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
Garden Hose – A quality garden hose brings valuable water from the faucet to every inch of your yard. Gilmour’s durable Flexogen Super Duty Hose holds up for years.
Sprinkler – Watering is arguably the single most important task that needs to be done consistently to keep lawns healthy and thriving. And with so many sprinklers to choose from, you’ll be able to find the best one for the job.
Wheelbarrow or Garden Cart – This useful tool on wheels can be used to haul everything needed for your lawn and garden. Easily transport soil, fertilizer, seeds and tools. You can even use it to store all your garden tools in one place for easy access.
Trowel – The pointed blade of this hand tool makes it ideal for breaking up soil and digging small holes. Use it to help fill in small holes or dig up weeds with extensive root systems.
Garden Shears – A heavy-duty version of scissors, these small shears are perfect to trim along garden beds or snip the heads off bothersome weeds.
Lawn Rake – Use a lawn rake to clean up fall leaves, remove grass clippings and tidy up the yard. Look for a rake with metal prongs for longevity.
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.
Best Time to Water: The best time to water is during early morning hours – a general rule is between 6 – 10 a.m. During these cooler morning hours, wind is often minimal. And since this is the coolest part of the day, it reduces evaporation to make the most out of each watering session.
Frequency of Watering: How often to water lawn areas depends on a number of factors, including type of soil, type of grass, average temperature of a zone and amount of rainfall. Resist the urge to water every day. A healthy lawn has deep roots that can tap reserves of moisture way down in the soil.
How Much to Water (Amount): How much water grass needs depends on the amount of rainfall that was received during the week. In general, provide lawns with a total of between 1 to 2 inches every week. Instead of watering in short amounts of water every day, it is best to water once or twice per week for a longer time period to encourage deep root growth.
How Long to Water (Timing): A quick way to measure the ideal length of time to water each session is by placing straight-sided plastic containers around your lawn. With the sprinklers on, time how long it takes for water to reach the necessary depth in the containers. You may find that you need to adjust your sprinkler’s location to give the lawn an even watering.
Use a Timer: Busy summer schedules can make remembering to water lawns a little more challenging. The easiest way to water is to connect the irrigation to an electronic water timer. It is simple to program the timer’s start time, frequency and duration of watering. And a convenient rain delay feature pauses watering schedules to prevent unnecessary watering on rainy days.
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.
Warm-season lawns (such as zoysia and St. Augustine) should be fertilized while grass is growing. Fertilizing too early in the spring will encourage weeds.
Cool-season lawns (such as bluegrass, rye and fescue) should be fertilized in the fall. This builds healthy roots throughout their main growing season.
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 ? 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.
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.