Maintaining a healthy lawn involves using good maintenance practices throughout the growing season. Proper mowing, fertilizing, irrigation and thatch control provide a dense, healthy, high-quality lawn.
The importance of good mowing practices is often overlooked. Mowing has a major influence on the turf density, uniformity and aesthetic quality of a home lawn. It is also the most repetitious and time-consuming maintenance practice and is often done incorrectly.
Frequency and Height
Turf can be mowed frequently, provided no more than one-third of the grass blade is removed in a single mowing. Mow as high as possible. Lower mowing produces a shallow root system. Shallow grass roots cannot take up enough water and nutrients, making the lawn susceptible to drought stress. Low mowing encourages broadleaf weed invasion and invasion from grassy weeds such as creeping bentgrass and annual blue-grass. It is best to mow a lawn when the leaves are dry. Dry grass cuts cleanly, and clippings distribute more evenly.
Leave clippings on the lawn. If they are excessively heavy, rake them up and remove them. Clippings contain nutrients and water, breakdown rapidly and do not contribute significantly to thatch. You can cut down your fertilizer (especially nitrogen) by 20%-35% by leaving the clippings on.
Mowers need the capacity and power to handle the area being mowed. Consider weight, ease in starting, maneuverability, ease of adjustment of height of cut and safety features. Keep mower blades sharp for a good quality cut. Select mulching-type mowers that recycle grass clippings.
New to the market are electric cordless rotary and reel mowers. They are a quieter, cleaner, low-maintenance alternative to a gas-powered lawn mower.
Understanding and implementing a well-balanced fertilizer program is one of the most important factors in maintaining an attractive healthy lawn. The three main nutrients required by lawns are:
Nitrogen promotes dark green colour, leaf and blade development, and density of the turf. Phosphorus is important for good root and rhizome development and promotes plant maturity. Potassium contributes to the general vigour of the plant and promotes wear, drought tolerance and winter hardiness.
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