If you can learn from your mistakes, you’ll be much better off in life. But, if you can learn from others’ mistakes, it’s even better.
That way, you don’t have to make the mistake yourself. In our line of work, the Eco-Pride lawn care team at Heritage Lawns & Irrigation has seen plenty of homeowner mistakes over the years.
1. Not Testing the Soil
Most homeowners just plant grass willy nilly. Grass thrives in soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5. Send a soil sample to your local extension service for testing and they’ll tell you what your soil needs to make your grass healthy.
Related Read: Improve Your Soil through Soil Amendments
2. Buying the Wrong Kind of Seed For Your Lawn
You may not realize it, but most grass seed contains weeds. Don’t believe it? The next time you’re at the store, read the labels. You’ll see a percentage of “weed seed” and “other crop” contained in the bag listed on the back. Look for premium seed that states 0% weed seed and 0% other crop.
Related Read: Who Put Weeds in my Seed?
3. Planting Only One Type of Seed
Selecting the right type of turf grass is key. Planting a variety of seed types helps your lawn become established as the seeds’ strengths and weaknesses offset each other. Turf with more than one kind of seed is more likely to survive bad conditions, like heat and drought, than a single-seed lawn.
We recommend 50% Blue Grass and 50% fescue. The fescue allows the lawn to be tough and durable enough to withstand the heat and drought typical of Kansas City summers. And the blue grass makes the lawn soft and green enough to look and feel good when walked on.
4. Scalping the Lawn
Mowing grass too short is very harmful to the plant and can actually put it into shock. Cutting off too much of the grass blade will limit its ability to absorb sunshine, which allows it to perform photosynthesis through its leaves and make food. It also weakens the root system.
Set the mower height to about 2 1/2 inches and never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blade at any one time. The grass will develop a deeper root system to support the longer blades and need less water.
5. Watering Your Yard Too Frequently
Watering too frequently discourages the grass from developing the deep root system it needs to take the water available deeper in the soil and become less dependent on supplemental watering. It is better to water less frequently but deeper. This will encourage the plant to push its roots deeper.
Homeowners should maintain a deep and infrequent watering schedule throughout the year, watering no more than one inch per week. A good rule of thumb is a third of an inch of water three times a week.
6. Watering at the Wrong Time of Day
Don’t water between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. It is best to water between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. There’s usually less wind, less sun, and your lawn has all day to dry.
Watering at night can encourage mildew and fungus but if you can’t water in the morning, the next best time is 4-7 p.m. Don’t water between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm. You will lose water to evaporation.
7. Mowing with Dull Mower Blades
Mowing with dull lawn mower blades will actually tear the grass blade. This will cause the grass to have light colored tips, which makes it look brown and less healthy.
A torn blade of grass is also more prone to disease and insect damage. Sharpen the lawnmower blades at the start of each season to keep your grass looking its best.
8. Applying Too Much Fertilizer
Over fertilizing, especially with high levels of nitrogen, will cause excess leaf growth and limit root growth. If applied too heavily, it can actually burn the lawn. Use a slow release fertilizer.
They do not need to be applied as often and reduce the chance of burning the lawn. Also, make sure you apply fertilizer evenly, or you may end up with a striped lawn.
9. Fertilizing at the Wrong Time
It is best to apply fertilizer when the grass is rapidly growing, not during the hot summer when the grass wants to go dormant anyway. Fertilizing at this time will require more water to support the increased growth.
Fall fertilization is important for root growth and will give the lawn a boost next Spring. Late spring, late summer, and after the last mow of the year are ideal times to fertilize.
10. Bagging Lawn Clippings
Rather than collect cut grass, use a self-mulching mower to leave shredded cuttings behind. Think of it as free fertilizer. By leaving your grass clippings on the lawn, you are adding nitrogen almost continually, which can reduce the need for fertilization by as much as 25%. Plus, leaving the clippings on the lawn (grasscycling) helps the environment by keeping clippings out of landfills.
Related Read: Stop Bagging, Start Mulching Your Leaves.
Avoid these mistakes for a healthier, greener lawn this year. If you decide that DIY just isn’t working, give us a call at (913) 451-4664 and we’ll be happy to help!