It can be a struggle to maintain the yard especially with the changing weather paving way for weed growth and pests. Even when you are doing all your daily garden chores religiously, – cutting the grass, pulling out weeds, watering the plants, etc. – keeping the garden or yard pristine still feels like an uphill battle. The yard is still ridden with thatch problems, brown spots, and patchy areas! To keep your lawn looking good for longer, avoid doing these practices:
Don’t Use Dull Blades
Regardless if you are using a mower to cut the grass, pruning shears for trimming plant foliage or thorn snipers, never use dull blades. The problem with using dull blades is that it rips the plant foliage instead of giving a clean cut. A dull mower blade, for example, tends to mash the grass, turning it into a frayed mess. The dull blade stresses the grass, causing it to turn an ugly brown. A pair of dull pruning shears won't cut the plant foliage properly, which again, stresses the plants. This in turn, affects plant growth and attracts pests.
Take time maintaining your gardening tools and equipment so they are always in tip top shade when you need them the most. Keep all the gardening blades nice and sharp so you don’t end up doing more damage to the yard.
Don’t Remove Grass Clippings
You might think that it's a good idea to remove grass clippings after mowing but don't. Contrary to popular belief, leaving grass clippings on the lawn won't lead to thatch problems. Leave some of the grass clippings because these transform into natural fertilizers. When broken down completely, grass clippings will improve the health and structure of the soil. As an added bonus, leaving some of the grass clippings lightens your gardening chore!
You can also use the grass clippings as organic mulch for the garden. Lay the garden clippings over the garden, working around the plants. As organic mulch, grass clippings help insulate the soil, minimizing moisture loss and retaining just the right level of heat for the plant roots to grow.
Do not Use Chemicals to Get Rid of Weeds and Pests
It seems like a great idea to use chemical-based insecticides, herbicides, or pesticides, to keep unwanted plants and critters away from the yard but the toxic chemicals do more harm than good. Poison could penetrate the soil or leach into waterways, causing pollution and contamination. In addition, chemical-based weed and pest killers do not discriminate; they could kill garden-friendly critters like earthworms, bees, and butterflies too.
Instead of using chemical products to eliminate weeds and/or pests, opt for natural deterrents. We encourage you to search online for ways to control weeds or garden pests naturally. Try mixing dish detergent and vegetable oil with vinegar. Transfer the solution in a spritz bottle and spritz away to eliminate pests. Certain plants deter pests naturally too.
Do not Ignore the Structure of the Soil
The yard’s soil structure has to be checked regularly to make sure that vital nutrients are reaching the plant roots. Moisture, air, and nutrients are unable to seep into the soil if the soil texture is dry, hard and compact. You have to restore healthy soil conditions by loosening and aerating the soil.
Using a rake, loosen the compacted soil until the soil texture is ideal for plant growth. For soil that’s incredibly hard to work with, you might have to rent a power core aerator. This tool will loosen and aerate the soil at a much faster pace, allowing you to cover more ground. After aerating the soil, amend it with natural fertilizers to boost the soil nutrients.
Watering the Yard for Too Long
You might think that watering the yard every day is a good idea but too much watering can be problematic too. For one thing, the lawn could become dependent and needy when your daily watering is too long. On top of that, daily watering may cause the grass to develop weak and shallow plant roots that are prone to diseases.
Instead of watering the lawn for 15 minutes every day, try watering once a week for an entire hour. Watering deeply will make the grass more drought-resistant. The grass will also develop deeper root systems that are resistant to diseases and rot! On top of that, watering deeply helps minimize your water consumption, allowing you to care for your yard without wasting water.
Don’t Forget to Dethatch
Thatch is a layer of grass stems, roots, and organic garden debris that are slow to decompose. Because thatch takes too long to break down completely, layers of it accumulate on top of the soil, which chokes healthy grass to death. Lawns that are over-fertilized or overwatered tend to develop thick and stubborn thatch that cut off nutrient penetration, killing the grass. Thick thatch could also restrict water penetration and increase the risk of infestation. That’s why you have to make a point to dethatch the lawn regularly.
Thatch is much harder to remove than other types of garden debris so you have to use a thatching rake to cut into the thatch and remove the hardened dead materials from the top soil. When using a thatching rake, always rake in one direction to avoid damaging the grass roots. After dethatching, use a leaf rake to clean the lawn and aerate the soil.
Do not Mow a Wet Lawn
It’s tempting to do all your yard work in one go to save time but some chores are best done at different times. For instance, if you are thinking about mowing the lawn after watering it, don’t. The results could turn disastrous! It’s best to do the mowing only when the lawn is dry. For one thing, wet grass becomes slippery and you could hurt yourself while mowing. The grass clippings could also clump up, which ruins the appearance of the lawn.
In addition, the wet grass is weighed down by water so the blades bend, making mowing difficult. And if you accidentally cut the blades too short, you end up scalping your lawn. Scalping the lawn could weaken the grass roots, causing the grass to turn an unsightly brown and eventually, die.
Never Ignore the Shady Spots
It’s hard to grow grass under shaded areas but your yard could look uneven or patchy if you ignore these spots. If you want the yard to look pristine then the grassy areas have to be established, even in shady areas. Some grass varieties will grow in shady or semi-shady spots. You can also ask your local garden centers for grass seed mixes that are made specifically for shady yards. If you are growing cool season grasses, the late summer season and mid-spring season are the best periods to establish these grass varieties.
It might be hard to keep your yard green and pristine all the time but with these tips, you can minimize problems that affect the appearance of your outdoor landscape. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest gardening tips straight to your inbox!