Tips for a Luscious Lawn
When it comes to cutting grass, Frank Wildauer is pretty sharp. He did things the right way, from keeping his blade honed to varying his mowing pattern.
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By Bob Batz, Jr.
Also, except for a slightly shorter end-of-season cut, he cut the grass at 3 inches. Experts agree: Cutting too short, or cutting more than a third of the leaves at one time, stresses the plants and makes it harder for the lawn to hold in moisture and keep out weeds and other pests.
Three inches may seem high — it's the highest setting on most mowers — but Dave Middlemiss says he mows his at 3-1/4 inches, and even a bit more would be fine, as long as you mow it regularly.
"The way you mow the lawn is probably the most important thing," says Middlemiss, vice president of operations at Jefferson Memorial Park, a Pittsburgh cemetery. He oversees not only the cutting of the cemetery's 150 acres of grass, but also its L&M Lawncare division.
He says you can measure the distance from the ground to your mower's blade, or just drop a golf ball in your grass. If it disappears, "That is the proper height."
Basically, longer leaves mean longer roots which, along with proper fertilization, makes for a thicker, greener canopy.
He offers these additional tips:
- Mowing grass in the evening reduces stress on the plants.
- Do water dry lawns, especially in the summer, deeply. Watering in the morning minimizes evaporation and plant disease.
- Core aerating the lawn in the fall — pulling out small plugs of grass and dirt — loosens the soil and helps break down thatch.
- Numerous trade groups and companies offer lawn care advice as well, including Scotts (www.scotts.com). It provides an e-mail reminder service to some 450,000 customers, and a consumer help line (1-888-270-3714).
- Briggs & Stratton's "Lawn Doctor" — Trey Rogers — offers region-specific advice at www.yarddoctor.com.