Don’t Make These Common Summer Lawn Care Mistakes

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by summer lawn care. Taking care of your lawn during the summer months is not rocket science. Still, it can feel like it sometimes – especially when there’s a mainstay of misleading and inaccurate information about how exactly to best care for your summer lawn. Of course, all intentions are in the right place, but where is a weary homeowner to turn when looking to keep their lawns healthy as the temperatures soar and the outdoor fun escalates? The good news is, your easy solution has arrived. The professional lawn care team at Spring-Green has put their heads together to compile a “mistake list” to eliminate the learning curve, dispel any false lawn care myths, and prepare you for a summer full of outdoor fun. Let’s get started!

Avoid These Summer Lawn Care Mistakes & Myths:

Don’t Burn with Fertilizer:

Adding too much fertilizer or adding it at the wrong time is a common summer lawn mistake that homeowners make. Too much fertilizer can burn grass blades and promote disease. By choosing slow-release fertilizers that do not need to be replenished as often, you can nourish your summer lawn with the vitamins it needs while not risking burning or other common problems.

Don’t Overwater or Underwater:

It’s important to find the perfect balance when it comes to watering your summer lawn. Too much or too little can cause big problems. If you water your summer lawn with too much water, you will wash away nutrients and create an environment ripe for fungus, making it susceptible to disease. Too little water can cause your grass to die. As a rule of thumb, most types of grass require one to two inches of water per week to thrive.

Don’t Neglect the Weeds:

Weeds are strong and resilient in nature. They’re especially strong and thriving during the summer months. Weeding is an essential task to keep your lawn healthy. If left unchecked (or “un-weeded” to be more accurate), your lawn could get into serious trouble from overpowering weeds. Be sure to check for weeds routinely and remove as quickly as possible when they appear in your summer lawn.

weeding

Don’t Cut with Dull Blades:

Have you checked the sharpness of your mower blades lately? Cutting the summer lawn is a common mistake that is easy to make, but almost just as easy to prevent. Dull mower blades can injure your grass blades and impact the aesthetic look of your lawn.

Don’t Cut Too Short:

Just like watering, mowing requires a perfect balance between too much and too little. Many overzealous homeowners take the step of mowing their lawn too much or leaving the grass blades too short. As a rule of thumb, you should never cut the grass below the one-third mark. If you do cut your grass too short, you may cause it to lose valuable nutrients and succumb to disease or even die.

Don’t Leave Clumps of Cut Grass After Mowing:

The grass grows like crazy in the summer, and post-cut grass clumps can seriously pile up. Resist the temptation to leave the clumps as they lay after you mow your lawn this summer. The left-behind grass clippings can block sun from reaching your lawn and cause yellowing and even cause your grass to die. Be sure to rake up the grass clippings to keep your lawn healthy.

grass mowing

Don’t Choose the Wrong Grass for Your Area:

Certain types of grass fit your geographic location, and others don’t. It’s that simple. If you choose grass types that aren’t a good fit for your climate and soil characteristics, you will be struggling against the odds to help your summer lawn succeed.

Don’t Neglect the High Traffic Areas:

Summer is the time for increased outdoor activity, raised temperatures, and scorching sun – all elements that can lead to wear and tear of the summer lawn. One way to mitigate against this issue is to install stepping stones or pavers in highly trafficked areas. You may try other ways to minimize traffic on your summer lawn that includes fencing and path lighting.

Don’t Overlook Signs of Insects and Pests:

Summer lawns are prime targets for insect infestations, such as chinch bugs, cutworms, armyworms, sod webworms, fire ants, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. A routine pest preventative maintenance plan can help you keep your lawn from getting overtaken by these common summer insects.

Summer lawns are more important than any other time of the year when outdoor enjoyment needs are at their highest levels. Myths and mistakes for the care of your summer lawn abound. Don’t fall for the common missteps, just call the pros in from Spring-Green to assist you in your summer lawn pursuits. Spring-Green can share professional know-how that fits your unique area, your unique lawn and your unique goals. We’ve been the neighborhood lawn care specialists for over thirty years, so you can trust that we know the difference between summer lawn care myth and reality.

Contact Spring-Green for a consultation today.

Stay Sharp: How To Keep Your Lawn Mower Blade Working Its Best

lawn mower
Have you ever pondered the sharpness of your lawn mower? If so, you are not alone in your consideration of the sharpness of your mower. You can follow all the mowing tips and mowing best practices available for consumption, but with a dull blade, you won’t get too far. The pros at Spring-Green, your neighborhood lawn care professionals, are here with the tips you need to keep your mower blade sharp and your lawn looking sharp!

Guide To Keeping Your Lawn Mower Blades Sharp

Does a sharp mower blade really matter?

Compare the sharpness of your lawn mower blade to your razor. Your goals of a clean-shaven face would fall flat without a sharp blade, wouldn’t they? An old or dull lawn mower blade can leave your lawn looking less than amazing as well as cause damage to your grass.

If your lawn mower blades are dull and/or damaged, it can actually create long-term issues with your lawn. The dull cut can leave a torn grass blade becomes distressed and more susceptible to pests and diseases. As we work so hard to keep our lawn looking great all summer, the state of our lawn mower can actually undo all that hard work if not maintained properly.

How do I sharpen my mower blade?

Lawn mowers have a few options to sharpen lawn mower blades, ranging from a bench grinder, hand file, rotary tool or angle grinder. Your lawn mower blades can also be sharpened with a drill and sharpening stone designed for sharpening dull lawn mower blades. While every lawn mower make and model is unique, here are some guidelines to removing the blades before sharpening:

  • Some mowers allow you to sharpen the blades without removing them, which saves a lot of time.
  • Taking the blade off, however, does allow you to do a more thorough job and avoid damaging any other part of the mower.
  • Take safety precautions like disconnecting your lawn mower’s ignition wire from the spark plug or removing the battery pack before getting started. Also, drain the gas tank, so there is no chance of a fuel spill while you are sharpening the mower blades.
  • Once you have the mower blades removed, take advantage of this opportunity to clean your mower scraping away any debris that’s hard to reach when the mower is intact.
  • Once you’ve sharpened the mower’s blades, be sure to the blade using a lawn mower blade balancer. This step is important as a lawn mower blade that is out of balances can damage the motor and stress the mower.

How often should mower blades be sharpened?

A commonly-asked question is how often, “Should I sharpen my mower blades?” The answer is it depends. Factors such as the type of mower you use, the age of that mower and the condition of your mower can impact the frequency. Your sharpening frequency will also be impacted by how often you mow and how large the space you are mowing is.

A good rule of thumb would be to sharpen if you notice the grass is not cleanly cut or is uneven. Another good frame of reference is to sharpen your mower after every 20 to 25 hours of use. This could be once a year for small, personal mowers or once a quarter for those who mow large areas more frequently.

How much should I expect to spend on sharpening my mower blades?

Some good news…it doesn’t cost a lot of money to keep your mower blades sharp! If you are a do-it-yourself type, you need to invest in the cost of the sharpener or drill bit which will typically be in the ballpark of $20. Of course, you may have to factor in the value of your time, if you want to get an accurate cost.

If you choose to have a local garden shop do it for you, it will cost a bit more (most likely) but will save you time. For those of you doing the math, if you pay someone to sharpen your blade twice during the lawn mowing season, you’ll likely pay enough to cover the cost of the sharpening tool that you could use to do it yourself for years to come.

A routine check of your lawn mower’s blades is essential to keeping your lawn looking good, feeling healthy and keeping your lawn mower working at optimal levels. Sharpening your lawn mower blades is easy to do yourself or have a local professional assist you.

The professionals at Spring-Green are here to provide you tips for proper lawn mowing. Being locally owned and operated, Spring-Green is able to truly understand the lawn care needs of your area so we can create the best value and most personalized yard care programs for you!

Contact your neighborhood Spring-Green lawn care professional today.

5 Tips to Controlling Moss In Your Lawn

Moss in your lawn

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you are all too familiar with the annual battle to control moss in your lawn. The long periods of cool damp weather that the area is known for sets up the perfect climate for moss development. It is generally a problem in the spring, but it can persist and grow throughout the remainder of the year if environmental conditions are conductive for its growth.

Moss can be a problem throughout the US, not just in Washington or Oregon. Here are 5 best practices that will reduce moss growth in your lawn:

Eliminate shade

One of the best ways to control moss is to improve the amount of sun that reaches the turf. Consider pruning trees and shrubs to increase sunlight penetration.

Improve drainage

This can be accomplished by adding a bioswale or a rain garden to catch stormwater runoff.

Water deeply and infrequently

Over watering is a great way to increase moss growth as well as several types of algae. Allow your lawn to dry out before applying any more water.

Mow high

Mowing short will reduce the vigor and growth of most home lawns. The grass blade is the food producing part of the plant. The shorter it is, the less food will be produced, which in turn will lead to a weaker plant. Weak plants cannot out-compete moss.

Fertilize properly

Except for Centipedegrass, most lawns require anywhere from 2 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. of turf per year. Check with your County Extension office for the recommended amount to apply to your lawn on an annual basis.

There are several approaches to controlling moss, potassium salts or sulfate products such as ferrous sulfate or ammonium sulfate. There are also herbicides that will control certain types of moss. Look for products that contains carfentrazone as one of its main ingredients. Be sure to read and follow all label directions when using any of these products.

moss in your lawn

Consider having your soil tested. Most County Extension offices offer this service at a low cost, usually less than $20. If the pH of the soil is too low (acid), the addition of lime may help reduce the amount of moss by encouraging better turf growth through improved nutrient utilization by roots of the turfgrasses.

Core aeration will also help by reducing compaction and will help the turf roots to grow and expand. Keep in mind that it is especially a good idea to plant grass seed that is shade tolerant if the area has a good deal of shade.

Finally, it is important to understand that if there is too much shade, grass will not grow well. The area may need to be replanted with shade tolerant ground covers or perennials. Most grasses need about 70% sunlight during the day to grow well. There are a few turf grass types that will tolerate a little more shade, but it is sometimes easier to stop fighting the battle and change to ground covers or hostas.

To find out more about moss and ways to control it, contact your Neighborhood Lawn Care Professional at Spring-Green.

Fall Lawn Care Tip: Mow, Don’t Rake, Those Leaves

To many people, fall is their least favorite time of year because of all the leaves that fall on their lawns. I used to spend hours and hours raking leaves, stuffing them into lawn clean-up bags, and hauling them out to the curb for pick up. In my town, I also have to purchase a sticker for each bag that costs about $2.00 each. I have some very large trees on my property, so it was not unusual to have twenty or thirty bags on the curb filled with just leaves. This does not include the bags that are used for all the annual plants that die each year, the spent garden plants and all the other yard waste that has to be, and should be, recycled. Fall lawn care can be very tedious.

A couple of years ago, I started reading articles from several universities advising people not to rake the leaves, but just mulch them up and leave them lay on the lawn. The decomposing leaves will recycle important nutrients back into the lawn and do not significantly add to a buildup of thatch. So, I started doing so and have to say that the ground up leaves that remain on the lawn are all gone by the following spring and my lawn seems to be greener and healthier from doing so.

Most power mowers do a good job mulching leaves. In the picture, you can see my dog, Mischa, sitting in an area that has not been mowed. To the right is the area that has been mowed and most of the leaves are no longer visible. They have been cut into tiny bits and have filtered down into the lawn. It is best to mow when the leaves are dry, but it will still work if they are slightly damp.It can be a challenge if they are extremely wet. It is also a good idea to stay on top of the leaf mulching and try to mow every week until all the leaves are down. Waiting until all the leaves have fallen may result in too many leaves to mow through easily at one time.

Because of the amount of leaves that fall in my lawn, I often mow the lawn twice to make sure I mulch up all the leaves that are present. In the picture below and to the left, you can see the result after my lawn was mowed twice. Of course, there are still many leaves that have not come down yet. The picture below and to the right, shows my lawn the next morning. That is the way it will go for the next couple of weeks. I would rather mow my lawn every week then to spend an entire day raking – and it is cheaper, too. So, don’t rake, but mow those leaves and recycle the nutrients back into your lawn.

Lawn Care Tip #2 – Mow High and Let it Lie

Spring has arrived early for much of the U.S. – I don’t ever remember a time when I had to mow my lawn in March! The grass has been growing rapidly and I haven’t even fertilized it yet. Since the initial warm-up in March, temperatures have moderated to normal April levels and there is a prediction of freezing temperatures for the next day or so. We will probably see a lot of flowers on trees and shrubs turn brown, but that will most likely be the worst damage we will see.

Now that mowing season is upon us, I want to remind everyone to mow high and don’t collect the clippings. Here are the recommended mowing heights for the most common turf grasses in the U.S.:

Warm-season Grasses

• Bermuda Grass – 1/2 to 1-1/2”
• Zoysia Grass – 3/4 to 1-1/2”
• Centipede Grass – 1-1/2 to 2”
• St Augustine Grass – 3-1/2 to 4”

Transition Zone and Cool-Season Grasses

• Tall Fescue Grass – 3 to 4”
• Bluegrass – 2 to 3”
• Perennial Ryegrass – 2 to 3”
• Fine Fescue – 2-1/2 to 3-1/2”

The Dangers of Mowing Your Grass Too Short

If you mow too short, you are reducing the ability of the plant to produce food. Remember photosynthesis, which is the conversion of light energy into food. Photosynthesis takes place on the grass blades. The shorter grass blade cannot produce as much food. Mowing higher will also shade the ground underneath, keeping it cooler and moist for a longer time, and it will reduce the amount of water you need to supply to the turf.

Another advantage of mowing high is keeping the sun from reaching weed seeds that exist in every lawn. Many weed seeds need heat from the sun to germinate. One of the best weed control methods is to mow high. Mowing high also lets the grass root grow deeper instead of forcing the plant using all its food reserves to re-grow leaf blades.

Leave Your Grass Clippings

Grass is 80 to 90% water and it decomposes rapidly. By not collecting the clippings, you are recycling nutrients back into the lawn, providing food for the micro-organisms in the soil and returning carbon back into the soil. The only reason to collect clippings is if the grass has become very long and the result is piles of clippings left on the lawn. Clipping piles left on the lawn can damage the grass that is underneath.

Many people ask me “What is the secret to a beautiful lawn?” – I tell them it all starts with properly mowing your lawn. Mow high from the first mowing in the spring and your lawn will be greener, healthier and more weed free.

Did you find this mowing tip helpful? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and visit Spring-Green.com for more lawn mowing tips .