Landscaping On A Budget
Has your lawn seen better days? From overgrown weeds to brown patches, an unkempt yard might be bringing down your curb appeal a few notches. But before you shell out the money to hire a pro to fix itor worse, give up on your lawn completelycheck out these affordable solutions. All your yard needs is a little TLC.
Some chronic lawn issuessuch as browning, thinning, and wiltingmay stem from poor soil conditions. Get to the root of the problem by using the Covery 3 in 1 Soil Tester Kit. After inserting the probe into the ground, youll be able to measure the moisture, light, and pH levels of your soil. Use these measurements to determine whether the conditions are ideal for healthy grass growth, or whether the soil composition needs improvement. Making a few simple tweaks may give you the lush green lawn youve always wanted! Available on $12.99.
If you’ve ever mulched your garden beds or created a rustic path in your yard with it, you know that windy days or mischievous squirrels can throw that soil all over your yard. Not a great look. Lucky for those who love the look of mulch, but hate picking pieces of bark out of the lawn, there’s a faux alternative. This mulch-like mat, measuring 22 inches wide and 6 feet long, can be cut to size to create a custom garden path that will stay put all season longno raking required! Available from Plow & Hearth $44.95.
Make Your Lawn The Envy Of The Block With Consumer Reports’ Expert Advice
If the lawn outside your window is giving you the blues, join the club. After a brutal winter walloped much of the country, our Facebook and Twitter feeds have been buzzing with lawn care woes from exasperated homeowners . Fortunately, many of the most common problems have fairly straightforward fixes, as youre about to read. And just in case your yard is already the envy of the block, our experts have advice on money-saving tips, the right and wrong ways to fertilize, plus results from our latest tests of mowers, tractors, and more.
Tip No : With Fertilizers And Weed Killers Timing Is Everything
When applying weed killers and fertilizers, take into account variables like geographic location, grass type, weed type and soil conditions. Here are a few general guidelines:
- A thick, healthy lawn that doesnt provide weed seeds adequate sunlight or open space to germinate is your best defense against weeds. A sick, spotty lawn leaves lots of open space for weeds to take root and grow.
- Attack weeds in the early spring and summer before they have a chance to develop deep root systems, go to seed or reproduce.
- Different weeds require different chemicals and methods. Its best to eradicate grassy weeds like crabgrass with pre-emergent weed killers, which destroy germinating plants as they sprout. Broadleaf weeds need to be attacked while theyre young and actively growing spraying the leaves of individual plants or patches of plants is most effective. Dandelion killers work by literally growing the plant to death.
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Service The Lawn Mower
Spring also means it’s time to get out the lawn mower and give it a once over. Start it up stubborn start-ups are a sign that it might be due for a tune-up. Give your mower a tune-up once a year. In three easy steps, you can get your mower back in tip-top shape. If your lawnmower needs more than a tune-up, then consider getting a new one.
Among the key tune-up tasks is sharpening the mower blade. A regular sharpening will ensure the blade severs, rather than tears, the grass plants, leading to a nice green lawn rather than one with ragged brown tips.
Use A Variety Of Ways To Deal With Problems
Pest problems that keep coming back are often a sign that your lawn care practices need to change. These changes can include:
- correcting drainage or fertility problems
- adding lime
- increasing mowing height
- removing thatch
For help in dealing with common problems like weeds, pests, and diseases, see Dealing with lawn problems.
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Is It Possible To Grow A Beautiful Lawn Naturally
In many places, an attractive and good lawn means one free of weeds with a lush carpet of uniform green grass. In fact, Americans are so obsessed with attractive lawns it is now a multi-billion dollar industry.
We spend money to kill the plants that are already growing and then plant or sod with grass. We replace the natural ground coverings like clover, plantain, and dandelion with flowerless grass for the sake of looks.
I definitely understand why, and in many neighborhoods with HOAs, these are requirements. The good news is that there are many ways to maintain an attractive lawn without the need for harsh chemicals.
Making this switch can actually help save money. It will also improve growth for pollinators and reduce chemical use and exposure. It will also create a safer lawn for children and pets to play on!
Spring Tasks To Foster A Great Lawn
The Spruce / David Karoki
When spring is in the air, you’ll see the first crocuses or daffodils return, marking the coming of the season. These signs should also signal to you that it’s time to get your lawn ready for the growing season. The exact timing of these lawn care tasks depends upon the climate of your region. If you get snow in your area, then start when you are pretty confident the snow season is over. Or time the start of your yard work with the point when the local forsythia plants stop blooming and the local lilac bushes begin to flower.
For homeowners in most regions, there are eight tasks you should complete in the spring to foster a healthy lawn.
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Use Your Machine Properly
Every item you are about to maintain needs your time and research. Keeping a lawn needs affection. It requires regular care and maintenance. One such topic that it needs your research on is knowing your machinery.
You need a specific type of machine to maintain the health and physical structure of the grass. Its called mowing machines. You can also call them mopping machines. These machines work manually or electrically. You need to know the overall mechanism of the apparatus and its cutting procedure, keeping in mind the physiological nature of the green bodies.
Image via Daniel Watson
Grass of smaller length tends to die out sooner than we expect. Besides this, longer grass becomes more and more susceptible to growing weeds and becoming unhealthy. These simple yet important points shape up the operating routine of the machine.
Its essential to decide the height of the grass, depending on the science of their growth, and the background geography about their growth. These details keep your lawn hefty, physically.
Getting Your Soil Into Shape
Having a healthy lawn relies on having healthy soil.
If theres one thing that I see lacking from lawn care gurus online, its the fact that amending your soil with chemical fertilizers actually makes your turf less healthy.
Your grass will start to depend upon these quick-release synthetic fertilizers, and the soil thats supposed to feed your grass will become less and less healthy.
I use slow-release, organic fertilizer on my lawn and amend the turf by broadcasting screened compost every second or third fall as well. Theres a time and a place for synthetic fertilizers, but if you rely solely upon them youll be in an expensive cycle of lawn care that is not sustainable.
Getting your soil into shape to nourish and support a healthy lawn is how to make grass thicker and fuller.
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Tip #: Use Pesticides Judiciously
- Monitor weeds before they become a huge problem.
- Use good cultural practices to keep the weeds from invading the grass. For example, set your mowing height to 3 inches or more.
- Don’t treat weeds everywhere in your lawn. Decide which locations are top priority. For example, you may have crabgrass along the edges of the curb. And that may be an important area for you to treat.
- Compacted soil
- New seeding
Control Creeping Charlie
Tip No : Adjust Your Cutting Height To The Time Of Year
For cool-climate grasses, use a 1-1/2 in. cutting height for the first mowing of the year to remove dead grass and allow more sunlight to reach the crowns of the grass plants. Raise the blade during the heat of summer to two inches or more. Then lower the blade back to 1-1/2 in. for the last cutting of the year. For warm-climate grasses, these heights will be about 1/2 in. lower.
When adjusting your blade height, measure from a hard surface to the bottom of the mower deck, then add 1/4 in. Most blades sit 1/4 in. above the bottom of the deck.
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Problem: Grub Sightings Solution: First Assess Then Address
These milky-white beetle larvae feed on grass roots, which can lead to dead spots in the lawn. Grubs also attract moles and raccoons. But a few here or there might not be a problem, says Kyle Wickings, a turfgrass entomologist at Cornell University. Ten larvae per square foot is a common threshold for treatment, however, this can vary by species. A very healthy lawn can tolerate higher densities.
If there are signs of damage, say dead or wilting turf, ask your cooperative extension for the best treatment, which will depend on the species of grub. Preventive insecticides are applied in spring, and curative measures are done in the fall. In some regions, chemicals are illegal or must be applied by a certified pro. Organic alternatives, such as Heterorhabditis nematodes, are often effective.
Large Lawns And Golf Courses
Large lawns, and especially golf courses, require large amount of herbicides and chemical fertilizers to maintain their condition and appearance. The impact on the environment is considerable.
Recent experiments using organic compost have shown this method to be very promising. Generally, researchers and practitioners recognize that incorporating high-quality compost does several things:
For a detailed report on the science, application methods and results, read our article Using Compost to Improve Turf Ecology.
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Change The Way You Water It
If your grass is dying, it shouldnt come as a shock that watering it should be the first step. Just like any other plant, grass needs adequate water to survive.
In many areas of the country, the rainfall is enough to suffice. But if you just moved to a hotter and drier climate, you may want to install a watering system to quench your grasss thirst.
Many people make the mistake of turning their sprinkling system on for a few minutes every day. However watering your grass less often and for longer periods of time is a better way to make grass green. Longer watering ensures the water will seep deeper into the soil and reach the roots of your grass while watering it less often makes sure they dont drown.
Problem: Ugly Bald Sports Solution: Start From Scratch
Weeds love bare patches, so if you dont act quickly, they will. Springs cool, wet weather is conducive to growing many types of turfgrass. Start by digging up the damaged section, plus 6 inches of surrounding, healthy lawn, cutting about 2 inches deep. Then level the soil and add a small amount of soil amendment, such as a plant-based compost, and starter fertilizer. If youre using seed, cover it lightly with straw and keep the ground moist until germination. For sod, which is about 10 times more expensive than seed but tends to work better, cut a section to fit, press it into place, and water frequently until it takes root.
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Use A Fertilizer With Time
These fertilizers are less likely to burn your lawn with excess nitrogen, and slow-release allows the roots to absorb the nutrients as needed. In most instances, choose fertilizers containing at least 35% 50% of their nitrogen supply in the slow-release form, such as sulfur-coated urea, methylene urea or various natural organic products. With fast-acting fertilizers, some nutrients are washed away with watering or rain, and the wasted fertilizer pollutes groundwater supplies.
How To Make Your Grass Greener: 7 Ways To Improve Your Lawn
Do your neighbors have gorgeous lush lawns with wonderfully-designed backyards? You may look at your own yard which is browning and dying and wonder how they do it.
You both live in the same neighborhood so the soil and rainfall between your yards should be the same. So what are you doing wrong? Well, the good news is that achieving a greener yard doesnt have to be so hard.
With just a few easy steps, you can learn how to make your grass greener. Youll never have to be jealous of your neighbors and their perfect yards again!
Do you want to know more? Keep reading to discover 7 ways to make your yard greener.
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Spend For Premium Seed
If you need to seed a bare patch or your grass is so thin that you need to overseed, invest in a top-quality mix. Check the bag’s label a premium blend will name individual cultivars, such as ‘Midnight’ Kentucky bluegrass, while common names, like tall fescue, indicate older, lower-quality seed types. The pros agree: Cheaper seed will never perform really well, no matter how much you fertilize.
You might also consider a custom mix. Online specialty seed retailers, such as SeedSuperStore.com, cherry-pick top-performing seed types and can create a blend optimally suited to your site, with no weed seeds. Or, if you’re looking for something special, like darker color or finer leaf texture, you can tailor a mix accordingly. Expect to pay more than double what home-center seed costs.
Use A Herbicide Before Emergence Of Herbs
The most effective way to control unwanted herbs in a lawn is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide. Herbs generally emerge from seeds broadcasted or planted the previous year. If you can prevent from germinating, then there will be no such menace in the lawn.
The best time to apply herbicide is the spring season. It is because spring is the time of germination or the season just before germination takes place. A single application in spring will ensure an unwanted herb free lawn throughout the rest of the year.
To keep unwanted herbs and weeds at bay, keep your lawn healthy. Maintaining the soil pH level, fertilizing optimally, using local and healthy variants of grass can ensure a lush turf. It also enables the grass to fight better against weed and herb invasion.
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Use Premium Grass Seed
Theres a saying, You get what you pay for, and that is certainly true when it comes to grass seed. When you use premium grass seed like Scotts® Turf Builder® grass seed, youll know that it will sprout fast, provide even coverage, and stay in place. Coated with WaterSmart® PLUS coating that absorbs 2X more water than uncoated seed, Turf Builder® grass seed feeds to jump-start growth and protects seedlings against disease. Lawn pros know that planting a lawn with premium grass seed allows you to start with a thicker lawn so its easier to keep it looking lush and full.
How Often To Mow
A good-looking lawn requires mowing no more than every two weeks. Rather than giving the lawn a close trim each week, let it grow a little. This will actually help the lawn by allowing it to shade out weeds and develop stronger root systems. Removing no more than a third of its overall length at a time may be helpful as well.
Also, mow only when the grass is dry and use a sharp mower blade to make cleaner cuts. Mowing wet grass can spread fungus or insects it can also dull the mower blades.
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