Do you struggle to maintain a healthy green lawn and notice brown spots, dry grass blades, or common weeds? Whether you’ve tried and struggled or are starting a lawn care routine for your first home, healthy lawns require your time and attention.
We’ll provide best practices including the best time to water your lawn, early spring lawn care tips, and how to mow a lawn to discourage weed invasion.
Let’s start with the lawn care basics, then we’ll give you some of the industry’s best lawn care tips for a healthy, beautiful lawn.
How to Care For and Maintain a Healthy Lawn
Proper lawn maintenance happens almost year-round and your lawn’s needs change with the seasons. Species and climate might also dictate small variations in lawn care routines from region to region, but the basics remain simple. Your lawn needs water, sunlight, and nutrients from the air and soil to survive.
So why can’t lawns just handle that on their own, through nature?
Well, that’s partly because weeds and invasive plants share resources with your grass’s root system, and partly because the species of short grasses we prefer are often non-native to the United States, believe it or not. Skipping simple tasks like early spring lawn care, lawn raking, or compost top dressing application when your lawn needs it can make a huge difference in your lawn’s growth.
Your lawn needs both nutrient supplementation and protection against turf diseases, pests and weeds. These needs are met through proper lawn care, like lawn mowing and watering at the right time, cutting grass to an appropriate length, and considering seasonal factors for additional requirements like reseeding bare spots and retaining moisture in late summer.
Let’s begin with best practices for watering and mowing your lawn.
How to Water Your Lawn
Best practices for watering your lawn consider when to water your lawn, appropriate frequency and length of watering time. Many homeowners assume that their lawns should be watered daily or near daily, but often don’t water deep enough for grasses to benefit. Improper watering can lead to dry, brown or brittle grass, or inversely, turf disease and pest infestation.
So how often should you water your lawn?
Instead of watering daily, the best way to water your lawn is deeply and less frequently. Water your lawn once or twice per week, depending on factors like the amount of rain you’re getting and intensity of daytime heat. Your lawn needs about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, so watering time depends on the size of your lawn. To make it less daunting for customers, we usually recommend 30-40 minutes of watering twice per week during the spring. As it warms up during late summer, you may need to water your lawn 2-3 times weekly per zone.
The best time to water the lawn is in the morning, when water has time to saturate the soil before the summer heat sets in, causing surface evaporation. Alternatively, you can water in the evenings as long as the water has a few hours to permeate the soil before sunset. Watering too close to nighttime can cause stagnant water and cooler temperatures to create an inviting environment for turf diseases and fungal growth.
If you’re using a sprinkler system, a low pressure flow over a longer period of time will benefit your lawn most. Be sure that the water is reaching all parts of the lawn’s surface area. Finally, water the lawn in the morning or late in the afternoon, a few hours before dark. For more on how and when to water your lawn in NJ, check out our recent article about lawn watering.
Mowing Your Lawn Properly
How and when to mow is another consideration for proper lawn care. Proper mowing techniques can help build resilience in your grass and poor mowing habits can make your lawn more susceptible to drought, disease, and weed invasion.
The bottom line up front is that many homeowners cut their grass too short and too often.
Although you might like the aesthetic of a carefully manicured lawn or a fresh cut, it isn’t always good for your grass. Cutting grass too short or too often can make grasses more likely to dehydrate and become brittle or brown. It can also give weed seeds more opportunity to reach soil and take root. Finally, it can overexpose the soil to sunlight, especially during hot summer months. This dehydrates the soil and further deprives your grass of the nutrients it needs.
When mowing, keep grass on the longer side. 3-4 inches is typically a good length for lawns in the New Jersey area. During late July and August, it’s okay to mow your lawn less in order to keep it long and more drought-resistant with fewer weeds. Find out how to tell if you should mow into the fall months or not in our recent article, Should I Still Be Mowing My Lawn In October and November?
Don’t feel pressured to cut your grass every Monday just because your neighbor does. Pay attention to your lawn’s shine, color, and texture to help anticipate whether it should be mowed or needs more time to grow. The rule of thumb is to mow your lawn weekly during the part of the season that the lawn is actively growing (spring and fall). Mowing every other week during the summer is fine. If you’re mowing weekly, be mindful not to mow too short.
Overwhelmed by all the lawn mowing criteria? Search online for lawn mowing services near you. Lawn care experts will know what to do!
Aerating Your Lawn
Late fall is a great time to aerate and reseed your lawn, to prepare for spring. Spring is the season you will experience rapid lawn growth and caring for lawns in the spring is key for a truly thick and healthy lawn. Regular spring mowing with the guidelines above help propagate and spread resilient green grass throughout the growing season.
So what is aeration and why does it matter?
Aerating your lawn is a process that opens up the soil and punctures holes (called plugs) across the entire surface of your lawn. It is designed to allow oxygen to flow deeper and to loosen the surface of the soil so that the grass roots have more access to nutrients. It’s a great way to revive hardened, dry soil before reseeding, which happens in the fall.
Reseeding and aeration are best done at the same time. When aerating, you are cultivating the soil to allow the new seed to have more soil contact. This is critical for optimal seed germination and a lush, green lawn.
Fall is the best time to aerate and reseed. During the fall, air temperatures drop, which allows moisture to remain on the ground longer. The soil is still warm enough to allow the new seeds to sprout and new seedlings have all winter to mature. During the winter, they’ll begin to grow longer roots, which will help create a more resilient lawn next season.
Get your lawn ready for deep roots and greener grass this spring by aerating in the fall.
Fertilizing Your Lawn
Another of our lawn care tips for spring is to replenish lost nutrients in the soil by fertilizing your lawn. The spring is a great time to start a fertilizing plan to ensure your lawn has enough nutrients to encourage growth. It is also a key time to apply products, called pre-emergents, that help prevent weed seeds from germinating and causing havoc in the late summer. Fertilizing is a specialized skill, so if you don’t have time to research, it’s best to call a professional. You can review our seasonal lawn fertilization plans here.
The spring is also a good time to do an organic compost top dressing on your lawn. Organic compost dressings are a great way to nurture your soil health, replenish organic matter and enhance the soil biology. Compost top dressing is made from a combination of naturally occurring plant and carbon-based materials with a healthy mixture of nitrogen to balance soil health. It gives your seedlings the best chances for success when they burst to life in the spring, and can correct soil imbalances after a hot summer and fall.
Spring Lawn Care Steps
Like fall, spring has its own set of lawn care requirements to guarantee healthy results throughout the growing season. As mentioned, regular mowing and watering on a proper schedule are important. But spring lawn care has a few more elements if you plan to enjoy a lush lawn in the summer.
First, you’ll need to give your lawn a thorough raking when the snow has all melted. Power rakes for lawns are great tools for thatchy grass or larger areas. Lawn power raking can clear up excessive thatch build up, sticks, rocks and other natural debris to give your grasses room to grow.
Next, check out any bare spots you might have. Even though you reseeded in the fall, it doesn’t hurt to overseed. Keep some grass seed handy and overseed bare spots as soon as the weather begins to warm up and the ground is no longer frozen. Remember to make sure your grass type is compatible with your growing zone/region and soil type.
If You Don’t Have The Time To Commit To Lawn Care, Call Us.
Lawn care in the spring, or any time of year, doesn’t have to overwhelm you. Green Roots Organic are your local lawn care professionals and are eager to help you grow your greenest, healthiest lawn yet. We offer both semi-organic and organic lawn care services year-round. We are passionate about what we do and hope you’ll come grow with us!
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