The first step to help provide your lawn with the nutrients it needs to thrive is to mow smart. Not only will you save time, but you’ll save money – decomposing grass clippings can provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and other essential nutrients to your lawn for free. You’ll also promote strong turfgrass roots, healthy blades, and a lush, green, healthy lawn.
Mow your grass to a height of 3-4 inches high. The easiest way to know if you are mowing high is to measure your lawn after mowing. Try to never cut more than one-third of the grass blade’s height during any single mowing. This will allow the grass to develop a deeper root system, help block out weeds, defend against drought and disease, and create finer clippings, which will decompose more readily.
Keep your lawn mower blades sharp. If you do not already have one, consider making your next lawn mower purchase a mulching mower. Mulching mowers chop up the grass blades into finer clippings that will decompose faster. You may be able to retrofit your current non-mulching mower with a mulching kit.
Remove any existing thatch using a dethatching machine or core aeration machine. Only do this when thatch is over 1/2 to 1 inch thick, and when grass is actively growing and can recover. Returning grass clippings to the lawn does not increase thatch. Excessive thatch buildup can be a symptom of other turf management issues such as a deficiency in the soil microbes needed to help break down organic matter.
Avoid over-fertilizing or over-watering your lawn. Both can have negative impacts on local water quality, and neither will make your lawn healthier. Over-fertilizing can burn your lawn, and excess fertilizer pollutes local waterways. Over-watering wastes water and can leave your lawn vulnerable to lawn pests and diseases. Fertilize according to soil test results, and water no more than 1 inch per week (including rainfall).