Growing a weed-free lawn is a dream for many homeowners. While it’s probably unrealistic to have a lawn 100 percent free of weeds, you can aim to grow a thick, healthy stand of grass. That’s actually the easiest way to give weeds the brushoff: Grow turf that’s so thick and strong that weeds can’t find an inch to take root. Follow this checklist to grow your healthiest grass ever.
Grow the Right Grass
Different grasses grow in different areas of the country. Warm-season grasses are usually grown in warmer, more southerly regions. Types include Bahia, Bermuda, St. Augustine and zoysia. Cool-season grasses are typically grown in cooler, more northerly regions. Types include fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office to learn which types of grass grow best in your area.
Start by cutting grass with a sharp mower blade that cuts grass cleanly, without tearing or shredding. Proper mowing height depends on grass type. Vary your mowing pattern to avoid creating ruts in the lawn. Avoid mowing when soil is wet, or you risk tearing up grass and soil.
Provide adequate moisture to grass, especially during episodes of drought or high temperatures. Provide deep, infrequent irrigation, which promotes healthy, deeper roots. Learn about lawn irrigation basics and how much grass actually needs.
Before you start a fertilizer program, do a soil test so you know you’re applying the correct blend of nutrients. In some parts of the country, soils may be acidic or alkaline and require additions of iron, magnesium or lime. Also, different types of grass need to be fertilized at different times of the year. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office for help developing the right fertilizer program for your lawn.
Scout for Problems
Like any landscape planting, lawns can suffer from a variety of problems. Weeds, bare spots, insects and diseases can weaken and, if left untreated, even destroy a healthy lawn. Keep an eye out for problems in your lawn.
- Deal with weeds when you first see them, because one weed leads to many more. Learn about the types of lawn weedkillers and when to use each. Discover why fall weed control is key and how to do it successfully.
- When a bare spot appears, figure out the cause and deal with it. Open soil extends an invitation to weeds, so repair bare spots as quickly as possible.
- Scout for insect problems. Some of the signs to look for are skunks digging up lawn or flocks of birds feeding on turf. White grubs are a common lawn pest. Discover the basics of dealing with grubs.
Aerate and Dethatch
Compacted soils don’t allow air and water to reach grass roots, which results in unhealthy grass.
When thatch builds up in a lawn, it can prevent water and fertilizer from reaching soil and provide refuge for insects. Discover the basics about dethatching, including how to tell if your lawn needs dethatching and the right time to do it.