Having a great-looking front or back lawn can now only make your house look much smarter but can also make you feel much better about yourself. However, while many of us dream of a lush green vista from our windows, in reality, many of us look out to weedy patches of grass. We are not bad gardeners we are quite good at it. It’s just that many of us are working with compacted soil which makes it hard for the grass to grow well. And compaction is not always visible on top of the soil, you can’t tell simply by looking around your lawn whether or not compaction is a problem.
First, let me explain briefly what soil compaction is and how it affects your lawn, then I’ll offer some tips on how to fix it. Soil compaction occurs when the spaces between individual particles of soil get smaller than what they should be. This makes water drainage slower due to the earth’s reduced porosity and prevents air from moving through freely. As oxygen supply reduces, the root growth is hampered. As a result, the grassroots are unable to hold the soil together well enough, and it becomes more prone to erosion.
As I said earlier, soil compaction is not easily detectable on the surface of the ground because it often exists underneath layers of earth or mulch. It can be found in spots where people tend to walk a lot, like near sidewalks or along garden beds. Wherever you have compacted soil, there will always be adverse effects on your lawn’s health. At first, it will show up as poor growth, which later turns into thinning grass areas.
If you want to save your lawn from dying and bring back its former glory, here are some tips that should help:
Make sure that your lawn has well-draining soil.
Ensure that your soil is not “waterlogged” during any part of the year. Wet conditions will lead to compaction. So, avoid over-irrigation and don’t leave the lawn wet after rainfall or watering. Lawns with poorly drained soils are more prone to compaction because standing water keeps the pores from breathing.
Also, this causes water toxicity problems for plants, which can kill them if it lasts long enough. If you suspect your soil does not drain well enough, contact a professional soil tester who can help you solve the problem by recommending suitable grass types for your climate (e.g., St Augustinegrass in hotter climates) or some other options like installing French drains.
Aerate your lawn
Aerating the grass is commonly done to solve lawn compaction problems. This practice punch holes in your lawn with special machines that take out plugs of soil. It allows water, air, and nutrients to penetrate the soil more easily. If you own a gas-powered machine-like core aerator, it’s not too hard for one person to do this by themselves. However, if you don’t have access to such equipment or prefer organic methods, use a spade or half-moon edger instead (works very well).
Alternate traffic areas
If possible, try to let some parts of your lawn rest for a certain period each year (say 1/3rd), so they can recuperate from damage. Unfortunately, some people wait until winter comes before putting compaction relief tactics in place.
Use proper lawn mowing techniques.
Depending on your chosen type of grass, you will have to choose your mower wisely too. A rotary mower is usually ideal for Bermuda grass, but if Fescue is more common where you live, a reel type may be the better option because there’s less damage to the ground cover (meaning less recovery time). Also, make sure to keep your lawn at one uniform height during prolonged periods of time (e.g., 1 inch). This may lead to ‘thin spots’ or bare patches forming over time. Finally, avoid bagging clippings whenever possible since they act as natural fertilizer and mulch. However, if you do pick them up, spread them evenly across your lawn.
Mow at the best time of day.
Early morning or early-mid afternoon are usually the best times for lawn care. When the sun is at its peak, you’ll more than likely damage your grass and get more weeds growing in your lawn versus when the sun isn’t directly on top of your lawn. Mowing early also prevents weed growth because they grow at a much quicker rate than grass, so by taking care of them early, you’ll reduce future weed problems later. Mow your grass when it reaches a height of 3 to 4 inches.
The amount of time that elapses between cutting your lawn often depends on which type of grass you have in your yard. In general, cool-season grasses need to be mowed every five days or so, whereas warm-season grasses should be cut once every week and a half. But, the best way to know how high you should be cutting is by asking yourself what the purpose of the lawn is for. For example, if you’re looking for just an ornamental piece of land, then you can afford to mow your grass higher than those who want their lawns to be actively used for playing or those who want them to grow thick and tall.
Mow in the correct direction.
Southern exposure, or shaded areas of your yard, benefit from a different mowing pattern than the other sides. Having a staggering hit on these areas of grass prevents weeds from popping up because the weed seedlings will have less sunlight to grow and become more visible to you.
You can stagger your mowing by going forward diagonally for about 50% of the area you’re hitting and then go back over this area in its original position. It’s best to avoid going forward/backward along the same line, as this could lead to a rut that would be hard to fix later. Do not remove more than 1/3 of the height of the grass during mowing.
The best amount of time to wait before re-mowing your lawn is about three weeks. Still, if you’re using a weed preventer for fertilizer, then this can be extended up to six weeks, depending on the instructions given by the manufacturer.
FAQs on getting the best grass possible.
Will the grass grow back greener after I fertilize it?
No, if anything, you’ll see more weed growth because you’re encouraging the grass to grow faster. Also, note that some fertilizer may contain nutrients that can harm your lawn, so be careful with what type of fertilizer you use and how much.
Can I plant the seeds of a weed on my lawn?
The short answer is no. They will germinate but not grow into anything resembling the weed because your soil and other environmental conditions are different than where they came from. However, any seed can potentially grow if it’s exposed to sunlight and there is an adequate supply of water, so proceed with caution!
Why is my lawn turning yellow during summer?
This happens naturally when there’s too much sunlight hitting the turf. The solution is simple; reduce sunlight by either putting up a shade or planting trees around the yard to block sunlight from hitting certain areas for most of the day.
A layer of black plastic will also do wonders but keep in mind that this should only be noted as a temporary solution (because someone told you that they grew beautiful vegetables under black plastic) because usually, you’ll suffocate the lawn under the plastic.
What does it mean if my lawn is spongy?
When this happens, you’ve compacted the soil so much that all of the air pockets have been eliminated, and your grass can’t breathe properly anymore. The solution is simple: aerate your lawn as many times as needed until those air bubbles return! What should the soil pH be for my lawn?
The optimal pH for your lawn should be around 6.5, so if it’s anything below or above this, you’ll need to add some sort of lime or sulfur respectively to bring your soil back to its acidic/alkaline state.
How do I control weeds?
You can use weed killers, but please note that these are toxic chemicals that are not good for the environment and harmful to pets, children, birds, bees, butterflies, earthworms, and other organisms.
You can also pull up unwanted plants by their roots with a shovel but don’t forget to throw them in the trash! Also, make sure you know exactly what plant it is before killing it because some could actually.
Why is my lawn turning brown in the winter?
It’s likely that your soil isn’t retaining moisture. To solve this issue, place about 1/2″-1″ of straw mulch over the soil to prevent water from evaporating and provide insulation for the turf beneath it.
Mowing your lawn too low is another reason for turf canopy death. Grass blades are the food-producing architecture of a plant that produces carbohydrates through photosynthesis, so by cutting grass short, you prevent this process from occurring. If you want to maintain a certain height, then you should simply switch your mower blade to the next highest level.
No matter how compact or aerated your soil may be, if it doesn’t contain enough organic material, it won’t be able to retain water very well. Adding 2-3″ of compost will help restore some of the organic content lost during surface grading and planting.
What are these white patches on my grass?
This can be caused by different things, all you need to do is find what fits best with your situation. Some common reasons are snow mold (which requires more sunlight), drought stress, or lawn diseases that require fertilizer treatments or fungicides. You should also check if any pets have done their “business” in your yard because dog urine turns grass yellow, same goes for wild animals like rabbits and deer.
If you suspect your dog has been pissing on your lawn, here’s how to get rid of the yellow spots caused by dog urine:
– Mow the grass as short as possible (1/2 inch or less) and rake up all leaves (especially close to the affected area). If you’re lucky enough to have just one spot where this is happening, the chances are that there’s still some concentrated urine lying in between the blades of grass because they act as a filter
– Dilute 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide with 1 cup of water and pour it over the affected area. Be careful not to over-saturate the ground around it! Hydrogen peroxide is a natural disinfectant with no side effects, just make sure it’s not full of added chemicals and that it doesn’t contain more than 3% hydrogen peroxide. Anything stronger than that can burn the grass
– Sprinkle baking soda over the stained area and wait half an hour – if there’s still burning or other weird sensations on your skin, don’t do it! Then pour vinegar over the area and let it soak in. Vinegar is acidic, so you may get some fizzing, but this is normal. Water will only dilute this acidity, whereas vinegar acts as a neutralizer because it’s a weak acid itself! Not to confuse anyone: You don’t need to dilute vinegar before using it for stain removal, and you can use full-strength white vinegar because it’s already 5% – 8% acetic acid!
– After 15 minutes, rinse the area with plenty of water and repeat if necessary. You should notice a significant difference in 2 weeks or less, depending on the size of your lawn. This is a safe and natural way to remove the yellow grass stains, so it should take care of most dog urine problems.
– You can also use a commercial enzyme-based cleaner or try one of these eco-friendly alternatives: Tomato juice, lemon juice, grapefruit seed extract + water, baking soda + vinegar solution
How do I get rid of that moss that invaded my lawn?
You can easily remove moss manually by picking it off the grass blades by hand, a rake may also help in this regard, depending on how big your lawn is. If you want to kill the moss, buy a commercial solution containing sodium chlorate or copper sulfate and apply it carefully around the areas infested with moss. Be sure to take precautions before buying any type of chemical because some are harmful, especially if they’re consumed by humans or pets, so be careful! And, of course, if the infestation is big, your best option may be to ask for professional help.
Is it okay if I water my yard every day during summer?
Watering every day doesn’t hurt, but several disadvantages are associated with this practice; it wastes a lot of water, encourages weed growth, and weakens your grass. A good rule of thumb is to water only once every 2-3 days but if you’re still unsure, check the soil because it should be moist for roughly 24 hours after watering.
Is it true that seaweed makes a great natural fertilizer?
Yes, seaweed is full of nutrients, including nitrogen, potassium, and calcium, so using it as a fertilizer to improve your grass may be a good idea – just make sure you compost or dry the seaweed first because fresh isn’t good enough. You can also buy various types of dry organic fertilizers for this purpose.
How do I get rid of weeds in my yard?
Weeds are usually easy to remove by hand, but if you have a bigger problem, try spraying them with vinegar or commercial weed killers containing glyphosate – these should kill off most weeds without any risk involved. Glyphosate is one of the safest herbicides on the market nowadays, so if you can’t find anything else, it should do the job nicely.
You can find glyphosate at most hardware stores or plant nurseries, but be sure to get a form that is non-selective for best results. This means that the enzyme will not discriminate between weeds and your garden plants, so you’ll have to remove all of them after you are finished with the weed-killing process. The good thing about this kind of product is that it’s easy to use – just spray everything, including grass areas around your house, and you will notice amazing results in only one week!
This method won’t be effective against perennial weeds like dandelions which reemerge every year because they lay their seeds deep into your lawn. Yet, other than that, you shouldn’t encounter any problems with this treatment.
The best part about weed killing with glyphosate is the fact that it doesn’t remain in your soil if you water your lawn afterward, so there’s no need to worry about your children or pets getting exposed to harmful chemical agents. In addition, once sprayed, the enzymes will basically decompose into inactive minerals, and you can easily sweep up the remains after a couple of days without feeling any negative effects whatsoever.
Since this product was first introduced back in the 1970s, it has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to remove persistent weeds without too much hassle involved, making it perfect for every household garden regardless of its size! Even though some people claim that glyphosate might be dangerous, I can assure you there are absolutely no risks associated with its usage.
How do I get rid of ants on my lawn?
Ants tend to get attracted to moist soil, so water less frequently or use a type of mulch that helps dry up the soil. If you know where the nest is located, pour boiling water over it and make sure all members die in order to prevent them from returning (yes, this works). Alternatively, you can lure them away by placing an open jar containing a small amount of sweet juice near their nests then covering it with oil or butter, which will kill them when they get in contact with it.
How do I get rid of cicadas?
Cicadas try to eat tree bark, so just trim back any branches they’re sitting on once you notice them with binoculars for easier spotting; they don’t damage grass in any way, so there’s no need to worry about killing them during this process. You can also cover the tree bark with a sticky substance that they’ll get stuck to after landing on it, which will protect the tree’s from getting damaged.
What is solarization?
Solarization is a heat treatment that uses the sun to treat your lawn by covering it with black plastic sheets for up to 6 weeks in order to kill off every living creature because the heat prevents them from escaping; this includes all types of bugs, bacteria, and weeds which can be removed or destroyed after it’s done. Use bricks or stones on top of the plastic sheeting to prevent damage caused by sunlight reflecting off its surface onto your yard. This process should only be used when dealing with large areas because it requires waaaaaaay too much work!
How do I stop my lawn from getting muddy?
Muddy lawns are typically caused by over-watering (typically in the evening), making the ground more compact and sticky; this attracts insects that then attract birds that can destroy everything you’ve worked on, so do not overwater your lawn! Grass needs to be changed every 3-4 days, but only water the lawn up to 5 times a week and never in the evening because doing so will cause fungus growth.
If you have pets, make sure to keep them off the lawn for 24 hours after watering because they can spread diseases or parasites if your lawn is wet. You can also remove excess water by installing a drainage system, making it easier to clean up mud before it has time to dry up and become compacted.
What is dethatching?
Dethatching is the opposite of aerating: metal blades tear through your grass while pulling out dead plants, roots, twigs, seeds, etc. Use it about six times per year during late summer/early fall when there are no leaves on any surrounding trees or bushes if your grass turns yellow during the wintertime due to lack of sunlight. This process helps restore nutrients back into your soil, allowing your grass to grow in a healthier way and preventing the formation of dead spots.
There are, of course, many, many more tips on how to care for your lawn. We have given you an introduction in the above article, but for more details of each section, please check out the individually linked blog posts for a full guide.
If you have any feedback for us, please let us know in the comments section.