Most homeowners dream of having lush carpets of green grass in front of their homes. Unfortunately, many make some common mistakes that leave their lawns looking brittle, dry and thin. From overwatering to choosing the wrong plants, here are some of the top lawn care mistakes homeowners make when caring for their lawns.
- Trimming your turf too short: It can be tempting to keep your lawn sleek and short. For optimal results, however, you really shouldn’t cut off more than one-third of the blades with each pass. When it is left longer, grass is able to process more water and light, which helps it develop a healthier root system for a fuller, more lush-looking lawn.
- Neglecting to test the soil: While most species of grass are relatively hearty; they can’t necessarily grow everywhere. It’s generally a good idea to have a soil sample tested to make sure you know what you are working with. Grass will typically thrive best in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. You can alter your soil pH with lime or sulfur treatments.
- Planting only one kind of seed: To get a full, resilient lawn, you want to plant an array of species that can offset each other’s weaknesses and strengths. This sort of diversity will give the lawn a better chance at surviving drought, floods and other adverse weather conditions.
- Cutting your lawn with a dull blade. If your lawnmower blade is dull, you will tear or bruise your shoots, which can leave the grass vulnerable to pests and disease. Plan on sharpening your lawn mower blade about twice every season. If you notice that your mower is trampling or pulling the grass, stop and have the blade sharpened.
- Bagging your grass clippings: Instead of collecting severed grass, use a self-mulching mower to leave shorn cuttings mixed in with the turf. This can potentially increase soil nitrogen by 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
- Watering every day: A healthy lawn will only need about an inch of water every week. If you saturate it all at once, however, you will end up with substantial runoff. On the other hand, if you don’t water enough, you won’t even touch the roots. For optimal results, apply a third of an inch of water three times every week. You can set out an empty bowl or can to help measure.
- Improper fertilization: It’s quite common for homeowners to over- or under-fertilize their lawns, depending on the time of year. Ideally, you should apply a slow-release fertilizer when your lawn is growing fast during the warmer spring and summer months.
- Planting where grass won’t grow. Many homeowners try to force turf to grow where it cannot thrive. Grasses are full-sun plants that have a hard time adapting to shade. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to get your grass to grow in sun-starved areas, consider plants that require less light, such as ajuga, hostas, lamium, pachysandra or dead-nettles.
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