You can probably tell just by looking at someone’s front yard what kind of lawn-care program they follow—from golf-course perfection to casual neglect. When it comes to our lawns, it seems we all fall into one of three personality types. Take our quiz to see which one you are!
How green do you want your lawn to be?
- A) Bright green, like Wrigley Field or the course at Pebble Beach.
- B) Green, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
- C) I don’t care what color my lawn is, as long as it’s healthy.
How do you feel about weeds in your lawn?
- A) I hate to see even one weed in my lawn.
- B) I don’t like weeds, but it doesn’t bother me to see a clump of crabgrass here and there.
- C) Weeds are fine as long as I can mow them—let the dandelions and clover go crazy!
How much time and money do you spend on lawn care?
- A) Time and money are no object if I can get the right look.
- B) I don’t mind forking over a few dollars and putting in a little effort in the spring and fall.
- C) I’d rather spend my time and money on trees, shrubs, and perennials.
Your Lawn-Care Personality
- If you answered mostly “A”, you’re probably a Lawn Ranger.
- If you answered mostly “B”, you might be an Obi-Lawn Kenobi.
- If you answered mostly “C”, you’re likely a Dalai Lawna.
The Lawn Ranger
Hi-ho, Silver, away! You saddle up a riding lawnmower every chance you get, riding herd on the greenest, most weed-free lawn in the neighborhood. You find fertilizing, aerating, seeding, watering (and especially mowing!) relaxing and enjoyable. Your lawn is your pride and joy, a beautiful green frame for your landscape.
Fertilizing: Since you’re striving for what turf experts call a “high maintenance lawn” (one that’s as green as possible), you’ll need to fertilize three to five times a year. Timing depends on what kind of grass you have and what part of the country you live in, so ask a local nursery or cooperative extension service. Because you’re using so much fertilizer, make sure you check local laws about phosphorous-containing fertilizers. In many cases, additional phosphorous (the P in the N-P-K nutrient ratios you see on fertilizer bags) isn’t necessary for home lawns, and using too much of it harms local lakes and rivers. Many communities have partial or complete bans on phosphorus-containing fertilizers.Weed control: Your best weed-control tool? A healthy lawn—your grass is so lush and thick that it crowds out the pesky weeds. The few bold dandelions that dare to take root in your lawn are easy enough to dig out by hand.
Watering: Water infrequently and deeply to force grass roots to grow deep into the soil and better resist drought. Water early in the morning to avoid evaporation. (Lawn Rangers love playing around with high-tech timers that monitor weather conditions online and water only when it’s dry.)
Top lawn-care tip: As a Lawn Ranger, you’re aware that soil is the key to your lawn’s health. Get your soil tested frequently and apply amendments as needed. Second, set your mower blade as high as it will go. This not only allows you to mow more frequently (which you enjoy!), but also helps your grass grow deeper roots. Taller grass shades the soil, keeping it cooler and reducing the amount of water that evaporates. Plus, it elbows out sun-hungry weeds.
Favorite Beatles song: “All You Need Is Lawn”
You are wise, but you don’t have the power to make everything happen exactly as it should. In your world, this is fine. When the lawn grows, you mow it. A few weeds? That’s nothing to rattle your light saber.
Fertilizing: For a healthy lawn of cool-season turfgrass that blocks out weeds without necessarily being the greenest on the block, apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer once in the spring and once in the fall. If you’re short on time, aim for just a fall application. Fertilize warm-season grasses mainly in spring, with smaller applications through summer while grass is actively growing. That should do it. The Force will take care of the rest.
Weed control: You may not mind the clover, but crabgrass makes you crabby. To make sure it doesn’t take over, apply a pre-emergence crabgrass herbicide in spring, following package instructions.
Watering: You water enough to keep the lawn alive, but you don’t want to pour huge amounts of water (and money) into your lawn. To make sure water penetrates deep into the soil, water about ½ inch, wait an hour or so, then add another ½ inch to 1 inch. If the soil is extremely dry, too much water all at once will just roll off.
”Overseed in early fall.”
Top lawn-care tip: Overseed in early fall. It’s best to do it then—way better than spring—because that’s when Mother Nature’s grass seed is being distributed. By next spring, the grass seedlings will have enough of a head start to outcompete the weeds.
Favorite Beatles song: “Can’t Buy Me Lawn”
The Dalai Lawna
You’re delighted with the lawn you already have. Why worry? Be happy! You’re just grateful that the sun shines, the rain falls, and you really don’t have to do much to the yard. In fact, someday you may even scatter some wildflower seeds and turn the whole thing into a meadow.
Fertilizing: You leave the clippings from the grass—or whatever green things are growing in your yard—on the lawn instead of bagging them. It makes mowing easier and adds extra nutrients.
Weed control: Weeds? What weeds? Violets and dandelions make lovely bouquets.
Watering: You never do it—your water bill is high enough! You’ve noticed that when you let the lawn go dormant during the driest, hottest days of summer, the lawn always greens up again when rain and cooler temperatures come again. So why sweat the small things?
Top lawn-care tip: Every year, dig up a little more turf and plant it with low-maintenance perennials so you have less to mow and care for. Ornamental grasses are a great option. Plant them once, cut them down in the spring, and divide every few years. They even look great in winter. Can turfgrasses say that?
Favorite Beatles song: “Let It Be”