13 Common Lawn Care Mistakes to Avoid
Updated: Sep 25
Many people view lawn care as a mindless and tedious chore that must be completed weekly throughout the summer months. But the truth is that there is much more to lawn care than most people realize, and there are many lawn care mistakes to be made that can greatly affect the health and beauty of your lawn. So, while you may think that lawn care simply includes mowing once per week, truly maintaining a healthy and vibrant lawn can be a bit more involved. Let's talk about some of the most common lawn care mistakes to avoid if you want to achieve a healthy and beautiful backyard space.
1. Improper Watering
Overwatering your lawn can have just as many negative effects as underwatering your lawn. Watering your lawn too much can lead to shallow root growth, making the grass more susceptible to drought stress and diseases. Water deeply and infrequently, typically about 1-1.5 inches of water per week, depending on weather conditions. This will encourage the roots to grow deep, leading to a strong and healthy lawn. Find tools to make watering your lawn easier here!
On the flip side, neglecting to water your lawn during dry periods can result in a parched, brown, crispy lawn. Be attentive to your lawn's water needs, especially in hot weather. Several signs that you may be underwatering your lawn include 1) if footprints are left in the grass after being walked through, 2) if you notice it is growing slower than usual, 3) if the soil is dry and crumbly, and 4) if you start to notice yellow or brown patches of dry grass forming.
2. Mowing Too Short
Cutting your grass too short, known as "scalping," weakens the grass and encourages weed growth. Follow the one-third rule, which recommends cutting no more than one-third of the grass blade length at once. Keep this in mind if your lawn gets a little out of hand. You may not be able to cut it to your desired height right away and may have to cut it back to 1/3, wait a day or two, then cut it back again by 1/3 until you reach your desired height. It is also good to be aware of the fact that different grass types have varying recommended heights.
3. Infrequent Mowing
Allowing your grass to grow too long before mowing can stress the lawn, reduce its aesthetics, and make mowing more difficult. Regular mowing at the appropriate height helps maintain a healthy lawn. In general, mowing once per week is enough to keep your grass at a healthy and maintainable height, though more (or less) frequent attention may be required at different parts of the season depending on how quickly your grass grows.
4. Dull Mower Blades
Dull mower blades can tear the grass rather than cutting it cleanly. This will cause the tips of your grass to turn yellowish-brown and make your lawn more susceptible to diseases. Sharpen your mower blades every season to avoid damaging your grass in this way.
5. Ignoring Soil Health
Healthy soil is the foundation of a healthy lawn. Neglecting to test and amend your soil as needed can result in poor grass growth. Conduct a soil test to determine its pH and nutrient levels and adjust accordingly. Ideally, this is done before grass seed is planted or sod is laid down. If you inherited a lawn that seems to be unhealthy or struggles to grow year after year, this is likely due to inadequate soil and you may have to start over entirely, replacing the soil before planting new grass.
6. Inadequate Fertilizing
Applying too much fertilizer or using the wrong type can lead to excessive growth, burn damage, thatch buildup, and environmental pollution. Follow recommended fertilization schedules and rates for your specific grass type and local conditions.
Never fertilizing your lawn can also lead to grass that lacks essential nutrients. Without these nutrients, your lawn will not be able to grow strong and healthy. It is recommended to replenish the nutrients in your soil at least once per season. Fertilizing at the beginning of the growing season as well as at the end of the season is ideal, as this prepares your lawn to grow well during the warm months and also gives it the nutrients and energy it needs to survive throughout the winter months. AlphaLawn II Plus Iron is a fertilizer for grass that is ideal for use in early spring. If you are looking for a winterizing fertilizer for your lawn, AlphaLawn Turf Winterizer is what we recommend!
7. Ignoring Weeds
Allowing weeds to grow in your lawn can choke out your grass and reduce your lawn's overall health and appearance. Not to mention, any weeds that go to seed then spread thousands of seeds throughout the rest of your lawn, increasing the problem exponentially. Whether you choose to pull weeds manually or use herbicides to help eradicate weeds, just remember that the more you stay on top of weeds, the less you will have to deal with them in the long run!
Heavy foot traffic, vehicles, and equipment can compact the soil, limiting oxygen and nutrient absorption. Aerate your lawn as needed to alleviate compaction and improve soil health.
9. Neglecting Thatch
Thatch is a layer of dead grass and organic matter that can accumulate on the soil surface. Excessive thatch can restrict water and nutrient penetration. Use a dethatching rake to remove this dead material. Dethatching usually does not need to be done more than once per year, and you may even be able to skip a year or two if minimal thatch has built up. In more northern regions, it is ideal to complete this task in the fall before your lawn begins to go dormant for the season.
10. Overwatering New Seed
When overseeding or planting new grass, it's common to overwater. While consistent moisture is essential, avoid excessive watering that can wash away seeds or promote disease.
11. Always Mowing In the Same Direction
Mowing your lawn in the same direction every time can cause the blades of grass to "bend over" and start growing horizontally rather than straight up and down. If you notice that your grass is beginning to bend over, lightly rake your grass in the opposite direction before mowing to help it stand up, then mow in the opposite direction as usual. Blades of grass that grow tall and strong lead to a thicker, healthier lawn. Be sure to switch up the direction and even pattern in which you mow from time to time to avoid damage to your lawn.
12. Not Adjusting to Changing Seasons
The amount of water your lawn needs, how often it needs to be mowed, the type of fertilizer you use, and other factors are all affected by the seasons. Being aware of what your lawn needs during different times of the year is important for the health of your grass. Be sure to adjust your maintenance routines accordingly!
13. Planting The Wrong Type of Grass
There are either cool season grasses or warm season grasses, and both will not grow well if not planted in the right environment. Here in Northern Colorado, cool season grasses are ideal for planting. Be sure to do your research or consult a professional before planting grass seed or sod to ensure that you do not waste time and money on a lawn that will not survive due to a less-than-ideal climate.
Lawn Care Mistakes to Avoid
By avoiding these common lawn care mistakes and tailoring your approach to your specific lawn and local conditions, you can easily maintain a healthy, lush, and beautiful lawn. Much of providing your lawn with the appropriate care is simply awareness of the little things that make a big difference. If you have more questions about your lawn, need help diagnosing issues, or need to have your lawn replaced, reach out to us! As professionals in the landscaping industry, we are here to make sure that every home has a beautiful and thriving lawn. Call us today (970-488-1707) or fill out a contact form to get in touch with us!