Lawn Care Basics
Date: February 22nd, 2010
- Mow high. Never cut more than a third of your grass plants’ height at a time. The shorter you keep your grass, the more work it is for you. Mowing too close can weaken root systems (making the grass more prone to drought), and makes it easier for weeds to overwhelm your grass. Mowing your lawn to a 3-inch height helps grass compete with weeds, and depending on growth rates, you’ll be mowing just once every 8 to 15 days (when the grass reaches approximately
- Keep your mower sharp. Dull blades tear grass instead of cutting it, and the wounds created by dull blades allow disease pathogens to enter grass plants. File your blade regularly and replace damaged blades.
- Leave the clippings. Clippings do not create thatch, contrary to popular belief. If you cut only a third of the plant at each mowing, the clippings won't smother the grass either. Mulching mowers work best to chop up clippings so they can settle down through the grass and onto the soil surface. There, earthworms incorporate clippings into the soil, improving drainage after storms and water retention during drought.
- Don't fertilize early. Fertilizing in early spring only stresses grass plants in the long run by encouraging excessive top growth at the expense of roots. A better strategy is to fertilize in the fall season, so that plants can use this fertilizer to develop stronger root systems. These root reserves will help the plants survive through winter and get off to a healthy start next spring.
- Watch your water. It's easy to do more harm than good when you’re watering your lawn. Try to avoid watering at night, as wet grass invites diseases. Instead, water between and so that the morning sun can dry the leaves after the grass has absorbed what it needs. During periods of extended drought, stop watering altogether to allow your grass a period of dormancy.
- Take special care of shaded areas. Grass needs a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight each day. If the area gets significant foot traffic, the recommended minimum jumps to 6 hours. If your grass receives anything less than this, you should consider other ground covers. For shady spots, consider planting fine fescues, as they are adapted to lower light. Additionally, mow high and reduce fertilizer in these shady areas.
- Spray sparingly. Research lawn insecticides before use. Manage your grass for healthy root systems, and consequently your lawn will be able to tolerate some insect damage while remaining aesthetically pleasing.
- Fill in weak spots. Use a rake to work up the soil where weeds flourish or the ground is bare. Reseed the area with grass varieties best-suited to the site. If, after a season of mowing high and leaving the clippings, your lawn is still fifty percent weeds and bare spots, consider a complete landscape renovation.
If you have any further questions regarding lawn care, email them to AskMax@CountryMax.com, or visit your local CountryMax store today!
Additional Resources: http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/lawn/lawncare/basics.html