5 steps to maintaining a lush lawn

Here then are the 5 basic steps to help anyone achieve a beautiful lawn.

Get the mowing height right for the right time of year.

There's more to mowing than just cutting the grass every Saturday. One of the most fundamental steps to a perfect lawn is getting the mowing height right for your type of lawn and for the season.

Most grasses do best with a length of  2 - 3". This applies for spring and early fall. In the summer, if possible, set it even higher. Never go below the minimum recommended height except for the last mowing of the season which should be around 1.5" for most turf grasses.

Mowing height is important because the grass uses the extra length to absorb the sunshine it needs to grow and develop into a healthy plant. Never remove more than 1/3 at any one mowing. This may mean you'll have to mow more often during prime growing times (usually spring and early fall).

Lawn Clippings

Leave the clippings on the lawn after you mow. This will not only save time and energy, but the clippings decompose and add vital nutrients back into the soil. Grass cycling recycles plant nutrients back into the soil. Clippings contain the same beneficial nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium nutrients as that expensive bag of fertilizer. In fact, clippings can provide up to one-third of the annual feeding requirement for your lawn.

Use a sharp blade.

The type of mower doesn't matter, but the blade's condition does. A dull blade tears at the grass. Take a close look at a grass blade a few days after mowing. If the blade is dull you'll notice a jagged brown line across the tip of the cut grass. This is a good indication that your blade needs sharpening. Professional mowers sharpen their blades about every 8 hours of use. For most homeowners, twice a year is recommended.

The jagged edges caused by a dull mower blade make it more difficult for the grass to fight off pests and disease.

Regulate the water intake

Over watering your lawn causes more damage than a lack of water. That's because most turf grasses can handle dry spells, but not flooding. Give your lawn a regular balanced diet-- but don't over-feed it!
Don't over-feed your lawn with too much of a good thing. 4 balanced fertilizer applications a year is plenty: spring, summer, early fall and after the first frost. If you're in drought conditions, skip the summer feeding. Never skip the fall feeding however. It’s important to use lawn products by following label instructions. Get the best results by following the directions. Over application will not improve performance.

Prevention is the best medicine for a healthy lawn

Preventing problems is better than having to correct them. Consistent maintenance is the key. Repair bare spots as needed. Spot treat for weeds with the right herbicide following label directions.


How much water does a lawn need?

In general, turf grasses need about 3/4" — 1" of water per week to maintain green color and active growth. However, during certain times during the summer when high temperatures are the norm, you should allow lawns to naturally slow down in growth during those extreme conditions. Many factors such as the soil and weather all have a role in the lawn's water needs. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

Decide before hand.

Before summer heat and drought conditions arrive, to either water lawns consistently as needed throughout the season, do not rotate back and forth. In other words, don't let the grass turn totally brown, then apply enough water to green it up, then let the grass go dormant again. Breaking the lawns dormancy actually drains large amounts of food reserves from the plant.

Water early in the day if possible.

Given a choice, water early in the day when lawns are normally wet from dew. Avoid midday watering due to excessive evaporation, and at night due to potential increased chances of some diseases gaining a foothold. The exception to this guide is when you are in extremely hot weather and nighttime temperatures don't go below 68 degrees. Then it is better to water in the late afternoon or early evening, providing you don't have watering-time restrictions. Early or late in the day reduces the amount of evaporation that takes place during the very hot day, allowing more water to reach the root zone.

Avoid overwatering

Use a raingauge to measure how much water you're applying. Overwatering does more than deplete the water supply, it also makes plants prone to pests and adds to stormwater runoff, which pollutes our water systems. By choosing and operating a watering system correctly, you can reduce water bills, insect and disease problems, and maintenance requirements. For example, the more you water your lawn, the faster it grows and the more it needs to be mowed.

Monitor rainfall

Don't water the lawn if rains are expected soon. Keep track of rainfall for the week. Don't apply more water to the lawn than what is absolutely necessary. The guide is about 1" of water per week to an established lawn.