Do you love the smell of grass early in the morning? If you do, then it pays to keep your lawn healthy and green all year round. And the good news is, you don’t have to slave over it. Here’s the truth: It’s not the amount of time and work you put into your lawn that matters — it’s how and when you do it.
Want to hear (or in this case, read) a secret? Below are the top 4 secrets of a healthy lawn. The following tips apply to warm climate grasses like couch and zoysia as well as cool-climate grasses such as fescue and bluegrass.
Secret #1. Sharp Blade and Cutting Height Matters
It’s very important to use sharp blades when cutting your grass. Dull blades tear grass and damage it instead of cutting it cleanly. Damaged grass requires more water and nutrients to recover. It also turns yellow and becomes more susceptible to diseases.
Cutting height, on the other hand, depends on the type of grass and season. For cool-climate grasses, we recommend that you use a 1 to ½ inches cutting height for the first mowing of the year. During summer days, increase the cutting height to 2 or more inches and then lower it back to 1 to ½ inches for the last mowing of the year. For warm-climate grasses, follow the same tip but lower the cutting height by about ½ inches.
Secret #2. Only Mow the Top 1/3 and Don’t Rake the Clippings
The top 1/3 of a grass blade is thin and leafy. Since it decomposes quickly, it can provide up to a third of your lawn’s nitrogen needs. This decomposing layer of clippings also slows down water evaporation and prevents weeds from growing. Only mow when the grass is dry. The best time is in the morning when the sun is not yet at its peak and you’re less likely to stress the grass and yourself.
Secret #3. Soak, Don’t Sprinkle
Light sprinklings wet only the surface of the soil and the grass — encouraging the growth of shallow roots which would require more frequent watering in the long run. So instead of sprinkling, soak. As a general rule, water until the soil is moist 12cm down then wait to water again until the top 5cm of soil dries out. Keep in mind that your lawn needs water when it loses its bounce or resiliency.
The best time to water your lawn is early morning. Not only because the water pressure is high but also because less water is lost to evaporation and your lawn will have the entire day to dry out. Lawns that remain wet overnight may become sickly because of fungi and other moisture-loving microorganisms.
Ideally, lawns need to be watered twice a week (either from you or rain). But this number varies greatly depending on the type of soil, grass and temperature. Sandy soils which drain out quickly may need twice as much water while slow-draining clay soil may need only half as much.
Secret #4. A “Breathing” Lawn is a Healthy Lawn
Like you, grass roots also need oxygen to stay healthy. That’s why it’s imperative that you aerate your lawn frequently. Aeration has a lot of benefits:
- Allows fertilizer and water to penetrate the soil deeper and easier
- Improves air-to-soil interaction
- Creates open spaces for roots to grow and reduces soil compaction
- Removes thatch and hastens the decomposition of remaining thatch
The best time to aerate is in the spring and fall (after your kids are done trampling the grasses under their feet). The best tool for aerating your lawn is a gas-powered aerator, available at rental centers such as Nielsens Hire.
Aside from aerating and soaking, a good, well-maintained mower is also important in keeping your lawn green and healthy. Need one? Nielsens Hire has a variety of lawn mowers for rent and other equipment for hire that cater to your landscaping needs.