Reader's lawn and landscaping opinions
Do-it-yourself lawn care
Some people like to get their hands dirty-- others don't. Owning property is almost a guarantee you'll get your hands dirty, usually on more than one occasion during a typical week.
Having a healthy, great looking lawn, is a combination of factors that effect the success of your lawn and almost all of them require some form of dirt under the nails. Briefly there are three things that need tending: Maintenance, watering, and soil care.
Lawn maintenance including keeping it mown at the proper height, edges trimmed occasionally, and keeping it watered when there's not enough rain are the main jobs.
Weeding as they occur is another chore. Left alone for any period of time and weeds can multiply faster than any normal homeowner can keep up with.
Mother Nature also needs to cooperate.
Problems start popping up when rain doesn't fall and temperatures rise above normal or fall below normal in the South. This means watering. Grass requires about 1" of water a week. If it doesn't rain, then the lawn will need watering. Ideally, the 1" should be regular. However, if the grass doesn't get the required amount this week, it's not going to die next week. We're talking about ideally. Just like you should get 3 square meals a day and 8 glasses of water (do you know anyone that drinks 8 glasses of water a day?). If you skip breakfast, you're not going to die. So ideally, your lawn should get that 1" of water each week.
If your grass gets shorted one week, there's no need to make up for it the next week by putting down 2". But try not to let too many weeks go by without additional water if mother nature doesn't cooperate. Invest in a simple rain gauge to keep track of what falls on your property. It really helps.
Supplemental's for the soil
Besides natural elements found in soil, which do become depleted over the years, additional sources of nutrients and trace elements need to be added to the soil to keep a lawn healthy and disease free. This requires regular, well-balanced applications of fertilizer and trace elements designed to fit the needs of your lawn.
Fertilizer is not actually a food for the lawn. All plants manufacture their own food by converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into a form of energy the plant can use to grow. Lawn fertilizers are more like vitamins for grass.
Additional soil problems
Unless a homeowner has a lot of experience identifying underlying lawn problems, they will need a soil analysis to determine what's in their soil and what's not. Once the soil analysis is made, it can be determined which minerals are missing and take steps to remedy the situation.
Regular aeration improves soil
In the fall, in cooler geographic areas, an aeration treatment should be made. Other than regular fertilizer applications, this is the one treatment that helps ensure your lawn continues on its road to a great lawn. Spring is the better time for aeration treatments in warm weather climates.
Ease your load and get it done right
Homeowners usually have way too much to do, especially during the summer and not enough time to do it. Hiring out part of that work makes sense. Hiring a professional lawn care company makes even more sense.
Professional lawn care companies will monitor your lawn to ensure your lawn gets the proper applications of fertilizers and weed controls, at the right time for your area. They can identify lawn diseases plus harmful insect infestations, and treat them before they become major problems.
Hiring a professional doesn't alleviate the homeowner from all the dirty work. The lawn still needs mowed and watered when needed. Plus, all those lovely flowers need to be planted and cared for.
Do-it-yourself has some definite advantages that I can attest too, like getting outside and getting some much needed exercise. For me, it's actually relaxing to push a mower back and forth every week. It gives me some not so quiet time to myself to contemplate the important things in life, like world peace and solving the world food shortage problems—yeah right!