15 Lawn Care Myths Dispelled

15 Lawn Care Myths Dispelled

15 Lawn Care Myths Dispelled

1. It’s perfectly fine to cut your grass short.

This is a major lawn care mistake. A lawn that’s too short is susceptible to weeds. We recommend that you never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade during any mowing session. Keeping the grass between 3 and 3.5” inches long will help it maintain a deeper root system and become more drought-tolerant and weed-resistant. Cutting grass short causes the grass to grow more quickly, and reduces the “canopy” effect of the grass. When grass is long enough it shelters the soil during rainstorms. The impact of harsh rainfall increases soil compaction, which causes erosion and runoff issues. Setting up a good weekly lawn mowing schedule and keeping mower blades sharp will help keep your lawn at the correct length and healthy.


2. Keep new plants from drying out by watering everyday.

Overwatering is equally as bad for new plants and shrubs as a lack of watering is. Water new plants and let the soil dry out until it is moist to the touch instead of keeping a watering schedule every day. 


3. Bagging grass clippings helps to reduce thatch.

If you’re following the rule of trimming no more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blade, it’s actually beneficial to leave those clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings quickly decompose and release vital nutrients back into the soil. If you are mowing grass that’s extremely long you should bag the clippings as an excessive amount can cause thatch problems. Excessive amounts of thatch prevent water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the roots of the grass.


4. It doesn't matter what time I water my lawn.

A lawn should be watered once or twice a week applying 1.5” - 2” of water each time. This amount of water allows moisture to reach the deepest roots. By allowing the soil to dry between watering, the roots will go deeper to reach the moisture and nutrients it needs. It is best to water your lawn between 6 - 9am when it’s not as hot. Watering during the day will cause some of the water to evaporate. Also, watering during the morning hours will give your lawn a full day to dry which can reduce the chances for mildew and fungus problems.


5. The products that lawn care companies use are dangerous and more powerful than what a homeowner can use. 

Most of the products professionals use can be purchased at your local garden center, but the difference is that licensed professionals are regulated and, by law, have to use the proper amounts, apply them correctly, and dispose of them properly.


6. The best time to fertilize your lawn is in the early spring.

Since different species of grass prefer nutrients at different times of the year, be sure to use the correct fertilizer, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place. A slow-release fertilizer allows for a more even and consistent feeding over a longer period of time than a quick-release fertilizer.


7. Wearing golf spikes or “aeration sandals” will effectively aerate your lawn.

Aeration is the process of putting perforations in your lawn so that water, oxygen, and nutrients can reach the roots. Some people recommend using aeration sandals/shoes or golf shoes to aerate your lawn while mowing. Besides lacking depth, this method does not cover enough of your lawn to be effective. Alternatively, a core/plug aerator is the best choice if your lawn is in need of aeration.


8. Using a hose to water the lawn will save more money than an irrigation system. 

Irrigation systems have come a long way! Installing an irrigation system that uses smart controllers and water sensors will ensure you’re only watering where and when you need to. Efficient spray heads will minimize your water usage and maximize your savings. Smart irrigation can save you about 15% - 20% on your water bills. 


9. Fertilizer makes grass green.

Fertilizer doesn’t make grass green, it makes grass grow. Most fertilizers contain nitrogen. Nitrogen is what plants need in order to grow their structure. Grass is green due to chlorophyll, which utilizes magnesium and iron. The goal with grass should only be to grow it enough to replace damaged tips, not “blow it out of the ground”. Excessive applications of fertilizer are expensive, unnecessary, and harmful to turf. In most cases, there is enough nitrogen available to turf grass from natural sources. Adding extra nitrogen may encourage the grass to consume it’s own root system as a carbon source when it’s growing rapidly.


10. Spring is the only time you can fight dandelions.

Dandelions are actually a perennial which means that they will come back again and again if not entirely taken care of. The best time to rid your lawn of dandelions is actually in the fall to ensure that they do not return in the spring.


11. Golf courses cut their grass short, so I should do the same.

Golf courses use sophisticated methods and very expensive machinery to maintain their turf. A proper height for the average lawn is between 2.5” and 3.5”.


12. If I have moles, I must have grubs.

Moles do eat grubs if they come across them in their tunneling, but their preferred food is earthworms. The best way to know if you have grubs is to watch for signs of their activity, including brown patches in the lawn and grass that uproots up easily. Don’t assume that if you treat and kill the grubs in our lawn that the moles will also disappear.


13. I must rake and remove all leaves in fall.

Thick layers of autumn leaves can smother grass and allow disease to develop. But you don’t really have to rake leaves to keep your lawn to tip-top shape. Instead, mow over leaves a few times, chopping them into small pieces that will decompose on the lawn. Excessively thick layers of autumn leaves can potentially smother grass and allow disease to develop, but it is often not a necessity to rake leaves in order to keep your lawn healthy. 


14. Daily watering is necessary to grow a healthy lawn. 

How much water you lawn needs depends on a variety of things including climate, grass type, diagnosing other problems, etc. Infrequent, deep waterings help to grow a deep root system and is more beneficial for your lawn than frequent, short waterings.


15. Lawns are not “organic”. 

Some people believe that lawns don’t provide environmental benefits. However, they are actually highly complex and organic systems that not only contain turf grasses, but also earthworms, microbes, and other life forms that coexist and make possible the lawns that people enjoy for recreation, sports, and aesthetics.  Check out our previous blog post detailing the environmental benefits of turfgrass