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By Luis Sanchez
You’ve just pulled into your host’s driveway and as you get out of the car you notice how beautiful the lawn looks and wonder why you can’t get yours to look the same. You water, feed and spray for pests, yet your lawn looks more like Charlie Brown’s lawn, instead of the lawn you’re looking at right now.
Well, I am here to tell you that you can definitely upgrade the appearance of your lawn. If you just follow a few simple steps and keep on treating your lawn with the same care you are now, then in a few weeks time, people will be looking at your lawn and wondering how you did it!
1. The most important and most overlooked step is to make sure your soil is in good shape. Once a year test the ph of your soil and make sure it falls between 6.5 and 7.0, because it has been determined that grass grown in slightly acidic soil is best able to absorb nutrients. (Soil that is too acidic can be “sweetened” with lime; soil that’s not acid enough can be made more “sour” by adding sulfur.)
2. Also, once a year, have your lawn aerated if you feel that it’s too firm or compacted. Soil that is loose enough to permit water and nutrients to filter down to the lawn’s root system will help give you a healthier lawn.
3. Your lawn needs to be fed the proper mix of nutrients, but avoid the weed and feed type of fertilizers. Find a slow release fertilizer that’s made for your type of grass, and use it once or twice a year. Apply it per the directions on the bag, but don’t use it when you expect a heavy rainfall, since that will mean money and pollution down the drain.
4. Mow your lawn before it gets to be overgrown, and take off no more than one third of the leaf height. Keeping your leaf blades between 2 and 3 inches high will allow more sunlight top be taken in. This enables it to grow thicker and develop a deeper root system, which in turn helps the grass survive drought, tolerate insect damage, and fend off diseases. Longer grass also shades the soil surface keeping it cooler, helping it retain moisture, and making it difficult for weeds to germinate and grow. Also use a mulching mower which creates smaller clippings and leave the clippings on the lawn. Don’t bag it!
5. Water deeply but not too often. The best rule is to water only when the lawn begins to wilt from dryness – when the color dulls and footprints stay compressed for more than a few seconds. It’s also best to water in the early morning, especially during hot summer months, to reduce evaporation. Apply about an inch of water – enough that it soaks 6-8 inches into the soil.
6. Be realistic! Why fight a losing battle with your lawn? Grass sometimes will not grow in certain areas so why not just place some dry-garden landscaping into that area, wood chips, or even some shade loving ornamentals? You don’t have to have a putting-green perfect lawn. Besides those plants in your small landscaped area can also be a focal point for the lawn, making a better overall impression to your visitors.
See, its not too hard to have a great looking lawn. Just remember not to over-fertilize and use the slow release type, water infrequently but deeply, and leave the clippings on the lawn and before you know it people will be looking at your lawn with envy!
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