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Lawn care for beginners tips
- 26 Frequently asked questions

lawn care for beginners

​ You asked, we listened and we answered.  All those questions about your lawn that you need answered in one (long) very well elaborated article.

Q1: How Often Should I Water My Lawn With Sprinkler System?

Water 2-3 times per week. This ordinarily gives better results and will allow your lawn to dry out partially between next watering, leading to a healthier growth.

lawn sprinkler for low water pressure.

On average, your lawn needs a minimum 1-1.5 inches of water weekly –though some turf varieties need watering year round.

You can reduce the frequency of watering during the rainy season provided the rain is enough to maintain optimum growth.

Conversely, you may have to water more frequently during a drought.
To test if you are watering enough, stick a 6-inches screwdriver in the irrigated soil.

If it goes in easily, you are doing well. If not, increase your watering frequency.

Check out our ​recommended lawn sprinkler for low water pressure and decorative sprinkler valve covers.

Q2: How Often Should You Mow Your Lawn?

​This will vary year to year and also depend on how fast the turf-grass grows and the season.

Where you live, watering, lawn care maintenance, and proper application of fertilizer are some of the other factors influencing growth and subsequently, the mowing schedule.

Your personal judgment and taste will also come in. Some lawn owners like it short and sweet yet others find longer grass delightful.

Lawn experts have, on their side, suggested the ideal length to be around 2-3-inches for all types of grass so you should generally cut it if it’s beyond this size.

That being said, both undercutting and overcutting are considered bad practices so you need to get the right balance.

Q3. How To Fix A Lawn Full Of Weeds

If you are losing your lawn to infectious weed, here is what to do:

1: Mow the lawn. Ensure the blade is at a high setting.

2: Spray a weed killer directly with a sprayer. Follow dosing instructions to avoid hurting the grass.

3: Aerate the lawn using a tuff/grass aerator. To reach deeper roots, start aerating from one end to the other working first, moving horizontally.  Then, aerate across diagonally (starting at one corner and ending in the opposite corner of the lawn)

 4: Sow grass seed and add a pre-emergent weed herbicide as per the manufacturer's usage instructions. Then mist your lawn (don’t saturate), preferably using a garden hose.

5: After the lawn dries up, spread weed-killing fertilizer over the entire lawn grass.

6: Water regularly and appropriately

Q4. How To Fix Dog Urine Spots On Lawn

Aaaaah, dog urine spots on the grass are an ugly eyesore and make all your efforts seems to be in vain.

lawn care for new homeowners

Here is how to fix dog urine spots on lawn:

1: Rake the affected area thoroughly to remove the dead or browned grass.

2: Apply extra-fine ground limestone (one layer) then water the spot heavily to boost limestone absorption. Wait for a week.

3: Dress that area with top soil or compost before sprinkling grass seeds through the affected area.

4: With your garden hose, gently water the freshly seeded area to avoid washing the seeds away.

5: Water daily, or as necessary, for a couple of weeks. The spot will soon go back to a healthy green!

Q5. How To Fix Brown Patch In Lawn

Brownish color could be the clearest sign yet that your lawn could be plagued by fungal disease. It could also mean that some nasty insects are hard at work doing damage or that your dog has been visiting (and peeing).

Here is what to do:

1: Rake the brown spots vigorously, removing dead grass. Collect and dispose of the dead matter.

2: Aerate the soil

3: Cover the area with the right mixture of top soil and grass seeds. The seeds should be the same variety currently planted in the lawn. The grass seeds’ package has guidelines on the correct amount of seeds.

4: Scatter the right amount of root-stimulating fertilizer over the entire area. The amount should be as indicated on the fertilizer package for the total area to be treated.

 5: Water every spot daily for at least two weeks unless it rains. You can reduce the frequency later to about twice a week.

Tips:

  • Mulching the patched area slows evaporation, improves germination, and discourages seed washouts so consider it. A layer of chopped leaves or straw would offer enough cover.
  • Creating a simple string perimeter around the area under repair helps keep children and pedestrians away.

Q6. How To Get Rid Of Ants In Lawn

Ants are downright stubborn and some of the most difficult menaces to rid from your lawn.

But you can conquer them and it’s good that you have several options.

ants in yard infestation

Here is how:

Option 1: Prepare a mix of liquid dish soap, water, and canola oil. The measurements should be 1/2 teaspoon, 1 quart, and 1 1/2 tablespoons respectively. Add them in a mixing bowl and with a whisk, blend the ingredients to perfection.

Then add the solution into a spray bottle, shake it well, and go around your lawn spraying the spots with high ant concentrations. Also pour some into their nests directly. They will suffocate to death.

Option 2: Apply diatomaceous earth in the entire yard. Target spots with high ant concentration and ant nests and be generous. The earth kills by suffocating and drying out the ants’ body moisture.

Option 3: Prepare a mix of liquid dish soap, cayenne pepper sauce, and water. The measurements should be 1/2 teaspoon, 3 tablespoons, and 1 quart respectively. With a whisk, mix well in a mixing bowl and then transfer it into a spray bottle.

Visit the lawn spraying the ants and pouring some more into their nests.The mixture smothers and burns tons of the insects.

Option 4: Pour white distilled vinegar (about 1 quart) into the ants' nests. This causes acidic conditions which are very fatal to ants.

Option 5: Choose one of these ​top rated insect killers for lawns and safe for pets

Q7. How To Get Rid Of Moss In Lawn

For purists, moss is yet another unwelcome eyesore and the sooner it’s gone from the yard, the better for everyone. We also know that moss go as far as attempting to replace your turf grass!

So, how do you get rid of moss from the lawn?

Option 1: Grab the best spring-tine rake at your disposal and rake the affected zone vigorously.

Option 2: If you are under a massive invasion, install your dethatching blade and get on the mower.

Be sure to set the mower’s height properly so the tines will only strip the moss away (and not the grass).

In most cases, you have to make several passes to completely exterminate the moss.

Option 3: Apply moss-killers especially those with ferrous sulfate on the infested area. As usual, follow the usage instructions. Allow the product time to work before raking up the dead moss. If you are a fan of organic products, try a mixture of water and baking soda or dish water in place of commercial herbicides.

Final Step:

Collect and dispose of the raked or dead moss from the lawn.

Q8. How To Lay Sod Over Existing Lawn

Sodding your lawn helps replace dying or struggling turf grass quickly and efficiently.

The bit I like most is that you can lay sod over your existing lawn and save money plus time.

Here is how:

Phase A: Preparation

1:  Start by cleaning the landscape. This requires that you collect all the possible lawn debris and pull the weeds by hand or with glyphosate. You can apply an herbicide to remaining weed.

2: Cut current grass low. Here is why: Tall grass blocks the sod’s roots from reaching the ground potentially causing it to die.

3: Now level up the surface by filling the holes and depressions with soil. Also, consider digging the lawn to help improve leveling. Tilling will also help the grass to decompose faster (and provide nutrients) after you lay the sod. 

And while at it, you want the sod to be level not only with the ground but also with edges such as any driveways and walkways so maintain the line of sight.

Phase B: Placing The Sod

1: Place the sod at the end (of your lawn) you want to start from and start unrolling it, beginning from the furthest corner.

2: Start another roll immediately where your previous roll finished even if some space will be left between the rolls. Of course, try to avoid walking over the freshly laid sod.

3: Trim the edges of any excess sod immediately using a lawn edger.

4: With a utility knife, cut out the sod that could be placed over obstructions such as irrigation heads on your lawn.

5: Fill a lawn roller (halfway) with water and roll over the new sod with it to remove air pockets between the ground and the sod.

Again roll row-by-row to ensure that you cover all the spots. This promotes contact with soil and can help the roots of the new sod to come to life more quickly.

6: Water your sod daily to about 7 inches deep for the next 6 weeks to boost roots growth.

Q9. How To Level A Lawn

A level lawn looks easy on the eye and makes your maintenance work a whole lot easier.

Here is how to level your lawn:

  • Mix sand and top soil in a wheelbarrow in equal parts.
  • Apply scoops of the mix to low laying areas using a shovel (don’t add more than ½ of the filler at a time)
  • Rake the fresh topdressing to smother it more evenly or use a broom.
  • Continue filling every other low spots until it looks perfect.
  • Water and fertilize the grass to promote uniform growth.
  • Keep an eye on the progress during the growing season and apply the mixture (Still ½ at a time) where necessary.

Q10. How To Overseed Lawn Without Aerating

If you’re struggling with a thin lawn, you can try aerating.  

More often than not, aeration brings an improved root system and enriched growth.

An easier and less-time consuming alternative is overseeding -sowing new grass seeds into an already grown lawn.

Here is how to overseed:

1: Mow the existing turf to loosen the soil (cut it to be between 1- 2 inches tall).

2: Rake and dethatch if necessary

3: Apply the 10-10-10 (or any other starter) fertilizer.

4: Spread the seeds. Use a spreader or hand (small areas).

5: Water lightly and regularly (twice a day for 2 weeks). You can reduce watering frequency from the 3rd week as the seedlings get well established.

Tip: the best time to overseed is during early fall or late summer as the temperature is-at this time-highly conducive to germination and growth.

Q11. How To Plant Grass Seed On Existing Lawn

Planting grass seed on an existing lawn breathes a fresh lease of life to an emaciated lawn.

This is how:

1: Mow grass to about 1-2 inches.

2: Rake the top ½  inch of soil to loosen it. Collect the debris and remove dead grass. Use a walk-behind aerator if you have a big yard. Again consider dethatching if there’s overwhelming thatch.

3: Apply a starter fertilizer such as 8-8-8 as per the manufacturer’s instructions using a rotary spreader.

4: Fill a spreader (broadcast/drop) with grass seed. The rate per square feet should be as recommended in the re-seeding instructions on the grass seed packaging. Small areas can be seeded by hand.

5: Water initially twice daily for 2 weeks to boost sprouting. You can reduce watering frequency from the 3rd week as the seedlings are now germinated and healthy.

Q12. How To Stop Tree Roots From Sprouting In Lawn

Tree roots sprouting from your lawn are unsightly as well as being a general nuisance.

Of course, it’s easier to prevent the sprouting rather than wait to battle the sprouts when it’s too late.

Now, the easiest way to stop the roots sprouting into the lawn is by maintaining healthy tree growth. This is because most tree species grow suckers only when stressed. And so ensuring that the trees are accessing sufficient sunlight, nutrition, and adequate water is your first line of defense.

Installing a proper root barrier (between the turf area and the tree) can also effectively curtail the unwanted trees sprouting.

You can also apply quality growth inhibitors to the trees to control sprouting. However, if overused, these chemicals could end up killing the tree.

Q13. How To Stripe A Lawn

Stripping a lawn can give the mouthwatering patterns that leave everyone salivating.

And Unlike what you may think, it’s so easy to mow your favorite stripes pattern since it’s simply a question of cutting the grass creatively in different directions.

Steps:

  • First, mow the entire perimeter around your property. You need to keep it straight all through unless you are working on a wavy pattern.
  • Now add your first stripe to the lawn, ensuring that you are mowing at a right angle to the perimeter.
  • Then, mow in opposite directions throughout the remaining property.
  • Each time, try and overlap your previous stripe slightly to achieve a sleeker look.
  • Pass over the whole perimeter once more to remove any irregular stripe patterns.

Tips:

  • To avoid turf damage, remember to lift your mower’s deck when turning (at the end of each row).
  • Use an equal overlap distance for every stripe to ensure equal width in your stripes.
  • To widen a stripe, go down it a second time (sticking to its original direction).
  • Setting the blade highest helps create darker stripes.
  • Attaching a lawn roller to the rear of your mower adds weight and makes grass to bend more easily.

Q14. How To Top Dress Lawn

At times, top dressing a lawn gives it a big league look. Top dressing also helps in evening the ground. Plus, it provides richer nutrients for growth.

  1. Core aerate the lawn first to make the soil more penetrable.
  2. Prepare the top-dressing:

What you need…

  • Fine Loam or topsoil
  • Sand
  • Peat (or compost)

The type of top-dressing to prepare depends on the soil.

  • If you have typical loamy soil, mix the 3 ingredients in equal proportions.
  • If you’re in a clay setting, mix sand and peat equally –ignore topsoil.
  • Sandy soil requires very minimal sand.

Alternatively:

Purchase high-quality bagged lawn soil or top-dressing mixture.

  • Applying the top dressing:

Shovel out small mounds of top-dressing mixture onto the lawn.

Spread it with the back of your heavy garden rake (or something flat) filling the aeration holes and covering the low spots.

Keep spreading until the depth evens and grass peeks through.

In the end, the top-dressing should be ½” or even less over your existing grass.

  • Water the top-dressed area generously. You can then allow the mixture to sit for one or two days before replanting grass in damaged spots.

Q15. Should I Aerate My Lawn?

Aeration is a potentially vital part of lawn maintenance practices. It reduces soil compaction and will help air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots for lush growth.

But should you ask when is the best time to aerate your lawn?

The key is to check for soil compaction.

Now, to probe the soil for compression, try to insert a compaction tester up to 36" to 48" deep. If it’s compacted, it will resist the penetration.

Another approach is to dig out one square foot area of the lawn about 6 inches deep.

You then check the grass roots. If they reach only 1-2 inches deep, your soil could be compacted.

Then, when is the best time?

The most recommended time to aerate the soil is during the growth season typically early spring/fall(for cool season grass) and late spring (for warm season grass).

For efficiency, always perform a "core aeration," with a plug aeration machine.

For more on what aeration does to your lawn, check this article.

Q16. what is the Best Time Of Day To Mow a Lawn

While everyone agrees that cutting grass is a crucial part of owning a lawn, the question of the best time of the day to mow the lawn is a bit controversial.

So, when should you cut the grass?

Should you cut it early morning?

The grass is wet from dew meaning your mower can easily clog up. This could hence be one of the worst hours to cut.

Should you cut it mid-morning?

The dew is gone and the sun welcoming. You and your mower will thus be safe and at home.

It follows then that mid mornings could be the optimal mowing hours.

Should you cut it mid-day?

The grass is now completely dry and feels fine. But the sun is at its hottest and punishing.

So, this hour is fine for the grass but punishing for you.

Should you cut it afternoon?

There is still less stress on the grass while the sun is slowly cooling off. It’s a much better cutting time than mid-hours.

Should you cut it evening?

For you, the evening is perfect.  Even the blades will find cutting still easy. However, the grass will not have recovered by night time meaning your lawn could be at risk of disease and fungi.

Q17. How To Use A Snowblower On Gravel Driveway

If you have the best snow blower for gravel driveway, beating back frost from your gravel driveway is going to be unbelievably easy.

Check the steps:

1: Clear the gravel driveway and the walkways - you don’t want the car there as it will give you additional work.

2: If there the wind isn’t blowing, start from the center of your driveway ensuring the snow nozzle is all along pointing outwards towards the surrounding yard. In the meantime, you blow in circular motions moving outwards as you go.

3: If you can feel the wind, the snow nozzle should be facing in the direction the wind is blowing. You then start in the extremely upward section of your driveway, blowing side to side. You also set the snow chute to discharge blown snow downwind.

4: Shovel any snow left overs.

Tips:

If the snow is very deep, make two passes. First time, the snowblower will pass higher to remove the top layer. In the second pass, you blow lower to eliminate remaining snow.

Q18. How To Get Rid Of Acorns In My Yard

Oak trees have their goodness but dropping acorns on the lawn isn’t one of them.

But you’re in luck because there are many ways of getting rid of acorns scattered in the yard.

Here is how to eliminate the acorns menace:

Method 1: Rake Them

You can simply rake them up using the best rake for acorns.

Method 2: Trap Them

Spread tarps over the ground (around the oak tree trunk) and underneath the canopy;

Grab the tree forcefully and shake it vigorously to stir acorns to tumble off the branches. You can also smack the branches, if necessary, with a stick. Wrap up the fallen acorns inside the tarps and dispose of them in the compost or appropriately.

Method 3: Pick Them

Push an acorn picker (nut roller) across the yard to pick up and toss the acorns into a waste collection basket.

OR

Attach a quality lawn sweeper to your lawn tractor and make several passes over the infested area.

Method 4: Vacuum them

Vacuum the acorns with either;

  • A wet-dry shop vacuum (with a hose attachment)
  • A leaf blower (models converting to a vacuum)
  • A lawn & leaf vacuum(hitch it to the lawn tractor)

Q19. How To Get Rid Of Fleas Outside In Yard

The family pet is a family favorite. But it’s also a darling of fleas. And so despite your best efforts, your pets are likely to carry fleas into the house.

To permanently combat these blood sucking parasites, you have to wage war on them where they are hiding- your yard.

Steps:

Phase A: Cleaning the yard

1: Rake the yard and remove all weeds and debris. Focus on spots where the insects hide such as flower beds, composting areas, and beneath bushes.

2: Mow the lawn grass and clear the clippings.

Phase B: Watering

3: Water the yard generously 24 hours before scheduled time. This encourages flea pupae to hatch (making them easier to kill with insecticides) and drowns some adults as well as larvae.

Phase C: Spraying

Buy and spray a suitable flea killing insecticide with a hose. Use the recommended volume measurements and thoroughly treat heavily infested areas and zones frequented by your pet.

Also, treat every other spot visited by pets simultaneously and give the pet a good flea bath using a vet-recommended insecticide.

After Spraying:

Your pets and everyone should stay away from the treated areas for between 4-6 hours

Re-Spraying:

Spray a fresh round of treatment after every 7-10 days perhaps up to 8 weeks.

Tip: You can prevent re-infestation by mowing and raking your yard regularly.

Q20. What Is The Best Gas Leaf Blower For The Money?

When fall comes, the best gas leaf blower might be the easiest way out of the flood of leaves that will certainly inundate your yard.

Personally,  I find the Troy-Bilt TB672 Wheeled Leaf Blower(Sweep- Best) amazing.

It has stellar power and does a fantastic job sweeping and loosening not only leaves but also prickly seedpods as well as every other type of debris.

What blew me away was the athletic 208cc engine, the 14-inch output impeller, and the 90-degree discharge chute (front) all which team up to dramatically cut blowing time by almost 3/4.

It’s actually recommended as one of the best gas leaf blowers for short people or anyone who struggles with lugging a backpacking blower.

Q21. How To Aerate Lawn By Hand

Yard aeration is one of the most critical lawn maintenance tasks. And while it’s true that for large spaces you will need a powerful pull-behind plug aerator, it may not make economic sense investing in a costly aerating machine for small yards.

Instead, you can still aerate effectively by using your hands.

Here is how:

With a hand aerator (should have ¼ - ½” diameters):

A-Getting ready:

Push the hand aerator tubes through the ground to see if they can reach a minimum of 4-inches deep.

For the soil to be right, it should not stick to the tube ( if it does, it’s too wet). Similarly, it shouldn’t be powdery or resisting the push (if it does, it’s too dry.

Wet soil conditions should improve within days so bid your time and retry. For dry conditions, water for 2-3 days then retry.

B- Raking:

When the soil is okay, you rake the heavily thatched areas and remove debris from the lawn.

C- Aerating:

Push the diameter tubes 4 inches (minimum) deep in the soil then pull it out to extract cores of soil which in turn makes aeration holes. Don’t move the cores from the lawn. 

You will repeat every 4-6 inches for the entire area.

When finished, rake the cores breaking them down throughout the lawn area.

With a spading fork:

Push it down around 4-inches and rock it back/forth to loosen the soil. You will repeat every 4-6 inches for the entire area.

Q22. Should You Bag Grass Clippings?

The debate on whether to mulch or bag grass clippings isn’t going to go away soon.

But which is smarter? Bagging or mulching?

That many states have banned bagging is enough sign that the bag is an ill-advised move. This is why:

Bagging just adds more waste to our landfills which eventually harms the environment.

In any case, mulch becomes a natural fertilizer and will make your lawn grow lush and richer in addition to saving some of the money you could have spent buying nitrogen fertilizer.

Perhaps you may bag some grass clippings when the grass is extremely tall but even then, the best way is to add them to the composite pile.

Your Heading Here

Q23. How To Get Rid Of Clover In Your Lawn

Clover is a reliable supplier of natural nitrogen but isn’t the best looking addition to your lawn grass and can easily take over the yard.

how to get rid of clover in lawn naturally

Here is how to get rid of clover:

Chemical methods…
  • Use fertilizer:

Look for a nitrogen-rich fertilizer and spray on the clover directly following the recommendations on the label. Clover struggles in a nitrogen-rich environment and should die off.

  • Use ammonia:

Apply ammonia (made for lawns) directly on the clover until it succumbs. 

  • Use herbicides:

Get one of the herbicides with Dicamba and 4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid as one of the ingredients and apply to the clover directly. These are good clover killers.

Natural methods…
  • Mix vinegar and soap and spray the clover. Recommended quantities are 1 tablespoon each of dish soap and white vinegar into a 34 cup of water.
  • Sprinkle powdered corn gluten onto the clover. Water the powder after application and leave the area to dry for 2-3 days for efficiency. Follow instructions on the packaging for re-application.
  • Suffocate clover by covering it with a garbage bag or plastic tarps. It dies within a couple of weeks.
Other methods:
  • Manually fork out the clover by a hand fork.
  • Fertilize the lawn with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every spring.
  • Mow at a higher setting (3 to 3.5 inches)for the grass to outgrow the clover.
  • Keep the lawn hydrated.

Q24. How To Get Rid Of Mushrooms In Lawn

Mushrooms are a nuisance and can frustrate your efforts to have a flawless lawn.

how to get rid of mushrooms in the lawn with vinegar

So, how can you get rid of mushrooms?

Here is how:

  • Prepare a water-Vinegar mixture in a bucket and spray on a day when the temperature is above 60 degrees but less than 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The mix should be four parts is to one (water: vinegar). Wait 3-4 days for the mixture to annihilate invasive mushroom.
Other techniques…
  • Reduce your watering frequency as mushrooms grow well in damp conditions.
  • Dethatching, replacing old mulch, and raking destroys disturbs decayed matter which promotes mushrooms growth.
  • Pick the mushroom as soon as you sight it to discourage further germination.
  • Prune or thin surrounding trees to allow more lighting into the yard- for shaded spots.
  • Spray a fungicide (not very effective)

Q25. How To Kill Dandelions In Lawn

Dandelions have a tendency to invade even the most well-kept lawns and can be an absolute headache to remove.

killing dandelions in lawn with vinegar

But despite the difficulties, you can permanently conquer dandelions.

Here are the options:

Removal
  • You can mow them out. Set the blade to cut high (beyond 2-2.5 inches) to allow grass to outgrow them.
  • Dig them out with "dandelion diggers".
  • Starve them off sunlight to kill them. Just cover the dandelions with cardboards or plastic bags.
  • Unleash chicken and rabbits onto the hapless flowers.
  • Burn them away with a weed-burner torch.

Natural…

  • Apply concentrated muriatic acid with a turkey baster to the dandelions.
  • Salt the dandelions. 1 tablespoon of salt piled at the base of the weed will eat it away.
  • Spray them with white vinegar ( head to base).
  • Pour boiling water consistently over each dandelion plant several times a day. This will trigger withering and death.

Chemical…

  • Spray a systemic weed-killer (with glyphosate) directly to the weeds (not the lawn).

  

Q26. How To Get Rid Of Red Ants Nests In The Lawn

Even though ants are a crucial part of our ecosystem, red ants’ bites are painful. Additionally, some of their antics like building hills can cause pandemonium in the yard.

So, how do you get rid of ant nests in the lawn?

Natural Methods…

  • Pour hot water on the nests consistently to burn the residents to death.
  • Rake the nests during a dry day to avoid leaving a muddy mess.
  • Dig them all out and gently brush the piles of soil away.
  • Apply diatomaceous earth in the entire yard while pouring some in the nests.
  • Spray the nests with a mixture of liquid dish soap, canola oil, and water. Mix 1/2 teaspoon, 1 1/2 tablespoons, and 1 quart respectively.(you can replace canola oil with 3 tablespoons of cayenne pepper sauce)
  • Pour a quart of white distilled vinegar (5% concentration) in the nests.

Other Options…

  • Spray an insecticide on the nests as instructed on the label.
    Mix borax with some sugar and scatter the solution near and around them. They will eat and die like in their zillions. Alternatively, buy and use a ready-made borax/sugar syrup mix

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