Most homeowners aspire to have a thick, green, healthy lawn. Keeping up a good-looking landscape improves a home's curb appeal. But can you give your lawn a little too much love while actually harming it? You sure can, say lawn experts. Some people love the work and others view lawn care as an endless chore, but here's some good news: a little less attention can free up your time and help your lawn to be lush, green and healthy. Here are some things to consider:
- Don't water it every day.
One big misconception is that your lawn needs constant watering, especially in the warm-weather months. People notice a brown patch on their lawns and pull out the hose. In fact, over-watering can actually damage the ecosystem, making it more vulnerable to pests and diseases. Experts recommend watering only once a week if you can't wait for Mother Nature to take care of it. Plus, don't water it in full sun. The best time to water your grass is early morning, which gives the water a chance to penetrate the grass before the sun is out in full force. This also gives the grass a chance to be cool before the sun gets really intense.
Avoid watering at night, because it will encourage diseases and fungus. Additionally, don't soak your lawn with a basic garden hose. It won't be watered evenly. Instead, use a sprinkler system or a soaker hose to do the job.
- Love your grass clippings.
Believe it or not, grass clippings are a friend to our lawns. Even though you might find them unsightly and a little unkempt, grass clippings provide mulch for your lawn and nourishment as they decompose. It will, in a sense, turn into mulch fertilizer and regenerate your lawn, protecting it from those pesky weeds and such. One big bonus: If you get the grass clipping mulch task right, this may reduce the need for fertilizer, saving you money overall and providing a much more healthy, organic lawn for you to enjoy.
- Cut your lawn carefully.
This means: under no circumstances should you be tempted to adjust the blades all the way to the ground. You will run the risk of burning your lawn. Instead, adjust the blades higher and keep it a little longer in the summer, despite the fact you may think it too dry. It's best to give your lawn a thorough watering only weekly, even in the hottest months. Your lawn will thank you by coming back green and vivacious. It needs that extra length to hold water.
- Leave your leaves alone.
Appreciate the fall leaves on your lawn because they are giving endless nutrients to your grass. If you must, many lawnmowers have a mulch setting, so use that to tidy up the lawn. It's got superpower effects for your lawn. Those tiny bits of dead leaves will feed the grass and make it healthier over the long haul.
- Don't cut wet grass.
You can admire the raindrops or dew on wet grass, and it is pretty. Take a cool picture, but please don't cut it wet. It can be beautiful in the sparkling dew, but appreciate it from there. Wet mowing is not only bad for the grass, but it's bad for your mower blades as well. Clippings tend to clump and spread micro-organisms around which may come back to haunt you. And wet mower blades will dull them and reduce their longevity. Keep that mower blade sharp for a better cut.
- Don't over-fertilize.
All mushrooms aren't bad. If you see mushrooms crop up after a particularly rainy period, check out the variety and see if they really need to be removed. They could be wonderful fertilizer for your lawn, so do some google research and see what it says. Some may be bad, some may be good. Pick and choose carefully. Also, when winter comes around and you are tempted to throw rock salt all around, stay in your lane on your walkway so that it doesn't breach the lawn. It will definitely melt the snow, and quite possibly your lawn. Sprinkle carefully if you must.
- Remember that your lawn is fragile.
It comes and goes with the weather and the season. The good thing about lawns is that unless you go total Armageddon on them, they will come back. If you strive for a smarter, better lawn, you just may be the envy of the neighborhood. You never thought this would be, but your careful diligence has moved you through to Master Gardner. Enjoy and be sure to share your lawn mastery with your neighbors.
Small Space Garden Ideas
Don't have lawn space for a big garden? Why not make it a container garden? Here are some great and easy ideas about container or small-space gardening.
- Even though you might not have a large space with which to grow a garden, you can certainly build or buy some awesome container gardens—like those beautiful large wooden barrels you can get at your favorite big box store or local nursery. Just fill with good topsoil, a layer of veggies or flowers, another layer of mulch and water. Always water because they are above ground you may need to be extra diligent in monitoring of soil moisture. Don't be afraid to mix it up.
- For flower pots and containers, pick a few spikey plants, a few flowing green plants, and some colorful flowers. You'll be surprised that when you mix it up with different plants, how well they will thrive. And quickly! The spring-summer growing season yields magnificent results as long as you give them water, maybe a few vitamin supplements, and just wait for the sun to come out. Some plants—like petunias—don't really thrive until it gets hot, hot, hot. Still keep watering them prudently, but don't overdo. A quick walk through your garden every few days will help you decide what your baby blooms need.
Check out this link for more small garden ideas.
Resources: Lifehacker.com, home.howstuffworks.com, bhg.com, NBC 10 WJAR