Having a beautiful and healthy-looking green lawn requires some knowledge and some work and a little bit of luck too. It doesn’t matter how attentive you are to your lawn, if you lack a certain degree of knowledge about the right way to care for your grass, you could end up doing it more harm than good. While learning from experience is one way to get that knowledge, it’s even better to be able to learn from someone else’s experience. To keep your patch of green happy and thriving, make sure you’re not making any of the following lawn care mistakes commonly made by homeowners.
#1 Cutting the grass too short
While it might be tempting to cut the grass very short to reduce the number of times you have to mow, this can be damaging to the grass. When grass is cut too short, the blades are less able to absorb sunlight or moisture from the ground, and the root system is weakened. The rule of thumb is to reduce the lawn by no more than a third of the height of the grass when mowing. Mowing at the right height will help the lawn retain water and be less susceptible to weeds, and will allow the grass to photosynthesise properly and retain enough energy to survive the cut.
# 2 Using blunt mower blades
Dull mower blades can pull and tear the grass and make it more susceptible to diseases and insect damage. It will also make the grass discolour and look browner at the tips. A clean cut will help the grass recover more quickly. At the start of mowing season, sharpen your lawnmower blades or have them sharpened by a professional to keep your lawn in tip top shape. Check them periodically to ensure they remain sharp.
# 3 Bagging the lawn clippings
Leaving the grass clippings on the lawn ensures you are adding nitrogen to the grass, thus reducing the need for fertilisation. If you’re mowing at the right height the clippings will be short and will break down quickly and won’t cause any problems for the lawn. Think of them as free fertiliser!
# 4 Mowing the same way every time
Mowing your lawn in the same pattern every time you mow is a good way to compact the turf and inhibit growth. Varying the pattern and direction will reduce wear and tear on the grass and help you avoid double mowing areas or missing certain areas entirely. If you want a healthier lawn, mix it up a little.
# 5 Watering too much
More is not necessarily better when it coming to watering your lawn, and you don’t want to kill your grass with kindness. More lawns are damaged by over-watering than by under-watering, so don’t make this mistake. Wet thatch and soil can attract harmful insects, make turf diseases more likely and kill the grass. You need to allow the grass time to dry out between waterings. Watering too often discourages the deep root systems that the lawn needs to survive dry spells. Watering deeply once per week is much better than frequent, shallow watering, as it promotes deep, resilient grass roots. The most important thing is to soak the soil to a depth of 6 inches.
# 6 Watering at the wrong time
It’s important to water your lawn at the right time of day – usually between 6.00am and 10.00am. If you water in the middle of the day, the water will evaporate too quickly due to heat, sun and wind. And if you water in the late afternoon or evening, water can lie on the grass overnight, causing lawn diseases, fungus and rot.
# 7 Over-fertilising
Like watering, too much of a good thing can actually damage the grass. If fertiliser is applied too heavily or often, it can limit root growth, cause excessive leaf growth and burn the lawn. A slow release fertiliser is best, and it should only be applied three to four times a year.
# 8 Fertilising at the wrong time of year
The best times of year to apply fertiliser to your lawn are when the grass is rapidly growing. Late spring, late summer and after the last mow of autumn are ideal times for fertiliser applications. It is counter-productive to fertilise during the start of summer and during the winter months.
# 9 Failing to aerate your lawn
Aeration helps your lawn to breathe, by punching small holes in the turf that break up compaction and allow water and fertiliser to penetrate the soil. Keep an eye out for bare patches and compacted soil, and aerate the lawn in autumn using a garden fork or lawn coring machine to break up the soil.
# 10 Allowing your pets to ruin your lawn
While we love our pets, they can often wreak havoc with the lawn. Urine burn, faeces, digging up the grass, and the wear and tear caused by energetic pets are common frustrations experienced by pet owners. Train your dog to go to the toilet in one particular area of the yard where urine won’t be a problem, such as a dirt or gravel area. If you catch your dog peeing on the grass, quickly water the area to dilute the effect of the urine. You can also try to train your dog to dig in appropriate places by burying treats in those places. Make sure you pet has enough to entertain him, so that he’s not causing wear and tear on the lawn because he’s bored.
# 11 Ignoring the roots
A common mistake is only caring for the parts of the lawn you can see. However, the grass roots and soil are extremely important for ensuring healthy growth. Getting a soil analysis can help you determine the best type of fertiliser for your lawn’s specific needs, thus maximising the effectiveness of your fertiliser.
Make sure you’re not making these mistakes and your lawn will thank you with a display of thick, lush and healthy greenness that will make you the envy of the neighbourhood.