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Many homeowners make the mistake of believing that grass is everywhere because it is easy to care for. In truth, turfgrass is the most plentiful irrigated crop in the United States, but that doesn’t make it sturdy or resilient — in most places in the U.S., the opposite is true. Grass doesn’t grow naturally; it requires an intense amount of care and maintenance to thrive.
Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t know what it takes to get the thick, deep-green grass they see on golf courses and in movies. As a result, homeowners tend to make serious mistakes in their lawn care. While searching the web for a “professional lawn care service near me” is a good way to avoid making any grass-related mistakes, it’s also a good idea to learn what most homeowners do drastically wrong with their lawns:
Mowing Way Too Short
If grass were the same as hair, this strategy would make sense: Homeowners mow as close to the ground as possible, which allows them more time for the grass to grow before it needs to be mowed again. Unfortunately, that’s not how grass works.
Every variety of grass has a preferred length. At this length, the grass is at its healthiest, meaning it shows a vibrant green color, grows thick and lustrous and is more resistant to weeds, pests and disease. Allowing a lawn to grow too long will weaken the organism, making it more likely to develop problems, but cropping a lawn almost to the ground is a sure-fire way to shock it to death.
Homeowners should try to identify the variety of grass in their yard — or hire an expert to do it for them. Then, they can have a better idea of the optimal mowing height of their grass and avoid wasteful mistakes like this one.
Watering Way Too Much
Grass needs water to grow — that much is true. However, grass typically needs much less water than most homeowners expect. Too much water will drown a lawn, allowing the invasion of pests and fungal diseases. Additionally, water can carry away vital nutrients in the soil, causing the lawn to starve.
As a general rule, experts advocate watering a lawn with 1.5 inches of water per week. This doesn’t mean filling any vessel with 1.5 inches of water and splashing it on a patch of grass; it means soaking the soil to a depth of 1.5 inches. Additionally, experts say that watering for a long period of time with less frequency is better than watering every day for a shorter duration.
Homeowners with sprinklers can discover how much water they are giving their lawns with a simple test, often called the tuna can test. Place a number of shallow containers, usually tuna cans, at various places around the lawn. Then, turn on the sprinkler as usual. Homeowners should check the cans periodically during the cycle, measuring the depth of the water. If it reaches 1.5 inches before the cycle is through, it’s likely that lawn is over-watered, and homeowners should alter their sprinkling schedule accordingly.
Using Mowing Blades Way Too Dull
If a lawn mower turns on, most homeowners aren’t going to question whether it is capable of mowing a lawn correctly. However, dull mower blades are a major cause of concern for anyone who wants healthy grass. This is because dull blades rip the grass rather than slicing it cleanly; the grass will struggle to heal the ragged tear, meaning that it is much more likely to contract a disease through its open wound. Homeowners can sharpen their mower blades themselves, but it is advisable to take the blades to a lawn mower repair shop, where they will receive a professional sharpening.
Fertilizing Way Too Little
Sunshine and water aren’t all a lawn needs. Grass is particularly voracious, meaning it can strip soil of necessary nutrients in a matter of months. Unfortunately, many homeowners neglect to apply fertilizer to their lawns in a timely manner, meaning grass can go months or years without taking in nitrogen, phosphorus and potash — three vital macronutrients that keep a lawn green, thick and healthy.
While some of the greenest lawns are fertilized on a tight schedule — every week or so — most residential lawns only need to be fed once or twice per year. Homeowners in regions with snowy winters are advised to fertilize in mid-fall with a high-phosphorus lawn food, which will keep the lawn’s roots safe during dormancy. Warmer regions should fertilize in mid-to-late spring with a high-nitrogen compound, which will facilitate thick, green growth.
These are by no means the only mistakes homeowners make in lawn care; homeowners mistreat their lawns in a multitude of unique ways that make it impossible to address every issue in one web post. Still, homeowners making the above major mistakes can alter their behavior and take big leaps toward a healthier, more attractive lawn.