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New Homeowner’s Guide to Lawn Care

Finding and purchasing a new home is one of the most exciting steps in life, so congratulations! But you likely realize that owning a house comes with additional responsibilities, including lawn maintenance and garden upkeep.

However, when it comes to keeping your yard in tip-top condition, you might be surprised by how easy it really is. You don’t have to be a gardening or landscape expert to get a healthy, lush lawn!

Read on for lawn care tips for every new homeowner.

General Lawn Care and Maintenance

A well-maintained lawn is a thing of beauty. Whether you have a front yard, a backyard, or both, keep your grass fresh and picnic-ready with these general tips for excellent lawn care.

Aeration

Because soil can be compacted so easily over time, your lawn will require refreshment in the form of aeration—a process that helps treat soil particles that have been squeezed together and no longer facilitate healthy root growth.

Try these tips:

  • Use a professional aeration machine that will remove small soil plugs from your entire lawn, giving it room to breathe. Alternatively, you can strap on aeration tools to the soles of your garden boots and aerate the property by foot! 
  • Ensure to pass the aeration tool of your choice over the lawn in even passes, including horizontally and vertically. This will ensure measured aeration to relieve compaction of the entire lawn area.
  • Aeration should be completed in the spring and fall to remove the buildup of thatch, natural debris, and any other accumulated substances that contribute to the compaction of the soil.
Fertilization

Feeding your lawn is just as important as watering it! By properly fertilizing your property every season, you can ensure optimal growth and root health. Experts recommend a routine of 4-to-6-week fertilization, especially during spring and summer.

Furthermore:

  • Use a slow-release fertilizer to lengthen the amount of time your lawn can benefit from one treatment. 
  • Do not apply too much fertilizer to your grass or skip watering it, should the formula require it. This brings the risk of scorching the lawn and damaging its root structures.
  • With each new season, invest in a fertilizer formula tailored explicitly for those months, including special additives that will help with lawn health when needed.
  • Apply fertilizer to your entire lawn shortly before the winter freeze arrives. This will help protect the yard and give nutrients that promote winter-long growth.
Mowing

Keep your grass trimmed, and your lawn will thank you. Not only does mowing your yard promote good growth, but it also encourages it to become hardier and block out more weeds.

A well-mowed lawn is a healthy lawn, so here are some tips:

  • Whether you use a push lawnmower or a motorized one, make sure the blades are sharp. This prevents grass blades from being snagged or torn up by blunt edges and enables the mower to slice through each filament precisely. 
  • Keep your grass mowed to a height of around 2-to-4 inches, depending on recommendations for specific types of grass. However, you should always avoid trimming down any more than 1/3 of your lawn’s height in one day, as this is not healthy for the grass itself.
  • Avoid mowing the lawn on damp days or when the sod is still wet from rainfall. If you trim sodden grass, it will only smear and rut as the mower struggles to get traction and will rust your lawnmower blades over time. 
  • Do not mow over freshly sown patches of lawn—this will only disturb the new root formation and hinder proper growth. Wait until the new grass reaches around 1.5″ in height before trimming it with the rest of the lawn.
  • Experts advise mowing your lawn in different directions each time. This practice fosters robustness in the grass blades and strengthens the lawn’s overall quality. If you mow in the same direction each time, you risk weakening the grass.
Watering

Giving your lawn adequate water is a delicate balance—you can easily over-water your grass or not give it enough hydration. Depending on the season, adjusting your watering habits is essential to give your lawn the best care, including these other tips:

  • Water your lawn in the early morning, late in the evening, or once the sun is at its lowest point of the day. This will ensure your grass gets the most out of watering without the heat of the day evaporating it. 
  • Keep an eye out for puddles or brittle patches. If you see portions of the lawn where water tends to collect, it indicates the oversaturation of the soil beneath. Alternatively, if you spot areas that have discolored or brittle grass, more water is needed. 
  • Water your lawn more extensively but less frequently. Many homeowners make the mistake of watering too often—instead, water a few times over the week and make sure your lawn soaks up between 1″-1.5″ of liquid per week, getting to the roots.
Weeding

One of the biggest annoyances in lawn care is the seemingly constant array of weeds that tend to crop up across your grass. They can be difficult to spot and eliminate, but homeowners should try these tips for successful weed identification and removal.

  • Know your weeds! One of the best ways to combat a weed invasion is to know what types you are dealing with. They typically fall between grassy weeds and broadleaf weeds, which in turn are both annual and perennial. Research local weeds like these:
    • Bluegrass
    • Chickweed
    • Crabgrass
    • Dallisgrass
    • Dandelions
    • Rescuegrass
    • Thistles
  • Keep your lawn stress-free to spite weed growth. The happier and healthier a lawn, the fewer weeds will be able to flourish there. Regularly watering and trimming your property will help promote better weed resistance.
  • Use natural weed remedies or non-pesticide sprays. Because chemical weed removers will seep into the sod and groundwater, you risk polluting local waterways and wildlife. It’s best to stick to more nature-friendly procedures to remove weeds.
Seasonal Lawn Care Specifics

Apart from general lawn care tips, every new homeowner should be prepared to carry out seasonal lawn maintenance and servicing. This will ensure your grass stays happy and healthy all year round!

Spring and Summer Lawn Care

Once the winter is over and spring seems to have sprung, it’s time to dig out your gardening tools and gear up for a regime of summertime lawn care. Spring and summer are great seasons to propagate healthy lawn growth.

Make Time to Tidy Up

Clean up your lawn as soon as winter is over. This includes picking up any branches, twigs, trash, or debris accumulated over the winter months. Make sure to rake the entire lawn to remove dead grass and leaves as well.

Mow Wisely

Ensure to mow the lawn only every two weeks in the early spring, as it is still experiencing slow growth leftover from the winter months. You won’t have to worry about trimming the grass more than this until the weather begins to warm up.

Trim your grass once a week when you enter late spring and during the summer months. If you notice your grass’ growth rate has peaked significantly over the cusp of the spring/summer transition, you might need to mow twice per week for a period.

New Seeds

Spring and summer months are ideal for supplementing your lawn’s lusciousness. If you want to reseed specific grass areas or lay down additional sod, do so in the springtime when the weather is temperate and damp. 

Lawn Care in the Autumn

Care for your lawn after the heat of summer, and prepare it for the coming winter months with a variety of maintenance practices, including the following:

Overseeding

Autumn is an excellent time to get a head start on lawn health, and overseeding helps grass grow thicker and more resistant. Overseeding is best done in the fall when the soil is still warm and sun-drenched but when the ambient temperature is cooler and wetter.

Overseeding is amazingly easy and effective. Either through the use of a seed spreader or simply your hands, evenly spread grass seeds across your lawn. Make sure to keep them moist until new growth is visible.

Scarifying

Scarifying is a handy method of reducing the thatch layers that gather in your lawn, including dead grass, moss, and other natural debris that prevent water seepage.

Get a metal rake, and don’t be afraid to rake a bit deeper than in spring to remove all the thatch.

Trim the Edges

The boundaries of your lawn have likely gotten overgrown by the beginning of autumn, so it’s a perfect time to give them a little TLC. Using lawn scissors, neatly trim the grass at the edges of garden beds, the base of any fences, and tidy any pathway peripheries. 

Wintertime Lawn Care

While gardening and lawn care are certainly less of an issue during the winter months, it is important not to neglect your lawn for the entirety of the off-season. By completing some easy maintenance steps, you can make sure your lawn is ready to grow!

Clear Debris

Using a light rake or brush, try to keep the lawn clear of excessive debris. Fallen leaves, tree branches, or other natural substances that can accumulate over the winter can trap moisture and encourage disease and worm activity in your lawn.

Rest the Lawn

Over the winter is a great time to give your lawn some time to settle and rest. If possible, keep lawn traffic to a minimum when it is wet or frosty, as this will lead to grass filaments being easily damaged and make it difficult to repair itself before spring.

Winter Mowing

If the conditions allow, it’s important to continue trimming the grass throughout the winter. Do not mow your lawn if the ground is saturated or if heavy frosts or snow are forecasted. The grass level during wintertime should be cut around 25% higher than in summer.

If you are a new homeowner, taking care of the lawn is just one of the many chores you will have to maintain.

To learn more about home maintenance tasks, check out how to care for hardwood floors that can save you money!

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