Lawn Care Tips

  • Sharp blades

    Keeping your mower blades sharp can make your yard look fresher and more level. Grass also has a lot easier time recovering and not burning-out.

  • The one-third rule

    Cutting off more than 1/3 of the leangth of your grass at a time can stress out your lawn and make it look burnt-out.

  • Fighting the bare spots

    If your waiting for the grass to slowly grow into the bare spots, you are probably going to be disappointed. Always keep the grass seed handy and spread some over the bare spots as soon as they appear.

  • Choose your grass carefully

    Not all grasses are created equal, some like more sun, some like less. Some can tolerate drought and others need plenty of water. Cultivars are designed to grow slowly and with 50 million acres of lawn nationwide, the less mowing the better.

  • Testing first

    Testing your soil before buying lots of fertilizers can save time and money as well as being easy on your soil. Be careful when looking at organic and inorganic fertilizers.

  • Starting small

    TV shows are seem to be masters of transforming a yard in just 3 – 4 days, but many times they have huge crews to get everything done. Start small and build up as time goes on.

  • Knowing your yard

    Before beginning any major landscaping, consider the wind and sun patterns. A patio with no shade can really be a problem. Having a wind block can make evenings with guest much more enjoyable.

  • Needs and wants

    Making a list of the needs and wants for your yard can not only help in keeping cost down but also help in using the space to the maximum. Are looks or ease of maintenance higher on the list? Maybe a play area for the kids?

  • All about sizing

    When landscaping for a small yard sizing is key. Large bushes can often overwhelm the rest of the yard and make it look smaller than it already is. Along walkways up to your house plant medium size bright flowers and small ornamental trees such as cypress.

  • Benches do a lot

    Benches are often used in parks because of not only adding a place to sit but they also can help a lot with awkward spaces and bringing a corner into balance

  • Add a brick path

    Building a brick path to your doorway or shed can add interesting detail to your yard.

  • Consider natural and liquid feeds.

    In addition to man-made fertilizers, there are natural, organic materials that can be used to feed your lawn. A mulch mower chops up grass clippings and distributes them back onto the lawn, thereby returning nitrogen to the soil. Bonemeal makes a useful phosphorus feed, and liquid kelp is high in iron. Liquid feeds enter the plant through the leaves, giving quicker results than dry fertilizers, which dissolve in the soil and are then absorbed by the roots. Be sure to feed young plants using a can with a fine rose.

  • Maintain during a drought.

    During periods of drought grass stops growing, the blades turn yellow and then brown before dying back, exposing patches of soil. However, due to environmental concerns, lawns really only need water in extremely dry conditions. Lawns can recover quickly after drought and often make a full and rapid recovery when rain returns. If lawns must be watered, it should be done in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation loss.

  • Know when to apply mulches.

    Mulches are applied at different times depending on their purpose. For example, bark chips are spread over the soil after planting to suppress weeds. An organic mulch, such as manure, garden compost, chipped bark, or cocoa shells, must be laid over moist soil, whether in spring, after autumn and winter rains, or after watering. Organic mulches help retain moisture but if laid too close to plant stems can cause them to rot, so keep them at a safe distance. Some mulches, especially bark, use up nutrients temporarily as they decompose, so before laying them, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as fish meal. Lay organic mulches in a layer 4in (10cm) deep so they continue to provide cover as they slowly decompose and feed the soil. Replenish these mulches every year.

  • Spend time picking a fertilizer.

    Your local garden center will offer both organic (derived from plants and animals) and inorganic (chemically manufactured) fertilizers. Most are concentrated for convenience and available as liquids, powders that you dilute in water, or granules. Typical examples of organic fertilizers are pelleted chicken manure; blood, fish, and bonemeal; liquid seaweed fertilizer; and homemade plant feeds, such as the diluted liquor from a wormery, or fertilizers made from soaking comfrey leaves. Inorganic feeds include sulfate of potash, Growmore, and granular rose feeds.

  • Air supply.

    When grass gets too compacted, nutrients can’t penetrate to the root system where they’re most needed. That’s where aeration — poking holes in your lawn to improve oxygen circulation — comes in. Most people aerate with a simple tool that looks like two hollow tubes attached to the end of a long handle. Of course, you can also just waltz around your lawn in spiked sports shoes — that works fairly well too.

  • Study the elements.

    One of the biggest mistakes beginning landscapers make is not paying attention to things like the sun, wind, and rain. Placing a patio on the sunny side of your house can be pure misery in August. You also don’t want to place your grill or fire pit next to a windy corner. That pretty patio umbrella can become a missile if it’s placed in the wrong spot.

  • Focus on scale and pacing.

    It’s the trickiest principle in landscape design for beginners, but scale and pacing give your yard a pulled-together look. There will be variations in size, shape, and color, with tall plants against a building or in the back of a flowerbed, and paths that lead people through the space. You’ll want to repeat some elements, whether it’s a certain plant, a common color, or even a shape, so there’s a sense of cohesion.

  • Raise the mower so that you only cut the top third of grass.

    When it comes to sharing lawn secrets, the first one on many garden experts’ lips is mowing height. “Most people mow their lawns way too short, which stresses out the grass,” says Paul James, host of Gardening by the Yard. The secret, he says, is do less, not more: “I’m a great believer in benign neglect.” He recommends raising the mower to the highest possible notch so you’re mowing only the top third of the grass when you cut.

    Taller grass promotes better root development, Paul says, as well as shading the ground so it doesn’t dry out as fast. An added benefit: the taller grass blocks the sun that weed seeds require to germinate. And don’t believe for a moment that leaving grass taller is going to mean mowing more often, says Gary. “There’s a big misunderstanding that a lot of people have that if they cut it shorter, they won’t have to mow it as often,” say Gary. “But that’s absolutely false; it renews itself so fast that it doesn’t save you any time.”

  • Should you use sod or seed?

    No question but rolling out a carpet of sod is the quickest way to a beautiful lawn. But sod can get expensive, especially if your lawn is going to cover a large area. The alternative is seeding the area yourself, either by hand or with a method called hydroseeding, which has recently become quite popular. Long used by farmers to sow large fields, hydroseeding solves one of the main problems of hand seeding: even dispersal of seeds. The grass seed — a mix of varieties blended for your climate and the type of use your lawn will get — is mixed into a pulp made from virgin wood fibers, fertilizer and binding agents.

  • Prepare soil before planting.

    Planting a new lawn is like any good adventure: preparation and planning are key. No matter which planting method you plan to use, you need to prepare the area thoroughly to banish weeds and make sure soil won’t immediately crust over or compact into lumpy ruts. John Griggs, a master gardener in West Virginia, says the most important step — and one that many gardeners skip — is testing the pH of your soil. Do-it-yourself test kids are available from nurseries and catalogs, or you can take advantage of the testing offered by your state’s designated agricultural university. “It might seem like a hassle, but testing your soil will save you from pouring money into the ground,” John says.

    Start by stripping the area of all weeds, including roots, even if that means taking off the top six inches. Then rototill to a depth of at least six inches to loosen compaction and improve drainage. It’s extremely important to add loam and compost to enrich the soil; many experts suggest mixing equal parts of loam, sand and your original topsoil. You’re best off in the long run if you incorporate a slight slope to facilitate drainage and prevent pooling. Finally, use a roller to pack down the soil, then grade the area with a metal rake. Be as thorough as you can — remember, once you’ve put your seed or sod down, you can’t go back and regrade.

  • Mow your lawn in different patterns.

    Mowing should be done regularly. It’s best to remove small amounts of grass often rather than a lot in one cut. When mowing, start by cutting the outside edges first and then mow in straight lines up and down the center. At the ends where the mower is turned, it is worth leaving a double width strip. When the center is finished, these ends should be mown again to tidy up any missed patches — this is known as the “finishing strip.”

    Alternate the direction in which you cut the lawn each time. Otherwise ridges can form, particularly if you are using a mower with an attached roller. Consider mowing the lawn diagonally — this gives a neat finish and is an attractive alternative to going up and down its length. Another interesting alternative is to create a curved line which can be useful when mowing around curved flowerbeds, ponds, and circular patios.