Super suburban lawn
April 8, 2019 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been in my house for five years now, and would like to get into a good routine with my lawn to make it lush, green, flat, and weed free. I’ll be upfront: chemicals are fine, and I’m not looking to learn to love clover or ground violets.

I’ve applied fertilizers and weed control products (generally in whatever weed and feed single bag formulation was at the hardware store). It’s been fine, but I’ve heard it’s better to apply them separately. I do my own mowing and leave the clippings to mulch. I use a Rachio to try to mete our water to make them rhizomes work for their drink.

This all works out fine, and I find it pleasurable to do, but I’d really like my lawn to be gorgeous—and I know there’s more I can do. I.e., I’ve never done a soil pH test, which seems worthwhile, as I do have a fair amount of moss that may indicate acidic soil. I’ve also never aerated, which I’d love to do.

I end up with weeds (esp ground violets that keep coming back) and I have a bunch of biggish indentations that I’d like to even out.

Do you have a one stop shop for learning all about caring for a lawn? Do you have favorite products or must-dos that make your lawn look like a putting green at a country club? Please share!

FWIW, this is metro Boston, zone 6a on a lot with mixed sun and semi-shady lawn.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
In our zone (Boston area here too), the month can determine the cutting height. So in April, it should be shorter than usual, and don't leave clippings that could contain fungus left over from the winter before. May-early June, use the height recommended on your grass seed bags, then in July, have it left a little bit longer than usual. Also make sure you're watering appropriately, especially as the summer heats up.
posted by xingcat at 9:31 AM on April 8

I've used Organic Lawn Care as a reference because it focuses on fixing issues with the lawn so I can minimize the use of chemicals. To start off you should get a soil test and look in that book to correct any deficiency.

I used standard 2,4D based hose-end sprayer lawn weed killer to jump start the process for the 1st 2 years to get the weeds under control while I built the lawn up to be able to out compete weeds. I still get clover that creeps in, but if that's not your thing, a re-application of hose-end herbicide every few years can knock it down. Thatching and aeration really helped getting everything going. I pay a lawn service to thatch every year and aerate every other year, renting, hauling and using those machines is a PITA. I use Milorganite for my nitrogen source and add lime and gypsum and magnesium sulfate as needed with an application of azomite once/year. You probably wont need to be so heavy with lime/gypsum since you aren't in the PNW where soils are chronically calcium deficient. re-seeding twice a year with grass seed appropriate for your climate, season and needs is a must (look in the book I mentioned).

Like most things worth doing, it takes a bunch of reading and research to understand the nuance of good lawn care.
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:07 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]

If your lawn is damp/ mossy, I'd recommend looking into 'lawn aeration' - it looks ugly at first but it's a great reset for lawns.

Around now is a great time to do it, for a super nice-looking lawn by summer. Depending on how quickly your grass' roots grow, doing it ever 2-3 years is about right.

Might as well edge your lawn first, too, before aerating.
posted by porpoise at 10:18 AM on April 8

It involves some work, but I have found that digging up the old sod and replanting a dense grass seed at the beginning of the year helped get rid of some years-long stubborn trouble spots. It requires daily watering, until the soil is nearly mud. A "reset" with denser-growing grass seems to have helped keep new weeds from taking hold.

Where weeds pop up, I pull them and immediately replant seed.

Adding topsoil and spreading it out with a bow rake helps even out depressions and helps provide a good base for new seed, as well.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:23 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]

I have used Scotts 4 Step. I think it's pretty good for a novice, and when I used it I had pretty good results. The current formula does not include crab control, though.

I have never had good success planting seed in the spring. I have often had good results seeding in the fall.
posted by SemiSalt at 2:37 PM on April 8

Lime the shit out of it.
posted by lydhre at 10:45 AM on April 9

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