The perfect lawn

By Jacob Weber

Kansas State University Research and Extension

A picture perfect lawn is not easy to come by. The truth of the matter is that a dense, carpet-like turf requires a significant investment of time and money. You’ll need to select a suitable turfgrass species that is adaptable to your landscape and then give it the proper care necessary to keep it healthy.

There are several kinds of turfgrass suitable for lawns. Some do quite well while others linger and eventually die making way for weed invasion. Sporadic rainfall and excessive heat weakens even the hardiest varieties of turfgrass so they’ll need additional care at times. Zoysia, a very hardy turfgrass species, is prone to thatch buildup making it a magnet for sap feeding chinch bugs. Knowing the pros and cons of the various turfgrass plants helps you not only choose a better grass for your yard, but develop a management plan that will keep your lawn looking great.

Important management practices for growing a great looking lawn include soil fertility maintenance, irrigation, mowing, thatch control and weed prevention. Neglecting any one of these practices in your overall lawn management effort is a recipe for disappointment. For example, you can’t rely on herbicides to help manage weeds out if you let the grass get too tall between each mowing cycle. Infrequent mowing weakens the turfgrass and gives weeds the green light to invade.

Let’s face it, a perfect lawn is difficult to achieve and sustain. Therefore, a compromise between perfection and practicality is often the better choice. At some point you’ll need to decide what kind of lawn will be acceptable within the constraints of your available time and money. You may find that a few spots of white clover in an otherwise healthy and visually attractive lawn are not too bad when it frees up your time and money for other more important concerns.

Sometimes just mowing the lawn correctly is all that it takes to maintain a great looking lawn when growing conditions are ideal early in the season; this is done at minimal expense. However, maintaining an exceptionally good looking lawn throughout the entire growing season requires more care. For a complete rundown of information about proper care of your lawn you can visit the K-State Research and Extension website, or you can call or stop by your local Extension office.

For more information, contact Jacob Weber, horticultural agent, [email protected] or 620-724-8233.