Around the Yard
Tips on How to Have a Healthy Lawn
By: Danny Lipford
To have a healthy, green lawn requires a good bit of work, including:
- Grass Type: Planting grass that’s suited for your climate and the amount of shade it will receive in your yard.
- Soil: Grass requires topsoil with the proper pH that’s rich in organic matter to thrive. Conduct a soil test to find out the pH of your soil, then add the amendments needed to adjust the pH if necessary.
- Fertilizer: Grass needs the proper nutrients to grow. Conducting a soil test can tell you which nutrients found in fertilizer that you need to add.
- Watering: Grass requires enough water to grow, but too much water can lead to disease. The amount of water can vary depending on your climate and the time of year, but generally grass needs about 1” of water per week. Use a rain gauge to measure the amount of water your lawn is receiving through both rainfall and irrigation.
- Mowing: Different types of grass require different cutting heights, so set the height on your mower for the grass in your yard. Make sure the blade is sharp, and only cut 1/4 of the blade each time you mow.
Watch this video to find out more.
- How to Have a Weed Free Lawn (article)
- Top-Dressing to Improve the Soil in Your Lawn (article)
- Calculating Lawn Irrigation Water Usage and Costs (article)
- Proper Mowing Height for Grass (article)
Danny Lipford: Okay, what are some of the things, the basic things, because my friend here just purchased this house just mowed it for the first time. What are some of the things that he can do to kind of wipe out all of those mistakes of the previous owner?
Julie Day-Jones: Well, you kind of have to get a lay of the land. You have to do a little bit of planning. You need to figure out how much sun and shade you have, how much water you have, whether your soil has good drainage, whether it’s sloped correctly. It’s really important to choose the right kind of grass that will meet all of those conditions and then you don’t have to do quite as much work.
Danny Lipford: Right, right. I guess maybe a soil test? You always hear about that, doing different types of soil tests. Does that really make a difference?
Julie Day-Jones: It really does. In fact, I did one here a little while earlier. You just choose several places in your yard. Dig up a little sample with a spoon, put it in a container. Shake in a capsule and some water and it will tell you your soil’s PH. It will also tell you the levels of the most important nutrients that are needed for your soil to have healthy grass.
Danny Lipford: Okay, and then you can just add something. How hard is that, to add something to the yard to get it to adjust that PH level?
Julie Day-Jones: It’s actually really easy. In fact, the instructions with the kit told me exactly, based on my results, how much of what I needed to add.
Danny Lipford: Oh, okay. Well, great, great. Now what about things like, people ask me all the time about aeration. And I know some of my friends, they go out and, you know, three or four of them will get together one morning rent one of the big aeration machines and they have a ball for four or five hours and then take it back. What is that really doing?
Julie Day-Jones: Well, that’s a great way to loosen up your soil. It also removes little core plugs that leave holes.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it looks pretty bad there a day or two after that.
Julie Day-Jones: It does look bad when you first start out. That’s something you want to do about once a year. And if you’re doing soil tests and you’re adding fertilizer or amendments to your soil, aeration is a good step in the process because it gets those things down deeper where the water can rinse them out and it can improve your entire area.
Danny Lipford: I got you. Okay, now what about watering? You know, different areas of the country may be a little more arid than others. How do you know if your grass and your plants are getting the right amount of water?
Julie Day-Jones: Well, lawns usually need about an inch of water per week. So you could use a little rain gauge. Set it out there, see how much rainfall you got. If it’s a little low you can run the sprinkler and get it up to about an inch.
Danny Lipford: I got you. Okay, now, mowing. Like I said, my friend just moved in here, told me that he mowed the grass for the first time. What are some of the tricks there, because all mowing is not the same. You see some guys out there every Saturday morning mowing, others maybe once a month. What’s the best way to go?
Julie Day-Jones: Well, it’s really important not to cut too much of the grass at one time. You want to cut about a fourth of the grass blade every time you mow, so it might be a little more often than you’d like to mow. You want to make sure your mower blades are sharp so that it makes a nice clean cut. And you want to figure out the right height of mowing for your type of grass. Some grasses like to be about four inches high, others more like two inches. And it’s really important that you know that so that you can mow it correctly.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, I noticed some types of grass will grow a lot faster than others and so I think everybody wants that grass that doesn’t grow quite so fast.
Julie Day-Jones: So you don’t have to mow it as often. That’s right.