The difference between caring for your lawn and not caring about it can be dramatic. However, caring for the lawn doesn't mean you have to be a slave to your landscape, in fact, it will probably do better if you don't fret over the details.
That being said, there are several areas that can make dramatic improvements to the overall health and appearance of your lawn.
Grass, lawns, yards, grass and turfgrass: everyone has a name for that green space, but what it really is, is your own little piece of the earth. All that little piece of green absolutely needs is a little regular trimming. Just about everything else, Mother Nature can provide if you have average rainfall, good, healthy soil, and when you do mow, don't bag your clippings. Maybe in time, your lawn may need some additional nutrients, but for the most part, the only absolute requirement is mowing.
Here's a few tips for mowing including tips on buying the right mower for you and your lawn, safe mow practices, the differences between gas and electric plus lots of additional info about your lawn mower.
Just about every lawn (hold on for the one exception) needs about 1" of water on average every week during the growing season. This of course varies with air temperatures and the amount of dew that collects on the grass, but whether it's through rainfall or your sprinkler, your turfgrass needs that water.
If you decide to supply supplemental watering for your lawn during the growing season, here are some tips to help you do the job right, without destroying your lawn (more damage is caused by improper lawn watering than anything else).
The exception is an old American grass that is gaining new popularity: Buffalo Grass.
I've heard some people refer to lawn fertilizer as food for grass. That's really not correct. Grass actually makes it own food. In fact it is a solar power food generator.
The plant cells of turfgrass are very efficient at converting solar radiation into food that the plant uses to produce new plant cells, convert carbon dioxide and other gases we now consider as pollutants, into oxygen.
Fertilizers are just elements and compounds that microbes in the soil help break down into solutions that are absorbed through the root system of the grass.
These solutions that are created in the soil, make it possible for the turf grass to convert solar energy into food.
There's plenty of debate about using "artificial" and "natural or organic" fertilizers. In truth, there's no difference between the two types.
Both have basically the exact same chemical elements. The difference is that the natural or organic fertilizers take the microbes longer to break down into solution that the roots can absorb.
Now, if your soil has deficiencies determined by a soil test, it is much easier to compensate for these deficiencies using artificial fertilizer blends than through the organics.
The real secret to using fertilizers is to make sure you have a healthy soil with plenty of microbes. If your soil is sterile, with no microbes, there is no microbe activity to turn those fertilizers into the right solution that your plants can use. So no matter how much fertilizer you apply, it won't do your turf grass any good.
Read more about why to fertilize...
All quality lawns begin with quality soils. The more thatch buildup there is, or the more the soil becomes compacted, the harder it is to have a good looking lawn.
Soils do lots more than just support the roots, they also are home to billions of small microbes that digest elements and convert those elements into liquid solutions that the root can absorb and use.
When the soil becomes compacted, it makes it harder for the microbes to do their job.
We have developed an artificial way of loosening things up in the soil, and that process is called aeration.
Aeration removes small plugs of soil and deposits it on the surface, leaving a hole in the ground about the size of your little finger. This hole in the soil allows not only oxygen to reach deeper into the soil where the microbes live, but also makes it easier for water to penetrate deeper into the soil.
The plugs that deposited on the surface, quickly breakdown and the microbes that were once buried in the soil are now on the surface and hungry. They immediately begin to start eating that organic thatch layer on the surface and over a period of months and years, break that layer down, converting it from a thick blocking matt, into an source of organic matter that can be absorbed by the turfgrass.
Read more about aeration and aerating your lawn...