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Three Things You're Doing Wrong to Your Lawn

Lawn & Garden

Having the best lawn on the block doesn’t mean spending hours outside trimming, fertilizing and seeding. It could be as simple as breaking these three bad lawn habits.

1. Mowing your grass too short.

Everyone wants an immaculate, putting green-esque lawn. But mowing your grass too short is the number one mistake homeowners make when caring for their lawns. Trimming too much can deplete the lawn’s energy reserves and make it more susceptible to weeds by weakening roots and essentially starving the grass.

Rule of thumb: keep your mower height around 2.5 to 3 inches, and never trim more than a third of the blade in one mowing. Try to mow more often and take a little less off the top to nurture a healthy, lush lawn. Be sure to keep your mower blades sharp so they can deliver a clean cut rather than tearing and damaging the top of your grass

2. Not watering the right amount at the right time.

If you’re overwatering, you might see mushrooms or lots of worms and grubs in your grass, notice a spongy feeling when you walk on it, or spot a lot of runoff when you water. Too frequent watering also leads to shallow roots, weakening your lawn. On the other hand, your lawn’s not getting enough moisture if you notice dry, brown spots or if your footprints are still visible long after you’ve walked on the grass.

Rule of thumb: give your grass about an inch of water each week, including rainfall. Water early in the morning so moisture can soak in before the hottest part of the day. Avoid watering at night, which can promote mildew and fungus growth.

3. Using the wrong kind of fertilizer.

When should I fertilize? What kind of fertilizer is best for my lawn? What do those numbers on the bag mean anyway?

All fertilizers contain three basic nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Grass fertilizers contain a special composition of the three, so always use a blend made for lawns. If you have weed problems, choose a weed control fertilizer. If you don’t have weed issues, opt for a “Green Max” product. And if you’re seeding, avoid fertilizers with pre-emergent weed killers.

Rule of thumb: give your lawn four fertilizer applications each year, six weeks apart. If you don’t have time to fertilize that often, make sure you do it in the spring and fall.

Additional Tip: Attack weeds at the right time.

If you’re trying to kill broadleaf weeds, you have to apply herbicide when they are growing. Weeds absorb herbicides through their leaves and then distribute them through the rest of the plant as it grows. So if it is too hot or too cold for weeds to grow, your weed killers likely won’t be as effective. Follow the directions on the bottle. Most herbicides have directions explaining the ideal times for application.

Trying to prevent crabgrass? Make sure you apply weed preventers, or pre-emergent treatments, in the Spring before crabgrass has had time to shoot up. Pre-emergents only keep the weeds from sprouting. So if your crabgrass has already shown up, it’s likely too late to apply.

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