After another chilly winter for much of the nation, many homeowners may be eager to roll up their sleeves outside this spring. Before beginning seasonal maintenance, keep in mind these common lawn care myths, courtesy of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).
Myth #1: You can water your lawn and landscape any time of day.
Reality: Water is a valuable resource – make every drop of irrigation count! Watering the lawn in the early mornings or evenings after sunset minimizes evaporation, so it’s the best time for water to penetrate deep into the soil.
Myth #2: It’s fine to cut the grass very short.
Reality: Avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass leaf at a time. Mowing at a finished cut height of 3 to 3.5 inches tall throughout the summer is generally recommended. The lawn will need less water, will be more resistant to weeds and will have a deeper, greener color. Use a sharp mower blade to prevent tearing grass blades. A crisp and clean cut will help prevent a “brown tip” appearance.
Myth #3: It’s best to water your lawn every day.
Reality: Watering your lawn every three days is better than daily watering. Deep, rather than shallow lawn watering is recommended to nurture roots. One inch of water to 12 inches of soil is the preferred ratio for watering actively growing grass.
Myth #4: If you want to replace your lawn, you should do it in the spring, when plants are preparing to bloom.
Reality: The best time to sow seed is in the late summer and early fall when the temperatures are more consistent and highly competitive weeds, like crabgrass, are at the end of their life cycle.
Myth #5: Early spring is the best time to fertilize the lawn.
Reality: Since different species of grass prefer nutrients at different times of the year, be sure to use the correct fertilizer, at the right rate, right time, and in the right place. A slow release fertilizer allows for more even and consistent feeding over a longer period of time than a quick release fertilizer. Remember to use fertilizers responsibly by cleaning up any that lands on streets, sidewalks or driveways where they can be washed away into lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
Myth #6: A garden hose is more cost-efficient than installing an irrigation system.
Reality: Many landscape professionals recommend installing an irrigation system with smart controllers which have sensors that water when needed. Smart irrigation can offer a cost savings of 15 to 20 percent on water bills. Converting irrigation spray nozzles from sprinklers to rotating nozzles will spread heavy droplets of water at a slower pace, which makes them more targeted and effective.
Myth #7: You have to irrigate to have a healthy and beautiful lawn.
Reality: Grasses are built to endure long periods of drought by entering a state of dormancy. When temperatures and moisture levels are at their extreme, the growing point of the grass plant, the crown, will shut off the grass blades, turning them brown. In almost all instances, once the heat and drought stresses have gone, the crowns will begin to send up new shoots. There’s nothing wrong with irrigating to avoid dormancy, but “embracing the brown” for a couple of weeks in the summer is just fine.