When you were house hunting, the front lawn was the first thing you saw every time you drove up to a house. Now that you have finally moved into your new home, you want to keep up that curb appeal. However, figuring out how to maintain and care for your new lawn can seem daunting, especially for a first-time homeowner. So our lawn care experts have put together this beginner’s guide to lawn care, to help new homeowners develop a maintenance plan that will give them a beautiful lawn you can be proud of.

Mowing

How to mow your lawn may seem like a no-brainer. However, not following proper mowing habits can lead to a dull, unhealthy lawn.

    • Sharp Blades- When mowing your lawn, you want to cut your grass, not tear it. Mowing with a dull mower blade tears the grass blades. Ask any medical professional, and they will tell you that if you get cut, it’s better for it to be with a sharp knife than a dull one. This is because the wound will heal faster. The same goes for your lawn. Grass blades have to heal after being mowed. When mowing with a dull blade, your lawn will take much longer to recover, resulting in discoloration and will make your lawn more susceptible to lawn disease.
    • Mow high and often- I know; mowing can seem like a never-ending chore on your to-do list. It is common for homeowners to want to mow their lawns really short to keep from mowing as often. As much as I understand the temptation, this is very bad for the health of your lawn. Longer grass blades provide more surface area for photosynthesis which is vital to the survival of the grass. Grass blades also provide shade to the soil, helping with water retention and weed prevention. Here’s a cool fact for you; grassroots will grow as deep as the grass blades are tall. This is especially important during periods of drought because longer roots can reach water reserves that lay deeper into the ground. For a healthy lawn, keep your mowing height between 3.5 to 4 inches, and mow frequently to ensure that you won’t be removing more than one-third of the grass blade at a time. Doing so will shock the lawn leaving it vulnerable to disease and drought stress.

Watering

Watering incorrectly is a waste of time, money, and energy.  And like my parents always told me, you should work smarter, not harder. So, here are some simple tips to help you get the most out of watering your lawn.

    • When To Water- Lawns in Central Indiana need about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. Unfortunately, mother nature often falls short when it comes to providing the right amount of water for your lawns. Sometimes she tries to drown us, while other times she will go weeks without giving us a drop of water. If it rains every day for a week, you won’t need to water two days later just because it’s “watering day”. Instead, let your lawn tell you when it needs water. When your lawn shows any of the following signs of water stress, then it’s time to water:
          • When you walk in the grass and your footprints remain; it’s time to water
          • If the color starts to fade to a blueish-green color; it’s time to water
          • Are the tops of your grass blades beginning to wilt? Then it’s time to water
    • How To Water- When it is time to water your lawn, doing it correctly will not only save you time and money. Too much water can damage your lawn. It increases your chances of getting a turf disease, promotes shallow roots, not to mention it’s a waste of resources and money.
          • The best time of day to water the lawn is early in the morning between 6 AM and 10 AM. Watering later in the day is ineffective because a large amount of the water will be lost due to evaporation.  Watering in the evening can lead to turf disease. So stick with watering in the mornings!
          • When you water, you want to water deep. This simply means that you want to wet the soil down to the deepest roots. Watering deeply promotes a deeper root system which will help protect your lawn from heat stress, drought stress, and turf disease. Watering your lawn for 30 to 40 minutes will allow the water to penetrate deep into the soil and provide the proper soaking you’re looking for.
          • If you’re one of the lucky homeowners with the convenience of an in-ground irrigation system, then watering is as easy as flipping a switch. Unfortunately, many homeowners (including myself) don’t have that convenience. Check out our watering tips for ways to make watering your lawn a litter easier.

Weed and Feed

    • Pre-Emergents- I wish I could tell you that there was a miracle product that would prevent all weeds from ever-growing. Sadly, I can not. However, you can keep crabgrass at bay with well-timed pre-emergent herbicides. Pre-emergent herbicides work by inhibiting cell division and preventing crabgrass seeds from emerging. Because these herbicides work on germinating seeds, proper timing is crucial!
    • Fertilizer- Fertilization is important in maintaining your lawn’s density, enhancing the color, cultivating root growth, as well as helping your lawn recover from seasonal turf stress (like hot, dry periods) and turf damage. Applying the right fertilizer at the correct time helps turf accumulate and store essential nutrients it needs for proper growth and development. An annual fertilizer program should consist of five to eight fertilizer applications. When developing your annual fertilizer program, you need to take into consideration your lawn’s current condition and your specific goals for your lawn.
    • Broadleaf Weed Control- The first thing most homeowners think of when considering a weed control program is the dreaded dandelion.  This may be due to the way the bright yellow color pops in their otherwise green lawn, or the way their fast-growing stems stand so much taller than their grass that was only cut two days ago, or maybe its the fact that they know that they can’t stop the soft white seeds from floating into their lawn creating a never-ending cycle. Weeds don’t just look bad; they are also bad for the health of your lawn! Weeds take away nutrients your lawn needs to stay healthy and strong.   Applying broadleaf weed control constantly throughout the year will kill the weeds and their seeds. While some weeds like dandelions will usually die off after one application, other harder to control weeds can take multiple applications. This is why a broadleaf weed control program is so important.

Aeration

Over time lawns can take quite a beating. Natural stresses like soil compaction and an overly developed thatch layer can damage your lawn if not alleviated regularly. While thatch is a normal part of actively growing lawns, it can act like a clogged filter preventing nutrients from reaching your lawn’s root system if the thatch layer becomes too thick. In addition, weather, erosion, and foot traffic can contribute to soil compaction. Soil compaction restricts root growth, decreases the soil’s oxygen content, and prevents the soil from being able to absorb water properly. Aeration will amend the soil compaction and thatch layer.

    • How often Aerate- Core aerations should be done annually for most Central Indiana Lawns. However, lawns with serious severe soil compaction may require this to be done bi-annually at first, then annually once the severity of the compaction is elevated.
    • When to Aerate- Aeration can technically be performed at any time of the year. However, the most effective time is in the late summer or fall. In the spring, soil can become too moist from all of the spring rain resulting in damage to the turf from the heavy equipment. Also, if you have pre-emergent weed control applied in the early spring, poking holes through the pre-emergent barrier would pretty much render it useless. Aerating in the middle of summer can add unnecessary stress to the lawn due to the constant heat that can last throughout the night. Even though the days may still be hot in late summer, the cooler nights allow the lawn to recover nicely.

Seeding

Is your lawn thin? Do you have bare spots? Do you struggle with lots of weeds? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your lawn should be over-seeded. Unfortunately, it is a common misconception that fertilizing your lawn will fill in thin and bare areas. While fertilizing your was is extremely important because it will produce stronger and healthier turf, it won’t grow new grass. So when seasonal stresses cause thin areas or Fido decides to dig a hole in your yard, you’ll need to over-seed to correct the damage.

    • When to seed- Mid-August through Mid-November is the optimal time to plant grass seed. At this time of the year, soil temperatures are excellent for seeding growth. On top of that, since weeds naturally start to die off in the fall, the new grass won’t have to fight for room to grow.
    • How to seed- To ensure a successful over-seeding, you’ll need to follow a three-step process; Prep, Seed, and Maintenance. To prepare your lawn for over-seeding, you will first need to aerate your lawn. Proper seed germination requires good seed to soil contact. Aerating prior to seeding will break up thatch and help alleviate soil compaction and provide plenty of soil contact that the seed needs. Next, you’ll need to select and apply your seed. For Central Indian lawns, Turf Type Tall Fescue (TTTF) is the best cool-season grass to use for this region. TTTF is drought tolerant, heat tolerant, and less susceptible to most turf diseases. Second, apply seed with a broadcast spreader to get an even spread. Applying too much seed can cause the seed to choke itself out. So, make sure you are following the recommended spreading rate according to the seed you are using. Lastly, your new seed will need to be watered every day for 21 days. After the 21 days are up, you can resume regular watering habits.

If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, Lawn Pride is here for you. Our experts know what lawns in Central Indiana need and will work with you to develop a lawn care plan that fits your needs and budget.


Lawn Pride serves all of Central Indiana, so if you live in Indianapolis, on the northside (FishersCarmelWestfieldZionsville, and Noblesville), Westside (AvonPlainfield, or Brownsburg), the eastside (Greenfield), or on the southside (Greenwood) – click the link to get your free grub control estimate today!