In addition to simply looking good, a nicely groomed lawn helps increase curb appeal. Additionally, it adds to the look of the street and, incrementally, to the neighborhood. However, as many a homeowner might have discovered, keeping a really attractive lawn takes more than simply cranking up the lawnmower and traipsing across the lawn. Following are the six top tips to keep a lawn in shape and healthy, from season to season and year to year.

6. Mulch when mowing

Lawn mowers with mulching capability help fertilize the lawn as they mow. Typical mowers offer the ability to bag or spray. Bagging, of course, allows the clippings to be bagged and disposed of. Spraying consists of the clippings being ejected sideways out the side chute. Mulching, however, requires keeping the side chute and the rear bag chute closed. With both chutes closed, the blade super cuts the clippings into fine bits, which blanket the yard. As the mulch deteriorates, it fertilizes the lawn. Mower-mulching is efficient and inexpensive and can help dead patches regrow, contributing to a healthier appearance.

5. Direction and overlap

A healthy lawn looks best if it is cut back and forth in one direction along the length of the lawn. Additionally, after cutting one strip, mowing in the opposite direction while allowing the blade to overlap the previous strip by four inches will create visible stripes in the lawn. The rows arise from the grass blades reflecting light, and the blades reflect light based on the direction they were cut. Cutting back and forth in straight rows will help create a professional, striped appearance.

4. Mowing the leaves or raking them

Mowing the leaves on an ailing lawn will help mulch the lawn. Raking the leaves on a healthy lawn will help keep it clear and fresh in appearance. Equally important is to use a leaf vacuum in corners or places where the wind collects them. If they collect, get wet, and remain in place too long, they will kill the underlying lawn.

3. Seeding – by hand

Seeding by hand involves walking in tight rows up and down the lawn and pitching vigorously the seeds into the lawn. Sprinkling the seeds by hand will not get the seeds deep down between the existing blades of grass. Similarly, seeding by machine can leave many of the seeds suspended higher than necessary where they will not take root or where birds will more likely find and eat them. Throwing the seeds at the grass, with a fair amount of force, will embed more seeds into the bottom layer of the turf. At the bottom, the seeds will have a better chance of escaping birds and taking root and filling the yard with a fresh layer of grass.

2. Weed eating

Weed eating around the base of trees will clean up that ragged look resulting from a mower’s inability to get close enough to such things as walls, steps, or stones. The goal is to trim the ragged edges of the grass not cut by a mower such that everything is even and uniform. Important areas for weed eating include fence posts, the mailbox, and the deck. The trick to weed eating is to keep the weed eater string at about a 20- to 40-degree angle. Too sharp an angle will cut into the grass and gouge the soil.

1. Edge trimming

Edge trimming can be done with a weed eater, or it can be done with an actual trimmer with a blade. Edging, itself, involves trimming weeds in cracks or natural crevices along driveways, sidewalks, or patios. To edge using a weed eater, all that needs to be done is turn the rotating string vertically, so that it cuts edgewise (vertically) into the grass. With an edger, the blade is already turned vertically. All that is required is to walk slowly along the path to be edged, trimming all the weeds from along the path. After seeding for a healthy lawn and weed eating to get rid of scraggly stalks, edge trimming is the best way to create a professional, manicured appearance.