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Make Your Yard Greener in 6 Weeks
Spring is the right time to focus on yard improvements but time is definitely not on your side. Impending summer temperatures mean slower grass growth. Follow these steps and make your yard greener in 6 weeks.
Mow More, Cut Less
Grass grows fast in spring; even faster if you fertilized it. Don’t try to get away with a once-a-week scalping. Cutting off more than about 1/3 of the lawn’s height forces the grass to deplete the food stored in its roots to replace its lopped top. And depleted roots lead to a weaker lawn that’s ill equipped to cope with heat and dryness. If you’re truly committed to a better lawn in six weeks, add a second mowing to your weekly schedule. Some weeks, a third.
Applying half the yearly fertilizer amount now gives your lawn a quick boost at a critical time (apply the other half in early autumn). Use an organic fertilizer — organics are so widely sold now that there’s no excuse for using a synthetic one.
To take feeding to the next level, apply a micronutrient treatment. Liquid seaweed contains a host of trace minerals. Or for a deep green lawn that will make your neighbors green with envy, try an iron supplement.
Do Something about the Weeds
The safest option is to dig or pull up weeds. Yes, it’s time-consuming, but take heart: even if you don’t get the whole root, you’ve weakened the weed and, for the time being, kept it from producing seeds.
If pulling isn’t enough fire power for you’re weed problem, spot treat weeds with a weed killer, which is safer than dousing the whole lawn. Here’s good news for the huge number of people who don’t want to use synthetic weed killers: a new natural weed killer is on the market that zaps weeds without killing the lawn. Before this product, only synthetic weed killers could distinguish between friend and foe. Look for it under the trade name Ortho® EcoSense Lawn Weed Killer.
The EcoSense product label doesn’t specifically list two of the toughest broadleaf lawn weeds: ground ivy, also called creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) and violets. If you have too much of either to pull out, the most effective option is a three-way weed killer such as Trimec or Ortho® Weed B Gon® that contains 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba. If you’re applying near trees and shrubs, find a formulation that leaves out the dicamba, which can be fatal to woody plants. You can minimize your exposure by buying the herbicide in a ready-to-apply container; you don’t have to worry about spilling during mixing, or mixing it too strong or weak.
Repair Dead Spots
All sorts of mishaps can kill spots in the lawn — spilled fertilizer, dog urine, insect damage. Patch small areas with sod cut from a hidden part of the yard. For a larger area, you can save money by reseeding, following these instructions.
Remedy Trampled Areas
Grass grows poorly in compacted soils, giving less finicky weeds the chance to move in. Hot spots are the well-used shortcuts across the lawn or the strip next to the driveway that you drive on when backing out. You have options:
Fight it. Loosen compacted soil to about 6 inches and reseed. Then train people to take the sidewalk and learn how to use your car’s side mirrors.
Don’t fight it. Make a path of bark chips or stepping stones where everyone walks. Replace the grass adjacent to paved areas with a wide band of bricks or pavers.
Finally — Be Realistic
Until you remedy any of these situations, you’re never going to have a lawn that is utterly and eternally perfect. But with this six-week program, you will have a greener, healthier lawn.