How to Mow Your Lawn so You Have a Perfect Yard All Year

Of course the basic function of any mower is to cut grass. Although we all are self proclaimed experts in lawn care, few of us really know the basics of cutting the perfect lawn. The following are basic guidelines that will lead to a nice cut and a healthier lawn.

Cut modestly – No more than one-third of a grass blade should be cut in one mower pass. A lawn grown excessively tall can be brought under control by a two-step mowing regimen. First, mow at the machine’s highest setting. Second, mow again in a few days at one setting lower. This gradually removes excess blade length and conditions the plant for subsequent mowings. If you are looking to buy lawn movers, this site can help you find the best lawn mowers.

Cut high – A lawn cut high is better equipped to stay green and growing through periods of dry spells than one that is cut low. Optimal height is probably about 2/3 of an inch to 3 inches.

Cut clean – Keep a sharp blade on the mower at all times to ensure a clean, crisp cut. Dull blades tear grass and leave ragged edges that turn an unsightly brown.

Cut dry – Wet grass makes it easy for the operator to slip and difficult for the machine to cleanly cut and discharge clippings. For safety’s sake, and the lawn’s, wait until moisture from dew, irrigation and rainfall has dried.

Cut often – mowing twice a week during heavy growth periods is easier on lawns than maintaining a rigid weekly schedule. Frequently mowing means less blade is cut and clippings, in return, will decompose more quickly. Weekly mowing is okay during summer, when growth has naturally slowed.

Let clippings lie – Mulching mowers like this eliminate the need to bag clippings. Turf experts say grass clippings return so much nutrition to soil that homeowners can skip one lawn feeding each year if clippings are left to decompose, rather than being bagged and carted off.

Cut attentively – Pay attention to what you’re doing, keep an eye out for nearby children and pets. Look out for rocks and other objects that could be thrown if caught under the mower deck. Of course, lawn care is more than good mowing practices. Regular feeding is a must. Three feedings yearly are recommended, the most important being applied in November, which nourishes grass roots for spring. Plenty of water is vital. Lawns need an average of one inch of water weekly. If rainfall isn’t adequate, heavily once a week or lightly several times a week. Turf experts aren’t sure which of the two approaches is best. What does seem sure is that smart cutting combined with prudent care methods will lead to a healthy, thick turf; and that condition is not only a beautiful sight but an effective defense against drought, weeds, insects and disease.

Grow a New Lawn from Seed

Everyone with a lawn enjoys walking barefoot in the grass. It feels almost sensual against the skin. When stickers, weeds and other unpleasant plants show up, the fun is over. A war begins to see who will own the ground. In my yard, I like to believe that I one day will win. I fight every year, with fewer weeds than before. I use no chemicals, just a hoe, pick, shovel and gloved hands. I don’t like chemicals anyway- and they’re expensive.

This year, instead of trying to keep the St. Augustine grass alive, I decided to change the grass entirely to a native of South Texas- Buffalo grass. This wonderful grass grows five to six inches high, and stops. The root mass is so tight that weeds are choked to death. This makes weeding by hand so much easier.

Buffalo grass was the main building material in the sod houses during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Its name comes from, what else, the buffalo herds that grazed the massive fields of it.

Buffalo grass only needs less than a quarter of the water that St. Augustine needs. For example, St. Augustine needs 1 to 2 inches a week during the Texas summers. Buffalo grass needs ¼ to ½ an inch a week. It also does not require constant fertilizer or other treatments so common to other grasses.

During the summer heat, it gets a little pale because I don’t water a lot. It goes into dormancy, and after a good soaking rain, it greens back up quickly. I can also throw out a few handfuls of ironite, a lawn food.

Xeriscaping is utilizing native plants in the home landscape. Buffalo grass fits this bill nicely.

Growing from seed

Buffalo grass is easy to grow from seed. Check with your local extension service to find out what time of year is best to start new grass.

Clear out the old sod and any weeds that remain. Amend the soil if necessary, and rake level.

Using your hands or a spreader, broadcast the seeds on the ground and rake to cover with soil. Water daily until the plants are established.

Growing from sod

Sod available from gardening centers, will grow in your area when the time is right. For South Texas, that’s April and August. The cool of April lets the plant roots become established so it can survive the coming heat, and the cooling off period during August allows the roots to get ready for the coming winter.

Lay the sod pieces next to each other like a quilt, and using a roller, press the pieces against the dirt so there are no air pockets to kill roots. Water until the plants are established. This is the fastest way to establish a lawn. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive ways- at least for my budget.

Starting your own sod

I grow my own sod very easily. I purchased seed from an online gardening store, and waited until the right planting time. There are different mixtures of seeds available; study to find the right mix for your needs.

I have unused cat litter boxes that were perfect for my project. Two had cracks in the bottom; this allows for water drainage. I filled the boxes with three inches of topsoil, and seeded by hand. I watered every day, and within two weeks, had grass plants.

In two weeks, these sod pieces will be planted in the yard. One in the front yard, and the other will be the second one for the back yard.

I am a lazy gardener. I happily admit it. I clear enough ground for the sod to be planted. As the grass begins to spread, I take the shovel and a trowel and remove a foot of grass out of its way so it can spread without competition. I don’t have to clear an entire lawn at once.

This past April, I planted the first piece in the back yard. It has now become a patch nearly twelve feet wide, and still growing. Any invading Bermuda grass is easy to spot; it looks entirely different. In fact, the Bermuda, which overpowers so many other lawns, seems to have a truly difficult time competing with the Buffalo grass root system. I love it.

My cat, Shy, has claimed the Buffalo grass area as his own. The other cats are run off, and if I walk across it with bare feet, I get a low growl. I wonder if it matters that I grew it? The watermelons are sending out vines across the grass; this has lead to laughter almost every day. He circles the “invader,” touching it with a paw, and sits staring at it to make sure it doesn’t come after him. He checks on the growing watermelon and seems puzzled that it’s bigger every time he sees it. Hysterical. When a squirrel dared to try burying a nut in the patch, I let Shy out and he nearly got it. Of course, hearing a roaring “tiger-kitty” screaming across a yard will scare the daylights out of any squirrel. He does seem rather pleased that “his grass” is growing; giving him more territory.

Apply this method to most any grass seed. Patience is a virtue with this method, though. The lawn will have more than one type of grass growing at the same time. With all the weeds in my front yard, I believe my neighbors will be happy.

Natural Lawn Care

Does the thought of using pesticides and herbicides in your lawn leave you feeling less than enthused? Well, natural lawn care is a great alternative. Instead of killing unwanted plants and insects, natural lawn care uses methods that are safe and environmentally friendly to control them.

Believe it or not, your front lawn does serve a purpose other than just looking good. It helps encourage water drainage during a storm, it helps cool the air around your home by providing oxygen, and since the roots dig into the earth and this keeps the soil in its place, preventing erosion.

That is why natural lawn care is so important. Buy using chemical fertilizers it negates a lot of the good that comes from having a lawn. Instead of promoting a healthy environment, chemical fertilizers harm it. They kill earthworms and other beneficial insects and often harm the drinking water.

Some people refuse to try natural lawn care, declaring that it is inferior. However, with some knowledge you can have a green and healthy lawn without the chemicals. Here are some tips:

Use a reel mower – Amongst the problems that lawn care can present, using a traditional gasoline mower is definitely one of them. Gas prices are high and create a lot of harmful gases that go into the atmosphere. With a reel mower you simply push it and the blades turn and cut the grass. They are lightweight and inexpensive and are a much better choice for natural lawn care.

Natural fertilizers – You can also find complete fertilizer systems that are completely organic. These include ingredients to replenish nutrients, make it green, help enhance soil health, and regulate the spread of weeds and insects using natural ingredients. Experiment until you find a brand you like. You can also do some research so you can make your own natural lawn care products.

Give it water – Yes, it is important to water your lawn once in a while, even from a natural lawn care stand point. Yes it is important to water your natural lawn but there is such a thing as overdoing. Give it a deep, thorough watering if there is no rain once a week or more.

Keep it long – A great secret of natural lawn care is to resist the urge to cut the lawn too short. If the grass is long, the roots become strong. This makes your grass stronger and less likely to be harmed when the weather is too hot, too rainy, etc.

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