You hear a lot about how to take care of your lawn, but what’s fact and what’s fiction? Some of the old wives’ tales can do more harm than good for your lawn. It’s important to know the facts before you do severe damage to your sod.
Check Your Facts
It’s easy to take someone’s word when they are giving you advice, but you should always double check what you hear. Urban myths start when a story gets passed along and changed until it becomes a well know “fact.” Your neighbor or parent might mean well, but you should always find the facts out for yourself.
Myth 1: Tonics made from common household products will improve your lawn.
There is almost no scientific basis for the “tonics” that you hear about. One tonic calls for one can of beer, one can of soda, mouthwash and dish soap. While this might leave your lawn smelling strange, it will not improve the look or feel of it. While many homemade tonics are trying to increase the microbial activity in your lawn, they also might kill your lawn.
Myth 2: Only a female dog’s urine will cause spotting in your lawn.
There are a lot of myths behind dog urine and a spotty lawn. Most people think that spotting is due to alkaline levels in dog urine. However, the spotting left behind after a dog urinates on your lawn is because of high nitrogen levels and salt that kills grass. The reason spotting is believed only to be an issue with female dogs is because they squat to urinate which leaves a higher concentration of nitrogen and salt in one area. You can combat spotting by spraying down the area your dog urinates with water to dilute it.
Myth 3: The numbers on the fertilizer bag don’t matter.
There is a set of three numbers displayed on bags of fertilizer, and they stand for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P2O5) and potassium (K2O). For example, a bag of fertilizer that has the number 1025 will have 10% N, 2% P2O5, and 5% K2O. Nitrogen is the most important out of the three, and because of that, you will see that fertilizer recommendations for lawns listed as Lbs N per 1,000 ft2. Fertilizer comes in two forms, quick release, and slow release. The quick release is usually cheaper and takes about a week or less to see improvement. However, it also has a higher chance of burning leaf blades if used improperly. Slow release is usually more expensive and takes three to ten weeks to see improvement. Slow release will rarely burn your grass blades.
Myth 4: During a drought, a little water is better than no water at all.
In Austin we are familiar with water restrictions, there is always that neighbor who will still try to water his lawn a little now and then. What he probably doesn’t know is that he is hurting his lawn more than he is helping it. When there is no water, your grass will go dormant,look dry and might even turn brown. However when it rains again, it will come back to life. If you choose to water your lawn a little every so often, the roots of the grass will grow closer to the soils surface causing them to dry out.
Myth 5: Spiked shoes will help aerate your lawn.
You might feel cool running around your lawn in spiked shoes, but that would be the only benefit you see. Aerating your lawn is used to remove thatch and loosen hard and packed dirt. By walking around in spiked shoes, you will not accomplish aeration and only succeed in packing the dirt more and maybe killing a grub or two. To aerate your lawn, you need to remove plugs from your grass. By removing plugs from your lawn, you will leave room for soil to shift and breath, plus the decomposing plug from your lawn will turn into nutrients.