Make everyone in your neighborhood green with envy over your lush lawn with these landscaping secrets.
Step 1: Test your soil Test your soil to find out what nutrients it needs. Garden centers often sell do-it-yourself kits, or you can arrange a test through the Cooperative Extension System, a national agriculture network. Find a nearby Extension office on the USDA web site.
Step 2: Fertilize carefully Don't put too much fertilizer out at one time; one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is a good rule of thumb, but follow the directions on your package. After fertilizing, lightly water your lawn to wash any excess off the blades and to help the fertilizer reach the roots.
Step 3: Give your grass enough water Give your lawn about one inch of water per week. If it's really hot out, give it an inch of water every three to five days. A can set outside will tell you how much rainwater your lawn has gotten; time how long it takes for the can to fill up one inch.
TIP: Many Extension web sites have guidelines on the optimum water amounts for different types of grass.
Step 4: Water in the a.m. Water your grass early in the morning so the blades dry before sundown. Otherwise, fungus may develop.
Step 5: Sharpen up Mow your grass weekly from spring through fall. Check your lawn mower blades for sharpness; dull ones weaken the grass by tearing it. Grass mowed with sharp blades will look like it's been cut straight across with scissors, while dull blades leave jagged edges.
TIP: If your lawn has a white cast after mowing, your lawn mower needs sharpening.
Step 6: Make sure the lawn is dry Make sure the grass is dry, but not arid, when you are ready to mow it. To test, stick a screwdriver into the ground. If it goes in up to the handle without much force, it's fine.
Step 7: Cut it the right height Leave the grass two to three inches high, depending on the variety. This shades the grass, which helps the roots hold moisture. It also prevents weeds from growing.
Step 8: Alternate direction Mow in a different direction every couple of weeks to keep the grass healthy.
Step 9: Leave the clippings Leave the clippings on your lawn; they're a good source of fertilizer.
Step 10: Pick up leaves Don't let autumn leaves linger on your lawn, or they'll weaken grass by blocking sunlight.
FACT: Human hair has been found to be an effective plant fertilizer.