A lush, green lawn is a valuable asset and many homeowners go to great lengths to keep their home turf in tip-top shape. One thing the most successful homeowners have learned is that the best lawn care tips involve working with the natural needs of the grasses they've planted. They've learned why it's important to practice natural lawn care and avoid gimmicks. Even the best natural lawn advice, though, needs to be taken with attention to one's local environment because different grasses grow best in different locales. The most satisfying results come from working with what grows best in the environment at hand.
A Brief History of Lawn Care
The Celtic word, laune, was first used around 1540 to describe the grassy enclosure within a village where livestock was allowed to graze. Lawn care was probably an accidental result rather than the deliberate process we know today.
It was during the Middle Ages when the aristocratic class of northern Europe began planting lawns as a decorative part of the garden. Because the gardens here were meant to be admired for their beauty rather than as a commodity to be used and consumed, the techniques of lawn care that are recognized today were first developed.
Mowing machines, invented in 1830, meant an end to back-breaking shearing and scything. The ease of using mowing machines may be one reason the lawn evolved from being a pasture-like area meant to be admired from a distance to an integral part of outdoor social activities such as the garden party and BBQ cook-outs enjoyed today.
Lawn Care Tips
One of the most important lawn care tips in practice today is to keep one's modern mowing machines in good working order, with blades as sharp as possible. Dull lawnmower blades tear the top off a blade of grass, leaving a jagged edge that invites plant viruses, molds, and insect infestations. The cleaner cut produced by a sharp blade allows the plant to heal quickly enough to prevent most adverse effects.
A lawnmower in disrepair is also likely to leak gasoline and oil onto the lawn. These petroleum-based products will kill the lawn and make sticky, toxic messes where children and pets play.
Mow grass often enough so that there's never more than about one-third the height of the grass removed at each mowing. Removing much more than this will shock the plant and hinder growth.
Water only as needed. Too much water can be as bad as too little water.
Water thoroughly on a regular basis. A long, deep watering will provide enough water to soak well into the plant's root system, producing a strong root system than can withstand the occasional stress of weather extremes.
Shallow watering, a little bit of water every day or so, only gets the leaves wet and does not soak through to the roots. Inadequate watering such as this will produce sickly plants that cannot withstand the ravages of weather and they're much more prone to insect and microbial infestations.
Lawn Care Advice
One good thing about lawn care advice is that it covers so much of the typical American yard whereas a garden of flowers, shrubs, and edible plants require special attention to each different plant.
One thing all lawns need is proper mowing techniques. A well-maintained lawnmower is a must but how the lawn is mowed makes a difference, too.
In warm climates, maintain a grass height of two to three inches so the grass is tall enough to produce shade to keep the roots as cool as possible. Shaded ground will also minimize evaporation. Grasses in cooler climates can be cut shorter but all lawns looks best when no bare spots are visible.
Vary the direction of mowing each time to promote full, vigorous growth. Mow from east to west one time and from north to south the next time. Doing so will minimize the appearance of any bumps or valleys that might naturally occur in the yard.
Natural Lawn Care
Natural lawn care relies on working with the elements where you are. Notice what's growing in your neighborhood or town and plant what seems to be working the best. By working with the environment, a lush lawn will thrive on a minimal care regimen that involves regular mowing, watering just enough to attain maximum growth, and very little, if any, need for toxic herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers.
Cool season grasses thrive at temperatures between 50 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit and usually produce two periods of rapid growth, once in the spring and again in the fall. They can withstand cool winter temperatures and retain deep color year-round. Good choices are bluegrass, bentgrass, fescues, and rye.
Warm season grasses keep dormant until temperatures reach 50 degrees or higher, with the most vigorous growth occurring between 77 and 95 degrees. These grasses maintain their lush, green look in one long growing season, from spring through summer, but begin to lose color and go dormant when temperatures drop in the fall. Extreme cold can kill them. The best natural lawn care choices for long, hot summers include bahia, bermuda, buffalo, carpet and centipede grasses, grama, St. Augustine, and zoysia.
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