Gardening Lawn

Start to Finish: Lawn Maintenance Tips for a Perfect Garden

Lawn mower on lawn

By Emila Smith

Emila is a freelance blogger with a love for gardening that includes houseplants, vegetable and fruit gardening, and landscaping. She has grown up around nature and wants to use her knowledge to help others create personal outdoor settings that are beautiful and healthy for them. 

Your outdoor space is an important part of your home. As such, you’ll want it looking its best for those warm summer’s evenings you spend with friends and family around the barbecue. While you might choose to pave an area of the garden for entertaining and invest in good quality outdoor furniture, all too often, the lawn takes a back seat. 

With a well-kept, healthy lawn, you can make any garden come alive. Not only will a perfectly maintained lawn help you impress your guests, but it will also make for a much more inviting atmosphere.

If you’re unsure of how to keep your lawn looking at its very best, these seven tips will help you out from start to finish.

Plant your lawn

If your lawn has yet to be created, then you’ll need to plant your grass before we can start to think about lawn maintenance. So, invest in good quality grass seed, and seek to sow it in spring or fall. In September through to November, the weather conditions tend to be pretty perfect for growing a lush, green lawn.

For those who would rather not wait for the grass to grow, you could instead opt to lay turf, which will give you the lawn you want instantly and require less initial maintenance. However, this is the more expensive of the two options.

Fertilize and Water Your Lawn

Once you have your lawn, it’s important you make sure you look after it properly. For starters, it’s wise to feed your lawn seasonally with a lawn fertilizer. You will achieve the best results by doing so three times a year: once in early spring, another just before the height of summer, and another in mid-autumn. You should also water your lawn regularly, particularly if you end up using turf. 

Mow Your Lawn

Keep your lawn looking neat and tidy by mowing it. This will ensure that it doesn’t get overgrown and will be particularly necessary when the weather is warmer. So, in the spring and summer, aim to mow your lawn once or twice a week.

It’s also a good idea to leave lawn clippings where they are because they will act as a natural grass fertilizer. However, don’t do this if you’ve let your lawn grow excessively tall, or you could smother the younger blades.

Weed Your Lawn

Don’t let your lovely lawn get overrun by unsightly weeds. Using a trowel, dig up dandelions, thistles, and other common weeds. In regions where their use is still allowed, you can also use weed killers for any areas of your garden that are particularly bad. Or have a lawn maintenance company apply them. If you have a cat, beware that weed killers can be dangerous—so make sure your cats are inside while you do this.

By taking out the weeds, you prevent them from competing with your grass for essential nutrients. 

Rake Your Lawn

Keep an eye out for patchy areas of lawn. You’ll need to rake these areas to remove any dead grass, moss, and weeds, and it might then be necessary to resow grass seed. Doing so may initially make the overall lawn look pretty uneven. But it will come back eventually and be healthier and happier because of your interventions. 

Edge Your Lawn

Half-moon edging tool cutting a lawn border.
A simple lawn edger can make your lawn look fantastic! Photo: Lee Valley Tools

For a particularly impressive finish, you should consider edging your lawn, too. All you’ll need is a half-moon edging tool to help you create an even line around the perimeter of the garden and a pair of long-handled shears that can cut any scraggly grass that your lawnmower can’t reach. 

Protect Your Lawn 

No matter how good you are at maintenance, you have to remember that your lawn is a natural thing that is exposed to the elements. As such, it will be necessary to protect your lawn as well as maintain it. This is particularly true if you have pets prone to digging up the garden or urinating on the grass.

If, then, your dog regularly urinates on the lawn, aim to dilute the area as soon as possible with water to prevent long-lasting damage. You should also seek to aerate your lawn at least once a year if the soil is heavy. This allows it to breathe and prevents the soil from becoming compacted.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

2 comments on “Start to Finish: Lawn Maintenance Tips for a Perfect Garden

  1. I’m disappointed by this post, which seems very much to encourages the use of lawn and consequent fertilizers. Lawn is a monoculture that gives nothing to the environment but instead takes away a lot. Fertilizer runoff from lawns enters our rivers and streams and creates phosphate build-up that kills aquatic wildlife. And keeping a lawn looking lush and green during increasingly hot and droughty summers requires a lot of work and immense quantities of water for very little reward.

    What about suggesting alternatives that will help alleviate some of the effects of climate change? A non-lawn garden allows for water retention rather than runoff and it provides food and habitat for pollinators (bees, butterflies, birds & other wildlife).

    If one MUST have lawn, there is EcoLawn (which does not need to be mowed or fertilized) or perhaps a clover lawn.

    But should our goals now as responsible citizens REALLY be to impress our guests?

    I must say I’ve come to expect more from this blog.

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