Caring for a Lawn: Watering, Mowing, Weed Control, Fertilizers

Solve Common Lawn Problems Easily

Lawn care

Chemical lawn care is a ruse, a marketing scheme. Grass, as all gardeners know, is a tenacious weed that needs little help to be healthy. But Americans weaken their lawns with unnecessary chemicals, harsh fertilizing salts, and improper cutting and lawn watering, causing lawn problems.

Grow the right grass at the right height and you will be amazed at how easy care of a great expanse of green can be. Here are some lawn care tips to help you along and teach you how to care for your lawn without the help of any companies.  

  1. Plant the right grass. Growing the right grass the right way depends on where you live.
    • In the North, you want a "cool-season" grass. Always green over winter, it may go brown and dormant during a hot and dry spell in late summer, but will quickly green up again when cool weather returns.
    • In the South, go "warm season". Always green over the summer, it may go brown and dormant during a winter cold snap, but will green up again when the weather warms.
    • In the "Transition Zone" in the middle of the country, choose 'cool' or 'warm' depending on which spell of potential dormancy would bother you more, or mix similar-looking cool and warm season grasses to try and achieve a multi-grass lawn that's green all year.
  2. Plant at the right time of year. Planting grass depends on if you live in a cool or warm season area, so the best time to plant grass seed varies.
    • Cool-season grasses should only be sown in the fall-August 1-15 for the far North; August 15 - 30 for more moderate Northern climes. Cool season seed that's sown in the spring will burn up when summer's heat fries the young growth.
    • Warm season grasses should be sown in the spring, as soon as the soil is warm enough to germinate the seed.
    • If you can't wait and must plant at the wrong time of year, lay sod instead. It's much more expensive than seed, but does well pretty much anytime of the year if kept watered.
  3. Feed correctly Lawn care and fertilization go hand-in-hand.
    • Cool season grasses should get their biggest feeding in the fall. Lawn fertilizers can consist of an inch of compost applied to the surface and raked-in will provide the perfect amount of food and improve the structure of the soil below. Feed again lightly in the spring; 10 to 20 pounds of corn gluten meal per thousand square feet of turf will prevent dormant weed seeds like crabgrass from germinating and provide a natural feeding. Be sure its labeled as a natural pre-emergent weed and feed ('cattle feed' corn gluten will not work); and apply it before local forsythia bushes reach peak bloom or those weed seeds will have already germinated.
    • Warm season grasses should get three equal feedings in June, July and August; an inch of compost or 10 pounds of corn gluten is ideal for each feeding.
    • NOTE: Pre-emergents prevent the germination of ALL seeds. Do not use corn gluten when you seed a lawn.
  4. Cut at the right height. Lawn mowing is different throughout the country and the height you need to cut will vary.
    • Cool season grasses in full sun, like the legendary Kentucky bluegrass, should be cut at two to three inches high. Shade-loving fescues at three to three and a half inches.
    • Warm season grasses thrive with a closer cut-around two inches for St. Augustine and Bermuda grass.
    • NOTE: Those are the heights the lawn should be AFTER you're done cutting. "Scalping a lawn" lower sends it into shock and makes it vulnerable to pests, weeds, disease and weeds, which makes weed control a nightmare. A high cut lawn will look greener, grow slower and resist stress better.
  5. Cut correctly. Replace your mower blade every season; it won't cost much more than getting it sharpened and will give you a much cleaner cut. Never remove more than a third of the lawn's height in any one mowing.
  6. Use a mulching mower. These specialized cutters have no discharge; their sealed decks and ultra-sharp blades cut and re-cut the clippings until they are returned to the lawn as a fine pulverized powder. Rich in grass-feeding nitrogen, those clips provide half the food your grass needs in a season. AND MULCHING DOESN'T CAUSE THATCH! Thatch is caused by overuse of chemical fertilizers, not returning natural nutrients to your lawn.
  7. Water wisely. Never water during the heat of the day or in the evening. The ideal time is in the early morning. Don't water in short spurts. Deliver a deep soaking when you water to encourage deep roots. Take special care when watering a new lawn.
    • In the North, water when you have gone a week without an inch of rain. Deliver that inch in one long soaking, which should take several hours.
    • In the South, your lawn will need two inches of water a week in summer. Supply whatever nature doesn't in long, inch-deep soakings.

 

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Comments

Aug
19

i love greenery. now these are expert tips!

By Anonymous
Aug
18

An easy way to remember the correct water regimen is that it's best to have your lawn "wake up wet and go to bed dry."

By Rick Contrata