New to Lawn Care? Learn the Fundamentals!

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Close-up of healthy, green lawn

A well-manicured lawn looks beautiful and can add to your home's overall value. But with all of the many tasks that go into maintaining a healthy lawn, taking proper care of it requires a solid plan of action. If you’re a new homeowner or simply just new to having to care for your yard, it can be hard to figure out where to start. The experts at Tailor Made Lawns will help you get started with our helpful & informative guide to lawn care fundamentals!

Mowing 101

Mowing can sometimes feel like an endless cycle. By the time you finish trimming your grass, it can feel like only minutes before it needs to be mowed again. But in reality, your lawn only requires mowing about once a week during most of the year. In the spring you may need to mow it a little more often--about once every four or 5 days--because it grows faster.

How much should be cut each time?

Experts recommend following the 1/3 rule, especially during the summer: Don't cut more than1/3 of the blade length at one time. That will keep the grass long enough to remain healthy and strong enough to handle potential drought conditions. "Mowing high" (setting the mower at a height of 3-4 inches for cool season grasses) also helps grass absorb moisture and grow deeper roots.

Does the type of lawn mower make a difference?

Mulching mowers have a special blade that drops grass clippings onto the lawn on a continuous basis where they are cut and re-cut. As a result, the clippings become very fine and easily drop into the lawn. However, no matter what type of lawn mower you use, be sure to keep the blades sharp. Dull blades tear grass tips resulting in moisture-loss and brown patches.

Should the lawn mower be run in a certain direction?

To prevent ruts in your grass, mow in a different direction each time. It's also beneficial to leave the clippings on the lawn after you cut it instead of cleaning them up. They serve as a type of fertilizer.

In summary, mowing tips to follow:

  • Follow the 1/3 rule of mowing
  • Keep blades sharp
  • Mow in alternating directions

Proper Watering Recommendations

When it comes to your lawn, over-watering and not watering enough can both have negative repercussions. It may take some time to get a feel for your grass's exact hydration needs, but there are general guidelines you can follow until then.

How often should I water my lawn?

Only turn on your sprinkler or irrigation system when your turf really needs it--and never do it every day. Shoot for 2-3 times a week and make sure the water soaks into the soil at least 6-inches deep. The key is to supplement rainfall and encourage deep rooting.

What time of day is best for irrigating?

Turn on the sprinkler for any 30-minute slot during the hours of 5 AM to 9 AM. Doing it any earlier won't give it a chance to dry, and that can mean fungus. Watering any later puts your sprinkler in direct competition with the sun, leading to moisture loss.

Do all grasses require the same amount of water?

No. Some grasses can do just fine during a drought while others need additional watering. Cool-season grasses tend to require more moisture than warm-season grass during the dog days of summer. For example, Bermudagrass can handle dry periods but Fine Fescues cannot.

In summary, watering tips to follow:

  • Water lawn during the hours of 5 AM to 9 AM
  • Turn off sprinkler after about 30 minutes
  • Check your grass type for specific watering needs

Fertilizer Facts

It's important to apply fertilizer to your lawn so that it gets the nitrogen and other nutrients needed during active growth seasons. Fertilizing during its dormant period can be a waste of fertilizer--and waiting too long between applications isn't good either. Your grass will grow on a steady basis and then slow down until the next application.

There are so many types of fertilizer. How do I choose one?

The best way to determine the right fertilizer for your lawn is with a soil test. It will tell you its pH, organic matter percentage, and available nutrients. Experts recommend testing every five to ten years.

What do the numbers on the label mean?

The numbers on your bag are the fertilizer analysis. The three numbers represent N for Nitrogen, P for Phosphorus, and K for Potassium.

When should I feed my lawn?

Cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue): Feed these grasses during the fall and early spring. Some grasses benefit from summer and winter fertilization as well.

Warm-season grasses (Bermudagrass and St. Augustine grass): Feed these grasses from late spring to early fall to avoid rapid weed growth.

In summary, fertilization tips to follow:

  • Get a soil test to identify your lawn's specific nutritional needs
  • NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium
  • Feed cool-season grasses in the fall and early spring and warm-season grasses from late spring to early fall.

Weed Control Advice

Most homeowners find weed growth to be one of the most frustrating parts of caring for a lawn. Taking a proactive approach will help you control weeds so your lawn can flourish.

What types of weeds should I watch out for?

There are many different weeds that sprout up on lawns depending on the type of grass you have. Some of the most common weeds include:

  • Broadleaf weeds
  • Crabgrass
  • Perennial grassy weeds
  • Annual grassy weeds

How do I get rid of weeds?

Depending on the type of weed, you may need to apply a spot killer, broadleaf killer, or another type of treatment. You may also try pulling the weeds by hand, but that often results in them growing back.

If you aren't sure what type of weeds you are dealing with, don't take a guess, or you may do more harm than good. Instead, ask a professional lawn technician for a lawn analysis.

How do I prevent weeds?

Healthy grass is the best weed control; that's why it is necessary to encourage deep root growth by watering deeply and less often. It's also why it is important to mow your grass on a high setting. If you have a regular weed problem, your lawn may benefit from pre-emergent and post-emergent applications from a professional lawn care company.

Remember:

  • Choose the appropriate weed killer for your grass.
  • When it comes to weed control, don't take chances. Ask a professional for help if you have trouble identifying weeds.
  • Pre-emergent and post-emergent applications may be necessary.

All About Aeration

Did you know aeration is one of the number one things you can do to make your lawn look green and vibrant? In case you don’t know, aeration is removing thousands of small soil plugs in your lawn to alleviate compaction. This helps develop a pathway for nutrients, water, and oxygen to reach deep into your grass’s roots.

Why is aeration important?

Over time, your lawn will become dull and lackluster. Thatch will build up, blocking nutrients from reaching the roots. Because of this, your lawn will sometimes get dried out and drab. Aeration gives your lawn a boost, helping it to be the healthiest it can be.

Does the time of year matter?

Summers can do a number on your lawn. The heat and drought conditions can result in major damage. Because of this, late summer and early fall is the best time to repair summer damage. In the early fall, soil is moist, making aeration most beneficial. Experts will normally recommend aeration between late August and early October for best results.

Is overseeding also necessary?

Overseeding is the process of laying grass seed on top of existing grass to promote new growth. Overseeding in the fall directly after aeration is ideal. After all, in the fall, grass grows rapidly. Aeration and seeding are typically done in conjunction with one another.

Why you need to aerate and seed your lawn in the fall:

  • Aeration gives your lawn a fresh start.
  • Fall aeration will repair summer stress.
  • Be sure to follow aeration with overseeding to promote new growth.

Let Us Handle This All for You

Starting a lawn care plan can be a lot of hard work and effort, so we hope this guide helps make it easier for you!

If you’re busy dealing with the responsibilities of a job, family, and life in general-- it may be best for you to outsource your lawn care. Here at Tailor Made we offer all of the services you need for a lush, vibrant lawn in the Charlotte, Hickory, and Winston-Salem area. Our 9-step treatment plan will give you the lawn of your dreams without the hassle. Between our fertilizer, fungicide, lime treatments and other services, our expert technicians understand how to get the best results year-round. 

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