How Much Should You Water Your Lawn in Spring and Summer?

Knowing just how much to water your lawn can get tricky. Water it too little, and you end up with a wilting, faded lawn. Water it too much, and you risk fungal growth from too much moisture and runoff that can unnecessarily boost your water bill. So below we’ll cover just how much to water your lawn in both spring and summer, when needs can differ. Also, we’ll cover ways you can save water but still have a healthy lawn.

Watering your lawn is a task that can run in the thousands of dollars or only require a hose and sprinkler attachment, based on how you choose to water or save on water. Some people may choose to install drought-resistant landscaping that can run thousands of dollars. Or you might be on board with manually watering straight out of a hose with a spray attachment. However, it can take no time at all to water your lawn if you choose an automated system or several minutes daily manually.

Water Your Lawn Damp Grass

Your lawn has some basic watering needs no matter the season. Image: @just.cle / Twenty20

General Lawn Water Needs

No matter what time of year it is, lawns have some basic watering requirements:

  • Generally, lawns need at least about 1 inch to 1 ½ inches of water per week.
  • That being said, check with a lawn care professional about what type of grass you have if you don’t know. Different types of grass can have different watering needs.
  • If your grass is brown and doesn’t respond when you water your lawn, it can be a number of other issues like fungal growth or simply not rotating a pet’s bathroom area enough. You may need to consult a lawn care specialist.
  • A common test to make sure you are watering enough is to stick a flathead screwdriver down into the soil right after watering. If it doesn’t easily go down 6 inches, you’re not watering enough.

But lawn needs vary between spring and summer, so below we’ll cover how to water your lawn between the two seasons.

Water Your Lawn Wet Green Grass

Keep an eye on your lawn during the spring especially to adjust watering needs based on recent rains. Image: @lindaze / Twenty20

Watering in the Spring vs. the Summer

The main point that makes watering your lawn in the spring and summer so different is the varying amounts of rainfall. Simply, more rain in the spring means you can get away with watering your lawn less. During spring, or even rainy periods in the summer depending on your local climate, you will have to keep a close eye on your lawn to see whether it needs additional watering from you.

It can help to have either a digital or analog rain gauge to tell you how many inches of rain has fallen recently. That way, you can see if the rainfall has hit that 1 to 1 ½-inch weekly water mark.

There are also several signs that you need to water your lawn more, which you can tell just by looking. The number one sign is that the lawn has a dull green cast, or even a grayish color, to it. Also, while walking on it, your footprints should disappear right away. If not, the grass doesn’t have enough moisture to return to its original position.

Water Your Lawn Sprinkler Setup

Using a sprinkler can help you get even coverage over your lawn so you’re not letting water run down into the street. Image: @JulieK / Twenty20

How to Save Water

According to the EPA, if the average-sized lawn is watered for 20 minutes every day for seven days, it can be like running a shower constantly for four days or taking over 800 showers. That’s a lot of water. But you can still keep a green lawn and save on water with the following ideas:

  • Try installing smaller patches of lawn and complementing them with drought-resistant landscaping. That way, you don’t have to water your lawn as often.
  • Always water in the morning before 10 a.m., otherwise the water will evaporate during the heat of the day.
  • Water slowly and evenly to prevent runoff. You can place containers around your yard while the sprinkler is on. Then make sure each is getting a similar amount of water. You should also water slowly by using sprinklers or a spray attachment on the hose. Water different areas of the lawn in short and multiple bursts to allow the water to absorb.
  • Never water for so long that you see water running down the street.

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7 Common Weeds & How to Get Rid of Them

Ugh, weeds. You put a lot of work into your yard with the hopes of helping it look its best so you can relax and enjoy it this summer. Then you spot a weed and all that relaxation goes out the window. Suddenly, you’re on the offensive, prepping to battle an invasive species. Fortunately, you can avoid all the stress by knowing how to spot and eradicate the most common weeds. And we’ve put together this guide to help you do exactly that.

Here are seven of the most common types of weeds — and what you can do about them.

common weeds - lambsquarter

You can spot lambsquarters thanks to its gray undersides. Image: seven75/Getty Images

Lambsquarters

If you live in the northern half of the country, odds are high you’ve encountered this broadleaf annual. You can spot it by looking for its scalloped leaves with gray undersides. It’s a fast grower that sucks the moisture out of your soil, so don’t dally in removing it from your garden.

Pull lambsquarters by hand or extricate it with a sharp hoe. You want to get all of the root because it can survive for decades in the soil. Alternately, you can treat it with a post-emergence herbicide.

And, bonus, if you haven’t been using chemicals in your yard, you can actually eat lambsquarters. It’s a little like spinach and you can enjoy it raw, steamed or sauteed.

common weeds - amaranth

Why not make a salad with the weeds you pull? Image: arousa/Getty Images

Amaranth (Pigweed)

A summer weather lover, this annual weed springs up tall with a taproot that’s red. Amaranth grows clusters of green flowers that look like they have little hairs. But you don’t want them to get to that point, because once this plant goes to flower, you’re fighting a much bigger battle.

Pull pigweed by hand or use a post-emergence herbicide on it. Mulch your yard to prevent it from coming back.

This is another edible weed. The greens can be used in a tossed salad or cooked.

common weeds - dandelion

Allergy sufferers know to steer clear of dandelions. Image: Tina Caunt/EyeEm/Getty Images

Dandelion

Who doesn’t love puffing a dandelion’s seedhead like Belle in Beauty & the Beast? People who don’t want their yards overtaken, that’s who. Those signature seedheads make this plant spread like, well, a weed.

If you’ve got dandelions in your yard, dig them out (they can have a deep taproot, so keep digging to ensure you’ve got it all) or spray them. If you choose the spray route, kick them a bit beforehand. No, you’re not just getting your aggression out. Wounding their leaves helps the herbicide absorb better.

And if you didn’t spray, this is another edible weed. The Farmer’s Almanac has quite the variety of recipes awaiting you.

common weeds- nutsedge

Hand-pulling can take care of this grassy weed. Image: charti1/Getty Images

Nutsedge

This stiff, V-shaped, grassy weed can produce a yellow or purple flower. Nutsedge grows underground tubers, also called nuts or nutlets. Get rid of those bad boys before the weed can spread.

The best course of action is to pull the weeds by hand, but you can also spray with a post-emergence herbicide. Just be sure to read the labels because you need something that’s specifically formulated to get rid of sedge.

Nutsedge can actually be a helpful indicator of soil quality. If you’ve got it, it’s a sign your soil isn’t draining very well.

common weeds- chickweed

Its flowers might be pretty, but you’ll want to catch chickweed early. Image: Stefan Rotter/Getty Images

Chickweed

This annual likes shady, moist spots. It’s got small, white flowers and if you let it get to seed, you’ll be dealing with as much as 800 seeds per plant. A lot of the other common weeds on this list prefer the summer’s heat, but you’ll usually start to see chickweed springing up in the spring, so start checking for it early. When it spreads, it will create a mat of green.

Hand pull chickweed or look for an herbicide formulated to treat chickweed. Mulch can help you keep it at bay, too.

common weeds - crabgrass

This low-lying, grassy weed is easy to squeeze out of your lawn. Image: Cappi Thompson/Getty Images

Crabgrass

As its name suggests, this summer annual looks like a grass. But you can spot it because it keeps close to the ground, spreading out along its surface. It likes hot and dry conditions. And, good news, it’s easy to control.

If you’ve got crabgrass, hand pull it or treat it with a post-emergence herbicide. If it’s growing in your lawn, mowing regularly and keeping your turfgrass healthy should be enough to crowd it out.

common weeds - bindweed

Don’t be fooled by bindweed’s flowers. Image: jamesvancouver/Getty Images

Bindweed

Sure, it’s pretty. But bindweed, also known as perennial morning glory, is one of the most common weeds — and one of the most difficult to control. A single weed can spread 10 feet in all directions, often under the soil thanks to its wandering roots, so getting rid of bindweed can be a hassle.

You can identify it by its vines filled with arrowhead-shaped leaves and small white or pink morning glory flowers.

Getting rid of this weed takes some work. Keep pulling it every time it emerges and you’ll eventually wear out the root. Or treat it with an herbicide that can kill it at the root — but don’t expect it to work in one go. Keep reapplying the herbicide as needed to get rid of bindweed.

Now you’re ready to deal with the most common weeds and keep your lawn looking great this summer. But if you’re sick of fighting a losing battle against the weeds in your yard, a dedicated lawn care professional can help you keep your yard lush, beautiful and weed-free.

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Stand Out From the Curb With These 5 Landscaping Trends

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) just dropped their list of 2019 landscaping trends. It reveals that homeowners want lower-maintenance yards that are peaceful, wildlife-friendly and set up for entertaining. As life in general becomes more hectic, homeowners want to come home and enjoy their easy-upkeep lawns and gardens.

Want your lawn and garden to stand out from your neighbor’s? If so, you’ll want to check out these five landscaping trends that freshen up your outdoor space and make it memorable:

lawn and garden ideas and landscaping trends

Stripes are a visual effect caused by a lawnmower as it bends the grass. The sun reflecting off the blades creates the alternating light and dark green stripes you see. Image: phototropic/Getty Images

1. Lawn Striping

Nothing is more welcoming than a lush, green lawn. Landscape pros are getting more requests from homeowners to “jazz up” their flawless lawns with stripes and other patterns.

Lawn striping isn’t hard to do. Most machines create a type of stripe as the lawnmower tires and deck bend the grass in the direction the mower is moving. But for more intricate or pronounced patterns, rollers and striping kits are available for certain lawn mowers.

versatile garden ideas

A multi-function outdoor area featuring a vertical garden as a privacy wall, outdoor dining area and plenty of pots to grow small shrubs and plants. Image courtesy of the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

2. Multi-Function Landscape Design

Landscape experts say homeowners no longer want a lawn and garden that’s only for admiring. Instead, families want to use their outdoor spaces — no area should be off-limits. Today, the more uses a garden has, the better.

Some of the top multi-purpose landscape trends are:

  • Vertical gardens that also work as a privacy fence
  • A small sitting area with a water feature and flowers that butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other wildlife can enjoy
  • A winding path planted with edible herbs
  • A wall with built-in seating
2019 landscaping trends and modern pergola ideas

Choose a pergola style that matches with your home’s design, like this mid-century modern pergola. Image: Thomas Barwick/Getty

3. Pergolas For Outdoor Living

Merging indoor and outdoor living is high on a homeowner’s wish list. And an outdoor structure that creates an extra room adds to a home’s useful square footage. What’s more, today’s pergolas are more sophisticated than ever. Some of the top pergola trends now include structures with:

  • Space heaters or a fire feature
  • A luxury outdoor kitchen
  • A sitting area featuring a large outdoor sectional
  • Rolldown windows
  • Lighting
  • Sound systems
modern patio design ideas

Add metal furnishings and decor to your garden to update your outdoor space. Image: Mint Images/Getty Images

4. Outdoor Metal Elements

Metal is the latest landscaping trend material of choice. It’s partially because homeowners want durable and low-maintenance materials that don’t require staining, finishing, sanding and sealing.

Look for pergolas, furnishings and other accessories in metal. Brushed stainless steel continues to be popular, although industrial-looking black metal is also on-trend.

landscaping trends and garden design ideas

Layer several hues of pink and coral flowers in your garden design. Image: Susanne Alfredsson/EyeEm/Getty Images

5. Pretty In Pink

Millennial pink, dusty rose and bold-yet-earthy coral have been big color trends in the last couple of years. And that’s especially true since Pantone named Living Coral their Color Of The Year for 2019.

Pink hues look fantastic against green, creating a big demand for pink flower beds. According to the report, landscape professionals also expect that softer, light blush pink tones will become the “the new neutral” for flooring materials, surfaces and finishes to tie in the bolder coral tones.

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Lawn Care Tips to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes, its pays to wary about a house with bad curb appeal. If you’re selling your home, you can bet that potential buyers are making judgments based on the condition of your yard. In fact, you could have a beautiful, well-kept home, but if the outside doesn’t match the inside, you could be missing out on a sale before buyers even step inside.

Your landscaping says a lot about your pride of ownership. An unkempt yard could make it seem like your home is in disrepair. What’s more, you could actually ask more on the price if your curb appeal attracts more buyers. You don’t need to completely overhaul your landscaping, especially if you’re pressed for time and on a budget. The trick is to maximize your home’s curb appeal by making a few small changes that could make a big difference in how buyers see your home.

Traditional home with clean landscaping

Get rid of personal clutter for better curb appeal. Image: Shutterstock/karamysh

Remove clutter

If the outside of your home is an extension of the inside, you probably have a few signs of life littering your yard. From kids bikes and balls to worn-out pots and decor, buyers don’t really want to see personalized landscaping elements. It’s much easier for buyers to imagine themselves in the home if the lawn is neat and tidy.

Look at your lawn with a buyer’s eye and stash any personal stuff. It’s easy to get used to everyday clutter, so use a discerning eye to spot areas that need to be cleaned up. Clip back shrubs that might be overgrown into living areas. Clear off porches except for a couple of chairs, and make sure you get rid of kids’ gear lying around. Choose a few pieces of decor, like a couple of flowerpots in great condition, and store anything else until you’re ready to move.

Home backyard with garden beds

Mulch can hide your lack of a green thumb. Image: Shutterstock/Artazum

Refill mulch

Mulch is a seller’s secret weapon. It’s an inexpensive and quick way to clean up garden beds and spruce up your lawn’s look without having to plant or weed. Taking the time to fill your home’s garden spaces with mulch gives the appearance of a neat, well-maintained yard.

Choose a larger-sized mulch that covers more space quickly. Make sure that, after its been spread, you clean up areas where it might have spilled onto sidewalks or paved areas. You can use it to hide some of the messier areas of your garden, or spread it at the bottom of trees to give the appearance of a more landscaped, intentional space.

Still think your lawn needs some extra TLC? Contact a lawn care professional to help you improve your lawn and create a plan to make sure it’s green and inviting before selling your home.

Craftsman home with front porch.

Make landscaping part of the living space for more curb appeal. Image: Shutterstock/ppa

Add living space

Give sellers an idea on how they might utilize the landscaping by offering living space. Gardens and grass are great, but if you can sell the idea of actually using the yard, you could increase your asking price. This is especially good for smaller homes.  Styling a backyard as an entertaining space can make it feel like an extension of the home.

Consider how your landscaping could be utilized as actual living space. Whether it’s a play area for kids or a zen retreat in the garden, usable landscaping drives up curb appeal and makes a home more livable inside and out.

Use color to draw the eye to the best parts of your home. Image: Shutterstock/ppa

Pop in some color

If you’re selling your home, you know that the color green rules. Whether it’s your grass or the selling price, you can bet that green is going to make the biggest impact. Still, don’t forget to add other colors to draw focus and call attention to the best parts of your yard. Choose a landscaping color scheme to keep the look clean and focus on your home’s best features. Amazing windows? Use window boxes to show them off. Plant flowers to draw sellers to your garden beds. Or, use a plant pots filled with flowers to make your entryway more inviting.

Color can also serve to draw focus away from some of your home’s less-desirable features. A bright door can help detract from tired paint elsewhere. A lush, green lawn can stop sellers from noticing broken pavers in the driveway. Remember that the eye will go toward color, so an afternoon’s worth of planting and painting could make all the difference in how buyers see your home.

Your seller to-do list is probably already a mile long. But while you’re getting the inside of your home ready to sell, don’t forget about the outside. As buyers drive up to their home, they’re already making snap judgments and picturing themselves there. Make sure your house tells the right story by making sure your lawn is just as gorgeous as the interior of your home sweet home. And you can always call a lawn care professional for some extra help making sure your lawn looks its best.

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Growing Region 101: Why It Matters for Your Lawn

growing region

Want a lush lawn? Plant the right grass type for your growing region. Image: Westend61/Getty Images

If you ever cruise Pinterest or home design sites (and we’re guessing you do), you’ve probably fawned over a gorgeous lawn or two. And that can be sort of a bummer if your own grassy area is looking a little lackluster. Worried you don’t have a green thumb? Are you just cursed? Actually, it turns out that you might be trying to grow the wrong type of grass for your growing region.

growing region

Tall fescue grows best in the northern half of the country. Image: Billy Lau/Getty Images

What is a growing region?

A growing region is an area where certain types of plants are likely to thrive based on the climate. Some people group the continental U.S. into just a few distinct growing regions, while the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has over two dozen distinct zones. The latter divides each region based on a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in annual average winter temperature.

Fortunately, there are a number of different turfgrasses that can thrive in a fairly wide temperature window. You probably don’t need to drill down to those specific zone details to get a gorgeous lawn. Instead, understanding a few things about the general growing regions across the U.S. can help you choose the right grass for your lawn.

It’s easiest to think of the country as divided into three distinct growing regions: warm-season, cool-season, and transition.

Cool-season growing region

The largest growing region, the cool-season region includes the northern half of the country. Split California in half and extend that dividing line across the southern border of the following states. Everything north of the line gives you a pretty clear idea of this growing region. The states that fall in this region include:

  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey

Transition growing region

That state border trick is mostly accurate, but the southern half of California, the southern tip of Nevada, and the southeastern corner of Colorado are all generally considered to fall in the transition region. Other transition region areas include most of Arizona, most of New Mexico, the northern half of Texas, and the following states:

  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Arkansas
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina

Warm-season growing region

Everything else is considered warm-season. That includes:

  • The southernmost parts of Arizona and New Mexico
  • The southern half of Texas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Florida
growing region - bermuda

Image: pyzata/Getty Images

The best grass types for each growing region

Now that you know your region, it’s a whole lot easier to pick the right type of grass to thrive in your lawn. Certain grass types thrive in generally warm to hot weather, while others like a cooler winter. Knowing which type will work in your specific part of the country can save you a lot of headache.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the grass types that might work well in your region.

Cool-season grasses

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Red fescue
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Tall fescue
  • Buffalo grass

Transitional grasses

  • Tall fescue
  • Bermudagrass
  • Zoysia grass
  • Buffalo grass

Warm-season grasses

  • Bermudagrass
  • Zoysia grass
  • Centipede grass
  • St. Augustine grass
  • Buffalo grass

This is a quick overview to guide you in the right direction, but make sure you talk with a local lawn care expert about what grows best in your region based on your local moisture levels and other factors. A lawn is an investment and you don’t want to find yourself struggling to grow the wrong turf type down the road.

This is especially true if you live in the transitional region. A blend of warm-season and cool-season grasses may be best for your lawn and its varied climate, so talk to a lawn care professional to find out what works in your area. Want help finding the perfect turf for your growing region — and beautifully maintaining it? Get in touch with a lawn care expert in your area to schedule a professional lawn analysis of your yard today.

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Lawn and Landscaping Projects You Should Definitely Leave to the Pros

As a homeowner, you probably like the challenge and the cost-savings of handling many of your own lawn and landscaping projects. For example, cutting your grass weekly is a home maintenance task that most DIYers can successfully complete.

However, there are other scenarios in which homeowners are taking matters into their own hands – with disastrous results. These are some of the lawn and landscaping projects you should leave to the pros.

Testing the soil before planting

Acidic or alkaline?

Acidic or alkaline? Image: Aroon phadee/Shutterstock

This is a project that can be done DIY with an at-home soil tester, but our experts don’t recommend it. “Bringing a soil sample to your local county extension service offers the most detailed information on soil pH levels – acidity and alkalinity – as well as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus levels,” according to Keven Shanks, manager of retailer training at Scotts Miracle-Gro.

It’s important to test the soil, especially if you’re planting a vegetable garden, because different types of plants prefer different types of soil. “Plants like asparagus, onions, garlic, cucumbers and tomatoes prefer acidic soil (pH 5.8-6.5), which tends to dominate in wet climates,” Shanks explains. On the other hand, plants like Brussel sprouts, turnips, cabbage and mustard like a more alkaline soil (pH 6.0-7.5) that Shanks says is typically found in dry areas.

Aerating the lawn

Professionals can correctly aerate your lawn.

Professionals can correctly aerate your lawn. Image: Taweesak Sriwannawit/Shutterstock

Aerating can be a DIY project, but you’ll need to rent and transport an aerator. So, what is aerating? “It is the process of removing plugs from the turf area using a core aerator, thereby creating an artificial system of large pores,” Shanks explains. And it’s important because it allows air, water and nutrients to reach the roots. “Aeration alleviates problems with soil compaction and/or thatch,” Shanks says.

This is a task to complete on a yearly basis. However, renting and maneuvering the specialized equipment isn’t the only DIY issue.

“Many homeowners also have underground infrastructure, including septic, pet fencing and/or irrigation,” according to Dr. Brad DeBels, director of operations at Weed Man Lawn Care. This means it’s possible to damage the infrastructure. However, according to DeBels, professionals know how to avoid this – and if any damage occurs, they’re responsible for the repair cost.

Planning and installing a permanent in-ground irrigation system

An irrigation system need to provide adequate coverage.

An irrigation system needs to provide adequate coverage. Image: kvww/Shutterstock

If you’re comfortable undertaking building projects, you may be able to plan and install a watering system. “You should be familiar with plumbing, electricity, and local building codes, and be willing to take the time to research and design the system well,” Shanks says. This will also entail digging trenches. However, he says it’s the paper and pencil process that usually trips up DIYers.

“Irrigation specialists are by far best equipped to design and install an irrigation system that waters both completely and efficiently,” Shanks advises.  “Find a specialist who has been certified by a professional group, such as the Irrigation Society of America, to ensure you’re getting good advice.” And if you have a large lawn, it includes significant elevation changes, or has very poor drainage, Shanks says you should definitely consult a professional irrigation designer.

Brad Unruh, director of new product development for Hustler Turf Equipment, agrees that DIYers should just call in the pros. “This is an involved project, and professionals have the correct equipment to make it a lot less painful and disruptive to your current landscape,” he says.  “It’s important that your irrigation system has the correct coverage to ensure everything works like it’s supposed to, which will ultimately benefit your future landscaping plans.”

Pesticide treatments

Application rates and timing are crucial.

Application rates and timing are crucial. Image: lightpoen/Shutterstock

You might consider yourself quite handy around the house with a can of bug spray, but landscape pesticides are a little different. And DeBels recommends leaving these pesticide treatments to the professionals. “Highly-effective weed, insect and fungus control can be very dependent on how and when you apply off-the-shelf products, making it difficult to achieve maximum effectiveness,” he explains.

And if you have a full-time job and a life, you’re just randomly applying treatments when you think about it. However, DeBels explains that professionals have spent a significant amount of time perfecting application rates and timing, and don’t forget – they’re actually trained and licensed. “This leads to the most effective control of pests, while limiting pesticide resistance and optimizing environmental safety,” he says.

Most troubleshooting projects

Take the guesswork out of troubleshooting.

Take the guesswork out of troubleshooting. Kamil Macniak/Shutterstock

“When your lawn begins to get patchy, weeds take over, or your soil becomes compacted, it can be difficult to reset the yard to a healthy state,” Sherrington says. “At these times, it is more important than ever to ensure your lawn is properly aerated, the soil’s PH levels are up to par, and weed control is added to the correct areas.” And if done incorrectly, he says these procedures can have disastrous effects on a yard. 

For example, overapplying nitrogen can result in burning a lawn overnight,” Sherrington reveals. He says it can also be confusing trying to purchase the right product, store it correctly, and apply it properly. “That is why we recommend homeowners call in experts to test their soil, handle products and take the necessary steps to maintain their lawn and quickly get it to a thriving state,” Sherrington explains.

Skill level makes a difference

Expertise produces expert results.

Expertise produces expert results. Image: aimful/Shutterstock

While many of these lawn and landscaping projects are best left to the pros, sometimes, the answer is dependent on the homeowner’s skill level. For example, Unruh does believe that homeowners can fertilize grass and spray weeds – but they are best done with some knowledge.

He says you should know what you’re spraying, how it affects the foliage, and what it is intended to kill or enhance. “Also, I recommend becoming familiar with the plants, trees, bushes and grass on your property to know which types of fertilizer would be best and when to use them.” He suggests visiting your local nursery or garden store if you need help. And don’t forget that your lawn isn’t just eye candy. Turfgrass lawns have environmental and health benefits.

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5 Tips for a Summer-Ready Lawn

A summer-ready lawn only takes a few days of care. In fact, just a little extra TLC ensures your landscaping can withstand hot temperatures while still looking great. Taking a weekend to clean up and care for your lawn in the spring can mean greener grass and a summer-ready lawn that also requires less maintenance when temperatures rise.

Follow these tips to make sure your lawn stays in shape all summer long.

A winter’s worth of debris could be clogging up your lawn. Image: Shutterstock/Breadmaker

Clear out the debris

After a long winter and spring, your lawn is probably covered in debris known as “thatch.” Thatch includes the pine needles, dead leaves, dead grass, and other stuff that builds up on your lawn over the winter months. It has a nasty habit of covering up your healthy grass and blocking it from sun. What’s more, thatch can absorb too much water and cause wilting. It’s always best to start with a clean slate, so grab a rake and gently remove as much thatch as you can. Don’t be too aggressive, as your spring grass will still be fairly fragile while its growing underneath.

Traditional home with garden

Fertilizer is like a multi-vitamin for your lawn. Image: Shutterstock/ppa

Spread on the fertilizer

A layer of fertilizer can really give your landscaping the nutrients it needs to turn over from sparse spring to summer-ready lawn. Think of it as a multi-vitamin for your grass. Fertilizer includes a balance of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphate, but the percentage you need of each depends on your area and the type of grass and soil you have. Make sure you follow the directions for your fertilizer carefully. Some require specific watering amounts after spreading. Others work best on an already-damp lawn.

Not sure what to use? Contact a lawn care professional for expert advice on the type of lawn you have and to get a tailored fertilization plan.

Stone exterior home with front walkway

A thorough watering can help supplement through the summer. Image: Shutterstock/karamysh

Water deeply

The promise of a wet and rainy spring can help you weather the hot, dry months, but your lawn might still need more. Make sure to give your lawn at least a couple deep “drinks” before the heat makes its appearance. This is important in growing strong roots that withstand the summer. As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to do a deep water irregularly than to surface water your lawn every day. Make sure you give your lawn a deep watering at the beginning of spring to help grow healthy grass. Water your grass at regular intervals and amounts through the spring, and then give your lawn another deep watering at the end of spring. This will help hydrate the soil so you need less water throughout the hot summer months.

Get some air

Aeration — tiny holes poked into the surface of the lawn–might seem nonessential, but it’s a great way to get a summer-ready lawn. Over cold winter months, soil can become compacted and hard. This makes it difficult for the roots of your grass to get the oxygen and water they need to give you a strong, green, healthy lawn. By perforating the surface of the soil, it breaks up some of that hard surface to allow your grass to get everything it needs.

You can try DIY lawn aeration by renting a tool from you local hardware store. Or, hire a lawn care pro to come in and take care of it. Aeration is relatively inexpensive, but it gives you big bang for your buck when it comes to a healthy, hydrated summer lawn.

French-style home with paved driveway

Make sure your sprinklers are working efficiently. Image: Shutterstock/pics721

Summer sprinkler checkup

The last thing you need is a broken sprinkler system in July. Give your landscaping a spring checkup to make sure everything is working like it should before it gets too hot. Survey the sprinkler heads, since they can be broken off by lawn mowers — or errant baseballs. They’re simple to replace and ensure your lawn is getting the water it needs. You can also adjust the spray patterns or change the watering schedule. The goal is to water efficiently, not water more. Make sure sprinklers are only spraying grass, shrubs, and flowers, and aren’t wasting water on sidewalks or driveways.

Check the long-range forecast (or farmer’s almanac) to see what type of summer is forecasted. Start with the minimum amount of watering and adjust up from there. Remember that when it comes to watering your lawn, overdoing it isn’t only expensive, but stops your grass from getting the oxygen it needs. An overwatered lawn is more likely to have weeds and poor growth with weak roots. Less is more, especially when it comes to watering on a schedule. Your best bet is to water less frequently, but more thoroughly.

Summer is just around the corner, and a summer-ready lawn is a lot easier to get when you start in the spring. Are you ready to have the best lawn on the block this summer?

The post 5 Tips for a Summer-Ready Lawn appeared first on Freshome.com.

How to Patch a Spotty Lawn in No Time

Finding yourself with a spotty lawn can feel like one of the most irritating parts of homeownership. The rest of your lawn may be lush and green, but sometimes you can end up with ugly, brown, dead patches.

A number of different problems can cause a spotty lawn. If you have a pet that uses just one part of the yard most frequently as a bathroom spot, that’s a sure way to kill the grass. Heavy foot traffic can damage your lawn, too. Other causes include heat and drought and damage from grubs and animal digging. Luckily, it’s a fairly easy process to patch a spotty lawn.

If you need to patch a spotty lawn, it only takes part of an afternoon to source the materials you need and plant the patches. Though you’ll have to arrange for days to weeks of consistent watering. It’s also not too expensive, but prices vary based on how much ground you have to cover. Grass seed itself can run around $10 for a 3-pound bag. You can find grass seed starter fertilizer for around $20, which often covers around 5,000 square feet. You can also find grass seed/fertilizer mixes at around $20 for about a 12-pound bag.

Patch a Spotty Lawn Brown Spots

Dead patches in your lawn can be unsightly and disrupt the whole look of your yard. Image: SingjaiStock/Shutterstock

Patching Up That Spotty Lawn

In order to patch a spotty lawn, you will need:

  • A tape measure
  • A metal rake (bow-style rakes work well)
  • Either the grass seed and fertilizer or grass seed/fertilizer mix (many will tell you how many square feet they cover)
  • Chopped straw or leaves
  • A way to water the area, like a hose or sprinkler

The steps to patch a spotty lawn are:

  • Start by measuring the area that you need to reseed. You can take a rough measurement using a tape measure.
  • Buy seed and fertilizer based on the square foot measurement of the patches.
  • A few days before you seed, make sure to water the lawn so it’s visibly wet. Let the lawn dry before you add the seeds. This will help make the soil more inviting to seed germination.
  • To patch a spotty lawn, clear the area you need to reseed. There may be dead grass or other debris that you will need to scrape away using the metal rake. Rake so that just the soil remains, making sure to get the teeth of the rake into the soil to fully loosen any dead grass.
  • Pick up and clear away any clumps of dead grass or other debris.
  • Fully loosen the top two or three inches of the soil using the rake. Use even pressure and long strokes. The seeds need loose soil in order to take root.
  • Scatter the seed or seed/fertilizer mix over the loose soil. There’s no need to plant the grass seed like other seeds. You can patch a spotty lawn by keeping the seeds on the top of the soil.
  • If fertilizer wasn’t mixed in with your grass seed, add a thin, even layer of fertilizer over the seeds and surrounding soil.
  • Then add a light layer of straw or chopped leaves. That will prevent the seeds and fertilizer from washing away, drying out or being eaten by animals.
  • Finish by watering enough so that the area is visibly wet, but not pooling. Keep the soil moist. You may need to water a couple of times per day — or more if your area is dry.
  • The seeds can sprout anywhere between a few days and a month, depending on type and climate. Keep the area well-watered after sprouting.

And remember, when you patch a spotty lawn, pick a grass seed that does well with your local climate. Some grass seeds have labels for cold climates, for instance.

The post How to Patch a Spotty Lawn in No Time appeared first on Freshome.com.

Should You Cut Your Grass Weekly?

Few things compare to the beauty of a well-manicured lawn. Studies show that a home’s curb appeal can increase its resale value. You’ll also have a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that your lawn care routine is responsible for the positive results. In addition, there are environmental and health benefits of turfgrass lawns.

Curb appeal can increase your home's resale value.

Curb appeal can increase your home’s resale value. Image: tab1962/Getty Images

However, the health of your lawn is dependent, in part, on proper mowing techniques. So, Freshome asked two lawn care professionals to provide best practices and tips for doing it right.

Mowing frequency

Warm season grasses grow faster in mid-summer.

Warm season grasses grow faster in mid-summer. Images: kurham/Shutterstock

How often should you mow the lawn?  “Many of us have heard the idea of mowing our lawn at least one time per week,” says Dr. Brad DeBels, Director of Operations at Weed Man Lawn Care. As a general rule, he says it’s an accurate level of frequency, but it all depends on the season and the type the grass you have.

“Warm-season grasses grow much faster in mid-summer than in the spring or fall, while cool-season grasses grow at higher rates in spring and fall than summer,” DeBels explains. “For your lawn to be the envy of the neighborhood, you should be mowing your lawn at least one time per week at the proper height.”

Are you scalping your lawn?

Scalping puts your lawn at risk.

Scalping puts your lawn at risk. Image: SL-photo/Shutterstock

And the proper height is the cause of some confusion. “Most homeowners think if they cut their grass nice and short, it buys them more time before they need to mow again,” explains Chris McGeary at Lawn Doctor. “While mowing your lawn properly is one of the easiest ways to fight off weeds and diseases, many homeowners fall victim to mowing too short, or ‘scalping,’ which does more harm than good.”

But if mowing your grass fights off weeds and diseases, wouldn’t mowing it even shorter provide a greater level of defense? Apparently not, according to McGeary. “Scalping can have some pretty serious repercussions as a result of cutting off essential energy sources for the grass blades.” So, when you’re mowing, he says it’s important to pay attention to the height of your grass to ensure you’re not hindering its growth. “You’ll notice if you are scalping your lawn when the grass turns a yellowish color or becomes frayed,” he says.

How to avoid scalping

Dull blades can also cause scalping.

Dull blades can also cause scalping. Image: PPA/Shutterstock

To avoid weakening and other lawn issues, McGeary recommends cutting most warm-season grasses down to 1 inch, and he says most cool-season grasses should be 2.5 inches high.

“Scalping can also occur as a result of keeping your mower on its lowest setting and having a dull blade, so be sure to regularly check in on your equipment.” If you’re worried about your grass being too high, McGeary says longer is always better so you shouldn’t be afraid to let your grass grow. “Pairing your mowing habits with maintained irrigation will allow you to enjoy your glorious yard in no time.”

Observe these mowing guidelines

An example of Kentucky bluegrass mowed at 3 inches.

An example of Kentucky bluegrass mowed at 3 inches. Image courtesy of Weed Man Lawn Care.

DeBels recommends that you never mow more than one-third of the leaf blade off at any one time. “For example, if your desired grass height is 3 inches, you should mow the grass before it has reached a height of 4.5 inches.” This means that you may need to mow your lawn every four to five days during peak growing seasons. “If you mow more than one-third of the leaf blade off, you initiate a growth response in the plant that causes excess shoot growth, reduced root growth and can leave many unsightly leaf clippings on the surface,” DeBels explains.

Keep your mowing height as high as possible

A higher mowing height contributes to a healthier lawn.

A higher mowing height contributes to a healthier lawn. Image: PPA/Shutterstock

If you choose a higher mowing height, DeBels says you can also prevent weed growth. “Aesthetics and utility are strong considerations when choosing a mowing height, but generally the highest setting on your mower is a safe place to be,” he says. However, you don’t want your lawn to be too high, lest it provide cover for various pests and critters.

Sharpen your blades

Sharp blades produce a more effective cut.

Sharp blades produce a more effective cut. Image courtesy of Weed Man Lawn Care.

The effectiveness of your lawn mower is dependent on the sharpness of your mower blades. “When dull mower blades are being used to cut your lawn, they cut less and tear more,” DeBels explains. And this results in frayed leaf blades, and DeBels warns that it can lead to lawn disease. “Depending on your lawn size, you should consider sharpening your mower blades two times per year.” You may want to add this item to your fall lawn maintenance list.

Leave your clippings

Clippings are your lawn’s friend.

Clippings are your lawn’s friend. Image: Nick Beer/Shutterstock

Don’t bag your clippings; leave them on the lawn. “Not only is collecting clippings labor intensive, but you are removing needed nutrients from the lawn that are contained in those leaf blades,” DeBels says. “These returned leaf blades can provide 25 percent of the yearly nitrogen the lawn needs, meaning they’re free fertilizer.”

Change up your mowing patterns

Repeatedly mowing in a circle around this well well during has caused thinning.

Repeatedly mowing in a circle around this well well caused thinning. Image courtesy of Weed Man Lawn Care.

Repetition is a bad thing as it relates to mowing. “Be sure to alternate your mowing pattern every time you cut the lawn,” DeBels says. “Be creative. Don’t simply create the same masterpiece each time.” If you continue to mow in the same direction or pattern, DeBels warns that you could create thinning and rutting, which you can see in the photo above.

Still have questions about mowing or your yard in general? Contact a lawn care professional to find out more.

The post Should You Cut Your Grass Weekly? appeared first on Freshome.com.

3 Ways to Plan a Small Yard Green Space

Small yards come with many challenges. One of the biggest is struggling to make a lawn work in them. The simple fact is that with less space to work with, the lawn itself has to be impeccably planned so that it fits in with decking space, decorative accents and other common yard functions. Otherwise, you risk a yard that looks cramped and cluttered. Luckily, there are a few design principles that will help that small yard green space just work.

Be prepared. Planning the landscape of your backyard is one of the most involved home projects you can undertake. It can take weeks to months to plan. You can also get expert advice from lawn care professionals on the best way to keep your small lawn green.  Depending on what you decide to do, prices can range in the hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. After all, you could be looking at anything from building an entirely new deck to simply installing new landscaping accents. Projects can also run from a few days to a few weeks in time. But when you get your backyard just right, it will be worth it.

Small Yard Green Space Curved Design

Small lawns look amazing when designed in curved patterns. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Create geometry

If you’re working with a small yard green space, one key way to make the most of it is to create a geometric look. A more geometric design makes a smaller lawn look like its own design accent. Otherwise, a small grassy area can look like something that was crammed into a space just because backyards should have lawns.

You can see in the photo above how stylish a smaller lawn looks when designed to flow with the surrounding yard. The curves also give extra room for landscape accents around the perimeter of the grass.

You can get creative with this idea. Another small yard green space option is to have a more boxed design with landscape accents around the lawn. Some yards even have a tiered design, where different layers of lawn go in a step pattern with stone retaining walls between layers.

As an additional note, the smaller the lawn is, the more its borders should add a sense of organization to the space. For instance, equidistant small shrubs or batches of tall grass around the borders can add attractive accents while making the yard’s design look purposeful and orderly.

Small Yard Green Space Deck Area

Larger deck styles can fit in smaller backyards when balanced with green space. Image: Dimasik_sh/Shutterstock

Add balance

Another idea is to balance out the smaller lawn with other textures and materials. For instance, it’s common to add decking or stone pathways around small patches of lawn and shrubbery.

The photo above shows this idea working with a small yard green space. The lawn itself acts as an accent to the decking style around it. And since the decking totally surrounds the lawn, it gives a sense of balance. The square design of the lawn also gives a clean geometry to the space. Ideas like this are good for small spaces because you can expand your usable outdoor space with a larger deck or patio while minimizing the amount of your yard that requires upkeep. That makes it easier to keep your green spaces impeccably maintained, which is important in small areas where they’ll play a key role.

Small Yard Green Space Table Area

Lawns can be highly multifunctional. Image: rodho/Shutterstock

Merge spaces in your small yard green space

Another idea is to get multifunctional with your spaces. This is a common method for getting all you want out of a space, even if you’re working with less of it. You can see an idea of how this works in the photo above. Since there simply isn’t much space to work with, an outdoor eating area goes right on the lawn itself. Surrounding such an area with plenty of plant life can make for a cozy dining experience.

You can use this small yard green space idea in a few different ways. For instance, you could use the small space lawn for a single recreational use, like a volleyball net. You could put a child’s outdoor playhouse along the lawn. Or a small zen garden could go right in the middle of the lawn.

And remember, your lawn should reflect your lifestyle. If you’re more active outdoors, you may want to pick a more multifunctional design over a decorative one. You can also always get help from lawn care professionals to create your best yard.

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