Don's Lawn Care

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Est 1989 Serving the Greater Austin Area  
 
 
Lawn Tips
| Mowing | Fertilizing | Watering | Edging and Trimming | Aerating and Dethatching | Grass Recycling |

About Mowing

Proper mowing can mean the difference between a so-so lawn and a great one. There are a few simple decisions to make when mowing that make a difference in your lawn. How high to mow? Grass generally performs best when mowed at one of the higher settings on your mower — especially in hot summer weather.

  • Avoid scalping at all costs.


  • Never cut off more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blades in a single mowing. If lawn growth gets ahead of you, mow it at a higher length, then lower blade and mow again a few days later.


  • Grass

    Minimum Height

    Maximum Height

    Fine Fescue

    1 1/2"

    2 1/2"

    Kentucky Bluegrass

    1 1/2"

    2 1/2"

    Ryegrass

    1 1/2"

    2 1/2"

    Bahiagrass

    2"

    4"

    Bermudagrass

    1/2"

    2"

    Buffalograss

    2"

    3"

    Carpetgrass

    2"

    3"

    Centipedegrass

    1"

    1 1/2"

    St. Augustinegrass/Floratam

    2"

    4"

    Zoysiagrass

    3/4"

    2"

    How often to mow

    Once a week is usually sufficient. In spring, when grass is growing more rapidly, mowing twice a week may be necessary to avoid removing more than 1/3 the length of the grass blades.

    Blade sharpness

    Keep mower blade sharp. Mowing with a dull blade tears the ends of grass blades, leaving ragged ends which later turn brown, giving the lawn a dried-out look. Such grass blade damage also encourages the spread of fungus disease.

    Other tips

  • Mow in different directions (diagonal, horizontal, vertical patterns) each time you mow to prevent "leaning" of grass blades in your lawn.


  • Avoid making sharp turns with the mower. Use sidewalks and driveways as a place to turn the mower, or make "header strips" and turn the mower at the end of each row when you reach the header.


  • Never mow a wet lawn, as this can lead to uneven cuts and invites fungus to your lawn.


  • Get the "striped" or "checkerboard" look, like on a professional baseball field, by placing a roller on your mower. These can be purchased at many hardware stores.


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    About Fertilizing Lawns

    Grass has been around for a long time, and it has done pretty well on its own. For example, think of a meadow where the grass looks great. But, it only looks great from afar. A closer inspection reveals bare spots, weeds and unsightly "scars."

    We expect more from the grass in our yards. It’s not a meadow. It’s part of our home. After all, a nice lawn helps beautify and improve the value of our property, and it provides a nice place for our children to play.

    Lawn owners can help grass combat heat, insects, dry weather, foot traffic and constant mowing by giving the grass what it requires — a generous supply of the proper nutrients. And, in order to achieve optimum results — and have that thick, green lawn we expect to have surrounding our homes — it is important to provide those nutrients year round.

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    About Watering Lawns

    As a general rule, most lawns require about one inch of water per week from rain or sprinkling. But many people ask, "How long should I water to equal one inch?" Well, it depends on your water pressure and the type of sprinkler you choose.

    A few tips to keep in mind:

  • It's best to water early in the day. You won't waste water through evaporation, and watering at night puts your lawn at risk for developing mildew and fungus disease.


  • Don't give your lawn a light sprinkling. This promotes shallow roots, and it may not even reach the soil, depending on how much you water.


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    About Edging and Trimming

    No matter what type of lawn mower you use, it will inevitably miss a few stray blades of grass in hard-to-reach areas. Trimming (that is, cutting stray high grasses) and edging (grooming the lawn's edges by cutting along them vertically) give the lawn a finished look.

    Essential Tools

    A number of tools make edging and trimming easier: Hand-operated grass shears work like scissors for trimming and even edging small lawns. Long-handled grass shears are better than short-handled ones because they allow you to stand up as you cut.

    An edger is better for the edging operation because it is specialized to cut vertically. There are two manual types:

  • A turf edger — a semicircular blade at the end of a long handle.


  • A rotary edger — a star-shaped cutting wheel is attached to a plastic or rubber guide wheel, also at the end of a long handle.


  • A power trimmer or edger should be used for large lawns or those with many edges, or to save time and fatigue. Power trimmers may run on gasoline or electricity.

  • The string trimmer is most common. It cuts with a rapidly whirling nylon filament that rotates at the end of a long handle. The handle is usually curved to allow the string to cut at a more convenient angle. In addition to being used for edging a lawn, this device is useful for trimming patches of tall weeds and grasses. Be sure to wear goggles when using this type of trimmer so that your eyes are protected against flying debris.


  • Gas-powered trimmers with reciprocating blades are somewhat safer to use than string trimmers because they eject less debris, and because the blades stop as soon as the engine is turned off. Like string trimmers, they are easy to handle and are fairly lightweight.


  • Edging Tips

    Edge first — Although many edge and trim after mowing, many lawn care professionals actually perform these tasks before mowing a lawn. By doing this, the lawn clippings generated by edging and trimming are picked up by the mower as it collects the clippings or mulches them into the lawn.

    Beware of trees — It is important to use power trimmers carefully around trees and other plants. Trees can be killed or severely damaged if the cambium layer just under the bark is injured. To shield small lawn trees against damage, wrap a trunk protector around the base of each tree. Available at many nurseries, trunk protectors are rectangles of heavy-duty perforated plastic that have been pre-rolled to stay in place around a trunk. An alternative is to create a mulch ring around the tree.

    Watch for landscaping — Power edgers can damage wood and concrete edgings, as well as fences and decks — or be damaged by them — if not used with care. When working along a concrete edging, try to minimize contact between the tool and the concrete surface, as this quickly wears down the blade.

    Despite the precautions they require, edgers make the task of edging easier by providing a smooth, straight surface along which to guide tools.

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    About Aerating and Dethatching

    There's a whole new world of lawn care below the surface of your grass. All the foot traffic, fertilizing, mowing and watering going on above is causing soil compaction and thatch down below. This prevents the grass roots from getting adequate water and nutrients, as well as providing a safe place for bugs to hide.

    Aerating

    Many lawns, particularly those that receive heavy use, have compacted soil that restricts the movement of air, water and nutrients to the grass' roots. To correct compacted soil, it is necessary to aerate your lawn from time to time.

    Dethatching

    Over time, lawns can accumulate thatch — a layer of slowly decomposing grass sterns, dead roots, and debris that's above the sod and below grass blades. The name thatch is appropriate — like the thatched roof on a tropical hut, it stops water and fertilizer from reaching the soil and provides a place for insects to hide.

    Avoiding Thatch

    Here are some tips to avoid thatch build-up in your lawn:

  • Minimize activities that compact soil


  • Don't let the grass become too tall before mowing it


  • Follow the recommended rates when applying fertilizer to your lawn


  • Avoid frequent, shallow irrigation


  • Don't let soil pH fall below 6.0


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    About Grass Recycling

    More and more people are using mulcher mowers. This is a great way to recycle your lawn clippings, by returning nitrogen and other nutrients directly back to your lawn. If you still bag your grass, we recommend, you consider a mulcher mower the next time you buy a lawn mower. In the meantime, recycle your grass clippings, by either spreading it on your vegetable and flower gardens, or mixing it into the compost pile.

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    Contact Don's Lawn Care for a free estimate or additonal information for your lawn care needs.


     
       
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