Your First Lawn? Start Here!

How to Master Your First Lawn

Caring for your first lawn is a great feeling. The grass under your feet is in your hands, but now you need to learn how to master lawn maintenance to see your plans for lush, thick turf and backyard entertaining come true. Take on your lawn one task at a time, and work through the lawn care basics. Here's how to start and where to go from there:

  1. Get to Know Your Soil
  2. Fix Underlying Issues
  3. Know the Best Grasses for Your Region
  4. Seed Right the First Time
  5. Feed Your Grasses Well
  6. Fight Lawn Weeds
  7. Mow for Height and Health
  8. Manage Water Wisely
Soil health is key to a beautiful, healthy lawn.
Soil health is key to a beautiful, healthy lawn.

When it comes to turf, what happens above ground reflects what's going on underneath. Take advice from the pros and test your soil, so you know your starting point for essentials such as soil pH. Your local county extension office or agricultural agent will have information on test kits and reputable soil laboratories.

You can take accurate samples yourself. Include separate samples for problem spots, such as bare areas or sections with unwanted lawn moss. Let the lab know you're testing lawn areas, so recommendations are tailored to get your lawn on track for your plans.

With test results in hand, turn recommendations into projects. Correct problems now; don't risk repeats. Use soil amendments according to lab recommendations to improve your lawn's potential. Lime, for example, restores balance to soil pH so grasses can draw on available nutrients.

Hit tough spots first, and then repair bare lawn patches. The all-in-one ease of Pennington® One Step Complete™ simplifies patching and repairs by premixing premium grass seed, professional-grade fertilizer and protective wood mulch in a single product. If your family includes pets, you're sure to have some pet damage. But don't worry; healthy lawns and happy dogs can coexist.

Grasses suited to their region create exceptional lawns. As with garden flowers, turfgrasses vary in climate preferences and tolerances for drought, shade and other conditions. One benefit of seed over sod is your expanded choice of grass varieties with specific qualities, from durability to texture beneath bare feet.

Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, peak in growth during cool temperatures in fall and spring. They flourish in northern zones. Warm-season grasses, such as Bermudagrass, excel in summer heat and warmer climates. Region-appropriate lawn grasses require less water and other resources, including maintenance time.

Whether seeding new areas or thickening existing grass, timing is important. Plan your seeding to correspond with seasonal grass growth. Plant seed properly, and avoid the common seeding mistakes many homeowners make.

Take time to understand information on seed tags and who's behind the seed. Many companies sell seed purchased on the open market; the contents may surprise you. But with premium grass seed such as purebred Pennington® Smart Seed®, you can buy with confidence and enjoy increased resistance to drought, diseases and insect pests.

Lawn grasses need proper nutrition. Nitrogen is especially important in keeping your lawn lush, vibrant and green. Your soil test results will recommend how many pounds of nitrogen your lawn needs annually (usually per 1,000 square feet), based on its organic matter and other considerations.

The numbers on fertilizer labels reveal the percentages of actual nitrogen and other nutrients products contain, so you can match the product to your needs. Be careful, though; feeding too much or too often causes more harm than good. Establish a feeding schedule that meets your lawn's fertilizer needs, and stick to it.

Even when freshly planted, lawns usually inherit weeds and weed seeds. Weeds compete with grasses for nutrients, water and light. Learn about common lawn weeds and effective ways to fight them, so you eliminate the labor and expense of repeated treatments.

One lawn weed can quickly turn to more.
One lawn weed can quickly turn to more.

Avoid pre-emergent weed controls, such as crabgrass preventers, and combination weed-and-feed fertilizers anywhere you're planting new grass seed. These products are designed to keep weed seeds from germinating and rooting properly, but they can work against grass seed in the same way. Target tough turf weeds with effective spot treatments.

Always follow best practices for lawn mowing, and mow based on grass growth, not day of the week. Mowing heights vary according to grass type and the season. Some grasses, such as Bermudagrass, are best kept short, while other types need more height. Hot spells warrant higher mowing heights all around.

Simplify tasks and get better results by using appropriate tools.
Simplify tasks and get better results by using appropriate tools.

Change mowing heights gradually over several sessions. Never remove more than one-third of the blade length at a time, or you risk inhibiting good growth above and below ground. Make tasks easier and less time-consuming by using the right turf tools for the job, based on your lawn's size and your goals.

Lawn grasses grow best when watered deeply at less frequent intervals. Shallow, frequent watering encourages shallow roots susceptible to drought and other stress. With good watering practices and water-conserving grass varieties, you can reduce consumption, save on bills and grow healthier, more resilient grass. Water Star® grasses, such as Pennington® Smart Seed® varieties, require up to 30 percent less water than ordinary grass seed, year after year.

Water-conserving grasses help reduce water use and bills.
Water-conserving grasses help reduce water use and bills.

Watering and other lawn tasks naturally vary from month to month, but always accommodate what's happening in your lawn. Pennington's water calculator uses real-time weather and statistics for your specific location to help determine water needs during normal seasons and times of drought.

From your first lawn through every lawn to come, you can count on Pennington's premium grass seed products and educational resources to help you achieve the results you desire. Pennington is committed to growing the finest grass seed possible and helping you create and enjoy the lawn of your dreams.

Pennington, One Step Complete, Smart Seed are trademarks of Pennington Seed, Inc.

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