A lawn in summer is a wonderful thing! It is the proper location for picnics, barbecues, slip-n-slides, and more. Forget chemical fertilizers and herbicides. You can still enjoy a healthy SAFE lawn by following natural lawn maintenance tips below.
When vegetation is kept short, grass has the advantage. If you want your lawn to be a lawn, and not turn into a meadow (or eventually a forest through succession), mowing is your best strategy. Be sure to mow at an appropriate height for your grass variety. Properly maintain your mower, and keep your blade sharp to prevent your grass from being susceptible to disease.
If you notice a layer of thatch on your soil, or if there are weeds with seed heads, bag your clippings. You can use them as mulch elsewhere, you can compost them, or you can have them carried off in lawn bags if this is available where you live. Otherwise, set your mower to mulch the grass clippings. Clippings are FREE nitrogen! It makes sense to use it to naturally feed your soil and lawn. With this in mind, use the clippings, rather than having the organic matter hauled away.
During dry periods, plan ahead by allowing your lawn to be cut a little longer, up to 4″ tall. This will help the grass to shade its own soil, and protect it from wind, preventing excessive evaporation. This leads us to our next tip.
A healthy lawn is resilient to drought. By watering deeply and less frequently, you are training your grass to grow its roots deeper into the soil, where water is more protected from evaporation. Not only will this make your life easier, but it will save water, and improve the health of your soil.
Follow instructions for watering freshly sodded lawns, or newly seeded areas, as infrequent watering may not be sufficient for those situations. For established lawns, however, it’s the best approach.
When you do water, it’s best to water in the early morning before dawn. This gives the water time to infiltrate the soil and roll off the blades of grass before the sun has a chance to steal it away through evaporation. The water will still be oxygenated when the grass will start really using it, as the sun rises and the day warms the land.
Dealing With Weeds
First, we should recognize that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place. When a weed shows up, there’s probably a good reason for it. Weeds come in to restore balance to struggling soil, either by covering it (groundcovers), developing deep taproots (like dandelions), fertilizing the soil (like clover), or promoting soil’s culture (all plants with roots).
You should be able to prevent most weeds by following the above practices. The best weapon against weeds is a thick, healthy lawn. If your lawn just isn’t thick enough to choke out weeds yet, that’s okay. Some weeds can easily be killed just by mowing. Others take a different approach. Some weeds like crab grass or Dallis grass can be a real headache.
The best solution for Dallis grass is to pull it up by its roots, as it has a tremendous ability to store carbohydrates and come back from having been cut. Crab grass can grow so low, that it avoids the mower blades entirely. Crab grass will sprawl and choke out your lawn, if you let it, but it’s easier to kill than Dalllis grass.
When using chemical solutions, avoid toxic herbicides. While they may have the intended effect on your own lawn, the toll it takes on the surrounding environment makes the benefit not worth the cost. If the health of your lawn lies in your soil, the health of our environment relies on the surrounding ecology.
There are some natural solutions available, like 20% concentrate agricultural vinegar (or cleaning vinegar available at many home stores), weed pullers, and weed torches. Just be aware, that most solutions will effect every plant it touches, so use a a hollow bottle, tube, or cup over the weed to protect surrounding grass when using vinegar or any other broad spectrum solution.
To help thicken your lawn to prevent weeds, we address…
Dealing With A Patchy Lawn
Patchy lawns are often caused by compacted soil, making the area unfavorable for turf grass. You can improve a barren area by raking the surface of the soil, and over seeding. (spreading grass seed) You can also add an organic slow-release nitrogen fertilizer, and water it in.
If the patchiness is owed to shade, choose an appropriate variety of grass seed that can handle shade in your area. Try to match with a newer more tolerant variety of the grass type your lawn already has. If you have the means, you can plug aerate your lawn (at least the patchy area) first. This will help with water infiltration and oxygen access to soil microbes. After the seed is down, you can also top with a thin layer of finished compost (and lightly rake it in), then water the area deeply.
The best way to prevent weeds is also the best way to cure a patchy lawn. Improve the soil health to provide the turf grass with ideal conditions, and your grass will outcompete the weeds. If you remember our logic about weeds, this makes perfect sense. Once soil issues are resolved, the weeds no longer serve a functional use, and the grass will happily choke it out.
Looking For A Lawn Of Your Own?
A place to enjoy the outdoors just outside your own door is a wonderful thing. If you are looking for one of your own, whether your first, or your next, Benchmark has your back.
Find your Benchmark branch and call or email to get started today.Give us a call or contact us today.Give me a call, send me an email, or request a call today. My team and I will take good care of you.
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