The 9 Biggest Lawn Care Mistakes You Can Make

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Do you walk around your neighborhood and stare longingly at the lush green lawns of those around you? Perhaps, you have just purchased a home and want to go to work on your lawn to make it healthy and beautiful. Before you get started, it is useful to learn what not to do with your lawn. Making any of the lawn care mistakes below can be a huge setback to the beautiful grass you long for.

Here are the top 9 biggest lawn care mistakes

Mistake #1: Not testing your soil

The heart of a great lawn lies in great soil. Without a firm foundation, your lawn will not grow strong or be resistant to disease. Healthy soil means healthy grass. Before you plant seed or start to throw feed on your lawn, take the time to test your soil. You can pick up a soil testing kit at your local Cooperative Extension Office. This kit will have you take soil samples from various parts of your yard. The samples will be assessed, and you will receive a report back on what your soil needs more of to be as healthy as possible. Taking the time to test and build-up your soil is instrumental to a beautiful lawn.

Mistake #2: Purchasing the wrong seed

Did you know that most seeds you purchase at your local home and garden store contain weed seeds? Turn over a bag of seeds and check the label. You will see a percentage of weed seed listed. It may also say “other crop.” Always buy premium seed that says zero weed seed and zero other crops.

Mistake #3: Using only one type of seed

Planting at least two kinds of seed will help your turf withstand all sorts of conditions. If you plant only one type, you risk your grass becoming weak. A variety of seed types helps your lawn to become well established, and the strengths and weaknesses of each kind of seed will offset each other. Check with your local garden center as to which types of seed are best for your planting zone and be sure to diversify your turf.

Mistake #4: Overwatering your lawn

Yes, grass needs water and plenty of it. However, if you water often, but only for a short time, you will discourage strong root growth. The best watering schedule is one that is deep yet infrequent. A good rule of thumb is to deliver one-third of an inch of water three times a week.

Mistake #5: Watering during the heat of the day

When you water is equally important as how much you water. Never water your lawn between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm. The best time to water is before 6 am when the sun isn’t too hot. Don’t water after dark as this can encourage the growth of mildew and fungus. If you can’t water in the morning, the next best time is between 4 pm and 7 pm.

Mistake #6: Not sharpening your mower blade

Mower maintenance is a must if you desire a beautiful turf. Take the time to clean and sharpen your mower blades before the season starts and keep them clean and sharp throughout the mowing season. When you cut a lawn with dull mower blades, you actually rip the grass, which makes it susceptible to disease and insect damage.

Mistake #7: Mowing too close

Mowing technique is the secret to great grass. Mowing too closely can cause your turf to go into shock and will mess with its ability to take in sunlight and go through the process of photosynthesis. This leaves grass weak down to the root system. The best mower blade height is 2.5 inches. Never cut more than one-third of your turf off at a time.

Mistake #8: Feeding problems

Too much of a good thing can quickly become a bad thing. Good intentions aside, applying too much fertilizer can actually burn your grass because of excess nitrogen. Apply fertilizer evenly so that you don’t end up with a striped lawn. Equally important is feeding at the right time. The best time to feed is when the grass is growing quickly. This is generally in the spring. Don’t apply fertilizer in the hot summer when grass may go slightly dormant to protect itself. The best times to fertilize are late spring and late summer, after the final mow of the season.

Mistake #9: Picking up your grass clippings

You may have to bear a little social scrutiny by your neighbors but it is important not to pick up your lawn clippings. Never mind that neat bag attachment that came with your mower, that is not necessary. Instead of picking up your clippings, use a mulching mower that leaves the shredded clippings behind on the grass. These clippings create a sort of mulch that helps provide nitrogen for your yard, reducing the amount of fertilizer necessary. 

Avoid these common mistakes, and your lawn will be the envy of all your neighbors! Green, beautiful grass awaits

-Susan Patterson

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