Your lawn is a living, breathing collection of organisms (nerd alert!) that come together to achieve a wide array of functions. Taking care of your lawn is more than just keeping up with the Joneses; it’s about providing a healthy, sustainable, and ambrosial experience to enjoy all season long! The following is a quick guide to making yard care easy, efficient, and environmentally responsible.
Food: Grass is an excellent air and water filter but needs energy to grow deep roots and lush top growth in order to perform these functions. Fertilizing naturally (most likely with chicken poop) or conventionally will not only grow healthy roots and shoots, but also promote a bustling microbial population. An active group of microbes in your soil act as catalysts for lawn success by breaking down fertilizer to feed your grass. Think of fertilizing your lawn as Activia for your grass, without all the trips to the can. Feeding every 6-8 weeks, starting in the spring and ending in the late fall, will provide an adequate amount of nutrients for the whole year. Also, please make sure to sweep off any fertilizer that accidently gets put onto your sidewalk or driveway. Keeping lawn food on your grass will help divert it from your sewers, where it can cause problems.
Water: As we know with our own bodies, eating without drinking water (beer doesn’t count) can be a limiting factor in our health. Your lawn acts in a similar fashion and can be severely hindered if water is limited during growth periods. Rainfall is great but may not be enough, and lawns can require supplemental water in order to grow – but overwatering can also lead to problems. Watering your lawn efficiently can help deepen roots, which will help the plants mine for water sources further down in the soil. Deeper pockets of water may not be available with an unfertilized and or over/under watered lawn. It can be challenging to know how much to water, but if you are able to see your footprints in the grass for long periods of time then you need to water; by the same token if you constantly see water running onto your sidewalk then definitely scale back the H20. It is essential to not waste water and have it run into your sewer because other materials like soil, fertilizer, sticks, and leaves will follow along with it, leading to water quality issues.
Mowing: What to know when you mow is probably the most difficult aspect of maintaining a great yard. Raising the height of your mower deck all the way up will allow thick grass blades to shade the ground which keeps weeds down and soil moisture up. Scalping (low cutting) your grass seems like a tidy thing to do but a cutting your grass too low makes your grass work harder, not smarter. Grass grows off the energy in the roots that is stored during the fall. To sustain that stored energy, keeping your grass long will not deplete the valuable food reserve your grass needs to make it strong in the spring. So when your significant other says the grass is too long and shaggy, tell them the (614) Magazine Lawns Editor said it is okay to chill out on the mowing for a couple days.
Jordan Hoewischer is a Senior Research Specialist for Scott’s Miracle-Gro, and is the brother of (614) Editor-in-Chief, Travis Hoewischer.