Every homeowner’s dream is a lush, manicured lawn. Some gardener can grow the bright green turf. However, for some reasons, that turf suddenly changes color.
The problem is not everyone knows how to maintain a healthy lawn. Due to improper lawn care, the grass can quickly lose its fresh appearance. To avoid this, we’ve come up with a simple guide on how to get grass green and healthy to the lost souls out there.
How to Get Grass Green and Healthy
Adjust the Cutting Height of Your Lawn Mower
First of all, you must learn to adjust the cutting height of your lawnmower from a hard surface. This will allow you to precisely measure the distance from the ground to the bottom of the cutting deck.
In addition, you need to add 0.25 inches to this measurement since most blades are located 0.25 inches from the bottom of the deck.
If you have cool-season grass varieties such as perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass, the cutting height during the first mowing operation must range from half an inch to an inch. This height will get rid of dead grass while also providing more sunlight to the crowns of your grass.
Once the summer heat arrives, the cutting height should be at least two inches. When it gets cooler again during the last months of the year, it should revert back to half an inch or one inch.
If you have warm-season grasses such as Bermuda grass and centipede grass, you should follow the same adjustment pattern but the minimum height is around half an inch lower compared to cool-season grasses.
Tip: A commercial-grade lawn mower is more expensive than a low-capacity model, but its sheer efficiency in covering wide areas regardless of grass variety and terrain more than justifies the cost.
Sharpen the Mower Blade
Apart from adjusting the cutting height, you also need to keep the mower blades sharp at all times. You should sharpen them at least three times every year. If the blades come in contact with rocks and other tough obstacles often, they must be sharpened more frequently.
When the blades are dull, you cannot achieve clean and even cuts. If your grass is damaged by dull blades, it can suffer discoloration. Apart from becoming yellow, your grass will become prone to plant disease.
Moreover, you would need to provide an additional amount of water and fertilizer to help the damaged grass recover. If your mower blades need replacement, check out our in-depth buying guide for choosing the best lawn mower blades for 2023.
Cover the Bald Spots Well
Even when most of your lawn has healthy green grass, a small bare section is unsightly. Moreover, this area can be invaded by weeds that harbor plant diseases and steal nutrients from your grass.
When you spot a bald spot in your lawn, you must cover it by planting new grass seeds. Before planting them however, you need to mow the lawn so that the older grasses won’t stop the seedlings from receiving enough sunlight.
Also, you need to collect grass clippings and aerate the lawn. Moreover, adding the starter fertilizer will accelerate the growth of new grass in the bare spots.
Once you’ve assessed the size of the bald spot in your lawn, you should seek assistance at your local gardening supply store to get the right amount and your preferred grass variety.
To ensure that the new grass will grow green and healthy, you should spread the seeds evenly. In addition, the area must be raked so that the seeds do not get stuck on the grass blades.
You need them to be on the ground to stimulate germination. Furthermore, you need to keep them moist by watering at least once a day. Here is a video about managing bare spots in one’s lawn:
Utilize the Grass Clippings
After mowing the lawn, you should use the grass clippings instead of throwing them away. All you have to do is let a good amount of them remain on your lawn. Lawn clippings undergo the decomposition process rather quickly, which makes them a quick source of nutrients for the soil.
Apart from keeping your soil healthy, soil texture is also improved. In addition, these lawn clippings will serve as mulch for your grass and help them sustain moisture.
Practice Deep Watering
Instead of merely providing your lawn water several times a day, you should water less frequently but deeply. Lightly watering the soil will only reach the soil surface and stimulate the root system to grow in shallow sections.
When you water deeply, the water goes down lower in the soil. Thus, the root systems are encouraged to establish themselves deep in the soil. Your lawn needs between one to two inches of water every week, and you should irrigate every three or four days.
However, this is the general rule. The frequency and amount will vary due to various factors such as grass type, soil quality, and the temperature. Thus, it’s best to ask help from your local garden center to avoid overwatering.
In the warm months, you may find you get a hard crust on the soil if you haven’t been watering enough, so this is an excellent indicator to increase the watering schedule. Never water so much that you start to get pools forming on the lawn as this will drown your grass and cause dead spots.
Additionally, during the summer months, you want to make sure never to water during the day, as the ideal timing is in the early morning or late afternoon – outside of the hottest period of the day.
Aerating Your Lawn
Grass needs air the same way as we do, but it can be hard for your lawn to breathe when the soil is too compacted. The best way to make sure your lawn is getting a good supply of air is to aerate it with an aerator which punches little holes into the soil in much the same way as we use a pitchfork.
If you don’t have an aerator, you can use a fork (it just takes a lot more time), and you need to be careful not to lift the top layer as you would do when turning the soil in a flower bed.
You should only need to aerate the lawn a few times during the year, ideally during springtime and the fall. Overall, there are a lot of ways to improve the condition of your grass.
Apart from adjusting the cutting height of your mower, you must also sharpen the blades. Likewise, deep watering, using grass clippings, and covering the bald spots will all help in keeping the lawn grass green and healthy.
12 Things to Never Do to Your Lawn
We all want to have a healthy lawn with fresh, green grass. However, it’s common for us to commit ridiculous mistakes. To make homeowners better informed, we’ve come up with a list of the 12 things you should never do to your lawn.
1. Ignoring the Mature Growth of Plants
When you grow plants along the foundation of your house, it will typically look wonderful at first. The shrubs and trees that you saw at the local garden center look good.
However, not everyone understands that these living things will grow bigger and occupy more space in the long run. Thus, homeowners are annoyed at constantly having to trim the shrubs that demand more growing space.
Before you purchase plants for your lawn, you need to know the dimensions. Grow them in areas where they can reach their full mature size without affecting the view you intended.
A good option is to get dwarf trees that won’t ever become too tall as the years pass by. Similarly, the use of columnar shrubs will help if the width is a problem.
2. Using Ground Cover That Grows Too Much
Ideally, there shouldn’t be a problem with using ground covers. These low-lying plants are meant to effectively cover your lawn. In turn, their growth will prevent bad weeds from invading your lawn and stealing nutrients from the plants. However, ground covers can grow out of hand if you let them.
There are ground covers that thrive even without enough sunlight. It becomes difficult to remove them due to their resiliency. One example is the English ivy, which becomes as problematic as weeds when they are vigorously all around your lawn.
When you do use ground cover, you must be careful not to let them grow unchecked.
3. Using Too Much Fertilizer
If you want to encourage robust grass growth, you should use fertilizer. However, you should know the right amount. Not having read carefully about fertilizer application leads to an overdose.
When your grass receives too much fertilizer, fertilizer burn could arise. This is when dead or damaged grasses start to appear due to all of the nitrogen and salt that your grass could no longer absorb.
Once your lawn suffers from fertilizer burn, you could treat the grass by applying water. Still, prevention is much better. Before you apply fertilizer, you must know if it has the right chemical proportions to suit your grass varieties.
Likewise, you need to apply less or only as much as the recommended amount, especially if you have newly planted grass.
4. Dismissing the Effect of Dog Urine
If your dog frequently goes around your lawn to urinate, you need to take the urine into account. Since your pet is a carnivore, its urine contains nitrogen. Thus, dog urine has the same chemical element as your fertilizer.
If a dog urinates too much in one patch of grass, that patch could die from nitrogen overdose. In order to stop dog urine from harming your lawn, you should ensure that your dog drinks a lot of water every day. This will dilute the nitrogen in the dog urine.
Similarly, providing canned dog food to your pet will result in less nitrogen-heavy urine since the food is moist. Likewise, you could regularly water your lawn to combat the excessive nitrogen deposits.
Also, you could try applying less fertilizer or growing grass such as fescue and rye since they won’t quickly succumb to dog urine.
5. Mishandling Chemicals and Fertilizers
If you are using a gas-powered lawn mower, you must be careful not to spill any fuel on the grass. Fuel and other chemicals that land on your lawn can quickly lead to dead patches of grass.
If you want to refuel your lawn mower with gas, you can do it away from your lawn. In addition, you should conduct proper maintenance of your lawn care equipment to prevent gas leaks.
Similarly, the lawn spreader must not scatter too much fertilizer all over your lawn.
6. Mowing Too Much
One mistake that homeowners commit is ignoring the type of grass on their lawn when they mow. If you have cool-season grass varieties such as fescue grass and ryegrass, they will experience robust growth from spring to fall.
For these grasses, they should be mowed at a height between 3.5 and 4 inches. If you have warm-season grass varieties such as Zoysia grass and Bermuda grass, the mowing height should range from one to two inches.
The key thing is that you don’t have to remove more than a third of the grass height. If you mow more than this, scalping could occur and your lawn is less resistant to drought and weeds.
Mowing accordingly will help the grass improve their root systems while giving your lawn a better appearance. This is due to the fact that mowing the tip of the grass blades will lose the hormones that prevent them from growing thicker.
7. Providing the Wrong Amount of Sunlight
If your plants are receiving too much sunlight, you would have to water them more frequently. Sufficient watering will prevent soil compaction while also providing enough moisture.
On the other hand, your lawn grass could also suffer from not having enough sunlight. One way to solve this is to prune the tree branches. In case that your own house is the source of shade, you should reduce the water you provide in this shaded part of your lawn.
Another solution is to keep the height of the shaded grass an inch taller compared to the grass that receives enough sunlight. Lastly, you could try growing ryegrass and fescue grass since they could thrive even with inadequate sunlight.
8. Mowing Wet Grass
One of the worst things you could do to your lawn and also your lawn care equipment is to mow wet grass. You won’t achieve even cuts since the grass blades will stick together.
Some of the wet grass will be temporarily flattened by the lawn mower wheels and won’t get cut. When they do rise again, they won’t have the same height as the others.
In addition, the grass clippings could go in your lawn mower and prevent it from functioning properly. If that wasn’t enough, the wet lawn clippings could prevent sunlight from reaching the grass.
Worse, mowing at this time could lead to fungus growth and the spread of plant disease.
9. Not Conducting a Soil Test
Before you even plant any grass seeds on your lawn, you must first have a soil test to know the soil pH level. Identifying the soil pH will help you know whether the soil can encourage optimal grass growth.
The soil pH ranges from 0 to 14, with the former representing extreme acidity while the latter represents severe alkalinity. The soil pH must range from 6.0 to 6.5 if you want your lawn grass to thrive.
Still, it could go up to 7.5 and the grass will still grow well. If this isn’t the pH level of your soil, you can adjust it using lime or sulfur. This could take years, but it’s an important step in having a lawn.
10. Growing Only One Type of Grass Seed
You might be thinking that having only one grass variety in your lawn will give it a uniform look. However, this can have costly consequences. If your grass is not resistant to drought, your lawn will be filled with dead grass. Thus, we recommend that you have at least two grass varieties in your lawn to prepare for these problems.
For starters, you could go with bluegrass and fescue grass. Bluegrass will give your lawn a healthy and green appearance. Likewise, it feels soft and good enough for foot traffic.
On the other hand, fescue grass is tough enough to tolerate significant heat and drought. Even when your other grass varieties succumb to drought, you’ll still have one variety thriving on your lawn.
11. Failing to Dethatch Your Lawn
The thick layer of dead and living organic matter located between the grass and the soil is what we refer to as thatch. During the winter, a lot of thatch could accumulate underneath the snow. This is harmful to your lawn grass.
Thus, you must remove it properly through dethatching and right before you apply fertilizer. Detaching ensures that fertilizer is absorbed well the soil to help your grass germinate.
The best way to dethatch is to use a leaf rake and lightly go over the lawn, and this will break up any thatching, allowing the lawn to get most of the nutrients it needs to grow.
Dethatching should be done in the springtime and the fall to keep the lawn healthy throughout the year. Check out our guide on the best dethatchers for 2023 and pick the type best suited for your needs.
Here is a video about dethatching a lawn:
12. Always Relying on Harmful Weed Killers
If you only have a small patch of new seed on your lawn, you don’t have to use a non-selective herbicide that could also kill your plants with ease. Similarly, you shouldn’t immediately consider using vinegar or salt.
Using salt in a given area will effectively prevent new plants from growing there. Thus, your lawn could have a bare spot for a long time. Instead, you should find the specific herbicide for the weed or just manually remove them.
Overall, there are so many things that homeowners could do that potentially harm their respective lawns. The key to preventing these mishaps is to become well-informed about what you do.
From knowing the importance of sunlight and dethatching to dealing with dog urine, you must think and read first before doing anything to your lawn.
How to Repair Damaged Lawn
If you see that a section of your lawn is no longer growing any healthy grass, it needs to be repaired immediately. Otherwise, you are going to be left with an unsightly lawn. Here, we discuss the steps on how to repair damaged lawn.
1. Identify the Cause of Damage
We all know what a bare section of a lawn looks like, but the causes can differ from one patch to another. For one, too much fertilizer can be the most significant factor. Other reasons can be that the grass succumbed to a plant disease or an insect infestation.
In contrast, too many grasses grew in the same area and competed against each other — depleting the available nutrients could also lead to the same problem. Once you’ve identified the cause of the damaged section of the lawn, you can take the necessary steps to address them.
Try to avoid fertilizer spills next time. Research on how you can stop the plant disease from spreading. Buy the appropriate insecticide or place them in soapy water if turns out to be effective. Know how to provide enough space for each grass to full grow.
Here is a video on repairing a lawn:
2. Pick the Right Grass Variety for Overseeding
After addressing the primary cause of the damaged patch of your lawn, it’s time to plant new grass. If you live in a northern state such as Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio, overseeding is best conducted during fall.
This will allow the cool-season grasses such as perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass to establish their root systems well before the summer season arrives.
On the other hand, homeowners residing in southern states such as Delaware, Florida, and South Carolina, you should overseed with warm-season grass varieties such as bahiagrass, Bermuda grass, and zoysiagrass.
3. Prepare the Damaged Area
It’s best to separate the damaged area from the other parts in your lawn. Get a shovel and dig around the area to create a border. Also, pull up any unhealthy grasses and weeds. Use a garden rake to remove any debris and clumps of dirt on the soil surface.
Now, get your lawn mower and mow any existing healthy lawn grass in the damaged patch as close to the ground as possible. However, do note that the crowns should be unscraped.
After the mowing operation, collect all the lawn clippings and dispose of them. By this time, the damaged section will be bare enough for the grass seeds to come in contact with the soil.
After mowing, rake again the soil located between the newly mown lawn grasses. This will help prepare a decent seedbed for the grass seeds to be planted. Consequently, you may apply a layer of compost and a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to improve the soil quality. Keep the soil surface even with your garden rake.
4. Begin Planting the Seeds
Afterward, get the grass seeds and begin to saw them in the bare patch of the lawn. You should follow what is recommended on the seed package. The amount indicated will ensure that enough seeds will land on the soil even if some get stuck on the grass.
Once the grass seeds have been sown, you can add any topdressing material to improve the quality of the damaged lawn. A layer of straw or topsoil should protect not only the seeds but also keep seedlings from birds.
Furthermore, the thin layer on the soil will preserve more moisture for the new grass. Don’t forget to water the affected area frequently to encourage optimal growth and the root establishment. Once the new grasses are at least three inches in height, they are eligible for mowing.
5. Use Sod as an Alternative to Seeds
Apart from sowing grass seeds on your damaged lawn, you can also use sod instead. It’s the fastest way to cover your damaged lawn. The preparations for laying sod are similar to when you sow seed in the affected area.
Just dig a border around the area, rake the soil to remove debris, and pull up any weeds and dying grasses. It’s important that you mow the existing grass up to just an inch from the soil surface. This will allow the sod to be equal in height with the grass.
Once the preparations are complete, get a strip of sod and place it firmly on the damaged site. Let it settle faster on the area by walking on it for a bit. Afterward, water the affected area deeply and frequently.
Now You Know How to Repair Damaged Lawn
In conclusion, there are many causes of a damaged lawn. It could be due to improper lawn maintenance such as applying too much fertilizer and not providing enough water. The cause might be due to diseases, pests, and overcrowding.
Once you’ve addressed these problems, repairing your damaged lawn is simple. You can opt to use new seeds or lay sod to help your damaged lawn recover.