- Mow it high! Mow your lawn as tall as you can tolerate. I set my mower at home to the highest possible setting, about 3.5 inches. The benefits of doing this will be realized all year.
- Tall grass grows deep roots, much like the trees in your yard. Big trees must have an extensive root system to support themselves with vital nutrients and water from the soil. Your grass behaves in the same manner. A deep root system will help your grass withstand the extreme summer heat that is all too common in this area. When things get dry, having deep roots will allow your home lawn to access the moisture 6, 8, or 10 inches below! Roots also tend to die back in the summer, so if you start the spring with 8 inch roots, and they slough off to 3-4 inches in the summer, you will still in better shape than your neighbor who mowed his yard like a fairway this spring!
- Tall grass helps shade out weeds. Weeds need sunlight to grow, too. When they begin to emerge in a tall canopy, your grass has a better chance of out-competing them.
- Here’s a great resource for finding a lab where you can send a sample:. Page 4 has a list of recommended soil testing labs.
- It is important NOT to over-fertilize! The last thing you need is an overly lush lawn that is a perfect site for development of turf diseases! A soil test will help you determine the nutrients that are deficient in your soil.
- Do not just put any random fertilizer on your yard, just because the bag says it will give you the perfect lawn. Knowing what the soil needs will allow you to keep the right balance!
- Remember that if you apply fertilizer, do not apply to impervious surfaces. If you get some on your sidewalk or driveway, sweep it or blow it back onto the grass to prevent nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay!
- Apply fertilizer in the fall, not in the spring or summer, unless you are correcting soil deficiencies. If you do fertilize in the spring for this reason, avoid high nitrogen fertilizer sources and do not apply phosphorous at all unless your soil test shows an unusual deficiency of this element.
- If you do water, do so in the early morning or late afternoon. Watering in the middle of the day is wasteful since much of it will evaporate, and night watering encourages extended periods of leaf wetness and promotes disease.
- Ultra Water Conservative? Then pick a zoysia or bermudagrass for your lawn. These grasses are dormant from November through early May, so if you can tolerate having a brown yard during the cooler months, these two grasses need virtually no water at all!
How to Choose the Lawn Care Service that’s best for you… and the Chesapeake Bay
University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center links to hundreds of documents to help manage your lawn and garden responsibly.
MCG’s Director of Agronomy