There's so much more to a great yard than just mowing the lawn.

What’s wrong with your lawn?

Smart, consistent care results in a beautiful lawn in May.

Smart, consistent care results in a beautiful lawn in May.

I am so pleased with the way my lawn looks. If you’re worried about your lawn because it doesn’t look so great right now, bear with me for a moment. You can have beautiful grass, too. My goal is to help you create a great-looking landscape.

You may have noticed some of the lawns in your own neighborhood are patchy, brown, dormant, and sometimes dead, while others look great. There is a major quality difference that becomes very apparent this time year.

So, what makes the difference between green and brown? I can tell you it’s not magic or luck. It’s simply knowing what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. My lawn isn’t perfect, but it looks good enough that I feel pretty content with it.

Inconsistent care and underlying problems result in patchy growth in May

Inconsistent care and underlying problems result in patchy growth in May

If you want to have a great looking lawn and it’s looking rough around the edges right now, it’s tempting to go buy fertilizer and throw down any other miracle product you can find.

The problem is, fertilizer by itself isn’t going cause a major improvement. It takes consistent effort throughout the year. If you stick with me and implement most of what I recommend, I will guarantee you will see an improvement. It may be helpful to subscribe to my blog through email.

Here are some important factors that affect how green and healthy your lawn looks:

Consistent winter and spring watering

If there is one miracle product to make a lawn green in spring, it’s water. Not water in May, but water in winter and early spring.

Most Colorado residents have Kentucky bluegrass lawns. Kentucky bluegrass needs to have consistent soil moisture throughout the year, but especially in February through April. By watering consistently early in the year, Kentucky bluegrass is able to form a strong set of roots, withstand winterkill, and emerge beautifully in late spring.

The problem is most of us don’t turn our lawn sprinklers on until late April. We do this to avoid freeze damage to the sprinkler system. If your sprinklers aren’t on, you have to water with a hose end sprinkler. It takes a little effort, but it makes a huge difference.

Fall fertilization

Most homeowners think about fertilizing their lawn in the spring. It might be surprising to realize that fertilizing in fall is much more important.

By fertilizing the fall, the grass has enough nutrients to store in its crown for spring. In addition, those nutrients allow the grass to stay slightly green throughout the winter, which allows it to manufacture food for itself over the winter through photosynthesis. Imagine if you didn’t eat anything over the winter. You might look a little tired in spring, too.

Fertilizing now is a good idea, but also fertilize once around Labor Day and again around Halloween. Your lawn will green up beautifully in spring before you even think about fertilizing it.

Smart locations

Lawn grasses grow best in flat, sunny areas. It struggles in shade and on slopes. In shade, it doesn’t get enough light to grow well. On slopes, it’s difficult to get enough water to soak into the soil for it to grow well.

If you have the option, keep the grass in the areas of your yard where it will grow best. Think of a different type of planting for slopes and shade.

Good sprinkler coverage

If you want to grow a good-looking landscape in Colorado, you have to learn about sprinklers. In our climate, we simply don’t get enough reliable precipitation to support landscape plants. You have to provide them with reliable water through your sprinkler system.

If areas of your grass look pretty good while others that struggle, uneven sprinkler coverage could be the problem.

Here’s one way you can try to determine if this is the underlying cause. Rather than using your automatic sprinklers in the problem area, try using a good quality hose-end sprinkler for a month. If you notice a major improvement in the area, the sprinkles are the problem.

Small grass area

Lawns are like chocolate. Even though it’s tempting to have a lot, a little bit is more sustainable. If you’re overwhelmed because you have too much grass to care for, consider shrinking the size of your lawn. In the spots where you remove the grass, you can install low-maintenance, low-water plants.

I reduced the grass in my yard to a total of 850 square feet. For my family, it’s the perfect amount to suit our needs. It adds curb appeal and gives us a place to play.

Because it’s so small, it doesn’t take long to care for it. I’m willing to put in the consistent effort required because it takes less than 30 minutes each week. It’s just like loading the dishwasher or doing the laundry.

If you’re thinking about removing grass this year, my “How to Mulch” Guide may be useful to you. It covers how to choose a mulch, install it, and maintain it so you end up with a landscape that’s usable, beautiful, and adds value to your home.

What can you do now?

If you’re finding yourself arriving a little late to the party, don’t worry. Now is the time to start. If you haven’t already, fertilize and core aerate your lawn this spring. Tune up your sprinklers. Then, try to implement my recommendations over the summer.

Keep in mind the following: If your lawn (not counting the weeds) is covering less than 60% of the soil surface, you probably need to renovate it in order to see major improvement. You just don’t have enough grass to work with. Once you’ve completed the renovation, follow my program to keep it in great shape. With a little effort, when next May rolls around you’ll be pleased, too.

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