneficial. These lawn care solutions will keep your grass green and lush for years to come.
The constant cutting of grass requires a steady supply of nutrients. While soil can provide some of the nutrients needed, a lawn also benefits from fertilization. Fertilizers are natural or artificial substances that contain the chemical elements required for plant growth. When used properly, they can increase the quality and health of a lawn.
A common problem for homeowner lawns is that they are lacking essential nutrients. This can cause a variety of symptoms, such as patchy or thin areas; pale to yellowish leaves; little annual twig or branch growth; and slow spring green-up. While these problems could be due to low levels of nutrients in the soil, they can also be caused by other factors, including heavily compacted soil; stress induced by diseases, weeds or insects; and adverse weather conditions.
If a lawn is exhibiting these problems, the first step should be to test the soil. A simple at-home kit can be purchased to determine the level of nutrients and the pH of the soil. This will help to understand what is causing the lawn issues and how to correct them.
Another important aspect of a proper lawn care regimen is the application of a balanced granular fertilizer in early spring. This allows the nutrients to be released at a rate that is best for the grass.
There are a wide variety of commercial organic and synthetic fertilizers. Many of these are slow release and contain plant-derived rather than animal-derived ingredients. These ingredients break down over time, providing a more sustainable source of nutrients for the soil. This helps to improve the health of the microbes and earthworms in the soil, promoting better overall soil health.
4. Weed Control
It takes time and effort to grow a lush, green lawn, but weeds and other landscape issues can take away from the beauty of your garden. There are many ways to control these invaders, ranging from herbicides to natural remedies and aeration.
The best way to prevent weeds is to keep them from growing in the first place. This is accomplished by pulling weeds before they have a chance to flower and set seed. Mowing frequently throughout the growing season also helps keep weeds from becoming a problem.
If you must use a herbicide, look for one that is labeled for lawn care and avoid those with long-lasting effects. If you have to use a non-persistent herbicide, apply it at the earliest signs of weeds and repeat application as needed. Persistent herbicides work in different ways to kill weeds; those that remain in the ground to suppress regrowth are called contact killers, while those that work by being absorbed into the plant and translocated within it are considered systemic herbicides.
There are many other natural methods for weed control, such as introducing predators or pathogens to the soil to control the weed population. You can also mulch the ground with hay, wood chips or other organic materials to prevent weed growth by blocking sunlight from reaching the soil.
Aerating the soil will improve weed control by allowing air, water and nutrients to reach the grass roots. Aeration may be performed by a professional landscaper or you can rent an aerator from a home improvement store. Many weeds grow well because the soil is compacted and does not allow for proper root growth. Adding organic fertilizers and supplements, such as corn gluten meal, can also help reduce the number of deep-rooted weeds in your lawn.
If your lawn looks brown and drab after backyard bonfires and barbecues, kids and pets playing on it, or even during rainstorms when water puddles rather than soaks into the soil, it could benefit from some extra TLC. That’s where aeration comes in.
Aeration relieves soil compaction, which prevents air, water and fertilizer from reaching grass roots. It also helps reduce thatch build-up.
When done right, aeration can make the grass on your property healthier and more resistant to disease, insect damage and heat stress. This is because it allows for better oxygen circulation through the soil and root system, letting stale carbon dioxide out and fresh new oxygen in.
You can aerate your yard yourself by using spike or hollow tine aerators, which poke holes into the lawn surface, or you can have a professional do it for you with a core aerator. The latter uses a machine that pulls out plugs of earth, reducing soil density and helping alleviate thatch and promoting grass health.
Aerating your lawn is most effective in the fall or spring for cool-season grasses and in late spring through early summer for warm-season grasses. The best time to do it is after a light mowing and a good watering (to soften the ground but not soak it) and when weeds have not yet begun to germinate.
A good time to do aeration is just after you have applied a lawn food to help jump-start the flow of nutrients to the roots and encourage germination. It’s important to follow up with frequent waterings to keep the soil moist until germination is complete. To further aid in this, you can cover the newly aerated soil with a layer of screened topsoil mixed with compost.
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