A beautifully-manicured lawn can make even the most modest home look like a million bucks. But actually achieving the lush landscaping of your dreams? Yeah, it’s way easier said than done. Not only is it really hard work having to constantly water, mow, fix lawn spots, and attack those pesky weeds, but these days you’re also having to fight everything from unpredictable weather to unsightly pests that all seem determined to keep your most luscious plant life patchy.
So what can you do?
Well, according to some of the world’s most experienced landscapers, the single best way to achieve a healthy and beautiful lawn is to scarify and aerate it every fall.
“Grass roots need air in order to breathe and grow,” says Pol Bishop, a gardening and landscaping expert with U.K.-based Fantastic Gardeners. “When the soil is not sandy enough, the roots get less air, resulting in hindered growth. To prevent that from happening, scarify and aerate your lawn every autumn around September or October.”
Apparently, Bishop says, “aeration helps stimulate root growth. Newer and stronger roots lead to healthier and more resistant plants,” while scarifying—the process of removing other organic material from the grass— improves your lawn’s rooting, increases its tolerance against disease, improves oxygen circulation and nutrients in your soil, and keeps dead vegetation, like grass and moss, from causing the healthy grass to deteriorate.
That said, to maintain your grass throughout the year, it’s also important to be smart about how close you cut it—and how you feed it between trims.
Though many amateur landscapers avoid trimming their grass too closely when the weather’s warm, Bishop says that leaving it long may be a misstep. “Cutting your grass down to size during summer is a perfectly fine thing to do. It’s actually recommended you do it,” says Bishop. “However, in doing that, you remove important nutrients from the grass that now need to be replaced.”
Also, more than watering or regular mowing, using fertilizer will make your grass resilient enough to withstand the aeration and scarifying it needs, says Bishop.
“Fertilizers are used to improve plant growth by replenishing the levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in the soil. They also help when dealing with plants that show signs of nutrient deficiency and can bring them back to their former glory.”
And while the right fertilizer can give you the nutrient-rich soil you need to keep your lawn healthy, you can have too much of a good thing, so always adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions. And if your other outdoor plants could use a pick-me-up, make sure you know these 15 Ways You’re Destroying Your Garden.
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