Smart Maintenance for a Healthy Lawn

Mowing your lawn seems simple, just rinse and repeat and wait until next week. But improper mowing is the most common reason a lawn loses its good looks. But fret not; smart maintenance for a healthy lawn isn’t rocket science and can be achieved by remembering three simple practices: Smart Maintenance for a Healthy Lawn

1. Don’t remove a lot at one time. Grass struggles to recover when you cut off more than a third of its height in a single mowing. That means if your grass is three inches tall, mow it to no shorter than two inches. One too-short mowing won’t do permanent damage, but repeated short cuts thin the lawn, leaving room for weeds to invade.

For a few weeks in spring, when grass is growing fast, you might have to mow every three or four days. (If you hate mowing that often, skip the spring fertilizer treatment.) When growth slows in the heat of summer, you can gets away with mowing only every 10 days.

Tip: An easy way to gauge how much to cut is to mow a swath about four feet long, then compare the height of the cut swath to the uncut grass beside it. Adjust the mower height accordingly.

2. Keep it tall. Tall grass shades the ground, reducing water evaporation from the soil and discouraging weeds. Keeping grass at the tall end of its recommended height range is especially important in the hottest, driest part of summer. In spring, you can keep it shorter if you like. Ideal height depends on the grass type:

Grass species Height range in inches
Common bermudagrass 1–2
Fescue 2–3.5
Kentucky bluegrass 2–3.5
St. Augustine 2–4
Zoysia 0.5–1.5

3. Use a sharp mower blade. A dull mower blade frays the end of the grass, which then turns brown and makes the lawn look dry. How often you need to sharpen the blade varies, but once a month is reasonable for good lawn maintenance. Check the owner’s manual for your mower for sharpening instructions. If you’re not confident sharpening the blade yourself, just use a socket wrench to remove the blade and take it to the neighborhood hardware store to have it sharpened — it usually costs just a few dollars.

Replace the blade every year or two, or anytime a rock or other hard object takes a big chunk out of the blade. Over time, sharpening removes enough of the blade that it now longer lifts the grass well; it can also throw off the balance of the blade, causing the mower to vibrate.

 

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