Lawncare Basics

If you don’t want to spend your whole weekend working on your lawn, no problem. The following tips are the most basic pieces of advice I can give. Following them won’t cost any more time or money ,but your lawn will thank you.

Keep your blade sharp. Dull blades tear grass instead of cutting it leaving a dull ragged appearance to the lawn. . The tears created by dull blades allow disease pathogens to enter grass plants. Sharpen your blade regularly, and replace damaged blades.

Mow high. Never cut more than a third of the plant when you mow. If you want to keep your lawn mowed very low you will be vulnerable to your lawn burning. Mowing close can also weaken root systems , and makes it easier for weeds to invade . Mowing your lawn to a 2 ½ – 3-inch height helps to shade the roots and prevent your lawn from burning in the warmer months.

Clippings are good. Clippings do not create thatch. Really. Thatch is created from the stems and sheaths of a grass plant.. If you can leave the clippings cleanly, the clippings won’t smother the grass. However, do not forget to mow for 3 weeks and leave a mess all over the lawn . Aside of looking terrible, this will smother the grass. Mulching mowers work best to chop up clippings , but you may also discharge them .Mulching your clippings of the course of a year is about the equivalent of one free fertilizing. All for doing nothing extra. Can’t beat that!

Hold off on the fertilizer. Fertilizing in early spring only encourages excessive top growth at the expense of the roots. A better strategy is to fertilize in late fall, about 2 weeks after the last mowing. It is important to make sure the grass is dormant, and use a quick release fertilizer. Plants will use this fertilizer to develop root reserves to help them survive through winter and get off to a good , green start next spring. This allows you wait until later in the spring before you have to apply fertilizer. Don’t worry about the crabgrass preventer. With good quality professional products, a little later is probably better anyhow. It extends the prevention window farther into the summer, which is beneficial.

Watch your water. It’s easy to do more harm than good. Never ,Never , water at night. Wet grass invites diseases and diseases are bad. Real bad. Water between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when the leaves will dry quickly in the morning sun. Watering during the heat of the day rarely does any good. Most of the water evaporates ,not penetrating to the roots. Watering too much is as bad as not watering at all. It encourages shallow roots, and the roots are extremely vital to a healthy lawn. Rule of thumb: Water heavier, but less frequently.

Shade is different. Grass needs a minimum of 4 hours of direct sun — 6 hours if it gets much foot traffic. Consider mulching the area or plant other ground covers if your lawn receives less than this. In shady spots, plant fine fescues or some of the brand new hybrid bluegrasses. Aside of being shade tolerant, these new hybrids are also much more drought tolerant than any other bluegrasses. They haven’t yet filtered down to the retail level yet, but turf managers have been using them for 2 years. Mow high and reduce fertilizer.

Spray sparingly. Never use lawn pesticides without scouting to see if the problem justifies treatment. I would say fifty percent of lawn pesticide applications are unnecessary or simply the wrong product for the job. Many times the product is fine , but it is simply the wrong product, or wrong time. Timing is everything in lawn care , especially with weed and insect control. Manage grass for healthy root systems that can tolerate some stress and damage, and remain aesthetically pleasing. If you need to apply a pesticide , make sure you know what your target pest is, and use the right product. The fact you are reading this here, is a good start.

Fill in bare spots. Use a garden rake to work up and improve the soil where the ground is bare. Then reseed with grass varieties best-suited to the site. Make sure you water the new seeds. If, after a season of mowing high and leaving the clippings (taller grass will help shade out weeds), your lawn is still more than half bare spots, consider a complete renovation.

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