5 Steps to a Greener Lawn
April is “National Lawn & Garden” month! Whether you’re mowing the lawn already or you still have a few weeks until you get started, here are a few tips and tricks to keep your lawn green all through the spring and summer.
1.) Don’t fertilize… at least, not yet.
Don’t believe the landscapers and fertilizer companies that continually push their products. Lawns can be fairly self-sustaining and do not need to be fertilized repeatedly throughout the year. Instead, wait until the fall (October for those in the North, November for Southerners) when the air is cool but the soil is warm. You’ll only have to fertilize once. The warm soil and fertilizer in the fall will allow the roots to grow deeper and stronger, and better prepared for the following spring.
2.) Water less frequently
A healthy lawn begins with healthy roots, and the deeper, the better. Lawns can actually last for several months without water, as long as the roots are hydrated. Instead of watering everyday for a few minutes, water your lawn once a week (if it hasn’t been raining) for about an hour. The longer watering session will allow the water to reach those roots that are deep in the soil, and/or encourage roots to grow deeper. If the weather gets dry, the grass can always pull the water up from the soil.
3.) Keep the grass long
Set your lawn mower to about 3½ – 4 inches. Longer grass shades out weeds and keeps the soil cool and moist. Cool and moist soil helps the proliferation of soil microbes, which help provide nutrients to the grass. These nutrients will help your grass spread to any bare spots.
4.) Put down the pesticides!
Never apply pesticides to your lawn. Pesticides kill all the good living things that you want in your lawn, including the plants, soil microbes and the earthworms that aerate the soil. The other tips in this article should keep your lawn clean and green on its own.
5.) Stay away from nitrogen
When you go to buy fertilizer in the fall, stay away from those high in nitrogen. These fertilizers will help your lawn grow faster, but it will be weak and unable to stand up to weeds and drought. Look for a set of three numbers, X-Y-Z. The first number will tell you the percentage of nitrogen in the bag. Try to buy organic fertilizers and look for a bag with a nitrogen percentage of less than 10.
**Tip: If you live in the East or Midwest, you’ll need to apply liquid lime to your lawn once a year to counteract the acid rain. Any time of the year will do.
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