A thick healthy lawn does more than prevent erosion and detract from your home; it filters contaminants, absorbs dust, and cleans the air. Be a good neighbor in the spring and get green in a good way.
Step 1: Get a soil test Break out the garden implements and mower once winter ends. Get a soil test in the spring with advice from your local nursery to determine your lawn's pH level. Fertilize with nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium -- but don't overdo it.
TIP: Fertilize 4 times a year: in spring, summer, fall, and after the first frost. You can skip summer if things are too hot and dry, but never miss the fall application.
Step 2: Choose the right grass seed Fill in spots or start a lawn with grass seed suited to your local environment. Pay attention to shady and full sun types to be sure you're giving the grass a fighting chance.
Step 3: Water the lawn Water the lawn in the morning instead of the hot afternoon hours, and use a soaking system that averts the inevitable evaporation from sprinklers. Let the lawn dry before watering again, which means you don't have to do it every day.
TIP: Most lawns are watered too often yet with too little water, which keeps grass roots at the surface instead of growing deeper down, and deprives the roots of water during dry periods.
Step 4: Sharpen mower blades Sharpen your lawnmower blades a couple times each summer. A ragged cut grass tip invites infections and threatens the whole lawn.
Step 5: Mow the grass Mow no more than one third of the grass height to avoid burning the lawn out in hotter months. Higher grass allows more surface to absorb sunlight. Leave the cuttings in the lawn for mulch and allow the lawn to grow a root system, fight pests, and stem disease.
TIP: If you're inclined to use integrated pest management, keep in mind that may mean toxins. 78 percent of synthetic fertilizers generate 80 percent less microbial activity than organic.
Step 6: Aerate the lawn Aerate the lawn yearly to keep it from becoming compacted. Use a professional company to do this at the right time, and let the resultant plugs lie on the lawn to break back down into the soil.
Step 7: Rake thatch Rake thatch out of the lawn in the spring or fall to keep it from building up and blocking nutrients and water from percolating into the earth. Your lush lawn will end up greener than that tasteless Astroturf rug on the patio.
FACT: American homeowners care for more than forty million acres of turf.