Lush, green lawns can make you feel like a carefree kid again. They make it so tempting to take off your shoes and run barefoot! With a little extra attention, your turf can be practically luxurious. Here are some basics.
- Know your soil type. Is it loamy? Sandy? Clay? This will help determine your watering frequency, as some soil types retain water better than others.
- Choose the right time to water. Early morning and late evening are generally the best times, so that you won’t lose water to evaporation or wind. Your city or county may also have water conservation measures that restrict watering times. If that’s the case, check with your county extension service for additional irrigation tips.
Make sure your lawn gets ¾ inch of water each watering session. We like the tuna can approach to measuring. Place empty tuna cans at various points, all within range of your sprinkler system. Run your sprinklers for 30 minutes. Then measure how much water is in each can. If you’ve collected about ¾ inch of water, then you know you need to water for 30 minutes. If it’s more or less, then calculate how much you need to adjust your watering times.
- Use a screwdriver to measure water penetration. Water should penetrate the soil by 8 to 10 inches after each watering session. Push a screwdriver into the turf. Measure how far it goes in.
- Check each sprinkler head. Examine the position and calibration to ensure that you’re watering your grass, and not the patio or driveway. While you’re at it, look for leaking or broken sprinkler heads.
Mulching and fertilizing tips
- Mulch any landscaping surrounding your lawn. Mulching helps reduce weeds, which can spread into your turf.
- Fertilize during the growing season. Check with your county extension office to determine the proper fertilizer and application schedule for your specific turf type.
- Keep your grass about three inches high. Higher grass has deeper, more extensive root systems. Grass that is mowed too short will put all of its energy into growing the blades instead of the roots. Maintaining higher grass also shades out weeds, and helps your lawn retain water.
Remove no more than one-third of the grass blade with each mowing. You may need to mow more often during the active growing season.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn. They will return nutrients to the soil.
- Keep your mower blade sharp. This will help avoid torn, brown edges on the grass blades.
Many of these are steps you only need to do once a year. The payback is a lush, green and healthy lawn that you can enjoy throughout the spring, summer and into fall.