How to maintain grass

What is Lawn Care? Everything you need to know.

Everybody wants a lush, green lawn that is the envy of the neighborhood, but most homeowners don’t have the time, patience, or expertise that it takes to create and maintain the picture-perfect lawn of their dreams. The product choices, the timing, what to do, how much and when to do it can get pretty daunting, pretty fast. Lawn care encompasses the key elements that turn an ordinary lawn into a showstopper, everything from soil testing and lawn disease management to proper fertilization and aeration to weed and pest control, and much more.

A professional lawn care company, like Lawn Doctor, can help you navigate the complex and often confusing science behind keeping your lawn healthy and beautiful. Lawn Doctor has all the tools you need and even covers lawn care for beginners.

The Basics: Lawn Maintenance

Lawn maintenance refers to the basic upkeep of your yard.  This includes regular mowing and watering, spring clean up, fall clean up, edging fertilization and weed control. These tasks are the first crucial building blocks on your way to getting a beautiful, healthy lawn.

Mowing

lawn being mowed

Proper mowing is critical to the appearance of your lawn. In fact, improper mowing causes more problems than any other maintenance practice. The first step is to make sure your lawn mower has sharp blades, as dull blades will cause your lawn to appear gray shortly after mowing and the newly cut tips will quickly turn brown. Be sure to check your lawn mower blades regularly. Don’t cut it too short, otherwise the grass will scalp and burn.

Mow your grass often enough so that you are only removing the top one-third of the grass blade at one time. This will help avoid scalping, which puts the grass under stress and reduces its vigor. Always use your lawn mower at the correct height, as it will help shade the soil and keep temperatures lower for optimum growth. Avoid mowing during midday when temperatures are above 90 degrees. If you mow often enough, you should leave the clippings, as they will recycle nutrients back into the soil and don’t contribute to thatch build-up.

Watering

lawn being watered by sprinkler

Another fundamental aspect of a beautiful lawn apart from mowing, is regular watering at the proper level. Too little water leads to a shallow root system that won’t be able to withstand hot summer weather. Too much water can cause your grass to suffocate, as water floods the pockets of oxygen below the surface that are necessary for the development of healthy roots. If you see that your lawn has a grayish tint or doesn’t spring back to life quickly after being stepped on, these are signs that your lawn is thirsty. Conversely, if your lawn feels spongy under your feet or you notice sudden excessive weeds or fungi, these are signs that your lawn is being overwatered.

The proper amount of water can vary depending upon the type of grass, but a general rule of thumb is 1-1.5 inches per week. If you are unsure of how much water you are applying, one way to find out would be to place some buckets around your lawn and see how long it takes for them to fill up to the recommended depth. Note the length of time it took for future waterings.

In addition to the amount of water you give your lawn, you should also pay attention to when you are watering your lawn. You always want to avoid the midday sun because too much water will evaporate before reaching your lawn’s root system, but waiting until dark can cause problems too, as diseases linger and thrive under night conditions. The ideal time is in the early morning hours, between 4 AM and 10 AM, as the grass has ample opportunity to soak into the ground and the morning sun is less intense causing less evaporation. ­

family on lawn

Next Steps: More Than Mowing

If it were just a matter of lawn maintenance, the majority of homeowners would be able to keep up the appearance of their yard.  But there are still many important steps that go into making a lush, green lawn – proper fertilization, seeding, aeration, controlling weeds, pest control, and more. All of these elements play an important role in the overall look of your lawn. And remember, your lawn care professional from Lawn Doctor is always here to help.

Fertilization

Fertilization is the process of adding much needed nutrients to your lawn’s soil. You should apply fertilizer in the spring, followed by one or two more applications throughout the growing season. Common fertilizer ingredients include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It can be very difficult for the average person to figure out their own lawn’s fertilization needs, as there are many factors to consider, such as grass type, soil quality, and local growing conditions. Your lawn has a unique set of fertilization needs that a cookie-cutter approach might not properly address.

Thankfully, lawn fertilization is easy with the help of a professional lawn fertilization company like Lawn Doctor. Our lawn fertilization experts specialize in fertilizing a wide range of lawn and turf grasses, including Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Fescue, Bermuda grass, St. Augustine, Zoysia grass, and Centipede grass.

Seeding

Lawn Doctor's exclusive TurfTamer Power Seeder

The primary goal of lawn seeding is to promote germination, a process that relies on seed-to-soil contact to grow new grass. Seeding should be done when temperatures are mild, as warm days and cool nights encourage turf growth and a fuller thicker lawn. As a general rule, fall is the best time of the year to overseed in the northern half of the country and spring in the southern half.

Depending on the current state of your lawn there are different methods and techniques that will be most effective. If you already have an established lawn, you will want to consider overseeding.  Overseeding means spreading seeds on an established lawn to make it denser and to fill in any areas that look bare. All established lawns should be overseeded annually to help combat the damage done to your grass roots by extreme summer temperatures.

If a machine is used to distribute the seeds on your lawn, it is known as power seeding. This method can be used for both overseeding an established lawn or to create a brand-new lawn.  This technique often incorporates scratch seeding—randomly scattering seeds below the soil surface to allow them to germinate and reach their maximum potential. Since seed-to-soil contact is the key to growing new lawn, scratch seeding with power seeding equipment provides the fastest and most efficient path to lawn maturity.

Lawn Doctor uses our exclusive Turf Tamer power seeding machines that have been specially designed to deliver the right amount of seeds at the proper lawn depth.

Aeration

lawn aeration plug

Aeration is the process of creating small holes in the surface of your lawn to alleviate soil compaction. It is an important procedure that opens up passageways for oxygen, nutrients, and moisture to better penetrate the ground and reach your lawn’s root systems.  It also helps make seeding and fertilization more effective. Lawns benefit because it enhances your lawn’s tolerance to drought, increases the effectiveness of weed & insect control, and reduces thatch. Thatch is the compact layer of living and dead organic materials which accumulates between the surface level grass and the soil underneath. Much like seeding, aeration is most successful when done during the growing season – fall for the northern half of the country and spring for the southern half.  In fact, aeration is quite often done in conjunction with seeding to increase the seed-to-soil contact.

Weed Control

Weed control is the prevention of unwanted and invasive plants from ruining the look of your lawn. Weeds compete with lawn grasses for resources like water, nutrients, and light. Depending on the types of weeds you have in your lawn, the process and procedures could be different.  For example, dandelions are broadleaf weeds and are most effectively controlled by post-emergent herbicides. Post-emergent means that the treatment is applied after the weed emerges from the ground and it usually needs to be applied several times during the growing season in order to be effective. A thorough final application during late fall will often help prevent new weed growth in the spring. Other weeds like crabgrass can be combated with pre-emergent herbicide, sometimes referred to as “weed preventers” as they are applied before the unwanted weed emerges from the soil.

Lawn Doctor offers lawn services that can tackle your weed problems. Our treatments are designed to thwart the full range of weed species and weed types that may be growing in your lawn or turf grass.

 Pest and Insect Control

lawn pest control

Homeowners want to be able to enjoy their yard with friends and family whenever they choose, but sometimes pests and insects can make the outdoors unbearable. Apart from being annoying, pests and insects can also cause extensive damage to your lawn and even to the health of your family and pets. The most common types of pests include moles, chinch bugs, grubs, ticks, fire ants, and fleas.

If you see raised tunnels and soft spots on your lawn that resemble eruptions of soil, these are signs that you have a mole problem. Moles can do considerable damage to the structure of your lawn, and they have a voracious appetite, eating many beneficial creatures like earthworms.

Chinch bugs are tiny insects that can cause big problems. They pierce the blades of grass and suck out the leaf juice while releasing a toxin that kills the lawn’s root systems. Chinch bug damage can often be confused with drought damage, as the affected area looks dried out and bare.

Some other insects that see your yard as a giant all-you-can-eat buffet include fire ants -who feast on seeds underground and can band together to repeatedly sting pets and loved ones, and grubs -which are larva-stage beetles that devour grass roots from the late spring into early fall.

Aside from the pests that can damage your lawn, there are also bugs that can hurt your loved ones and pets.  Mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas are more than just an irritating nuisance, they carry diseases and can cause serious illness.  In fact, according to a 2018 report by the Center for Disease Control, the number of people who have been infected with illnesses by fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes have tripled between 2004 and 2016 with nine new germ spreads being discovered in that period of time.

Trying to combat multiple creatures feasting on your lawn and your loved ones can be overwhelming to any homeowner.  Researching which products are the most effective, which products are the safest for your family and pets, and applying the various formulas can turn into a full-time job. That’s why Lawn Doctor offers a full range of lawn care services dedicated to eliminating harmful critters and insects. No matter your pest problem, we’ve got you covered.

 Controlling Lawn Diseases

Did you know lawn diseases can occur at any time based on grass type and weather conditions? Fungus diseases are especially prevalent during rainy periods or when your yard is overwatered.  Some of the most common diseases include Brown Patch, Dollar Spot, and Leaf Spot. If left unchecked, they can wreak havoc on your lawn.

Proper mowing, fertilization, and watering techniques are important tools to combat lawn diseases and should be combined with fungicides to achieve maximum protection. It is always best to stop lawn diseases before you see any signs of an outbreak, as fungicide kills the disease but it can’t restore the damaged area to its former glory.

Lawn Doctor has a full line of preventative services designed to protect your lawn from the potential devastation caused by lawn diseases. Don’t wait until you see a problem, because preventing a disease from forming is the easiest and best solution.

Soil Testing and Soil Enrichment

Lawn Doctor technician on lawn

Sometimes you do everything right and you still don’t get the results you expect. Your lawn is getting enough sun and you are following a regular maintenance schedule -mowing, watering, and fertilizing properly, so what’s the problem? It could be that there is an issue with your soil.

Soil testing measures certain aspects of your soil, including pH levels and nutrient content.  It determines if your lawn has the ideal conditions needed for optimum grass growth or if there are elements that are preventing proper growth. For example, acidic soil can actually hurt plants’ roots and rob them of necessary nutrients. The only way to know for sure is to have a qualified lawn care expert, like Lawn Doctor, perform a test.

Once your soil is tested and any deficiencies are identified, the next step is to consider an enrichment program to improve your soil’s physical properties and microbial activity while improving your lawn’s ability to absorb fertilizers. This also helps in the defense against environmental stresses such as mower injury, human traffic, and drought stress.

Lawn Doctor’s soil enrichment program improves the structure of your lawn’s soil and stimulates a stronger, healthier root system that will deliver a thicker, greener, and more resilient lawn.

Hydra Guard

As seasonal droughts become more frequent and many municipalities enact water restrictions, which limit the times and days that homeowners can water their lawn, not to mention escalating water costs nationwide, one solution to consider is Lawn Doctor’s exclusive Hydra Guard program, an all-natural soil amendment that protects your lawn from problems related to irrigation, brown patches, disease, heat stress, and more.

Hydra Guard improves irrigation efficiency and turf performance, reduces watering needs by as much as 50%, reduces drought stress, and allows your lawn to absorb moisture more easily.