What is one of the first things you notice about a house when you drive up? Having a nice looking lawn is a huge asset to curb appeal. Getting that well-kept look doesn’t need to be complicated either. Whether you want to hire a lawn care business for their guidance or tackle your lawn yourself, there are plenty of easy things anyone can do.
It’s much easier to keep your existing grass healthy than to attempt to grow new grass. Sod may seem like an easier alternative to fix your yard’s look but it can be expensive and difficult to keep alive. If your lawn needs just a little extra care to look its best, there are plenty of do-it-yourself hacks you can try.
Even if you’re convinced your green thumb is nonexistent you can give these ideas a try. They’re so easy that anyone can do it! No matter if you’re new to lawn care or you consider yourself an old pro, these four simple hacks can help keep your lawn looking as perfect as possible.
1. Keep It Watered
Watering your lawn seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, you’d be surprised how many homeowners just leave the watering up to mother nature and consider it good enough. Certainly, rainfall can be enough to keep your lawn looking great. But if you live in a climate that sees drought conditions at any point during the year you may need to rethink your watering strategies.
Did you know that grass only needs about 1-1 ½ inches of water a week in order to look its best? That means watering daily could actually do more damage to your lawn. This is good news for both your efforts and the water bill! Most lawns would only need to be watered once or twice a week to stay healthy.
Invest in a rain gauge so you can keep track if you even need to water. Then keep that rain gauge in place as you run your sprinkler in order to keep track of how long it takes to get your grass the drink of water it needs. This will make it even easier to water your lawn going forward.
There’s an easy hack to see if your lawn is well-watered. Grab a screwdriver and jam it into your lawn in an inconspicuous place. If you can get the screwdriver six inches into the ground with minimal effort, the soil is moist enough to keep your lawn healthy. If it takes a little work, get your sprinkler set up.
The best time to water your grass is in the morning before the dew has had a chance to dry out. This gives your lawn the whole day to absorb the water and dry so that won’t be too wet in the evening. Grass that is too soaked overnight is prone to fungus and mold growth which can wreak havoc on any lawn and is best to be avoided.
2. Take Care When You Mow
Mowing the lawn seems pretty straightforward and it is, but there are some great tips that can help your grass stay even healthier. No matter where you live and what variety of grass you have, it is susceptible to stress. When grass gets stressed it will go dormant, like in the winter when is visibly brown.
The best way to not stress out your grass is to only cut it when it needs it. This means your schedule of mowing every Thursday is probably not the best solution for your lawn. The optimal height for grass is 2 ½ inches tall. And when you mow, it’s best to only cut the top ⅓ of the grass off.
This means that when you wait too long to mow it can stress out your lawn, or on the other hand, if you mow too frequently it can also cause your lawn to have issues. Short grass is more prone to weeds and disease. Plus when the grass is too short it can be scorched by the hot summer sun.
It may take just a little more effort on your part to take notice of when your lawn needs to be mowed. But once you see the impact it can have on your lawn you will likely be pleased with the results. Healthy grass has a stronger root system that can withstand diseases and weeds more easily. So by only mowing when the grass needs it, you may have to weed less often anyhow.
You should also know that if your lawn is predominantly shady it won’t need to be watered as frequently or be cut as often. You can also keep shady grass a little longer, about 3 inches tall. If your grass gets less than three hours of sunlight daily it runs the risk of poor health, so you should consult a professional for additional help.
3. Take Care How You Mow
Now you know when you should mow, but do you know how to mow? If you mow the same direction every time you cut the grass, your lawn could be suffering some unintended consequences. When your grass is cut the same way every time the grass will begin growing in the direction in which it is cut.
By mixing up your mowing pattern the grass will only grow up leading to straighter, healthier, more resilient grass. You will also avoid ruts in your lawn as well from the weight of your mower. (Especially if you’ve accidentally run your mower when the ground was too soft.)
It sounds intense to say that mowing with a dull blade can cause your grass to be majorly damaged. But when you mow with a dull blade your grass isn’t actually cut, it is shredded or torn. This causes grass stress and makes it more likely to become infected with diseases that can kill it. And a dead lawn is not a nice looking lawn.
If you notice after you’ve mown that the tips of your grass turn black, white, or brown, it’s a sure sign that you need to sharpen your mower’s blades. Many hardware stores will sharpen blades for you or you can acquire a blade sharpening kit if you really prefer the DIY life.
Another option if you have a relatively flat lawn is to invest in an old fashioned push-reel mower. Because the force to cut the grass is lessened it is excellent for optimal grass health. The grass will heal more quickly from being cut.
One difficult aspect of mowing is when grass gets stuck to the blades of your mower, making for uneven mowing. If you find yourself in this situation you can use some non-stick cooking spray before you mow so the grass clippings just fall right off. You can also avoid clumping by making sure that you only mow when the grass is dry.
4. Fertilize Carefully
The good news is that most lawns don’t need to be fertilized constantly to stay healthy. In fact, your lawn will benefit just from the clippings that remain after you mow. So skip bagging unless you have large clumps because you waited a little too long. Leaving grass clippings can act as a fertilizer and make less work for you: the best kind of hack!
For the most part, lawns don’t need to be fertilized constantly in order to maintain their optimal level of health. But that doesn’t mean fertilizer is unimportant. Spreading fertilizer is especially important in the spring as the grass begins to come out of dormancy and in the fall prior to the first freeze of the year.
Fertilizing too frequently can actually hinder a lawn’s growth and using a fertilizer can also stunt the growth of new grass. If you are planning to put down grass seed, skip the fertilizer! But that doesn’t mean fertilizer is all bad. It can help the grass stay healthy and prevent weed growth. There are a time and a place for fertilizer on any lawn.
Feel free to make your own fertilizer if you aren’t a fan of store-bought options. There are a lot of different homemade options that many lawn care enthusiasts swear by but here’s one that is popular. Take a mixture of a bottle of beer, one cup of baby shampoo, and one cup of ammonia and apply it through a hose dispenser evenly through your lawn.
It may sound crazy but the ammonia has all the microbes a lawn needs. The beer and shampoo work together to help grass absorb all the nutrients. The best news is that you may already have everything you need in your home already.
Fertilizing is great in the spring at the top of the growing season and once again in the fall before the first hard freeze. In between, unless you’re dealing with a specific weed issue or disease, your grass clippings should be all that is needed to keep your lawn looking it’s best.
It isn’t complicated to have a great looking lawn. If you are hoping to run barefoot through lush green grass it’s possible. You can do it yourself, simply by watering your grass correctly and taking care when you mow. Even the smallest changes can lead to a great looking lawn that will make you the envy of the neighborhood.
Change up your lawn care routine to include these easy hacks to help you get the lawn you’ve always wanted. Go get your mower blade sharpened and get to work! You may even find that people come to you for advice once they see how perfect your lawn looks.