There’s always that one lawn in the neighborhood that practically sparkles with life and vitality. When you scan the neighboring houses, it’s like the moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s world suddenly infuses with sparkling color. This year, why not make that your lawn? With a few simple pointers, you can be on the way to a gorgeous, well-maintained yard in no time.

1) Familiarize yourself with your raw material.

Check out your soil type and your soil’s pH before making a decision as to which grass seed to plant. While you can amend your soil to ‘fix’ your pH if you have to, it’s more sensible to purchase a grass that would like your lawn as it is. Likewise, if your soil is sandy, it makes sense to purchase a grass that likes well-drained soil.

If you already have some sickly and saddened grass growing, you may have to amend your soil by adding sulfurous compounds to lower the pH or limestone to raise it. You can test the pH of your soil by digging a few inches below the surface of your soil in a few different places and taking soil samples to a nursery that offers soil-testing services, or purchasing a home kit. The pH of good soil should range from 6 – 7.2 to support healthy grass.

Finally, if you live in the Vancouver or Lower Mainland areas, you should purchase a cool-season species of grass to ensure your lawn stays greener during the colder months.

2) Water

Pretty straightforward, right? Well, yes and no. How regularly you water your lawn will depend on your type of soil and which grass you have planted.

When grass becomes too dry, it takes on a bluish tint and stays flat after you step on it. When this happens, water your grass, and put a tick-mark on your calendar. Keep your observational skills fresh like a hunter on the veldt, and note when this happens again. Looking at the two dates you watered will give you a rough estimate of how often you should water your lawn, at least in that season.

You will have to water sandier soils more often, and clay-based soils less often. Don’t overwater; this can invite pests like mosquitoes, increase mold, and weaken roots and stems. For this reason, it’s important to water early in the day, to allow time for the sun to evaporate excess water.

3) Mow

Make sure your mower’s blade is sharp, and you will avoid bald spots; and be sure to mow when it’s dry out, so you don’t simply tear the grass out by the root.

In general, your grass should be between 2 and 3.5 inches tall. It’s best to travel in alternating directions when you mow; this prevents your clippings from piling too high.

Leaving the grass clippings means you will fertilize your soil well. The grass clippings contain all the nutrients a healthy plant requires, and will mean you need to apply less fertilizer further down the line.

4) Fertilize

Apply fertilizer in cool climates starting in late summer and going through mid-autumn, every four to six weeks. A good fertilizer should contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium; it is high-nitrogen fertilizers that give a healthy lawn that almost-unreal green glow.

Start following these easy guidelines, and your lawn can finally achieve that Technicolor green.