One of the most important aspects of your home is not the interior design, but rather the landscaping of your front and back yard.
But like any living organism, homeowners should be mindful of potential damage that they may be causing to their lawn.
Having a well-kept lawn makes a great impression and can increase the actual monetary value of your home. That’s why so many homeowners are devoted to excellent lawn care.
In fact, in the USA homeowners spend over $40 billion annually on lawn care. Additionally they invest a great deal of time (as much as 73 hours annually) in striving to create lush, green lawns.
Unfortunately, many of the things that people believe will produce a gorgeous lawn are actually detrimental. In this article, we will discuss several common mistakes people make when attempting to cultivate the perfect lawn. Read on to learn more.
1. Failing to Mow on a Weekly Basis
If you allow your grass to grow too long from one mowing to the next, it will become spindly and shaggy. This is not what you want! A nice lawn should be dense and thick and create an effective groundcover.
When you allow the grass to get too tall, it blocks the sun and kills off shorter grass struggling to get through. When you mow very tall grass, you are likely to find that there are quite a few gaps. Gaps in your lawn provide an opportunity for weeds to grow.
Additionally, it’s hard to mow properly when the grass is too tall. If you mow tall grass very close, you run a real danger of scalping your lawn.
Furthermore, removing a large percentage of the grass blade is very damaging and stressful to the grass and can cause further damage to your lawn.
It’s best not to allow your grass to grow any taller than four inches high and remove no more than two inches of this height. Removing more than 50% of the blade will leave your grass susceptible to diseases like lawn fungus. In a weakened state, your lawn is a target for weed growth.
The best thing you can do is to mow weekly. If you are not able to mow more often than every 10 days, you must do your mowing in increments.
Adjust your mower blade high for your first pass and then wait a few days. Lower the blade and mow again.
It may surprise you to know that regular mowing is what keeps professional baseball diamonds like Fenway Park and golf courses looking so rich and green.
You will find that when you mow your lawn on a regular weekly basis, it will grow thicker and more lush.
2. Fertilizing Excessively
When fertilizing your lawn too much, you can burn your grass. This is because excessive fertilizer tends to dehydrate your lawn. Even when this is not the case, feeding your grass too much will make it grow abnormally quickly.
This means your grass will get too high too fast and lead to all the problems that come from allowing your grass to get too tall from one mowing to the next.
When deciding how much fertilizer to use on your grass, it’s best to begin with the smallest recommended amount and gradually work your way up if more is needed.
The instructions on most packages of fertilizer recommend the maximum recommended amount. Begin with about half that amount and you will probably get the desired results.
If not, you can always increase the amount slightly the next time you fertilize.
Be sure to purchase slow release or time release fertilizer. These types of fertilizer cost a bit more, but they release nutrients a little bit at a time over several weeks rather than simply dumping and overload of nutrients all at once. This is safer for your grass and yields superior results.
The best fertilizer for lawn care is made up of about half nitrogen in a slow-release form. Read the back of the package and look for the term “slowly available nitrogen”. This should make up approximately fifty percent of the total nitrogen listed in the package ingredients.
3. Failure To Correctly Identify Your Grass
If you want to provide the best care for your grass, you must know what kind of grass you have. There are many different types of grass that are common to lawns in North America. Among them are:
- Kentucky Bluegrass
- The southern St. Augustine grass
The region of the country in which you live will greatly determine the type of grass you have or should choose. If you don’t know what kind of grass you have, you will have trouble providing proper care and purchasing the right seed to fill in bald spots.
If you don’t take care of your grass correctly and you sow in a different kind of seed when filling in bare patches, the result will be an uneven, unhealthy patchwork sort of lawn.
To avoid this, you should bring a cutting of your grass with you when you visit your local nursery, garden center or home improvement center.
Ask for assistance in selecting the right products for the type of grass you have.
If you find that the people working in these places do not seem to have enough expertise to assist you, you may have better luck searching for the type of grass you have online or ask a lawn professional!
Look for common types of lawn grass. When you find the type that you have, you will also find lots of information for proper lawn care. You can even purchase seed, fertilizer and other necessities online.
Joining a local gardening group can also be helpful in learning what types of grass are common to your area. Local lawn masters will surely be able to help you identify your grass.
They can also provide you with solid tips, advice and information about successful lawn care in your area.
Related Reading: Lawn Care Questions and Answers
4. Skimping On Your Grass Seed Purchase
When searching for grass seed for sale either online or in the real world, you will surely run across a number of bargain brands. Avoid these!
Cheap grass seed is usually cheap because it has failed to pass necessary inspections. This type of seed is usually not pure and has a large percentage of weed seed mixed into it.
Remember that your lawn is an investment in your home, so you should choose the best quality seeds and products when engaging in lawn care.
Look for a high quality grass seed that is listed as being 99.5 percent free of weed seed. This statistic is required by law in the packaging of grass seed.
5. Excessive Watering
When you water your lawn too much, you waste a valuable resource and endanger the health of your lawn. Over-watering can do a great deal of damage because a soggy lawn is more likely to develop fungus and contract diseases.
Additionally, when you water your lawn too much it grows too fast and causes all of the problems we have discussed in regards to allowing your grass to grow too high.
Furthermore, excessive watering washes away your expensive fertilizer. This wastes your money and damages precious groundwater.
Related: Lawn Watering Tips
To avoid excessive watering, you should invest in a soil moisture meter. These meters are very simple and valuable tools that you can pick up for $10 or so at any garden center or home store.
There are more costly versions available that are recommended for use with irrigation systems. One of the best is the UgMO PH 100. This system makes use of underground soil sensors that let your irrigation system know when it is time to water.
6. Removing Grass Clippings
Bagging your grass clippings is a big mistake because as they decompose, they provide your lawn with the perfect mix of nutrients.
Although you may believe that leaving your grass clippings on the lawn will cause thatch, this is actually not true. Thatch is made up of decomposed grass roots. It is NOT made up of decomposed grass clippings.
To take advantage of the perfect natural fertilizing capabilities of grass clippings, you should use a mulching mower. This type of mower chops grass clippings very fine and distributes them evenly as you mow.
Mulching your lawn with natural grass clippings helps keep your soil rich and nourishing and your lawn healthy and green.
7. Failing To Enrich the Topsoil In A Newly Minted Lawn
In new housing developments, the topsoil is often stripped away and the contours of the earth are reshaped in a way that enables water to run off efficiently.
Unfortunately, this often means that your lawn is planted in subsoil rather than topsoil. Subsoil is not nourishing, so your grass will not thrive without help.
To counteract this problem, you should fertilize a bit more enthusiastically when getting the lawn of a brand-new home started.
Keep in mind that you will not want to use a larger amount of fertilizer than that recommended. Just apply a sensible amount of fertilizer at relatively close intervals in the spring.
It’s a good idea to fertilize in May and again in June. Once your lawn is established, you can apply your second application of fertilizer as late as July.
8. Failing to Keep Your Mower Blade Sharp
When you mow with dull blades, the result will be ripped up grass rather than cleanly cut grass. When you treat your grass this roughly, you cause it to experience a great deal of stress.
This makes it more susceptible to disease and drought. Additionally, it can cause your grass to take on a whitish cast.
To avoid these problems, be sure to sharpen the blades of your mower at least once annually.
Check them frequently because you may need to sharpen them more often if there are a lot of roots in your yard or if your blades become damaged by hitting rocks or other hard surfaces.
Smart Lawn Care Is Thrifty And Wise
Although lawns are often touted as being tremendously wasteful of resources, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The fact of the matter is, with regular care and carefully measured watering and fertilizing, you can get excellent results for a reasonable investment.
Reusing valuable natural resources (e.g. grass clippings) helps you reap even more benefits from your investment in time and money. Heed these 8 smart lawn care “don’ts” to have a lawn that adds real curb appeal to your home.