Now that summer has arrived, you’ve had plenty of time to notice your lawn’s growth (or lack thereof). No two lawns are the same, and they all need varying degrees of attention and care to keep looking their best. Even the most well-manicured lawns face common problems, and if you’re not prepared to deal with these problems right away, they can affect your grass and your landscaping well into the fall.
Maintaining your lawn is a year-round job that requires weekly, if not daily maintenance, but the sheer number of problems that can pop up in a given season can sometimes be overwhelming.
To make it easier to enjoy a healthy lawn for as many months out of the year as possible, check out Blindster’s tips for fixing common lawn problems below:
Patches of dead grass
A healthy lawn requires ample sunlight in order to thrive and grow. When any patch of your lawn is deprived of sunlight, it will quickly wither and die. If the problem is as simple as trimming a few branches on a nearby tree, then you have an easy fix on your hands.
But for areas of your lawn that can’t easily get the sunlight they need, consider replacing the dead patch with a type of grass that’s more resilient to less than ideal conditions and minimal sunlight exposure. Alternatively, you can also convert the area of your lawn to a gravel, flower, or mulch bed. You could even use the space for a koi pond or rock garden.
If your lawn simply refuses to grow or fill in uniformly and you’ve exhausted all traditional solutions, the problem may be with your soil. Dirt that’s too acidic or alkaline simply isn’t conducive to growing anything, be it flowers, trees, or grass. Using a DIY soil test or consulting soil experts to analyze your dirt is a great way to get to the root of the problem (see what we did there?).
Dirt that’s too acidic can be treated with the application of limestone, while dirt that’s alkaline responds well to sulfur. Testing your soil should be done right away when you move into a new home, but it’s also recommended at least every two or three years after that, as soil composition can change over time.
The way you cut your grass can have a big effect on its health. If you’ve noticed that your grass doesn’t seem healthy despite having great soil, sunlight, and water at its disposal, you may need to look at your lawnmower. If the blades are dull, dirty, or clogged with grass clippings, your mower may be damaging your lawn every time you turn it on. When mower blades don’t cut cleanly, they damage individual blades of grass with every pass, making them more susceptible to common diseases.
Sharpen and rebalance your mower blades several times throughout the growing season to keep both your mower and your lawn in tip-top shape.
Mushrooms are an unwelcome and unsightly surprise in many lawns. In addition, they can also be highly toxic for children and animals, who may find them irresistible when they pop up through the grass. Getting rid of mushrooms can be difficult and expensive, as they’re often a “tip of the iceberg” symptom in comparison to extensive growth occurring underneath the soil.
Using a fungicide is a great way to keep mushrooms at bay, but as soon as you miss an application or two, they’ll sprout back up again. Another method for dealing with mushrooms is to simply pull them by hand every time you see them. It’s a quick maintenance routine that involves only a few minutes of your time every week. Finally, you can also reduce their numbers by keeping your lawn free of any decaying matter like grass clippings, stumps, leaves, and old mulch. Ultimately, many homeowners decide to allow the few mushrooms that grow in their lawns to remain, as they typically aren’t numerous and tend to sprout in less conspicuous areas.
Crabgrass and weed growth
Mushrooms aren’t the only hostile invaders to lawns—crabgrass and weeds are also a common source of annoyance for homeowners. A great natural alternative to chemical-filled herbicides is to sprinkle corn gluten meal on your lawn during the beginning of the growth season to reduce the likelihood that weeds will proliferate and take root in your lawn in the summer. You can also follow-up with another application in late spring or early summer.
When mowing, keep your blades high to avoid cutting your grass too short. While it’s tempting to cut your grass as short as possible to reduce the frequency of trimmings, high grass is much more effective at blocking the growth of crabgrass and other weeds than closely-cropped grass.
A couple of small ant hills in your lawn aren’t necessarily a bad thing. The presence of ants means that your lawn will be better aerated and free from many types of organic debris. Ants will even help clear your lawn of other types of insect eggs and larva and prevent harmful infestations. However, ants can occasionally become big nuisances themselves when the number of hills begins to multiply, or the hills themselves become too large.
To solve the issue and prevent ant colonies from getting out of hand, walk through your lawn and carefully inspect the ground at least once per week. If you spot any ant hills, rake them down, then place a mixture of Borax, water, and sugar in the locations where you found the hills. This will help prevent them from coming back in the near future.
Bare patches due to foot traffic or pets
There’s nothing especially damaging about allowing your children or pets to play on your lawn, but over time, they can cause bare patches to develop and grow—especially if they frequently use the same path through the grass. The repetitive and frequent trampling of grass will cause it to quickly die, leaving unsightly bare patches throughout your lawn.
If you don’t want to institute a total ban on activities in your lawn, do your best to keep your pets away from running in the same areas over and over, and direct your children and other guests to your sidewalk or an improvised walkway when walking through or around the lawn area. Reducing the amount of wear and tear on your grass will prolong its life and keep it healthier for longer periods of time.