Lawn Maintenance Tips for You
Having a quality lawn involves providing a good soil, plenty of the right nutrients and quality lawn maintenance. This means that following sound lawn mowing and watering techniques are an integral part of having a beautiful, healthy lawn.
Lawn Maintenance Tips for Western New York Homeowners
Benefits of a healthy lawn:
- Helps beautify the neighborhood.
- Creates a relaxing space of natural beauty. Grassy areas quickly affect people’s moods by creating feelings of serenity, privacy, thoughtfulness or happiness. Its yearly cycles of growth and color changes, lift human spirits and link urban inhabitants with their countryside heritage.
- Front lawns of just eight average houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning, while the average home-size central air unit has only a 3-4 ton capacity.
- While strict conservationists berate the lowly lawn as an expensive consumer of natural resources, it is actually a natural provider for our ecosystem. Healthy, dense lawns absorb rainfall six times more effectively than a wheat field, four times better than a hay field, and prevents runoff and erosion of our precious top soil. It also traps much of the estimated 12 million tons of dust and dirt released into the US atmosphere annually. Lawns also purify water entering into underground aquifers–its root mass and soil microbes act as a filter to capture and breakdown many types of pollutants.
- Increases real estate market value and salability. A Gallup Survey reported 62% of all US homeowners felt investment in lawns and landscaping was as good or better than other home improvements. The investment recovery rate is 100-200% for landscape improvement, compared to a deck or patio that will recover 40-70% of installation cost. Proper and well maintained landscaping adds 15% to a home’s value according to buyers.
- Recovery rates among hospitalized patients are often quicker when their rooms view a landscaped area compared to patients with non-landscaped views.
- Playing fields covered with dense turf have proven safer, as demonstrated by a simple egg drop test. When a dozen raw eggs were dropped from a height of 11 feet onto a two-inch thick piece of dense turf, none broke; two thirds broke on thin turf from that height, and from just 18 inches, all broke on an all-weather track!
Lawn Mowing Tips
Mow grass to the proper height with a mower with a sharp blade. Never cut off more than one third of the blade when mowing. Grass needs the surface area of the blade to sustain itself. Removing too much of the blade creates an environment ripe for disease.
Additional mowing tips include:
- Don’t cut your grass too short, particular for cool season grasses. Higher heights usually provide for a deeper root system, looks better, and is less likely to have weeds invading, particularly crabgrass.
- Avoid mowing when the grass is wet or when it’s dark.
- When mowing remove only a third with each cutting (except for the first mowing of the season when it’s ok to remove more). You can safely leave clippings that will quickly decompose and add nutrients back into the soil. Contrary to popular opinion, grass clippings do not add to thatch buildup. Grass blades are made up of about 75% water.
- Mow your lawn in a different direction with each mowing, especially with lawns of shorter grass types. Altering the direction ensures a more even cut since grass blades will grow more erect and less likely to develop into a set pattern.
- Keep your mower’s blade sharp, which means having it sharpened several times during the mowing season. Keep several blades around so you’ll always have a sharp one on hand.
- Don’t forget to change your mower’s oil at least once during the mowing season.
- At the end of the mowing season use a fuel stabilizer.
- In the spring, don’t use that old gas unless you properly used a fuel stabilizer, it can cause a number of problems. Better to use fresh gasoline to begin the new mowing season.
Safe Mowing Tips
Mowing the lawn can be a weekly ritual of the spring and summer months for many Americans. However each year, nearly 80,000 Americans require hospital treatment from injuries caused by lawn mowers, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The most common injuries were caused by strikes from debris, such as rocks and branches, propelled by the mower’s spinning blades.
The study, published in the April 2006 online edition of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, is the first to examine the extent and mechanisms of lawn mower injuries nationwide.
The researchers also concluded that the number of injuries from lawn mowers is increasing, with the majority of injuries occurring in children under age 15 and adults age 60 and older.
Watering Tips for Your Lawn
In our area, we watering usually isn’t a problem and may only need periodic supplemental watering throughout the growing season. However, as with all climates, we occasional face extreme weather conditions and lawn watering may be required.
Regular watering is a critical element in a healthy, vibrant lawn. That means it should receive about 1″ of water each week throughout the season. If we don’t receive that much through natural rainfall, then ideally, it should be supplemented. Here are a few tips to help produce the best results with the least amount of supplemental water:
Avoid over watering.
Use a rain gauge to measure how much water you’re applying. Over watering does more than deplete the water supply, it also makes plants prone to pests and adds to storm water runoff, which pollutes our water systems. By choosing and operating a watering system correctly, you can reduce water bills, insect and disease problems, and maintenance requirements. For example, the more you water your lawn, the faster it grows and the more it needs to be mowed.
Water as infrequently as possible.
Thoroughly water when you do water so moisture soaks down to the roots. Exceptions to this general rule would be for newly seeded lawns where the surface needs to stay moist, newly sodded lawns that have not yet rooted into the soil, or when summer patch disease is a problem. Otherwise, avoid frequent waterings that promote shallower root systems and weeds (e.g., crabgrass).
Water early in the day if possible.
Given a choice, water early in the day when lawns are normally wet from dew. Avoid midday watering due to excessive evaporation, and at night due to potential increased chances of some diseases gaining a foothold. The exception to this guide is when you are in extremely hot weather and nighttime temperatures don’t go below 68 degrees. Then it is better to water in the late afternoon or early evening, providing you don’t have watering-time restrictions. Early or late in the day reduces the amount of evaporation that takes place during the very hot day, allowing more water to reach the root zone.
Spread the water uniformly across the lawn.
Sprinklers vary in distribution patterns, and require spray overlap for uniform coverage. Placing coffee cans or similar straight-sided containers on the lawn can help measure water application rates. Avoid flooding areas, or missing other spots. On heavy clay soils and slopes, watch for excessive runoff; it may be necessary to apply the water in several applications to allow for adequate penetration.
In periods of high temperature and reduced rainfall, and to help conserve water, mow your lawn at a higher than normal height, limit traffic over the lawn, improve turf rooting, control thatch and soil compaction. Don’t allow water to hit the driveway or into the street. This is just wasteful.
The biggest factor in why lawns fail during extended dry spells, is that they weren’t healthy going into the drought. Therefore, you need to do everything you can to make your lawn as healthy as possible when conditions are good for growing lawns.