MOWING AND TRIMMING
Mowing creates a neat appearance and is good for the health of the grass.
Trimming adds the final touch to a well-maintained lawn. Without trimming,
the lawn may look messy, no matter how well mowed the rest of the lawn is.
WHEN TO MOW
- Never mow when the grass is wet.
- In spring and fall: mow when the grass is 2 to 2 1/2 inches tall.
- In summer: mow when the grass is 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall.
HOW TO MOW AND TRIM
- Get out your equipment: mower, safety goggles, broom, edge clipper,
trash bags, etc..
- Check the lawn for trash, bottles, rocks, and other hazardous
obstacles before you begin.
- Mow efficiently! Set up a pattern where you mow the edge of the area
first, then pass back and forth in straight lines overlapping slightly
each time. If you mow clockwise, the grass clippings will be thrown into
the center and not out onto paths or sidewalks.
- With a string trimmer or hand clippers, cut the edges of the lawn
where the mower cannot reach: next to buildings or fences.
Be very careful when trimming around the base of a tree not to cut the
bark! Use hand clippers.
- Make sure you keep the equipment clean, oiled and otherwise
maintained. A few minutes of maintenance after you are done will pay off
with long-lived equipment!
Watering produces a lush, green lawn but is less essential to a lawn's
health than other lawn maintenance practices. Lawns need approximately 1
inch of water every 7 to 10 days.
If you are trying to conserve water because of a drought, to save money, or
because you care about the environment, consider not watering your lawn.
Lawns will go dormant and turn brown, but the grass will not be dead. It
will revive and turn green again when the rain comes. When you have new
plantings of trees and shrubs, always give these plants priority over lawn
TIPS ON WATERING
- Watering a little is worse for a lawn than fewer, longer soakings. Light
sprinklings bring the roots up to the surface. When grass roots are near
the surface (rather than deep in the soil) they are more easily destroyed.
- Set up the sprinkler height so that it will cover the most lawn possible.
- Try not to water during the middle of the day or the afternoon when the
sun is at its hottest. Water will evaporate in the air and be wasted.
- Try not to waste water by watering nearby pavement.
Grass is one of the heaviest feeding plants in the world. It needs
fertilizer to produce a healthy, thick lawn with no bare spots. The pH of
the soil needs to be in the 6 to 7 range in order to allow the grass to
utilize the fertilizer. If the soil is acid (pH around 6.2 or less) add
lime. If the soil is alkaline (pH over 7.0) add sulfur. To find out the pH
of your soil have it tested every other year. (See "Soil testing")
Core aeration is a method of letting much needed oxygen into compacted soil
in a lawn, allowing the roots to breathe and develop. Lawns where a lot of
activity takes place, such as playing and walking, become compacted and
won't support plant growth. Core aeration is the solution to the problem of
overly compacted lawn areas.
A core aerator is a machine that is handled much like a rototiller. Instead
of turning the soil over as a rototiller does, a core aerator lifts plugs
of grass, thatch, and compacted soil from the lawn. The small plugs are
deposited by the core aerator on top of the lawn surface and should not be
Healthy roots are essential to good lawn growth. Core aeration encourages
healthy grass roots because:
- it helps bring air and water to the roots.
- it prunes, or cuts, grass roots and stimulates growth.
- it brings valuable micro-organisms to the lawn surface.
HOW TO AERATE
Most grassy areas can be aerated with a machine that you walk behind like a
lawn mower. These can be rented from Equipment Rental companies by the day
for approxamately $45, and they come with instructions.
NOTE: After aeration is a good time to spread grass seed if the lawn has
lots of bare spots.
- Anyone who feels comfortable handling a lawn mower or a rototiller can
operate a core aerator.
- At a slow, even speed, guide the aerator across the lawn in the same
pattern as you would a lawn mower, paying special attention to areas
where the ground is bare.
Aerate in the spring or fall.
Spot seeding is a method of filling in bare spots in a lawn and making them
HOW TO SPOT SEED
NOTE: If the lawn has too many bare spots to reseed with spot aeration,
consider core aerating the entire lawn and spreading seed. (See "Core
- Using a tilling fork, cultivate the soil in the area to be spot seeded
by digging, breaking up the soil and turning it over to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.
- Using an iron rake, rake the soil out so that the surface is smooth
and flat. remove any clumps of grass or weeds.
- Lightly tamp the soil with your foot to remove large air spaces.
- Rough up the top 1/2 inch of soil with your rake.
- Sprinkle grass seed over the area. Overlap into the undisturbed lawn
area by about 6 to 12 inches.
- Lightly retamp the area with your foot to imbed the seed into the
soil. Do not bury the sil too deeply.
- Water thoroughly with a sprinkler or fine spray. Without water the
seeds will not grow.
- For the next 2 to 4 weeks keep the newly seeded area damp.