They say the grass is always greener on the other side. That’s not necessarily true, because if you follow a few basic lawn care rules then that lush, emerald splendour will be on YOUR side.
We tend to think of grass as a fairly tough and resilient plant that can take a few hard knocks and always bounce back. Essentially it is a hardy growth and will stand up to a surprising degree of abuse and still survive. But bare survival can leave a lawn looking tired and in need of some tender, loving care. Why wait until it reaches that state when a little ongoing effort will maintain your lawn in tip top condition?
Mowing The Lawn – The One Third Rule
For many people cutting grass is an onerous and boring task and so they have a tendency to make sure they don’t have to do it too often. To accomplish this they cut it short so that it’s a while before it needs to be trimmed again. Big mistake. The single biggest cause of a discoloured lawn is the scalping effect of cutting too short. Grass gets traumatised by being trimmed of most of its length. Additionally this can expose the roots to the sun, which will dehydrate and brown them.
Remember the one third rule. Whenever you mow the lawn, never remove more than a third of the total grass blade height. You know that low cut setting on your lawnmower? Ignore its existence. A low cut will allow weeds access to the sun, giving them a chance to germinate, it will also make your grass struggle for existence, leaving it looking exhausted. A higher cut leaves plenty of the plant available to perform photosynthesis, taking nutrients from the sunlight. It also helps to conserve moisture in the lawn. Additionally, remember to sharpen your mower’s blades at least once a year, to provide a clean and non-shredding trim.
The Thatch Effect
Dead grass and weeds which lay at the base of your grass blades can make it very difficult for water to penetrate effectively, making the soil sterile. You can remove this thatch by scarifying the lawn. If you have a large area of grass to contend with it could be worthwhile investing in a powered scarifying device kind of like a lawnmower. Otherwise you just need to use a spring-tine rake and drag up the thatch by hand. This action will help green your lawn by allowing water and its nutrients to get to the grass roots. You might also consider aeration. This involves removing small, cylindrical plugs of soil and backfilling the holes with sharp sand.
A tired looking lawn can be given a boost by the application of fertiliser in the Spring. This should ideally have more phosphates than nitrogen, as the latter will indeed make your grass greener in the short term but it also encourages top growth. After applying fertiliser, water the lawn so that the nitrogen doesn’t scorch the grass.
During the Summer months the grass grows more rapidly and so uses up nutrients at a swifter rate, so it‘s also a good idea to fertilise in the Autumn, too, when the soil is becoming drained of nutrients. At this time you should also re-seed using a spreader for an even distribution. This makes your lawn thicker, which helps to crowd out weeds, but a thicker lawn also has another advantage. It looks more lush and, yes, greener.
A Parting Shot
Do you own a dog? It’s worth remembering that dog urine can cause brown patches on your lawn caused by an excess of salt. Dilute this with plenty of water and then maybe train your pet to go elsewhere.