BRANDPOINT — As Americans across the country retreat to their homes to help slow the spread of COVID-19, many are rediscovering the value of their yards as places to take in fresh air, engage their children in outdoor games and enjoy physical activity in a safe environment.
Kids who can no longer participate in organized sports activities or meet their friends at the park need creative ways to burn off energy at home. Unplugging and stepping outside can be good for the whole family's physical and mental health. Consider these tips as you explore ways to take advantage of the green space around your home.
Educate: The backyard offers a great setting to learn about plant biology and the creepy crawlers that call our lawns home. Take a magnifying glass to your lawn and explore the habitat nestled between the blades.
Exercise: Lace up your sneakers and take to the yard for a 30-minute workout or arrange an obstacle course on the lawn for the kids. Encourage children to compete for the fastest time or create a course of their own.
Rejuvenate: As the days get warmer, enjoy a little self-care by soaking in the sun on the lawn. Consider laying out a blanket and reading. Whether it becomes family story time or some quiet time to yourself, spend some time enjoying your own personal piece of the great outdoors.
Now is a great time for some DIY maintenance to get your lawn ready for summer and the likely heavier-than-usual use it will see as you spend more time at home. To create a lush, healthy, low-maintenance lawn that is summer-ready, follow these spring lawn care tips from the experts at Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers and turf specialists.
Interseed for a thicker lawn. Lawns that are sparse or have worn patches coming out of winter can be interseeded when the soil warms up in the spring. In addition to enhancing the overall appearance of the lawn, interseeding will help keep turf dense, which is a natural defense to keeping pesky weeds out.
Simply rake away lawn debris or accumulated thatch, broadcast seed widely or target bare spots on your lawn and irrigate regularly until the seed germinates. Be sure to use a high-quality seed that is a good match for your geographic region and your lawn's soil type, sun exposure and irrigation patterns. Seed can be ordered online and shipped directly to your home from most home improvement retailers.
Water deeply and infrequently. Rather than irrigating lightly every day, begin to water more deeply, only once or twice a week, which will encourage strong root growth and make for a hardier lawn in the summer. Most turf grasses will stay vigorous if they receive about 1 inch of water per week (and drought-tolerant species such as tall fescue do well on even less).
Mow early and leave the grass taller. Start mowing your lawn before it gets too tall. Scalping an overgrown lawn will stress the plants and potentially cause problems all season long, so make sure you never cut off more than one-third of the grass blade height at a time. A good rule of thumb for most species is to mow when the grass reaches a height of about 3 inches. That means you can cut it to 2 inches - or you can even leave it a little taller to protect the growing point at the base of the blade and improve your lawn's wear tolerance.
Feed your lawn. Grasscycling - leaving the clippings on the lawn after you mow and allowing them to decompose - can save you time and provide up to 25 percent of your lawn's fertilizer needs. To meet the rest of your turf's nutrient requirements, you'll likely need to fertilize in the spring and fall. The spring application should be relatively light and should feature slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to avoid causing rapid but weak growth, which can make the lawn less durable.