8 Common Lawn Care Mistakes to Avoid

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated February 8, 2022
Woman mowing lawn in her front yard
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Avoid these common lawn care mistakes to keep your lawn happy and healthy

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The road to lawn problems is paved with well-intentioned mistakes. While regular mowing, watering, and fertilization are all needed for healthy grass, the wrong application of any of these can prevent your lawn from living its best life. Avoid these common lawn care mistakes the next time you work on your lawn.

1. Avoid Over-Fertilizing Your Lawn

Spreading too much fertilizer can overwhelm your grass. Fertilizer adds nitrogen to your lawn to help it grow —however, adding too much can cause fertilizer burn, which dries it out and kills it. Brown or yellow patches of dead grass are telltale symptoms of over-fertilization.

To avoid using too much fertilizer, always follow the manufacturer's instructions and consider using a broadcast spreader to evenly distribute it throughout your lawn. Avoid walking around the lawn shaking the bag back and forth willy-nilly, or you could end up with sad, dead patches of grass despite your best efforts.

2. Don’t Under-Water Your Grass

All living things need water to thrive, and this applies to your lawn as well. Water is especially important during the summer months when high temperatures and scorching sunlight can easily dry your grass out. The average lawn needs between three-fourths of an inch to 1.5 inches of water each week, although this depends on your soil. Talk with a lawn care service near you to learn what will work best for your grass.

3. Stop Watering Your Grass in the Afternoon

Closeup of a sprinkler watering the lawn
Photo: VanderWolf-Images / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

When the afternoon hits and the sun is at its hottest, this is not the ideal time to water your grass. The heat will cause the water to evaporate quickly, likely drying out your lawn again before sundown. To get the most from your waterings, try to water as early in the morning as possible. 

4. Never Cut Your Grass Too Short

One of the biggest lawn mistakes is mowing grass too short. In the interest of saving time, it’s understandable to want to cut those grass blades extra short. However, this can stress the grass out, expose the roots, and make it more susceptible to disease (or a hostile weed takeover). Remember: The right height for lawn mowing is no more than one-third of the grass blade at a time.

5. Don’t Cut Your Grass With a Dull Lawn Mower

Many people don’t consider the blades’ sharpness during lawn mowing. This is a big mistake. Dull blades will tear at each grass blade rather than giving it a clean cut, leading to improper moisture balance and frayed, browning edges. If you can’t remember the last time you sharpened your mower blades, or if you’ve never sharpened them at all, be sure to add this to your to-do list—especially if you are mowing new grass.

6. Stop Planting the Wrong Type of Grass Seed

If you want to grow the greenest grass, choosing the right type of seed is crucial. There are warm-season and cool-season grasses, so be sure to pick one that works for your area’s climate. Along with that, it’s important to consider how much sun the grass will get. Sunny lawns can take all types, but shadier areas should get more shade-tolerant varieties like Fescue, Zoysia, and St. Augustine.

7. Don’t Neglect the Fertilizer

Homeowner using a broadcast spreader in the yard
Photo: groveb / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Whether you’re worried about overfertilizing or just not aware of the benefits, know that proper fertilization is key for a happy, healthy lawn. A layer of compost or composted manure can work wonders when you’re planting a new lawn, while regular fertilization can keep it vibrant and thriving. Be sure to choose the right type of fertilizer for your grass and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid spreading too much.

8. Never Quit Your Lawn Care Routine

Whether you’re trying to save money on lawn care or just struggling to fit it into your schedule, don’t give up on your lawn care and weed control routine. Weeds can easily overtake a neglected lawn, and poor watering can undo your previous efforts within weeks. Keep a lawn care checklist to make it as quick and straightforward as you can. Pull weeds or use weed killer regularly. If you’re still having trouble, consider hiring a local landscape professional to keep your grass looking green and lush.

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