TimingWhile you may be looking forward to less mowing as summer winds down, now is the time to prepare for next spring. Actually, the bulk of my lawn work is done in the fall months. I usually aerate and overseed in the fall. I look for the nighttime temps to be around 65 degrees; this is optimal for the seed to grow and establish a strong root base. A strong root will help the grass survive the hot temperatures in the summer months. Spring seeding typically doesn't allow enough time for optimal root growth, and the young grass dies off in the summer heat. Come springtime I “wake-up” the lawn with my fertilization program, and I’m good to go!
Test Your SoilYour grass is a living organism, and nutrients are essential for it to flourish. Take samples of your soil to a local turf or supply store and have them test them. If you are feeding your lawn nutrients it doesn't need, then you are wasting money. A soil test could save you hundreds by providing proper direction on care.
Weed & FeedOnce you have your soil test completed, get the proper nutrients for your lawn. First, check your lawn climate zone for proper grass types in your area and set a lawn maintenance schedule. In Southern Indiana, we are in a transition zone, so I use a fescue blend that performs well in cool and warm climates. In early spring, I apply my first round of fertilizer; this is also the time I apply crabgrass preventer. I'll then fertilize throughout the year every two-three months. I spot treat weeds that pop-up throughout the year with a herbicide to control dandelions, clover and chickweed.
MowingI received a tip years ago regarding mowing that has dramatically changed my lawn and it DIDN'T COST ME A DIME! Raise your lawn mower. Why? Because mowing your grass at a higher setting, leaving a 3-4 inch cut, allows your grass to develop a deeper root system to find water and nutrients in the soil. Cutting your lawn too low makes the grass re-grow the blades and not focus on root growth. It also opens the door for seasonal weeds to creep in. A tall lawn helps to hide the bare spots in your yard and deprives weeds of the needed sunlight to grow. Also, vary your mowing pattern. If you mow in the same direction each time, you risk compacting the soil. Your grass typically grows in the direction that you mow; varying your pattern will help it stand nice and tall.
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WaterI do all of my lawn maintenance without a sprinkler system. I rely on mother nature to supply the needed water. This saves us hundreds in water expenses each year. The grass that receives full sun sometimes goes dormant in the summer due to excessive heat and soil temperatures. However, since it has a strong root system, it bounces back with a good rainfall and thrives in the spring and fall. If you do have a sprinkler system, set out rain gauges as you water. Your lawn only needs about 1 inch of water a week; if you run your sprinkler every day you may be over watering and spending unnecessary cash.
In-all, I spend around $200 for the year on lawn products. If I aerate, that’s usually another $100 for the rental. I get neighbors to pitch in, and we all get our yards done at the same time. Compare that to the $50-$100/hour you would pay to hire someone to do the maintenance, and you are saving considerably. Follow these simple tips, and you'll spend less time on your lawn, save a few bucks and be the envy of your neighbors!
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