For far too many folks, lawn care comes down to the water when it’s brown, fertilizing the fall, and cut it when I have the time.
It’s not your fault! If you fall into this group, don’t feel bad. How are you supposed to know the ins and outs of growing a beautiful lawn if no one teaches you?
We created this easy to follow guide to get your lawn care knowledge growing in the right direction. Follow the steps and, you’ll have a beautiful lawn without feeling like you’ve taken a second job in the lawn care business.
Give Yourself a Fresh Start
Before you invest time, effort, or energy into building a luxurious lawn, now is the time to fix any lingering problems like grouts, Japanese beetles, or spots left by a four-legged friend.
Once you’ve started the process of wiping the slate clean, it’s time to start thinking about the next step.
Understanding your soil sets you up for success. You’ve got to match the right type of grass with the right type of soil. Warren County is built on clay. Clay soil is dense. We recommend planting grass with a hearty, dense root system.
The best lawn choices for clay are tall fescue, zoysia, and bermuda. Clay soil is thick, full of nutrients, and able to hold quite a bit of water.
These properties make clay both excellent and potentially problematic. Clay is thick and retains water. Keeping a keen eye on how much you water is critical to avoid overwatering the grass.
Believe it or not, too much water can actually drown grass and plants. Plant roots absorb nutrients from the soil. If the roots are swimming they won’t be able to get the nutrients they need.
Lawn Care Is All About Timing
Okay, timing is everything. But, it is important. And it’s one of the most misunderstood lawn care principles out there. Many folks often wonder when to plant what and rely on hearsay or old wives’ tales to make these decisions.
Grasses and all plans for that matter, grow best when their natural active periods sync up with the planting season. Tall fescue has its most intense growth period when the weather begins to cool in late summer and early fall.
Unlike most of us in Missouri, zoysia relishes the warm weather that comes with late spring and early summer.
Put Your Grass on the Right Diet
Just like kids, your lawn needs the right nutrients to grow healthy and strong. Nitrogen is the lawncare equivalent of milk and multivitamin.
Nitrogen helps grass begin to germinate, gives it the vibrant green color we all shoot for. Nitrogen is also critical for photosynthesis, the process of plants turning sunlight into energy be careful, nitrogen is critical to a healthy lawn. But, sometimes too much of a good thing can be dangerous.
How do you know how much nitrogen you need and how much is in your fertilizer? The best way to nail down your nitrogen needs is by having your soil tested. Soil tests typically tell you how much nitrogen is required per 1000 ft.² of lawn.
When you head to your local lawn care in Mid Missouri or big box store, you’ll see three numbers on a bag of fertilizer. Nitrogen is typically listed first. It is also usually the biggest number of the three.
Look at the Label
A seed tag is a bit like the nutrition facts panel on the back of your favorite snack. Instead of listing the number of carbs and calories, seed tags tell you things like the species of seed in the bag, the percentage of the mixture that is not seed, as well as the types and amount of weed seeds that could be in the bag.
Why We Weed Out the Weeds
There’s more to getting rid of weeds than making your lawn look pretty. Lawn care aficionados know weeds are harmful to the health of their lawn. Weeds not only rob your grass of food and nutrients, but their roots can also take over the soil, slowly spreading and leaving no room for grass to grow.
Proper lawn care is the best defense against weeds. It’s not necessarily always about using weed killers and fertilizers. In fact, weed killers can make it hard for new grass to grow. Their job is to start new plants from terminating, and this includes new grass.
However, if your lawn is healthy its root system will leave no openings for weeds to take hold.
Know Before You Mow
Many lawn care newbies underestimate the importance of mowing when it comes to the health of their lawn. It’s common for folks new to the world of lawn care to set a strict mowing schedule and stick to it. This is one of those few times in life where being disciplined may not pay off.
Deciding to mow should be based on the height of the grass and the time of year. Long grass is strong grass. The longer a blade of grass grows, the more its root system will develop.
Routinely cutting your grass short is not a good idea. Especially, during the warmer months. Keeping your grass short makes its root system smaller. Smaller roots mean it will be able to absorb less water.
Bigger root systems also mean your grass will be able to better withstand pests and stress such as extreme heat and drought. A stronger and healthier root system will also better protect against weeds invading your yard.
Now that you know long grass is strong grass, how long should it be? The lawn care standard of yesteryear was to keep your grass at around 1.5 inches.
Now, most lawn care experts recommend somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3.5 inches. Watch out for letting your grass grow too tall.
When blades get too high they block sunlight from reaching the soil. New blades of grass won’t have enough sunlight to germinate.
Another trick of the lawn care trade is to avoid bagging your grass whenever possible. Lawn clippings are free fertilizer from mother nature. They can provide your lawn with up to 20% of the nutrients it needs.