Are You Making These Common Lawn Care Mistakes? What Not to Do, and How to Fix It If You Did
The best practices and expert-approved products for your greenest lawn ever
If the grass always seems greener in your neighbor’s yard, it might be because you’re falling prey to common lawn care faux-pas. But there’s no need to pull your hair (or your grass) out. Consider this your foolproof guide to getting the best-looking lawn in the neighborhood. (Plus, shop industry professionals’ favorite products!)
1. Don’t Give Your Lawn a Daily Shower
“It’s a common misconception that your lawn needs daily watering,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals. A deep soak rather than a surface-level one will help avoid instant evaporation that can occur during hot days, and decreases the chances of shallow root growth. “Following this practice means that you’ll save water in the long run, and your grass will strengthen with each deep soak,” she says.
The Fix: Products like the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller control your sprinklers on your mobile device or with smart home platforms like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and SmartThings, to automatically adapt for weather and optimize watering schedules to save you up to 50 percent more water.
2. Don’t Wait Until Weeds Have Taken Over Your Lawn
While there are plenty of products that can be used to get rid of weeds once they’ve decided to take up residence, a few preventative measures will end up saving you time (and an aching back) in the long run. “Weed prevention should not be approached with a quick-fix mindset,” Henriksen says. “Many ongoing lawn maintenance practices can help stop weed growth over the long haul.”
The Fix: Mowing your grass too short can actually make your lawn more susceptible to weeds. Raise the height of your mower’s cutting blades so your lawn is trimmed to about 2 ½ to 3 inches high. Occasional over-seeding can also help cut down on weeds over time, especially in thinner lawns.
3. Don’t Assume Fertilizers are “One-Size-Fits-All”
“Regular and proper fertilization is essential to maintaining a healthy lawn, but be careful not to fall into the trap of adopting a cookie-cutter approach to your lawn care strategy,” Henriksen says. “Not all fertilizers are the same, and various factors can — and should — affect your selection, such as type of grass, season and soil.”
The Fix: In late spring and early summer, it’s best to apply a fertilizer that contains slow-release nitrogen — the slower, the better. This will feed your grass gradually throughout the spring and summer, helping it to stay healthy without excessive growth. The experts at Koch Turf & Ornamental, a leading provider of enhanced efficiency fertilizers, recommend looking for products that contain higher amounts of slow-release nitrogen, such as Simplify.
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4. Don’t Forget to Update Your Mower and Its Parts
Thanks to modern technology, mowers are now powered by battery, fuel and electricity, and can be more customized to suit your grass. “Before buying, consider your yard’s size and terrain, and think about the machine’s power and how much physical effort you are willing to devote to mowing,” Henriksen says.
If you can’t spring for a new mower, give your current model a little TLC by balancing and sharpening blades, changing spark plugs and air filters, and draining old fuel. “Equipment and parts that are past their prime create extra work and can damage the lawn,” she says.
The Fix: For homeowners who want to save their time and energy, the high-tech, robotic 450X Husqvarna Automower mows your lawn autonomously (yes, really!). If comfort is key, the Toro TimeCutter HD zero-turn mower boasts an operator platform that is suspended from the rest of the mower to reduce bumps and vibrations so you don’t feel the rough terrain.
5. Don’t Take Too Much Off the Top
“Many DIY mowers try and save time by taking a little extra off the top on weekly mows, hoping to avoid next week’s cut. Sadly, this shortcut doesn’t help, and in fact, it can be detrimental to the health of your lawn,” cautions Henriksen. Keep in mind the one-third rule: Grass plants attempt to balance their above and below ground growth, so the root systems are roughly equal to the mass of grass blades. Remove no more than one-third of the grass blade at any one time to help keep this balance.
The Fix: Homeowners looking for a precise cut should look for a mower like John Deere’s Z345R. This model’s Accel Deep Mower Deck provides the user with better grass dispersion and improved cut quality.
6. Don’t Forget to Frame the Beauty of Your Well-Manicured Lawn
Once you have the lush lawn of your dreams, edge garden areas to provide the perfect finishing touch. “Use a trimmer for areas that are hard to reach with a mower or for spots that need a little extra attention,” Herniksen says. “Prune bushes so untended plants don’t steal attention from the well-cared-for lawn.”
The Fix: The new STIHL Lightning Battery System FSA 45 string trimmer is an affordable battery-powered option. It can swivel 90 degrees for vertical edging, and when the battery is fully charged, can trim the length of three football fields. Bonus: it weighs only 5.1 pounds (battery included).
For more tips on how to create beautiful lawns and landscapes, visit LoveYourLandscape.org.