Four Household Tools to Take Your Lawn From Good to Great
SALEM, Ore. – Feb. 12, 2014 – With spring just around the corner, many homeowners are looking forward to getting back out in their yards and enjoying their reawakening lawns. The turfgrass experts at Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers, offer DIY tips for spring and summer lawn care that will help you take your lawn from good to great using just four common household items.
“A healthy natural lawn provides a beautiful setting for relaxation and entertainment,” said Bryan Ostlund, executive director of Grass Seed USA, “and it can be achieved with minimal effort and expense. We’re all looking to save money in this uncertain economic climate, so as you gear up for a new season of lawn care, why not take advantage of things you already have on hand?”
Keep your lawn in tip-top shape with the following household basics:
- Ruler: Mowing your grass to the right height will help you create a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant lawn. Wait until your grass is three inches tall before mowing, and then cut it to two inches in height. By only trimming one-third of the blade length, you will avoid stressing the grass while leaving enough leaf to protect the roots from the sun.
- Screwdriver: It’s good for your pocket book and your lawn to avoid overwatering. By watering your lawn only when it needs it, your grass will develop longer roots capable of pulling moisture from deeper in the soil. To see if your lawn needs to be watered, test for moisture by pushing a screwdriver into the ground. If it’s difficult to push the screwdriver in, the soil is dry and your grass needs a drink. If the blade goes in easily, you don’t need to water yet.
- Mason jars, vinegar and baking soda: Good soil is critical to a healthy lawn, and most turfgrasses prefer soil with a neutral pH (neither acidic nor alkaline). For a DIY pH test, pull out a pair of pint mason jars. Fill each jar about half way full with soil samples taken from several different locations around your yard. Be sure to remove rocks and other debris from your samples. Add a half-cup of vinegar to the first jar. If the mixture fizzes, your soil is highly alkaline and you don’t need to test the other jar. If you get no reaction, continue the test by adding a half-cup of water to the soil in the second jar. Mix well and then add a half-cup of baking soda to the slurry. If this mixture fizzes, the soil is very acidic. Overly acidic soil can be amended with lime, while alkaline soil can be amended with sulfur.
- Dish soap: As your lawn starts its spring growth, watch for brown patches that never turn green. Dead patches could be caused by grubs feeding on the roots in the fall. To determine whether grubs are indeed the problem, carefully dig up square-foot sections of sod to a depth of about 2 inches, in several suspect areas in your yard (you don’t need to completely detach the sod, just fold it back like a trapdoor). Next, examine the soil beneath your grass for short, fat, whitish C-shaped worms. If your lawn has five or fewer grubs per square foot you don’t need to treat it. If it’s in the six to nine range you may want to treat it to avoid having birds and skunks dig up your grass to find the grubs. For 10 or more grubs per square foot you should treat the lawn, as this level of infestation can cause serious damage.
Treating grubs is easier than you may think. To treat 1,000 square feet of grass, dilute 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap in a gallon of water and spray it on the lawn. It’s best to do this immediately after a rainfall. This will cause the grubs to come to the surface, where you can collect them if the birds don’t do the job for you. Repeat the treatment weekly until the grubs stop surfacing.