When you think about your lawn, what do you consider to be the most essential part? If you answered the grass, that’s an understandable answer, but it’s not quite right. Grass is the successful final product of a lively and healthy lawn, but it’s actually the soil beneath it that matters more than anything. When the soil is not in good shape, then there are no amounts of pesticides or fertilizers that will ever save it. The latest stages of winter going into the early days of spring is the stretch of time that proves best for giving your soil the attention it needs, be it reseeding or reconsidering your entire yard in the first place. If you wait to do things when it’s already summer, you’ll wind up using lots of water in an attempt to save plants that are struggling in the heat, and depending on where you live, you might not be even allowed to do that in the first place. Keep reading to learn 5 ways to assess your yard and bring it back to life.
1. Water And Seed
If there are bare patches in your lawn, or especially if your entire yard just doesn’t work at all, then the time might have come for you to reseed. Choose a particular grass species that you know will work well in both your local climate and soil type. Plant the seeds as early as you can in the season, which is really just as soon as the ground is thawed.
In order to do this, you’ll need to break up your existing topsoil before spreading out a 1-inch-thick layer of compost over the area that you are going to seed. Work it well into the soil using a rake or a tiller before you evenly spread a top coat of pulverized lime. Do the seed spreading by hand, but make sure you cover the whole area evenly in the layering. Use a leaf rake to work the seed gently into your soil.
Mornings are the best times to do your watering, but don’t over-water at any time. When you avoid surface puddles, you’re encouraging and training your grass roots to actually grow deeper into the soil in their search for water. Seeds that are freshly planted should be watered in the morning and then again at midday. The exception would be the prime heat of summer, as watering in the middle of those days will mean losing most of your water to evaporation. Having said this, avoid watering at night too. Wet grass in the dark can run a risk of contracting illness and disease among the plants you’re trying to get to thrive. Morning and afternoon watering leaves time for drying to happen.
If you want to get technical, it can be argued that lawns are a kind of monoculture. Having said that, grass is usually actually quite the sophisticated ecosystem, because if you zoom in far enough, you find insects and microbes down there among the plant roots. If you want to maintain the proper functioning of the system, then you need to keep the soil loose so that water and air are able to both get in and also out. In time, the dirt and soil beneath any lawn gets compacted, which squeezes off nutrients from your grass. If you have thatch, which is mats of root material that has died, then you’ve got even more problems.
The responsibility is yours to make sure that your lawn ecosystem’s nutrient pathways get reopened. Using a plug aerator is the optimal choice here. It’s common to see aerators that are gasoline-powered, but you might have trouble renting one in the spring given high demand. You can get a manual aerator if you don’t mind putting in some sweat, time, and effort or you can hire a lawn care company from West Chester Ohio. They’re also good choices for smaller yards or if you just have concerns about air pollution.
3. Soil Sampling
Grass loves topsoil, which is dark, loose, and stuffed with decomposing organic material. If your yard is more of a packed clay nightmare, then you might want to put down topsoil. It can take at least 6 inches of topsoil to make for health grass.
Topsoil helps you determine which kinds of grass might work best in your yard, because the soil conditions can be measured in specific areas like nitrogen levels, general organic matter, electrical conductivity, and pH balance, among others. You can usually get your soil tested for about $20 through the offices of the USDA Cooperative Extension Service. You only need to mail off a sample for analysis in a plastic bag or vial. The sample label will have a spot for ‘intended crop’, and that’s where you’ll write ‘grass’. If you contact the USDA, they’ll have additional pointers.
4. Make Mowing A Routine
The more often you mow your yard, the faster your grass can recover and grow. So, depending on where you live, aim for mowing twice a month in the spring and then weekly during the summer months. Don’t use dull mower blades, since the cuts won’t be clean enough and you can actually hurt your grass. Grass that gets shredded instead of cut will dry out from the tips down. Also, be sure the mower blade isn’t too low in its setting, as that can dry out the underlying soil too fast.
Try to leave grass blades a minimum of 3 inches high or long when you do summer mowing. Grass that is shorter might dry out. When possible, leave your grass clippings spread out thinly over the lawn to it can help keep moisture in the ground and possibly return some nutrients back to the soil. If you can’t, make sure you collect up your grass cuttings for composting.
5. Feed Your Yard
Nothing will help restore the health of your grass then fertilizer but be sure you do it only after it’s growing. If you do it on newly sewn turf or grass seed, it might go brown. If you’d like an alternative to using chemical or artificial fertilizers, using liquid seaweed monthly throughout both the spring and summer can prove useful.