Fight Weeds, Diseases and Insects with Healthy Grass
Weeds, blights and pests can wreak havoc on our grass, no doubt. But would you be surprised to find out that these threats typically cause less than one-third of lawn problems? In fact, they are much more often symptoms rather than the underlying issue. The number one threat to your lawn is actually human error. Whether you or a service provider maintains your lawn, innocent mistakes in lawncare can lead to unwanted weeds, diseases and insects.
Don’t despair. The good news is that with simple fixes, you can prevent up to 70 percent of common lawn threats. Healthy grass, maintained properly, does a better job of crowding out weeds, resisting diseases and discouraging insects.
Mistake: Soil Neglect
Balanced soil with the proper pH and nutrient levels is necessary to support healthy grass growth. Many homeowners, and even some professionals, neglect to periodically test and amend the soil.
Experts recommend soil testing every two years to ensure your grass gets what it needs. Your local extension service office offers tests for a nominal fee and responds with recommendations for amendments to bring your soil into balance for healthier, hardier grass.
Mistake: Improper Mowing
Mowing too low stresses grass and opens up opportunities for weeds to invade. Mowing with a dull blade rips at grass blades, making them more susceptible to disease. Letting grass get too high creates an environment that invites disease and insects.
Mow to the proper height for your grass variety and never scalp your yard. Regular mowing with a sharp blade at the right height encourages dense growth for a more durable and threat resistant lawn.
It’s easy to overwater a lawn, which creates environments perfect for fungi and other blights. Watering less but too often is also an issue, causing shorter roots that make grass more susceptible to heat and drought while benefitting weeds.
Adopt proper watering practices, watering longer but less often. Generally grass needs half an inch of water from rain or irrigation every three days. Install a moisture detector on your sprinkler system to avoid overwatering, and periodically measure the output from each sprinkler head to ensure the whole yard gets evenly watered. Deeply watered grass roots grow longer and support stronger and denser grass, crowding out weeds and insects. Watering in the morning before the dew dries also helps discourage fungi and other diseases.
The Mistake: Improper Fertilization
Fertilizing too much or at the wrong time can set your grass up to fail. Over fertilizing may burn grass and potentially discourage growth. Fertilizing too early in the season prompts growth that could be damaged by late frost, and fertilizing too late in the season can interfere with the transition to dormancy.
Some grasses require regular fertilizing throughout the growing season. Some need only a spring and fall application. Feed your grass based on the variety, following recommendations for proper fertilizing to grow a healthy lawn that is better able to resist weeds, disease and pests.