LAWN MAINTENANCE

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

HOW TO MOW AND TRIM

  1. Get out your equipment: mower, safety goggles, broom, edge clipper, trash bags, etc..
  2. Check the lawn for trash, bottles, rocks, and other hazardous obstacles before you begin.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

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 when watering.

TIPS ON WATERING

FERTILIZING

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

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 raked up.

WHY AERATE?

Healthy roots are essential to good lawn growth. Core aeration encourages healthy grass roots because:

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.

SPOT SEEDING

Spot seeding is a method of filling in bare spots in a lawn and making them grassy again.

HOW TO SPOT SEED

  1. 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.
  2. Using an iron rake, rake the soil out so that the surface is smooth and flat. remove any clumps of grass or weeds.
  3. Lightly tamp the soil with your foot to remove large air spaces.
  4. Rough up the top 1/2 inch of soil with your rake.
  5. Sprinkle grass seed over the area. Overlap into the undisturbed lawn area by about 6 to 12 inches.
  6. Lightly retamp the area with your foot to imbed the seed into the soil. Do not bury the sil too deeply.
  7. Water thoroughly with a sprinkler or fine spray. Without water the seeds will not grow.
  8. For the next 2 to 4 weeks keep the newly seeded area damp.
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 Aeration")