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Lawn Care Tips

Spring Lawn Care

Now that winter is over, it is time to spruce up your yard so you can enjoy it in the warm, summer months to come.

Your first task should be to carry out your first mowing. Check over your mower to make sure that everything is in running order and that your blades are sharp. It is recommended to sharpen your blades monthly. Also make sure that the yard is dry enough to mow before getting started.

Your lawn has probably grown a little longer than you would like due to the wet weather, but do not be tempted to cut it too short! Read below to see how to best care for your lawn when it has grown long, and what the best height to cut it at is.

Spring is the best time to dethatch your yard. It is best to do this as early as possible as you do not want to remove new grass. It is the best season to do this because your lawn is much more resilient now, then later in the season after it has been through summer stresses. We recommend that this is done yearly. Thatch is a buildup of dead and undecayed organic matter that naturally lays on the surface of your lawn. This layer can hinder the movement of nutrients and water into the soil that your grass needs. It also creates a good environment for insects and grubs to thrive.

The best way to dethatch your lawn is by raking with a power rake. After raking, make sure that you collect and dispose of all dead material that you have gathered. In preparation, your yard should be soaked in one way or another prior to dethatching. It is ideal for there to have been one or more occurrences of soaking rains. If there hasn’t been, you should water heavily 2-3 times before you begin dethatching.

Grass Length:

Mowing your grass regularly is not only about making it look good, it’s about keeping your lawn healthy as well. Mowing your lawn too short will stress your grass out, and may even put it into a state of shock.

After doing this your lawn needs a lot of moisture and days to recover; this makes the perfect opportunity for weeds to steal nutrients, and grow rampant. Keeping your lawn longer creates shade over weeds that are trying to grow, which blocks the needed sunlight necessary for these weeds to flourish and grow in the first place.

The recommended height to mow your lawn is at 2 ½ -3 inches (if in doubt, set your lawn mower at its highest setting). You should never remove more than 1/3 of the total grass height. If you have let your lawn grow long, you should cut 1/3 of its height, wait a few days, and then cut the rest of the grass down to 2 ½ -3 inches.

Method of Mowing:

Although it doesn’t seem like the direction you mow your yard would make much of a difference, but it actually does. If you mow in the same direction over and over, the grass will start to bend over and not cut well. When you mow in alternating directions, your grass will stand up straight, look better, and be easier to cut evenly. Also, mowing in the same direction will cause ruts in your yard from the mower wheels.

Another thing to remember is to make sure that your mower blades are sharp. Instead of cutting, dull blades will hack and damage the crowns of the grass plant. In turn, this makes the grass more susceptible to the stress of summer heat.

It is important to make sure that you do not mow your lawn when it is wet. You should wait 12 hours after it has rained or been watered to mow. Mowing your lawn when it is wet is the perfect way to spread fungus and weeds throughout your yard. Not only are you moving the seeds and spores to different areas in your lawn, but you are moving them to a place that is conducive for them to grow…someplace wet. Mowing your lawn when it is dry is also much easier on your mower. You can save on repair costs for your lawn mower and make your yard better looking and healthier by mowing when it is dry.

Recycling Grass Clippings:

Leaving your grass clippings on your lawn is highly recommended because it naturally decomposes and restores needed nutrients to your lawn. Grass clippings are 85%-90% water which makes them break down quickly and easily. Grass clippings can also contain up to 1/3 of the nutrients (such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) your lawn needs for it to be hearty and healthy. Annual mulching can contribute as much as one fertilization!

The exception to this is if you have crabgrass. If you have crabgrass you should bag all clippings and remove them from your property. Recycling grass clippings with crabgrass in it will disperse the crabgrass seeds throughout your yard.

To read more about Crabgrass, click here!

Watering Your Lawn:

Watering your lawn can be a tricky task. You don’t want to underwater your lawn, but it is not good to overwater it either. Your lawn only needs about 1 – 1 ½ inches of rain or water per week. Most grasses grow best with one deep watering weekly, rather than light waterings every day. Using a rain gauge and keeping track of how much rain has fallen can make it easier to keep track of how much water your lawn actually needs. If you are using a sprinkler, it usually takes about 30 minutes of watering to equal 1 inch of water. The more the better is not true when it comes to watering your lawn. Too much water can create the perfect environment for weeds and fungus to grow.

If your community is on a water restriction due to dry weather and you are unable to provide the necessary water, it is best to let your grass grow dormant instead of feeding it a little water now and then. When your grass goes dormant, it might look dry or even turn brown, but it will most likely recover as soon as it rains again. When you only water your yard a little bit every now and again, the grass roots grow closer to the surface of the soil, which make them more susceptible to drying out and less hearty.

So how do you know if your lawn is too dry and needs to be watered? A good way to check is to walk across your lawn. If you leave footprints that last for more than one minute, your lawn could use a good watering.

Fall Lawn Care:

We recommend that you mow your lawn until it stops growing, usually into late October. Your final mowing should be a different length than you mow through the rest of the season. It should be cut shorter than usual, but don’t cut it too short. You should aim for an “average” height for your grass. If in doubt, set your lawn mower on its medium setting. If you cut your lawn too short, it is more susceptible to frost damage. If you leave your lawn too long, it can become diseased over the winter months.

You also want to make sure that you rake up any fallen leaves, sticks, and other waste before the snow comes. Leaves and other debris left under the snow will hold onto moisture, decompose, and ultimately damage your lawn.

Fall is also the best time for core aeration, reseeding and overseeding.