Tips & Techniques
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Lawn Care Tips for a Healthy Lawn that Lasts Year-Round

Gardening

By Matt Helf

If you are looking for lawn care tips to ensure you have a beautiful, lush, green lawn all season long, Gilmour’s lawn maintenance guide is all you need to read. Learn everything there is to know about yard maintenance.

How to Care For and Maintain a Healthy Lawn

Having the proper tools to maintain a lawn can transform grueling yardwork from a labor-intensive chore to an activity you may actually enjoy. Start with the basics and expand as you need certain tools. If you’re a one-stop-shopping type, make a single big shopping trip to gather everything needed all at one time.

Basic Tools to Grow a Healthy Lawn

Test the Soil

While most gardeners know and understand the importance of seeding and fertilizing lawns, many forget an important first step. Top lawn care experts suggest testing a soil’s pH level at least once every three years to make sure it is optimal and a strong foundation for healthy, green grass.

A soil test should be done in early spring to help determine if soil is too acidic or alkaline. Missing elements such as calcium, magnesium or sulfur affect a lawn’s ability to grow and should be replenished with nutrient-boosters.

So how can you start testing? Most hardware stores have easy-to-use kits that include a chart to interpret the results. Follow the directions carefully and take a sample when the soil is dry. Take samples from a few different locations in the yard because soil composition can vary.

How to Water Your Lawn

Grass needs consistent moisture to grow and maintain a beautiful green appearance. Keep lawns vibrant and healthy by using proper watering techniques.

Water Without Waste: While watering is clearly necessary for all around lawn care, professional landscapers know how to get the job done without wasting this precious resource.

To save time, money and water, repair leaky hoses and nozzles promptly. It really is easy to do (easier than you may think). Repair a punctured hose using a Compression Mender—no tools needed. Leaky nozzle? Fix with pliers and a replacement washer or an O-ring.

Watering smart is a snap with an Adjustable Length Wind-resistant Sprinkler, which automatically adjusts the height of its spray so not one drop of water is wasted – even on a windy day.

Mowing Your Lawn Properly

The best time to mow your lawn is when it is perfectly dry. Grass blades will cut neater and the clippings will be left behind rather than clumping on shoes and mower wheels and tracking along mow paths. Because of changing weather conditions, it may seem impossible to implement a consistent mowing schedule. You may be mowing twice per week in the spring, or every other week during late summer. Most grasses thrive when kept at a height of 3 to 4 inches. Don’t let grass get any taller than 5 inches before mowing. Mowing more than 1/3 of the grass’ length at a time can stall lawn growth, making it more vulnerable to weeds.

Taking Care of Lawn Mowers: You should know how to maintain a lawn mower as part of your overall yard maintenance. It is smart to have lawn mower blades sharpened once per year. Sharp blades make clean cuts, neatly slicing through the grass blades instead of ripping them. To prevent a lawn mower from rusting, wash off all the little grass bits after mowing. Keep a garden hose and nozzle close by where you store your mower for easy cleaning. Gilmour’s cleaning nozzle sprays a strong jet of water to wash off grass clippings, dirt and other debris.

Aerating Your Lawn

Over time, lawns develop a layer of built-up grass, or thatch, under the surface. It may not be easy to see, but thatch prevents nutrients, moisture and oxygen from reaching the soil beneath the grass. It can turn lawns brown and patchy, leaving you frustrated and wondering how to grow a green lawn. The simplest answer to a thatch problem is to aerate areas by poking some holes in them.

The holes created by aeration break the thatch and compacted soil up while encouraging roots to grow stronger and deeper. At the beginning of the growing season, use a spike aerator or a plug aerator on a moist lawn to create holes in the surface of the grass. Excavated soil plugs can be left on the grass and then broken up with a mower or raked once they’ve dried out.

Fertilizing Your Lawn

Fertilizing lawns is an essential part of yard maintenance. Knowing how, when and what type of fertilizer to use can be the difference between having a yard that thrives and one that struggles.

How to Fertilize: The best way to add nutrients to a lawn is to simply leave grass clippings after mowing – as long as only an inch or two was cut. Grass clippings break down quickly, adding nitrogen and organic materials to soil.

When to Fertilize: The best time to fertilize lawns depends on the type of grass growing.

Type of Fertilizer: Choose a quality grass fertilizer and follow the directions on the label. After fertilizing, sweep sidewalks, pathways and patios so no fertilizer is wasted. Water the fertilized areas well to ensure fertilizer settles deep in the grass roots.

Seeding Bare Spots

Don’t let weeds seize the opportunity to establish themselves in bare spots. Easily seed bare areas by roughing up the soil with a rake, sprinkling on a bit of compost or topsoil and sowing grass seeds by hand. Make sure seeds make good contact with the soil by tamping them down with your shoe, then water the entire area.

Tip – Type of Seed: When it comes to selecting seed for your yard, don’t forget to read the label inexpensive seed can sometimes contain weed and crop seed from undesirable plants. Look for a high purity percentage for the best possible start.

Tip – Watering New Seed: Groundskeepers say newly seeded grass should be watered at least twice a day to ensure lush, green grass. Once seeds begin to germinate, water once per day. Continue watering frequently until new grass has been mowed twice.

Tip – Mowing New Seed: How do you know when it is safe to start mowing newly seeded lawns? Experts suggest waiting until new grass is between 3 to 3 ½ inches long. This gives the grass enough time to establish roots. A water timer can help prevent accidentally skipping a watering session during a newly seeded lawn’s critical growth stage.

Rake Often

Raking lawns is a necessary part of yard maintenance and seasonal lawn care. While blades of grass left from mowing are great for adding nutrients and rich organic matter back into soil, too much can smother grass. The same is true for leaves dropped during the fall. Leaves left on lawns too long can suffocate grass or promote snow mold diseases in the winter, prohibiting growth in the spring. Prompt, regular raking will ensure a healthy lawn all year long, especially on matted or bare areas.

How to Rake Matted Grass: Use a metal-toothed thatch rake to loosen dead or matted turf. Raking dead lawn areas will expose and loosen matted grass to allow air, water and nutrients to reach the soil. Rake from various directions to pull up any deadened turf and thatch. When finished, mow the area with mower wheels set one setting lower than normal to allow the mower to suck up the dead, loose turf.

How to Rake Leaves: Mowing before raking is one of the best lawn maintenance tips the pros use. It is easier to rake crunched leave than whole. Use a lightweight rake and with small motions, pull leaves toward you – this method will reduce both dust and fatigue. Rake leaves directly onto a tarp for easy transport and clean up once finished.

Prep for Weeds Early

If you are looking for a natural solution for pesky weeds, the old-fashioned way always works: pulling. Watering areas that need to be weeded for a few minutes before pulling makes it easier to remove weeds quickly.

A healthy lawn doesn’t need a lot of pampering. Smart lawn care practices create healthy grass, saving you time, money and energy. So instead of fussing over your lawn, you’ll have more time to enjoy it.

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