For homeowners and commercial property managers who want to keep their grounds in pristine condition while using scarce resources like water wisely, a smart, scientific lawn care system is one of the best ways to do so.
But what are the components of this kind of lawn care system? And how can you maintain your grounds with minimal cost and effort?
While needs may vary depending on your location and the size of your property, there are three general things every lawn requires, and a lawn care system should be geared toward delivering these requirements in as sustainable and low-cost a way as possible.
1. Fertilizer and Nutrients
In order to grow, every lawn needs three basic nutrients:
- Nitrogen (to increase leaf and blade development)
- Phosphorus (to help the plant develop strong root systems)
- Potassium (to promote drought tolerance and winter hardiness)
Under natural conditions, plants will grow in areas where these three nutrients are abundantly available. Because lawns are horticultural rather than natural, the best way to provide these nutrients is through regular applications of fertilizer.
Nitrogen-rich turf fertilizers should be applied during the fall, after the lawn has stopped growing but before it has started turning brown. If you want to give your lawn an extra boost, leave the cuttings on the turf after you mow. This will help return some of the nutrients to the soil.
Without water, no lawn will thrive. And with weather patterns becoming increasingly inconsistent due to climate change, we can no longer rely on regular, moderate precipitation to provide the right amount of moisture at the right time.
For many homeowners and property managers, automatic sprinkler systems are the obvious solution to this problem. Not only do sprinkler systems ensure that a lawn gets enough water (but not too much), they can also be set up to automate irrigation so that water is delivered at optimal times.
Most experts agree that the ideal time to water a lawn is early in the morning, before the day heats up. Watering in the morning helps reduce the amount of moisture lost to evaporation, ensuring that this important and increasingly rare resource is used as judiciously as possible.
3. Weed Management
Weed management is perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of lawn care. Should you spray regularly with chemicals to prevent invasive plants, or should you invest in more labor-intensive forms of weed-removal?
While there is no one-size-fit-all solution to the scourge of weeds, experts agree that the healthier your grass is, the less likely you are to run into the problem in the first place.
Strong, healthy grass will spread naturally, leaving little room for weeds to take purchase. It is only when grass is sparse or sickly that other plants can start to push it out. The biggest cause of this is overly-aggressive mowing. When grass is cropped too close, it creates space for other seeds to take root.
The optimal length for grass is 2½ inches but you should never cut more than a third of the grass blade, so make sure mower blades are not set too low, and space out mowing so the grass has a chance to recover.
A lawn is a living thing, and like all living things, it requires nutrients, water, and room to grow. Fertilizing every autumn, leaving your clippings on the turf, installing a sprinkler system, and not mowing too aggressively will ensure that your lawn stays lush all summer long.