15 Biggest Lawn Care Mistakes – Things to Avoid to Keep Your Lawn in Tip-Top Shape!


A lush, green lawn in your home is just a beautiful sight to see…

…but so hard to achieve! Right?

There will always be problems that you will encounter while maintaining this dream lawn of yours but it’s not because you don’t try hard enough, or that you don’t have passion for it.

No, it’s not that.

There are just some things that you accidentally do wrong— practices that you need to change up a bit for you to achieve that healthy, Instagram-worthy lawn that you’ve always wanted.

So here are the 15 biggest lawn care mistakes that you should avoid. Let’s go!

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beautiful house with green grass front-yard lawn

15 Biggest Lawn Care Mistakes that You Should Avoid

Mistake #1: Cutting the Grass Too Short

This is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make. For the most part, they mow the grass too short just to save time and energy, but they should stop this practice immediately!

Simply put, plants need their leaves to produce food.

So if you cut the grass too short, you’re actually damaging it by slowing down the growth of the roots. This then hinders the grass to absorb the nutrients in the soil, making it weaker over time.

Always remember…

Never cut off more than one-third of the grass’ length in one mow!

Even if you just fell behind schedule, don’t you try to compensate by cutting off a lot all at once. Just mow multiple times and removing just a third in each mow.

Related read: Best Commercial Zero Turn Mowers 2021, and Best Cheap Lawn Mowers 2021.

Mistake #2: Collecting the Grass Clippings

Don’t remove the grass clippings after mowing!

This is beneficial for the plants because they serve as organic fertilizer for your lawn. Those clippings can supply nitrogen for the plants and can cut up to 25% of your fertilizer use!

So, I’ll just leave it there?

YES! This is actually called Mulching and it’s an effective method in plant care. As long as it doesn’t pile up to a thick mat covering the grass, it’s fine. But if that happens, just grab a rake and remove the excess.

Related read: How to Improve Your Lawn by Mulching.

mowing and mulching the grass with a lawn mower at early fall

Mistake #3: Too Much / Too Little Water

How much water does your grass truly need?

Of course, it depends on a number of factors like climate and the variety of grass. But generally, an inch of water per week is what your lawn needs.

But it doesn’t just stop there!

In some instances, you might need to change it up a bit so just ask yourself:

“Is it too hot outside?”

“Did it just rain?”

or “What’s the weather like tomorrow”

to decide how much you should water your lawn.

You wouldn’t want a flooded nor a crusty looking lawn, would you?

Related read: How to Water Your Lawn Properly.

automatic sprinkles watering plants in the garden

Mistake #4: Watering Frequently

Here’s the deal…

Your lawn prefers DEEP and INFREQUENT watering.

Applying the “one inch per week” rule in the form of frequent sprinkles of water wouldn’t do any good to your lawn because the water would be too shallow to reach deeper in the roots!

At the same time, flooding the lawn all at once will just produce excess runoff.

So how should you do it?

Just water the lawn three times a week, applying a third of an inch of water each time. This optimizes the use of water such that the roots get enough saturation without excess runoff.

Hot tip: use an empty can as gauge to measure the water application.

Mistake #5: Watering at the Wrong Time of the Day

Between 5 a.m to 10 a.m. is the recommended time for watering the lawn. So if you’re one of those who do it in the afternoon, or in the evening (which is much worse)… change it up!

Early morning is the way to go because, first, you’d want the soil to be saturated deep down to regulate the temperature and have enough supply as it faces transpiration the whole day.

Second, you’ll be avoiding the time of the day when the wind kicks in and alters the sprinkler patterns. This will make uneven watering of the lawn.

That’s not all!

Watering after dark is not advisable because it can just lead to the growth of fungus and mildew.

So I suggest that you start waking up early if you want a healthy-looking lawn.

watering hose equipment in green grass of backyard

Mistake #6: Dull Mower Blades

Using dull mower blades rip and bruise the grass instead of cutting them cleanly.

Why is this an issue?

Well, dull blades leave jagged ends to your grass which is not healthy as they quickly turn brown and make the lawn more prone to pests and diseases.

So if you see that your mower is just crushing or pulling the grass, stop for a minute and sharpen. Do this at least twice a year to keep your mower in tip-top shape and get the cleanest cuts.

Related read: Best Lawn Mower Blade Sharpeners.

Mistake #7: Too Much Fertilizer

We all know that too much of everything is bad. And it’s the same case with fertilizers even if we view them as beneficial for the plants.

Excess fertilizer can burn your lawn, produce plenty of leaves that hinder root growth, and it can also cause water pollution if it were to be washed away!

The solution? Read!

Fertilizers come with instruction on how to apply them. Read the instructions thoroughly and make sure that you apply the fertilizer evenly on your lawn to get the best result.

Hot Tip: Use a slow-release fertilizer!

Related read: When and How to Fertilize Your Lawn.

a freshly mown lawn with stripers and a barn in the background

Mistake #8: Fertilizing Out of Season

Just like in watering, the schedule of fertilizer application should be strategic.

Your lawn needs 4-6 applications each year and it is best to apply during the time that the grass is rapidly growing. Thus, it would make no sense for you to apply during the hot summer period because the grass would just be burned. This period is just for mowing and watering your lawn.

So when is the right time?

The most important time to apply is during fall as it gives the grass a boost for the next springtime. Other ideal times to fertilize are late spring, late summer, and after the last mow of the year.

Mistake #9: Too Much Herbicide

Are you a fan of weed killers?

Well, they do get the job done. But be careful on how much to put into your lawn!

Herbicides should be used minimally, only when and where in lawn you need to use it. Just like with fertilizers, overexposure of the grass to a bunch of chemicals can lead to browning of the lawn and in worst cases… death of the grass themselves.

And of course, there’ll be excess chemicals lying around waiting to pollute the water. So do control your use.

Besides, you can always resort to some good old-fashioned weeding by hand or by hoe!

Related read: Best Commercial Weed Killers.

man using garden sprayer in backyard

Mistake #10: Not testing the soil

Everything should be optimal! I think you should get that by now.

And before all the mowing, the additives, or even the water supply, it’s the soil that’s of prime importance to the overall health of the lawn. Which is why you should regularly test the soil and assess whether the pH is suitable for the variety of grass you’re dealing with.

pH too acidic or basic? Don’t worry!

The actual purpose of testing is to determine the amount of lime or sulfur treatments needed to be applied to correct it to the optimal pH. You should do the testing every spring since soil conditions can still change over time.

Related read: Home Lawn Soil Testing.

Mistake #11: Not Aerating the Lawn

Homeowners unknowingly compact their soil with their day-to-day activities or when using their heavy mowers.

While this may not look like a problem, the compressed soil actually hinders the root system’s growth and access air and water over time!

How do we fix this?

It’s really simple. You just poke a bunch of holes in your lawn such that the air, water, and fertilizer can infiltrate deep into the soil. You can use a pitchfork, attachments on wheelies, or some plugs that can be removed from time to time.

Aerated lawns result in healthier growing grass so you should practice doing this once in a while!

Related read: Best Lawn Aerators of 2021.

lawn aeration shoes

Mistake #12: Improper Choice of Variety

Don’t waste your time and money for the wrong grass!

Choose the variety that can surely thrive in your environment. The perfect type for your lawn mainly depends on the climate of where you live.

Living north? Choose a cool-season grass!

It’s green during its growing season all the way through fall. Just make sure you water it thoroughly during summer or it will immediately turn brown. They can thrive in shade for some time and they grow well at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Living south? Warm-season grasses are the ones for you.

They’re green during spring and summer but are brown and dormant during early fall. They’re not fond of shade and they grow well at 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mistake #13: Overlooking the Weeds

Always keep your eyes out for those pesky weeds. They grow and multiply so fast that if you don’t deal with them as soon as possible, your entire lawn will be doomed.

Do weeds have benefit to the lawn?

They don’t have any important value to your lawn!

Aside from messing up the aesthetic value of the lawn, with patches of weird plants scattered around, they are actually detrimental to the grass because the weeds compete for water, nutrients, and light.

You can remove the weeds by using weeding tools or you can manually pick them by hand.

Using herbicides is another option but like I said earlier, it’s important to be mindful of the amount and frequency of chemicals.

Related read: Common Lawn Weeds and How to Get Rid of Them.

dog on green grass beside a man holding electric grass cutter

Mistake #14: Not Dealing with the Thatch

While it is a mistake to collect the lawn clippings after mowing, completely leaving them behind is just as bad!

Thatch refers to the clumping of dead organic lawn matter, which is made up of grass clippings along with fallen leaves, that are just lying on top of the soil.

Why is it bad?

It isn’t necessarily harmful since it’s comparable to mulching in its thinner state. HOWEVER, in cases when it gets thicker than ½ of an inch, it becomes harmful to the lawn because it blocks the grass from the sunlight, rain, and nutrients.

You can manually “dethatch” your lawn simply by using your trusty rake along with some hard work or you can call experts to do a “scarification” job.

This process involves a machine that of course does the work for you. I think you can save money by just doing manual labor, but whatever works for you and your dream lawn.

Mistake #15: Not Seeking Advice

The fact that you’re on this page reading these tips says that you’re really taking time to learn. So, great job!

But it doesn’t stop here.

The internet is a wonderful source of information of course but all these ideas, which are sometimes varying from one another on different levels, sometimes create doubt instead of assertiveness.

In these situations, do not be scared to ask for expert opinions, may it be from your aunt or the salesman from your local home depot. You may learn a thing or two, or even practical tips that the internet doesn’t tell you!

Summary

Guilty of the lawn care mistakes listed above? That’s alright!

We’re all capable of making them. What matters now is how you will apply this new knowledge as you work on your lawn. I know that by taking small but precise steps, along with the right attitude, your dream lawn will come to reality very soon.

Let me know what lawn care mistakes you made in the past and how you addressed the problem.

Have a nice day, and happy gardening!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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