Love Your Lawn – Tricia Herr

I know I get in the bad habit of thinking lawns are forever. They can be, with some work and maintenance. But honestly, even with all the proper practices, pests, weeds, and diseases can take over and make a homeowner feel defeated. It is important to take care of our lawns with the proper tools and with proper techniques to maintain a healthy lawn for our homes and our environment.

If you have a yard that is struggling or you just want to maintain here are some easy steps to follow.

1. Mower settings and care. The recommended height to mow is three inches for the typical lawn species of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue. Set your mower at three inches or higher (your preference) and leave it there all year. Secondly, get your blades sharpened! Dull blades cause damage to the grass’s leaf blades and inhibit healthy regrowth.

2. You should never remove more than one-third (⅓) of the leaf blade in a single mowing. So, if your mower is set to three inches, you mow the lawn when it reaches four inches.

3. Don’t mow on the road! I always cringe when I see grass clippings on our roads. Firstly, mowing with the grass chute pointed towards the road is a safety hazard. Grass clippings are slippery on the road and you are blowing debris toward cars which could cause damage. Secondly, IT’S SUCH A WASTE. The grass blown on the road has important nutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, and Zinc, I could go on and on. Our grass clippings are important to maintaining a healthy lawn. Clippings break down and return nutrients to the soil for the grasses to use. Thirdly, there is an environmental concern about blowing lawn clippings on the road. If you have recently applied pesticides, herbicides, or even fertilizer, you lose your investment. The clippings on the road get dispersed and embedded across the road surface. Then, it rains. Our grass clippings on the roadways can contaminate the water runoff. High nutrient contents in our water sources can be deadly to native ecology. Stormwater runoff can easily be contaminated by the grass clippings blown on the road. This negatively affects the water quality of Sugar Creek and the greater Wabash River basin.

4. Fertilize in the fall, it helps prompt healthy turf, instead of stimulating excessive leaf growth. My two general rules on lawn fertilizing are:

  • Do not more than 1.5 lb of Nitrogen/1000sqft per application (any time of the year)
  • Do not apply more than 4lbs of Nitrogen/1000sqft to your lawn per calendar year.

If you have any troubles with your lawn or need help identifying weeds in your lawn, go to:

Upcoming events:

Master Gardener Plant Sale: Saturday, April 29th 8am-1pm

– Tricia Herr is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for the Montgomery County Purdue Extension Office. She can be reached at [email protected] .