Landscaping is an investment, and so is the maintenance of that landscape. If you’re a value-minded person, you may be wondering how to maximize your yard’s potential. Here are the top 5 ways to ensure you get the most out of your lawn care.
1. Select the Right Turfgrass
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a big deal. Luckily, we have options, but knowing which turfgrass type to choose from those options can get a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Here are some tips on how to choose the right turfgrass for the conditions in your yard:
- Bermudagrass: The common varieties of bermudagrass are beautiful, drought-tolerant, and can take as much hot sunlight as you can give it. It needs that sunlight, 7-8 hours of it to be its best, actually.
- Zoysia: In situations where trees filter light, or structures shade your lawn for periods of the day, certain varieties of zoysia may suit you. They do their best in 5-6 hours of light.
- Alternatives: Situations that yield less light than 5 hours may be best served by bed spaces or ornamental plantings with shade-tolerant landscape plants.
2. Mow Your Grass Properly
Mowing grass isn’t just a chore. Good mowing practices are a major contributing factor to growing great grass. Here are best practices for mowing your grass:
- Mow Height: Mow your bermuda or zoysia at a height of 1.5-2”. These heights are ideal when mowing weekly.
- Mow Frequency: You should mow your lawn every 7 days in the spring and summer. Letting the grass go for longer than a week can result in unintentional damage when cutting. This is sometimes called mower stress or scalping. This damage forces the turf to expend a bunch of energy to recover instead of using that energy to do healthy grass things, such as becoming more dense, making sugar, and storing the sugar.
3. Water Your Turf Well
Watering well provides your turfgrass with the moisture it needs without leaving a lot for pesky weeds. This is easier said than done. What does “watering well” look like?
- Amount: A good rule of thumb is 1” per week over the course of 2-3 days that don’t touch. Depending on the microclimates, tree competition, and soil conditions in different parts of your yard, your turf may require more or less.
- Goal: The goal is deep and infrequent water to establish deep and healthy roots. Too little water results in summer dormancy or death. Too much water results in disease, death, or weeds. Much like Goldilocks had a happy medium for the temperature of her porridge, your turf has a range of moisture where it’s most happy. Fortunately, it will tell you if you know what to look for.
4. Keep It Clean
Keeping your yard free of debris should be done year-round–in every season. No matter the time of year, storms come through and drop debris on our lawns. In summer, large debris such as limbs not only mechanically injure our turf, but those limbs can also smother your grass and create etiolation (the alteration of green plants by excluding sunlight). In the fall, leaves falling from trees can create matted materials that restrict airflow, smother, and increase the chance for disease. Regardless of the time of year, debris on the lawn could mean we can’t treat it. Depending on timing, this may mean compromises in nutrition, weed control, or both.
5. Leave It Tall
As the summer days become long, keeping up with your grass can get tough. Raising the heights marginally is a great way to combat that. Doing so in fall assures that your lawn doesn’t end up with damage it can’t recover from, allowing it to stay dense. Cutting at a height of 1.5-2” on a weekly basis serves these two purposes:
- Tall grass gets good sunlight. Keeping your grass at 1.5-2″ encourages all of the benefits we talked about in segment two, but it also keeps our turfs competitive for light in the fight against weeds.
- Tall grass helps your pre-emergent weed control be more effective. Your weed control products fight weeds in winter, so leaving that canopy is great. Density in dormancy shades the surface of the soil and competes with weeds, even while your turf is napping.