How to Make Your Grass Greener

June 8, 2010 at 5:00 am 7 comments

Look outside. Every lawn on your street is a different shade of green. That’s because everybody cuts, waters and fertilizes differently, not to mention the half dozen varieties of common grasses that they may have.

I’ve never been that guy with the greenest lawn, so I asked my lawn specialist friend Mike how to make my lawn greener.

He told me the most important factor was how short I cut it. He said, “the longer you leave it, the better. Set your mower on its highest setting.” I was hesitant because I always cut my grass short and I liked the way that looked.

But, longer grass traps more moisture and reduces the sunlight that gets to the roots, which can burn the grass and dry it out.

Grass reacts to the sun like your skin does. Too much sun without protection will burn it. When you have/had a full head of hair, you don’t put sunscreen on top of your head because your hair protects your skin. The same goes for long grass, it provides shade for the roots and soil.

Long grass also develops a deeper root system which makes the grass more fit for dry and less fertile soil.

I followed Mike’s advice and my grass still looks neatly trimmed, it’s also the greenest grass I’ve ever had. But, there are other reasons why your grass turns brown or yellow.

Water is an important element in healthy grass. Lawns typically need a minimum of one inch of water per week to stay green, although you will need more when it’s hot, sunny, dry and/or windy. You’ll need less when it’s cool, damp and cloudy.

Soil and other environmental factors, such as pets, can also steal the green from your lawn. If you cut your grass long and water frequently, but still have yellow lawn, you should have your soil tested for nutrient deficiencies and fertilize accordingly.

Otherwise, regular fertilizing in early and late spring along with early and late fall are often a good way to maintain a healthy lawn.

If you do nothing else, try setting your mower on its highest setting. I bet it will make as big a difference for you as it has for me and it might even save some water since you can water a bit less.

Check out some other lawn related broken secrets:

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Photo: aussiegall (cc)

Sources: All About Lawns (watering, cutting), Scott’s (Fertilizing)

Entry filed under: Around The House, Be Green. Tags: , , , , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. thebackroadslesstraveled  |  June 8, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I discovered mowing my lawn on the highest setting several years ago and was surprised how it didn’t need as much water and it looked fantastic. Great that you are passing this great info on.

    Reply
  • 2. Hudson  |  June 8, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Great stuff. Additionally, water thoroughly and infrequently. If you water regularly, the roots have no reason to grow deep into the soil since water is always available on the surface. Set your sprinkler so that only an inch or so of water is applied once a week (put a bucket in your yard to know how much water is being applied through your sprinkler system) so the roots grow deep and create a stronger yard. Also, avoid fertilizers heavy with Nitrogen. They make your grass grow very quickly but doesn’t make your grass system any stronger. I recommend using Milorganite (milorganite.com) – it’s cheaper (you have to use a lot, but costs about $6.99/bag), you only have to apply it twice a year, and makes your grass much stronger. It doesn’t have any weed killer in it, so you’ll want to put a pre-emergent down in the middle of March.

    Reply
  • 3. SouthernLawn  |  July 19, 2011 at 11:11 am

    This is all really good advice. I have lived in the southern United States for the pass three years and my grass had been turning brown in the winter. I talked with a neighbor and he suggested that in the early fall I overseed my lawn with a northern species of grass. After looking at spreaders and buying one, I planted some red fescue over my bermudagrass and my lawn stayed a lush green all winter!

    Reply
  • 4. K  |  April 12, 2012 at 9:48 am

    There is far better advice than this long available. Instead of asking random people, get a book. Beer is excellent for grass and so is ammonia. Animals keep eating it? Human urine will keep them away by, simply put, marking your territory. All of these things should go in something like a Miracle-Gro waterhose attachment. There are many more interesting tips that certainly work. I would never ask a “professional” unless employeed by a stadium or excellent golf course. Many things are better if you just appreciate accountability and do it yourself, however. All of the aforementioned tips are facts of science and points of logic.

    Reply
  • 5. chriscp  |  September 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I don’t mow on the lowest setting, but too high and I’ll be mowing more often or getting an obnoxious visit from code enforcement (seriously, how can someone look in the mirror in the morning knowing that part of their job is nitpicking the height of someone’s grass???). Mowing more often means…more noise, more fumes, more gas used and more time wasted chasing greener grass and less actually enjoying it. Honestly, I’m to the point where I hate my lawn and all the trees around my house.

    Reply
    • 6. Chad Upton  |  September 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      If you’re mowing once/week to keep your grass looking evenly trimmed then you don’t have to mow any more frequently on the highest setting.

      Reply
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