Owning lawn is relatively simple, right? You mow it when it gets long, you water it when it gets dry, and you weed it when it gets invaded. Simple.
It should be simple, but there are still ways to get the basics wrong. Whether they’re the result of laziness or misinformation, here are seven common habits of lawn owners that will prevent a lawn from reaching its potential, as well as what you can do to avoid them.
Not knowing your grass
It’s amazing how many lawn owners don’t know what type of grass they own. Whether they bought the property with the grass already installed, or left it up to a landscape gardener to worry about the finer details, not knowing your lawn can be the catalyst for a whole host of trouble in terms of care and maintenance. Grass varieties vary greatly in drought tolerance, water requirements and peak growing periods. You need to know the plant in order to care for it.
Pick a few blades and compare them with examples on the internet. If you’re still unsure, take a sample down to your local garden centre and ask for their help.
Letting it grow too long
You can’t allow grass to get too long. If you do, the taller blades will take all the sun, killing the grass below. What’s more, cutting more than a third of the blade off at once can cause great stress to the grass, browning it off and damaging it.
For best results, and to stay within the “one-third rule” mow your lawn every weekend. If this is untenable, you should do it every fortnight at the very least, bringing it back to weekly during the grass’s peak growing period. Frequent mowing is the major reason why golf courses and sports fields look so lush and stunning.
Mowing with dull blades
An old, unserviced mower could be doing more damage to your lawn that it does good. Dull, blunt blades rip and tear at the grass, rather than delivering a clean cut. This can make the grass more susceptible to pests and disease.
Get your mower serviced regularly, and either sharpen or replace your blades every year.
You’re not just being wasteful when you over-water your lawn, you’re also putting its health at risk. Excess moisture can increase the likelihood of diseases such as root rot, can wash away fertiliser, and can compact the soil.
Purchase a soil moisture meter to keep an eye on your lawn’s moisture levels (you can pick one up for $10-$20). This will allow you to get an idea of exactly how often your lawn requires water, rather than overdoing it out of a fear of it being too dry.
As your doctor says, too much of a good thing can be just as dangerous as not enough. Over-fertilising can seriously dehydrate your lawn, which will result in the excess nutrients “burning” your grass. This is most often an issue with quick release fertilisers, which do as their name suggests.
To avoid this, a slow release fertiliser, or a natural organic one such as compost or mulch, may be the best option.
Using a grass catcher
While it might seem a little bit cannibalistic, taking the catcher off your mower and allowing your grass clippings to fall on your lawn is the cheapest way to fertilise. Contrary to popular belief, dropping your grass clippings doesn’t result in a build-up of thatch, as thatch is made from the roots of the plant.
If your mower has a “mulch” function, use it. If it doesn’t, a new mower may well be worth investing in!
Using unbranded grass seed
Beware the cheap seed. The main reason that unbranded grass seed has plain packaging is that no one is willing to put their name to it. It comes with no guarantees, and is often padded out with other plant seeds, many of which could end up being invasive weeds.
If you’re going to invest in a lawn, be sure to buy a quality product that comes with a quality promise, such as those sold by the friendly team at McKays.