April showers bring May flowers, but it takes a little more than that to make a lush, healthy lawn.
That’s why April also brings National Lawn Care Month! It’s an annual awareness campaign that shares helpful tips and tricks to great lawn care and celebrates the many ways healthy lawns benefit people and the planet.
Great lawn care does take a bit of effort, but the reward is more than worth the work. If your lawn is looking a little lifeless, there’s no better time than National Lawn Care Month to turn it around. Here are some of our top lawn care tips to help you get started.
Study Your Soil
A lush, healthy lawn begins underground. If you want the best grass on the block, you’ll need to be sure it’s supported by healthy soil that has a proper pH level and plenty of essential nutrients. That means the starting point to a stunning lawn is running a soil test.
Soil testing gives you valuable information about the health and composition of your soil. At minimum, you should test for potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and nitrogen levels, as well as the soil’s pH level. You can then use these results to apply soil amendments and fertilizers. For example, a pH level lower than 6.0 indicates your lawn could benefit from a lime application to restore balance.
Soil testing is often done by professionals like Chad’s Landscape Management. You can also contact your local Alabama Cooperative Extension office to request soil forms for laboratory testing.
Get to Know Your Grass
Different grass types have different needs, even if they live in the same region. If you don’t know the species in your lawn, you could be missing an opportunity to give it some custom care!
Most South Alabama lawns have warm-season grasses like St. Augustine, Centipede, Bermuda, or Zoysia grasses. These turf types thrive in our hot and humid climate, but they each thrive in different conditions. For example, Zoysia grass is more shade-tolerant than other warm-season species, which require ample sunlight. Centipede grasses are hardy and drought-resistant, but need to be cut at slightly taller heights to grow their best.
Feed Your Lawn
Lawns rarely get all the nutrients they need from soil alone, so feeding your turf with a quality fertilizer is key to optimal health and beauty. A lawn that is fertilized properly grows fuller and faster, is more resistant to problems, and requires less overall maintenance than one left to fend for itself.
The results of your soil analysis will shed light on any gaps in essential nutrients like nitrogen or potassium and recommend appropriate amounts (usually in pounds per 1000 square feet). Be sure to check the label of all fertilizer products and pick a blend that meets your needs. It’s also important to fertilize your lawn at the right time for best results.
Take Care of Compacted Soil
Over time, normal activities like running kids, playing pets and driving vehicles push and compact soil into a hard, impenetrable mass. This prevents air, water, and even nutrients from penetrating the soil and root systems.
Compacted soil usually appears hard and stressed, and you may notice new rain puddles where water was previously absorbed. To test for compaction, gently press a screwdriver into suspected soil. If it doesn’t penetrate easily, you may have compaction problems.
Aerating your lawn involves creating holes or ‘cores’ in your soil to reduce this compaction and allow increased airflow. Aerating tools can be rented or bought at your local home and garden store. Aeration should be done during peak growing period, which is late spring to early summer for warm-season grasses.
Stay On Top Of Weeds
It’s a simple fact of lawn ownership – weeds will happen. While there’s no ideal time to have a weed problem, there is a best time to kill and control weeds in your lawn.
Spring pre-emergents are your first line of defense against these pesky invaders. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring can prevent future weeds by killing seeds before they germinate underground. When weeds do show up, apply spot treatment during optimal conditions to kill off new growth – the best days are dry and mild with very little wind.
Use Best Mowing Practices
Always follow best lawn mowing practices, and mow your lawn for height and health rather than by day of the week. Ideal mowing schedules vary based on grass type and the season, but you should always mow high and mow often. As a general rule, mow enough that you never remove more than ⅓ of the grass blade at one time.
Take good care of your mowing tools to extend their life and protect your lawn. Keep your mower blades sharp for clean, precise cuts. Spend a few minutes washing your mower after each use. Use quality trimmers and edging tools to achieve a neat appearance while minimizing shock to delicate grass blades.
When it comes to watering your lawn, more isn’t always better. In fact, most turf grasses thrive best when watered deeply, but less often, because it allows them to create deep, intricate roots that retain moisture. Giving your lawn a smaller drink every day encourages shallow root systems that are susceptible to drought and disease.
It only takes a little work to find the right way to water. Most lawns only need an average of one inch of rainfall per week to stay hydrated and healthy, so keep an eye on the weather and your irrigation system. Other best practices include watering early in the morning and checking soil moisture levels before topping off your turf.
Ask For Help
If caring for your lawn is still as clear as mud, don’t be afraid to call in the professionals at Chad’s Landscape Management! Our expert landscape team is experienced in all areas of proper lawn care, from professional soil analysis and fertilizer applications to mowing and more. Let us turn your lackluster grass into the vibrant lawn of your dreams!