Just a few weeks ago, I pulled ultra-thick socks over my feet and stuffed them into thick boots, sighed and continued the process of preparing to venture into the winter: coat, gloves, scarf, mittens over gloves, hat. Then as I did a ridiculous, surfing-like move to stop myself from wiping out entirely en route to my car, I longed for summer, specifically the promise of one wonderful thing:
A barefoot-worthy lawn.
The backyard of my childhood home had a plush, soft, vibrant-green lawn. It was an important backdrop to my favorite summer childhood memories: Cart wheels and handstand attempts, Slip ‘N Slide rides, water-balloon wars and extremely embarrassing, solo choreography set to radio hits (I’m cringing on that last one…).
Now, as a grownup, I appreciate more than ever my father’s effort to make that lawn so barefoot worthy. Thanks, Dad.
Here’s how to ensure your lawn is barefoot-worthy this summer:
Bonus, it’s a budget friendly, do-it-yourself endeavor, if you have the time and interest. Think of the reward: lawn awesomeness.
1. Make it easy for your lawn to thrive.
• Rake it. Raking isn’t just a fall job; it’s essential for a healthy lawn year round. Dethatch (a.k.a. remove the layer of dead grass or debris covering your grass) using a dethatcher available for rental at home improvement stores. In some yards, a basic rake may do the trick.
• Remove hidden debris. Scour for pebbles and other tiny debris that may have settled in your lawn, courtesy of your snowblower.
• Aerate: Aeration, or the process of making holes in soil to enable air, water and nutrients to reach the grass roots, occurs naturally but you can aid it by using an aeration tool. This will enable water and fertilizer to reach the root systems.
2. Fertilize and fertilize properly.
• Buy a soil test kit from a home improvement store to determine what type of fertilizer is needed for your particular soil, grass type and yard conditions.
• You’ll be tempted to pick the on-sale brands. But the lesser-known, low-priced brands may have more filler content and far fewer nutrients than the more well-known brands. Read the packaging.
• Follow the package application directions.
Related post: Seven killer lawn fertilizer mistakes
3. Thicken your lawn.
• Before your first mowing of the season, allow your lawn to grow three to four inches (approximately eight to 10 cm). Grass relies on photosynthesis to create energy for growth; the taller the grass, the more energy it will obtain. This will strengthen the root system and foster more grass growth.
• Don’t give your lawn a buzz cut, ever! You should never cut more than one third of your grass length is a single mowing. Shorter grass is more susceptible to disease and pest infestations.
• Mow in different directions each time you mow.
Related post: How to create a cool mowing pattern on your lawn
4. Take good care of your lawn mower.
• Tune up your engine at the start of every season. Find a tune-up kit packed with the maintenance essentials for your lawn mower engine model on RepairClinic.com/Tune-up.
• Always use sharp lawn mower blades. Dull lawn mower blades will mow with tear-style cutting, causing discoloration (a terrible, yellow hue over the top).
5. Water only one to two times weekly.
Despite what your neighbors think, it is unwise to water lawns multiple times per week. Frequent watering for short periods will cause the lawn root system to stay close to the surface, making it prime candidates for diseases and pests. A healthier lawn will be watered only one to two times weekly, for long periods to allow for deeper saturation.
6. Pay attention to appearance.
Take action at the first signs of weed growth, especially those that spread rapidly such as clover. Also, know patterns to spot disease and pest infestations.
Enjoy that barefoot-worthy lawn! In the spirit of summer nostalgia, what’s your favorite summer yard memory? Please share in the comments below.