9 Tips to Get Thick Green Grass That's the Envy of the Neighborhood

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated June 2, 2022
Lush green grass
Photo: Natalia Bodrova / iStock / Getty Images

Making grass greener and thicker means you've got to give it some TLC

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We all want lush, thick grass that's the perfect shade of green—but it's not as easy as laying new sod and calling it good. Grass often fades, develops mysterious dry or dead patches, or suddenly thins so the earth beneath is clearly visible. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to remedy this and get a vibrant, dense, super-green lawn carpet. 

Regular maintenance is required to keep your lawn looking great, so you might want to hire a local lawn care service to handle the job for you. You can book lawn care services using an Angi Key membership.

If you go the DIY route, you'll save money on labor costs, but you'll need to purchase all the tools and supplies, including a dethatcher, seed, and fertilizer. Plus, it takes time and energy. If you hire a professional lawn repair service in your area, you'll pay more in labor, but you won't have to worry about getting the right supplies or making time in your busy schedule for hours of lawn care. 

Lawn repair and maintenance costs between $50 and $200 per month for regular servicing, and buying a monthly package may get you a deal on extra services like aeration, overseeding, and weed removal.

But whether you're going it alone or hiring a pro, the steps for keeping your lawn the envy of your neighbors are the same.

1. Improve Your Soil With Testing

Grass needs nutrients and the right conditions to thrive, and that starts with good soil management. Unhealthy soil leads to unhealthy grass. So instead of just diving in and treating the obvious symptoms, go to the root of the problem (literally) to fix your soil and give your grass roots ideal growing conditions. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Test your soil to find out pH and nutrient levels.

  • Based on your test results, amend the soil nutrient profile with the right slow-release fertilizer.

  • Amend soil pH by applying lime if it's too acidic, and rich compost or sphagnum peat moss if it's too alkaline. You're aiming for a pH of 5.5–6.5 for the best grass growth.

  • Get yourself on a fertilizing schedule. Fertilize in early spring, then every 4–6 weeks with a slow-release fertilizer during the growing season.

2. Aerate Your Lawn

If your kids and dog spend lots of time romping around in the grass, eventually your lawn will become compacted. This is most common with clay soils and means the soil becomes dense and tightly packed so grass roots can't get as much air or food as they need. 

Aerating the lawn helps loosen the soil, letting food, water, air, and nutrients travel through and nourish your grass. And aeration provides better conditions for grass to develop a strong, healthy root system. 

You can rent a machine and tackle the job yourself, or hire a pro. Lawn aeration costs an average of $129.

3. Dethatch Your Lawn

Sometimes your lawn has to look worse before it can get better. This is the case for dethatching a lawn: it’s necessary, but it does (temporarily!) damage the living grass. 

Dethatching removes dead organic matter that creates a thick, spongy layer at the base of your lawn. This matter encourages moss growth, starving your grass of moisture and the benefits of fertilization. But when you dethatch your lawn, you let water and nutrients reach the soil, improve airflow, and promote thick growth. 

You can dethatch your lawn yourself, hire a garden pro for a one-off project, or add it as part of your regular lawn maintenance service.

Fresh green grass with water droplets
Photo: taniche / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

4. Gently Fertilize Your Lawn

Because dethatching is a traumatic process, your grass needs a little TLC to recover. Start by giving the grass a thorough, deep soaking, then apply a half-strength dose of slow-release fertilizer, and water again. This helps take the fertilizer down to the roots and encourages deep, downward root growth. 

If you're not going to overseed, you can also apply a top dressing of well-rotted manure or fine compost. This helps take the fertilizer down to the roots and encourages deep root growth.

5. Overseed Your Lawn

After you've aerated, dethatched, and fertilized, overseeding is the next smart step to getting a thick, green lawn. Overseeding involves sowing grass seed over your existing lawn. And, as you've already aerated and dethatched, the seed can make good contact with the soil and achieve a high germination rate. Speak to a local lawn specialist to find out which grasses thrive in your area so you know exactly what to plant.

Here’s how to overseed your lawn:

  • Mow the grass short, preferably under 2 inches.

  • Spread some lawn starter fertilizer over the grass to create a nutrient-rich layer that helps the seed quickly develop strong roots.

  • Sow grass seed liberally over the existing lawn.

  • Use the back of a rake to gently press the seed into the grass, helping it get closer to the soil.

  • Add a light topdressing of high-quality compost and rake it through.

  • Let the lawn grow, and don't mow it before it reaches about 3 inches.

6. Mow Your Lawn

The best mowing schedule to maintain a lush lawn depends on the type of grass you choose as well as your local climate. If you recently planted or re-seeded your lawn, allow the seedlings two to three weeks to grow tall and resilient enough for mowing.

Once the new grass matures, mow regularly, but remember to never mow more than 1/3 of the grass’ height to avoid stressing and weakening it. Keep an eye on the changing growth patterns of your type of grass—certain species will grow at different rates during the spring, summer, and fall, for example. 

Even the time of day and conditions of your lawn dictate the best time to mow. Aim to mow your lawn in the early evening when it's neither wet from recent rain or overly dry from the hot sun. You may compact soil with the mower if it's too wet and stress out the blades if they're struggling with drought.

Sharpen your mower blade at the start of every season to prevent jagged cuts that turn brown and injure the plant. Depending on the size of your lawn, a reel mower could be more beneficial for your grass than a gas mower since it improves grass health.

7. Water Regularly

For the first couple of weeks after overseeding, you'll need to water the lawn regularly—at least every other day in warm, dry weather, as the grass won't have a deep root system yet. 

After two weeks, move to watering deeply just once or twice a week. This encourages the new grass to grow deep, strong roots that will eventually be able to take up water from deep in the soil during dry spells. 

Yet again, it's important to know what your grass species needs in your unique local climate. In most cases, water your grass between 1.5 and 3 inches each week—either at once or split between two waterings. Adjust the final amount based on recent precipitation as well.

8. Protect Against Pests

Unwelcome guests like grubs and webworms can throw off your goals for a thick green lawn just as quickly as drought or disease. Keep in mind that not all insects and animals count as invaders. Maintaining a healthy lawn simply comes down to balancing and maintaining a healthy ecosystem. 

The most common lawn-damaging pests include:

  • Chinch bugs

  • Grubs

  • Webworms

  • Cutworms

  • Armyworms

  • Ants

  • Billbugs

You may also encounter biting pests like mosquitoes, ticks, and mites. Signs of pests include yellow or brown patches, fragile grass blades, or bites when you spend time outside.

Maintain a healthy insect ecosystem by balancing the moisture and thickness of your lawn. Ensure proper drainage, avoid overwatering, and consider leveling any area gathering standing water.

When necessary, treat with organic or chemical-based insecticide or a fertilizer with insecticide in the recipe.

9. Ward Off Weeds

Similarly, keeping a proper watering, aerating, and fertilization schedule will discourage invasive weeds from stealing the show. Thick grass won't leave enough space and nutrients for weeds to thrive.

Common weeds—such as dandelions, crabgrass, chickweed, or quackgrass—could also be trying to tell you something about your soil. Different weeds thrive in soil that is either compacted, highly acidic or alkaline, clay-heavy, or dancing an imbalance of nutrients. Call in a local landscaper for a soil test to see if amendments will keep weeds from coming back each year.

When getting rid of existing plants, consider a chemical-free DIY approach to removing weeds to avoid throwing off the natural balance of your lawn.

You've done all the hard work (or hired someone to do it for you) and it's finally bearing fruit—your grass is the greenest it's ever been and a pleasure under bare feet. But how do you keep it that way? With regular, simple lawn maintenance!

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