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If your lawn is yellow or brown after mowing, it may mean you are cutting it too short. The shorter you cut the longer it will take the roots to begin growing again. At worst, if you cut too close, the grass roots may never grow again. Clippings 1/2 inch or smaller can be left on the lawn, and they will help to reduce thatch buildup and help to provide your lawn with valuable nutrients.
Sharpen your mower blades at least twice a year — more often for large lawns. Dull mower blades leave grass ragged looking, damaged, and can increase the incidences of disease. It's best to have a mower repair shop sharpen mower blades. They have the tools to give the blade a good edge and make sure it is safely remounted.
Within 12-24 hours after mowing, grass clippings will have lost nearly 80% of their weight and almost as much of their physical size. The water contained in the grass clippings quickly evaporates, which allows the clippings to drop to the soil level, where the microbial action of breaking them down begins.
Contrary to popular belief, not all lawns need lime every year. Lime is only necessary when the pH of your soil (a measure of soil acidity or alkalinity) drops to an undesirable level. A soil pH in the range of 7.0 favors most varieties of turf grasses.
If you are in the market to buy a new lawn mower consider a “mulching mower”.
There are several great advantages to using a mulching mower. It will save time, since you don't have to repeatedly stop the mower to empty and reattach the bag. It saves money, since the nitrogen in the clippings fertilizes the lawn, reducing the amount of supplemental fertilizer you have to apply. And it leaves more room in your local landfill for the Real garbage.
In the spring or fall, sprinkle grass seed over your lawn.This will help fill in bare spots and help choke out weeds. If filling in bare areas, first loosen soil and spread peat moss, compost or top soil, then walk over lawn to help push seeds into soil. Don't forget to water!
The shorter you mow, the less the roots will grow.
Only about 5% of turf grass nutrition is derived from the soil; the other 95% is taken in through the blades as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen. Grass blades exist to convert energy from sunlight into sugars, starches and plant fibers that the grass plant then uses for growth. The food manufactured in the blades of the grass is used for both the top growth and the root growth. When you mow you reduce the ability of the grass plant to manufacture food, and thereby to form strong roots.
Organic matter is very important to successful plant growth. At least 2 percent organic matter should be present for growing lawn grasses. Other garden plants will thrive in a soil with about 5 percent organic matter. To add this organic matter spread 1 to 3 inches of peat, compost or well-rotted manure over the soil when other nutrients are added. All these should then be worked to a depth of about 6 inches into the existing soil. Surface applications of organic matter do not provide the soil aeration, moisture regulation and deep root penetration that is possible when organic matter is mixed deep into the soil.
"High organic-matter content is the primary reason compost and most other organic fertilizers are superior to chemical fertilizers. Chemicals don't provide the carbohydrates that are essential for a healthy soil food web, and some of them are so caustic that they can kill soil organisms and inhibit plant growth." (Organic Gardening, July/August, pg. 48).
As an organic fertilizer, apply liquid seaweed on your lawn—it is loaded with trace elements like iron, magnesium and zinc which support plant health and root development and it also helps fight off fungal diseases! Monthly applications are recommended but even fewer will show benefits.
No matter how tall the grass is, stop yourself from cutting off more than one third of the blade length in any single mowing. If you remove more than 40% of the grass blade the roots stop growing. The grass should always look green even after you cut it. Also cutting one-third will produce small clippings that you should leave on the grass.
Mulching mowers are like food processors for your lawn. They use a special blade and enclosed deck to slice up your grass clippings (and dried leaves) a number of times before depositing them back deep into the lawn, where they decompose in a few days into a great organic fertilizer for your lawn! If conditions are right and the mower is designed well, a clean, vacuumed appearance without any unsightly clumps or hedgerows of grass will be your result. And don't worry about creating thatch. Thatch is not made up of dead grass blades left on the lawn, but excess surface roots caused by over watering and over fertilizing.
Before you start fertilizing, find out how fertile your lawn already is and have your soil tested in a lab. The results will indicate what organic fertilizer is best for your conditions and how much to apply. This way you will get the best results, and save money by not putting down more than your lawn actually needs.
Excessive thatch is caused by too much nitrogen, which grows grass components faster than soil organisms can decompose them. The use of pesticides kills earthworms that are important decomposers of thatch. If there are no earthworms, then thatch buildup is inevitable. Try using only organic fertilizers which stimulate biological activity and are less prone to overfeed the grass....and more than likely, you probably will not need to use a dethatching machine. Leaving clippings on the lawn may help reduce thatch by stimulating beneficial soil life, as well.
The lawn and gardens will be in place for many years. While a garden may be fertilized later, the lawn becomes difficult and often impractical to dig up after it is established. Therefore, it is important to get the soil well prepared before planting.
Dark color and crumbly texture may indicate good soil but are not a guarantee that the soil contains all the necessary nutrients. Have a soil test run before the soil is prepared so that fertilizer deficiencies may be corrected as well as pH. After the soil test results have been returned, work any recommended materials into the upper 6 inches of soil.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|