Research by the National Association of Landscape Professionals found that the majority of US homeowners lack basic knowledge about lawn maintenance.
Many survey participants admitted they didn’t know how to grow a healthy lawn—meaning that you aren’t alone if you have your doubts!
In the thick of the hot summer months, we tend to want our grass to grow in idyllic green hues, but that’s not always as easy as it sounds.
Get to Know Your Soil
If you’re starting from scratch, performing a soil test is one of the first things that pop up on any reputable lawn care guide. Knowing what’s going on under the ground is critical for a healthy lawn. If you’ve avoided doing a test in the past, this is another wake-up call!
You can even do some simple DIY tests yourself, or you can spring for a test kit to give you more in-depth information. These manufactured kits can help you learn essentials like the pH of your soil, which in turn affects how plants will grow.
To do this right, make sure you test soil samples from different areas of your lawn. For example, check for any bare patches, sections with moss, or dry areas beneath trees.
Fix Your Soil Issues
Once you know where you stand with your soil, it’s time to turn it into a great foundation for healthy grass.
You can adjust the pH of your soil with different materials, though you’ll generally use either sulfur- or limestone-based products to do so. Decide which type of soil amendment is right for you and apply it to your yard to bring your soil back into balance.
Pick the Best Grass
Depending on the climate of your region, you’ll have better luck with certain types of grasses. For example, bluegrass tends to grow best in the Pacific Northwest, while homeowners in the Deep South might benefit from St. Augustine grass instead.
An added benefit of finding the perfect grass for your region is that it will be hardier and healthier in the long run, requiring less water and maintenance on your end.
Feed Your Grass
It seems like grass should be a set-it-and-forget-it part of your home, but it actually needs proper nutrition to continue growing. Fertilizing also keeps your lawn more resistant to heat and drought. Make sure to choose a slow-release fertilizer that works with the type of grass you have in your yard.
As you move forward, however, don’t forget that too much food can actually damage your lawn. Try to stick to a regular lawn maintenance schedule so you aren’t tempted to fertilize more often than your lawn actually needs.
Summer is when insects come out in full force, and if you aren’t vigilant, you may end up with a minor plague in your yard.
Keep in mind, of course, that not all insects will actually hurt your lawn. Bugs like spiders, ladybugs, praying mantises, ground beetles, and lacewings feed on other creatures that could harm your turf.
On the other hand, certain insects are worth kicking out. European crane flies, mole crickets, and white grubs, for example, can feed on your grassroots during the summer months. If you start noticing brown patches in your lawn, you may have an infestation on your hands.
There are a few things you can try before reaching for the insecticide, but you may need to resort to a chemical product for a particularly tough infestation.
Pick The Best Height for Mowing
It may seem unlikely that the height of your grass affects its health, but it’s true!
A general rule of thumb is to cut warm-season grasses to 2-3 inches, and cool-season grasses to 3-4 inches.
However, every type of grass has an ideal mowing height, and summertime grass should be left a little on the long side. This provides a little extra shade for the soil, which in turn helps keep water from evaporating as quickly.
Use Sharp Mower Blades
When you mow your lawn, you should use the best tools for the job—and that includes sharp mower blades.
This may seem inconsequential, but dull blades can tear grass and leave ragged edges that turn brown in time. These ragged edges can even leave your grass vulnerable to disease organisms, and they can also facilitate moisture loss.
A new mower blade will last for about 10 hours of mowing. After you’ve reached that limit, it’s time to replace your blade.
Leave Lawn Clippings Where They Lie
Provided that you’re mowing your grass to the right height, you should leave your lawn clippings to rest on the lawn. This process, also known as grasscycling, offers a few big benefits.
First, it helps keep yard clippings—billions of tons of which end up in landfills each year—from going into the trash.
Second, it traps moisture for your grass and adds valuable nitrogen to your soil. Not bad advantages, considering they also let you avoid stooping over to bag your lawn clippings every time you mow!
Wondering how often to water your lawn? Well, just as with any other plant, grass grows well with deep waterings that occur less frequently. If you water grass lightly and often, it tends to grow shallow roots that make it more vulnerable to stress like droughts.
Figuring out the exact amount of water your lawn needs can be tricky, but because the health of your turf depends on it, you might want to make the effort.
Get Started With Better Lawn Maintenance
A green lawn offers a beautiful outdoor space to enjoy, as well as a healthy dose of curb appeal. Fortunately, a little planning and elbow grease (or a lawn maintenance service!) can help you keep your lawn growing strong, even in the scorching summer months.
If you want to learn more about tending to the outside of your home, check out our other posts for great tips!