Avoiding Common Lawn Care Mistakes

A lawn is a fairly basic thing, something which every property has and which we often take for granted. However, cultivating a truly beautiful lawn involves a bit of maintenance. Unfortunately, many homeowners make mistakes in lawn care, resulting in everything from wasted money to a dry, brown patch of dead grass.

Luckily, the most common lawn care mistakes are easily avoided. All it takes is a bit of knowledge and effort. In this article, we'll review the most commonly made lawn care mistakes, as well as how to avoid them in the first place. Having a beautiful lawn isn't a difficult thing, and any time you put into it will be well worth the effort.

Too-Short Grass

A common misconception in lawn care is that the shorter you cut the grass, the better. After all, the shorter you cut it, the more time you have before mowing becomes necessary again, right?

While your mowing time might be cut down, your lawn will suffer greatly if you make this common error. Grass is a plant, despite how hardy and indestructible it often seems. It can definitely be hurt, and cutting it too short is a great way to cause injury.

When grass is cut too short, several things happen. The grass itself becomes stunned or traumatized because most of it is gone. Traumatized plants of any kind need time to recover, and a lawn is exposed to the elements twenty-four hours a day, giving them little to no recovery time. Brown, dead patches can result. Weeds often spring up in these dead patches, and over time you'll end up with a very scraggly, unkempt yard.

Cutting too short also exposes roots to the elements, which can kill them or stunt the plant. This is especially true during colder months and months with a lot of direct sunlight. During early spring and late fall, allowing your lawn to grow a bit longer than usual is actually quite healthy, since it protects roots from the possibility of and unexpected frost. Keeping your lawn at a medium height during the rest of the year ensures proper root protection and doesn't affect the plants themselves.

Using the Wrong Products

When tending your lawn, you'll probably use several different products in order to help keep it looking great. The most common are fertilizers and weed control products. Depending on your own preferences, these products vary greatly. Some of the most common lawn care mistakes arise from using the wrong products.

Today's society is very concerned with being environmentally friendly. When it comes to lawn care, this means steering clear of harsh, chemical products. Instead, organic fertilizers and pest control products are preferred by many. However, you need to be aware of how these products work, especially if you're used to chemical lawn care.

Organic and natural lawn products generally do not produce the same instant results as chemical products. Where a chemical weed product can literally kill unwanted plants overnight, a natural product is gentler and will take more time to get rid of weeds. This wait is definitely worth it when it comes to being friendlier to the environment. Many homeowners aren't aware of this and use an organic product, see no results, and assume the product doesn't work. Practice a bit of patience and you'll be very happy with the results you can achieve through natural products.

If you have a project you want done immediately, many homeowners still rely on chemical products. If you do choose to go the chemical route, remember to use these products safely. Most are toxic to children and pets, so keep your yard off-limits for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer. Depending on the product you're using, this can vary from several hours to several days. One of the most dangerous lawn care mistakes is exposing children and pets to toxic chemicals, but thankfully this error can be avoided quite easily.

Improper Fertilizing and Watering Schedules

Fertilizing and watering your grass are the fundamentals of lawn care. However, even these simple steps harbor potential mistakes. Fertilizing and watering at the wrong times is the most common mistake. Not only does it waste your money, but if fertilizers aren't absorbed properly, your lawn won't show any benefits.

Each species of grass is different, and they all have specific times of the year and times of the day when fertilizing and watering are most effective. If you don't know what species your existing lawn is, you can take a sample to a local specialist. If you're purchasing sod or grass seed, instructions for proper fertilizing and watering will be included.

As a general rule, it's best to water at dawn or dusk, since direct sunlight will cause most of the water to evaporate before it has a chance to be absorbed. Since different areas of your lawn receive direct sunlight at different times, this rule needs to be customized for each homeowner. Also be sure to check on any local water usage regulations, which often prohibit watering during certain times. In some cases, homeowners are only allowed to water on odd or even numbered days. These regulations are more heavily enforced and carry higher fines for violation in areas where water is scarce, but most areas have some type of rules in place.

Once you've determined the proper times to fertilize and water your lawn, you'll be amazed at the quality of new growth. Following a good fertilizing and watering schedule can mean the difference between a mediocre lawn with bare or brown patches and a thick, dense green carpet of grass.

Not Using Mulch

While it's not necessary to use thick mulch on a lawn, savvy homeowners know the value of mulching grass clippings. This is an option on many lawnmowers; clippings are automatically cut into fine pieces and deposited back onto the lawn as you mow. Even with older models which shoot the clippings to the side, mulching is possible - and incredibly easy. Just leave the clippings where they land! Unless you're cutting down severely overgrown grass, this won't have any impact on the look of your lawn; the clippings will be practically invisible. However, they'll do quite a lot in keeping moisture in the ground and nourishing the grass as it grows. This practice also cuts down on waste.

If you're starting grass from seed or dealing with freshly laid sod, different rules apply. Experts have different opinions on when is the appropriate time to begin mulching, just as they often disagree on when to first mow a brand-new lawn. Consult several experts familiar with the type of grass you're using and your local climate for the most applicable solution.

Using the Wrong Type of Grass

Depending on where you live, certain types of grass are much more suitable for your climate than others. Certain grasses do well in colder, wetter climates, where others do best in hot and dry areas. If you're starting a new lawn or replacing your current one with seed or sod, it pays to do a bit of research and find out which varieties are best for your area.

Planting the wrong type of grass won't necessarily spell disaster, but it will usually require much more attention to keep it looking good. A species of grass which is adapted to your climate can get by with minimal attention and still look lush.

Your soil type also comes into play when choosing the correct type of grass for your lawn. Replacing the soil on your entire property is usually not an option, and the good news is that it's really not necessary. Simply aerating a lawn is often enough to improve the soil quality a great deal. This involves poking small holes in the surface of the soil, allowing air and moisture to reach down. After you aerate, apply fertilizer and water thoroughly. These simple steps are often all that's needed to greatly improve your soil quality. A few days later, the soil will be ready to accept either sod or grass seed.

Is a Lawn Service Right for You?

Hiring a lawn service is a luxury that many homeowners don't really need. Paying for work that you can easily do yourself is always a mistake. However, for some homeowners, a professional lawn service is a very smart choice.

The size of your lawn and the time you can devote to it should be deciding factors when determining whether or not a professional lawn service is right for you. If you have a very large yard, you might not have the time it takes to fertilize and water properly, especially if you're relying on a traditional stationary sprinkler (irritation systems can make watering a large yard very easy, but they're also costly).

If you know that you can't devote the appropriate amount of time to your yard, consider hiring a lawn care service. These companies are very flexible, and perform only the work you need done, as often as you need it. You can hire one for a weekly mowing or for daily watering - it's all up to you and your budget. Don't make the mistake of hiring services you don't need, but don't neglect your lawn either. Both mistakes lead to wasted money and unsightly grass issues.

Posted by: Diane
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