Spring brings forth tender leaves that sprout from bare branches, and new blades of grass that peek out from dormancy. This year you’ll try again to get a greener lawn—in the past you haven’t had much success, and your neighbor’s lush yard has always made yours pale in comparison. As you mount a new effort, heed these do’s and don’ts.

Don’t

Mow Too Low

Cutting your grass too short can stunt the growth of its roots and hamper the absorption of water and nutrients from the soil. You should keep your grass three or four inches tall by adjusting your lawnmower blade to the highest setting.

Ignore Your Soil

Your lawn is only as good as its soil. So if you see areas of your yard that have compacted soil, or if you see thatch—which is a layer of built-up stems and roots—you should aerate your lawn and fill in the holes with compost. Do this about twice a year.

Do

Fertilize Twice a Year

Your soil loves nitrogen, which is the primary ingredient in fertilizer. So fertilize your lawn two times a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Memorial Day and Labor Day are good targets.

Water Your Lawn Weekly and Not Daily

Give your grass about one inch of water per week, if it hasn’t rained. One way to determine that your grass could use a good watering is if it has become brittle underfoot, or if it simply no longer springs back after you step on it.

Use Recycled Leaves to Feed Your Lawn

If you’ve got trees on your property make use of their fallen leaves by turning them into mulch to feed your lawn. Shred the leaves using a mulching mower. The mulch should be fine enough so that blades of grass can poke through the layer that’s applied.

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