DIY lawn tips for homeowners
For most homeowners, having a green, lush and patchless lawn is a symbol of responsibility, dedication to yard work, and a signal to your neighbors that your home’s interior is as well-kept as its outdoor spaces. Being marked as the neighbor with the browning, weed-infested lawn can be the vision of nightmares for those homeowners who pride themselves on a well-groomed front lawn.
Not only does a luscious lawn accentuate your garden, but it provides excellent outdoor space for your kids to blow off steam. To maintain this play-pad and lawn-game arena, it takes more than just planting some grass and hoping it grows. To achieve that widely coveted green lawn, you’ll have to give it some tender loving care.
Attaining that full and healthy lawn is a multi-step process. Lawn-care practices such as selecting the right type of grass for your climatic zone, picking great quality seeds, and watering go a long way in realizing your dream lawn goals. Below are some DIY tips that can help guide you through the process, so your lawn can be the talk-of-the-town (or, at least, the pinnacle of lawn-care success in your immediate neighborhood).
Choosing between sod and seeds
Whether you’re rejuvenating an old lawn or growing a new one, you may find yourself at a crossroads when choosing between sod and grass seed. Understanding the difference between the two and the unique benefits of each option sets a course of action for achieving your lawn goals.
Both start in seed form. Sod is simply transplanted from the well-maintained farms directly to your lawns. When choosing between the two, the convenience factor and your level of patience may influence your decision.
Advantages of raising your lawn from seeds
It’s cheaper to nurture your lawn from a standard grass seed than it is to purchase sod. Despite popular misconceptions, planting grass seed doesn’t require a green thumb. In fact, it’s a simple garden practice that even the most inexperienced homeowners can perform.
An upside of growing your lawn from grass seed is that you have a greater variety of grass types to choose from and intersperse in your backyard. The ability to customize your own grass variety is important, as the type of grass planted is the biggest determinant in how your lawn will perform. With seeds, you’re in control. You can assure that your grass germinates and matures in the same place, giving your grasses a chance to establish and develop healthy root systems.
Disadvantages of grass seeds
Since you’re the initial grower, seeds will require a lot more maintenance (such as constant irrigation). As the gardener and planter, you’re limited to specific time windows, as these grass seeds must be sown in peak growth times. These peak growth times will, ultimately, depend on grass types you handpick.
Unlike sod, you will have to wait for the seed to germinate, grow, and mature before you notice any sizable results. If you’re a homeowner who craves instant gratification, purchasing sod may be a better fit for your household.
Advantages of sod
For those homeowners who are interested in the instant results of sod application and want to transform their backyard overnight, you can purchase sod from your local sod farm or a nearby home improvement store.
After installing your sod, your lawn will appear thriving, mature, and well-nourished. Sod takes just a couple of weeks to be properly rooted on the site. Areas in your front or backyard that are prone to soil erosion can benefit immensely from sod applications, as these patches of sod act like a blanket and hold the soil in place.
With sod, you won’t be limited by restrictive planting times and peak planting windows. Sod can be installed at any time of the year, except during months of extreme heat.
Downside of starting with sod
Unlike grass seeds, fully-grown sod is very expensive. You may also have to hire a professional to install your sod to properly complete the job. Hiring a professional may be inevitable if you are physically incapable of performing manual labor or if your busy schedule doesn’t allow weekend projects like sod installation.
A poorly installed sod lawn has visible seams and bad rooting. You may face several challenges in transplanting the grass to your property if your yard’s conditions vary tremendously from the conditions of the farm where the sod was grown. Sod also has a narrow transplanting window. The ideal time for transplanting sod is no more than 24 hours after being cut.
Select the right grass type
There are lots of factors to consider when selecting the right grass type for your particular lawn. Different strains of grass perform differently under different climatic conditions. Depending on the grass type’s tolerance to warm or cool conditions, you’ll want to select a grass type designed to withstand the weather conditions of your neighborhood.
Some grasses are ideal for a lawn in warm regions, while others perform exceptionally in cold regions. Warm-season grasses, like Bermuda grass, do well in the summer heat and year-round warm climatic conditions. Cool-season grasses, such as ryegrass, fescues and Kentucky bluegrass, excel in the cool temperatures of spring, fall, and winter.
When choosing the best grass for your backyard, consider the purpose of your lawn, how much maintenance you’re willing to dedicate to your lawn, and other region-specific climatic and erosion factors. For more information on how to find the best grass type for your region, check out this helpful resource.
Purchase premium quality seeds
The key to a successfully established lawn is the use of premium quality seeds, best suited to your property site. The label on the seed package is an invaluable source of information for assessing how well-suited a seed is to your specific region. In the US, by law, all seed labels must be printed with 100% accurate information.
Quality seeds come at a higher price. When purchasing lawn seed, consider the germination percentage. Only purchase seed whose package label indicates a germination rate of 85 per cent and above. You can tell the amount of non-seed material in the package by checking the percentage of inert matter. This should be less than two per cent. The weed percentage is the total weight of all weed seeds and should ideally be no more than 0.5 per cent. Noxious weeds like quack grass shouldn’t be present in your seed bags.
Manage irrigation wisely
Lawn grasses spike in growth when watered deeply in less frequent intervals. This ensures the roots are deep, so the grass is not susceptible to drought conditions. With a good sprinkler system, you can grow healthier grass and still save money, by reducing water consumption.
Some grasses require less watering and are, therefore, ideal for the inaccessible and hard-to-water areas of your lawn. While the watering schedule may vary with the seasons, it’s important to always accommodate the requirements of your lawn.
Besides boosting the curb appeal of your home, a flourishing lawn can help establish a welcoming environment for potential houseguests, the occasional visitor, and all backyard barbeque attendees. Once your lawn is rooted or your sod is applied, you can invest in a deck, an in-ground pool, or you can hire a team of contractors to build the front deck of your dreams.