Everyone wants to be the envy of their neighborhood and have a perfect lawn. Having a beautiful, full, green lawn is not that hard, but in order to do so, a homeowner needs to understand some lawn basics.
This is the time of year in New Jersey where you want to apply the first step of a 4 step program or seed. I usually put my step 1 down in mid March then over seed in mid April. If you plan on seeding, now is the time. The key is to get the grass up quickly so that you can mow it and still put Step 1 down in time to green your yard and prevent crabgrass. Using Tall Fescue allows you to do both as there is a coating on the seed that will allow it to germinate despite the feeding.
I overseed every year in the Spring. This allows my grass to become thicker each year and require a little less maintenance. When you seed, be sure to water twice a day for just a long enough period for the area to be wet but not puddle. Within 10 days to 2 weeks your new buds should pop and your lawn will be thicker then ever. If you have bare spots, generously fill the area with seed. About 5 days after reseed the area generously again.
Once your new grass is established and you have mowed it, you can now feed it using Step 1. Stop water your lawn at this time as the normal rain that falls in New Jersey is enough water for it. After a month, feed it another Crabgrass preventer such as Halt’s. The combination of doing this twice ensures that I do not have crab grass all season. Crab grass is an issue in my neighborhood. If it is not in your neighborhood, you can skip this step.
In June, you want to feed your lawn Step 2. At this time, you also want to begin watering your grass. It is better to water less frequently for longer periods of time as opposed to frequent smaller amounts like you did when you added seed. By drenching the lawn then not watering again, it causes the roots to dig deeper and provides a healthier grass. Many experts recommend once a week for 45 minutes. Learn your lawn. If you have blazing sun, you may need to increase to twice a week during dry periods. Be careful though not to water too often.
Mowing the lawn too short is another common mistake that homeowners make. I put my lawn mower on the second highest setting when I mow. When you mow too short, you rob the grass of its nutrients and cause it to work harder to stay green. Keep the blade up high and watch the difference of how your lawn reacts. It will stay greener and healthier.
In July, I use a general fertilizer to provide nutrients to the lawn. This is not one of the four steps and does not contain weed killer. It is applied only to provide extra nutrients to the grass and keep it green in the hottest month of the year.
In mid September or when the weather cools down some, I overseed again. At this time, I go back to the twice a day watering routine mentioned before until the grass comes up. Your lawn should be very thick at this point as it has been seeded twice and properly cared for all season. You may choose not to seed in the Fall if your lawn is where you want it to be.
In mid October, I apply lime to my yard. This step along with Step 4 which is applied in mid November helps keep my grass green all winter unless we have a very deep freeze or extended period of below freezing weather.
If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to having the best lawn in your neighborhood. In addition to having healthy grass, cutting the grass higher helps it look better as does edging the lawn. Edging your lawn gives it a finishing touch that puts you ahead of most of your neighbors. If you haven’t been edging, try it, you will love the difference!
Good luck and if you have any questions or issues, write them in the comments and I will be sure to get back to you!
William “Bill” Zeltman is a lifelong resident of Atlantic County, NJ and is your real estate expert at the Jersey Shore. Bill knows the area including neighborhoods, school, local businesses, restaurants, and more and understands the unique characteristics of each town.