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5 Shortcuts to a Perfect Lawn

Filed Under: Essential Skills, Know-How, Outdoors

mowning the lawn, lawn care, grassGetty Images

Lawn care is a big responsibility. But what if we told you there are ways to cut corners -- ways that can actually benefit your lawn? These five shortcuts allow you to give your lawn the pampering it deserves, and still have time to soak up the sun.

Mow Less Often
Keep grass tall to improve soil's moisture retention (translation: you don't have to mow as often as you probably are!). "Raise your mower's blade to three, even four, inches from now until right after Labor Day," says Paul Tukey, author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual. Taller grass shades soil and blocks weeds like crabgrass from getting sustenance and poking though your luscious lawn. "If crabgrass gets light, it will germinate," he adds.

2. Leave Grass Clippings On the Lawn
Instead of spending time raking up the clippings left over after you mow, leave them there. They'll break down and return precious nutrients to the soil. And you won't need to add as much fertilizer as usual. Better yet, use a mulching mower, which fertilizes the lawn the natural way. It minces cuttings into pieces so small they can still be left on the ground, where they eventually decompose. Just by leaving clippings on the lawn, you're basically fulfilling 25 percent of its fertilizer requirements.

lawn sprinklerGetty Images

3. Water When You Wake Up
Especially in the hot summer months, watering in early mornings saves you time and energy, and fosters a tougher, more drought-resistant lawn. Water in the afternoon and moisture will just evaporate under the sun's heat. Water at night, and you expose your lawn to bacteria and insects that are attracted by the excess moisture. Go with a sprinkler or irrigation system, which distribute water better than you and the trusty hose.

4. Water Less Often
You may think it's best to water your lawn several times throughout the day, but it's actually a waste of time. The top layer will stay drenched, and the water won't absorb all the way to the roots, says This Old House. It's best to limit watering to three times a week. If you use an automatic sprinkler, invest in a rain gauge to make sure you're not over-watering. If your lawn gets an inch of water in a week from rain alone, that's all it needs; you won't need to run your sprinkler at all.

5. Stop Weeds Before They Start
Few things are as tedious as pulling weeds. Once they take root, weeds multiply fast. The most time-efficient way to keep weeds to a minimum is to prevent them from germinating in the first place. Apply pre-emergent weed control (which works on both warm- and cool-season grass) as early in spring as possible, and mark your calendar to reapply it about 3 months later.

  • Hilary

    Grubs can sabotage your lawn by eating the roots of the grass. If you are in a pesticide free area then use nematodes to kill the grubs. If not, then go ahead and use chemicals. My advice, don't delay treating the grubs because they spread quickly and can ruin your lawn.

  • JOHN

    I usually let mine go to seed at least twice a year , keeps it thick , and watch the grubs , the moles go after them like they were chocolate

  • Ed

    If it were up to me I'd cut grass once a year........ in November....... w/ a brush hog.

  • Joe

    LOL...That is a Bush Hog...

  • Len F.

    LOL It's either, moron.

  • Martha

    Best seed to grow indoors is the Tickle Me Plant. The leaves instantly close and even the branches droop when Tickled! Just search Tickle Me Plant! See video..this is real!

  • Norm

    No Martha, I disagree, the best seed to plant indoors is cannibus. After you harvest it, and use the stuff, people can tickle you and make YOU droop! LOL

  • Will

    In Texas we treat it as a weed !!

  • bruce

    I agree with everything except leaving the clippings in the lawn. If you do this you'll spread weed seeds. Bagging removes these seeds and slows the spreading

  • 01dyna

    I agree about not mulching. There's two problems with mulching instead of bagging. The first is that over time, no matter how finely you mulch, you'll need to de-thatch since not all mulch will break down and eventually you'll have patches where the thatch has built up. Secondly, if you have problems with ticks or other pests, mulching will only reintroduce those unwanted bugs back into the soil. Using a rear bagging lawn mower and disposing of the clippings will help keep these nasty pests from harboring in your lawn.

  • Steven

    You are wrong, don't confuse the readers. Leave your clippings on the lawn. Weeds can be controled other ways. I have a perfect lawn and I already followed all these tips.

  • Ky

    "agree about not mulching. There's two problems with mulching instead of bagging. The first is that over time, no matter how finely you mulch, you'll need to de-thatch since not all mulch will break down and eventually you'll have patches where the thatch has built up"

    Naw. Just mix one can of cola and one can of cheap beer, put it in a sprayer bottle attached to a garden hose and go over your lawn with it.. Breaks up the thatch, feeds the lawn, minimal labor. I haven't had to manually rake in 16 years; just spray it once a year in late summer.

  • Bonbon

    When I lived in California we couldn't leave clippings on the lawn because they compacted it and kept water from getting to the roots. About once a year you had to "thatch" it to get up all the dead grass. If you left clippings, it just made it that much worse.

    Now I live in Florida and it's important to leave the clippings as our soil is practically 100% sand and the clippings help create some decent dirt for the grass to grow in. The problem with these "helpful hints" is that they don't apply to everybody everywhere in the country. They should make a note of that.

    I still think the best yard is green concrete! But the dogs don't like it much and it's really hard to play football or croquet on. :o)

  • chemfree

    We have about thirty mature hickories on the lot, a mature woods on one side, and about a thousand acres of farm land on the other three sides. On a well of course. Can't use chemicals near the water source so the weeds achieve evolutionary potentials worthy of a 4-H Project. I love the country but I cannot think of ever seeing my yard as a 'golf-green-showpiece' without killing me through my water or through the manual labor of digging weeds.

  • Kim

    I have not tried this, but have heard, from a horticulturalist who does not like chemicals, that if you use vinegar and apply it where you have weeds and allow it to sit in the sun for a few hours that it will kill your weeds for you the same as round-up or other chemicals would.

  • angel

    @ Joe correcting Ed and his brush hog:

    In Ohio, we call it a BRUSH hog too. go figure.

  • Bill

    Actually Bush Hog AND Brush Hog are registered trademarks of two companies that both make heavy duty mowers.

  • PAUL

    What do you do about dog pee on my lawn??

  • Dennis

    Buy a BB gun

  • linda

    Try adding lime to the "sweetens" the dirt

  • 39 Comments / 2 Pages

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