Homeowners like you often turn to the web to answer their pressing home ownership questions like “How often do I change the HVAC air filters?” and “What ingredients are in natural kitchen cleaners?” Homeowners around the world have questions and concerns about caring for their properties, and for the most part, the answers remain identical regardless of where you are.
The exception, of course, is when it comes to landscaping. Caring for your garden, and specifically for your lawn, is one your most time- and labor-intensive responsibilities as a homeowner, and since landscaping doesn’t come with a how-to manual, you have to turn to the internet to learn how best to water, fertilize, trim and generally care for your home’s exterior. Unfortunately, most of these online guides focus on landscaping in Northern and Midwestern regions, where the climate changes drastically from month to month. Meanwhile, many Southern homeowners — who live in places that are hot for much of the year — following this advice are finding their lawns failing to survive.
That’s why you need this guide to Southern lawn care, made especially for you. Broken down by month, here are all the tasks you need to complete to keep your lawn bright green and thriving.
Administer pre-emergent. When grass grows, you better be sure other, less-desirable plants are growing, too. To stop weeds in their tracks, spray a pre-emergent herbicide around your lawn and yard. This prevents weed seeds from germinating, so they never become a problem.
Mow. Warm-season grasses can be kept shorter than cool-season grasses, so you should set the height of your lawn mower blades to between 1 and 3 inches. However, you should never remove more than one-third of the grass’s height at once, so if your grass has unexpectedly grown long, you will need to perform several mowings in a week to achieve the right height without shocking your grass. You should also check that your blades are sharp, so they are cutting rather than tearing the blades. If this already seems like too much work, you might want to outsource this chore to an Atlanta lawn mowing company (or a service in a city near you).
Dethatch. Thatch is a layer of old, dead grass that builds up on your lawn. In some climates, thatch provides much-needed protection and nutrients to a lawn, but in the South, it tends to accumulate and stifle the lawn’s roots, preventing air, water and other nutrients from sinking into the soil. Thus, in spring, you should use a rake or a power dethatcher to remove much of the thatch before the growing season really gets going.
Fertilize. In colder regions, lawns get fertilized in the fall and spring, but in the South, you should feed your lawn at the start of summer. Find a package high in Nitrogen, to encourage lush, green growth above ground.
Administer pesticide. Different types of lawn pests live in different regions. Since the South has largely a warm, humid climate, you probably suffer from mosquitoes as well as a variety of worms and grubs. To avoid over-spraying toxic substances in your yard or administering the pesticide ineffectively, you should hire professionals to kill and shield against pests.
Aerate soil. Thatch isn’t the only thing preventing water, air and nutrients from reaching grass’s roots. When summer comes, you should use an aeration tool to break up compacted soil. Plug or coring aerators are best.
Water. Your lawn needs at least 1.5 inches of water per week, but in the spring, fall and winter, the skies might provide that. However, in the summertime, you’ll need to supplement with irrigation. An automated sprinkler system is best because it provides regular and even water, but you can use a hose with a sprinkler attachment if necessary.
Mow. Summer is the high growing season for grass in the South, so you’ll probably need to mow about every week to keep your lawn the right height.
Overseed. Overseeding is the act of tossing grass seed over your existing lawn to increase the thickness of the blades and eliminate bald patches. In other areas of the country, it’s typical to overseed in the spring and summer, but in the South, overseeding in the fall ensures a strong, green lawn throughout the colder months.
Administer more pre-emergent. Weeds that grow in the fall and winter are of a different variety than those in spring and summer, which means you should spray more pre-emergent herbicide to thwart the seeds that might be about to burst forth.
Mow. Here’s a spoiler: In the South, you never stop mowing your lawn, even when it gets cold. If mowing is your absolute least-favorite chore, you would do well to hire professionals ASAP.
Mow. Because grass doesn’t grow as fervently in the winter, you won’t be mowing quite as much — but you will need to mow to prevent your lawn from getting out of control before spring.
Add lime. Southern soils tend to be acidic, which means you might need to add a base like lime to balance out the pH of the soil beneath your grass. You can do this using your hands or a drop spreader, like you do for fertilizer.