When I started searching for the right home for me, I knew that my budget would only allow me to look at prospective houses that were firmly in the “fixer-upper” category. Sadly, that didn’t just mean tacky paint or shag carpeting—it also meant landscaping that left something that’s green to be desired: namely, brown, unattractive grass.
On one side, the lawn suffered from raised spots, big dips, and portions of grass that sunlight couldn’t reach. On the other side, the grounds sloped into hills, and a truly unfortunate “dip” in the earth that was about a foot deep—with so many roots sticking out, that it could have easily fit right in on the set of an “Evil Dead” film—that I couldn’t run a lawnmower over tangled gnarls. And that’s not all—I didn’t even mention the lawn’s half and half blend of weeds and brown grass mix, that culminated in a lawn that had grown over onto the sidewalk.
Still, I tried to remain unphased and determined. I had always dreamed of a pristine lawn upon which I could enjoy some barefoot summer nights, and as it was, I wouldn’t dare step foot outside on that jagged atrocity without plenty of protection. So, how did I get started on fixing it, and creating a green, luscious cushion to pad upon in perfect summer weather?
Get the “Mow”down
So first off let’s talk about mowing. Mowing is the most singularly important thing to do, and it must be done properly in order to get my lawn healthy. I had to spend most of my time mowing and I had to do it right. Now, I had suffered from a misconception about lawns for years: that the shorter the grass, the better. However, that simply isn’t true. Blades of grass have to have enough leaf surface to absorb plenty of sunlight. So, when I’m mowing, I try to leave my grass as tall as I possibly can, so that it leaves more of the leaf’s surface exposed. If you remember your high school biology class lessons, then you’ll know that more sunlight on the leaf’s surface allows photosynthesis to occur: this process Allows sugars to travel downwards, nourishing the base of the plant. As a rule of thumb, don’t ever cut off more than a third of the blade’s length when you mow.
So Mulch Better than Before
As I started mowing the lawn regularly, I mulched the clippings after every time I mowed. Mulch is a natural fertilizer. After many cycles, the lawn started yielding enough grass clippings to combine with the compost I was developing; eventually, I was able to plant some bushes, flowers, and vegetables, and the compost pile was a gift that just kept on giving. When you feed your soil with the right nutrients and enough moisture, that supports optimum photosynthesis, and helps the lawn grow thicker, quicker, and stronger.
Fertilize With Organics
I decided to fertilize with the organics from my compost heap because organics are about as full-proof as it gets—with no caustic chemicals to measure, even I couldn’t mess up that aspect of lawn care. I didn’t want to wait on the yields of inactive composting—my lawn needed nutrients right away!—so, I followed a guide, turned up the heat, and got directly to active composting. With just a few ingredients that were high in nitrogen, I got good at getting the green.
Water You Up To?
While some areas—like the deserts in Utah—might require you to water your lawn within a strict set of restrictions and guidelines, watering strategically was still a key factor in how I developed a green, luscious lawn. Pick a spot at a time to address. Keep that area well irrigated and looking well all season long, and then you can extend your watering to different areas. I tried to keep my watering to one had-inch of water every week. I purchased a rain gauge and placed that into the lawn, threw my sprinkler out, then monitored how long it would take to one-half-inch, then placed the sprinkler and rain gauge into a different area. Map it out for maximum results.
With just a year’s worth of effort, I have the kind of lawn that any TV dad would be jealous of… perhaps, even leaving them green with envy.