The days are getting longer, the temperatures warmer, and the first few signs of spring are emerging. For the motivated homeowner, these are all signs that it is time to care for the lawn. Even if you regularly tend to your yard, there are a few things that you can add to your regime to really make your neighbors green with envy.
Treat at the Beginning of the Season
As temperatures begin to rise in the spring, rake the entirety of your yard, removing any dead grass, leaves and other debris. If you see any bare spots, take some time to overseed the area, being sure to spread enough seed to completely cover the spot. Once the spot is covered, spread the seeds out a bit and spread a thin layer of soil to cover them. Water these spots lightly and continue to do so in order to keep the seedlings moist during the hot days. When this grass is slightly longer than the rest of your yard, it is ready to meet the mower.
Is this step absolutely necessary? No. Should you still do it? Yes. Adding a clean, crisp edge to your freshly mowed lawn is like delicately placing the cherry atop a beautiful sundae. There are multiple tools that you can use for this task, but regardless of which you choose, some steps will be the same. Take your time and be sure to follow a path. Plan out your lines beforehand and stick to it. Edging should not be something that you will have to do often, anywhere from once a month, to once a season, depending on how quickly your lawn grows. You may find yourself doing this more often in the earlier part of the season, when conditions are primed for growth, and less in the latter part of the season, when most lawns tend to grow more slowly.
Aerating is the process of making holes in your lawn, and losenting the soil that can become compressed over time. This compacting makes it difficult for water and fertilizers to penetrate to the roots. Aerating your lawn allows water, oxygen and other nutrients to reach the roots of your grass, where you want them. Experts recommend leaving the soil plugs (the cylinders of soil that are pulled out during the aeration process) on your lawn, allowing them to decompose. You can buy or rent the tools necessary for this endeavor at most hardware stores, if you want to aerate your lawn yourself. Or, better yet, hire a professional who will be able to knock it out in about 30 minutes.
Water at the Right Time
The time of day that you switch on those sprinklers makes a difference. According to Popular Mechanics, watering in the morning, before 10AM, will allow water to soak into the soil and then be absorbed before the temperatures get too hot and the water evaporates. Watering in the heat of the day does not allow water to be adequately absorbed, and watering at night can encourage the growth of fungus, not the kind of growth we’re going for. If you must water at night, try to do so between about 4:00 and 6:00 pm. This should give your lawn enough time to dry before nightfall and the temps start to dip.
How Much Water?
Most lawns will require 1-1.5 inches of water each week, either from rain or supplementary watering, to thrive. The amount of time you would need to run your sprinkler system to meet this mark will vary greatly depending on the system that you have, water pressure, etc. To find out how long you would need to run your system to do this, you can use a rain gauge, or (if you don’t have one) place a can or measuring cup outside, in a place that your sprinkler hits. Run your sprinklers and check periodically to see how long it takes to fill .5 inch. If it takes 30 minutes to meet this mark, then you can expect that it would take approximately 60 minutes for your system to provide your thirsty blades with the 1.5 inches they crave. However, it is not recommended that you do this all at once, but rather, spread out watering over the week. This would mean that three 20 minute watering sessions would provide your lawn with adequate water, while encouraging a deeper, stronger root system.
With a bit of knowledge and a bit of effort, you can be sure the grass is always greener on your side of the fence.