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Summer Lawnscaping: Crafting the Perfect Outdoors for Your Rental Properly

Hello, property and potential property owners! Welcome to the RPM Distinguished Care blog, where we provide practical advice about property management. If you’re a return visitor, welcome back and we appreciate your support! RPM Distinguished Care specializes in managing successful rental properties in and around the Charleston area. We’re here to make your lives easier by giving you the resources you need to maintain a stellar rental property. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out our previous posts on how to properly vet tenants and how to stay ahead of repairs with your rental property. Adequate evaluation of potential tenants and regular maintenance of your rental property will save you numerous headaches down the line (which is what we’re here for)!


Today, we’ll be doing a deep-dive into everyone’s favorite pastime—lawn care! A healthy, green lawn is a vital aspect of crafting an enjoyable outdoors experience for your tenants. That said, lawns can be tricky. If you’re starting from seed, rather than an existing lawn, you’ll want to find external resources. Cultivating a lawn from scratch can be one of the most arduous, time-consuming tasks. However, if you’re already working with a decent lawn then consider yourself lucky. Yellowing and mud patches can be assuaged with consistent care. Today, we’ll give you essential knowledge you need to cultivate a pristine lawn and provide your tenants with an outdoor space they’ll want to use forever! Read on!


Type of Grass


Most people think grasses are all about the same. We’re here to disabuse you of this notion. There are more species of grasses than there are species of frogs (double, actually)! Different species of grass require different types of care, thus it’s important to identify which species of grass you’re working with before implementing these tips. The main distinction between different types of grasses is between warm season grasses and cool season grasses. As their names suggest, warm season grasses go into active growth during the spring and summer months, falling dormant in autumn; while cool season grasses become active a bit earlier than warm season grasses and stay active into late fall. Cool season grasses can go dormant in the middle of summer, if they are not regularly watered. The most common warm season grass species in South Carolina are: Bermuda grass, Centipede grass, Carpet grass and Zoysia grass. The most common cool season grass species in South Carolina are: Fescue grass and several types of Bluegrass.




The importance of knowing which species of grass you have on your lawn becomes clear when you start addressing deficiencies in the soil. Grass thrives by absorbing nutrients held within the soil. Therefore, if deficiencies exist within the soil, our later tips won’t make as much of a difference as they could. Certain grasses, such as zoysia, grow best in well-limed soils and will struggle to thrive in soil which does not properly drain. While other species, such as Bahia or Blue Grama grass, have a much lower tolerance to acidity in soil. Cursory research on your type of soil will most likely yield a soil mix perfectly suited to your lawn.




The intricacies of lawn mowing may be more complex than you think. As previously discussed, different species of grass require different methods of care, and this extends to mowing. Mowing your grass too short can have a myriad of consequences, including yellowing and a faster rate of regrowth (as your lawn attempts to rebound and increase blade surface area). You never want to cut more than one-third of your grass’ blade length. Here’s a detailed chart with the species mentioned earlier and their recommended mowing heights:


Type of Grass Mowing Height
Bermuda Medium
Centipede Medium to High
Carpet Low
Zoysia Low to Medium
Fescue Medium
Bluegrass Medium


You’ll want to have the lawn mowed regularly to catch annual weeds before they go to see and keep a handle on perennial weeds. However, you don’t want to mow directly after a rainstorm or when the grass is wet. Mowing wet grass can leave you with a ragged lawn. Similarly, you’ll want to keep your lawnmower’s blades sharp as dull blades will fray your lawn. Mow more often when your grass is most active, which will most likely during springtime or following a good amount of rain, and mow less frequently when your grass is dormant.




Fertilizer is food for your lawn, but just like with your own body, you need to be selective with what you choose to feed your lawn. Ideally, you’ll put down a bit of fertilizer and end up with a lush, healthy lawn. However, an overabundance of chemical fertilizers can actually have the opposite effect. Chemical fertilizers can burn your lawn and create a fertilizer-dependent lawn. As well, when you overfeed chemical fertilizers, while your lawn may appear more lush, you’re promoting the build up of the thatch layer and the development of disease within your lawn. Yes, grasses are susceptible to disease!


Instead, we recommend leaving your clipping to decompose and reabsorb into your lawn. If your clippings are too bulky and would likely smother your lawn, add them to a compost pile instead. Then, sprinkle this compost over your lawn in a thin layer, adding seed where needed. This tackles the problem of lifeless grass and bald patches at the same time!




The truth is: There will be times when your lawn turns brown. In the south, where the summers can be particularly harsh and hot, this is to be expected. Instead of freaking out and over-watering your lawn, take a break. As long as your lawn is adequately fertilized and rooted in the correct soil, its appearance should bounce back once wet weather rolls through (which is quite often in Charleston). Overwatering can leave you with a yellowed lawn and flooded soil, both of which aren’t conducive to healthy grass. The key is to water deeply and sparingly. Deeply because a light dusting of water (from a sprinkler perhaps), will only cause the roots of the grass to grow upwards. If your soil is draining properly and isn’t too tightly packed, a good amount of water will flow right down to the roots. You should water your lawn early in the morning or later in the evening, to prevent the water from evaporating too quickly.




Did you know a healthy lawn actually resists weeds? Thick, luscious grass doesn’t allow much room for invasive weeds to squeeze in. Watering your lawn with underground irrigation systems will allow your grass to receive moisture while simultaneously depriving weed seeds of the moisture they require to grow. Laying down mulch in flower beds and around the base of trees will prevent weeds from growing in those places. When weeding, plan to weed early in the growing season, before weeds have a chance to put down deep roots. Similarly, don’t go digging too deep in your attempts to pry them out. In addition to putting unsightly holes in your lawn, you could expose a dormant perennial weed seed to air and moisture. Finally, you can use organic herbicides or a flame weeder to kill those stubborn weeds which just don’t want to go.


To recap, before you can even really begin, you’ll need to identify the type of grass currently residing on your rental property’s lawn. After determining the species, you’ll know whether the grass is warm season or cool season, when to mow, and how much to cut. You want to limit chemical fertilizer and use extra clippings for compost. Overwatering is a no-no, while watering when the sun isn’t out is a definite yes. The best defense against weeds is a well-kept lawn and you don’t want to go digging too deep. Let’s see, did we miss anything?


Of course we did! There’s an entire article to be written about decorating your outdoor space. The next logical step is to set up lighting and seating to enjoy your pristine, bountiful lawn. We have you covered! Return to the RPM Distinguished Care blog for part two in this Summer Lawnscaping series, where we’ll discuss turning your rental property backyard into the ultimate hangout spot!


With Real Property Management Distinguished Care, your property is like our property. No hidden fees, only safeguards and guarantees. Up-front packages you can review and prepare for right here on our website! If you’d like more information on how we address and plan for maintenance, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are more than happy to assist you in setting up the perfect property management service for your properties. Protecting your investments is our priority!

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