About half the volume of good soil is taken up by minerals and organic material.The other half is taken up by air between these particles. Half of this space should be air and the other half, water. When soil has sufficient air, water, minerals and organic material we call it good healthy soil. This good soil can sustain life and microbial activity.
The top layer of soil, usually two to three inches deep, is richest in organic material. Micro biotic life is active and fertile. When you have lots of microbes and other creatures generating nutrients for plant roots you'll have a good environment for a low-maintenance lawn. The more active the micro biotic life in your soil is, the less likely you'll require fertilizers and pesticides.
Many homeowners will find it beneficial to send soil samples to your local county extension office where they can test your soil for these compositions.
Your grass will grow best in a soil that is slightly acidic. A Ph range of 6.0 - 7.2. As 7.0 is nuetral we find that most soils are naturally acidic with a Ph a little below the preferred 6.0. With an acidic soil microbial organisms have difficulty surviving. Soil can be tested in various ways. Test strips are the quickest and easiest method as they are readily available.
Soils that are too high in acid will require a treatment of limestone, a natural alkaline which also provides calcium and magnesium to the soil. Many local county extension offices recommend treating with limestone every three or four years even when the Ph level is normal. It is the best way to treat your lawn with the much needed calcium and magnesium.
Macro organisms like worms, springtails and mites with microorganisms like fungi and bacteria play major roles in generating good soil. They break down minerals into liquids to be made available to plants. They also decompose organic material which produces nutrients for plants. They attack disease organisms like fungal spores and dangerous bacteria and viruses.
So to encourage these organisms in your soil you want to follow a few guidelines.
Stay away from quick release fertilizers or water soluble nitrogen fertilizers. Use only slow release or water insoluble nitrogen fertilizers.
Pesticides on a routine basis is not a good idea either. Use pesticides as a last resort in spot treatment fashion and not over the entire lawn.
Make sure you have proper drainage. Do not over water as too much water just washes away good nutrients and can kill beneficial organisms.
Aerate your lawn in the fall to encourage air circulation and decrease thatch. Over seed thin spots as necessary.
Add some humus or compost to your soil periodically.
Mow your lawn on the high side and by all means leave the clippings. Do not bag them. Please visit: Mowing Chart for different grass types and time of season