Low Maintenance Lawn Care Tips
If you're concerned about the health risks, the environmental damage, or the high cost and effort of maintaining a traditional lawn, but you're not ready to dig up your lawn just yet, there are ways that you can make your lawn more low maintenance, low cost, environmentally friendly, and safe for children and pets.
Set your mower blades to 3 inches.
Growing your lawn at a relatively high 3 inches offers many benefits. It requires fewer mowings, reducing fuel costs, air pollution, and time spent mowing. Taller blades of grass shade the ground better, keeping the soil cooler and reducing evaporation. This makes your topsoil friendlier to earthworms, who will move in to aerate and add nutrient-rich, soil conditioning worm castings. It also reduces watering bills, because the soil stays moister longer, and reduces germination of many weed seeds, because many weeds prefer sunny conditions for germination.
Use a mulching mower and cut only about 1/3 the height of the grass
at a time.
Leaving grass clippings on the lawn instead of raking them up is known as grasscycling. As long as the clippings are short and spread out enough, they will not smother the grass or cause thatch. Grass clippings are very high in nitrogen and studies have found that grasscycling can substantially reduce or even eliminate the need for fertilizers. It also improves the soil by adding organic matter and attracting earthworms.
Water deeply but infrequently.
Exact watering needs vary depending on the type of grass and your location, but in many areas of the United States, watering is not necessary in the spring and fall, and watering once a week, deeply, is sufficient in all but the hottest and driest days of summer. Watering deeply but infrequently encourages the grass to grow a dense mat of deep roots, which will not only resist drought and require less watering, they will also choke out most weeds.
Better yet, stop watering entirely and let your lawn go dormant in the middle of summer as nature intended, or consider plugging drought tolerant warm season turf grasses such as zoysia or buffalograss into your lawn.
Most pesticides kill not only the pests they're supposed to kill, but also the beneficial insects who feed on them. By going organic, you can allow populations of beneficial insects, insect-eating birds, and other wildlife to rebound and start taking care of your pest problem for you. Beneficial insects and other helpful critters will not eliminate a pest problem entirely, but in most cases they will keep it to manageable levels with far less money and effort than chemical pesticides require.
These four simple tips will not only reduce the amount of time and money you must spend taking care of your lawn, they will also reduce its environmental footprint, make it safer for young children and pets, and ultimately result in a healthier and hardier lawn.