Is it true that your lawn will look better, the more fertiliser you use? Does good lawn care really mean clearing up every last leaf? Read on to find out which lawn care facts are true and which can be ignored.
Myth 1: The shorter the better
Many people think that good lawn care means cutting your grass as short as possible. But mowing your grass right down to the ground doesn’t necessarily make it healthier. In fact, the opposite is true - very short grass tends to be less resilient. A very short lawn will leave the soil exposed to the sun, drying it out, and will leave more space for weeds, which compete with grass for moisture and nutrients. A general rule is not to remove more than one third of the height of grass blades at one time.
Myth 2: All leaves must be removed
There is an element of truth to this. A thick layer of leaves on your lawn can prevent your grass from getting the sunlight it needs, and may encourage diseases. But having organic matter like leaves composting on your lawn can also be a good thing.
Wait for a couple of dry days so that neither the leaves nor the lawn are wet and then just mow as usual. The leaves will be chopped up into smaller parts which will release nutrients into the soil as they decompose.
Myth 3: Lawn clippings should be removed
As with leaves, grass clippings can be very beneficial, as long as they don’t suffocate your grass. If you usually put your clippings on a compost heap, you would have noticed that they decompose quickly into good compost. Leaving your lawn clippings where they are will allow the nutrients they release to go back into the lawn, a process known as grasscycling.
Reusing clippings is an environmentally friendly and time saving method of lawn care. Just remember not to do it if the grass had been allowed to get out of hand before cutting. If your grass is long, compost it or use it as mulch elsewhere instead. In the case of shorter clippings, make sure they are well spread out and don’t cover any parts of the lawn too thickly. It's also important not to recycle clippings that have been treated with pesticides.
A modern way of re-introducing grass clippings back into your lawn is by using a robotic lawnmower. Mulching is done automatically and since it mows a small amount on a regular basis, your lawn will not get suffocated by excess clippings.
Myth 4: Good lawn care means piling on the fertiliser
Although most lawns respond well to some treatment with fertiliser, it isn’t true that the more you put on, the better your lawn will be. In fact, too much fertiliser can be very damaging, ‘burning’ the grass and turning it yellow. Continued application of fertiliser after this will cause the grass to turn brown and die, meaning that you’ll have to dig it up and start from scratch.
To avoid over-fertilising, follow the instructions on any fertiliser you use carefully. You can also try out organic alternatives like grass clippings, compost or well-composted manures.
Myth 5: The more water the better
As with other plants, grass can suffer from overwatering. Healthy irrigation means watering enough to get moisture to the roots, rather than keeping the topsoil permanently wet. After watering, let the soil drain and the surface dry out. This encourages the grass to extend its roots further into the ground to find moisture, which will make it healthier in the long run.
Manually watering a lawn of any size is extremely time consuming so it can be helpful to use a sprinkler instead. When connected to a water control, it can be set to water automatically at the optimal time.
Lawn care can seem a bit intimidating at first, but you’ll be surprised how many things will take care of themselves. Don’t be afraid of leaving grass clippings on your lawn and don’t overdo the watering and fertilising. Remember to practise moderation in all things lawn-care related and your lawn will thank you!