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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.

  • Gil

    Your pet store sell G-Whiz anti lawn burning treats for dogs , and you wont get any yellow spots on your lawn It sell in a plastic container 12oz.(342ml) i do have a poodle and no yellow spot on my law , 1 treat a day and depends on the size of your dog it will tell you on the container.
    Good luck

  • john hartwig

    I fertilize in the spring with a weed, and feed which gives me a good lawn all summer long except for the hot rainless periods. There is one thing that is not mentioned, and that is the type of soil a person has. We have a sandy type soil, and it has taken years to build up to what we have now. We bag all our cuttings, and put them in a compost site, and they are tilled into the garden area in the following spring. It is every ones doing to get a good lawn. It depends on where you live, and like I said the type of soil. There are many other things, but I think this is enough to make each of you to read this, and try your own ways of doing your lawn.

  • MARY

    Thanks for the information. I water from 4am to 8am with an automatic timer. I like when it rains, as it saves me money and does a better job than my sprinkler system. I do not like when my yard man leaves the large clippiigs on top of the grass. If it were small ones that could help the grass, that would be fine. He also does weed and feed twice a year, which does help, but so many of the weeds come right back. When I am in the mood, I will put on a pair of gloves (always due to ants and bacteria) and pull them up. What a back breaking job, but I have a small yard.

  • Jimmy

    Try Club Soda on the ants. I live in Louisiana, I have a 4 acre lawn and fire ants were a big problem. Try pouring two cups of club soda into the center of the mound. Here, within two days the entire colony is dead. It's the only thing I have found that doesn't hurt the grass or cause a potential problem for my pet.

  • ronald o.

    I give my boston terrier a small can of tomato juice every sunday morning, that seems to have cut down the yellowing grass effect on my lawn. ?Dont know why or what but sometimes it is wise to hear your sis-in-law out, then take her husband golfing anyway.

  • James Vargo

    The amount of chemicals and water used by people to take care of their "perfect" lawns are a waste
    of money and resources, and harmful to our environment. We might be better off to be more concerned with the other creatures that share our world and less with the ego trip of a "perfect lawn".

  • Robert

    I hate it that my neighbors don't clean up their grass clippings. When it rains and does so frequently, their clippings come into my yard and I will have as much as 3 inches of clippings that dry up in my lawn. It has killed out my grass.

  • Keejep

    Why have a lawn at all... why not grow something useful like vegetables! This is both productive and healthy in an upside down economy. We removed our lawn, replacing it with a veggie garden, and it has been great for the whole family as our small children are now gardening enthusiasts who understand a little more about real food. On top of all that we are actually using less water now than when we were trying to sustain a lawn!

  • Mary Trombley

    my comment is on the idiot with his son standing on that mower! as a nurse, i have cared for THREE people whose feet were chewed up by these mowers when they slipped! and that's in just one small town! very irresponsible behavior!!!!!

  • Helen

    They are PUSHING the mower, not standing on it. To my knowledge that is the only way to actually cut the grass using a push mower. Looks like the man is teaching his son to cut the grass to me.

  • Bet

    We don't call them weeds here...its ground cover!

  • p curley

    I always cut my grass long and have a Toro mulchmower to mulch clippings. The rule of thumb is to take no more that 1/3 (33 1/3%) of the blade of at any one time. If you cut your grass long the math works in your favor. Let's say you keep it at 3 inches. If the grass grows 2 inches a week, you are taking 40% of the blade off. (5 inches before mowing, 3 inches afterward) This is not too much worse that the recommended 33 1/3 % Same scenario, curring to one inch: The grass will be 3 incles before and one inch afterward, allowing fior the same rate of growth. This means you are removing 66 2/3% of the blade (3 inches before, less 2 inches equals 2/3 of the blade). The larger the base (in this case, the height of the cut), the smaller the percentage for a given number of inches of removal. My mower has a maximum height of 3 inches.

  • EmllyAva

    The next time you have an empty nutrient tank, the one that screws onto your hose for fertilizing, don;t throw it away.Use it over again and again, but this time add one can of beer and one cap ful of dish liquid detergent. Let the water fill, then spray the lawn/ The beer will mulch and the dish liquid will keep the ground soft . O, BTW...same tank, but use one shot of wiskey for rose bushes.

  • starvinmarvin

    i used to think of myself as a bushhog

  • Tim

    The comments about leaving clippins is interesting considering I am a greens superintendant at a golf course and have been for 30 years. I wonder why all golf courses catch their clippings? Come on people, dont believe what this non professional wrote about clippings. The clippings add to the biggest problem in lawns....(thatch) do your research before you believe someone that has no degree in this.

  • Curtis

    The experts that I talked to (at the Michigan State University’s Department of Horticulture) say are that you are wrong. Thatch is the accumulation of dead and decomposing turf stems, leaves and roots intermixed with live plant roots and soil that occurs at the soil surface. Longer grass clippings will take longer to decompose and make it harder for grass under it to grow unless it is spread out. Chemical fertilizers inhibit the decomposing of mulch by killing the microbes in the soil. Organic fertilizers promote the growth of microbes and beneficial insects that help decompose the grass clippings. Also, where do you put your grass clippings after for mow a golf course. That has to be a huge pile of smelly, decomposing grass. All the courses around my area mulch there lawn as does the pro baseball fields.

  • Bonbon

    Have your dogs spayed or neutered and you won't get brown spots. I've had dogs my entire adult life and have never experienced one single brown spot. Of course neighborhood dogs are another story. I agree with the BB gun approach. Or a garden hose works pretty good too and is more humane.

  • Elaine

    Treat grub infestations with Milky and environmentally frendly. Only kicker is to do it in the Fall.

  • Irene

    Um, I know about thatch and I've heard about the beer & cola treatment, but, I don't know what a grub looks like. How do you know if you have them? I alwas thought a grub was an X husband. lol

  • 39 Comments / 2 Pages

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