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How to Keep Your Yard Weed-Free and Healthy All Year Long

Beautiful well kept lawn that has been freshly mowed in front of a lovely home.

There’s nothing quite like gazing at your own beautiful green lawn. Not just because it looks nice, but also because a yard like that takes plenty of work to achieve. It has to be regularly watered, fertilized, and mowed, among other things. However, a picture-perfect lawn requires you to do more than just go through the motions; you also have to know why and when to take care of all that grass.

Beautiful well kept lawn that has been freshly mowed in front of a lovely home.

For example, let’s say you’ve just bought some Texas grass for your yard, and you have plans to fertilize it each year. If you don’t know when to fertilize your lawn, you may as well not do it at all. The same goes for some herbicides – if you don’t know the “why” behind the “how”, your efforts may be in vain. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to get an idea for how it all works – just keep reading to find out more!

Apply fertilizer when the grass can actually use it

Fertilizer being applied to a green lawn in the early spring.

When most people think of fertilizer, they most likely associate it with huge plots of land where food crops are grown year after year. However, the soil in your yard has to produce a yearly crop of grass – it needs to be fertilized too! In the absence of something like regenerative agriculture (which obviously isn’t feasible in this scenario), the soil in your yard will gradually be depleted of nutrients. This could mean grass that’s more prone to disease, grows more slowly, and is less thick compared to previous years. 

Fortunately, the solution is simple: you just have to replace those nutrients. One way to do this is to avoid using a lawnmower that catches grass clippings. By allowing the clippings to naturally compost back into the grass, you’ll be putting some of those nutrients back into the soil.

That probably won’t be enough, though, which is why you should also use fertilizer at regular intervals. This is when you have to pay attention to your timing – the fertilizer should only be applied when the grass is actively growing. For warm-season grasses, this means late spring or summer. For cold-season grasses, spring or fall are best.

Water your grass in the morning

Underground sprinkler watering a green lawn in the early morning with purple flowers blooming in the background.

Anyone who’s taken care of plants knows the dangers of over- or under-watering, but with grass, you don’t just have to pay attention to how often you water it. Ideally, you’d also plan for watering it during the morning, when you can count on the warmth of the day to dry the grass out fairly quickly.

Why is this important? Because when grass is frequently allowed to stay wet, it becomes more prone to disease. This means that evening or nighttime watering isn’t recommended. Watering during the heat of the day is also less than ideal, because too much of the water can evaporate before it’s allowed to soak into the soil.

Speaking of soaking, this is what grass likes best – to be watered infrequently, but deeply. Once or twice a week generally does the trick. This encourages the growth of deeper roots, which makes the grass more drought-resistant.

Use the right kind of herbicide

lawn being mowed with a graphic overlay with 5 tips to keep your yard weed-free and healthy all year long

There are all different kinds of weeds, and almost as many options for herbicides. You can’t just buy the first one you see and expect it to work, though; you have to target the herbicide to the problems you’re dealing with. 

For example, some herbicides work by inhibiting the germination of seeds. In that case, you’d want to apply it before weeds like crabgrass have a chance to sprout. Other herbicides are granulated, and meant to be applied to the wet leaves of broad-leaf weeds like dandelions or clover. Without watering the plants before applying the herbicide, it won’t have any effect on the weeds. Then there are the herbicides that are specially formulated to target some plants, but not others. If you buy an herbicide to get rid of the Bermuda grass growing in your flower beds, you’d better check to ensure that it isn’t specially formulated to spare Bermuda grass.

Aerate soil for a more robust lawn

Man aerating the lawn with a black metal manual tool.

Anything with a root system needs a certain amount of both water and oxygen in order to flourish. In the case of the grass growing in your yard, there are a couple of obstacles to the delivery of oxygen. Firstly, the soil will become compacted over time; the tighter the dirt is packed, the less oxygen will be able to reach the roots. Secondly, thatch will build up at the ground level, further choking the roots of oxygen.

The solution to this is to use an aerator, a machine that pokes holes in the soil to break up the thatch and loosen the top layer of dirt. However, this should only be done after watering the grass really well, or after a hard rain. If soil is aerated when it’s hard and dehydrated, the machine won’t be able to get deep enough into the dirt to make a difference.

Don’t let the grass get too tall

Beautiful lawn being mowed with a manual push lawnmower.

At some point, just about everyone has glanced out at their yard and winced at how tall the grass is getting. After all, mowing the lawn often takes a back seat to more important matters. However, if you want a lush, verdant yard, you’ll have to pay a bit more attention to how often you cut the grass.

Once a week is a common interval, since a lot of people wait until the weekend to attend to yardwork. For most of the year, this should be sufficient. If your grass is growing really quickly, though, you may need to increase to mowing every four to five days. This decreases stress on the grass, allowing it to be healthier and more aesthetically appealing than ever.

The takeaway

Even if you’re putting a ton of time and effort into your lawn, it could still look like a mess if you’re getting the timing wrong. The good news is, just a few simple changes can result in the glistening, uniform lawn you’d always hoped for.

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