8 Lawn Care Myths You Need to Stop Doing

pile of grass trimmings in wheel barrow
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You can maintain the best lawn on the block with less work than you might think when you refuse to subscribe to these common lawn care misperceptions.

Myth 1 - A Hose is Better than a Sprinkler

While it’s certainly possible to water your lawn using a hose alone, it’s not the most cost-effective method for keeping your grass green. Watering by hand is time-consumptive. Although you might enjoy the act while sipping your morning coffee, the truth is that it’s very difficult to be accurate and consistent when using a hose. Inevitably some areas will receive more water than others, which can contribute to brown spots and overgrown areas.

Using a sprinkler system, on the other hand, produces consistent results, particularly when used in conjunction with a timer. Plus, newer irrigation systems are equipped with sensors that measure how much water your lawn actually needs.

Myth 2 - It Doesn’t Matter What Time of Day you Water

Water is water and your lawn will appreciate it anytime, right? Not really, so pay attention. For years, the advice has been to avoid the hottest part of the day. This is because a large percentage of water evaporates before it even sinks into the ground, making for an expensive and water intensive technique. To avoid that issue, people started shifting their watering to the evening, after the temps have dropped for the day.

The problem is that sending your lawn to bed wet is an invitation for mildew and fungus growth. The best time of day to water is in the early morning, between about 6:00 and 9:00 a.m. Read on for information about frequency, though, before you make this a daily habit.

wet green grass in the morning

Myth 3 - You Should Water Everyday

Water is one key to a thick, lush lawn. However, in addition to the time of day and tool used for applying water, frequency is a significant factor in your success. Although it seems to make sense that your lawn needs frequent drinks, the truth is that infrequent deep waterings are best. Have you ever had a backyard pool collapse or left the hose running in one spot overnight?

If so, you’ve likely seen the resulting thick green grass that results. Deep watering promotes sturdy and long-term support for a healthy lawn. Light watering, on the other hand, often doesn’t get to the roots and is basically a waste of water. So set your timers to soak the ground in the early morning one to two days each week for a happy lawn.

Myth 4 - You Need to Pick up Grass Clippings

When you’re tempted by the mulch setting on your lawn mower, but dread the thought of raking up grass clippings, think again. Somehow the myth that leaving grass clippings on your lawn would promote thatch and other unwelcome growth is bull pucky. Grass likes grass, so stop hauling away bags of clippings and let them lie instead. Early in the season when grass is tall, clumps of mulch can kill off spots of your lawn, so either spread it out or contribute some green to your backyard composter.

Myth 5 - Annual Thatching is Mandatory

Thatching is a type of growth that can smother out the root system in your lawn, keeping it from receiving the water and nutrients it needs. However, it’s also a source of those nutrients, and thatch normally sinks back into the soil as spring rolls into summer. So although your lawn might appreciate an infrequent dethatching if thatching grows too thick (½-inch or higher), for the most part you can cross annual thatching off your to-do list.

rake with pile of autumn leaves

Myth 6 - You Must Rake Leaves

If your yard is leaf heavy, raking might be a standard fall activity around your place. You may have seen that leaves can kill off the grass if left in place, but the trick is actually to leave the leaves—but make them smaller by mowing over the piles and allowing the lawn mower to spit out the ground up remains.

Myth 7 - All Grass Seed is Created Equal

You might be tempted to hit the clearance section or order the best budget option online, but be wary—not all grass seed is created equal. Be sure to match the type of seed with your growing region. Each type has different characteristics regarding blade thickness, watering requirements and ideal climate.

Myth 8 - Aerator Shoes Will Do the Job

When insomnia has you noticing the infomercial for aerator shoes, resist the temptation to place an order. For a very small space, they might be ok, but for even an average sized lawn, the best approach is to rent an aerator (and share with a neighbor or two). This more thorough approach ultimately be both faster and more effective.