Tips for Maintaining a Perfect Lawn

These easy tips and tricks, along with one local entrepreneur's soil test, can help you achieve the yard of your dreams.

Lush, grassy lawns are one of many things Southerners take pride in, and sometimes that pride takes shape in a not-so-secret competition between neighbors for the greenest front yard. However, if you’ve ever tried to get grass to grow under a magnolia or mown over an acorn-strewn yard, you know that keeping your grass looking its greenest is easier said than done.

With so many hurdles, lawn care can be overwhelming to say the least. It can feel as if some lawns are destined for greatness, while others always seem to have bald spots and brown patches no matter what you throw at them.

If you’ve been scratching your head over your lawn’s gnarly spots, look no further. We’ve got the breakdown on lawn care basics.

Left to right: St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia and Centipede

Local Varieties of Grass

St. Augustine
Forms a thick, carpet-like sod that is more shade-tolerant than other varieties. 

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Tolerates salt spray, making it suitable for coastal residences.

Keeps its color longer than most grasses in winter and is among the first to green up again in the spring.

Has the slowest growth rate of warm-season grasses and a creeping growth pattern. 

Ready to get your hands dirty? 

We’ve rounded up tried-and-true tips to help you keep your turf in tip-top condition (and maybe win the neighborhood lawn competition).  

Get To Know Your Grass
Before you can give your lawn the care it needs, you must first know what type of grass you have. Warm-season grasses like bahia, Bermuda, centipede, St. Augustine and zoysia are most common in Alabama, as they thrive in our hot, humid climate. 

Take A Soil Test
Getting expert soil advice is as simple as purchasing SoilKit (see opposite page), filling it with soil samples from your yard and mailing it in for analysis. Labs evaluate samples for 15 different attributes to diagnose your soil’s condition. Results arrive within 48 hours, so you can get to work right away.

Nourish Your Soil
Fret over fertilizer no longer. SoilKit takes the headache out of choosing fertilizer. Their motto is, “We analyze. You fertilize.” No more wondering what kind of fertilizer to buy or how much to sprinkle. The test will develop a plan tailored specifically to your grass’ needs. 

Trim It Up
Adjust mower blades to allow grass to grow a little taller in the summer — about 3 inches high. The extra length keeps the soil insulated and prevents it from drying out. 

Soak Your Sod
Give your grass a drink about once a week in the morning. This allows water to soak into the soil without evaporating and allows time for grass to dry out as the day progresses. 

Yank Those Weeds
The best time to pull weeds is when you first see them peeking through the soil. The less time they have to grow roots, the easier they are to pull. 

Christina Woerner McInnis // Photo by Mike Kittrell

Local Expert

With four generations of farming in her blood, and now a sod specialist herself, Christina Woerner McInnis is no stranger to the toils of tending land. 

Because she grew up among farmers, Woerner McInnis is well versed in agricultural lingo. But afater years in the sod industry, she began to notice frustration in homeowners when it came to fertilizer. Local extension offices tend to offer information in terms and proportions intended for farmers, which often leaves homeowners confused and their yards no better off. Woerner McInnis ruminated over the problem for years. Then, in 2016, her daughter developed food sensitivities which required an at-home blood test. The experience sparked an idea: “We need the blood test. We need the diagnostic test.” That’s when SoilKit was born.

SoilKit makes treating your yard a breeze. It’s as simple as scooping some dirt into a bag and mailing it off for analysis. “We put all the puzzle pieces together and make it easy on the homeowner,” Woerner McInnis explains. 

After resonating with consumers at the local level, the product took off nationally and now sits on shelves in Lowe’s stores across the country. “SoilKit was born in an independent family garden center, so it’s exciting — the nation is looking for it now,” Woerner McInnis says.

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