How to Keep Grass Green and Achieve a Healthy Lawn (2024)

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You Don’t Have to Slave Over Your Lawn to Keep it Healthy

If you’re an average homeowner (and of course you’re not!), you spend almost four hours a week on yard work and mow your lawn 30 times a year. And while you may not realize it, your lawn pays you back for all this hard work. It serves as a giant air conditioner to help cool your home. It releases a tremendous amount of oxygen and captures tons of dirt and dust to help keep you and your family healthy. It gives you a place to play croquet. (You’ll love these 12 backyard games, too!) And the healthier your lawn is, the better it keeps up its end of the bargain.

The good news is, you don’t have to slave over your lawn to keep it healthy. In fact, to a great extent, it’s not the amount of work you put into your lawn — it’s when and how you do it. The following six “ingredients” are essential for a healthy lawn. We focus on northern or cool-climate grasses like bluegrass and fescue, but most of the information applies to warm-climate grasses like zoysia and Bermuda grass, too.

Tip No. 1: Adjust your cutting height to the time of year.

The best height to cut grass depends on the type of grass, the region and the time of year. For cool-climate grasses, use a 1-1/2 in. cutting height for the first mowing of the year to remove dead grass and allow more sunlight to reach the crowns of the grass plants. Raise the blade during the heat of summer to two inches or more. Then lower the blade back to 1-1/2 in. for the last cutting of the year. For warm-climate grasses, these heights will be about 1/2 in. lower. Here are a few tips to help you save your lawn during water scarcity and drought.

When adjusting your blade height, measure from a hard surface to the bottom of the mower deck, then add 1/4 in. Most blades sit 1/4 in. above the bottom of the deck.

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Tip No. 2: Use a Sharp Mower Blade

A well-maintained, sharp and balanced blade cuts grass cleanly and evenly (see above). A dull one tears grass instead of cutting it cleanly. Damaged grass turns yellow, requires more water and nutrients to recover, and is more susceptible to disease. An unbalanced blade compounds the problem and can damage your lawn mower’s bearings. Sharpening and balancing a blade three times a year is usually enough to maintain a good cutting edge — unless you hit lots of rocks.Here’s how to sharpen a lawn mower blade.

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Tip No. 3: A few good soakings are better than lots of light sprinklings

Deep watering helps develop deep roots that tap into subsurface water supplies (illustration below). Light sprinklings moisten only the grass and surface of the soil, encouraging shallow root growth and increasing the need for more frequent watering. Lawns generally require 1 to 2 in. of water per week from you or Mother Nature, applied at three- or four-day intervals. But this varies drastically depending on the temperature, type of grass and soil conditions. Lawns in sandy soils may need twice as much water since they drain quickly. Lawns in slow-draining clay soils may need only half as much. Here’s how you can care for your lawn in May.

When your lawn loses its bounce or resiliency, or when it wilts, exposing the dull green bottoms of the blades, it needs water. In general, water until the soil is moist four to five inches down, then wait to water again until the top one or two inches dries out. To find out how much water your sprinkler delivers, set out a cake pan, turn on your sprinkler, then time how long it takes for the water to reach a depth of one inch (see above).

The best time of day to water is early morning. Water pressure is high, less water is lost to evaporation and your lawn has plenty of time to dry out before nightfall. Lawns that remain wet overnight are more susceptible to disease caused by moisture-loving mold and other fungi.

Properly watered lawns develop deep, healthy roots. An impact sprinkler delivers water quickly, with less “hang time” for evaporation; a 3/4-in. hose delivers much more water volume than its 1/2-in. cousin.

Improperly watered lawns receive short daily waterings that promote shallow root growth. Oscillating sprinklers toss water in a high arc, so more evaporates before reaching the soil. Water your lawn better with these 10 easy tips.

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Tip No. 4: Mow only the top one-third of the grass blade (and don’t rake up the clippings)

The top one-third of a blade of grass is thin and “leafy,” decomposes quickly when cut and can contribute up to one-third of the nitrogen your lawn needs (illustration below). While it’s decomposing, this light layer of clippings also helps slow water evaporation and keeps weeds from germinating. Check out these handy mowing tips.

But the bottom two-thirds of a blade of grass is tough, “stemmy” and slow to decompose, contributing to thatch. When thick enough, thatch prevents sunlight, air, water and nutrients from reaching the soil. Cutting more than the top third also shocks grass roots and exposes stems, which tend to burn in direct sunlight.

So if two inches is your target grass height, cut it when it reaches three inches. Since grass grows at different rates at different times of the year, “every Saturday” isn’t necessarily the best time to mow. Sometimes you need to mow it more, other times less. The ideal length for cool-climate grasses is three to four inches; for warm-climate, one to two inches.

Mow when the grass is dry and avoid mowing in the heat of the day when you’re more likely to stress the grass — and yourself.

Check out a video that explains more on why mowing at the right height is so important.

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Tip No. 5: With fertilizers and weed killers, timing is everything

When applying weed killers and fertilizers, take into account variables like geographic location, grass type, weed type and soil conditions. Here are a few general guidelines:

  • A thick, healthy lawn (illustration below) that doesn’t provide weed seeds adequate sunlight or open space to germinate is your best defense against weeds. A sick, spotty lawn leaves lots of open space for weeds to take root and grow.
  • Attack weeds in the early spring and summer before they have a chance to develop deep root systems, go to seed or reproduce.
    • Different weeds require different chemicals and methods. It’s best to eradicate grassy weeds like crabgrass with pre-emergent weed killers, which destroy germinating plants as they sprout. Broadleaf weeds need to be attacked while they’re young and actively growing; spraying the leaves of individual plants or patches of plants is most effective. Dandelion killers work by literally growing the plant to death.
  • Fertilize in early spring to jump-start root development. Fall feedings help repair summer damage and spur the root growth that goes on for several weeks even after the top growth stops, helping grass survive the winter. Light feedings in between help maintain healthy growth.
  • Read the package. Some chemicals work only in the presence of moisture; other chemicals are rendered useless by water. Heed the safety warnings too.

The best resource for identifying and troubleshooting weeds is a nursery or garden center familiar with local conditions.

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Tip No. 6: Aerate your lawn to help it ‘breathe’

Grass roots need oxygen as well as water and nutrients. Aerating — the process of removing small plugs of soil (see illustration) — produces multiple benefits. It improves air-to-soil interaction. It allows water and fertilizer to penetrate the soil deeper and easier. It reduces soil compaction and opens space for roots to grow. It removes some thatch and stimulates the breakdown of the remaining thatch. The best tool for this task is a gas-powered aerator, available at most rental centers.

[Related: Have you ever considered trying lawn aerator shoes? Find out if they really work here.]

Again, timing is critical. You can aerate in the spring. But fall, after the kids are through trampling the grass and there are fewer weed seeds to set up home in the open spaces, is the optimal time to aerate. It’s usually best to aerate first, then apply any weed killers so the open holes are protected against weeds.

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A well-aerated lawn provides space for grass roots to grow, reproduce and take in more oxygen, moisture and nutrients. The plugs, composed of thatch and soil, quickly break apart and decompose. The roots of a compacted lawn have difficulty absorbing air, water and nutrients.

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What’s next? Landscaping

Now that you have a beautiful lawn, check out these tips for landscaping your backyard.

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How to Keep Grass Green and Achieve a Healthy Lawn (2024)

FAQs

How to Keep Grass Green and Achieve a Healthy Lawn? ›

Watering grass deeply, but infrequently, will help to saturate the root zone and lead to deeper roots and a healthier plant. Generally, you should soak the grass three to four times per week, applying about one inch of water per week to your lawn. This will produce healthier grass than daily watering.

What are the steps to a healthy lawn? ›

9 Steps to a Lush Lawn
  1. Test Your Soil. ...
  2. Fertilize. ...
  3. Watch Your Calcium Intake. ...
  4. Add Organic Matter. ...
  5. Stop Crabgrass In Its Tracks. ...
  6. Pull Up Weeds. ...
  7. Get Your Mower in Shipshape. ...
  8. Let the Grass Grow…a Little.

How can I make my lawn healthy naturally? ›

Healthy lawn basics
  1. Improve the soil. The first step is to test the soil's pH – it should read between 6.5 and 7.0, which is slightly acidic. ...
  2. Choose a locally adapted grass. ...
  3. Aerate. ...
  4. Mow often, but not too short. ...
  5. Water deeply but not too often. ...
  6. Overseed your lawn. ...
  7. Control thatch build-up. ...
  8. Inspect regularly for pests.

What is the fastest way to green up your lawn? ›

Here's how to make grass green fast.
  1. Apply an Iron Supplement. ...
  2. Create a Watering Schedule. ...
  3. Overseed. ...
  4. Set Up a Pet Potty Area. ...
  5. Consider Nitrogen-Rich Fertilizer. ...
  6. Eliminate Weeds and Pests. ...
  7. Mow Properly. ...
  8. Paint the Lawn With Grass Dye.
Mar 17, 2023

What is the best fertilizer for green grass? ›

The best overall fertilizer for grass is the Dr. Earth Super Natural Organic Fertilizer, because it includes the three main macronutrients your soil needs: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

How can I make my lawn thicker and green? ›

7 Pro Strategies for Thicker, Greener Grass
  1. Mow Your Lawn Correctly. ...
  2. Water Grass Properly. ...
  3. Fertilize Grass Adequately. ...
  4. The Importance of a Lawn Soil Test. ...
  5. Control Lawn Weeds, Insects, & Diseases. ...
  6. Aerate and Overseed Your Lawn When Needed. ...
  7. Deal With the Shady Spots in Your Lawn.

What helps grass grow? ›

There are three top nutrients grass needs to grow; potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Though all plants need these three key nutrients to thrive, grass requires higher concentrations for proper growth. Of all three, nitrogen is the most important as that is what gives grass its vivid color and tremendous growth.

What kills healthy grass? ›

The best way to kill the existing lawn and weeds is to apply a nonselective herbicide, such as glyphosate, over the entire area. Glyphosate is a postemergence translocated herbicide that effectively kills turf and grassy and broadleaf weeds. Glyphosate is translocated rapidly in all actively growing plants.

What kills grass but not weeds? ›

Try herbicides with the ingredients clethodim, sethoxydim, or fluazifop-p which will kill grass but not damage flowers and shrubs. If you have vegetables nearby—and to be extra careful with flowers and bushes—use cardboard as a barrier when you spray.

Why is my lawn not green enough? ›

Your grass needs water to thrive. When your lawn isn't receiving enough water, it can start to wilt and ultimately turn pale green or yellow. PRO TIP: It's critical that you get on a proper lawn watering schedule. It's common for people to underestimate just how much water their lawn is receiving from Mother Nature.

What product to green up lawn? ›

Feeding your turf with a high-quality iron product, such as Pennington's Ironite Mineral Supplement 1-0-1, provides your lawn with soluble iron and other key ingredients. This formula contains: 20 percent iron. Adequate iron helps ensure a healthy, deep green lawn that doesn't grow excessively.

How do I green up my grass in hot weather? ›

Deep, regular watering.

If you want a green lawn all summer long, you must water consistently.. Rather than shallow watering every day, water your lawn deeply once or twice a week. One to one-and-a-half inches of water a week will keep your lawn green.

What do they spray on grass to make it green? ›

Instead, it is a substance called SARGE, which is a green, UV-blocking pigment. Think of it as a sunscreen mixed with tanning oil, but for plants! Far from being harmful, SARGE actually lowers the environmental impact of lawn maintenance.

Can you just sprinkle grass seed on lawn? ›

Can you just sprinkle grass seed on top of your existing lawn? While it's possible to simply sow the new grass seed over your existing lawn, taking the time to prepare your lawn beforehand will increase the likelihood of seed germination and improve your end result.

How often should you fertilize your lawn? ›

A full feeding is recommended at least 5-6 times per year. You want to feed your lawn when it's growing most rapidly. However, you should base the frequency on your climate and the type of grass you have. For example, cool season grasses can be fertilized in late spring, but only if necessary.

When should you fertilize your grass? ›

To ensure optimal health, fertilize heavily in the fall and lightly in early spring. You can choose either slow- or quick-release fertilizer types, but be sure to apply the treatment before the temperatures peak in summer, when these grasses will most likely go dormant.

What is the best home remedy for green grass? ›

Mix equal parts ammonia and Epsom salts, and disperse this mixture throughout your lawn. Ammonia is a great source of nitrogen, which will help your grass achieve a healthier, greener color; and the Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate, which will help your grass retain water, and reduce your lawn's thirst for water.

What fertilizer makes grass thicker? ›

When overseeding your lawn, a starter fertilizer such as Pennington UltraGreen Starter Fertilizer 22-23-4 helps promote vigorous root growth for the fast establishment of new grasses. For established lawns, Pennington UltraGreen Lawn Fertilizer 30-0-4 provides the nitrogen your lawn needs for thick, green grass.

Is Epsom salt good for green grass? ›

Epsom Salt, consisting of magnesium sulfate, is a naturally occurring mineral compound that can be used on your lawn for individual benefits or a holistic approach. By adding nutrients and strengthening the grass, Epsom salt assists in making the lawn greener, healthier, and softer.

Does frequent mowing thicken grass? ›

Does frequent mowing thicken grass? Frequently mowing your yard, (if you're following the correct practices), does help to thicken your grass. As long as you don't cut more than 1/3 off the top, and keep the total leaf height to at least 5cm, regular mowing keeps your grass healthy, and promotes lateral growth.

How do I turn my bad lawn into a good one? ›

Here's what our experts recommend:
  1. Mow high and regularly. Mowing high produces stronger, healthier grass with deeper roots and fewer weeds and pest problems. ...
  2. Mulch when you mow. ...
  3. Water early and deeply. ...
  4. Fertilize frequently. ...
  5. Test your soil. ...
  6. Don't let leaves pile up. ...
  7. Consider local lawn services. ...
  8. Supervise lawn services.

When should I aerate my lawn? ›

You want to aerate the lawn when your grass is in its peak growing period so it can recover quickly—think early spring or fall for cool-season grasses, and late spring through early summer for warm-season grasses. If you have high-traffic areas or heavy clay soil, you will want to aerate every year.

Should you mow or edge first? ›

Mow First

By mowing first, you know how short to trim grass along edges and will be less likely to scalp those areas, giving rise to bare or weedy patches.

What can I put on my grass to make it green again? ›

The number one way to increase the green color in your lawn is with Nitrogen. Nitrogen is one of the big three macronutrients needed in the greatest quantities for healthy turf. It promotes top growth in the lawn by pushing the production of chlorophyll in the plant.

How do you treat unhealthy grass? ›

Here's what our experts recommend:
  1. Mow high and regularly. Mowing high produces stronger, healthier grass with deeper roots and fewer weeds and pest problems. ...
  2. Mulch when you mow. ...
  3. Water early and deeply. ...
  4. Fertilize frequently. ...
  5. Test your soil. ...
  6. Don't let leaves pile up. ...
  7. Consider local lawn services. ...
  8. Supervise lawn services.

How do I bring my lawn back to life? ›

Consistent watering is crucial in turning your brown, lifeless lawn into a vibrant carpet of rich green. Grass seed must have consistent moisture to germinate and establish healthy roots, so respect this critical step. Water your lawn daily so the soil stays consistently moist. If needed, water twice a day.

Does Epsom salt help grass turn green? ›

Use Epsom salt as lawn fertilizer in the spring to facilitate lush green growth. Add 2 tablespoons (29.5 ml.) to each gallon (3.7 L.) of water used on the lawn. If you have a sprinkler system, lightly sprinkle directly atop the grass and then allow the system to water into the sod.

How often should I use Epsom salt on my lawn? ›

Keep Your Lawn Thriving

Epsom Salt is not just a good fertilizer for flowers or vegetables. If you want your front yard turf to look lush and stay healthy all year long, spray the lawn with an Epsom Salt solution once a month. This treatment helps grass seeds germinate and develop into strong blades.

Should I put sugar on my lawn? ›

'Sugar will help break down thatch, the layer of dead grass, and other organic material that can accumulate on your lawn over time, Lindsey says. 'This thatch can make it difficult for new grass to grow, but using sugar on your lawn can help break it down and improve the health of your lawn.

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