You could buy a lawnmower, but having a goat eat your grass is so much more fun. Photo by -JvL-/Flickr Creative Commons.
A lush lawn is striking, and greatly improves the curb appeal of your home. But cultivating the perfect patch of grass is actually about more than just simple aesthetics. A well-maintained lawn provides a sort of protective effect, by reducing soil erosion, absorbing rainfall, improving drainage, and contributing to better air quality in the area. Yeah but okay, also it looks really pretty.
So you may be wondering how to get a nice lawn. And lucky for you, I’m about to tell you!
First, only fertilize once a year. I know, I know, you’ve heard you need to fertilize often for maximum growth. But wait – who’s telling you that? Oh, the people trying to sell you fertilizer? Well, “things that make you go hmm”, hmm?
Instead, try fertilizing once a year in the fall. Too much fertilizer too often leads to a fast-growing lawn that’s weak and susceptible to pests and disease. As well, PUT DOWN the pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. Seriously. Just like a round of antibiotics will do a number on your system because it kills all the microorganisms in your body – both good and bad – these chemicals are indiscriminate in their killing and thus weaken the entire little grassy ecosystem. It may be tempting to go all high-tech Terminator but trust me – focus on making your grass strong and healthy, and you wont even have to worry about pests and disease.
When you do fertilize, choose an organic fertilizer with no more than 10% nitrogen. Organic fertilizers are easier on the lawn and the beneficial microorganisms that live there, because they’re low in chemical salts and the organic composition is slower to break down and seep into the soil.
Keep it long and lovely. Shorter grass lets sun penetrate the soil, and thus allows weed seeds to germinate and grow. Conversely, longer grass makes shade to prevent unwanted volunteers from growing, and also keeps the soil cooler and the grass roots happier. Most importantly, it promoted deeply-penetrating roots, which is the best drought-preventative measure and just may be the thing to keep your lawn alive through the dog days of summer. Bottom line: adjust your lawn mower to the absolute highest setting. You may have to mow more often, but it will pay off in the end.
And keep those blades good and sharp!
Water for longer, but less often. This goes back to encouraging deep-penetrating roots. If you only water for a few minutes every day, then the water will never saturate deeply into the soil, and the roots will have no reason to dig down. Instead, water once a week for a half hour or so. This way the moisture will seep deep down, and encourage the roots to keep going.
As well, it’s okay to let your lawn go brown during the warm months. It’s actually the natural cycle of the plant, a dormancy designed to conserve nutrients. As long as you’ve been promoting deep-penetrating roots, your grass should be able to withstand a long dry spell. You can go up to a month without watering at all, if you’d prefer to conserve.
It’s actually pretty easy to keep your lawn looking good and lasting long. With a bit of preventative care and a bit of common sense, you’ll get a whole lot of happy grass.
Sayward Rebhal writes for Networx.com.