What you don’t know will hurt your lawn and if you want that idyllic lush green lawn, there are some common lawn care mistakes that you’ll need to avoid like the plague. Most homeowners coast through year after year making these mistakes and are never able to get the lawn they want. Check out these common mistakes so you can make your neighbors green with envy.
Common Lawn Care Mistakes
TRIMMING GRASS TOO SHORT
Trimming your grass too short can expose its roots to harsh sunlight which can dry them out and kill your lawn. There is also less of the grass blade to catch the sunlight and use it for photosynthesis which will essentially starve your lawn. If your grass isn’t long enough, you’ll be able to tell within a few days with the emergence of brown spots or bare soil over a longer time frame. The danger of this is that this gives weeds real estate to take root and further damage your lawn.
So, what are you to do? How long you cut your lawn depends on the type of grass you have. Warm season grasses have larger, flatter grass blades which are better at absorbing sunlight so they can be cut rather short without much worry. Cool season grasses have thin blades which need to be longer so they’re able to absorb enough light for photosynthesis. You’ll have to keep these longer than a warm season grass.
NOT pH TESTING
You might be thinking that pH testing is only for pools, but you would be wrong. A lawn’s pH is vitally important in its ability to grow properly and that band is more narrow than you might think. Most grasses will thrive if the soil’s pH is between 6.0 – 6.5 and testing your soil is the only way to find this out. Ignoring it won’t change it or make it better.
If your pH is out of whack, you’ll need to add either a lime based treatment or a sulfur based treatment to bring it back within that optimal range.
BAGGING LAWN CLIPPINGS
Many people swear by raking up or bagging your lawn clippings, but we’re here to tell you that you’re missing out on free fertilizer. Now, you shouldn’t just leave the clippings as is. That will obscure sunlight and kill the grass beneath the clippings. It’s just like leave a kiddie pool out for a day or two after your kids played in it over the weekend. You’ll be left with a nice circle of dead grass.
To make the most out of your lawn clippings, you want to have a self mulching lawn mower that can shred those clippings into fine pieces that will decompose and provide nutrients for your lawn.
WATERING TOO OFTEN
There are two main faults with watering too often. Either A) you’re watering often and shallow, or B) you’re watering often and deep. You don’t want to do either. The former will cause your lawn’s root system to be very shallow and located near the surface of your soil. When you have a shallow root system, your lawn will not be able to weather heat waves and/or droughts. Your roots won’t be able to reach the moisture in the deeper layers of your soil.
Doing the latter will cause unnecessary erosion to your lawn which will in turn cause run off. On top of that, having too much moisture creates an environment where fungus and disease can take root and make your lawn sick.
USING THE WRONG FERTILIZER
Different grasses need different fertilizers at different times of the year and that’s not even taking your lawn’s pH into account which can affect what type of fertilizer and how much you need to spread. If you add too much fertilizer, the grass blades can grow too much while the roots suffer and if you add too much it can actually destroy your roots because of the high concentration. Spread it at the wrong time and it can imbalance your lawn’s pH and lead to a host of other problems there.
The key to fertilizing your lawn is to 1) know your grass type, 2) know your lawn’s pH, and 3) know your lawn’s growing season. If you have those 3 things locked down, you’ll be able to spread the right amount of fertilizer at the right time to make the most out of it.
CUTTING WITH A DULL BLADE
The sad truth is that most homeowners will never get their lawn mower blade sharpened. It’s that age old concept of out of sight, out of mind. Now, provided that you aren’t mowing over rocks and fallen branches, your mower blade should last quite a long time before it needs to be sharpened again. It’s a metal blade that’s cutting grass. The wear and tear is minimal in that regard.
Mowing with a dull blade rips the tips of the grass blade rather than cutting it cleanly. This causes a ragged end that loses its green hue leaving it a whitish tan color. This creates an optical illusion that your lawn isn’t healthy. It is. It just looks like it isn’t. This misconception has led many a homeowner to overcorrecting their lawncare and actually making a healthy lawn unhealthy instead.
The fix is quite simple, just get your blade sharpened at the beginning of your growing season. That’s it. You have to tune it up anyways so you might as well get the blade sharpened as well.
WATERING AT NIGHT
There is a correct way of watering your lawn and doing it at night isn’t it. It sounds counterintuitive because watering at night would let the water completely soak into your lawn instead of evaporating in the harsh sunlight, right? Yes. That is correct, but it also leaves your lawn moist during the darkest part of the day which is a perfect recipe to grow molds, fungus, and other diseases that can damage or kill your lawn.
The best time to water your lawn is actually first thing in the morning. You still get the benefit of letting most of the water soak into the soil, but any excess evaporates throughout the day so your lawn gets all the water it needs without any negative repercussions.