First published: March 29, 2009 in GardeningLast Updated: July 11, 2012 8:32 am Tough to read? Print this! Email This
I think everyone wants to have that perfect, lush, beautifully green lawn. You can work hard and have great flower beds, shrubs, trees and great overall landscaping, but if your lawn is full of weeds, dry patches and all the other nasty looking stuff – it just isn’t the same. Golf-course professionals know how to cut their labour to the minimum with the right practices, tools and materials. The following is a summary of their secrets to great lawns. And since the no-care lawn has not yet been invented, get ready to put some work into growing that beautiful lawn!
- Mow your lawn frequently and make sure your lawnmower blades are good and sharp. Key to nice, green lawn is frequent cutting – it forces it to grow thick and keep out the weeds.
- Don’t cut your lawn too short – how high to cut your grass depends largely on the type of grass you have. Some people believe in the “one third rule” – cutting off only about 1/3 of the height at a time. So – if your grass is 3 inches tall, only cut off one inch. If ou cut off more, you are basically “scalping” the plants and it can take two or three mowing cycles to recover. Mowing high forces grass roots to grow deep and the deeper the roots, the better it will resist disease and the less water it will require. The deeper the roots, the better it will resist disease and the less water it will require.
- Don’t mow a wet lawn – if you do, the water in your lawn will compact the soil so the roots can’t breathe. When that happens, the grass dies and you will have bald spots in your lawn.
- Mulch your clippings – leave the clippings where they fall. You will not only eliminate the bagging and dump trips, but the clippings fertilize the soil. If you are cutting often, the clippings are short and work their way easily into soil, without becoming brown and messy.
- Water deeply and infrequently – it is very common to overwater, which will cause the build up of excess thatch (an unsightly thick mat of tangled roots between the grass blades and soil) Daily watering encourages shallow roots and it also wastes water. Instead – water deeply ,watching closely to see when more is needed. One of the signs that your lawn needs water is hard soil – ou can check it by pushing a screwdriver into the soil, checking the level of resistance. Another way to determine that your lawn needs watering is when footsteps across the lawn remain compressed. The best suggestion is to give your lawn about an inch of water each time you irrigate. You can measure this by leaving a plastic cup on your lawn during the watering.
- Avoid nightime watering – if you do water at night, you will be putting your lawn to sleep with wet feet. You need to let the grass dry out before the dew falls, since prolonged moisture invites disease. The best time to water is pre-dawn or early morning. You will loose water to evaporation by watering in midday.
- Don’t over-fertilize – doing that stimulates very fast growth, thatch and the need for more watering – and you don’t want that. Excess fertilizer is also bad for environment – it washes into streams and lakes, clogging them with algae. To find out what your lawn needs, test your soil or have it tested. Then take the results to your local garden centre and ask for assistance deciding which fertilizer to apply. Natural fertilizers – sometimes called “organic” – work slower because they need heat and water to break down so grass can absorb them.
- Don’t mix fertilizers - regardless of which type of fertilizer you will choose, stick with only one. Worse thing is to mix synthetic and natural fertilizer – you will most definitely get poor results.
- Grow thick grass – and stay on top of your weeds. It is the best defense against weeds and diseases. If you only see a few weeds, pull them out by hand or use a weeder. By watching your lawn closely, you may let a problem resolve itself without treatment – that is what golf course professionals do.
- Choose the right herbicide – if you decide you need help with weeds, you get choose to get either – "pre-emergents" – to prevent weeds from germinating (you would only needs to apply it once a year) or "post-emergents" that are used after the weeks is visible to control and the type of weed is not easily controlled by pulling it – like dandelions. weed-and-feed mixes of fertilizer and synthetic herbicides are popular post-emergents because they seem like an efficient way to get two jobs done at once. But logic dictate that they are not a great idea, since it results in spreading herbicide over the entire lawn.
If you have followed all the above tips and your lawn is still brown, dying or not thriving, you could have a disease or insect infestation. Treatment is no easy – it can be a complex task requiring accurate identification before taking action. Cut a sample of the affected grass, including plenty to roots and some healthy plant tissue as well. Place in a plastic sandwich bag and take to your local garden centre for help in identifying the problem and choosing the right treatment.
Good luck with your efforts to the perfect lawn and if you have more tips and information, please send in your comments!