It’s not uncommon for couples with lawn trouble to stop in to talk to the Ada County Master Gardeners at the University of Idaho Extension Office in Garden City.
“Finding solutions for turf woes can seem like marriage counseling,” Advanced Master Gardener Debbie Courson Smith says. “There can be finger-pointing.”
In this week’s Dig In gardening video, we share some basic lawn tips that could help make your lawn a little greener — and bring peace to your home.
Several of the tips have to do with water. That’s because watering too much or too little is one of the biggest issues for lawns and gardens.
Water deeply, infrequently
I know many people set their sprinkler systems to run every morning or night during the summer. But Debbie and other experts say the best practice is to water deeply — and infrequently.
That means a baseline of watering once a week for 30 minutes, or whatever it takes to soak the soil 8 to 9 inches down (you might need to experiment a bit to figure that out). During prolonged hot spells, you might need to water more than once during a given week.
“When you water deeply, and the water gets down to the roots, it encourages the roots to grow longer,” Debbie said.
Her yard has clay soil, which doesn’t absorb water as quickly and easily as other soil types. So on designated watering days during the height of the summer, Debbie sprinkles her yard up to three times (10 minutes each time) to be sure the water doesn’t run off in the way it might during a single deluge.
Not sure if you’re watering enough? Do a spot check a few days after you water. Use a shovel to dig down about 6 to 9 inches. The top layers may be dry but the soil a half foot down should be moist.
Don’t freak out about brown patches. Many times, those patches aren’t dead, they’ve just gone dormant due to heat and/or lack of water. Some extra water and fertilizer can often green those back up.
Don’t cut lawn short, mulch clippings
It may not look quite as neat to keep your lawn a little longer but it will be easier to keep it healthy. Debbie keeps her lawn mower blade set on the highest length.
Longer grass helps retain moisture. It also promotes root growth, which makes the grass more resilient.
Another recommendation: Keep your lawn mower blade sharp (sharpen at start of summer and plan to sharpen again mid-season). A dull blade rips grass blades, weaking them and making them more susceptible to disease.
Leave lawn clippings in the grass. Rake clumps into the lawn.
“They’re going to be reabsorbed very quickly by your lawn,” Debbie said. “It provides food, and it provides water.”
Feed your lawn about every six weeks
One easy way to remember when to fertilize is to use the so-called holiday schedule. Feed on or around Tax Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving.