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Top Mistakes Homeowners Make with Their Yard

When you’re a first-time homeowner, it’s easy to make mistakes when taking care of your lawn because there’s a lot to learn, especially for those who’ve never lived in a house with a yard. Even seasoned homeowners struggle to maintain a lush, green lawn of their dreams.

Often, what seems like a bit of extra TLC for your lawn is harmful to the grass. Thankfully, we’re here to highlight some of the most common lawn care mistakes for green and veteran homeowners, along with tips on how to avoid them this year.

Common Lawn Care Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Buying the Wrong Equipment
Owning a home can be costly. It’s only natural that homeowners try to cut costs where they can, but lawn maintenance isn’t the best place to trim the budget. Many new homeowners, especially those buying large lawns, purchase mowers with too little power to suit their needs. Using an inadequate mower can add many frustrating hours to your lawn care routine.

On the other hand, buying a massive riding mower for a smaller lawn only adds extra cost and maintenance to an otherwise simple task. The key is to find enough power without buying too much.

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2. Poor Maintenance
All mowers require regular maintenance, which some homeowners may not realize. Ideally, mower blades should be sharpened or replaced each season, oil should be changed each year, and all components should be checked for wear.

Another maintenance tip to keep in mind is to empty the gas tank before long-term storage so the gas lines don’t fill with condensation in the off-season. Skipping this step can result in a very, very rough first mow, or even a mower that won’t start.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing regular maintenance on your own, get in the habit of bringing your mower in for service before spring hits. That way you avoid the rush of other lawnmower-owners trying to get ready for the upcoming season.

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3. Cutting Too Short
It’s tempting to cut the lawn as short as possible to stretch the time between mows. Some also prefer the aesthetic of a very short, neatly trimmed lawn.

It’s important to remember that mowing the lawn is, to grass, like receiving a wound. Grass needs some time to heal after being mown, so the shorter you mow, the longer that recovery time becomes. Mowing too much of the blade at one time can stop that recovery from happening at all.

Cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade in one mow can cause the blade to (seriously) go into shock, compromising its ability to absorb sunlight. That can cascade into root damage for broader areas of your lawn, which will be more difficult to recover from as nutrients may not flow to the grass as readily.

It’s generally advised to keep your lawn longer than 2.5 inches tall at a minimum. The 1/3 rule is the most important guideline, as any more can be too much for grass to recover from.  

4. Over-watering
It might seem counterintuitive, but more water isn’t always the best idea for your lawn as watering daily can have an adverse effect on your grass.

The more frequently you water, the more dependent the lawn becomes on you providing it with water and the grass won’t develop a root system capable of properly storing and allocating water. You can help grass build these roots by watering, at most, three times per week, and only during long periods of dry weather.

The best way to get the most out of each watering is to water your lawn in the morning, preferably before 10 a.m. This gives the lawn time to absorb the water and dry before losing water to evaporation under the summer sun. The sweet spot is to aim for enough water to coat the ground, but not so much that you see standing puddles.

5. Incorrect Fertilizer Use
Fertilizing can help the grass absorb the nutrients it needs and grow tall enough to overwhelm weeds and other unwanted plants. But used incorrectly, it can cause significant harm to lawns, or even help weeds grow and spread.

Using too much fertilizer, for example, can stimulate leaf growth in grass while stunting the growth of healthy roots. A lawn’s roots are essential to its survival, absorbing the nutrients that grass needs to thrive. Poorly developed roots may not be able to sustain the larger leaf, potentially causing the grass to die.

Fertilizer does best when applied during growth seasons, not dormant ones. The grass needs to take in more nutrients to sustain the increased growth caused by fertilizer, which is possible in the summer when the sun is shining, and temperatures are right. But in dormant periods, the grass will need regular watering just to account for its own growth.        

As a rule of thumb, aim to fertilize once in late spring and once in late summer.

Don’t worry, we all make mistakes sometimes when it comes to lawn care but following these tips will help you have the best looking lawn in town this summer.