Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lawn Care Basics: Mowing (First mow of season!) and Watering

Taxes are done... so we have time for another chore: the lawn! I look at the lawn as a challenge. Get it looking nice, neat, and green -- and you get a good sense of satisfaction. And you get some good exercise! Here are some basics. We talked about liming your lawn and fertilizer in a previous post.
  • Mowing: Depending on the weather (temperatures, amount of rain, etc.) -- try to mow at least once a week. Cutting often (and not too short: rule of thumb is less than 1/3 of the blades of grass) leads to healthier grass.
  • First mowing of the season: this first cut of the season should be on the short side. The shorter mowing will encourage the roots and grass to wake up and start growing.
  • Water: only as needed. Again, this depends on your location and climate. If you need to water: water deeply and only once week or so (if there's no rain). Infrequent, but deep waterings will promote deeper roots and stronger/healthier grass (as opposed to frequent/shallow watering). Some people measure the water (putting out cans to see how much water the sprinkler is putting out) and aim for 1 inch per week. The best time to water is early in the day (avoids heat/evaporation).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lawn Care: Aerating & Compost

I am wondering if they made taxes due April 15th so that we would have time for the lawn! The lawn-growing season is here -- and this is my early season schedule:
  1. Lime -- end of March
  2. Aerate & compost (more on that later) -- just after taxes (April 16 or so)
  3. First mow (shorter than ususal to promote root and grass growth) -- depends on weather; but as needed, and a little on the short side.
  4. First spring fertilizer soon after first mow.
Aerating is a great thing for your lawn. It removes thatch, loosens compacted soil, and allows nitrients to get to the roots of your lwan more easily. Some tips on aerating:
  • A device that removes cores of soil and thatch is MUCH better than the devices that just poke holes in the lawn. You can buy a device that you step on to aerate your lawn or rent a heavier-duty machine.
  • Aerate before the active-growing time of your lawn.
  • Don't aerate during periods of heat and drought. Opening up the lawn during times of stress like that can hurt your lawn.
While I'm at it, once I aerate the lawn, I lay down some compost/manure/good topsoil.
  • I use a broom or light rake to level the compost.
  • This is also a good time to level out your lawn. If there are any dips or lower areas, you can lay a little more in those areas. (Speaking of lower areas, if you DO have minor dips in your lawn, you can lay thin layers every month or so to build that area up).
  • Finally, I water everthing to wash things down -- and avoid smothering the grass.
This should give the lawn a good jumpstart to the growing season. Here's to a beautiful, thick, lush, green lawn that you can be proud of.