Use Water Wisely
All lawns need water to grow. But most are watered too often and with too little water. Although each type of lawn has different watering needs, a good rule of thumb is to water only when needed, and then to water deeply, with about an inch of water.
If you use a sprinkler, you can tell when you've watered an inch by putting a few cans of the same size around the watering area. Then time how long it takes to fill them with an inch of water and use that as a guide. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation are more cost-effective than sprinklers, however.
It's also a good idea to let the lawn dry out in between watering. When footprints remain in the lawn after you walk on it, it's time to water. The best time is in the early morning, when the water will be absorbed instead of evaporating. Watering in the evening may lead to mold or diseases.
And if a green lawn isn't important to you, you can choose to water an established lawn just once a month during dry periods. Any areas that turn brown will come back in the fall.
Lawn Care: Pest Control
When pests do appear, many experts agree that integrated pest management (IPM) is the most effective and environmentally friendly way to control pests. Basically, this means using holistic ways to treat pests when possible, such as mowing your lawn higher to shade out weeds or planting more disease-resistant types of grasses or plants, and only using pesticides when needed.
Here are a few suggestions to try before you reach for the pesticide:
• Give nature a little time to work. Damaged parts of your lawn may bounce back over time. And most lawn and garden pests have natural enemies that will help control pests. For example, ladybugs and praying mantises eat other bugs while not damaging your lawn or garden.
• Pull out weeds using a long-handled weed puller. It's usually easier than by hand. Vinegar can also be used to kill weeds.
• Mulch garden beds to prevent weeds.
• Remove diseased plants so the problem doesn't spread.
If you do decide to use a pesticide, follow these guidelines to help keep your family safe:
• Make sure you know what kind of pest you're dealing with so you can choose the right type of pesticide. Your local extension agent or other local lawn expert can help you identify the problem. There are also organic lawn and pest care companies.
• Don't treat the whole lawn if it’s unnecessary. Use pesticides just where you have the problem.
• Read the label on the pesticide carefully and follow the instructions.
• Wear gloves, and long pants and sleeves while using the pesticide to protect your skin. Wash clothing separately before wearing them again.
• Keep children and pets away from the area for the time recommended on the label.
• If you hire a lawn care service, find one that uses an IPM approach to lawn care or uses organic or chemical-free processes.