No one wants a brown or yellow lawn; everyone wants a beautiful green lawn year-round.
And they want thick, green grass, without any dead spots.
Fortunately, thick and healthy grass is achievable if you take the right steps, and we have compiled a comprehensive list of the steps required to ensure a thicker, greener lawn fast!
Table of Contents
Test Your Soil
Your soil needs to be rich in essential nutrients and optimum pH for rapid, thick growth.
To determine the health of your soil, you will need to do a soil test.
To collect soil for testing, take core samples 6-8″ inches deep from 10-15 locations across your lawn and discard the top and bottom 2″ inches of soil.
Your local Cooperative Extension Service will test the soil for you or use a home soil test to test the soil samples yourself for a small fee.
N-P-K stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, all essential nutrients needed by your grass to grow.
Nitrogen is essential for making amino acids and chlorophyll; without enough nitrogen, your grass will not be able to photosynthesize light into energy.
Phosphorus is essential for DNA, RNA, root development, and seed production.
Potassium is essential for water absorption and retention and will help your grass withstand hot and cold extremes, drought, and pests.
Check out these tips for adding potassium to your grass.
Determining the levels of each nutrient will help you choose the appropriate fertilizers to correct any shortcomings of your particular soil.
We like the home NPK test is this N-P-K Soil Test Kit, which includes all necessary apparatus, diagrammed instructions, and a laminated color chart.
When tested by the American Society for Horticultural Science, the LaMotte kit was 94% accurate.
Soil pH test
Most turfgrass like slightly acidic soil, but the optimum pH varies by grass type.
The following table shows the optimal pH range for different warm and cool-season grasses.
|Name Of Grass||Type Of Grass||Recommended pH Range|
We like this soil pH Tester.
The optimum soil pH for most grass is between 5.5 and 7.5, and these strips cover a range from 4.5 to 9.0, which is targeted for nearly all soil types.
If your soil is too acidic (low pH), increase it by adding lime, but be careful not to overdo it.
Soil pH is easy to raise.
If your soil is too alkaline (high pH), the fastest remedy is to add aluminum sulfate to the soil because it is water-soluble.
Fertilize Your Lawn Regularly
For a thicker, greener lawn, fertilize regularly.
Fertilizing promotes deep, healthy roots and helps your grass withstand:
- Extremes of temperature
- Dry conditions
- Foot traffic
- Other stressors
Because cool-season grasses grow during the fall and early spring, and warm-season grasses grow late in spring and early in summer, fertilizing your lawn at least twice a year in late summer/early fall and again in spring is essential.
However, for really thick, green grass, many experts recommend four feedings per year.
In spring, apply a 20-5-10 fertilizer mix, but be careful not to fertilize too early.
If you live in regions where the winters are freezing, the roots need a chance to wake up; you don’t want to burn vulnerable grass.
Early in summer, apply a 32-0-4 mix, especially on high foot traffic areas; this promotes growth and strengthens your blades of grass blades, enabling them to recover faster from heat and drought.
Aim to fertilize twice during the fall.
Your winter grass will be coming out of dormancy after summer, so fertilizing in September with a 20-8-8 mix will provide the nitrogen needed to get it growing again.
In late October/early November, apply a 13-25-12 mix.
The extra phosphorus stimulates root growth to help your warm-season grasses survive the harsh winter months and green up faster in spring.
For more fertilizer info, you may want to check out our guide on how long it takes Scotts Weed and Feed to work.
Take Out Weeds
Weeds compete relentlessly with your lawn for water, nutrients, and sunlight.
If you want thick, green grass, you will need to be diligent in your weed control efforts.
Early on, weeds are often controllable by manual removal and spot treatment, but many grassy or broadleaf weeds are hard to spot or produce seeds that can lie dormant in your lawn for years.
Because both annual and perennial weeds can rear their ugly heads year after year or reappear unexpectedly when you think they are gone, the best control approach is usually a combination of selective pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides.
Aerate Your Lawn
The soil of your lawn becomes compacted over time due to foot traffic, children playing, and the heat during summer baking moisture out of the ground.
Compacted soil inhibits deep root growth, making it harder for the grass to draw the water and nutrients it needs to grow thick and fast.
To solve the problem of compaction, you will need to aerate your lawn using a spike or core aerator.
Aeration will break up the compacted soil to create new pathways allowing air and water to reach the grass roots, promoting growth.
Spike aerators have solid tines or spikes, which make holes in the ground without removing any soil but are less effective for more compacted soil, especially clay soil because they can create more compaction.
In contrast, core aerators have hollow tines which remove actual plugs of soil from your lawn and deposit them on the surface, where they break down over time.
The larger the width of the tines, the larger the plugs and the more the soil is loosened.
Check out our full guide on how to aerate your lawn by hand.
Water Your Lawn
While seeming obvious, regular watering is required to grow thick, green grass and keep it this way.
Your lawn needs at least 1″ inch of water per week and probably more during the heat of summer.
Promote deep root growth by watering grass less often but more deeply, rather than watering more frequently for shorter periods.
Shallow grass roots can’t reach deep soil nutrients or water, and your lawn will suffer if you miss a regular watering, especially during the summer months.
How often and for how long you need to water is dependent on your soil type and weather conditions.
Water for 30 minutes, then use a spade to dig out a wedge of soil and check how far the water has penetrated.
The ideal depth is 4-6″ inches.
After you have figured out the optimum watering time, set a watering timer if you have a sprinkler system, or be consistent if you water your lawn by hand.
In general, heavy soil should be watered less but for longer periods, whereas sandy soil can tolerate heavier, faster watering but will dry out faster.
If you have sandy soil, you may need to water every two or three days in hot, dry weather.
During wet weather, cut back your regular watering schedule because excess water makes your grass more susceptible to insect pests and disease.
Mow Your Lawn Correctly
Mowing properly is critical for promoting/maintaining thick, green grass and keeping your lawn healthy.
The tips of your grass blades contain hormones that suppress or slow growth, so mowing your lawn to remove the tips promotes thicker growth.
Mowing too short may result in weak roots, brown spots, and even burnt areas, whereas leaving your grass to grow long can promote disease, insects, and even rodents.
If good mowing practices are followed, you will achieve a lush and beautiful lawn that looks healthy.
How frequently you mow your lawn will depend on the time of year and the type of grass you have.
On average, you will need to mow once a week, but during the peak growing season, it may be more often – let the needs of your grass dictate the frequency.
Your mowing frequency ultimately depends on the height of your grass, which will vary depending on the season and conditions.
During hot, dry summers, it’s better to allow the grass to grow a little taller because it will be more drought-tolerant.
Learn more details on how often you should mow your lawn in our article here.
Mowing your grass its optimal height is essential for maintaining lawn health and promoting thick, green growth.
However, the ideal height depends on your grass species and the time of year.
The most important rule is not to remove more than one-third of your grass’s height in a single mowing, which will stress the grass and cause thinning.
For example, if the ideal height for your grass type is 2″ inches, then wait until it is 3″ inches high, then mow to remove 1″ inch of growth.
In general, the ideal height of cool-season grasses is generally taller than for warm-season grasses.
See the table below for the recommended heights of different types of grass.
|Name Of Grass||Type Of Grass||Recommended Height|
|Kentucky Bluegrass||Cool-season grass||1″-3.5″ inches|
|Perennial Rye||Cool-season grass||0.75″-2.5″ inches|
|Fine Fescue||Cool-season grass||1.5″-4″ inches|
|Tall Fescue||Cool-season grass||1.5″-4″ inches|
|Bahia||Warm-season grass||2.5″-4″ inches|
|Bermudagrass||Warm-season grass||0.5″-2.5″ inches|
|Buffalo||Warm-season grass||1.5″-4″ inches|
|Centipede||Warm-season grass||1″-2.5″ inches|
|St. Augustine||Warm-season grass||1″-3″ inches|
|Zoysia||Warm-season grass||0.5″-3″ inches|
Keep Mower Blades Sharp
Dull lawn mower blades will damage your lawn by tearing up the blades of grass instead of providing a clean cut.
Torn blades of grass will brown quickly and may even develop a whitish hue on their tips.
Furthermore, torn grass is more susceptible to common diseases and insect pests, which will prevent the lush, green color and thick growth you are aiming for.
Check your grass blades during mowing.
Does the newly mowed ragged and torn? It’s time to sharpen your dull mower blade.
This is a relatively simple task, but it needs replacing if the blade is too far gone.
Don’t collect grass clippings
Many people use a grass catcher or rake up grass clippings and throw them away after mowing, but leaving grass clippings to decompose on your lawn provides natural fertilization.
As they decompose, they can add up to 30% of your lawn’s nitrogen needs back to the soil.
Control Insects And Diseases
The best way to control insects and diseases is prevention.
Mow your lawn regularly and make sure the lawn is not overwatered or left too dry.
Long grass is an invitation for insect pests and even rodents.
Waterlogged or constantly wet areas also serve as breeding grounds for insects.
Stressed grass, either too wet or too dry, invites fungal disease.
If insect pests do become established, there are both natural and chemical remedies.
A popular natural approach is to spray your lawn with a dilute solution of castile soap and neem oil.
A good chemical option is Sevin GardenTech Insect Killer, which kills over 500 listed pests found in lawns, on fruits and vegetables, or around the home.
Controlling Fungal Diseases
Some common grass diseases are:
- Brown patch
- Dollar spot
- Gray leaf spot
- Leaf spot
- Red thread
- Rust disease
- Snow mold
- Summer patch
Several, including brown patches, red thread, and rust disease, are treatable with Scotts DiseaseEx Lawn Fungicide products.
However, effective fungicides are only available to lawn professionals for many fungal diseases, so you will need professional help.
Address Shady Spots
Shady spots under trees in your yard may not be ideal for grass to grow well.
Direct sunlight is essential for thicker, greener grass, and without it, your lawn will suffer.
To deal with shady spots, prune your trees to increase the amount of sunlight reaching these areas and plant shade-tolerant grass species in these locations.
For warm-season grasses, St. Augustine and Zoysia grass are the most shade-tolerant.
Several cultivars of St. Augustine grass have been bred to be shade-resistant, including:
- Bitter Blue
Four to five hours of direct sunlight a day is enough for them, making them good warm-season grasses to grow in shady areas.
Zoysia requires 4 hours of direct sunlight or 8 hours of 50% sunlight, making it a good option.
Out of the cool-season lawn, grasses, tall fescue, fine fescue, and perennial rye all grow well in shady conditions and require only 4-6 hours of dappled sunlight each day.
If some spots are in the continuous shade, grass will never grow well.
It may be time to plant a shade-loving ground cover such as Mother Of Thousands or lay mulch in these locations.
Address Problem Spots
Are there problem spots on your lawn?
You don’t want to leave a problem spot unattended.
Otherwise, it will turn into a dead spot.
Check the pH and fertility of the soil to make sure it’s in the optimal range for your grass.
Remove any dead grass and fertilize, then overseed and water 2-3 times daily to keep the seeds moist.
After the seeds have germinated, water once a day until the new grass reaches mowing height, and then include the spot in your regular watering and mowing schedule.