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Over the Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Ready, Set, Mow

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

Our lawns started to grow a couple of weeks ago and if you have not wandered out in the lawn since we had all the rain, your likely to see that the lawn is due for that first mowing. The first mowing will begin to even out the growth of the lawn overall as we all have areas that grow faster than others or different kinds of grasses now in the lawn that grow at different rates. After the first mowing, you will see a bit of mottled green as those different grasses green up at different rates. Before you start the mower for the first time, clean under the mower deck and be sure the mower blade is sharp. A sharp blade will really make a big difference in the appearance of your lawn. A sharp blade will cut cleanly and evenly. Another technique for making the lawn look good is to mow when the grass blades are dry. The mower will function better, leaving the lawn looking good.

Spring is a natural growth cycle for our cool season lawns, with fall being the other time of year. In the spring, growth is going to be what we see, green grass growing very quickly. Grass is going to do this with or without any fertilizer. To extend the greening period and more easily manage the mowing, resist applying fertilizers until the lawn has already been mowed four to six times. This will help even out the rate of growth. If you are growing your lawn more naturally, you will not see that flush of growth as you do after using an inorganic product. Lawns fed with natural products can have a slower rate of growth, just more even over the growing season.

One thing that is going to be a given this year is the lawn weed population. With the impacts of last season, lawns have thinned out and we are much more likely to see a lot of weed seedlings in the lawn. Plan on controlling them later and focus on getting the lawn thick and competitive again.

Mowing the lawn means expecting the lawn to grow fast enough that the mower will be out of the shed or garage every 4th or 5th day right now. As the grass slows, we will be back to our once a week pattern. If you are looking for a good rule of thumb as to how often to mow the lawn, remember that mowing should not remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. This keeps the lawn growing and competitive against weeds. So use the calendar to count the days between mowing's, but cut the lawn when it needs to be done based on the growth rate. If you are ok with the look of the lawn, consider raising the mower height one notch, leaving the lawn a bit taller. This provides for more leaf surface and translates to making more food naturally. This is another way to combats weeds too. The taller lawn shades the soil, preventing weed seeds from germinating. If you shade the soil, you will be preserving soil moisture for use later on.



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