Bad Advice: Lawn Maintenance Myths That Can Cost You Your Lawn

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Those lawn care shortcuts and timesavers may end up costing you more than you suspect – they may damage or kill your lawn, resulting in costly and time-consuming repairs to get it green and healthy again. Before following any bad advice, learn what your lawn really needs to thrive.

Bad Advice: Kill Weeds With Salt/Vinegar/Baking Soda

The Truth: Most home-brewed weed killer concoctions won't just kill weeds, they'll also kill the grass. Even worse, DIY weed killers that contain salt or baking soda may render the area sterile, so it's difficult to grow back the grass. At best, these solutions will kill the foliage of the weeds, but they will usually grow back from the living roots. If you use too much, you may kill everything growing in the area and mess up the soil.

The best way to ensure a weed-free lawn is to keep the grass well-watered, properly fertilized, and lush. This crowds out any weeds that try to invade.

Bad Advice: Mow Low So You Mow Less

The Truth: Setting your lawn mower lower doesn't lessen your yard work. In fact, you'll probably end up spending more time outside battling encroaching weeds, disease and drought problems, and reseeding bare spots. A lush, thick carpet of grass creates a living mulch that helps shade out unwanted weeds and retains moisture in the soil. As a general rule, mow the lawn no lower than 2 to 3 inches tall, and remove no more than a third of the grass length at each mowing.

Bad Advice: Water More Often, and With Less Water

The Truth: Daily light watering does your lawn and your water bill no favors. Shallow watering only wets the top 1/2- to 1-inch of soil, which results in shallow roots that can't withstand heat or drought very well. If you are watering for just a few minutes every day – an easy temptation when you are setting up automatic sprinkler zones and timers – you'll find yourself watering much more frequently but still dealing with a dry lawn.

Infrequent, deep watering is the way to get deep roots and lush top growth. Provide the lawn with 1 to 2 inches of water, or enough to moisten the top 5 inches of soil, every two or three days by watering for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. The best time to water? In the early morning so the moisture doesn't evaporate from the soil, but so the morning sun dries it quickly on the grass blades. This helps prevent fungal growth.

When in doubt about lawn care, consult a professional, such as Headman Lawn Care and Christmas Lighting. A local landscaper or county extension agent can give you factual and useful information that is targeted to your climate and grass type.