Lawn maintenance is a task that some homeowners choose to handle themselves. It seems simple enough. Anyone can mow the lawn, right? Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Landscaping is a skill just like any other, requiring knowledge and specific techniques. Lack of such knowledge can lead to unhealthy lawns, dead spots, and sometimes permanent damage to a lawn.
Although anyone can technically care for their own lawn, many people still prefer to leave it up for a professional landscaping service because they offer the specific knowledge it takes to create a beautiful, healthy lawn. Many critical mistakes are committed each year by ill-advised homeowners who take on lawn maintenance themselves. Here are the most common landscaping mistakes to avoid.
1. Mowing Too Short
Mowing your lawn too short can cause a variety of issues. Removing more than one-third of the grass blade shocks the grass and can leave your lawn susceptible to weeds and reducing its ability to cope with drought and other environmental stresses. In addition, shorter grass blades decompose more easily, allowing nitrogen to be released back into the soil (free fertilizer!). The recommended height for mowing your lawn is between 2.5-3.5”.
2. Mowing Pattern Monotony
Mowing your lawn in the same pattern all year is one you need to break. Consistently mowing your lawn in the same direction can mat down the turn and inhibit growth. By changing the pattern in which you mow your lawn, you will avoid missing or double mowing areas and reduce turf wear. This will encourage a healthier, more beautiful lawn.
3. Improper Fertilizer Applications
Someone with little to no experience with applying fertilizer should first do research into the topic. There are many important aspects to fertilizer that you need to know: how to find out what your lawn needs, what time of year to apply the fertilizer, the rates at which to apply it, proper application techniques, etc. One excessive application of nitrogen fertilizer can permanently damage your lawn and be a costly mistake.
4. Not Focusing On Soil
A vital aspect to the health of your lawn is the level of pH of your soil. A slightly acidic lawn is preferred by most grass varieties. You can find out you soil’s pH by purchasing a DIY soil testing kit. After you have determined the pH of your soil, apply the necessary amendments to either make your soil more acidic or more alkaline depending on its needs.
5. Ignoring Thatch
Thatch is a layer of non-decomposed stems, roots, and organic matter that is between your grass’ roots and the soil surface. An excessive thatch layer can prevent proper root growth and the development of a deep root system by limiting the amount of water, air, and nutrients that reach the roots. A thatch layer exceeding 1” would be considered excessive. Thatching your lawn annually can prevent a large thatch layer from developing or cure a current thatch problem.
6. Improper Watering Techniques
Water is a vital resource for your lawn but it can be harmful if not at the right quantities. Frequent, short watering sessions promote a shallow, weak root system. More infrequent, lengthy waterings promote a deep, healthy root system. Watering in the morning allows ample time for the water to soak into the soil before it is evaporated by the midday sun. Let your lawn tell you went its in need of hydration instead of following a set schedule.
7. Dull Mower Blades
Dull mower blades tear the ends of the grass blade instead of making a cleaning a clean, sharp cut. This results in the ends of the grass blade looking brown and dry, which can then lead you to overwater and over fertilize. Be sure to sharpen your blades at least once annual for a residential properly, to ensure a good quality of cut.
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