Lawn Care Tips for Homeowners

A healthy, well-maintained lawn adds to the curb-appeal of any home. If you're a homeowner who’s looking for some tips to keep your grass green and lush this summer, here are some helpful lawn care tips:

Don’t Overwater Your Lawn

In Central Kansas, we face scorching summers every year, and many homeowners mistakenly overwater their lawns in an attempt to keep them green throughout the season. It’s important to know how often and for how long your grass needs to be watered. In the Wichita metro-area, lawns only need an inch of water each week. Soil can only absorb so much water at a time, so water in short sessions, preferably early in the morning, and only water every few days. Overwatering will lead to runoff and wasted water. Also, allowing the ground to dry out between watering will encourage the grass roots to grow deeper into the soil, which will allow it to survive with less watering during hot, dry weather.

Don’t Cut the Grass Too Short

In determining how short to cut your lawn, it’s more about how much you cut off than how much you leave. The general rule is to never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass height. The ideal mowing height depends on the type of grass you have, but it’s generally in the 1-2 inch range.

Do Mow your Lawn About Once a Week

How often you mow your grass isn’t as important as how short you cut it. If you follow the above guidelines, you’ll only be cutting off a short length of grass with each mowing, so you’ll need to cut it about once a week to maintain the proper height. Letting your grass grow too long and then cutting scalping it, or cutting it short, every 2-3 weeks is stressful on the grass. Longer grass can turn yellow, but short grass can dry out. If your grass isn’t growing, you don’t need to cut it as often.

Do Mulch Your Lawn When You Mow

When you mow, leave the clippings in your yard to act as mulch. Many people bag their grass clippings because they worry that leaving them on the ground will cause thatching. By using a mulching lawn mower, the clippings are shredded into small pieces that act as compost to feed your lawn.

Do Get Rid of Grubs

These little white worm-like pests are usually shaped like a “C”. They’re actually beetle larvae, and they can destroy your yard by eating plant roots. In addition, birds, raccoons and skunks can dig into your lawn so they can eat the grubs. To get rid of them, apply a grub control product in the summer, typically late July or early August. For best results, look for a product that contains carbaryl or tricholorfon.

Do Get Rid of Weeds Like Dandelions and Henbit

These weeds are perennial, meaning they come back each year. The best time to get rid of them is in the fall, with a pre-emergent herbicide. For dandelions, choose one with 2,4-D, MCPP, and Dicambia. Not sure if you have Henbit? It’s a type of weed with small pink flowers that spreads out in big patches.

Do Get Rid of Brown or Burned Patches in Your Lawn

There are several reasons your grass could have brown patches, including dull mower blades, scalping or cutting the grass too short, animal urine, applying fertilizer wrong, and spilled household chemicals. Sharpening your lawn mower’s blades each spring and fall will ensure a clean cut with minimal damage to the grass. As mentioned previously, don’t cut your grass too short. Contrary to popular belief, dog urine usually causes yellow spots in grass because it has concentrated amounts of nitrogen, not because of the acidity. Usually, a dog that is well hydrated and eating a dog food with high-quality protein will be less likely to leave spots on your grass. You can also minimize damage by soaking the spot with water right away to dilute the concentration of the urine.

Do Fertilize Your Lawn Correctly

Fertilizers can encourage your lawn’s growth and keep it properly nourished. They supplement the levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in your soil. It’s important to choose the right ratio of nutrients for your soil, and to use the proper application techniques. There are a variety of fertilizers available, including chemical products and organic fertilizers like compost, manure, and peat.

Consider Getting a Soil Test

If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy lawn, the Sedgwick County Extension Office can test the pH of your soil. Grass and other plants will struggle to grow if the pH is too high or too low. The test will measure the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in your soil. Based on these results, the Extension Office can offer recommendations for correcting the pH level and determining the amount and type of fertilizer your grass needs.

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