Mowing height and frequency is vital to avoid stress. Maintain a lawn height of 2.5 to 3 inches and to avoid damaging the plant life, never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. If you missed a mow or two, still cut off the 1/3. Then in another day or two, cut off another third and you should be back on track.
The reason you should not cut off more than a third is because it can result in piles of clippings scattered about the lawn. These piles decompose more slowly and will make your lawn appear less attractive and open. Also, cutting too short can actually stunt growth and will dry out the soil faster. Improper cutting also leads to the development of diseases in the lawn.
Remember to mow in opposite directions each time to keep the grass growing upright. Mowing in the same direction every time will cause the grass to lean towards that side. The health of your lawn also depends on the health of your mower. Remember to keep your mower's blades sharp at all times. A good rule of thumb is to sharpen the blades every long weekend. If you're cutting more than once per week, then sharpen monthly. Dull mower blades will tear at grass blades instead of cutting, promoting diseases in the lawn. Continuously cutting your lawn with dull blades will weaken your lawn; an invitation to your local neighbourhood insects. Keep in mind that brand new mowers come with dull blades for safety purposes. Also, avoid mowing when the turf is wet, as this too will prevent a clean cut.
Finally, leave short grass clippings on the lawn to return nutrients to the soil.
Turfgrasses, like all living plants, require water for growth and survival. It is important to water your lawn properly to keep it green, thick and hardy. This will enable it to resist weed infestations, insect damage and diseases. The most common indications that your lawn is beginning to suffer from drought stress are the appearance of irregular shaped yellow patches or a bluish tinge and footprints/tire tracks from your mower remaining on the lawn.
It is best to water deeply and infrequently, rather than briefly and frequently. In other words, avoid watering every day for 15 minutes as this will promote a shallow root zone leading to diseases and other problems. Most lawns require one inch of water per week to help develop a strong, deep root system. The best time to water is early morning, 3 times per week for 45 minutes per sprinkler location. If you have an automatic watering system, please make sure that it is set for sometime before 7a.m. so it doesn't affect any of our weed control applications. Avoid late afternoon or evening watering as this too will promote diseases. Remember that even though lawns are resilient, not watering them during hot, dry summer months will cause them to go into dormancy in order to protect themselves. Lawns do come back to life in the fall, but a little weaker than before and this will continue year after year until it's full of bare and thin areas and only an expensive renovation will bring them back to full life.
A common mistake made when seeding or sodding is not watering. A newly seeded lawn must be kept moist for the first 3-4 weeks or it will not germinate properly. Unlike proper watering habits, keeping moist means a light daily watering. Depending on the temperature, twice a day may be necessary, as long as the seeded areas are not left to dry out. It is a good idea to add top soil with your seed to protect it from drying out and hungry birds. As new seedlings begin to emerge, ensure that your mower blades are kept sharp to avoid pulling out the underdeveloped roots.
Sod also needs to be watered every day for the first 3-4 weeks, but for 45 minutes per sprinkler location. If you notice certain sections turning yellow, this is an indication that it's not receiving enough water or there may be something obstructing its development. Lift the sod in that area and check for debris. Always lay sod on a clean, even surface by rolling and raking in fresh top soil. Keep in mind that sod does not take well in heavily shaded areas. A shade resistant seed is a better choice for such areas.
Most lawns have compacted soil, which restricts the movement of air, water and nutrients to the roots. Unlike garden soil, the soil under your lawn is not being worked or turned, making an aeration a perfect alternative to tilling.
Not only will a yearly aeration relieve compacted soil but it also helps to reduce thatch levels, which is a common residence for pests such as chinch bugs. Basically, having your lawn aerated on a yearly basis will strengthen the root system of your lawn. The stronger your lawn, the more resilient it will be when fighting off insects, diseases and drought.