Tending to your grass and trees
It's a great feeling to walk out your front door and be faced with a sea of green. It's even better when you can look left, right and across the street and see that you have the nicest lawn on your block.
If you don't currently find yourself in the position of lawn king or queen, don't fret. Resist the urge to buy up your local hardware store's supply of green spray paint or replacing your whole lawn with artificial turf.
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Lawn Maintenance Tips
While there's no quick fix that can turn your lawn from a dried-up brown patch to a luscious green meadow, it actually doesn't take too much work to improve the state of your lawn.
- Water based on need. Instead of setting a regular schedule of watering, monitor your lawn and water only when it shows signs of dryness. Water deeply (at least one inch), but avoid excessive watering, as this can severely damage your lawn's ability to grow. The best time of day to water is in the early morning.
- Use fertilizer. When buying a commercial fertilizer, be sure to look for one with a ratio of four parts nitrogen to one part phosphorus to two parts potassium.
- Mow regularly. Cut your grass to a height of 2.5 to 3 inches. Resist the urge to cut it shorter, as doing so will damage the grass and dry out the soil. Use a sharp mower blade (grass can recover from a clean cut, but it has trouble growing back when it's torn) and only mow when the grass is dry.
- Leave the clippings on the lawn. Not only is it easier to not have to collect your grass clippings, but the clippings actually provide your lawn with nutrients. Just be sure that you don't leave a thick layer of clippings that could smother your grass.
Organic Lawn Care
For those who are environmentally conscientious, caring for your lawn can be tough. There are hundreds of products that can help your lawn grow, but most of them are far from good for ol' planet earth. Compost is a great replacement for chemical fertilizers, so start saving your organic food waste. Failing that, look for a certified organic fertilizer at your local store. Treat weeds with vinegar or corn gluten rather than harsh chemicals.
Seeds and Sod
Always tend to bare patches on your lawn, as they can make it extra susceptible to weeds. Fill in these bare patches with grass seed or sod. Early fall is the best time to do this. Be sure to water the young grass frequently and add some fertilizer.
Lawns aren't the only thing you need to take care of in your yard. Don't forget about your trees!
- Be sure to prune. Pruning your trees (trimming the branches) promotes good branch structure. Just make sure that you do it properly. Don't hack off any old branch or you could wind up permanently damaging or even killing your tree. Consult a professional arborist to learn which branches to target. Use a lopper instead of a saw so that you get a clean cut.
- Make a ring of mulch around the base. Spread mulch to a diameter of at least three feet around the base of your tree. This will insulate the soil and prevent weeds from growing.