Getting Dirty: The Complete Beginners Guide to Yard Work

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dirty hands on well worn hands from years of real yard work

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Lawn care can be fascinating, but at the same time, it can be challenging if you are a beginner. Many things, like grass, soil, mowing, aerating, using fertilizer, etc., come into play for optimum lawn care.

It’s pretty challenging to do all the things at once, but some basic knowledge can make you prepared enough.

First things first. You must know your soil and grass type. It will dictate what type of fertilizer you should use, what seeds you should buy, how often you should mow your lawn etc. Knowing the right tools and how to use them is also very crucial.

If you’re thinking of starting your home garden or simply want to take care of your yard more efficiently, you’ll need to know a few basics about yard work.

In this beginner’s guide to yard work, you’ll learn everything you need to start yard work – and maybe even some new ideas for improving your garden! So, let’s get started!

dirty hands on well worn hands from years of real yard work

Know Your Soil

Soil is more than just a pile of dirt from which plants grow out of nowhere. The quality of your soil heavily influences the health of your grass.

If your soil lacks nutrients, your lawn will struggle to thrive. The texture of the soil influences how you care for your grass.

Clay soils, for example, retain water considerably better than sandy soils, so you won’t have to water a clay lawn as frequently.

So, before you begin making judgments regarding your lawn care regimen, you must first become acquainted with your soil. You can do that by testing your soil.

A soil test can get you all sorts of information regarding your soil, such as:

  • Fertility
  • Sal level
  • Organic matters
  • pH
  • Texture

You can test the soil yourself, but they do not offer as comprehensive data as a laboratory soil test.

DIY soil tests will disclose your soil’s fundamental nutritional levels, but they won’t generally tell you how to fertilize your lawn or add soil amendments.

A laboratory test generally indicates the ideal fertilizer schedule for your grass and how to increase your soil’s overall health.

Laboratory soil testing may be available at any university in your locality. To discover how to prepare and mail a soil sample to the office, visit their website or contact them directly.

Grass Type Is Important

The grass is very important for your lawn. They are not as trivial as many things.  There are many grass varieties, each one requiring a unique type of care.

Some grass species will thrive in your climate, while others won’t.

There are two types of grass in a broad category: Cool weather grasses and warm weather grasses. Cool-season grasses thrive in northern areas with long winters and moderate summers.

Cool season grasses actively grow when temperatures are low in the spring and fall. They hibernate during the summer and the colder months of the year.

Some cool season grasses are:

  • Tall fescue
  • Fine fescue
  • Bentgrass
  • Annual ryegrass
  • Perennial ryegrass

Warm-season grasses thrive in southern areas with long summers and mild winters.

Warm-season grasses grow aggressively in the summer . These types of grass thrive in warm conditions.

They also go dormant in the autumn when temperatures fall below 65 degrees Fahrenheit and start growing again in the spring. Warm season grasses include:

  • Zoysia grass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Centipedegrass
  • Bahiagrass

However, if you live in an area where both winter and summer are moderate, you can grow both types of grass.

Such areas are known as transition zones and are best for all grass types.

5 Lawn Care Basics For Everyone

Regardless of your climate, soil type, grass type, etc., these five lawn care basics are a must for every homeowner.

Let’s look at these five crucial lawn care basics:

1. Efficient Mowing

Many don’t emphasize mowing and do it any way they want. And that’s okay because it works. But for proper lawn care, you must mow your lawn the right way.

Many may have been mowing their lawn wrong without even knowing. Although mowing your lawn may appear simple, doing it correctly is the precursor to keeping your grass healthy.

Here are some mowing tips for healthy grass :

  • Only use sharp blades when mowing. Blunt blades shred the grass rather than cutting it, which is both ugly and harmful. Sharp blades guarantee a perfect cut every time. If your blades require sharpening, go to any home improvement store in your neighborhood; they can have your blades sharpened and ready to use the same day!
  • Mow at the appropriate height. You may want to cut your grass extremely short to reduce the frequency of your mowing tasks. But doing so might hurt your grass and negatively affect its growth.  Instead, mow your grass at a more reasonable height, removing about one-third of the grass’s height each time you mow and mow every 5-7 days. It will require more work but you will have better-looking grass in return.
  • Only mow your lawn when it is completely dry. Dry grass is erect and ready to be cut. Wet grass is difficult to mow as water weighs them down. It will keep your grass healthy and your clothes clean.

2. Fertilizing

Water and sunlight are not enough to keep your lawn healthy and green. You may need to boost your grass health by adding some nutrients through fertilizer.

Your local gardening store can offer you a bewildering assortment of fertilizer options.

Proper fertilizer can make your landscape grow big. However, the best fertilizer won’t yield results if you don’t apply it correctly.

To guarantee that you are doing the right thing the right way, follow these steps:

Check pH Regularly: Knowing the pH level is the key to choosing the right type of fertilizer. You can be random when fertilizing your lawn, but you shouldn’t.

Checking the pH will give you an idea of whether your soil is acidic or basic, and you can choose fertilizer accordingly.

Use Fertilizer only When Needed: Random fertilizer usage is unsuitable for your soil’s health. Use fertilizer only twice a year.

Cool climate grasses are better fertilized in the spring or summer, and warm weather grasses need to be fertilized during fall or winter.

Compost is full of nutrients. It is also environmentally friendly so try using compost for better grass health.

3. Watering

One of the most challenging stages in effective lawn maintenance is keeping your grass adequately irrigated.

It may sound easy, but it is not.  The answer isn’t just slapping on some water when your lawn begins to appear parched; it’s maintaining your grass hydrated adequately so that it never becomes thirsty or clogged.

Try trying these ideas for optimum watering:

  • Water your grass only once or twice a week. Frequent watering shall oversaturate the lawn .
  • Water deeply to ensure that moisture reaches the roots of the plant. Shallow watering prevents moisture from getting to where it needs to go and may cause your plants to dry up.
  • Water early in the morning to guarantee that moisture penetrates the soil. it will prevent sunlight from drying up the water quickly. For the same reason, late-day watering isn’t good for your lawn.
  • You may think watering at night may be suitable for your lawn, but it is not. Watering at night can oversaturate your landscape, allowing fungus growth and various diseases to take over.

4. Aeration

Aerating your lawn involves removing tiny plugs of dirt to eliminate thatch. It also helps oxygen, moisture, and other nutrients reach deep into the soil to the roots of the grass.

If you can’t remember when you last aerated your lawn, you should aerate it again.

  • What’s the ideal frequency of aeration, you might ask. If you aerate properly, once every year should suffice. Here are some tips for successful aeration:
  • Inspecting your lawn correctly . Aerating aims to reduce overgrown thatches, remove small plugs of soil, etc. Starting aerating soon shall give you better results if there is thatch and plugs.
  • Make sure the soil is moist but not completely wet. There are different types of aerators. Be sure that the one you chose can work properly.

Keep in mind that the best season for aeration is spring and fall. Remember that aerating too often is bad for your lawn.

5. Seeding

The best time for seeding is right after aeration. Seeding is important to fill up bald patches on your lawn. Proper seeding shall result in a healthy lawn .

During aeration, little holes are formed that are ideal for sowing grass seeds.

Use a seed mix appropriate for your lawn’s soil type and matches the grass you already have. Timing is crucial when sowing seeds on your lawn.

Plan your seeding to match the seasonal growth of grass and the optimal time to plant grass.

Plant the seed correctly and avoid the grass seeding blunders many homeowners make. Try to learn to read a seed tag and who is behind the seed you buy.

Many businesses offer open-market seeds, but you may not be content with the products. Premium grass seeds cost more but yield better grass and give you a healthy, sustainable lawn.

Pests, Fungi, and Weeds

Pests love weak, neglected lawns. Tall grass, damp surroundings, and thick thatch are all breeding grounds for fungus and pests.

If your lawn displays evidence of persona non grata, identify the culprit and implement a control technique immediately.

Pest and disease indicators include: 

  • Fungus or molds are seen on the grass
  • patches of discoloration
  • Individual grass discoloration
  • Grass that is dead or withering

Many chemical treatments for pests and fungus are available, but the best remedies are frequently improved grass upkeep.

If pests and grass diseases are a recurring concern in your yard, you may have an underlying issue requiring attention.

If weeds are invading your lawn, that’s because you made your lawn attractive to weeds by constant negligence. Weeds thrive on weak lawns, and healthy lawns power over weeds.

A combination of good lawn care with a pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicide can be the savior of your lawn needs.

A pre-emergent herbicide serves as a barrier, preventing weed growth before it begins, and a post-emergent herbicide kills existing weeds.

Tool Knowledge Is Crucial

You will need all sorts of tools to care for your lawn properly. Here are some critical gardening tools that every lawn owner should know about:

Weed Eater: Know that your lawn mower can’t reach tight areas. That’s where weed eaters come into play. This tool trims grass in areas where mowers can’t reach.

Edger: You need to create lines to demarcate walkways and flower beds. You can do that by using an edger. Edgers can be both manual and motorized.

Bow Rake: Bow rake levels out soil, mulch, gravel, etc.

Leaf Blower: Leaves dry out and fall from trees during the fall season. Leaf blowers use fast-moving air to drive the leaves to one side for easy clean-up later.

Leaf Blower Vacuum: Leaf blower vacuum job comes right after the leaf blower. As the leaves are gathered on one side, the vacuum sucks the leaves and collects them in an attached bag.

Garden Hose: Garden hose is the most common tool. Every household has one of those. It waters the lawn and any nearby plants.

Wheelbarrow: A wheelbarrow is a vital tool if you are into full-on gardening. It helps to carry heavy loads across the lawn like mulch, gravel, fertilizer bags, etc.

Shovel: Shovels dig holes in the garden and are very helpful in collecting soil.

One important thing to know is that most lawn care tools are available in manual and motorized forms. Motorized tools can be gas-powered, battery-powered, wireless, or electric-powered corded.

Lawn Care According To Season

The weather isn’t the same round of the year. The four main seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter, have different demand levels of care.

Here is season-specific lawn care:

Spring Lawn Care

Use a plug or spike aerator to aerate your lawn. It will allow more water, air, and nutrients to reach the grassroots.

Then, seed any spots that are thin or yellowing. Mow your lawn as soon as it begins to grow again but increase your blade a notch or two for deep root development.

Many people delay mowing their grass, then compensate by cutting it too short. It looks time-saving, but it limits growth.

Water regularly during dry seasons. There is usually plenty of rain in the spring, so you won’t need to water too often.

Summer Lawn Care

Fertilize at the start of the season to promote good growth. Weeds can be controlled with spot treatments. You can also remove them by pulling them with your hands.

Mow frequently and ensure you never trim over one-third of the grass’s height.

Mow taller during the summer to help keep weeds at bay. Water thoroughly only during prolonged dry periods when it hasn’t rained for a week or more.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast. Thus, you can prevent overwatering your lawn or leaving it dry for too long.

Fall Lawn Care

Rake up leaves regularly. This will avoid dead areas on your lawn and prevent the growth of molds. Mold, mildew, pests, etc., are detrimental to your lawn as well as the health of your family members.

Mow your grass with the blade set a few notches lower.

Shorter grass can survive without being buried beneath layers of snow. Fertilize your lawn in the early fall and again in the late fall for healthy and thicker grass.

A thick grass implies strong roots and fewer weeds; therefore, this is one of the most crucial measures in having a lovely lawn in the spring!

Clean the lawn mower and sharpen the blades after your last mow of the season. Don’t leave it for the spring.

Winter Lawn Care

Store outside furniture, fire pits, and children’s toys indoors. If you keep these things outside all through the winter, they can destroy your lawn quickly.

Remove any garbage, sticks, and leaves from your yard. They can encourage mold and mildew growth, hindering your grass from obtaining enough water, air, and nutrients.

Ice-thawing chemicals and rock salt can damage your lawn so use them carefully after the winter.

How Can Yard Work Beginners Create a Flower Bed Without Digging?

For yard work beginners, learning how to make flower bed without digging can be a game-changer. Using the lasagna gardening method, start by layering cardboard, compost, and soil directly over the grass. Plant your flowers and mulch the bed to suppress any remaining grass. It’s a simple, no-dig solution!

Conclusion

I hope this article has given you all the information you need about the best lawn care tips. From how to maintain your lawn to what equipment is needed, everything is right here! 

As mentioned above, lawn care knowledge is limitless; someone can’t grasp it all at once.

But the basics I discussed in this beginner’s guide to yard work can give you the skill and confidence to take care of your lawn on your own.