My Lawn Tips

Simple, effective lawncare tips for homeowners

Month: May 2019

How to Fix a Lawn with Mostly Weeds

When lawns are neglected many different types of weeds can begin to pop up. Sometimes the greenest parts of our lawn are the weeds because they smother the grasses below as the weeds become more established. Many people believe that chemical herbicides will get rid of their weeds, but these chemicals are dangerous to the environment and animals. Herbicides also do not fix the root of the problem which is underground in the soil. If your lawn is mostly weeding you need to fix your lawn from the bottom up. Continue reading

How to Fix Lawn with Moles

Lawns with moles means that your lawn is healthy so seeing those mole tunnels does have an upside. However, moles burrow tunnels making your lawn unstable. When you walk across your yard you will find mounds of raised lawn as well as spots where your foot sinks. Moles are attracted to lawns where grubs and earthworms are plentiful which happens to be in lawns with great nutrients and fertile soil. How can you have a healthy lawn and prevent moles? If your lawn has attracted moles, use this guide to fix your lawn!

Step 1: Get rid of the Moles

The first thing you must do to fix lawn with moles is to get rid of the pesky little creatures. In many states hunting them with poison, weapons, and loop traps is illegal. More humane options include trapping and creating a soil environment that does not encourage the moles to make your lawn their home. If you have outdoor dogs or cats, these pets also help to get rid of moles, although that may not be the most pleasant way to get rid of a mole infestation.

If you are having trouble getting rid of moles, try contacting your local animal control or wildlife experts for tips or help. Some cities have companies that provide wildlife relief such as removing moles, raccoons, possums, snakes, turtles and other creatures from people’s homes and property.

Once you feel like you have gotten rid of most of the moles, use your foot or a shovel to collapse the tunnels.

Step 2: Moisture Control

Once you have trapped and relocated the moles to somewhere like a forest or field far from town you need to focus on moisture control in your lawn. Over watering your lawn brings the worms and grubs to the surface which attracts moles. These soil organisms are the staple of a mole’s diet. Make sure that your lawn is not getting more than 1 inch of water each week. You can measure using a rain gauge or by putting containers throughout your lawn that will collect any water falling on the lawn.

Another way to control the moisture in your yard is to only water early in the morning. This way the water will soak the ground but dry on the surface as the sun rises higher. Water just 2-3 times per week when there is no precipitation. You want to make sure that you water deeply, less frequently.

Step 3: Plant a Garden

Some neighborhoods are plentiful with moles and trying to get rid of them can be a lifelong struggle. Instead, discourage moles from coming into your yard by planting border gardens. Moles are detracted by the scent of marigolds, daffodils, garlic, shallots, onions, castor bean plants, and other types of flowers and weeds. Castor beans should not be panted where children or outdoor pets can get into them because it is considered poisonous. Castor oil is a non-lethal method of mole-eradication however.

Step 4: Role the Yard

Your yard will need to be evenly flattened after you get rid of the moles and have moisture levels under control. Yard rollers are available that allow you to fill water inside the machine to adjust the weight. The tunnels and mole hills will be collapsed completely, and air pockets will be closed so that your lawn does not dry out and go dormant.

Step 5: Topdressing

After your yard is leveled using the yard roller you may still have some spots that are lower than others. You can fill in these spots with topdressing. This is a topsoil that is made using 1/3 sand, 1/3 compost, 1/3 loamy soil. You can also purchase topsoil premixed at garden centers.

Topdressing helps fill in spots up to 2 inches and provides rich nutrients for the soil underneath. If you are worried about the moles coming back, you can leave out the compost as it will attract worms and grubs to the surface and use peat instead.

Step 6: Seeding

After you have a completely level yard again you will most likely have patches and lines throughout your yard where no grass is growing. Saturate the lawn with water after this is done to help with settling of any topsoil that you put down. Next, you are ready to lay seed.

First you must choose the right kind of seed for your lawn. There are grass species that grow better in shade while others require more sunlight throughout the day. Some grasses are temperature sensitive or naturally more drought resistant. You should also make sure that you choose a grass seed that is native to your region. You can ask a lawn care expert about the right kinds of grass for your region or ask the staff at your local environmental protection offices.

Follow these 6 steps to fix your lawn with moles and you will have a healthy, green, lush lawn again in no time!


How to Improve Lawn Topsoil

You have probably heard a lot about how important it is to improve your soil quality if you want to improve your lawn. When we continually spray or seed our lawns trying to get grass to grow, if we are not taking care of the soil underneath, all of our efforts will be in vain. One way to increase the quality of your lawn is to improve the lawn topsoil. This is also referred to as topdressing and is a process for working organic matter down into the soil to increase nutrients by adding a thin layer of topsoil to your lawn.

What Problems Does Topsoil Address?

Adding top soil to your lawn not only helps to add nutrients into your soil but can help to alleviate many other lawn issues. One of the main benefits to adding topsoil is that it can help even out your yard. There are many reasons why your yard may have low spots including soil settling after a project that required digging, water runoff, backyard critters that create tunnels, and freezing/thawing.

Topdressing the soil also improves water drainage, reduces your need for fertilizers, and helps with drought resistance. Topdressing the soil is an organic method of improving your soil quality and should be done in spring or fall so that your grass can grow through it and become thick for at least four weeks. This creates a healthy lawn before severe hot or cold temperatures set in which shock the grass and cause a lawn to go dormant is not maintained.

Process of Topdressing the Lawn

The first step to improve lawn topsoil is to aerate the lawn. Aeration is a process of punching three in deep holes in the ground that break up compacted soil and improve air circulation and water drainage. Aerating the soil also allows earth worms and other organisms to move through the dirt to process the soil.

The next step to topdressing the lawn is to prepare the top soil. Many people use sharp sand that is made for topdressing, loamy soil that does not have much clay and compost or peat. Compost can cause weeds to grow in your yard so many homeowners prefer to purchase peat from lawn and garden centers to use. If you have average soil you can use an even mix of these three ingredients however if you have soil that is compacted with clay, omit the loamy soil, and just use sand and compost/peat.

The top soil dressing should be fine and crumbly when you are done mixing it. If you have the ability to sift the mix though mesh you should do so. This also removes any chunks of materials that have gotten into your compost and not broken down. If you do not want to make your own topsoil dressing, you can purchase premade bags at nearly any lawn and garden center or landscape supply company.

After your topdressing is prepare you can apply it to the lawn. This is an effortless process that you should complete a few square feet at a time. Spread out the topsoil dressing over your yard and use a garden rake to disperse the soil so that it is about one inch thick. Use the rake to work the topsoil down into the top layer of dirt and at the base of the grass. If you aerated your lawn first, your top soil will fall into the small holes that were left behind to fill them.

Low spots in your yard that need more than an inch or two of topsoil can be fixed by first removing the existing sod so that there is not underground decay happening that will damage new grasses that will grow. You can put the old sod on top of the topsoil or reseed the lawn in those areas to grow new grass.

The last step to topdressing your lawn is to water your lawn. The topdressing will need to settle and the best way to do this is by watering right after or topdressing just before the rain comes. The topsoil mix will settle over a few days as the water is absorbed. After this you can use the garden rake to even out any bumps or fill in more topsoil where there are still low spots.

If you have bare spots in your yard you should seed right after watering. Your existing grass will continue to grow out of the topsoil as long as you did not cover the grass completely. Topdressing your yard annually is a long-term solution to having a quality lawn each year. This method also prevents thatching, fungal disease and improves lawn drainage.


How to Improve Lawn Condition

Having a lush, green lawn is at the top of most homeowner’s priorities. The curb appeal your home has can increase or decrease its value. The exterior of your home is also the first impression people have of you when they visit. If you have concerns about your lawn such as patchy spots grass not growing, brown grass, or lots of weeds, there are a few ways you can improve lawn condition at your home.

Lawn Aeration

Lawn aeration is the first step to improve lawn condition and should be down in the spring. Aeration is needed because over time lawns can become compacted due to traffic such as dogs and children. The soil becomes packed together under the grass which leads to poor drainage, air circulation, and the grass ability to absorb nutrients.

Aeration is the process of punching 3-inch holes in the soil. This process can be down using an aeration machine, or you can use a handheld aeration tool. Aeration machines can usually be rented from large rental centers. Using an aeration machine is a lot like using a lawn mower and is much faster and more efficient than using a handheld tool.

Aeration is great for lawns because it loosens the soil and allows for worms and other organisms to do their jobs and care for the soil. Aerate your lawn before putting fertilizer or seed down. Aerating annually will lead to greener, lusher lawns and better-quality soil.

Watering Correctly

Few people understand how to correctly water their lawns. Many people water not only too often, but not deep enough. The key to watering your lawn is to saturate the ground thoroughly only a few times per week. Lawn care experts recommend that lawns receive one inch of water weekly. To measure the water that your lawn is receiving you can put a rain gauge in your yard. Check the weather forecast for any heavy rain that is coming and avoid watering the day before, of and day after.

When you water your lawn deeply but less frequently, you are giving the roots of the grass a chance to grow deeper and become more stable. The deeper the roots of the grass, the more resistant the grass is to heat and drought. You can use an electronic soil tester to determine how much moisture is in the ground and should only water if the top three inches of soil is dry.

Natural Fertilizer

There are many chemical fertilizers that claim to do wonders for your grass, but these fertilizers only feed the grass. Chemical fertilizers do nothing for the soil quality which is what a lawn truly needs to be healthy. Natural fertilizers such as compost work better than chemical or synthetic fertilizers and are better for the environment and human health.

Mowing the Grass

You should understand the type of grass you have growing in the lawn and cut it to the recommended height requirements. Most grass is recommended to be cut to around three inches on average, but this can be more or less depending on your grass species.

Another major factor to taking care of your lawn is to keep your lawn mower in good working condition. Lawn mowers need at least annual maintenance including an oil change, new air filter, and sharpening the blades. You should also make sure that you clean the grass clippings off of the lawn mower with each use.

Some people choose to leave their grass clipping rather than mulching them or collecting them for compost. This process is called grass-cycling and provides nutrients to the soil as the grass clippings decay. Grass clippings also hold moisture and can help your lawn to stay moist and cool. If you do not like the look of grass clippings in your yard, collect them for compost and use as a natural fertilizer.

Getting Rid of Weeds

The best way to get rid of weeds is through natural methods. Chemical herbicides kill the weeds that have already grown and do not prevent them from growing back. While these chemicals do an excellent job of killing the plant on top of the soil, weeds should be eradicated at the root. There are many natural methods to getting rid of weeds. The old-fashioned way of pulling weeds is the best way to remove them but there are organic herbicides and DIY methods that kill weeds.

After the weeds are gone, put a layer of corn gluten meal to prevent weeds from permeating the lawn turf and also helps to fertilize the soil. Using cornmeal is an organic method of weed prevention but does not kill the weeds that are already established.

If you are trying to improve your lawn during the summer and the grass is brown, then your lawn has gone dormant. Trying to improve a dormant lawn is very unlikely to be successful and you should wait until fall to start your lawn rejuvenation project.





How to Improve Lawn in the Summer

Fixing your lawn is easiest to do in the spring or fall, but sometimes, your lawn is going to need maintenance in the summer as well. Many people move into new homes and need to improve lawn in the summer time and don’t realize there are many actions you can take to make your lawn lusher and greener, even in the summer.

  1. Water Lawn Correctly: Many homeowners make the mistake of thinking that they must water their lawn heavily every day. Lawns often become soggy and grass roots become drowned when too much water is used on the lawn. Lawns need at least an inch of water per week during severe heat. Use a rain gauge to track how much precipitation has fallen so that you don’t over or under water your lawn. Rather than watering your lawn every day, you should water for a longer amount of time just 2-3 times per week to help develop drought resistant roots. Heat causes water to evaporate so watering early in the morning or after dusk is ideal. If your lawn is brown in the summer, the grass has already gone dormant and cannot be brought back. You will have to wait until the fall to start improving your lawn.
  2. Mow Your Lawn Correctly: Make sure to perform proper maintenance on your lawn mower before moving your lawn including changing the oil, spark plugs, and air filter. Ensure you are using fresh gas in the mower and that you are storing your gas correctly as well. During the summer, grass that is longer usually holds up better against drought so keeping the length at around 3 cm is optimal. Make sure your mower blades are sharp so that the grass is not being ripped from the ground and left to yellow and decay. You should also mulch the clippings to prevent lawn smothering.
  3. Don’t Fertilize: Fertilizing should only be done in the spring and fall. You should stop putting fertilizer on your lawn about a month before summer officially starts to prevent the fertilizer from burning the lawn. If your lawn has gone dormant and brown, adding fertilizer will not bring it back to life. Instead, wait until fall to fertilize and improve your lawn after the grass has started to green again. Organic fertilizers are naturally slow releasing such as compost. If you are working on your lawn in the very early summer or late spring, a natural fertilizer has much less chance of harming your lawn than chemical sprays.
  4. Stop Weeds: Weeds grow during the summer and seed and disperse just before fall. Stopping weeds from growing during the summer will prevent them for the next year. There are a few herbicides that control weeds without harming the turf grass. These chemicals usually need to be used during cooler times when the temperature hasn’t reached 85 or more degrees Fahrenheit for several days in a row. There are organic ways of stopping weeds from growing as well such as vinegar and detergent solutions, pulling them out the old-fashioned way, and laying down a layer of cornmeal after the weeds are gone to prevent regrowth.
  5. Prevent Insect Infestations: One big problem that home owners face in the summer is yard bug infestations. When lawns have gone dormant they are more susceptible to insect infestations such as mosquitoes and worms. If you are finding a lot of grubs hatching in your lawn grub control can be spread around the lawn. There are many products available at lawn and garden retailers that offer chemical and organic solutions for insect and grub control in your lawn.
  6. Prevent Lawn Diseases: Fungal diseases can spread throughout your lawn in the summer. There are many ways to fight fungus in your lawn including monitoring the lawn pH levels. Dethatching your lawn and aerating will also help to prevent fungal growth and diseases. Water your lawn in the morning so that the water can penetrate the soil but then dry as the sun comes up higher in the sky. Keeping your lawn well-watered but dry will prevent fungus from growing. If you have a fungal disease in your lawn you should remove the clippings and make sure not to compost them. Fungal diseases can infect compost and spread through the lawn quickly when you fertilize.

There isn’t much you can do to completely turn around a lawn in the height of summer if you live somewhere with temperature over 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months. If you follow the above tips however, you can prevent further harm to your lawn and stop come problems that come with a dormant lawn such as insect infestations or fungal diseases.

How to Improve Lawn Growth

A well-kept lawn can be the envy of the neighborhood. Most homeowners don’t need to spend a lot of green to achieve healthy green yards — a little care can go a long way toward a beautiful, sustainable lawn.


Over time the soil under your lawn becomes compacted from foot traffic and regular mowing.  When this happens, it is more difficult for grass roots to get the air, water and nutrients they need to grow. You can use a hand-held or machine-powered aerator to remove small cores from the soil. This creates passageways for water to reach the root zone, promoting better drainage and more efficient watering. Most experts recommend aerating your lawn once a year.

Remove thatch

Dead grass and roots build up on top of the soil over the life of your lawn, creating a layer of thatch. Your lawn benefits from some thatch to help insulate and protect the roots. However, when the layer of thatch becomes more than half an inch thick, it begins to strangle the grass. Unable to penetrate the thatch, the grass roots grow along its surface. The resulting mat of tangled roots is more susceptible to drought and disease. Lawns with a significant problem may have dead patches and feel spongy underfoot. Remove built-up thatch with a dethatching machine in early fall — incremental work will help avoid damaging your lawn. A steel-tine rake should take care of a minor thatch problem.

Water deeper and less often

Setting the sprinkler out for a few minutes during the week actually makes your lawn more susceptible to drought and fungus. Watering your lawn less often with more water encourages the roots to grow deeper into the soil. Deep roots can better withstand hot, dry weather.

Water your lawn in the early morning when it’s least windy and temperatures are cool. You’ll want to make sure you’re watering 4 inches into the soil, a healthy depth for grass roots. To determine how long to water your lawn, check the soil moisture about every 15 minutes during your first watering. Insert a trowel down 4 inches and feel with your finger for wet soil. Time how long it takes the water to seep down 4 inches.  Water your lawn for the same amount of time no more than twice a week.


Fertilizing your lawn provides it with the nutrients it needs to grow a lush, green carpeting. The right product for your lawn will vary depending on the soil type, acidity, climate and type of grass.

Give your lawn a good watering one to two days before fertilizing. Once it’s dry, spread your fertilizer. You can use a broadcast or rotary spreader for large areas. Handheld broadcast or battery-powered spreaders work well for small lawns. Lightly water your lawn after fertilizing to carry the fertilizer down into the root system. Take care not to overwater or water before it rains, or your fertilizer could be washed away. Grasses in warmer climates can be lightly fertilized several times from early spring to late summer. Fertilize grasses in cooler climates once in early fall.

Mow high

Grass roots usually grow as deep as the blades are high. Cutting the blades too short limits the water and nutrients your lawn can draw from the soil. It also limits your lawn’s ability to absorb the sunlight it needs to grow. High-cut lawns meanwhile are more resistant to weeds and drought. Set your mower deck between at 2 and a half and 3 inches and expect to mow about once a week.


Grasscycling is the practice of leaving grass clippings on top of your lawn after mowing. This method saves time and money, as you won’t have to bag up clippings to put on the curb. The clippings also help fertilize your lawn, adding valuable nutrients as they decompose.





How to Improve Lawn Drainage with Sand

Homeowners spend hours and hours a week ensuring their lawn and gardens are growing well. A healthy lawn and gardens add value to your home and raise the curb appeal aesthetics. Every homeowner knows that lawns need water to ensure green, healthy growth.

Not every homeowner realizes that too much water can be very damaging to your lawn. One solution to improving your lawn drainage is by using sand. This choice is not practical for all lawn types. This guide will help you to better understand where, why, and how sand can work for your lawn drainage.

Why Improve Lawn Drainage with Sand?

Lawns can become waterlogged when rainwater and runoff sit on top of the soil and drains slowly or not at all. Water can stop air from infiltrating the soil which can result in drowned roots and dying plants. Water logging is most common on soils that are clay in composition or heavily compacted.

You will know if your lawn holds too much water because you will notice pools of water that collect in places throughout your yard. Your lawn may also seem squishy or muddy, long after the rain passes, and other areas of your lawn is dry and firm. Another sign of waterlogging is yellowing grass that dies. Coarse textures allow for water to flow past the grains and absorb into the sand under the lawn.

How to Use Sand to Improve Lawn Drainage

Most lawn specialists suggest that you aerate your lawn before applying a topdressing. After the lawn undergoes aeration, spread the top dressing over the surface of the lawn about 1/2 of an inch thick. Using a rake, brush the top dressing into the grass so it is as close to the soil as possible.

Once the top soil is down, you can add more seed to replace any grass that has died or is patchy due to the waterlogging. The top dressing will help to protect the grass seeds until they germinate. After a few weeks, the sandy top dressing will work itself down into the top layer of soil helping to break up compacted soil.

Adding fertilizers such as compost, will give your grass available nutrients quickly. Fertilizer should come after the top dressing and seed is down. Sand cannot provide nutrients for plants which can be a problem with top dressing your lawn. Mixing compost or laying fertilizer can ease this problem.

Where to Use Sand?

Sand for lawn drainage is a popular choice for loamy soil textures. Soil that has a clay composition is not suitable for sand top dressing because the sand and clay mix together to form a concrete like material. This material will make your lawn solid and impenetrable. A great substitution for sand in clay soil is organic matter.

Organic matter, such as garden compost, manure, grass clippings, leaves, potting soil, worm castings or other organic materials will coat the clay particles. This opens the soil pores so that air and water can move past the clay particles. This process may take a longer time. Even up to a few years. But, you do not risk a yard that is irreparable due to concrete build up in the ground.

Sand also has no nutritional benefit for the soil and can decrease the fertility of the land. One place that sand is especially useful for lawn drainage is on golf courses because the courses are built from sand to begin with.

When to Use Sand for Lawn Drainage

The best time to top dress your lawn with sand for water drainage is in the early spring or fall. It is important to top dress your lawn before excessive heat or cold. This is especially true If you plan on over seeding your lawn as well. You will want the grass to grow and to mow the lawn 3-4 times before the weather begins to affect the grass.

When using sand to improve lawn drainage, homeowners and gardeners must remember that the process to fixing waterlogging through top dressing takes several years. Use these top-dressing methods every year to ensure consistent drainage throughout your entire lawn over the course of a few years.

How to Improve Your Lawn Without Chemicals

More people today than ever care about having organic lawn and gardens. Chemicals have earned a bad reputation and families with children and animals who love to play outside value having a beautiful, chemical-free lawn. Chemical products tout that they are the only solution to a weed free lawn, but there are many natural and organic ways to improve your lawn without harsh toxins.

Improving the Soil Organically

To improve your lawn without chemicals you must start with improving the soil quality. Lawns are typically nourished from the ground down with rain and hose water, and fertilizer. The root systems of grasses aren’t very long due to this and the shortened and frail roots make the lawn grasses easily affected by drought or flooding.

Starting to improve your lawn from the bottom up will help make your lawn resistant to extreme weather. Your lawn needs a healthy foundation to grow from and improving your soil quality means you will spend less time watering and pulling weeds.

The first step to improving soil quality is to get a soil test. These are usually free or inexpensive and available at your county extension office or parks and recreation departments. If you cannot test your soil you can observe a 6-inch-deep sample of soil. If the soil is dark, soft, and crumbles easily, the quality is probably pretty good. If the soil ribbons, you have soil with a lot of clay. Thatch under the grass is a sign of poor soil quality as well.

If you are starting your project in the spring, you should aerate your lawn next. This step improves soil texture. For a truly organic lawn, you also need to fertilize your yard annually using compost to topdress the lawn. Spread the compost one inch thick over the lawn and use a rake to work the fertilizer down into the top soil layer.

PH adjusters can be used last to balance the pH in the soil. You can tell if your soil needs a pH balance through a soil test.

Growing Grass without Chemicals

After you have worked, fertilized, and adjusted your soil’s pH levels, you can begin the process of growing grass without chemicals. As your local environmental services agencies what kind of grasses are native to your region. A lawn care expert should also be able to answer these questions for you. Also keep in mind the amount of water that the different grass options need and be sure to choose a species that is hardy. Most grasses will also have specifications on sun and shade requirements.

Nitrogen helps grass to grow and when we have a lawn that is uniformly one type of grass or plant, the nitrogen in the soil can suffer. Allowing clover or dandelions to grow in the grass will improve the lawn quality and decrease the chance of a plant disease.

You will also want to overseed in the fall. Before laying the seed, cut the grass to around 2 inches high. Next, spread about 4 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet of lawn. Rake the seed down into the lawn.

Natural Fertilizer

Natural fertilizers work just as well as chemical fertilizers and are less expensive and better for your land. Chemical fertilizers work by nourishing what is on top of the soil. They feed only the top of the plant and do nothing for the root system. When you use natural fertilizers such as compost, you are feeding your roots, soil, and grass. This method creates a lawn that is stronger and more resilient.

Natural fertilizers or compost should be raked into the soil after aerating and before watering. Fertilizing only needs to be completed once or twice a year during the spring and fall.

Stopping Lawn Weeds without Chemicals

If you cannot allow weeds to grow in your lawn due to neighborhood association rules or personal preference it is possible to stop them from growing without using chemicals. There is no quick fix for stopping weeds organically because weeds are usually a sign of poor lawn health.

One way to stop weeds from growing is to let your grass grow a little bit longer. When grass is longer is has more surface space to photosynthesize and spread over the lawn. You can also use the tried and true method of a vinegar/detergent/vegetable oil mixture to spray on weeds when they are just beginning to grow. Gardening shops will sell stronger solutions that can be sprayed onto established weeds or injected into the root to kill the weed below the soil and stop it from growing back.

Once your lawn is free of weeds, a corn meal layer can be spread across the dirt. This layer will help stop new weeds from growing. You can purchase organize herbicides from any lawn and garden store but make sure to read labels and understand what weeds you have growing so that you buy the right product for your lawn.


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