There is a saying — “work smart, not hard” — that seems especially appropriate in our landscapes. Keeping golf pro worthy turf grass is something of a chore, but it can be low maintenance with a few lawn care tips and tricks. A lawn care maintenance schedule will keep the gardener organized, and create a timely reminder for fertilizing, weed control, irrigation, and mechanical duties.
The American dream seems to include a white picket fence and blindingly perfect, green lawn. But a healthy lawn requires some steps to achieve. As a rule, low maintenance lawn care starts with healthy turf grass. New practices such as “low mow” and better practices on fertilizing, can actually help achieve a healthy lawn without as much work. Easy lawn care may find the gardener taking some lazy time off and grass time to develop strong roots and better blade production.
Tips on DIY Lawn Care
There is a movement towards “low mow” practices. Studies have found that grass left unclipped for about 2 weeks provides important pollinator habitat and food. Lawns that are allowed to grow seasonal flowers attract bees and other insects and supply necessary nectar supplies. If you want an area of perfectly manicured lawn, consider leaving an edge strip less mowed to give insects their buffet. If a well trimmed front lawn is needed, choosing to minimize cutting in the back can help bestow food on our pollinator partners. As an added bonus, when mowed less the grass needs less water, saves energy, reduces noise pollution, attracts birds, and attracts beneficial insects that can prey on nuisance pests.
Lawn Care Tips and Tricks
If the goal is green perfection, consider making a lawn care maintenance schedule. Initially it is important to identify your variety of turf grass and evaluate your weather and zone. Local extension offices will have general guides for the local sod grasses. Guidelines on when and how much to fertilize can be found on the product. Do not fertilize lawns near the end of the season or when dormant. A well-growing lawn does not necessarily need food annually. Manage water practices. An overwatered lawn has only surface roots and cannot thrive during stressful periods. Reducing water saves resources but also develops a deep, complex root system, minimizing weeds, pest issues, and providing overall health.
Thoughts on Mowing
If you choose not to let a portion of the sod flower, regular mowing is essential. But it is important to know the optimal height for your turf grass variety. Mow frequently enough that you avoid rolls of grass on the surface. Mowing before grass is too tall allows you to let the clippings fall into the ground. Clippings help feed roots, minimizing the amount of fertilizer that needs to be applied. A well-maintained mower is also crucial to healthy lawns. Keep blades sharp to prevent tearing the leaves. Never mow a wet lawn and only remove 1/3 of the blade for best practices.