A healthy, well-maintained lawn is a key to preserving the value of your home.
Why? Regular lawn maintenance enhances curb appeal, making your home—and neighborhood—attractive to passersby and potential buyers.
Neglecting lawn can mean risking devaluing your home. In fact, an unkempt lawn can be a warning sign to buyers of other potential home maintenance issues.
Studies have shown that most home buyers make a decision whether they like to purchase a house within 5-7 seconds of getting out of the car – often BEFORE they even open a car door. The outside of the home and the lawn is the first things buyers see when they come to preview a home. If the house lacks the outside appeal, many home buyers are not interested in seeing the inside of the home.
Know your grass type
It is important to choose the right type of grass. There are two main types of lawn grass: cool-season and warm-season.
Cool-season grasses do most of their growing in spring and fall, often going dormant in the summer. Cool-season grasses include Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Perennial Ryegrass.
Warm-season grasses thrive from late spring to early fall and go dormant in the winter. Varieties include Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Zoysiagrass.
In Virginia, Transition Zone Grasses include: Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass, Zoysiagrass.
In general, the taller the grass, the deeper the roots, the fewer the weeds, and the more moisture the soil holds between watering. The recommended mower blade height is 3 inches.
In prime growing season (spring and fall for cool-season; summer for warm), homeowners should mow frequently enough so they’re removing no more than one-third of the grass blade. If possible, grass should not be mown while wet, as the practice can spread diseases that affect lawns.
Mower blades should be sharpened monthly to ensure clean, sharp cuts. A dull blade tears the grass, leaving jagged edges that discolor the lawn and invite pathogens. Consider purchasing 2-3 backup blades so that a sharp one is always on hand.
Deep and in-frequent watering is better for lawns than frequent sprinkles, which promote shallow root growth. In general, lawns need about one inch of water per week to maintain green color and active growth.
Lawns that receive less than one inch will likely go into dormancy. To stay alive, dormant lawns should still receive at least 1 inch of water per month.
To check the output of a sprinkler, scatter some pie tins around the yard to see how much water collects in a specific length of time. Having a rain gauge ($5 to $20) will help you keep track of how much water the lawn receives naturally.
There are two schools of thought on feeding the lawn:
- Some people like to fertilize lightly several times per year.
- Others think that once a year is sufficient and most effective. For cool-season grasses, that time is early fall, so the grass enters winter dormancy in a much healthier state. For warm-season grasses, the best time to fertilize is late spring, just as the grass begins its most active growth.
People interested in organic fertilizers have never had an easier time finding them at local garden centers. Homeowners who mow regularly with mulching mowers are encouraged to leave the clippings on the ground, where they’ll decompose and recycle nutrients into the soil.
Weed and Grub control
For minor weed invasions, removal by hand of the entire plant and roots is recommended. When the situation becomes impossible to contain by hand, it might be necessary to apply a herbicide.
For cool-season grasses, the best time to apply a weed killer is in fall, when both old and new weeds can be eliminated before winter. Warm-season grasses often benefit from a late-winter application of herbicide to prevent weeds from growing in the spring.
Grub worms, the larval stage of June, Japanese, and other beetles, feed on the tender root systems of lawns. Affected lawns exhibit browning and wilting patches. If the grubs are present at a rate exceeding 10 per square foot, they should be treated with a chemical pesticide.
Small grass clippings should be left on the lawn as they are a great fertilizer. However, large piles that exit a side-discharge mower should be broken to smaller pieces. Fallen leaves, twigs, and debris should be raked up regularly. In climates where it snows, like Washington, D.C. area, it’s best to remove fall leaves before winter. A thick layer of wet leaves can smother a lawn if not immediately removed in early spring.
SUMMARY: A healthy lawn looks good and it helps to preserve the value of your home. A healthy lawn is a must for homeowners who plan to sell their home. A healthy lawn can be a deciding factor if a house sells quickly or lingers on the market.
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