Now that spring has pressed its green thumb down on us, the carrot of “the perfect lawn” has once again begun to dangle over our heads. Between TV advertisements, sales at the local box store, landscaping vans parked in our neighborhoods, and magazines boasting the perfect lawn, the idea of personal turf maintained to golf course standards has again begun to worm its way into our consciousness as the image of the ideal American lawn.
How our yards look is indeed important. But how important? Is it important enough to use chemicals that we’re not supposed to touch for up to 24 hours? Is it important enough to sacrifice hours of leisure time to try and cultivate the perfect lawn? Probably not, and that is why it is important to follow these simple steps to maintaining a more natural lawn.
- Stay Sharp – Make sure your lawnmower’s blade remains sharpened and clean of old grass clippings and debris.
- Mow Low — Twice a year, the first time and last time you mow each season, mow your grass down to two inches so weeds can be killed off and grass roots develop stronger and healthier.
- Mow High – Set your mower blades to 3-4 inches high for the rest of the season.
- Mow Your Own Mulch – Leave grass clippings on the lawn to turn to mulch. Mulching reduces the need for fertilizer since important plant nutrients are returned to the soil.
- Water Well — Water deeply and only when needed. (Every few days, not every day). Watering prevents the grass from becoming dormant during summer’s scorching days. Proper watering also ensures a denser lawn and allows the turf to compete more effectively with weeds.
- Seeding and Weeding – Periodic seeding will crowd out competing weeds and ensure a thick, lush lawn. To have a virtually weed-free lawn spot treat troublesome areas by spraying a mix of water and vinegar. Remember though, no lawn is ever completely weed-free!
- Pest Patrol – Hot pepper and canola spray oil can be used liberally to rid your yard of pests. Birds and beneficial insects also help keep pests under control. Attract birds by planting shrubs and trees or by providing a birdbath or bird feeder.
- Go Wild — Consider converting your lawn into a natural wildflower garden. Although not completely maintenance-free, wildflower meadows are very low maintenance, add visual beauty, and keep down pests and disease for your concentrated lawn and surrounding plants.
Be sure to check out Farmers’ Almanac’s best days to mow for both slowing and enhancing growth.