DIY Network

Lawn Upkeep

This DIY Basic will provide tips for keeping a lawn beautiful.

More in Outdoors

Fertilizing the lawn


Watch an Overview Video

Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

lawn mower
rain gauge
pre-emergent weed control
herbicide with carfentrozone
herbicide with quinclorac
combination herbicide
slow-release nitrogen

Mow the Grass

Raise height of mower blade; taller grass is healthier grass. Scalping weakens grass, inviting pests, diseases and weeds. Cut only 1/3 of grass blade at a time. Letting grass grow longer also discourages weeds because a long stalk with few leaves tends to die.

Leave grass clippings to act as natural fertilizer; they're 85 percent to 90 percent water, break down quickly and do not cause thatch.

Keep mower in good working order; have it tuned and sharpened once a year in offseason.

Water the Lawn

Make sure lawn gets 1 inch of rain or water each week — that's at least half an hour of continuous watering from an average sprinkler and more if you live in dry areas.

Place several rain gauges around lawn to monitor rain and water from sprinklers.

If grass has deep roots, you can let lawn go dormant during droughts; it may look strawcolored, but with rain it comes back to life.

Tip: If you do water, water long and steadily once a week rather than short bursts of water several times a week; long watering causes deeper, stronger roots; watering too little encourages shallow roots that dry out quickly and create thatch.

Water in early morning to encourage absorption and avoid evaporation; watering at night promotes fungi and mold.

Mark sprinkler locations to make sure you cover entire lawn.

Control the Weeds and Add Fertilizer

To control weeds, treat lawn with herbicides. Pre-emergent herbicides prevent broadleaf weeds from sprouting. If you have full-grown weeds, use an herbicide containing carfentrozone to kill weeds without hurting grass.

Crabgrass can be killed with quinclorac. If you have both weeds and crabgrass, apply combination herbicide.

Fertilize when grass is actively growing. If grass is worn down in certain areas, slow-release nitrogen will help blades recover.