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Tips for a Healthy Lawn

By Jill Ramone

You're no doubt looking forward to trading your snow-covered lawn for a thick, green carpet of green space. After suffering through frigid temps, we're rewarded with a season of warmth, rejuvenation, and growth. And now's the time to think about lawn maintenance to ensure you have a healthy lawn — not only this spring, but year-round.

Rake in the Fall and Spring

Once the snow melts, rake your lawn. Go easy on the raking because the grass is dormant and will begin growing again when the ground temperature warms up past 50 degrees. Raking will rid the lawn of any leftover leaves and other debris from winter. Ideally, you want to clean up all the leaves in the fall, before the first snow. The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension warns, "Leaves that left on the lawn can promote snow mold diseases which can cause significant damage to turf grass in the winter and early spring."

Watering Your Lawn

A healthy lawn needs the right amount of water. Too much or too little water can create problems. Lawns typically need about an inch of water per week, whether Mother Nature provides it, or you use a sprinkler. You can keep track of how much rain falls each week by using a rain gauge. It's best to water in the morning hours between 4 and 10 a.m. The cooler temperatures will prevent the water from evaporating too quickly.

Reduce Foot Traffic

Foot traffic can be stressful for most types of grass. When people or pets repeatedly walk in the same areas of a yard, they press down on the soil, which can wear the grass down or damage it. And if the soil is wet, there's the risk of soil compaction. Areas along a fenceline or where dog traffic is repetitive will need intense treatment to keep the grass alive. An automatic sprinkler system should help.

Rid the Yard of Weeds

A healthy lawn doesn't have many weeds. But perennial weeds typically grow back each year. Monitor the area where they grow and dig them up when you spot them. If you pull or dig them up when you first see them you will eliminate further problems.

Aerate and Dethatch

Aerating lawns relieves soil compaction and stimulates grass growth, especially in high traffic areas. Aeration works best when there is good soil moisture. Dethatching or the process of removing dead turfgrass is a must. Excessive thatch build-up can lead to problems.

Mow Grass Regularly

Keep your lawn healthy and growing by mowing it weekly. Regular mowing will prevent weeds and stimulate grass growth. Different grass varieties do best at different heights, but in general, keep the lawn toward the taller end of its recommended range. Taller grass means longer roots and the ability to withstand drought. Change the direction with each mow to prevent the grass blades from leaning.

Fertilize

Fertilizing your grass each year will keep it green and healthy. Consumer Reports recommends fertilizing cool-season grasses two or three times in the fall, (a month apart), and once in the spring. Be careful not to apply too much, which could burn the lawn and invite pests. They suggest using a fertilizer calculator to determine how much fertilizer you'll need for your yard. And instead of tossing or bagging mulched lawn clippings, spread them across your lawn. This will significantly reduce your need for chemical fertilizers.

Providing a little TLC to your lawn, such as regular mowing, watering, and leaf and debris removal will result in strong, green, healthy grass for you to enjoy year after year.

 

Jill Ramone is a landscaper who specializes in designing sustainable, low-maintenance yards for busy homeowners.

Posted on February 4, 2020.

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