A beautiful and healthy lawn is an asset that you and your family can appreciate day in and day out. In addition to increasing the curb appeal of your home, it contributes to improved air quality by acting as a trap for unwanted airborne pollutants. Furthermore, because a well-maintained lawn completely envelops a soil surface, soil particles are prevented from being carried by the wind to another area.
There are a number of threats that can compromise the health of your landscape, consequently making it difficult to keep alive. Today, we talk about nine of these issues to help you get and maintain the landscape you want for a long time.
1. Using Nutrient-Deficient Soil
First and foremost, a landscape needs good soil for it to maintain its strong growth. It is recommended that a lawn is aerated once or twice a year – in the spring or early summer and fall. When garden soil becomes compacted, it inhibits the flow of essential nutrients that promote turf growth. Aeration creates holes down into the soil to alleviate this compaction, allowing air and water to reach the grass roots.
If aeration is simply not cutting it, consider performing a soil test to determine the current fertility and health of the soil in your backyard. By measuring its potential of hydrogen (pH) level and identifying nutrient deficiencies, a soil test can provide the information necessary for creating a healthy soil environment.
2. Lacking Grass Variety
No matter how much you love the feel of bermudagrass between your toes, going all-in on one type of grass may not be the best idea for a flourishing landscape. In fact, a lawn that is composed of a variety of grasses is oftentimes more resilient and resistant to diseases.
In the United States, grasses are broadly classified as either warm-season grasses, which thrive in warmer climates, and cool-season grasses, which are best suited for regions that experience cold winters. Centipede grasses, for example, stay green nearly year-round except in bitterly cold temperatures. The low growth of this type of grass helps it navigate drought well and its denseness allows it to endure foot traffic. Northeast lawns, on the other hand, require grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass that naturally resist diseases prevalent in cold regions.
3. Cutting the Grasses Too Short
For the grasses in your backyard to effectively absorb nutrients, the blades have to be maintained at a certain height. When you cut them too short, the grasses are exposed to too much sunlight, which weakens the overall structure of the landscape. A weakened lawn is more susceptible to catching insect-related infestations and other diseases.
For most cool-season grasses, the ideal height is anywhere between 2.5 to 3 inches. If you are fighting off weeds, the blades should be a bit higher – generally around 3 to 3.5 inches – to block out the weeds from getting much-needed sunlight. To keep the grasses in your landscape at the proper height in the summer, it is recommended that you mow your lawn once a week.
4. Mowing the Grass in the Same Direction
One thing to remember when mowing your lawn is to alternate the pattern. By switching up the direction in which you mow, you are preventing weird grooves from forming in your grass and encouraging the blades to grow in a more upright position. This technique will also ensure that ruts from the mower wheels do not develop in your backyard.
Another tip is to take your time when mowing so that you do not leave uneven clumps of grass clippings on the lawn, giving it an untidy and unpleasant appearance. Additionally, only use sharp mower blades. Dull blades have the tendency to tear instead of cutting cleanly, which leaves the grass blades open to pests and diseases. Have your mower blades sharpened at least once every two months.
5. Mowing the Grass When It Is Wet
It is generally recommended that you wait for wet grass to completely dry before mowing it. Grass clippings that are damp due to rainfall or heavy dew can ultimately clog your lawn mower, forcing the equipment to choke and cough out clumps of damp grass that can smother your lawn if left unraked. Another reason for not cutting wet grass is that diseases in the garden tend to occur more when the grass is often wet from rainfalls. Soil also becomes soft and soggy when it is completely waterlogged. Finally, mowing when the grass is extremely drenched can cause wheel ruts to form in your backyard.
6. Disregarding Foot Traffic
A barefoot child running across a gorgeous, well-cultivated garden during a warm summer day is picture perfect. However, that does not mean it is the best circumstance for your lawn all the time. Frequent foot traffic in one area can do real damage, like leaving thin patches and brown spots. Below the surface is even worse as there is often a heightened level of compaction. The traffic generates unnecessary pressure on the ground which transfers to the soil, restricting the flow of air and water that is required to produce green, lush plants.
Warm-season grasses like bermudagrass are usually better at tolerating heavy traffic during the warmer months, whereas cool-season grasses like fescue endure foot traffic a lot better during the cooler months.
7. Killing Off All the Insects
Sure, there are many types of insects that can be extremely harmful to your landscape, but killing all of them may not be the smartest move. Since many of these critters are predators of cockroaches and house flies, using broad-spectrum insecticides can eliminate these helpful bugs alongside the pests. Spraying pesticides can also kill off not only the insects, but the animals that eat them. It is beneficial to encourage insect pollinators, such as native bees, hover flies and beetles. You can do so by growing plants that flower at different times of the year. Remember, your garden has a significant impact on the broader ecosystem of your neighborhood.
8. Neglecting Maintenance Completely
One of the less surprising things that can affect the health of your landscape is maintenance neglect. While it can be difficult to give your backyard the tender loving care it needs so you can stay on top of other household chores, completely abandoning yardwork can swiftly leave the exterior of your home in disrepair.
Aside from mowing the grass at least once a week, consider turning on your sprinkler system that covers the entire area of your lawn in the early morning. Unless you have new grass seeds growing, you do not necessarily need to water your lawn every single day. You also need to add high-quality fertilizer with a lawn spreader. If your lawn is leaning toward the smaller size, use a drop spreader. If you need to cover a larger ground of greenery, use a broadcast spreader.
8. Failing to Address Standing Water
Unfortunately, drainage is one of the most overlooked elements of proper landscape maintenance even though it is often the root cause of a number of lawn-related problems like moss and ground ivy. Standing water ruins grasses, attracts insects and produces bad smells. Loose, rusty or damaged gutter systems are among the leading causes of standing water in lawns, so make sure your seamless gutters are properly and effectively draining runoff.
How to Protect Your Yard Against Standing Water
A soggy yard is a common threat on many residential properties. Here are tips for keeping your yard from getting soggy or flooding when it rains.
- Install French drains. A French drain creates a channel that allows rainwater or snowmelt to flow to a drainpipe without obstruction. It is installed underground and hidden by gravel.
- Use downspout extensions. In some cases, standing water in the yard is caused by improperly routed downspouts. With downspout extensions, you can reroute the downspouts to ensure that water is properly diverted.
- Maintain your gutters. Whether because of leaks at seams, rusty sections or loose fasteners, neglected gutters are not likely to drain runoff effectively. To make sure your gutters accomplish their purpose, let a professional conduct gutters inspections at least twice a year. Investing in a quality gutter protection system will also keep leaves and debris out of gutter troughs, significantly reducing the amount of time and effort required to clean your gutters.