The Q&A Archives: lawn ignorance--please help!

Question: I am a new homeowner and am definitely challenged when it comes to lawns since I've never really had one. My front lawn is pretty much dead, I think, There are a couple of green blades of grass remaining, but most of it is brown. What is the easiest and most cost effective way of fixing this?

Answer: It may be that all you need to do is put your lawn on a regular maintenance schedule. Give this a try this summer and fall. If it doesn't work, you may need to completely renovate your lawn and start all over next spring. I hope it doesn't come to that, but keep it in mind, just in case.

Good lawn care can be summarized in three cultural practices: mowing, watering and fertilizing. If you will do these three properly, your lawn will be the best on the block! Frequent mowing is better than infrequent mowing. Mow on a 5-7 day schedule, removing no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade with each mowing. While many homeowners like to water 15 minutes a day, your turf will benefit from a good soaking applied less often. Apply 1/2 to 1 inch of water once or twice a week. A coffee can makes a good rain gauge to test out how long your sprinklers will need to be run to apply an inch. Frequent wetting promotes disease problems and a shallow rooted turf. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings and the grass will develop a deep root system and do much better. Fertilize with no more than 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen in spring after you have mowed the grass twice, again in June, another feeding in September and again in late November. Apply a product with a 3-1-2 ratio of nutrients as this is roughly the ratio of nutrients grass takes in. So, for example, if you purchased a 15-5-10 fertilizer (15% nitrogen), you would apply about 7 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .15 = about 7). If you purchased a 21-7-14 fertilizer (21 % nitrogen), you would apply about 5 pounds per 1000 square feet (1 pound / .21 = about 5). Healthy turf will choke out most of its weed problems. When the turf is thin and soil is exposed to the sunlight, weeds will sprout and you have a battle on your hands. So first concentrate on the above 3 cultural practices and if your lawn is still challenged, send us another question and we'll guide you through the renovation process. Good luck with your lawn.

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