7 Simple Steps To The Healthy Lawn Of Your Dreams

    If lawns are supposed to be green and lush, why in the world – despite your best efforts -- does yours always end up looking kind of brownish and drab? Take heart. Turning a “meh” yard full of grass into a green and healthy lawn can actually be a pretty simple process. It’s all in knowing the right way to take care it. Find out our 7 simple lawn maintenance tips.

    1. Water right. A good deep soak is much better for your grass (not to mention easier) than more frequent, shallower sprinkles; it promotes the growth of a strong root system. The first time you experiment with this new lawn maintenance method, you should actually dig into the soil every 15 minutes as you water, to make sure it is damp to a depth of 6 inches. Note the amount of time it takes to get to this goal and use that as your gold standard for future waterings. Water early in the morning, rather than in the heat of the day (to avoid excessive evaporation) or at night (to minimize the risk of mold).

    2. Cut the lawn correctly. Don’t be over-zealous in mowing your lawn or you’ll likely end up with grass that is just too short to do what should come naturally – namely, nourishing the plant via photosynthesis, helping to hold moisture in the soil when the summer sun beats down, and protecting against pest infestation. Ideally, you should set your mower to cut off only about one-third of each blade of grass. How often you’ll need to mow depends on the species of grass and the rate of growth.

    3. Learn to aerate your soil. In order to reduce compaction of the soil, aerate your lawn on an annual basis, in the fall or spring. Rent a gas-powered aerator for this procedure, which entails mechanically removing small plugs of earth (that will then harmlessly decompose on the surface of your yard). You will be literally opening up pathways that encourage life-giving air, water, and nutrients to reach right down to your grass’s roots.

    4. Feed the grass. Feed your lawn by leaving grass clippings where they fall and/or by adding compost. If you fertilize, choose an organic product. Read the instructions on the bag. Then follow them to a T, keeping in mind that more is not better. Too much of a good thing can harm rather than helping; in this case, an overdose of fertilizer may actually “burn” your lawn soil and (even worse) run off into local waterways, leading to toxic algal bloom.

    5. Weed the eco-friendly way. Smother young weed seedlings (weedlings?) in a covering of mulch so they can’t take hold. If they’ve grown too big for that method, try pouring boiling water on them – just be sure to avoid dousing the surrounding grass. Or take a trowel, together with a pair of gel-filled gardening kneepads, so you can get down to their level and yank weeds out by hand.

    6. Talk to your neighbors. If yours is the ugly duckling on a block otherwise full of beautiful green lawns, why suffer in silence? Consult your neighbors to find out what they’ve got that you are somehow missing. Chances are they will be happy to help you achieve a healthy lawn to upgrade the look of your yard and, by extension, the appearance of the whole neighborhood.

    7. Think out of the box. Maybe the “lawn” of your dreams won’t turn out to be a traditional expanse of grass, after all. Consult a landscape specialist about the possibility of xeriscaping (planting with native drought-resistant species), which will cut down on the need for watering and other lawn care, while at the same time improving the soil in your yard.

    Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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