What makes an amazing first impression of a well-maintained home? A well-maintained lawn of course! Your front lawn is not only a great way to show off your home, but show off your personality. So take care of it like you would the rest of your home! But tending to your lawn doesn’t have to be a burden when you know the tips, tricks, and tools of the trade to keep it healthy and appealing. Maintaining your lawn or working on landscaping projects is an excellent way to spend more time outside and can even become a new hobby. For your lawn to meet its full potential, take these steps to devote time and attention to your important outdoor spaces. Here are 10 lawn care and maintenance tips to upkeep it for the entire year:
- Choosing the right plants
- Remove debris
- Prevent weeds from growing
- Aerate the soil
- Seed bare areas
- Treat soil with homemade compost
- Mow the correct way
- Follow a watering schedule
- Prune additional plants
- Fertilize your lawn
Choosing the right plants
If you are starting to landscape your lawn from scratch or looking to make a drastic change, it’s important to choose the right plants for your lawn. The first factor to consider is climate and growing conditions. For example, in east Texas the predominant USDA Zones, which rate temperatures and how likely a plant is to survive in an area, are 8b and 9a. Warm-season grasses are more likely to survive high temperatures and humidity found in Texas. They also require more sunlight and typically can be mowed shorter than cool-season grasses.
But most well-maintained lawns have more than just grasses. Alternatives to just grassy lawns are becoming a trend by incorporating easy-to-maintain flowers, moss, and clovers. Most people choose to keep shrubs and trees to decorate their lawns, pathways, and porches. Another option for the front or back yards is to start a home garden. Whether you are planting fruits and vegetables or flowers and herbs, it’s rewarding for you and the environment to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you’re still unsure what flowers, shrubs, and trees to include in your yard, take some inspiration from this list of Texas native species!
Before you can mow your grass or treat your soil, it’s necessary to remove debris in the way. There could be dead leaves and grass and twigs sitting on top of an otherwise well-kept yard. Not removing dead debris on a regular basis can invite disease and decay into your lawn, keeping your grass from growing healthily. For larger yard jobs, the most efficient way to clean up debris is with a leaf blower. But using a leaf rake makes for a more thorough sweep and is an essential outdoor tool for everyone. Don’t try to use a leaf rake over muddy or wet lawns which can pull out healthy grass. You can add your pile of outdoor debris to a compost pile to put back and enrich your soil.
Prevent weeds from growing
When it comes to lawn care and maintenance, the best way to stop weeds from growing is to prevent growth before it happens. Once weeds have fully developed, it will take much more effort to remove because of their grounded roots. The key is applying pre-emergent herbicides. They target seedlings of weeds like crabgrass and dandelions before they emerge from the soil. Apply these to your entire lawn once the weather has been consistently warm enough that weeds would start to germinate. If you have existing weeds in your yard, that’s the time to apply a post-emergent herbicide or weed killer like Roundup directly to those areas.
Aerate the soil
Aerating the soil is a part of lawn care and maintenance that’s only done once a year at the most. In Texas, the ideal time of year to aerate warm-season grasses is in the late spring. So how do you know if your lawn needs to be aerated? Aeration is made to fix compacted soil from people walking on your lawn or just with time. Some signs of heavily compacted soil include:
- If in dry soil, a screwdriver can’t be inserted more than a few inches without great effort.
- When there is standing water in grassy areas after watering or rainfall.
- If you are observing dead or dry patches where lawn furniture stands or where people walk most often.
Using an aerator will break up the soil so that water and nutrients can be absorbed easier and roots can expand easier. For typical lawns, the job can be done manually by dislocating soil every few inches. But for greater lawn care and maintenance needs, you can rent a powered lawn aerator or aerator attachments for lawnmowers. Following aeration, you can add seeds and fertilizer to the uncompacted lawn.
Seed bare areas
No plant growth is perfectly consistent, which is why you should inspect and reseed areas with less growth. But before you do that, know how to repair your yard by determining the cause of the bare spots. Since dry, cold weather is a common cause for dead patches, it’s best to seed in the late summer or fall. Another common cause could be disease or harmful insects that require soil treatment to offset regrowth in the area. Seeding goes hand in hand with aerating your soil now that there’s more room in the soil for roots to grow. Otherwise, the soil needs to be broken up and leveled beforehand. After you have your seed distributed and fertilizer applied, areas of regrowth will require some more water and attention than the rest of the lawn.
Treat soil with homemade compost
Along with fertilizer, compost is a way to improve the growth of plants like shrubs, trees, and a home garden. Making compost with food waste and organic matter from your lawn is a key action for preventing methane release into the atmosphere. Ready to gather ingredients? Your compost should have a proportional amount of items found outside like dead plant remains and plant kitchen scraps. Paper products, cardboard, and wood chips are also good compost ingredients. Your compost pile needs to remain damp for organisms to decompose the soil and invite healthy bacteria. Break up large pieces, incorporate them all together, and then keep them in a bin with a cover until you apply it to your lawn.
Mow the correct way
Mowing is one of the most basic lawn care and maintenance tasks to do around once a week. Even though the height you maintain your grass depends on the species, there are some general rules of thumb to follow. Grass that is too short is vulnerable to environmental damage and can yield for weeds to germinate. Hence, it’s advisable to only cut the top one-third of the grass blades at a time. At least once a year, you should be taking steps to maintain your lawnmower including changing the spark plug and sharpening the blade regularly. Mowing after it has rained or dew has settled can lead to inconsistencies or clumping. That’s why mowing before sunrise is a popular pastime. Once you’ve finished mowing, discard your grass clippings or reuse them in homemade compost.
Follow a watering schedule
To keep your plants looking replenished, stick to a consistent schedule when watering your lawn. It’s about finding the right amount of water to not have a yard that’s too dry or overwatered. That’s why it’s important to check when your grass needs watering and how well your soil is absorbing water afterward. There are also different watering devices and methods to consider based on the needs of your lawn. Automatic or timed irrigation systems are popular for those who want one less outdoor chore to complete.
In Texas weather, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, watering before the sun rises will prevent the sun from evaporating too much of the water. Second, in areas where it doesn’t snow in the winter, it’s important to still upkeep your watering schedule even if it’s minimized. During the warmer months, you can water your lawn 2-3 times a week depending on if there’s been recent rainfall.
Prune additional plants
There’s a good chance your yard doesn’t just consist of grasses. Like we mentioned before, shrubs, trees, and other gardens can decorate your garden to add variety and beautiful blooms to your lawn. Just like grass needs mowing, trees and shrubs need undesirable branching to be trimmed or removed for them to grow stronger. Pruning also directs the growth of branches and will make your plants healthier by removing certain pieces for increased growth. Here is a list of the types of plants that require pruning:
- Young trees and shrubs: these plants can begin to grow unbalanced which deters their growth easier than mature trees and shrubs.
- Four D’s: Dead, dying, diseased, or damaged. Not only are the qualities of the four D’s not pleasant to look at, removing them will make your trees and shrubs thrive.
- Obstructing branches: branches that grow on top of each other or too far downward can expose the plant to disease or prevent them from receiving proper nutrients. Pruning them as part of lawn care and maintenance also allows your grass to receive more sunlight.
When in the year you choose to prune depends on when the plant flowers or produces fruit. Summer-flowering plants need to be pruned in early spring before growth occurs and spring-flowering plants need pruning after flowers bloom and fade usually in the early summer. Cutting spring-flowering blooms in the fall or winter will take out blooms for the next season. Regardless of the type of pruning you are doing or the pruning tools you use, the objective is to keep your plants healthy and maintain their structure.
Fertilize your lawn
Last but certainly not least, lawn care and maintenance require using fertilizer to bring nutrients to your grass. Just like most maintenance practices, how to fertilize your lawn depends on grass and soil type that’s determined by climate. Even though it’s advisable to fertilize your lawn year-round, in Texas the prime time to do so is in the spring. In the late spring is when the grass is the greenest and before the heat will decline the growth process. Some fertilizers like those in liquid form are quick acting but whose effects aren’t as long-lasting as slow-release granular fertilizer. Others choose to use organic fertilizers made from renewable resources and improve soil quality. Evenly distributing fertilizer on a regular basis makes for a thriving, abundant yard year-round.
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