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.
1. 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
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.