Well, Spring has been here awhile and the lawn has been mowed a couple of times. (Ok, just once, and it is getting pretty long right now…)
So today, I am providing some guidelines to help you care for that nice lawn you will be diligently mowing, watering, weeding, etc in the coming months.
For proper lawn care, it is much better to water the lawn deeply than to just do surface watering daily. To get the roots nice and wet, it requires about 3/4 – 1 inch of water each time you water. I personally have no idea how long that takes as it depends on your personal sprinkler system. One thing you can do is put flat containers around the lawn and turn on the sprinklers. Monitor the depth of the water collecting in the containers, and make sure you are timing how long the sprinklers have been running. Once you determine how long it takes to get to 3/4 inch, make that your permanent watering setting. However, if you live in an area where the soil does not drain/absorb water well, it is better to water every few days as opposed to inundating the lawn with water and having it just run-off.
However, you may not even need to water if nature is taking care of it for you. Your lawn needs an inch or so of water per week if you are not getting sufficient rain. One way you can tell if you lawn is overly thirsty is to walk through the lawn. If your footprints stay embedded in the grass for awhile, then you better turn the sprinklers on.
Typically, the best time to water is in the morning. (If you are my neighbor, please do not start watering at 6:00 a.m., I am a light sleeper.) The air is usually calmer and the sun is not as bright, which means the water will not evaporate as much as it is flying across the lawn. As a rule of thumb, try to have all zones completed by around 9:00 am.
First of all, get that blade sharpened! How often you need to sharpen or replace the mower blade depends on how large your lawn is. However, on average, it is good to get the blade sharpened about every 6 weeks or so. If you mow with a dull blade, the blades of grass are just going to be hacked and be more prone to disease. A sharp blade will create a nice clean cut.
How tall the grass should be depends on the season and type of grass in your lawn. General lawn care guidelines state that in Spring and Fall, you should set the height on your mower to 2 inches. During the Summer, set it to 2.5-3 inches. I can’t count how many times I have seen lawns that were cut too short end up just brown and sick. Keeping the grass a little longer helps establish a deeper root system and help keep weeds at bay. However, if your lawn is say 4 inches tall for some reason, do not go chopping it down to 2 inches. You should never cut more than 1/3 of an inch off your lawn at any one time.
Also, do not bag those clippings, unless they are so long that they are going to cover all the grass and burn it. Those grass clippings have a lot of nutrients – let those nutrient get back into the soil!
The best time to mow the lawn is later in the day, into the evening. Mowing damages the grass, and mowing in the evening allows the blades to recover overnight without the sun beating down on it. Mow when the grass is dry to avoid the grass clumping in the mower, and also to ensure you do not slip when mowing the lawn. In addition, mowing wet grass results in uneven cuts.
Regarding Fertilizing, it varies so greatly depending on the region you live and the type of grass in your lawn. Most lawns require fertilizing at least twice a year.
I personally am always getting offers for aerating my lawn. It can be hard to know if your lawn needs to be aerated. One way to check is by digging up patch of your lawn about 6 inches deep. If your grass roots are only going down an inch or 2, you may have compacted soil that could really benefit from aerating. However, this is not a problem for everyone.
When you think about it, your lawn takes up a lot of space, and really doesn’t require much care. If you just spend a couple hours a week taking care of that lawn, you will be rewarded! Not to mention your neighbors will be happy too.