With the proper lawn maintenance schedule, a beautiful, healthy lawn is easy to any home owner to have and maintain.
You don’t have to be a garden guru to keep your lawn green and weed free but it does take some knowledge and know how to do it properly.
There are three basic ingredients that go into maintaining a great lawn.
They are watering, feeding and cutting. That`s it.
Those three factors, if done correctly will give you a lawn that your neighbors will envy.
But done incorrectly, you will have a dying, disease, insect and weed infested lawn that will cause you more working time than leisure time during your days off.
Here we will cover the basics of cutting the lawn, this is a simple but crucial part of a proper maintenance schedule that many people do incorrectly and is the cause of many lawn problems.
Other pages here contain steps on watering and feeding your lawn and together will help you produce one of the best lawns in your neighborhood.
Don’t forget to always wear safety glasses and ear plugs, as well as sun block every time you are out working in the yard.
Cutting the lawn
Generally throughout the summer months you will want to cut the grass at a length between 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 inches. This allows the grass to give itself some shade from some of the sun and prevents the lawn from burning. This also allows the roots to grow deeper into the soil and therefore gain the capability to reach cooler more moist earth.
In early spring and late fall, (cooler weather) you can generally cut the lawns about 3/4 of an inch lower in order to keep it in good shape.
The best time to cut grass is when the lawn is dry. Wet grass tends to clog the mower, it doesn’t cut well and it tends to clump up on the top of the lawn. Cutting the grass when it is wet may also cause some yellowing of the tips due to burning from the sun later on.
If you must cut the lawn when it is wet, which there may be times that you will, It will help to have a powerful mower to pull the grass into the bag better. The blade should be sharp so that it can cut as clean as possible and leave little damage to the tips of the grass.
When cutting in wet weather make sure to clean under the deck of the mower once in a while because you will find that it will build up with clippings. This Build up will cause bad air flow and reduce the amount of grass you can pick up as well as make it harder for the mower to cut properly.
Another thing to do that is both good for the lawn and for the environment is mulching. Mulching is simple, most mowers sold these days have the capability to be set to mulch. All you need to do is take the bag off, maybe add a mulching blade, usually a blade with several teeth on the back to help it cut up the clippings.
Then you cut the lawn as you would normally but this time you force the grass clippings back into the grass where they will break down and feed it in the future.
Mulching is good because it feeds the lawn so there will be less need for fertilizers. The mulch will also shade the roots to help protect it from the intense heat of the sun as well as help to keep moisture in.
When mulching you will have to make sure that you do not cut more than an inch off the top More than that will cause clumping and it won’t disappear into the grass where it can do a good job.
Each time you cut the grass you should go in a different direction. Horizontally, vertically and from corner to corner. This will give you four different directions you can go in. This technique helps keep the lawn looking fresh and helps prevent any ruts forming from the wheels traveling in the same spot week after week. This will also help the lawn become more hardy and thick. One formation you should never cut is the square.
One of the most important rules that you should follow is not to cross your lines with the mower. What this means is once you have cut the lawn and it’s looking perfect with all the wheel tracks going in one direction, you do not then want to go over them while crossing the lawn. This completely ruins all the hard work by making an eye sore. The proper way to leave the yard is to follow the closest path already cut to the exit. Try to avoid cutting your lawn in circles where you will end up in the middle, this will force you to have to cross your lines when you leave.
You should always go around the perimeter of the grass at least once, twice if it is a large yard. The reason for this is to keep the lawn evenly cut along all the edges while giving you room to turn the lawn mower. You will find it easy to also cut once around any large trees or gardens in the center of the yard when you get to them for the same reason.
Trimming the lawn
In order to keep the lawn looking at it’s best make sure that you trim the grass every time you cut it. Now some people like to trim the lawn before cutting it, and some prefer to trim after cutting. Trimming before you cut will allow you to pick up or mulch the trimmings that are left behind while trimming after you cut will allow you to make sure you have reached any grass that the mower may have missed. So it is up to you to find which method works best for you.
The proper way to trim the lawn is to allow the trimmer to cut the grass at the same level that the mower was set at. You can’t just let the trimmer drag along the ground. If it is to close you will burn the edges and cause them to dry up. Also, when you look at a lawn where the edges are lower it gives the yard a sloppy look. If you trim it too high it won’t look like you did anything at all. Try to imagine that the lawn mower was able to go to all the edges and get all the grass. That’s the look you want.
When finished going around the first time you may want to flip the trimmer over so that the cords are now spinning vertically instead of horizontally. What this does is allow you to use the trimmer as a make shift edger.
Go along the entire garden and sidewalk edges in this manner so that it gives the perfect edge you want. For this to look it’s best you will have to have had an established edge in the first place.
When trimming it is very important to keep an eye on all of your surroundings. The trimmer is moving fast enough to throw stones and small sticks far enough and fast enough to cause damage to property or people. It is also easy to cut through any plants along the edge of the garden.
Make sure to wear safety glasses and ear plugs when using the trimmer.
Dealing with Insects and Weeds
Proper maintenance of the grass will go a long way to creating your perfect lawn but if you are struggling with eliminating various pests such as grubs, chinch bugs and ants or maybe some popular weeds like dandelions and crabgrass are filling in the spaces between the blades of grass in your otherwise beautiful lawn, you may need to take some more drastic measures.
While many people will resort to putting harmful chemicals down to fight the weeds and insects, this use of chemicals on our lawns has weekend the roots and made the lawns more dependant on these chemicals while making them more susceptible to attack from pests and weeds.
And with many cities and towns beginning to ban the use of pesticides and herbicides, using chemicals to fight what seems to be an unending battle is quickly being taken off the table as an option.
The Solution therefore is using techniques and products that work and are not harmful to the environment or your lawn and garden.