Weeding and Feeding Your Lawn
This is another category like watering where the attitude of, “if some is good, more must be better,” can return results which are the exact opposite of the hoped for effect. Lawns definitely need fertilizer to keep them green and growing and, more importantly, to build a deep, strong, healthy root system.
But over fertilizing, especially with chemical fertilizers, can cause chemical burns to the turf itself and contribute to other problems as well. For example, most lawns build up thatch over time and it’s a good idea to have the lawn de-thatched and aerated at least every few years.
However, the most routine cause of thatch build up is not clippings left on the lawn, as is commonly thought, but an excess of chemical fertilizers. One way around this, to keep the lawn well fed, is to use organic fertilizers and soil amendments that increase the microbial bioactivity in the root zone.
These products can be a bit more expensive, for sure, but if your goal is the most beautiful lawn possible, they are worth considering. Also for those whose lawns share spaces with areas where organic produce is grown, that is another incentive to go organic with lawn products. And lastly, water runoff that contains excessive amounts of fertilizer is damaging to the environment in other ways. This is much less likely when using organic fertilizers.
Weed prevention can be addressed before or after weeds appear, but applying pre-emergence controls before weeds appear can also mean creating a lower environmental burden by preventing many weeds in the first place and reducing the need to keep applying weed killers later in the season.
Another consideration is that applying fertilizers at less than the recommended amounts, but doing so more frequently, results in a lawn which grows more evenly instead of going through a period of rampant growth followed by a sudden decline in growth, especially when the weather gets very hot. In general, attending to lawn tasks regularly and avoiding the need for sudden drastic measures to resolve a problem, means many fewer problems needing a resolution, which saves money and grief in the long run.
Superior Lawn Cutting
There are good reasons to have your lawn professionally cut which have nothing to do with finding time or getting the mower to start. Grass that is properly cut is healthier and more disease resistant and is much less likely to suffer damage under extreme weather conditions.
When the grass is actively growing during warmer months, it gets longer more quickly between cuttings. However, mowing off more than one third of the grass blades will result in tips that easily burn and turn brown in the heat, so it’s important to avoid letting the grass get too long between cuttings.
In addition to mowing at least once a week during the growing season, it’s also important to keep the mower blades sharpened and vary the mowing pattern. This assures that the grass blades will be cut swiftly and evenly when the mower passes. The cuts will then seal more quickly which helps prevent hot season brownout.
Another reason to mow properly and regularly is that a healthy green turf above will serve as its own mulch, protecting the roots below in hot weather and preventing weed seeds from taking hold. Weeds not only detract from the desired appearance of a lush, inviting lawn, they also compete with it for water and nutrients.
People often wonder how a professionally kept turf stays looking so beautiful when no one picks up the grass clippings. The secret here is that grass clippings don’t hurt the lawn at all, provided they are short or cut with a mulching blade. The average homeowner lacks the time and inclination to maintain their equipment, change cutting heights and mow often enough to do this successfully, so removing clippings is usually advised.
Removing clippings also helps prevent the spread of disease and weed seeds from one portion of the lawn to another. A grass catcher keeps the flying grass from going all over flower beds, patios and sidewalks, but clippings from healthy lawns can be composted if desired.