Wednesday, May 15, 2019 / by Anne Rose
Beautiful lawns benefit the environment, increase curb appeal, and even have been shown to improve wellness and reduce stress.
So get busy and use these six tips to create your own luscious lawn.
Tip No. 1: Plant the Right Grass for Your RegionNorth Carolina consists of three regions: Mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain. Where you live is a significant factor in deciding what type of grass to plant.
The Mountain region, which encompasses the city of Asheville, is on the westernmost part of the state. Here, grasses suited for cool seasons fare the best. These grasses grow rapidly in the spring and fall and less actively in the summer. Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass are cool-season grasses that flourish in cooler climates and stay fairly green during the fall.
The Piedmont region, which includes Charlotte and Raleigh (though Raleigh is on the eastern edge of the region), can handle a mix of both cool and warm-season grasses.
The Coastal Plain region, which includes Wilmington, calls for warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine grass, carpet grass, and Bermuda grass. These grasses are slow to green up and grow best in the summer. They go dormant after the first frost.
Simplify your selection process by using the turf selection tool from North Carolina State University.
Is your yard the neighborhood playground or do you have a “stay off the lawn” sign?
Tip No. 2: Choose the Right Color, Density, and Texture
If no one ever walks across your yard, you can focus on which shade of green is most pleasing to the eye and how dense you want the blades of grass.
Dark green grass types include Kentucky bluegrass, hard fescue, and perennial ryegrass. Lighter green grasses include tall fescue, St. Augustine, and Zoysia.
If kids are always running and playing on your lawn, consider a tough, tolerant grass that can stand up to heavy traffic. Warm-season grasses such as Bermuda and Zoysia are some of the most traffic-resistant lawns. Since feet are constantly stomping the grass down into the dirt, consider aerating high traffic areas in the spring and fall.
Forget about cleaning up the clippings every time you cut your lawn. Leaving the grass clippings behind when mowing is called "grasscycling." It returns moisture and nutrients to the soil and can eliminate the need for chemical fertilizer. It also keeps yard waste out of the landfill. So stop bagging that grass and leave it on the lawn.
Tip No. 3: Use What Nature Provides
Raked leaves are another great source for improving the soil. Many of us were taught that leaves smother a lawn, but that only happens if you have a massive amount of leaves or they're covered by snow all winter - not typically an issue for North Carolinians. So wait until the leaves on your lawn are older and crumble easily and mow over them. You can leave the little pieces there to mulch the soil.
Improper watering leaves you with wasted water, added costs, and an unhealthy lawn. Too little of the wet stuff and root systems can be damaged, leaving the grass blades brown or dead. Too much and it robs the soil of oxygen and prevents deep digging grass roots.
Tip No. 4: Irrigate
Most guidelines call for watering two or three times per week, not every day. Run your irrigation system before 10 a.m. This reduces the risk of lawn disease and water loss through evaporation.
As for how much water to use, it’s recommended to keep going until the top 6 to 8 inches of soil is wet. You can check this by putting a screwdriver into the ground. If the soil has been soaked to a depth of at least 6 inches, you’re done.
Mowing regularly is one of the most important things you can do for your lawn. It makes a lawn thicker and decreases weeds.
Tip No. 5: Mow
Each type of grass has a proper mowing height. Remember, you choose your grass based on which North Carolina region you call home. Look up how to mow it at the right height. Never remove more than one-third of the grass blade at any one time. Cutting the grass too short on a regular basis turns the lawn brown. It increases vulnerability to pests and disease and it lets more sunlight get to weed seeds, allowing them to sprout.
Be sure to mow when the grass is dry, so it doesn’t clog the mower and be sure to keep the blades sharp. Change the mowing pattern each time you mow to avoid creating ruts in the ground. And avoid mowing when the sun is at its peak, to prevent heat stress on your grass and yourself.
Insects and other pests can turn a spectacular lawn into a devastated mess. The more common turf bugs in North Carolina include white grubs, armyworms, chinch bugs, and ground pearl or pearl bugs.
Tip No. 6: Pest Management
Every seven to 10 days during the growing season, inspect the lawn for pests. You’re looking for soil mounds or holes in the soil, grass blades chewed off at or below the soil line, yellow and brown patches in the lawn, and, of course, the actual insects. Identify the problem before deciding on a treatment. The North Carolina Extension Service has compiled a list to help you determine what's causing the destruction and how to treat it.
Creating and keeping a luscious lawn makes you, and your neighbors, proud and happy. If you’re thinking of selling your home, a well-landscaped yard makes the exterior of your house look even better. A beautiful lawn gives you the curb appeal that leads to a wonderful first impression among potential buyers.
About the author
Jacob Palmer is a gardening and landscape design writer. When mowing lawns on his street as a child, he discovered a lifelong passion for landscape design. He now has three children who can all be found helping him most weekends with his next big garden project.