Maintaining a healthy lawn can be a challenge during the summer months, but ignoring that challenge can quickly diminish a home’s curb appeal and even impact its value. Potential home buyers might interpret a shabby lawn as a sign of a neglected home. And even for homes that aren’t for sale, having well-maintained yards will help sustain and strengthen overall home values throughout the neighborhood.

The key steps that home owners can take to ensure a beautiful lawn include watering, fertilizing, aerating, and mowing.

Hydration

The amount of water lawns need varies greatly by region, weather and grass type. Plus, many states, municipalities and HOAs have specific rules regarding when and how much residents can water their lawns. Generally, the best time to water grass is in the morning—watering at midday often results in water loss from evaporation, and watering in the evening can leave a wet canopy conducive to fungal growth. On average, a lawn needs about 1 inch of water each week, depending on weather conditions. And rather than watering lightly each day—which leads to shallow root growth—longer, deep soaks once or twice a week are more likely to produce healthier grass.

Fertilization

Fertilizing your lawn once a year in the fall is key to help it store nutrients that will enable strong root growth the following spring. Not all fertilizers are the same, so be sure you’re using one that is appropriate for the season and you’re following the packaging instructions carefully. And do not apply fertilizer on slopes near water sources, as the water runoff can be harmful and lead to weed growth.

Aeration

Aerating breathes life into your lawn by puncturing the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to enrich the roots. Lawns that see frequent use and/or dry out easily require more aeration than others. The best time to aerate a lawn is in late spring or early summer. Home owners can use a spike aerator to poke holes several inches into the soil or a plug aerator that removes plugs of grass and soil from the lawn. If you don’t own an aerating machine, consider renting one from a garden center or home improvement store.

Mowing

Don’t make the mistake of cutting your grass too short, which not only looks bad, but it encourages weed growth. Ideal grass height should is about four inches. If you’ve just planted new turf, avoid mowing for at least a week so the grass has time to put down roots. It’s also very important to keep your mower blades sharp to minimize the stress on the lawn when mowing and to help maintain more of its energy-producing top growth.

Home owners who practice smart and sensible lawn maintenance can save considerable money and also enhance a home’s value and curb appeal—making their lawns the envy of the neighborhood.

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