5 Steps to a Great Lawn

Todd Washburn |

5 Steps to a Great Lawn

By Greg Harris, Leap Frog Landcare

Spring is finally here!!! A lot of folks are just starting to get out in their lawns and gardens and some are making the decision to finally get the lawn in shape. Unfortunately having a great lawn is a process whether you are starting from scratch with seed, or having sod put in. Sod can be an instant lawn, but the weed seeds that were there before, and the same old rocky, clay soil will be underneath it so you have got to have a plan. Here are a few basic tips that can get your lawn looking great!

1)      Know what type of grass that you have. You’d be surprised at how many estimates I have done where the homeowner doesn’t know what type of grass they have, but they have been treating their own lawn for years. I bet you wouldn’t be surprised that they were having a hard time getting the lawn to look good. There are multiple reasons as to why you need to know the type of grass that you have. We are only going to get into one of them right now and that is so that you know when to fertilize it. Fertilizer is to grass what food is to us. To have healthy grass  you want to feed it when it is in a growth mode. This time of year I hear a lot of commercials that say feed your lawn, feed it! Well for some types of grass that is true, for others it is one of the worst things you can do to it.

2)    Take a soil sample and have it analyzed by the Department of Agriculture. The results from the state will tell you if your soil is lacking certain amounts of fertilizer and lime. While this can be incredibly helpful, I feel the biggest benefit is actually seeing what your grass roots are trying to grow in. I have tried to take soil samples on lawns before and I could not even get the probe in the ground!! If your ground is so hard that you can’t get a screw driver into it then you are probably going to have a hard time growing grass!

3)     Build up the Good soil. Add a good screened compost blend as a top dressing to your lawn. This works best after aerating. You don’t need a heavy amount of it, even as little as ¼ inch of compost over top of your lawn can make a really big difference. When you do it after aerating the compost can actually get down in those aeration holes and literally change the structure of the soil. Compost is rich in nutrients and microbial activity. This seems like a very minor thing, but it is one of the BEST things that you can do for your lawn. The biggest thing to remember with this is to do it at the right time for your type of grass.

4)    Mow at the right height. The #1 stressor for lawns is mowing. Of course this goes back to the 1st thing which is knowing what type of grass you have. Yep, different types of grass need to be mowed at the different heights. However, no matter what type of grass you have the one common rule is to never cut off more than 1/3 of the length of the grass. For example if you want your grass to be 2 inches tall then the highest that you ever want it to be would be 3 inches when you mow it. As long as you are never taking more than 1/3 off of the grass at a time then you don’t need to bag it, you can let the clipping drop back into the lawn and they will help to naturally fertilize the lawn as the clippings break down.

5)    Thicken it up. No matter what type of grass you have it is better for it to be thick and full instead of thin. If you have a Fescue lawn you can work on that by aerating and overseeding. If you have a warm season lawn pushing it by fertilization can usually get it to spread faster than newly seeding it.

We hope these tips on your lawn can help you enjoy it more this season. Just like you should have a plan with your finances you should also have a plan for your lawn.

Greg Harris is the owner of Leap Frog Landcare which is an organic based lawn, tree & shrub care company serving Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Morrisville and Fuquay Varina. If you have questions about the tips listed above please contact Greg at 919-427-3131 or greg@leapfroglandcare.com