There is nothing that makes a home feel more welcoming in the summer months than a freshly manicured lawn. We know lawn care can feel overwhelming when you’re just starting out, but by creating a plan and learning the steps for each stage of lawn care, you’ll be a pro in no time! Below are a handful of our favorite tips and tricks to help you get started.
Lawn Mowing and Lawn Care 101
While you might think lawn mowing is a simple task at best or an annoying chore at worst, there are plenty of lawn mowing techniques that will help you take better care of your lawn, and make you the envy of the neighborhood. Here are some of our more effective lawn mowing and lawn care tips.
Set a Plan Before the Summer Starts and Stick to it
While lawn mowing might be something you just take care of when the weather is nice, it’s best to create a plan and stick to it throughout the entire summer season. Your plan will depend on what your yard looks like. If you have a lot of flower beds, a swing set, or other large obstacles it’s best to trim around the edges before starting to mow. Make sure to clean debris out of your yard before each lawn mowing endeavor. Hitting a stick, rock, or stray dog toy could damage your lawnmower, dull the mower blades, and potentially send you on a trip to the hospital. Once you set your lawn mowing plan and get into a routine, stick to it to ensure consistent results every time. Sharp mower blades give a clean cut. Clean cuts can help reduce stress on the grass blades.
Change Your Lawn Mowing Pattern
Most people are creatures of habit, so it’s likely you start mowing your lawn in the same spot every time — this means you’re always mowing your lawn in the same pattern. It might not seem like a big deal to always mow in the same direction, but your grass leans towards the direction you mow in. If you want to encourage more upright growth, it's best to switch the pattern you mow your lawn. Need some inspiration? Here are some fun and unique lawn mowing patterns.
Don’t Cut Your Grass Too Short
When mowing your lawn, you never want to cut more than one-third of the length of your lawn. Cutting any more than this can damage the grass. By not cutting too short, you are also making it more difficult for weeds to get the sunlight they need to grow.
Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Equipment
This might seem obvious, but effective lawn mowing is dependent on maintaining your equipment. Before you set out to mow your lawn, top off the gas tank. It’s unwise to refuel a hot lawnmower, so cross this off your list before you set off. You also want to check your blades for dullness. Dull blades can seriously harm your grass by creating rips and tears. This will make your lawn more susceptible to weeds and pests.
Only Mow in the Right Weather
During the summer months, you might want to use mowing your lawn as an excuse to get outside and enjoy the sun, but there are times and weather conditions that are better for mowing your lawn than others. It’s best to mow when it’s cool outside, in the mornings, evenings, or on cooler, overcast days. This is because mowing when it’s cool out helps to keep moisture in the roots and prevent heat exhaustion. If possible, it’s best to mow in the evening on a cool day because it will give the grass more time to heal before the sun rises.
Aerating Your Lawn
While lawn mowing is an important component of a healthy lawn, there are other important aspects of lawn care to consider. Aeration creates openings in your lawn to help air, water, and nutrients move into the soil towards the grass roots. Aeration also alleviates soil compaction and can help reduce thatch. These are the main types of lawn aeration: solid-tine and hollow-tine aeration. Below we explore the different types of aeration and which type is best for your lawn.
Solid-tine aeration is done just as it sounds, by driving a spike into your lawn to create a hole. Solid-tine aeration is usually done by using a wheel covered with steel spikes. People will also use a rake or fork to poke holes in their lawn; this is more labor-intensive but works just as well as using the wheel. Unlike hollow-tine aeration, spike aeration does not remove any material from the ground; it simply makes a hole to allow better air and water access. Spike aeration is best when the soil is not compacted; if the soil is compacted, spike aeration can make it worse.
Hollow-tine aeration is very similar to spike aeration, except for the fact that it removes material from the ground. Hollow-tine aeration is usually done by a machine with hollow tines that rotate and remove cores of soil from the ground. The holes are usually half an inch to three-quarters of an inch in diameter, allowing more air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots than would by using spike aeration. Core aeration is best used when the soil is compacted, and you want to promote healthy root growth. The downside of core aeration is that it leaves plugs of soil scattered throughout your yard.
Choosing a Fertilizer for Your Lawn:
There’s a lot of information to digest when it comes to choosing the right fertilizer for your lawn and figuring out how to fertilize it properly. Ideally, most of the nutrients your lawn needs to thrive can be found in the soil, but if your soil is missing any of the three key nutrients your lawn needs, the grass will suffer. The three main nutrients your lawn needs are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Once you’ve decided what type of fertilizer you want to use on your lawn, it’s time to figure out the best way to fertilize your lawn. Much like mowing the lawn, there are best practices to follow that will help you make your lawn the healthiest it can be. Here are some of our best tips for lawn fertilization.
Learn When to Apply Fertilizer for Your Area
The best time to apply fertilizer for cool-season lawns is during the spring and fall. The best time to fertilize warm-season lawns is during the spring and summer.
Create Your Fertilizer Plan
The first application of fertilizer should happen between mid-April and early May. Your second application of fertilizer should happen approximately four weeks after the first application. You should continue to fertilize your lawn every six to eight weeks after the second application and should continue applying your fertilizer through October.
Know Your Three Key Nutrients
The most important nutrients for a healthy lawn are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. On any fertilizer you purchase from the store, you’ll see numbers next to each of these three nutrients. These numbers tell you what percentage of each nutrient you’ll find in that fertilizer. It’s important to get your soil tested so you can determine what percentage of each nutrient you might need.
Check the Weather
You don’t want to fertilize on a windy day or right before a rainstorm. Applying fertilizer when it's windy out means you aren’t getting a consistent and even application. An even application is important to make sure all your lawn is getting the nutrients it needs. Applying before a rainstorm means it’s likely that the majority of fertilizer you applied will get washed away and you’ll need to reapply again. Dry and clear weather is your best bet for a good application.
Don’t Over Apply!
Over applying fertilizer can cause problems for your lawn and the environment. Common lawn problems caused by overapplication of fertilizer include root burn, developing diseases or fungus on the grass, and diminishing the overall plant health. Environmentally, over-applying fertilizer can cause the fertilizer to wash into storm drains, lakes, rivers, and groundwater. This can cause water pollution and an overgrowth of algae which affects marine life.
Caring for your lawn can seem overwhelming at first, but with the right plan and the right tools, you can have the greenest lawn in town. Our top tips to remember are:
- Remember to change your lawn mowing pattern regularly.
- Don’t cut your grass too short.
- Regularly aerating your lawn can prevent thatch.
- Learn the three key nutrients of lawn fertilization.
- Never over-apply fertilizer.
- Always check the weather before mowing or fertilizing your lawn.
By following these tips and tricks for lawn care, you will have a lawn you’re proud to display.
Now that you know what to do, it’s time to decide what tools you’ll use to create the lawn of your dreams. Visit Simple Lawn Solutions’ online store or shop our products on Amazon. You can find lawn food for every season, lawn boosters for any need, and our favorite garden soil conditioner. Whatever your lawn needs are, our products can help you!