Stop Believing These 9 Lawn Care Myths—Try These Tips Instead
Does it really matter what time of day you water your lawn?
We all know that an unkempt lawn can tank a beautiful home's curb appeal, but maintaining a lush green, weed-free lawn is easier said than done. Not only do you have to stay on top of the mowing, but you'll also need to factor in watering, fertilizing, and weed prevention. The slew of myths surrounding lawn care don't help, either.
To sort fact from fiction, we turned to Chris McGeary, chief marketing officer at Lawn Doctor, a lawn care company based in New Jersey. McGeary shared some popular misconceptions, plus the lawn care tips that can replace them. Skip these myths—which are at best ineffective and at worst harmful—and your lawn could be the best on the block this year.
Myth: It doesn’t matter what time of day you water your lawn.
The best time to water your lawn is early morning, before 9 a.m., McGeary says, ideally between 6 and 9 a.m. There's less sunlight and wind at this time; if you water during the hot afternoon, a lot of the water might evaporate before reaching the grass roots. Watering in the evening is even worse, because it can create conditions that attract lawn fungus.
Sure, you can pull every single weed by hand, but why not make it easy on yourself and use a proven weed killer instead? Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Concentrate2 kills more than 460 types of weeds, including dandelion, chickweed, and clover. You'll see results within hours—and can skip the time spent weeding. (As with all lawn and garden chemicals, read and follow all label instructions to ensure you use them safely.)
Myth: You need lime on your lawn, no matter what.
Lawns only need lime at certain pH levels. Adding too much lime, or using it unnecessarily, will burn out your lawn, McGeary says, turning grass brown instead of the lush green you want.
Myth: Beer can be used as an effective fertilizer for your lawn.
The idea behind this myth is that beer can introduce yeast to soil, which helps it grow. "While beer does contain yeast, it also contains sugars, alcohol, and other ingredients that will actually hinder healthy grass growth," McGeary says. "In fact, the yeast in beer encourages fungus growth." Instead, use real fertilizers—store-bought, homemade, organic, whatever—that give your lawn more nutrients than just yeast.
Myth: You need to aerate your lawn no matter what.
"Aeration is typically only needed if your soil is compacted," McGeary says. A soil probe can help you figure out if you need to aerate or not. If you do, aerator shoes, a push wheel, or an aerator machine will do the job; be sure to fertilize and seed right after.
Myth: The shorter you cut the grass, the less often you need to mow your lawn.
Believe it or not, it's actually better to keep your grass too long than too short.
"Mowing too short—scalping—can have some pretty serious repercussions," McGeary says. "It can weaken and even kill your lawn. Additionally, cutting too short will limit the grass's nutrient supply, giving weeds free reign." Try to keep grass about three inches long throughout the growing season.
Myth: The best time to fertilize your lawn is during the spring.
This one's kind of true.
Grass is either warm-season or cool-season. Both types should be fertilized six to eight times a year, but cool-season grasses should be fertilized in early spring, late summer, and autumn, and warm-season grasses should be fertilized in early spring, late spring, late summer, and autumn. Fun fact: "It's also helpful to have your lawn fertilized a day or two before it rains," McGeary says.
Myth: Using a hose instead of a sprinkler system will save money.
"One of the benefits of using an irrigation or sprinkler system is that, if installed correctly, it allows your lawn to be watered evenly," McGeary says. "Using a hose increases the possibility of over-watering, which can increase your water bill. It also elevates the chances of under-watering, which can result in brown spots throughout your lawn. In the end, you'll spend more money trying to repair the dead grass."
Myth: It’s best to water your lawn every day.
"Lawns will do best when watered deeply and infrequently," McGeary says. This will encourage deeper root growth and minimize browning in the summer.