Gardening tips to keeping your lawn lush, green and weed-free.
By Sarah Ehrhardt
Want to keep the grass greener on your side of the fence? The secret to a lush and lovely lawn is simple: proper watering, feeding and mowing. This consistent maintenance routine is also a natural way to defend your turf against weeds, insects and disease. That means you can let kids and pets cavort without worry about excess chemicals.
Gardening Tip #1: Water Wisely
Come summer, lawns naturally go dormant and turn a bit brown. This doesn’t hurt the grass. If you want your lawn to stay green throughout the season, you’ll likely need to sprinkle, but only when less than an inch of rain falls in a week. If you won’t be able to keep watering throughout the drought period, don’t start. Inconsistency can stress and damage your grass, making matters worse than if you hadn’t watered at all. Water early in the day so grass can dry off. This prevents conditions that can lead to lawn disease. Water deeply, so grass roots can grow deeper and healthier. And leave a soup can nearby: When an inch of water accumulates, it’s time to stop watering.
Gardening Tip #2: Feed Well
A hungry lawn needs feeding twice a year. Around Memorial Day and Halloween, apply fertilizer at a rate of a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Lawn fertilizers tend to be higher in nitrogen and usually have a mix of quick- and slow-release ingredients that makes the product last longer. Milorganite, an organic fertilizer, is a good choice.
Gardening Tip #3: Mow-tivation
To get the green, green grass of home, cut it no shorter than 3 inches, and frequently enough so that no more than a third of the total height is cut each time. This will stress the lawn less and help it retain moisture, while adding shade to keep weeds from sprouting. Leave clippings on the lawn. Not only is this less work for you, it recycles nutrients. Sharpen your mower blades twice each season for best results. Dull blades tear instead of cutting, which can damage the grass plants.
Gardening Tip #4: Nip Weeds in the Bud
Your lawn can cut it without harmful chemicals. Avoid weed-and-feed products that are applied to the entire lawn. Instead, spot-treat weedy areas with a liquid herbicide such as Weed B Gon or Weed-Out. Crabgrass is most likely to spring up in bare spots, so try early seeding in those areas, letting the grass seed sprout and fill in before the crabgrass has a chance to get established. If you want to use a crabgrass preventive, apply it only in problem areas. Since these products kill grass seed, too, don’t use them where you plan on seeding within the following six to eight weeks.
Follow these gardening tips, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy, gloriously green lawn, spring through fall.