Do you want the perfect lawn? A lawn that looks as green and weed-free as a putting green? That’s something every homeowner wants. Lots of people think they know how to get a lawn like that, but then they go out and do all the wrong things to their lawn, and wonder why they have a brown, weed-infested, unhealthy lawn instead.
Here are five mistaken beliefs that many people have about lawn care.
- “I need to mow my grass short.” A healthy lawn has deep roots. How do you get deep roots? By mowing the grass only when it gets more than 2.5 inches high. Longer grass stems deliver more nutrients to the roots, which helps them to grow deeper. Longer stems also protect the soil from too much sun, which dries it out. When you cut the grass short with every mowing, you’re actually damaging it.
- “Thatch is good for my lawn.” The layer of organic matter that builds up between the grass tops and the soil is called thatch. Some people are under the mistaken impression that thatch is good for their lawn. When thatch gets more than half an inch thick it can block sunlight and suck up moisture that is needed by the grass roots. That’s when you need to de-thatch your lawn, so it can breath again.
- “My lawn needs a lot of fertilizer.” One of the biggest mistakes many homeowners make is to over-fertilize their lawn. Most lawns do not need to be fertilized much. To determine your lawn’s nutrient requirements, get a soil test. That will determine what fertilizer you need to use. Consider using organic fertilizers like compost, because they release nutrients slowly over time.
- “The more water, the better.” Watering too much is another way to make sure your grass has shallow roots. It’s better to water once a week or less, but water deeply, letting the water soak into the ground. This encourages the roots to grow deeper. Don’t panic during dry spells! It’s not the end of the world if a lawn turns brown — it just means the grass has gone dormant. In most cases, it will green up again when the rain comes back.
- “I need to use the strongest weed killer I can find.” A better method of weed control is to pull up weeds when you see them, before they have a chance to germinate and spread. Also, concentrate on developing a thick, healthy turf (seeding bare spots), because thick grass naturally chokes out weeds. There’s no reason to nuke your whole lawn with powerful chemicals unless your weeds have gotten out of control. Spot spray the trouble areas if you must, but avoid the Armageddon approach.
Avoid these mistakes and you’ll have a healthy lawn.