If you want to improve the health and thickness of your lawn, it’s important to start with the roots. Size doesn’t matter but quantity does, the more roots mean more surfaces for nutrients and water absorption. Here are 9 healthy lawn care tips to help your grass grow a deep root growth this year.
How to water your lawn for a healthy root system
Water your lawn deeply and infrequently instead of frequently to encourage deeper root growth. Your grass roots will grow toward the water, if water is only available near the surface, the roots will remain shallow. According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Quality, deep watering can encourage deeper root growth and improve overall lawn health.
Proper mowing heights will encourage deeper root growth. Shoot height and root depth are related, 3 inches is the recommended minimum mowing height for best results. Mowing your lawn too short will stress the grass damage the roots and stunt their growth. A study published in the Journal of Turfgrass Management found that mowing at a higher height can improve root depth and density.
Sharpening your mower blade will also help. A dull blade will damage the grass and slow the growth of your lawn’s root system.
Improve your soil structure with compost. Hard clay soil can be difficult for roots to penetrate and may hold water too tightly for roots to absorb. Adding compost to your lawn care program will soften compacted soil making it easier for grass roots to grow. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Quality found that compost can improve soil structure and increase the amount of water available to roots.
How to choose the best lawn fertilizer
Fertilize your lawn with nitrogen, but be careful not to overdo it. Nitrogen is the main nutrient of interest for lawn care professionals. Applying 0.5 to 0.75 lbs of nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square feet will increase the growth of grass roots and shoots. You can repeat this 4-5 times per season.
Choose organic fertilizer over synthetic fertilizer because it releases nutrients more slowly over time. Organic fertilizer is better for lawn fertility because it supplies nitrogen over a longer period of time and will produce balanced grass growth. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Quality found that organic fertilizer can improve soil quality and increase root growth.
Most of the available nitrogen in the soil is in the form of nitrate. Nitrates are sent to the grass shoots to be converted into plant tissues. This excess supply of nitrogen in the grass blades will encourage shoot growth, more than root growth. Organic fertilizers provide a variety of nitrogen forms that can be converted by the grass roots.
“Enhanced-efficiency” fertilizer additives slow the transformation of nitrogen into nitrate, but they can also harm beneficial bacteria in the soil.
Don’t fall for the phosphorus lawn fertility myth. While phosphorus is important for the growth of grass roots it is equally important to grass shoots. Phosphorus will not stimulate root growth in the way nitrogen stimulates shoot growth.
In fact, too much phosphorus can harm the environment and cause water quality problems. Instead, focus on providing organic nutrients to your lawn.
How to fertilize your lawn for root growth
Too much nitrogen fertilizer will favor the production of more shoots than grass roots. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Management found that nitrogen fertilization can improve root growth in turfgrass.
Lawn care experts apply late fall fertilizer instead of early spring fertilizer to provide energy for their lawn’s roots. Spring lawn growth relies on stored energy from the previous fall. Providing this lawn fertility late in the fall will benefit your lawn in the spring.
Fertilizing your lawn too early can deplete the roots faster, leaving less stored energy for the summer months. A study published in the Journal of Crop Science found that fall fertilization can improve root growth and increase the overall health of your lawn.
Potassium lawn fertility
Make sure your soil is not deficient in potassium, as this nutrient is essential for sugar transport to the roots. Potassium deficiency is rare in residential lawns, but it can happen. Spring is when potassium availability is at its lowest point in the season. If you’re worried about potassium in your lawn fertility program, it’s important you find out with soil testing. This will give you accurate suggestions of potassium for your grass type.
Liming your soil can displace potassium, so avoid liming in the spring if you have potassium issues. Lime should only be used after soil testing. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Quality found that potassium can improve root growth in turfgrass.
Encourage mycorrhizae, which are symbiotic fungi that can help to extend the roots of your lawn. Mycorrhizae can help your lawn to reach places where roots cannot, which can improve overall root density and health. Excessive cultivation and synthetic phosphorus fertilizer can undermine this relationship,
If you want a healthy lawn with thicker grass roots, use these lawn care tips. Firstly, water your lawn deeply and infrequently to encourage root growth. Secondly, mow your lawn to the recommended height and sharpen your mower blade to avoid damaging the grass roots. Thirdly, use organic nutrients like compost and fertilize your lawn with balanced nitrogen and potassium to support a healthy root system. Fourthly, fertilize your lawn in late fall to benefit your lawn in the spring. Lastly, encourage mycorrhizae, a type of fungi that helps grass grow properly. By following these tips, you can achieve a thick, healthy lawn with a strong root system.