Every homeowner wants a beautiful, thick lawn. Unfortunately, people often make these common lawn care mistakes that undermine that goal.

Lawn mower cutting grass too short
Cut short, but not too short. (DepositPhotos)

1. Cutting the Grass Too Short

Generally, grass should be cut no shorter than about 3 inches long. Trimming it too short removes much of the energy-producing top growth and puts unnecessary stress on the plant.

Adjust your lawnmower’s cutting height accordingly, but never trim off more than one-third of the grass leaves.

red lawn mower rolling over blades of grass
Sharpen those blades before they touch your lawn. (DepositPhotos)

2. Mowing with Dull Blades

Dull blades rip through the grass, leaving jagged ends that easily turn brown and make the grass more susceptible to disease.

Sharpen your lawnmower blades every spring and again about halfway through the mowing season.

gloved hands holding soil before testing its PH value
Have you tested your soil? (DepositPhotos)

3. Not Testing the Soil

For grass to germinate and grow strong, the soil must have the right pH, which is the measure of acidity and alkalinity. The pH scale ranges from zero to 14, with 7.0 being neutral.

Grass grows best in soil that has a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. To test the pH of your soil, buy a DIY soil-test kit for about $15 and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

In the United States, more comprehensive testing is available at your County Cooperative Extension office.

bags of grass clippings beside a lawn mower
Save a bag, spread the clippings. (DepositPhotos)

4. Bagging the Clippings

As you mow, don’t collect grass clippings — that’s one of the biggest lawn care mistakes. Instead, leave them on the lawn to decompose and they’ll provide much-needed moisture and nutrients.

However, if the clippings clump together, rake them out. Otherwise, they’ll form a thick mat and suffocate the lawn.

dehydrated lawn with lots of thatch
Lawns with lots of thatch lose vital nutrients. (DepositPhotos)

5. Not Dethatching

To help grass absorb sunlight, nutrients and water, it’s important to dethatch the lawn at least once a year, preferably in the spring.

Dethatching is the act of removing thatch, which is a layer of dead organic lawn matter, such as grass clippings and shredded leaves, that forms on top of the soil.

If the layer of thatch is ½ inch thick or thicker, it can starve the lawn.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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