Those who have never had a lawn tend to underestimate how much work it requires to keep lush blades happy.
There’s feeding, weeding, watering, thatching, aerating, mowing, and mulching. About the time you finish it seems like it’s time to do it all over again.
The good news is that with a few shortcuts you can significantly cut down on the time requirements and still reap the rewards of a picture-perfect lawn.
1. Pick the Right Products
Start by choosing the right grass seed for your area and situation. Some like the sun, some don’t. Some will do a great job of keeping out weeds, some don’t. Some are thirsty and readily absorb copious rainfall and others do just fine in close-to-desertlike conditions.
Even if you’ve inherited an existing lawn you can seed over with a selection of your choice.
Talk to the pros locally. Do some research online. Generally, wide blade grasses require less water, but the easy way to find a suitable option is to look for the drought-tolerant label. Then make sure it’s a variety that will grow well in your planting zone.
There’s a big difference between grasses meant for the Vegas heat versus those that will thrive in the wet Pacific Northwest.
Doing your research for the best match up front will save you countless hours of needless watering and weeding.
2. Minimize Mowing
Contrary to the tightly-mowed landscaped yards on the cover of magazines, keeping your grass short actually stresses it, causing a decline in health.
You might feel a bit guilty about allowing your lawn to grow taller before mowing, but you’re not lazy—you’re thoughtful.
Give your lawn a safety cushion by keeping it around three inches high. During spring when it’s in full growth mode, you may still need to mow weekly, but raise the deck on your mower to the highest setting.
If you do let it get a bit out of control, start by shaving off ⅓ of the height and gradually work towards shorter blades without stressing them.
3. Sharpen the Blades
Keeping your lawnmower in tip-top shape is another favor you can do for your lawn. Dull blades can damage the lawn, again bringing stress to the grass.
Plus, sharp blades make the job go faster with better looking results.
4. Withhold Water
Automatic sprinklers are the foundation of a great lawn, but not just because they make your life easier.
The truth is, underground sprinklers that are adjusted for complete coverage are a great tool because they are on a timer that allows you to control the amount of water your lawn gets.
While most lawns do require a lot of water, proper watering is more about technique than amount.
Rather than giving your lawn a light watering every day, withhold water and offer a deep soak weekly instead.
Even if you don’t have automatic sprinklers, hook manual sprinklers up to a timer for the best results too. Alternatively set an alarm on your calendar so you remember to water at the same time each week. Then set another alarm while watering so you remember to turn it off.
Deep watering allows the roots to get well established, which in turn provides healthy, strong support for the lawn. Deep roots also help choke out weeds.
5. Mulch the Clippings
Grass clippings that result from mowing the lawn act as a natural mulch. This means it helps retain moisture, provide nutrients, and suppress weeds.
Instead of bagging, removing, hauling, and dumping clippings in your compost or yard debris cart, skip that step and allow the lawnmower to naturally mulch clipping across your lawn.
During high-growth periods make sure the mulch is thin and evenly dispersed as you mow.
Clumps of clippings will suffocate the grass so break them up and spread them out a bit when this occurs.
If your mower doesn’t automatically mulch, fling the clippings out of the mower bag and lightly rake to spread around in a thin layer.