Today, lawns cover a huge area in places such as Australia and the USA. Recently, a NASA-sponsored studyestimated the area that is covered by lawns is about 128,000 square kilometers - that's nearly 32 million acres! This makes them the largest irrigated crop in the entire United States - more than three times that of irrigated corn.

Lawn care is big business. Estimates of the amount of money spent on professional lawn care services do vary, however one survey has put the total at around USD$28.9 billion in 2002, which equates to about USD$1,200 per household, when spread across the 24.7 million households who use these services.

V Jenkins, notes in her book The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession (1994), that the current rage for a chemically dependent lawn arose after the end of World War II, and she argues that "American front lawns are a symbol of man's control of, or superiority over, his environment." Around 50-70 % of U.S. residential water is actually used for landscaping purposes and most of this is used just to water lawns.

Together with trees, lawns have a vital role in the fight against urban heat islanding. Lawns provide oxygen conversion, together with the filtering of air particulatesand aiding erosion control. Lawns also aid air and surface cooling required to offset miles of new asphalt, cement, and rooftops. When compared to just plain bare dirt, lawns may be 20 degrees F cooler on a hot day, and even up to 40 F

degrees cooler than surrounding cement surfaces.

Lawn care maintenance, construction and their management of various kinds are the sole focus of much of modern horticulture techniques industry today. The overuse of pesticides and chemical fertilisers have played havoc with our water supply for a long time, and if we are to continue our obsession with lawns, then we must find a way to bring this into a better balance.

Essential Lawn Care Tips

Have you always wanted the turf in youir lawn to stay green? But somehow you just havent managed to do this? May be your lack of understanding about essential lawn care tips has been the major roadblock to achieving a healthy looking lawn in your garden. You need to know that the key to a healthy lawn lies in the prevention of weed growth and comprehensive lawn maintenance planning.

You do not need a professional to care for your lawn and ensure that it is always beautiful to look at and perfectly trimmed. But it would be incredibly helpful if you have a lawn care or lawn gardening professional to evaluate your lawn. With a single session, your local expert can outline for you the basic activities and problem areas that you have to attend to.

  • Let you know what type of lawn grass you are dealing with if the lawn is not something you had personally or originally grown
  • Let you know your lawn’s requirements for watering, fertilizing, light, and temperature
  • Let you know the potential problem areas that you may be dealing with in different parts of the year
  • Gives you a schedule for performing maintenance activities for your lawn

Outdoor or Lawn Care Equipment

You can make caring for your lawn easier by purchasing basic or residential lawn care equipment. These could include the following, depending on the type of lawn you have at home and its current condition.

  • Lawn mower (may be manual or gas-powered)
  • Hedge trimer (may be electrically powered)
  • Pole pruner
  • Weed whacker
  • Edgers for flowers
  • Leaf and snow blowers
  • Sod cutters
  • Bed shapers
  • Back hoes
  • Chainsaw
  • Various types of loaders
  • Log splitter
  • Pressure washer
  • Wood chipper

Fertilizing

Many first-time lawn owners think that fertilizing is an unnecessary activity and one that only those with meticulous demands from their lawn require. The truth is, your lawn is in need of fertilizing to enjoy proper growth and health.
Fertilizers should be used if soil conditions are not ideal for your lawn. They correct your soil conditions, restoring the ideal balance or optimal pH levels so that your lawn would enjoy continuous and problem-free growth.
There are many types of fertilizers, however, so it is critical to choose something that is suited for the type of lawn you have at home.

Soil pH Levels

You probably hear the words ‘pH level’ all the time and have no idea of what it means. pH levels basically refer to the acidity of your soil. Some grasses thrive in soil with low pH or acidity levels and vice versa. Obviously, you will need to determine which category your lawn falls under.
To start with, you can check the pH level of your soil by using a pH meter. You can easily purchase one from your local gardening store. Even retail giants like Walmart or Ace Hardware are sure to have them. Once you know what your soil’s pH level is, it is time to determine which plants would grow particularly well with those conditions in mind.
Azaleas and blueberries, for example, do well with soil that has pH levels from 5.0 to 5.5. Ornamental grasses and vegetables, however, do better when they are growing in slightly more acidic levels, such as having a pH balance of anywhere between 5.8 - 6.5.
If, however, you have a particular plant or flower in mind and your soil conditions do not agree with it, all is not lost. All you have to do is to adjust the soil condition instead. Your pH kit - which includes your pH meter - will always include instructions on how to adjust the pH balance of your soil and reach optimal acidic levels. Generally speaking, this would mean either increasing or decreasing nutrient intakes of your soil.

Increasing pH levels or reducing acidity

This can be done by adding ground agricultural limestone or some other substance that has sufficient lime levels. The amount of lime you will need to use will depend on the type of soil your lawn has. You should also consider other factors like organic matter content, soil texture, and the plants that you want to grow.
Lowering pH levels or increasing acidity - This is something you have to do when you want to grow a fruit or vegetable garden. Generally speaking, gardeners or lawn owners typically add sulphur or aluminium sulphate to their lawn in order to increase acidity level.

Key Lawn Maintenance Tips

A well-maintained lawn decorates your garden and adds value to your home. However, the beauty of the lawn revolves around the greenness of the turf - the better the grass, the more beautiful the lawn. Here are some tips to maintaining a healthy lawn:

  • Keep in mind the season you plan to plant the grass. Since some grasses are meant for the warm season and some others for the cool season, it is essential that your grass suits the season you plan to plant it in.
  • Take proper care in watering the lawn and ensure that adequate water is available for the grass to grow. Water the lawn regularly in the dry or summer season, especially in hot climates. However, remember that excess water is as harmful as water paucity. Try to avoid watering daily, which poses the risk of shallow root growth that might make the grass more prone to drought conditions. While the grass needs one inch of water every three-four days during the growing season, more frequent watering is required in the scorching summer time. The best time for watering is early morning, which gives ample time for the soil to utilize the water. You would be surprised to know that watering in the evening is not recommended at all. There is an increased risk of disease and fungus if the lawn is left wet overnight. You can either choose the early morning time or late afternoon to water the lawn to achieve the best result. Further, avoid watering when the sun is at its peak to prevent excessive evaporation and burning, which leads to shortage of water for the grass growth. Always prefer using a sprinkler so that the lawn is watered evenly and not a smallest portion is left dry.
  • Use fertilizers to keep worms, pests and insects away from your lawn, promote root growth, correct the damaged patches and help it fight diseases. Since some types of grasses are prone to pests, worms and insects, such as sod webworms, chinch bugs and army worms, use of fertilizers can keep them away from spoiling your lawn. Equally important is the use of organic fertilizers, rather than insecticides, pesticides or fungicides, which kill beneficial elements in the soil that are essential to the growth of grass. However, make sure that you do not use lawn fertilizers too frequently, as excessive use can cause fungal growth, kill roots and burn foliage. Three- to four-time application of fertilizers, done every two months, will produce good results. However, use fertilizers for the first time just a few days before the growing season. This would facilitate the grass growth. Watering the lawn is essential immediately after the application of fertilizers to prevent grass or plant burnout.
  • Mow the lawn regularly, ideally during early evening hours. Do not cut the grass when it is wet or too low. Avoid cutting the grass in excess; rather, cut off only one-third of the grass blade growth at a time to prevent exposure of yellow patches all over the lawn. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn itself, which decompose in a week and fulfil about 25 percent of the lawn's fertilizer needs. Another point to remember is that the mower blades should be sharp enough to cut the grass, not rip it off. Do not set the blades at too low a level to avoid cutting the grass too short. You can use long handle shear to cut the grass at the edge of the lawn. Regular and timely mowing will keep the grass in shape, preventing its overgrowth. A perfectly mowed lawn looks immaculate.
  • Use aeration to ensure easy penetration of water, nutrients and oxygen into the roots, which helps the grass to breathe easily and get the required food and water essential to root development and growth. Core aerators remove small soil plugs in the lawn, which make way for easy movement of essential nutrients and water into the soil. Aeration is the most beneficial where the soil has become compact and making water infiltration difficult.
  • Remove the dead and decayed matter, litter, old grass lying around the base of stems on a regular basis. Scarification or raking is known to improve drainage in the soil, thus enabling more water and air to seep into the roots. The best time for scarification is autumn and spring.

Following these essential lawn care and maintenance tips will help you maintain beauty of your garden and protect loveliness of your lawn, making it the envy of your neighbourhood.