5 Green Lawn Care Tips for Spring
by Mike Morris
Make a positive impact on the environment and your budget by using natural products, eco-friendly methods and a green lawn mower to keep your lawn thick and green this year. Maintaining a healthy lawn is easy when you have the right guidance. Here are five tips to help you start the process this spring.
Buy a Green Lawn Mower
Retire your gas-powered lawn mower in favor of a manual or electric mower to help save the environment from the unhealthy emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Manual mowers – or reel mowers – are inexpensive, quiet and easier to maintain than any other type of mower. They need only occasional oiling and blade sharpening. And they’re lighter and easier to push than their predecessors.
Electric mowers are quieter, cleaner, easier to maintain and easier to start than gas-powered models. Plus, you can power an electric mower for about $5 in electricity for a whole mowing season. Best of all, there are no exhaust fumes, so you’ significantly reduce harmful VOC emissions.
Whichever type you choose, buy a mulching mower. Mulched clippings break down to provide a regular, natural dose of nitrogen and other nutrients to your lawn, so you need less fertilizer. And it saves the time and expense of buying yard waste bags, bagging the clippings and paying to have them hauled away.
Set your mower blade height to the tallest height recommended for the grass species in your yard and keep it there all summer. Taller grass tolerates heat better, has larger, healthier roots and competes better with weeds like crabgrass. Tall grass shades the ground, so the soil dries out slower, so you water less.
Grass species Height range in inches
Common bermudagrass 1 – 2
Fescue 2 – 3.5
Kentucky bluegrass 2 – 3.5
St. Augustine 2 – 4
Zoysia 0.5 – 1.5
Cut your lawn short only twice a year the first cut of the spring and the last cut before winter. The shorter spring cut removes harmful winter fungus and mold; the shorter fall cut helps prevent mold and fungus from growing during winter.
When you mow, remove only 1/3 of the total height to avoid stressing the grass. Keep your mower blade sharp, because a clean cut makes your lawn look greener and grow healthier. Your mower blade needs sharpening when the grass tips are brown and jagged.
Lawn food gives your grass a boost of nitrogen to stimulate growth. Fertilize your lawn at least once a year; fall is best because that’s when grass roots grow vigorously. Applying a half dose twice a year is better – once in spring after you’ve had to mow a few times and again in fall when night temperatures turn cool. Use an organic slow release lawn fertilizer to give grass a steady supply of nutrients, rather than a quick blast. Check the labels to learn whether you need to water lightly after fertilizing.
If your soil is crusty and hard, spread a half inch of organic compost over the lawn and rake it into the soil. The organic material helps the soil soak up water and encourages earthworms to loosen up the ground.
If seasonal fertilizing doesn’t get the results you need, have a soil testing lab test your soil nutrients and pH.
Proper watering helps your lawn develop deep roots that make it denser and more resistant to drought, weeds and pests. You want the water to penetrate the soil to about 6 inches to reach the bottom of the roots – deeper than that wastes water. A lawn on loamy soil needs about one inch of water per week. Set a cup on your lawn while you sprinkle to measure. Adjust your sprinkling schedule accordingly when it rains.
Water your lawn in the early morning so you don’t waste water through evaporation. Sprinkling after sunset also reduces evaporation, but your lawn is susceptible to mold and fungus growth when it stays damp overnight.
Chemicals used to control weeds can weaken your lawn over time by killing soil organisms that contribute to a healthy lawn. Here are some organic solutions to the most common weed problems.
Apply corn gluten meal – a pre-emergent herbicide that kills some weed seedlings – in spring when crocuses bloom and forsythias leaf out. Corn gluten meal also feeds your grass, so you don’t need to apply fertilizer.
When weeds do emerge, spray individual weeds with non-selective organic herbicides such as WorryFree® Organic Grass and Weed Killer, Repellex® Weed-A-Tak or BurnOut Weed and Grass Killer. These sprays damage any plant they touch, so if you’re concerned about killing the surrounding grass, use the greenest weed killer – a good weed fork that gets the entire root.
Manage My Life editor Mike Morris looks foreward to giving his backyard some TLC this spring.
Original posting can be found at: http://www.managemylife.com/mmh/articles/authored/5-green-lawn-care-tips-for-spring