Caring for your first lawn is a great feeling. You've worked toward this moment, and now the grass under your feet is in your hands. By learning how to care for your first lawn, you can see your plans for lush, thick turf and backyard entertaining come true. Take on your lawn one task at a time, and work through these lawn care basics.
GET TO KNOW YOUR SOIL
When it comes to turf, what happens above ground reflects what's going on underneath. Take advice from lawn pros and test your soil, so you know your starting point for essentials such as soil pH. Your local county extension office or agricultural agent will have information on test kits and reputable soil laboratories.
You can take accurate soil samples yourself. Include separate samples for problem spots, such as bare areas or sections with unwanted lawn moss. Let the lab know you're testing lawn areas; they can tailor recommendations to get your lawn on track for your plans.
FIX UNDERLYING ISSUES
With test results in hand, turn recommendations into projects. Correct problems now; don't risk repeats. Use soil amendments according to lab recommendations to improve your lawn's potential. Lime, for example, restores balance to soil pH so grasses can draw on available nutrients.
Hit tough spots first, and then repair bare lawn patches. The all-in-one ease of Pennington One Step Complete simplifies patching and repairs by premixing premium grass seed, professional-grade fertilizer and protective wood mulch in a single product. If your family includes pets, you're sure to have some pet damage. But don't worry; healthy lawns and happy dogs can coexist.
KNOW THE BEST GRASSES FOR YOUR REGION
Grasses suited to their growing region create exceptional lawns. Just like garden flowers or shrubs, turfgrasses vary in their climate preferences and tolerances for drought, shade and other conditions. One benefit of seed over sod is your expanded choice of grass varieties with specific qualities, from durability to texture beneath bare feet.
Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, peak in growth during cool temperatures in fall and spring. They flourish in northern zones. Warm-season grasses, such as Bermudagrass, excel in summer heat and warmer climates. Region-appropriate lawn grasses require less water and other resources, including maintenance time.
SEED RIGHT THE FIRST TIME
Whether seeding new areas, overseeding your lawn or thickening existing grass, timing is important. Plan your seeding to correspond with seasonal grass growth and the best time to plant grass.Plant seed properly, and avoid the common grass seeding mistakes many homeowners make.
Take time to understand how to read a seed tag and know who's behind the seed you buy. Many companies sell seed purchased on the open market—and the contents may surprise you. But with premium grass seed such as purebred Pennington Smart Seed, you can buy the best grass seed with confidence and enjoy a sustainable lawn and increased resistance to drought, diseases and insect pests.
FEED YOUR GRASSES WELL
Lawn grasses need proper nutrition. Nitrogen is especially important to keep your lawn lush, vibrant and green. Your soil test results will recommend how many pounds of nitrogen your lawn needs annually (usually per 1,000 square feet), based on its organic matter and other considerations.
The numbers on fertilizer labels reveal the percentages of actual nitrogen and other nutrients products contain, so you can match the product to your needs. Be careful, though: feeding too much or too often causes more harm than good. Establish a feeding schedule that meets your lawn's fertilizer needs, and stick to it.
FIGHT LAWN WEEDS
Even when freshly planted, lawns usually inherit weeds and weed seeds. Weeds compete with grasses for nutrients, water and light. Learn about common lawn weeds and how to kill broadleaf weeds, so you eliminate the labor and expense of repeated treatments.
Avoid pre-emergent weed controls, such as crabgrass preventers, and combination weed-and-feed fertilizers anywhere you're planting new grass seed. These products are designed to keep weed seeds from germinating and rooting properly, but they can work against grass seed in the same way. Target tough turf weeds with effective spot treatments.
MOW FOR HEIGHT AND HEALTH
Always follow best practices for lawn mowing, and mow based on grass growth, not day of the week. Mowing heights vary according to grass type and the season. Some grasses, such as Bermudagrass, are best kept short, while other types need more height. Hot spells warrant higher mowing heights all around.
Change mowing heights gradually over several sessions. Never remove more than one-third of the blade length at a time, or you risk inhibiting good growth above and below ground. Make tasks easier and less time-consuming by using the right turf tools for the job, based on your lawn's size and your goals.
MANAGE WATER WISELY
Lawn grasses grow best when watered deeply at less frequent intervals. Shallow, frequent watering encourages shallow roots susceptible to drought and other stress. With good watering practices and water-conserving grass varieties, you can reduce consumption, save on bills and grow healthier, more resilient grass. Water Star® grasses, such as Pennington® Smart Seed® varieties, require up to 30 percent less water than ordinary grass seed, year after year.
Watering and other lawn tasks naturally vary from month to month through your seasonal lawn care calendar, but you should always accommodate what's happening in your lawn. Pennington's water rate calculator uses real-time weather and statistics for your specific location to help determine water needs during normal seasons and times of drought.
BOOST YOUR LAWN
Put your first lawn on the fast track to thicker growth with Pennington Lawn Booster. This premium, all-in-one solution combines lawn care steps and products, so you get lime-enhanced Smart Seed, professional-grade fertilizer and a soil enhancer in a simple-to-use, premixed formula. Your lawn will grow quicker, thicker and greener than ordinary grass seed in just one application—guaranteed.
With Lawn Booster, your lawn benefits from all the beauty and sustainability of water-conserving Smart Seed. Once established, these grasses stay green up to three weeks without water. Nitrogen-stabilized fertilizer protects against nitrogen loss to the environment, so your grass gets continuous feeding for up to eight weeks. Seed also germinates better and your lawn's overall texture and color improve, without any extra fertilizer input on your part. Plus, soil-enhancing gypsum in this combination product improves soil health and condition, allowing seed to root better and flourish from the start.