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Local landscapes: The perfect lawn: Is it possible?


Mississippi State Extension Service horticulturist Jeff Wilson practices what he preaches when it comes to his own lawn, pictured.

Mississippi State Extension Service horticulturist Jeff Wilson practices what he preaches when it comes to his own lawn, pictured. Photo by: Jeff Wilson/Courtesy photo


Jeff Wilson/MSU Extension Service



Do you have the perfect lawn? Is the perfect lawn even possible? If it is, do you care enough to have it? Are you willing to put in the work to make it happen? Do you even like mowing? These are all debatable questions.  


First of all, there is no such thing as "The Perfect Lawn." This is coming from a guy who loves to mow. I mow about every fifth day, depending on the weather. I even mow in opposite directions to get that striped look in the yard.  


Heck, I even have an old push-type reel mower that cuts the grass extra close when I really want to impress my neighbors. It's probably more to impress me, because I'm sure they have better things to think about. They think I am crazy already for mowing my lawn so often. Anyway, a perfect lawn may not be attainable, but a beautiful one is.  




Key steps  


Lots of things go into having a beautiful lawn, including watering, weeding, mowing, fertilizing, turf selection and foot traffic. How you control each of these determines your lawn's health. Once you get your grass healthy, it is actually fairly easy to keep it there. I really only do a few key things to have a really nice lawn.  


  • First, I have the right turf species for the amount of sunlight my yard receives. This is the most common mistake I see when evaluating lawns. I also only have one turf species in each primary area of my yard. Mixing turf grasses together rarely results in an attractive lawn.  


  • Second, I only fertilize my grass one time per year. I use a slow-release turf fertilizer around mid-May. This gives the turf time to green up naturally before I apply the fertilizer. This reduces stress, which keeps small problems from becoming big ones. 


  • Third, I mow on a regular and consistent basis. My goal is to remove no more than one-third of the overall plant's growth at any one time. If my grass grows to 1 1/2 inches high, then I mow it back to 1 inch high. This prevents piles of clippings from being on the lawn after mowing, which is a sure sign of not mowing often enough.  


  • Fourth, I only water my lawn when it is absolutely necessary. This is far less than you might expect. In 2012, I only watered my lawn twice. That's right, two times, and it stayed green all summer. In 2013, I have not watered my lawn as of this article's printing. Your turf is much more durable than you think. 


    Most grass species only need 1 inch of water per week during the summer months. This is best done over two watering periods, if possible. Watering more than twice per week will lead to disease problems. Remember, the turf likes to dry out completely before being watered again. So if you are watering more than that, cut that sprinkler system off! It will not only save your turf, it may also save your wallet. 


    There is much more to a healthy turf than just what I have written today. If you want to learn more, stop by your local Extension office and pick up the free Turf guide. Remember, there is no such thing as 'The Perfect Lawn'. When I came home from vacation last week, I found three weeds in my front yard. Man! I was so embarrassed.



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