- Mow it high! Mow your lawn as tall as you can tolerate. I set my mower at home to the highest setting, about 3.5 inches. The benefits of doing this will be realized all year.
- Tall grass naturally grows deeper roots, just like you would imagine that larger trees have more roots than smaller trees. 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.
- Do not bag your clippings, but rather, GRASS-CYCLE! Returning clippings to your lawn will equate to about 1 lb. of nitrogen over the course of the year and will help feed the lawn over the long term.
- 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 to NOT 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. More is not necessarily better!
- 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!
- Generally, apply fertilizer in the fall, not in the spring or summer. If you do need to fertilize in the spring in order to correct soil deficiencies or grow new grass from seed, 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.
- For home lawns without irrigation, follow the same recommendations on this page and make sure any fertilizer is applied just prior to a light to moderate rain event (NOT a thunderstorm!) Mow your non-irrigated lawn when it is NOT under drought stress. During an extended dry spell in the summer when your lawn has gone almost completely dormant, let it go until as long as you can tolerate between mowing and let nature be. Every time you cut grass, it expends energy trying to heal itself and grow back. Your lawn needs that same energy to survive and recover from the drought stress!
- 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.