How to Grow Greener Grass
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How to grow greener grass magic bullet # 1. Water deeply, but not often
Water for 30 minutes. Then plunge a spade into the soil and pry out a wedge to see how far the water has penetrated. Four to 6 in. deep is ideal. Not deep enough? Water longer. Once you know how long to water, use a water timer and you'll know what to set it for every time.
Heavy soils should be watered less often and less heavily but for longer periods of time. Sandy soils, on the other hand, can handle heavy, fast watering but dry out faster. In hot, dry weather, you may have to water every two to three days.
How to grow greener grass magic bullet # 2. Attack broadleaf weeds in mild weather
How to grow greener grass magic bullet # 3. Kill crabgrass before it spreads
How to grow greener grass magic bullet # 5. Don't skip the fall fertilizing
How to grow greener grass magic bullet # 6. Test the soil pH level
You're after a pH between 6 and 7.2. If it's too high, you'll treat the lawn with iron sulfate or sulfur; too low and you'll use pelletized limestone. Whoever does the testing will tell you what and how much to use to fix the pH. Applying the treatment is as easy as walking around the yard with a spreader.
Learn how to correct soil PH in our video tutorial.
Illustration courtesy of Trevor Johnston
Five ways to growing greener grass simpler and cheaper: 1. Use a broadcast spreader
Simpler and cheaper: 2. Eliminate a few weeds one by one
Simpler and cheaper: 3. Use liquid broadleaf weed killers
Learn more about killing weeds in our video tutorial.
Simpler and faster: 4. Reseed late in the growing season
Simpler and easier: 5. Use concentrates
Five great ways to wreck your lawn: 1. Dethatch when not needed
Wreck your lawn: 2. Catch the clippings
Wreck your lawn: 3. Ignore the directions on lawn treatments
Wreck your lawn: 4. Over Fertilize!
Wreck your lawn: 5. Mow with dull blades
Learn how to sharpen lawn mower blades in our video tutorial.
Learn How to Grow Greener Grass With These 12 Pearls of Wisdom
2. Set your spreader at half the recommended dosage and treat the lawn twice from opposite directions. It'll take twice as much hoof work on your part, but you'll get a more consistent distribution.
3. Fill the spreader on the driveway, not over the grass. Or at least spread a tarp on the grass to catch spillage. If you have an accident, you'll have a nice, big dead spot in your lawn.
4. Accept that you can't grow grass everywhere. If you've struggled mightily to grow grass in a shady spot, at some point give it up and mulch, use a shade-tolerant ground cover or plan yourself a patio.
5. Give crabgrass a second dose of crabgrass preventer. About one month after your first treatment, apply a second to stop the seeds that survived the first treatment from germinating.
6. Rinse out your spreader every time, especially after using fertilizer. Fertilizer is essentially a type of salt. And it eats up any metal parts it finds.
7. Aerate in the Fall if you have heavy loam or clay soil. (No need if you have sand.) Just before you fertilize, rent an aerator and aerate the lawn from both directions. It will help loosen the soil and allow the fertilizer to penetrate deep into the soil.
8. Give your lawn a good flat-top for winter. Just this one time each year, set your lawn mower to 1-1/2 to 2 in. and clip it off. That'll help retard mold during the winter.
9. Water new seed lightly and twice a day or more. If you don't bother keeping the soil moist over new seed, don't bother seeding. Dampen the soil even more often during hot, windy weather. Keep watering for at least two weeks and don't miss any days.
10. Rake up downed leaves in the fall or those soggy leaves will suffocate the new sprouts in the spring and leave dead spots all over your lawn.
11. Choose "slow-release" fertilizers. Rather than feeding the lawn all at once, this type allows the lawn to snack over a longer period. These fertilizers cost a bit more but are well worth the added expense.
12. Don't apply too much seed. You should try to achieve a concentration of about 15 seeds per square inch. If you exceed this, you'll have an overpopulated lawn with too many plants competing for nutrients and sunlight.