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Question

I moved to the east coast and I have noticed that very few people can keep a green, weed-free lawn, even in the warmer months. What is the secret to preserving your lawn through the winter months and to keeping it weed-free without a lot of harmful herbicides?

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  1. The "green factor" of any lawn depends on growing the right type of grass for your region. Warm-season grasses will go dormant in winter, and cool-season grasses typically go dormant in warmer summer months. A mix of both types will take advantage of the green factor throughout the year. Other factors that contribute to a healthy and green lawn include proper mowing, watering, feeding and aerating--all of which also help deter weeds.

    - Deep and infrequent watering is best for an established lawn--about one inch of water a week during active growth is a good guideline. This will encourage a deeper root system. - Mowing high and mowing often will result in a lawn that is more resistant to weeds, disease, drought and summer heat. Be sure to cut no more than one-third of the total height in one mowing.
    - Once or twice a year in spring or fall, spread a thin layer (one-half inch or less) of compost or aged manure as a top-dressing on your grass. (Instead of compost, you can leave clippings on the grass when you mow.) This will increase beneficial soil microbes that help reduce plant stress and disease.
    - Use a natural slow-release fertilizer with an NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) ratio suited to the nutritional needs of your lawn, such as 3-1-2, 5-2-4, or 7-3-4.
    - Aerate your lawn as needed. This will allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil and reach grass roots.
    - For a natural weed deterrent, try corn gluten meal (CGM). On established lawns, this pre-emergent, organic herbicide works well on annual weeds when applied in very early spring before the weed seeds germinate. Good luck!

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