Want a gorgeous, lush lawn without all the chemicals and other icky stuff? It’s not as hard as you might think. With a little creativity and some elbow grease, you can whip your grass into shape without calling a service or spending much at all.
Before the season even starts, you should aerate your lawn so it can have its best year yet. By letting it breathe, you get rid of nasty compaction issues that can cause bigger problems down the line. To aerate, you’ll want the grass to be pretty dry. Insert a garden fork or sod coring tool every few inches to get the oxygen in. If you have a big lawn, you might consider going in with a neighbor and renting a power lawn aerator for a day or two. After you’ve finished this process, collect soil plugs with a bagged mower and add them to your compost heap.
My grandfather is known as a lawn king of sorts in my hometown. He swears by feeding his lawn with beer. The fermented sugars and other nutrients improve the soil and help to get rid of dead spots. All you have to do is pour about eight ounces of regular beer per 10-inch spot that needs love. Beer can be fresh or flat, hot or cold. Wait about a week and if the area is still droopy, repeat the process.
Soothing Salts, Part I
Not into brews? That’s okay. You can actually use your favorite bath time soak to nurture your lawn. Epsom salts help keep your grass green and healthy all year round — they may even soften grass. You’ll want to use about three pounds of salts per 1,250 square feet of lawn. To apply, use a lawn spreader. If you’d rather add water and spray, use a tank sprayer or a hose with a spray attachment.
Soothing Salts, Part II
The National Gardening Association explains that epsom salts also work wonders in your vegetable and flower gardens by enriching the soil with magnesium. The group conducted a study where gardeners from across the United States sprayed their peppers and roses with the stuff. The results? Four out of six gardeners reported that their pepper plants were more robust. All the rose plants were bushier with greener foliage and more roses. To try this at home, add one tablespoon of epsom salts to a gallon of water, spray plants, and repeat the process every 10 days (peppers) or six weeks (roses).
This weed killer is kind to the environment and won’t cost you much. In fact, you might already be using it for many tasks in your home. Simply spray all those pesky weeds with plain white vinegar. You’ll want to do this on a day with no rain in the forecast (can dilute the effects). My mother-in-law says that heartier, more persistent weeds respond better to something stronger like pickling vinegar. Just pour vinegar into a spray bottle and use as liberally as necessary.
Whether or not you live someplace where you have a cap on water usage, it’s a good idea to conserve this precious resource. Try building your own rain barrel to collect what falls from the sky. You just need a 32-gallon plastic trash can, brass faucet, flexible downspout, and utility knife. Cut a hole in your can’s cover, attach the downspout to your gutter, and then connect the two components. Wait for the rain and then use your faucet to tap into the magic.
How often and how short you cut your grass has an impact on its overall health as well. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, unfortunately. Regardless, grass cut too short can be more prone to problems like weeds, drought, and heat damage. So, if you’re experiencing little precipitation, it’s a good idea to let grasses grow taller as a defense. For guidelines on how tall or short you should keep your grass in general, call your local extension office, garden center, or seed supplier.
So many of our neighbors seem to battle to keep white clover out all season long. We’ve embraced clover because it’s actually a natural way to crowd out weeds. Clover also spreads quickly and covers the ground with greenery to blend with your other grasses. It grows well in shadier areas of your lawn and those with poor drainage. Best yet, it’s a legume and can convert nitrogen into its own free fertilizer. Learn to love this misunderstood ground cover!