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Turf Tips 101
Mowing Lawn Evgeniya Moroz/shutterstock.com

Turf Tips 101

With warmer weather and abundant rain, many Alabama lawns have jumped into high gear. Homeowners can tackle some simple chores to help get their turf in tip top shape.

Dr. Dave Han, an Alabama Extension turf specialist, said general maintenance on the mower is one of the first orders of business.

Sharpening mower blades, changing spark plugs and setting mower blade height to correctly cut different types of grass are important steps toward taking good care of turf.

Han said heavy fertilization isn’t necessarily a good idea too early in the growing season.

“Most of the time it’s okay to wait until the end of April and early May to put out fertilizer,” Han said. “Wait until the ground is warm enough to support good root growth – an average soil temperature of 70 degrees.”

Irrigation is another major factor in turf health. Most homeowners do not use irrigation systems over the winter, but in the summer a regular watering will help keep the yard lush and green. Before using the irrigation system it is important to check for broken sprinkler heads, clogged lines and properly rotating sprinkler heads. Han said checking these simple things can keep homeowners from wasting money and water.

Irrigation should supplement rainfall, not replace it.Untitled2

“To keep most species of turf grass actively growing throughout the season, it takes about one inch of water per week,” Han said. “That’s an inch of water per week from all sources, including rainfall. There’s no substitute for Mother Nature’s rain to make plants grow.”

When grass is going into a dry spell, warm season grasses survive by going into dormancy. If the grass is healthy, it will begin growing again with the next rain and Han said there is really no reason to water it before the next shower.

Many homeowners want to know how much water will it take to keep the grass green?  Han said dormancy can be stalled by watering in small amounts once per week.  Watering early in the morning when it’s the coolest gets the most bang for the buck, since less water is lost to evaporation before it can soak into the ground.  Also, when water lawns or any other part of the landscape, be sure to turn off the irrigation if water is running off the surface.

For assistance with turf grass in your area, talk to your local Extension agents, or visit www.aces.edu for publications and other turf information.

To learn more about how to enhance your garden and landscape, check out Alabama Extension’s “Gardening in the South” series. You can find the series on iBooks.

Based on proven Master Gardener training and seasoned with university research, the “Gardening in the South” series of books is packed with information, tips and tricks to being a successful Southern gardener.

Have a gardening question, call the Master Gardener Helpline. To reach the helpline, dial 1-877-252-GROW (4769).

About Katie Nichols


  1. Deanna R. Jones

    Thanks for the information! It usually takes quite a bit of water to keep my lawn looking green, so I need to find a more effective way to water my grass. You point about how irrigation is beneficial in keeping your grass healthy was well made. It seems like the best way for me to revive my lawn is to change how it’s currently irrigated.

  2. A great way to take care of your yard is be consistent with the water supply. Set up a schedule that supplies just the right amount of water every day to every other day. If you get some rainfall then you are fine to skip a day.

  3. Great tips for taking care of your grass, especially the info on how much to water! You definitely don’t want to drown your grass or parch it. Your lawn is one of the first things that people notice when they see your house, so it’s so important that it look great. I’ll definitely be applying these tips to my own yard. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for sharing this advice on taking care of your turf. I had no idea that it is okay to wait until April or May for the fertilizing– I’ll be sure to try that out this season. Hopefully that will help the plants get the nutrients they need when they need them. Plus, I don’t want to over-fertilize them and waste money!

  5. Jamarcus Dantley

    This was some really helpful information. I didn’t know that it’s a good idea to hold off on the fertilizer for a little while. I’ll have to try that in the future to see if it helps! Thanks for sharing this.