Take Care of Your Lawn with These Helpful Tips

Lawn care is one of those gardening tasks that can take you as much or as little time as you are willing to give it.

Once you know how to take care of your lawn – which this article will show you – you can take these lawn care tips and tailor them to the amount of time you have available.

In a sense, lawn maintenance is a never-ending task because your lawn is a living thing.

It is subject to the effects of the living world around it – the insects and bugs in the soil, maybe pets or other animals scratching at its surface, you and your family walking, running and playing on it.

And then there’s the influence of the weather, which provides an ever-changing environment in which the lawn has to survive and, hopefully, thrive.

Nevertheless, lawns are a virtually ever-present feature of modern gardens.

They are infinitely versatile and can be a relaxation zone, a football pitch, a play area or a design feature and foil for the trees, shrubs and plants displayed in the garden.

Lawn maintenance

One of the reasons for the popularity of lawns is, ironically, that they are often seen as a low-maintenance option.

To some extent, this is true. In temperate climates, a lawn will grow without much effort from you. Indeed, in the right conditions, your lawn will grow and grow unchecked.

And, if you are not looking for the perfect green velvet finish, you can keep your lawn serviceable, for a while at least, by merely giving it a mow every couple of weeks in the growing season.

However, lawns left to their own devices will undoubtedly go-down over time.

A lawn may develop problems associated with soil compaction, poor drainage or the impact of pests and ailments.

A lawn may also consist of the wrong types of grasses for the climatic or other environmental conditions it is subject to.

And this can change as a lawn’s uses change. For example, because some types of grasses are more hard-wearing than others, a lawn planted by an elderly couple for its visual beauty may not be able to withstand the impact of a family with 4 children and a dog if the property changes hands.

In all of these matters, the likelihood is that the lawn grasses will gradually pass away back and be replaced by weeds and mosses and other unwelcome additions.

Lawn care services

So, in view of the lawn’s tendency to decline in quality over time, it is worth considering how you should go about caring for your lawn.

Of course there are lots of lawn care companies who will provide ongoing lawn care services and lawn maintenance.

There are national companies like Scotts Lawn Care or Tru Green that will set up a maintenance program for you. These will involve varying degrees of work on the part of the company, according to how much you want to pay.

You’ll also find local lawn care services companies. These may be small operations offering a lawn mowing service, or businesses offering a full lawn maintenance approach.

As ever, work out what it is you need and shop around to find the best value deal.

Do-it-yourself lawn care tips and advice

However, depending on your own personal circumstances, you may want to take care of your lawns yourself and I’d certainly encourage you to do so.

Whilst there is lots of detailed lawn care advice around that will help you, there are 3 main lawn care tips that I think you should bear in mind when it comes to developing or maintaining a lawn.

1. Soil preparation

Lawns won’t thrive in soil that is compacted and/or poorly drained.

The underlying soil needs to be friable enough for the roots of the lawn grasses to penetrate and for water and nutrients to seep into the soil so that they are available to be taken up by the grassroots.

What this means is that when you are sowing a lawn or laying turf, you should take care to prepare the underlying soil well. Dig it over to at least a spade’s depth, remove all weed roots and large stones and rake it flat.

For existing lawns, you need to may need to add drainage to particularly poorly drained areas.

You should also at least ensure that you break up compaction by regular aeration and remove the build-up weeds and moss by regularly scarifying the surface. There is more on this below under the ‘regular maintenance heading’.

2. Right grass right place

Different grass species thrive in different conditions. Some grasses will not tolerate shade, while others, like Tall Fescue, will. Some thrive in full sun, others don’t.

Different grasses will also suit different soil types. So you should find out whether you have sandy, clay or loamy soil.

Finally, some grasses are harder wearing and better suited to highly trafficked areas.

Sowing grass seed: what do you need to know?

When choosing the best-growing grass seed for your area, there are several factors to consider.

First, determine your regional growth patterns and cycles, as well as your climate type.

There are two basic categories of lawn grass, cool-season grasses and warm season. Just as the name implies, cool-season grass grows particularly well in cool temperature climates. Likewise, warm-season grass thrives in warm and hot climates.

Once you identify your regional climate type, you can select between these two types of grasses.

Second, determine the level of maintenance you want to put into your lawn. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of each grass type.

For instance, cool-season grass often needs more water during warmer temperatures, so you’ll have to be out with the garden hose more often during the spring and summer. Likewise, warm-season grass is not as tolerant of cold temperatures, and will generally turn brown and go dormant during cold spells.

Try to find a happy medium. Horticulturalists use the term “transition zone” to indicate areas with hot summers and cold winters. In these regions, it’s a toss-up as to whether or not you want to go with a cool-season grass or warm-season grass.

The best advice is to consider the longest season and go from there. In addition, keeping your lawn well-fed and watered, as well as sown and re-seeded from time to time, will help your grass thrive through less-than-optimum temperatures.

The different types of grasses

Once you have worked out which kind of grass you need – warm or cold season, you can decide on the particular species..

Warm-season grasses

Among warm-season grasses, these are some of the most popular:

  • Zoysia grass: Zoysia grass is particularly durable grass that can be walked on without much damage. In addition, it thrives in a wide range of soil types. However, it does require some watering and good drainage so it doesn’t go dormant.
  • Buffalo grass: This type is particularly popular with homeowners who don’t want to put a lot of time into lawn maintenance, because Buffalo grass doesn’t need to be watered as often as other types, even in drought conditions. However, it isn’t as durable when it comes to foot traffic. While it does well in several different soils, Buffalo grass particularly thrives in sand and clay.
  • Bermuda grass: This is a popular type of grass because it doesn’t require much maintenance and watering, and it thrives in a wide variety of soils. However, it doesn’t tolerate cold temperatures very well, and it does need to have a great deal of direct sunlight in order to grow and remain healthy.

Cool-season grasses

Cool-season grasses include the following:

  • Perennial ryegrass: This is not only fast-growing but also durable for foot traffic and can grow even in shady areas. However, it does need to be watered a fair bit during the spring and summer to keep it green. Perennial ryegrass also requires a fairly rich type of soil.
  • Tall fescue: This type of grass doesn’t need to be watered as often, and thrives even through drought conditions. It also tolerates shade. While it is a slower-growing lawn alternative, it doesn’t require much maintenance and prefers sandy and clay soils.
  • Fine fescue: Fine fescue is actually a term that includes different types of fescue grasses, including chewing, hard, red, and sheep. These all thrive in shaded areas and don’t require much watering or maintenance. They are durable as well.
  • Kentucky bluegrass: Kentucky bluegrass (also called smooth stalked meadow grass) creates a particularly beautiful and durable lawn, provided it is planted in rich soil. This type of grass can thrive in shady areas as well. Kentucky bluegrass requires frequent watering during the summer or it will quickly go dormant.

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