Keep your lawn green during National Lawn Care Month
You know the saying..."April showers bring May flowers." There’s no better time to start getting your landscape needs in order than the start of spring. In fact, April marks the official celebration of National Lawn Care Month.
There are many benefits to home lawn upkeep that go well beyond aesthetics, but finding ways to care for yours, in a safe and "green" way, can be a bit trickier. All-natural methods often get a bad rap for having slower-acting qualities, but there’s no question that they are best for you and your family, your pets, the grass, the soil and the whole environment.
Lawns absorb water, helping to reduce storm runoff and improve water quality. They also have a significant cooling effect, provide oxygen, trap dust and dirt, promote healthful micro-organisms, prevent erosion and filter rainwater contaminants.
Here are some of the best tips we gathered to transform your lawn this season:
- Soil testing. Conduct a soil test to check the pH of your soil. Most varieties of grass prefer a slightly acid to neutral pH (6.5-7.0). A simple soil test will tell you if your soil needs an application of lime to make it more neutral or sulfur to make it more acidic.
- Compost. One of the most important steps you can take to improve and maintain healthy soil is to start a regular practice of top-dressing your lawn with compost or good topsoil. Apply 1/4 to 1/2 inch in early spring, and rake it down into the turf.
- Ditch the thatch. A dense accumulation of dead roots, stems and partially decayed organic matter at the base of the grass is called thatch. Normally this material gets reincorporated into the soil by microorganisms and earthworms. In poor or biologically inactive soils, this organic matter accumulates at the soil surface and creates an ideal environment for disease. Thatch can be removed by vigorous raking or by using a power-dethatching tool.
- Aerate. If your lawn has become compacted from heavy power mowers or from foot traffic, spring is a good time to aerate. This opens up passageways in the soil for air, water and nutrients. Use a manual or power-aerating tool.
- Be patient. If your lawn is used to chemical maintenance, it can take some time for it to adjust to new methods of care. But fear not! Once your soil and grass are truly healthy, there isn’t much need for supplemental fertilizer anyway. Consider the climate in which you reside when choosing, and start with low-nitrogen fertilizer options.
- Use sparingly: annually or semi-annually. Organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly over time to provide long-term nutrition and improve soil life. They also provide vital nutrients that your lawn needs only in minute quantities. Leaving grass clippings where they fall also adds free nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
- Consider it exercise! Afterward, reseed the area and water lightly every day until the grass seed germinates and the roots get well established.
- Signs of lawn in trouble from Gardeners.com:
- Moss indicates a shady, acid and infertile soil.
- Nutsedge indicates that the soil is too wet and poorly drained.
- Crabgrass indicates that the turf is not dense and healthy and that you may be mowing the grass too low.
- Dandelions may indicate a potassium deficiency.
Use Proper Watering and Mowing Techniques
- Water deeply or not at all. Naturally, we sway toward avoidance. uggested watering times are up to 2–4 hours at a time for best growth, but this is simply not sustainable. Additionally, going back and forth, or choosing to water your property at random, actually weakens and stresses the lawn. In other words, it's best to let nature do its thing.
- Rise and water. Daytime watering is lost to evaporation; get it done first thing in the morning.
- Sharpen those blades. A dull blade injures your lawn by tearing rather than slicing the blades of grass. It carries the potential to pull out new growth.
- “Mow high” and often. For better drought resistance and to help shade out weed seeds, try "mowing high," which means keeping your lawn at a height of 2 1/2–3 inches. Additionally, mow your lawn before it grows too long. The more leafy material that's removed, the more the grass will be stimulated to replace it by using food reserves stored in the root system.
Now you can get outside and enjoy the simple pleasures of your very own property—clean and chemical-free!