Before you were a homeowner, you likely didn’t understand how much time it can take to maintain the picture-perfect lawn. There’s feeding, weeding, watering, thatching, aerating, mowing, and mulching. Then it seems like it’s time to do it all over again. While grass may not be as low maintenance as you'd like, with some well-planned laziness, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy while still enjoying a lush lawn.
1. Start with the Right Seed
You may have inherited an established lawn. But if you’re at the initial planning stages, put in the effort to find the right lawn seed for your area. Talk to the local pros. Do some research online.
Generally, wide blade grasses like tall fescue require less water, but the easy way to find a suitable option is to look for a drought-tolerant label. Then make sure it’s a variety that will grow well in your planting zone. There’s a big difference between grasses meant for the Vegas heat versus those that will thrive in the wet Pacific Northwest.
2. Don’t Mow
Well, okay, of course you’ll need to mow. But, mow it a lot less than you think you might need to. Grass that's too short suffers from a lack of protection from the stressors of heat and underwatering. Give your lawn a safety cushion by keeping it around three inches high.
When it’s in full growth mode during spring, you may still need to mow weekly, but raise the deck on your mower to the highest setting. If the yard has really gotten out of control, start by shaving off no more than a third of the height at one time. This will minimize stress on the grass. Mow it a bit more frequently until it gets to maintenance height. Then allow it to grow a few inches before mowing again.
3. When You Do Mow, Sharpen Your Blades
Putting in a little extra effort early in the season will set you up for more hammock time later on. It’s worth the time investment to sharpen your mower blades or have them done for you. Sharp blades will make the job faster and easier every time you mow. Plus, they contribute to the health of your lawn.
4. Don’t Give it Water
Skip the daily watering. You may not even need weekly watering, depending on the climate where you live. In fact, you should only water your lawn when it’s obvious that it needs it. That doesn’t mean when it turns yellow, by the way. A lawn needs water when the blades start to curl over, and their shine begins to fade.
When it is time to water, do a thorough job. Soak it well with about ½” of water. You can place a tuna can in the yard to collect and measure the water depth. Then take a nap for an hour or two and water again, providing another ½” of water. Infrequent, deep watering allows the roots to get well established, which provides healthy, strong support for the lawn. Deep roots also help choke out weeds.
5. Don’t Feed It
There's a wide range of information out there regarding how often to feed your lawn. While it’s important to remember that different types of grass seed have different requirements and that your location may be a factor, it’s also important to note much of the advice is offered by the very companies who profit from your frequent feedings. The truth is, you only need to feed your lawn two to four times each year. Try once in the fall and once in the spring. The truly lazy lawn care provider will minimize that to once a year, in the fall only.
6. Don’t Pick up After Yourself
It’s every lazy person’s dream to leave debris lying around on purpose, right? Grass clippings that result from mowing the lawn act as a natural mulch. This means it helps retain moisture, provide nutrients, and suppress weeds.
If you have a mulch setting on your mower, it will do the work for you. Set it and monitor to make sure it doesn’t spit out large clumps as you mow. Clumps of clippings will suffocate the grass, so break them up and spread them out a bit when this occurs. If your mower doesn’t automatically mulch, fling the clippings out of the mower bag and lightly rake to spread around in a thin layer. Add the excess to your compost pile.