Maintaining a lush, green lawn is hard work. Having to mow, fertilize, weed, water, as well as treat it for any issues is time consuming as well as a tough physical chore. However, it's worth it for the look and feel of a great lawn!
Regular maintenance is critical for good results. You also want to make sure all of your hard work is actually effective. Many people make lawn care mistakes, so all of their efforts either go in vain and don't help their lawn, or actively harm it. To help you avoid making some of the more common mistakes, below are some tips. A good rule before you even begin, though, is to take a soil sample and have a soil test completed, so you accurately know how healthy the soil is, or what issues you may have to deal with.
Grass Seed Mistakes
One of the most common lawn care mistakes happens right at the very start of the lawn's life, when you are planting grass. Using the wrong type of turf grass, or planting a single seed lawn will make it very hard to have a thriving lawn. Trying to grow grass that isn't right for the area you live in is next to impossible, and having only one type of grass means you are sure to have poor performance in certain areas or at certain times.
Cool-season grasses flourish earlier in the spring and last longer into the fall, and are better in areas of moderate shade. They require more watering, though, and are sensitive to the heat and dryness of mid-summer. Warm season grasses are better in sunny, hot, and dry conditions, but are late to grow. Generally, Canadian lawns do better with cool season grass. Use a mix of seeds for a vibrant lawn throughout the season and so you don't have dead patches in shadier or sunnier areas.
Seeding at the right time is essential. Many people try seeding in spring, but often in Canada, grass roots are then unable to establish in time for the summer heat. Finally, avoid overseeding and overcrowding, which creates weakly grass.
Trying to save time, and mowing the lawn too short so you don't have to do it as often will damage your grass and affect its health. Cutting off too much impacts how well the grass can absorb the sun, while allowing the soil to dry out faster. Too-short grass also weakens the roots. Many lawns do best with a height of 6 cm to 9 cm; no more than one third of the grass blade length should be cut during a mow.
Never use dull mower blades, as dull blades will tear and rip up grass, leaving you with grass with brown tips, which is less healthy and more prone to disease and issues. Sharp blades will cut each grass blade more cleanly, so sharpen your mower blade a couple of times during the season.
Know how much water the grasses in your lawn need. Most need about 2.5 cm to 4 cm weekly. Many people eitherover-water, which can lead to grasses only forming a shallow root system, and becoming dependent on frequent watering. It also encourages crabgrass.
Less-frequent watering, but providing a good soak that reaches down about 6 inches for the roots is best. Water early in the morning so the water soaks in before evaporating, and so water droplets don't burn your grass in the sun.
Grass Clippings Mistakes
Another of the most common lawn care mistakes is to throw away grass clippings after mowing. Lawn clippings decompose fast, and are a perfect, natural fertilizer, providing nitrogen and organic material for your lawn. A self mulching mower will help ensure grass clippings are small and more usable. Remove any clumped grass, as this can choke out grass underneath and can lead to rotting patches.
You can also choose the wrong fertilizer, or apply it wrongly. You can get fast- or slow-release fertilizer, or compost. Many people think more is better, and that applying fertilizer before a rain helps it soak in, but these are both misconceptions.
Fast-release fertilizer works fast, but can burn and damage grass if applied incorrectly. It's also prone to washing away in the rain, especially if you choose powdered or granular fertilizer. Slow-release fertilizer does not run off or burn, but is expensive and slow acting.
More fertilizing won't turn brown grass green, but too much fertilizer kills off your lawn. You'll need less later in the season. A light fertilizing in the fall is helpful, but too much damages the lawn. Fertilizing before a rain is wasteful and damaging to the environment, as the fertilizer just washes away and pollutes local waters.
Organic fertilizer or compost is most effective over the long term, adding nutrients gradually, helping the soil hold water, without running off.
The best way to control weeds is with a healthy lawn. Many people apply herbicides incorrectly, so grass seedlings are killed off, and overly-established weeds are unaffected. Removing weeds manually is effective and great for aeration, as well as safer and more environmentally friendly.
Not Caring for Grass Blades
Many people don't pay the care and attention to grass blades they deserve. In addition to using sharp mowing blades, change up the direction you cut your grass. Doing this prevents grass blades from bending over and not being cut properly.
Not dethatching properly chokes out a lawn; a simple, light rake goes a long way to helping create a healthy lawn. Aerating is essential, too, for grass root health.
Get Help with a Healthy Lawn
Get the green lawn you want, with a local landscape professional you can trust. At Riverwood Landscape of Kitchener, we know what healthy lawns require. We can help you get a healthier lawn, with deep roots, for a more beautiful yard.