What's My Secret for a Plush Green Lawn?

I do not profess to be an organic gardener nor do I use a lot of chemicals to control bugs or weeds unless it is absolutely necessary. I confess that I cheat at growing grass. After 5 years of having a plush green lawn under 50' Oaks, I think I will call myself a Plush Green Grass specialist. I do have a small yard that gets morning sun and then some afternoon
day sun and then a bit of late day sun. It is not a full sun yard and I do have to fight to keep my neighbor's weeds from drifting into my yard or the dog walkers from letting their dogs whiz in my yard but it is worth it when I have the greenest grass in the neighborhood and I pay less than $20 a month and more like $5!
My secret(s)?
The first 'secret' is that I set my lawnmower on the highest setting- and I mow it high. Weeds thrive when you cut grass too short. I can show you proof because my neighbor scalps their grass thinking that it is going to kill the weeds and instead they killed the grass!
I do not use granule fertilizer or weed preventatives. I only use water soluble fertilizer and weed n feed and the good old garden hose. Like I said-I am not a true organic or natural gardener otherwise I would not use Scott's Weed n Feed or Miracle Grow for my lawn. However, my system works! I had to even bring back my lawn from death when we left one summer in 2012 and the tenants did not follow my explicit instructions! So I spent 2013 getting my lawn back to its plushy and vibrant green state it is right now.
Now, do not blast me for destroying the Earth because using water soluble products and water is safer and far more environmentally friendly than granules. I live in a water community where our drinking water comes from the very reservoir that surrounds our large subdivision. I see my neighbors constantly using granules and after a gulley washer of a rain storm you can see the foam and sometimes even granules floating down the streets! My method does not allow for run off and after 5 years I am pretty sure that this is not the wrong way to grow grass under 50' Oaks or really any tree.
So the steps are this (and you can start right now if you have some grass):
Buy Miracle Grow for the hose and you will need to start out with the $12.99 package and then wait for a sale for the 4 pak of refills. You will need this for sure!
Buy a Weed n Feed (can be Scotts or other brand) and for most zones it is too late for crabgrass killer so do not buy any weed n feed with crabgrass killer right now.
Mow the grass on the highest setting of your lawnmower. Then wait a day and use Weed n Feed that goes on the end of the hose and water your lawn just enough so it is wet but not puddles. Wait. Takes a couple days and you will see yellow and the weeds dying. This is good. In a couple weeks I want you to fertilize with the Miracle Grow.
In a 3-4 weeks you may have to repeat the Weed n Feed. Fertilize every month! I have had to reseed last year and I used the Scotts water plus grass seed. That stuff is pretty good stuff!
Now I need to add here that I started with sod that had sat on a pallet for 3 days in August of 2009 and in 100 degree heat and humidity. My neighbors were gawking and squawking and gossiping about how crazy I was to do this. the next summer my lawn was so plush and green you could take a nap on it! My neighbors see what I do but they still try and use the granules and they still have ho hum grass and spend hundreds of dollars on their lawns! Since it is spring I have to mow every 3 days! it is great. I love it.
another plus- I have my two dogs and other dogs that sneak up front and pee on my front lawn but yet I have no brown spots!
Now, in the fall I use the pelletized lime. I may reseed too if there is a bare spot but I do not seed when I lime. I do not know if there is something written about this but I found it slows the grass seed down on germination. At least it appeared to that for me.
There is another secret I need to let you in on about watering your grass. You are probably doing it wrong and causing more distress. I live in zone 7 and summers can be brutal and when you lay sod in 100 degree heat you need to know how to water the sod so it thrives. Watering sod or grass is about soaking it so the roots grow deep. When you only water for a 15 minute period the water evaporates and only goes an inch or two deep telling the roots not to reach deeper for moisture. When you lay sod or try to rejuvenate you lawn now, you need to think about soaking the lawn (so it is squishy wet) every couple days for new sod and at least once a week for established lawns.
When you grow grass under Oaks or any other tree, the grass is fighting for sun and fighting for water and nutrients. Grass roots only go down a few inches and in some cases/yards the roots may only go about 2 inches which is why in summer the grass dies. When you live under Oak trees you have to keep fertilizing. There is no other way. I have neighbors who pay one of those companies to 'green up' his lawn and it has yet to look like mine!
I will post how to prepare your soil for laying sod and starting all over. But first I have to find my old pictures of what I started with and what I did. I love flowers but walking barefoot on soft green grass is heaven.
So try my secret out. Growing a plush lawn does not happen over night. It will take a year but you it is well worth it!
happy gardening!
this was taken on Wednesday the 14th after I mowed
Sierra loves to lay in the grass. Even though the dogs use the front yard sometimes, I have no brown spots. Breaking my neighbors and the dog walkers from using my plants and yard has been a challenge. My dogs use the front only because they smell the other dogs...
3 days of growth. Set on highest setting.
The Garden Frog with C Renee
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 4 questions
  • Susan Susan on Jun 01, 2016
    Just beautiful! What kind of grass is that?
  • Nick Jones Nick Jones on Jul 01, 2017

    What's the secret to it?I want to know!!!

  • Kelly N. Kelly N. on Sep 11, 2020

    I see this is an older blog post, but I would love to know your month-by-month timeline on using these products? It's almost mid-September and our lawn really took a beating this summer (it looks terrible). Thanks for any further info if you see this!

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4 of 56 comments
  • Anne Peck Anne Peck on May 20, 2015
    Can you tell me what Plant is around Mailbox? We lived in Midlothian a few years back and had that plant at mailbox it was green all year long. I thought it was a tiger lilly but in NC that dies back even though we live in same zone. Thanks
    • @Anne Peck I have several plants around my mailbox. the tall ones in front are daylilies (I believe orange ditch lilies), then I have black eyed susans, autumn joy sedum, and many other perennials going up the bed. hope this answers the question
  • Deb Carey Deb Carey on Dec 19, 2016
    How often do you waterand for how long always a debate at our house!
    • I rarely water! You need to water to establish a deep root system by deep watering (which is soaking the area once a week). If you water too much the roots stay shallow and the grass will die in heat of summer or droughts and require so much water to keep it going. I only water once a week in the drought times until the ground is soaked (about 30 minutes a section). I do not use those oscillating sprinklers I use a smaller sprinkler that soaks smaller areas at a time. I hope this info helps