To many homeowners, there’s nothing more exciting than having that lawn. The lawn everyone stares at in envy as they go on their morning walk. The problem is, with so many lawn care tips available online, every homeowner is quickly becoming a lawn care expert.
If you only had a few lawn care tips your neighbors don’t know about. Below are 10 lawn tips your neighbor definitely isn’t doing, giving you an edge in the lawn-of-the-year competition.
1. Soil Testing
Incorrect feeding is a huge no-no in the world of lawn care, but we see it all the time. You know the drill. You walk into the lawn care store, and your neighbors are staring at the fertilizer with blank faces. Eventually, they rip a bag of all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer from the shelf and head home.
While that balanced all-purpose fertilizer will likely provide the base nutrition their lawns need, they aren’t addressing the nutritional shortage in their soil.
Like humans, grass grows best when it receives the right amount of certain nutrients. Through leaching and other issues, some of these nutrients exit the soil at a faster rate than others. This can result in your soil having shortages in just a few nutrients but plenty of others.
Adding an all-purpose fertilizer may help with the deficiency, but it can also create a rich condition in others. This rich condition may make your lawn more susceptible to disease and other issues.
This is where soil testing comes into play. Using a soil test will show you how rich or deficient your soil is in all the key nutrients. It’ll even provide you with the recommended amendments, making you look like a green-thumbed genius.
2. Using Humates
Humic and fulvic acid, also known as humates, are hidden gems in the world of lawn care. Humates may not offer much nutritional value to the soil, but they have plenty of other key benefits.
First, they enhance the structure of your soil. Not just one specific soil, but multiple types. In sandy soils, humates enhance nutrient absorption and retention. In heavy and compacted soils, they team up with fungi to enhance water, oxygen, and nutrient intake for better root penetration and stronger turf.
Second, humates can be the magic pill you need for pH balance in your soil. If you have alkaline soil, humates buffer pH, and convert nutrients and elements into absorbable forms. If you have acidic soil, humates help reduce toxins like aluminum and other heavy metals.
Third, humates can enhance turf growth and quality in all stages of growth. Humates stimulate the membrane of turf seeds to enhance germination rates. In mature turf, they enhance nutrient uptake.
Finally, humates bind with elements in the soil to prevent leaching into nearby water sources. This keeps key elements near the roots for efficient uptake by your turf.
Humates are safe for all grass types, and you can apply it on its own or along with fertilizer. Apply about 3-10 pounds of solidified humate per 1,000 square feet of lawn, water it in, and watch it work its magic. You can also pick up humic acid concentrate to apply it in a liquid form.
3. Cutting the Grass Correctly
All too often, cutting the grass is seen as a mindless task your neighbors just want to get done as quickly as possible. This leads to them cutting the grass too short and not considering the appearance of the cut.
As for length, never cut more than a third of the grass blade, as this can deprive it of nourishment and weaken the roots. So, if your grass is 6 inches tall, only cut the top 2 inches off. Yes, this will require adjusting your mower height every time you cut, but your lawn (and neighbors) will appreciate it.
You can also create the perfect lawn look by creating sharp-looking stripes. You can achieve this professional look with a relatively inexpensive striping kit for your mower. You can really make it pop with a walk-behind lawn roller.
Make sure to switch up your striping pattern, though. Striping involves bending the grass blade and bending it in the same direction every time can lead to stunted growth and damage.
4. Aerating the Lawn
Try drinking water through a coffee stirrer. Not too easy, right? This is how your grass feels in compacted soil.
Lawn aeration fixes this by breaking up the soil and allowing the nutrients to reach your lawn’s roots. If your lawn gets heavy foot traffic or you have clay soil, you’ll want to aerate once a year. In other cases, you will only want to aerate if your grass continues showing signs of malnutrition after fertilization.
There are several ways to aerate a lawn. You can use a core aerator, aerator spike attachments for your shoes, or take the easy route with a liquid aerator.
5. Watering the Lawn Correctly
Nutrition is important to your grass, but water is just as important. Like nutrition, correct lawn watering means careful measurement and monitoring.
Every homeowner knows underwatering their lawn will result in dry, brittle grass that eventually dies. But many of your neighbors likely don’t know that too much water is just as bad. It’s not only wasteful, but it also can result in fungal disease, pest infestation, root rot, and more.
The key is to only apply the amount of water recommended for your lawn during each season, and this includes rain. You can monitor the amount of water your lawn’s getting by installing a rain gauge in an open area of your lawn and checking it weekly. If the gauge is low, then use your irrigation system to supplement the rainfall.
Keep in mind that every grass type requires a different amount of water for each season. In general, when your lawn’s in its peak growing season, it needs more water than when it’s dormant.
Thatch is the layer of matter that forms near the base of your turf. This is natural, as grass clipping, dead grass, and other matter tend to accumulate here. Plus, thatch can help prevent excessive water evaporation. That said, too much thatch can block water and nutrients from reaching the roots.
Periodic dethatching is a great way to ensure your turf gets the water and nutrition it needs. You can do this with a dethatching rake or a liquid dethatcher.
7. Grub Prevention
Grubs can kill large patches of grass at a time, making you think you’re doing something wrong with your fertilization process. In reality, these pests are munching your turf’s roots, creating unsightly brown spots.
A clear sign of a grub issue is when you notice flocks of birds feeding near the brown patches. To confirm grubs are the issue, dig up a small area in the brown patch and look for these white, fleshy, wormlike pests just below the surface.
If you confirm grubs are the issue, there are plenty of grub-killing insecticides on the market. Pick up one of these pest controls and eradicate these turf killers before their turf buffet expands.
8. Proactive Weed Control
Weed control is critical to keeping your lawn green, but your neighbors are likely more reactive than proactive. They wait until the weeds get noticeable from the road before taking action.
Stay a step ahead of them by making it a habit to walk your lawn regularly and search for weeds cropping up. If you spot just one weed, identify it and apply a selective herbicide to kill it before it spreads.
If you notice a specific weed reappears year after year, you may consider applying a pre-emergent weed control to prevent it from ever appearing.
9. Raising the Low Spots
Have you ever come across those yellow spots in your lawn you just can’t get rid of? That may not be a nutrition or disease issue. Instead, it could be a low spot that allows water to pool and suffocate your grass.
Fill in these low spots with compost. Over time, your grass will sprout through the compost and return to normal. You may need to add a little grass seed to the area if the spot required a thick layer of compost.
10. Making Your Own Compost
Speaking of compost, don’t waste cash on buying this rotten organic matter. Make your own by starting a compost pile. If you live in an area where a compost pile is frowned upon, you can also buy a composter.
Not only is this a great way to save money and have a more organic lawn, but it also reduces your trash output.
Keep in mind, it may take months to get usable compost. The reward for investing this time is a healthy lawn with no extra cost to you.
Make Your Neighbors Envy Your Lawn
With these 10 tips, you’ll have a lawn that’s the envy of your neighbors. The best part is, they likely have no idea what you’re doing to make such a green lawn. We won’t tell your secrets if you don’t.