If the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, envy may not be the problem – maybe your lawn just needs more attention! Taking care of your lawn is probably a priority anyway, but this can be especially true for people who’ve just had new grass sod installed by a company like The Grass Store. This represents an investment in their property, so obviously it’s important to keep it in good condition for as long as possible.

Maintaining a picture-perfect lawn takes a bit of work, but half the battle is knowing when to do things, not just what to do. For example, getting the timing wrong with mowing or watering can seriously impact the health and aesthetic appeal of a lawn.

Make sure you mow often enough

Mowing the lawn is one of the most basic parts of lawn care, but you shouldn’t just do it whenever you get around to it. The most popular grass varieties (such as Bermuda and St. Augustine) do best when you only cut off a third of their height. For example, if your mower is set at 3 inches, the grass should only be allowed to grow to 4.5 inches between mowings.

A Saturday-morning mowing session is pretty typical, and for most of the year that’s probably enough. However, there will be certain times of year when a seven-day mowing schedule won’t quite do the job. Springtime comes with vigorous growth, and your grass would probably get too long between mowings on a weekly schedule. This will stress it out, making it less healthy and attractive overall. A better approach would be to mow the lawn every 4 to 5 days, which will prevent it from becoming too tall. Another advantage of this shortened schedule: by keeping the grass at a shorter length, it’ll be a less inviting habitat for ticks and fleas.

Time your watering sessions correctly

In all except the rainiest climates, a lawn will require at least occasional watering. The early morning is the best time for this, for several reasons:

  • When grass stays wet for a long time, this increases the chances of disease propagating. An early morning watering usually gets followed up with daytime warmth, which helps the grass dry out faster.
  • Along the same lines, an evening or nighttime watering schedule allows the grass to stay wet for longer, which can encourage disease.
  • Watering during the heat of the day means that a significant amount of the water could evaporate before it has a chance to reach the grass’ root systems.

Another important aspect of your watering schedule is the frequency. Regardless of the grass variety that you have planted, it’ll do best with irrigation that’s heavy enough to reach the roots several inches into the soil. Since each watering should ideally be pretty heavy, you should only do it once or twice per week. This encourages the grass to tolerate drought better, as well as helping it grow deeper roots.

Aerate at least once a year

In order for grass to be healthy, the roots need water, and…air? That’s right – your lawn probably could use some extra help in getting the air it needs. Over time, the soil will become compacted, and there will be a buildup of thatch. These two things make it harder for the roots to get enough oxygen, resulting in less vigorous growth.

Aerating is a process in which holes are punched a few inches into the soil using a special machine, which loosens the dirt and breaks up the thatch. However, this has to be done under the right conditions. If you pass an aerator over hard, dry soil, it won’t be able to penetrate as deeply as it should. Spring or fall tend to present the best conditions for aerating a lawn, but it can also be done during the summer as long as you give the lawn a deep watering beforehand. Winter isn’t a great time to aerate a lawn, because the grass needs to be growing when this is done.

Fertilize your lawn

Any plant or crop that grows in the same soil year after year will need fertilizer at some point; it’s just common sense. It takes nutrients to grow something from the soil, so at some point those nutrients will have to be replaced to keep your grass green and growing. Of course, it does help if you let the grass clippings compost into the ground every time you mow the lawn, but occasional fertilization will probably be necessary too.

Cool-season grasses like ryegrass, fescues, and bluegrass should be fertilized in the spring and/or fall, when they’re actively growing. Warm-season grasses like St. Augustine, Bermuda, and zoysia should be fertilized in the late spring and/or summer. One of the main considerations is to only fertilize grass when it’s growing, as fertilizing a dormant lawn won’t do anything for its growth or appearance.

Apply herbicides at the right time

The key to successfully applying herbicides is to do it before they start growing. To control crabgrass and other common weeds, you have to disperse the weed preventer early enough to catch them before they germinate. If you’re going to seed your lawn, though, make sure that this doesn’t coincide with the application of weed preventers; this will prevent all the seeds from growing, including the ones you actually want to grow.

For broadleaf weeds like creeping Charlie, clover, and dandelion, a granulated weed-and-feed product is one of the most popular herbicides. This can be applied even when the plant is fully grown, but it has to be done when the leaves are wet (either early in the morning, or after watering them). Without water to make the granules stick to the leaves, the herbicide won’t work.

The takeaway

Lawns require plenty of care, but this will be a lot easier once you know how to do it properly. By following the right steps, you’ll have a better chance of getting a lawn that’ll be the envy of the whole neighborhood!

Amelia Murphy

Amelia Murphy, with a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Washington, has been an expert in instructional design and "how-to" content creation for 8 years. She became part of our platform as a freelancer in 2020, offering clear, step-by-step guides on a wide range of topics. Her background includes working in instructional design and as a freelance writer for many famous blogging platforms. Amelia’s previous experience includes teaching and developing educational materials. She enjoys hiking and is actively involved in community literacy programs.

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