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What kind of grass is it?
First things first: The best way to target the needs of your lawn is to know what kind of grass you have. Determine whether your grass is cool-season, transitional or warm-season with the handy grass identifier on the Lowe’s website. This is a huge help in figuring out your ideal soil, when to fertilize and the right way to mow.
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Even the most-rained-on lawn will need some watering to maintain its lushness. Water early in the morning so the grass is dry when the sun comes out, lessening the risk of disease as well as water loss through evaporation in the afternoon. Instead of watering frequently for short periods, water longer once or twice a week, letting water soaka few inches into the soil. This fosters deep roots and makes the grass drought-tolerant.
Soil can make or break the quality of your grass, and a nearly neutral pH is essential to lawn success. To find out if your soil is within acceptable range, buy a test kit from your local home improvement store. If your soil is more acidic than it should be, adding garden lime (or limestone) in the fall will reduce acidity. If your soil is more alkaline, add a soil conditioner with sulfur or gypsum as needed. Or opt for an organic approach with peat moss or regularly applied compost.
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While healthy soil provides many of the nutrients your grass requires, fertilizer gives it the extra boost to control weeds, recover from damage and keep on growin’. Choose a fertilizer based on your region, the pH of your soil and the size of your lawn. Then apply when grass is actively growing and according to the climate. Fertilize cool-season grasses in spring and fall. Warm-season grasses benefit most from fertilizer in late spring and summer.
Weeds compete with your grass for nutrients, water and sunlight. Your best defense is to tackle them before they begin by applying a pre-emergent herbicide during the heavy growing season in early spring. To handle weeds post-invasion, either remove them by hand or apply a granular control product early in the morning—dew helps it stick to weed leaves.
Reap what you mow
Regular mowing is like a human haircut: It keeps the grass thick and healthy. While the needs of each type of grass vary slightly, stick to the one-third rule: Don’t remove more than one-third of the blade height at one time. A close cut increases the grass’s vulnerability to pests and reduces its ability to regrow. The experts at Lowe’s recommend mowing grass when it’s dry and leaving the discharged clippings on the lawn. This is called grass cycling and helps return nutrients and nitrogen to the soil.
There are several causes for lawn bare spots: heavy foot traffic, drought, disease, chemical burn or pest problems like weeds or insects. It’s important to determine the root of the problem and take measures to prevent it, but there are also several options to repair post-damage. Prep your lawn by digging up the affected area about 6 inches deep. Mix in fresh topsoil, then choose one of the following methods:
→ Spread seed and fertilizer, then add straw as a mulch to retain moisture and deter pests.
→ Lay down a lawn patch product, which includes seeds, fertilizer and mulch all in one.
→ Seed germination blankets, which are made from wool fiber, are great for keeping seeds in place.
→ If sod is available, you must keep it moist before laying it down and ensure solid contact with the soil.